Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World (Anglais) Broché – 26 novembre 2013
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All of that said, some parts of the book were very well done and very interesting. The open sections on the history of fanfic and fandom, pointing out that this form of fan participation goes back centuries, was very well written. I particularly liked how the author made reference to modern terms (like 'shipping and trolling) in connection with those historical patterns; it just goes to show how longstanding the fanfic tradition really is. The section on Sherlock Holmes fanfic, from literally more than a century ago to the BBC series today, was fascinating too, as was the chapter on Star Trek zines. Once the book turns to the more contemporary online fanfic fandoms, though, it starts to lose focus.
The book is an interesting read for someone familiar with fanfic communities, but it could have been a lot stronger.
"Writing and reading fanfiction isn't just something you do; it's a way of thinking critically about the media you consume, of being aware of all the implicit assumptions that a canonical work carries with it, and of considering the possibility that those assumptions might not be the only way things have to be."
The above was from Lev Grossman's introduction but was only one of dozens of passages I highlighted in Fic: Why Fanfiction is Taking Over the World. I found just about everything in this book fascinating. I am an academic by training--my specialty was/is 18th and 19th English fiction--and I was pretty skeptical going in, but I thought Anne Jamison did a great job, much better than you usually find, of melding an academic and a generalist perspective and style. The inclusion of contributors' essays was especially beneficial and I thought very much in the collaborative spirit of fandom itself.
There was a certain inevitable disappointment that my particular fandom--Teen Wolf--was barely mentioned, but I thought the author had good reasons for focusing on the fandoms she did--e.g. Sherlock Holmes, Buffy, Star Trek, Harry Potter, and Twilight.
I actually found the Twilight material especially interesting and helpful for several reasons. It matters that that fandom is the one Jamison was personally involved with. I have no interest in reading a book on fanfiction written by anyone who has not been involved--obsessively involved--in a fandom. This is one instance where "outside" or "objective" perspectives are useless, and neutrality constitutes an irreparable bias.
I also have had a tendency to look down on Twilight and its fanfiction, especially in comparison to Sherlock or Harry Potter or Buffy, so the section was a bracing reminder of why that attitude is deeply problematic. Part of what makes fanfiction so fascinating as a cultural and academic topic is the way it brings together issues of technology, literary prestige, cultural capital, access to publishing, class and educational status, and most of all gender. Coincidentally, these are also key issues in the "rise of the novel." Basically, my tendency to make snobbish distinctions between fandoms replicates attitudes that marginalize and degrade fanfiction and traditionally female cultural forms. So, pretty obviously, if I am willing to argue at length for the vitality and brilliance of the Teen Wolf fandom (absolutely!), I damn well better pay the same respect to the Twilight or the One Direction fandoms, especially when I haven't read anything in them. (For that reason I found the brilliant essay by V. Arrow on RPF (real person fiction) and One Direction to be the best chapter in the entire book.)
Still there are some key ways that the Twilight fandom feels distinct: to a noticeable degree, Twilight fans tended to be new to fandom and/or uninterested in wider fan culture. Other factors set it apart from traditional "geek" or sci-fi fandoms, such as the dominant role of "Big Name Authors," the sheer size of it with popular fics tallying hits in the millions, the relentlessly heterosexual focus and complete lack of slash, the role and culture of its specific sites, and most notoriously the move to traditional publishing. Of course it is the last, epitomized by the record-breaking sales of Fifty Shades of Grey, that justifies Jamison's emphasis on Twilight and gives some basis to her subtitle, "Why fanfiction is taking over the world." It is telling that most of the major fanfic publishing deals have been with p2ps from this fandom. Given the overall importance of Fifty Shades of Grey and the failure of "respectable" mainstream critics to deal with it, which is directly tied up in problems of gender and literary prestige, I was grateful for the context Jamison's book provided, including the debates and flame wars that surrounded the decision to transform "Master of the Universe" into Fifty Shades of Grey, its effect (mostly destructive) on the wider Twilight fandom, the legal and literary issues involved, and the mind-boggling financial stakes.
There is a lot more that I could say, but I'll close by reiterating that this book does not and could not cover everything; I suspect that most readers who are also fans will have pretty serious issues with what has been excluded. My own personal peeve was the lack of in-depth discussion of slash itself, which was exacerbated by Jamison's emphasis on specific fandoms that are generally het-dominated--ie Buffy, X-Files, and Twilight. There were perfectly good reasons to focus on those fandoms, but I did feel that the otherwise excellent discussions of heavily slash fandoms like Star Trek and Sherlock seriously shortchanged this aspect. Admittedly, my own experience of fandom is 100% slash, but I also feel like it's an issue that is poorly understood for all its enormous influence on a number of major fandoms. Certainly, I have yet to read a truly satisfying critical discussion of it and I would really have liked an essay as insightful and informative about slash as the one on RPF. Still, the topics the book did cover were influential enough to be justified, and the discussions themselves were challenging and informative.
Bottom line: Fascinating and informative.
Basically, if you already write good fanfic, this is old hat. If you're new, looking to improve, or looking at fanfic from a sociological standpoint, this might be good? I can't tell, I kept falling asleep through the essays, and even the samples, taken from supposedly "big names" in their fandoms, weren't people I knew or recognized their work.
This just isn't... well... it's not really a good study. It's a good study of the parts the editors want you to see, but the world is so much wider than they're showing here. I felt like it was all, "here's me and my friends and we're what you need to know about fanfiction!" and I couldn't see any benefit to this.
To be clear though, I don't think there's any text in existence that looks at fanfiction and fanfiction communities that will satisfy those in the communities really. This was a good attempt, but it's a swing and a miss.