F is for Fan Fiction About Real People: Coopting the Real

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F

My strange thing of the day is fan fiction about real people.

To be clear, I find fan fiction itself to be a useful way of practicing and experimenting with writing in a low-stakes environment.  As an author, I view it as aligning with the idea that imitation is the highest form of flattery.  If someone writes fan fiction in your world with your characters, it means they really love them.

But when the characters in the fan fiction are actually real people, it just gets strange in my opinion.  Not least of which because of the tendency of many (not all) fan fiction writers to delve into the sexual with their fan fiction plots.

As an author, I would be thrilled to find a story someone wrote about my characters because they loved my world.  As a human being, I would be disturbed to find a story written about me by someone I didn’t know, or someone I did for that matter.

See, I think there’s a huge difference between borrowing someone’s fictional character and borrowing someone’s actual likeness and perceived personality.  The latter is much more personal for one thing.  It’s also a lot easier to get things wrong.  With a character, you have the source material to draw from.  You have facts to look up and sometimes even a wiki to reference if your fandom is large enough (or the author created one).  With a real person, you don’t have that kind of reference material.  There might be a wiki-style article out there, and you can get photos and videos to pull physical descriptions from, but you don’t know the real whole person.  This is especially true of a celebrity.  What’s shown in the spotlight or portrayed in characters for stage or screen are not the same thing as their actual personality.

I’m curious to know your thoughts on fan fiction, whether it’s about characters or real people.  Do you support it?  Are you against it?  Why?  Have you ever tried it yourself?

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4 thoughts on “F is for Fan Fiction About Real People: Coopting the Real

    • I sort of knew it was a thing when I was younger, but didn’t really understand it back then. It came back up again recently when one of my favorite comedians discovered there was fanfiction out there about him and mentioned it in a stand-up routine that my partner came across. It was pretty disturbing to think about.

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