For my opening move I’ll place myself in attack mode and screw the rules.
Let’s be honest, friends. Fanfiction, much like media, is overhyped, underdone and largely clickbait. One goes over to their favourite website, seeks out the section one’s actually interested in and then plunges into the turmoil that is trying not to click on something that will make you want to tear your eyes from your sockets from either boredom or intense confusion.
People have these ideals about journalism. About its objectivity, its power, its relevance.
On the surface fanfiction looks like a good idea too. The concept is that a fan can explore, and even extend, the universe of their favourite anime by co-operating with a collection of similarly-purposed peers who also wish to get a grip on some writing skill so they can pursue a passion. I have both an ffnet and AO3 account (fanfiction-sharing websites) and can attest to being eager to keep an old world and its characters thriving. Yet I, like many others, have been disappointed by many My Immortals.
For those unfamiliar with the fanfiction scene, we had ourselves a bit of a celebrity a couple of years back. A she-who-must-not-be-named for serious fanfic writers, Tara Gilesbie notoriously penned the worst fanfiction ever (My Immortal); a fanfic so bad some refuse to believe she was serious. Her work was read by multiple youtube celebrities for comedic effect and is still the first search result when one types ‘worst fanfiction ever’ into google.
Now, can we claim that this doesn’t happen in media?
Fox News seems to be the paragon of bad journalism, it was the first search result that popped up when I looked for My Immortal‘s counterparts in the world of media. Their stories have an alarming amount of being blatantly biased to the point where it’s absurd and not just turning a blind eye to social issues but explaining them away with barely logical statements. Next to that we literally have tabloid journalism.
The only justification I can find for this shoddily-done-to-the-point-of-being-legitimately-controversial work, serious or comic, is the nature of the platform these cases are on.
The sheer bulk of both news media and fanfiction writing leaves little room for ideas on what to write about. Fox News may simply be striving to be controversial within a platform that leaves little room for stories that can be seriously considered; while there is equally sparse space for writers on fanfiction-sharing websites to develop new plots and scenarios for their adopted characters due to the, almost absolute, certainty that somewhere, on the very site they are using, the plot progression has been done before and, possibly, done better.
Now, this doesn’t justify the lazy and biased practices of my examples but it should put into perspective what mass production does to writing. We get poorly laid out content that confuses and misleads us, is largely sensationalist, inevitably rendered irrelevant when the next episode comes out and fraught with trolls.
In the end, fanfiction is just as thoughtlessly churned out and media just as fantastical. I don’t even see why we prefer one over the other.
Tell me if you guys agree in this poll ↓