The Tasteful, Tasty Bite-Sized FanFic

We are now well into my weekly series of guest posts on FanFiction. Every Friday for the next few months, an eclectic mix of writers will guest-post on FanFiction (please go here for a controversial definition). You will be hearing from Computer Science majors and published authors and FanFic writers and Drama geeks and articulate fans. FanFiction is fascinating to me because it brings up issues of technology and copyright, originality and creative derivation, gender-norms and digital communities.

This week’s post is from my friend, Kendra: Kendra is a junior Dramaturgy student at Carnegie Mellon University. She maintains a blog about feminism, pop culture, etiquette, and criticism at (a blog so fantastic it is one of the few I have listed on my blogroll). She’s a feminist and an elitist and proud to be self identified as both of those things. She doesn’t wear colors. She has great taste.

I never knew or cared about fanfiction until Jessica asked me to write this guest post for her. My only brush with the subject was some Hermione+Ginny erotica I found online a few years ago, completely accidentally, and because of that (horrifying) experience I didn’t hold the fanfic genre in extremely high esteem. I was prepared to write all kinds of disparaging things about it, but I’ve discovered one aspect of it that is completely awesome, intriguing, and obsession-worthy.

Wild Mass Guessing
is incredible. It’s a form of fanfiction in which the writer makes (you guessed it) wild mass guesses about the original art. Like in “Finding Nemo“, Dory could have lived in an aquarium (a big, public one, where she learned how to read and speak whale). Juno might be Junie B. Jones (from the books) all grown up. WALL-E‘s plot occurs in the distant past, and the events were later distorted into legend and became the basis for The Bible. Kenneth from 30 Rock is related to Forrest Gump.

It seems so obvious!This is really the best of all possible fanfiction worlds. Wild Mass Guesses incorporate all the creativity, fun, and devotion of traditional narrative fanfic, but none of the possibly offensive subversion of the beloved source material. The “Wild Mass” label give the writer carte blanche to posit any crazy theorem they want to. It’s just a guess, so why NOT go crazy? The writer effectively sheds several layers of super ego when she puts her ideas under the WMG label. If I had first heard that Hermione and Ginny Got It On in the Gryffindor girl’s dormitory in that way, and not by accidentally reading most of an awkwardly long, poorly written, and hella creepy narrative, I may have been more receptive to the idea and maybe I wouldn’t have thrown up a little in my mouth. The WMG label is a way to frame an idea about characters and situations that is fun and inoffensive to those who also have very clear and strong opinions
about the characters and situations in question.

It’s the quick-‘n-dirty (and easy) way to write and read fanfiction. One doesn’t have to match the character’s specific language patterns or the source material’s author’s voice. Bad writers can make good WMGs. There’s no need to craft paragraph after paragraph to flesh out a situation. Just make the guess, bust out a sentence (or tweet!) about it. It’s quick to read and a good way to look at your favorite art in different ways. No pressure, low stakes. Fun.

In The Venture Brothers, maybe Dr. Girlfriend and Brock have had a relationship in the past. Little orphan Annie probably grows up to be a huge Paris Hilton-style spoiled brat. Maybe in Into the Woods, the Mysterious Man is Jack’s father too?

Inspirational Quote:

“To be simple is not always as easy as it seems.”–Ferdinand Hodler

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