I read a great deal of fanfiction last week. I had most of last week off for Carnival and finished my 5th year project:
To celebrate finishing this anthology, which I have stressed about for longer than possibly anything but getting into college, I spent a few days diving into a fandom I haven’t spent much time in before.
And I love it.
I have all sorts of serious-sounding reasons why I like reading–squeeing over–the hurt-comfort fics which abound in this fandom: they let me process missing Matt; they dig into the place of God in a violent world; the main characters are pretty.
But really? I just love fanfiction. I love that there are communities of people who write for each other as favors, who take time to be silly and creative and critical and deep outside of school. They don’t just write fiction; some write music and others make videos for that music like this lambent example, “His Name is Castiel.”
Today I taught my “How to Get a Job” class on the perils and benefits of grad school. One of the biggest attractions to grad school for many of my students is it seems a way to stay in an intellectual community which is creative and critical and deep. Reading fanfiction lets me do all three of these things and won’t leave me with crushing debt and a lack of job prospects.
The trouble is: it is hard to explain the appeal of fanworks to people who aren’t fans. This video, which I found while reading with Matt tonight, might be a good way because it shows clips which are awesome all by themselves, without fandom context. It uses a mashup of hit pop songs from 2009 and clips from Firefly, Doctor Who, Torchwood, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, Merlin, and others I couldn’t identify:
If you got excited watching this video because you recognized the Doctor going into the Pandorica or Leia pointing her gun at that storm-trooper, if you gave a little “squee!” when Q snapped his fingers or Mal yelled naked at the departing spaceship, that’s the feeling I’m chasing when I’m reading good fanfiction. That recognition not just of awesomeness, but of awesomeness shared with friends (watching the Pandorica close with Anthea, Leia be a hero and Q be a creeper on my childhood carpet, Mal having a tizzy in the hallway in high school).
Fanfiction is essentially communal literature, creation for, by, and with friends. And reading it was a great way to spend a week.
“There’s a time and place for everything, and I believe it’s called ‘fan fiction’.”–Joss Whedon