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I've been rereading Robin McKinley's Beauty, which is a pretty charming story and interestingly told but definitely a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story. It's the first time I've done the rereading since I discovered her views on fanfic, discussed on her site here, but basically... her agent says it's legally dangerous; it's only okay as a writing exercise; and it's somehow less "real" than o-fic so why would anyone want to spend time writing/reading it anyway.

And it's just such a surreal experience.

Because here's this woman taking a very well-known story that's been retold hundreds if not thousands of times in professional, published movies and novels, and that's without getting into the examples that work with the story in ways other than the literal retelling. And she didn't just write this as an exercise, she didn't just share it with friends - she put it out there in print and charges complete strangers for the privilege of reading it. Which means either she's wrong about fanfic, or else "Beauty" is just trash. And I'm actually enjoying it quite a bit, so I reall don't think it's the latter.

Add to that the taste for reboots, good and bad ("Ghostbusters," I'm looking at you; all things Marvel, I'm equally looking at you), and it has me wondering: where's the line between fanfic and o-fic? Is there even one? I mean, you might point to the fact that fanfic only makes sense to people already familiar with the tropes, but the same could be said for harlequin romances and knowledge of the tropes involved. I'm increasingly drawn to seeing i as a kind of continuum, with good and bad at all places along the spectrum.

In that category, I think Avengers (CW but even before it) is doing some fascinating work repositioning the jingoism I associate with Captain America in a framework that makes sense to people today with our much more jaded perspective, up until -- spoilers -- [Spoiler (click to open)]Cap is so invested in his friendships and personal priorities that he doesn't really still have the right to carry Stark Sr.'s shield anymore. That's precisely what needs to happen to make Cap come alive for people after both Watergate and Afghanistan. It's art, it's new art, but it's also fanfic in its way.

Curious where other people draw the boundary, if they bother with it at all.

Comments

marta_bee
May. 16th, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
Oh, I loved CW - so much thinky thoughts, and so much patriotic backside and/or biceps, and just so much fun. I've seen it twice in the space of a week and really should unpack just why I loved it so much.

Well, everything except the Sharon Carter scenes. That was just alternatingly creepy and forced IMO. But there's always something, and so much other content to make it worthwhile. I could go on a spoiler-rich squee right now.

(Don't get me started on the utter and complete perfection that is everything Howard and Maria Stark in that movie. Guh.)
shadowfireflame
May. 16th, 2016 01:44 am (UTC)
OMG, yes to all of that. I've seen it twice in theaters myself now and love it to bits. That said, the Sharon parts were quite forced. But then I think of it like Steve's 2 boyfriends are sitting in the car and giving him permission to pimp himself out to her in order to get back their gear, and I feel a bit better about it. :) I think I ship Steve with everyone at this point...

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