‘Forbidden Forests’ and FanFiction
Regular readers to the one blog entry that I’ve written will be aware that I have far too much time on my hands. I will admit this to be true, because that’s less embarrassing than admitting that I actually watch children’s television in any serious way.
Obviously I only do it because I ought to be reading the complete works of Shakespeare and I just can’t really be bothered to do that right now. And I would like this piece of knowledge to serve as a disclaimer for this piece, in which I delve into the often hilarious and even more often rather terrifying world of Harry Potter fanfiction. Which I only know about because it’s not the essay that I ought to be writing right now.
Fanfiction, for all those of you who are completely new to this slightly questionable habit, is the practice of taking already established characters and worlds and placing them in new situations. Those who try to justify this as a legitimate form of creativity call it transformative work. Those with little idea of how the law works call it plagiarism.
I don’t really believe that it is either, but it is certainly a subculture that intrigues me. I am not writing this blog purely to point and laugh at the sci-fi geeks on the internet. Mainly because when I was thirteen years old I used to write Buffy the Vampire Slayer fanfiction myself. It wasn’t really very good, and mainly seemed to involve characters who were a thinly veiled version of me strolling into town and generally being super cool and adored by everyone. This genre of self-insertion is rife within fanfiction. They’re called Mary Sues, for a reason that I know, but fear that telling you here would mean that I could never show my face in public (because, you know, it’s a Star Trek reference).
I’ve always seen Mary Sues as an interesting insight to why people write fanfiction. They scream of wish fulfilment. Why else would you write a story in which a new character, who shares more than a few traits with you, appears out of nowhere and is better than everyone else in the story, saves the day and probably ends up having sex with whichever character within the original text you personally feel the most attracted to. But this is not really the area of fanfiction that interests me the most. What is far more interesting, certainly in the example of Harry Potter, is the stories which deal with relationships between pre-existing characters of the original text.
You really do have to hand it to the fans, if they’re good at one thing it’s bringing subtext to the foreground. Or inventing a whole new subtext for themselves. If you take a quick look at the vast array of Harry Potter fanfiction floating around the internet, you’d be amazed how many people seem to be labouring under the impression that the line between love and hate is very thin indeed. So thin, in fact, that while it may have appeared to you that Harry Potter hated Draco Malfoy with every fibre of his body; in fact they were having frequent sex in the Potions room. And Harry just forgot to mention it. That said it’s very rare for the sex to come out of nowhere, as the writer will have probably prefaced the actual carnal act with a good ten thousand words of tension.
While some fanfiction may just be a few hundred words of a missing scene or a little bit of extra character development, a lot of work is put into these stories, and to see pieces of writing that are novel length is quite common indeed. Although often pages and pages of sexual tension are far less humorous than stories in which Hermione and Snape have sex in the Forbidden Forest for no other reason than ‘Alan Rickman’s hot’ and that being (most probably) a bookish female, like most of the people who write these things, the author identifies with Hermione the most. And yes, the ones with sex in them are always the most funny.
But what have I learnt from my trip into the world of Harry Potter fanfiction beside wish fulfilment and that a shocking amount of people really do seem to find Alan Rickman sexy? It’s that, ultimately, it’s quite fun really. Yes, it’s writing about other people’s characters doing slightly odd things to each other, but it’s also about people having fun with writing, subverting the original text to make it do what they want it to do. And I like that fact a lot.
There is this intense urge to mock those who take what they do so seriously that people write academic essays on the topic of their internet friends’ fanfiction, but still, who hasn’t pondered over a ‘what if’ while watching their favourite television show, or in this case, reading their favourite book? Yes, it might be slightly nerdy, and certainly not the thing that people would ever really admit to doing, but I have embraced Harry Potter fanfiction. Especially the bits with sex.
So if happen to be a bit bored this week, do a little bit of exploring. Harry Potter Fanfiction.com is a good place to start, and Schnoogle.com has a good selection of novel length fanfiction. If you’re looking for ‘naughty’ fanfiction then adult fanfiction.com has a good selection, although as with most fictional accounts of sex, most are appalling written. But if you’re only interested in mocking, I recommend Fanfiction.net. There you will find well over 345,000 pieces of Harry Potter fanfiction, most of which appear to be written by monkeys.