Fanfiction: Ethically and Effectively Unleashing Our Imagination

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Lucía Ocaña Baudoin
English Composition II – CAE-BUS02A1M
25 November 2011

Fanfiction: Ethically and effectively unleashing our imagination

Imagine if Anakin had never become Darth Vader and, instead, had fought chancellor Palpatine, end his plans of building a galactic empire, and then disappear for ever after the battle, remaining as a legendary hero of the Galactic Republic… or if Edward Cullen was a normal and mortal human being, and not a sparkling yet dangerous vampire anymore. Of course, this is not what happens in the original stories. However, do you imagine if a person could have the chance to create a whole new story about the universe and characters he or she loves, according to his or her preferences and innovative ideas, and then share it with other people all over the world? Although it may sound a bit surreal, today, it is completely possible, thanks to fanfiction.

Fanfiction is a term that generally designates fan labor regarding stories about characters, settings and universes written not by the original creator, but by fans of the original work, and that is usually read by other fans. In these stories, fanficcers (term commonly referred to fan authors) have the chance to extend the original plotline of the story, develop relationships between characters from the original work, and even create new, original characters that will appear in their own version of the story (Black, “Language, Culture and Identity” 172). Of course, after the creation of Internet, fanfiction has spread and become more popular all over the world, especially after the site FanFiction.Net came online in 1998. Since then, there have been many debates about its legality, ethics and originality. However, I strongly believe that fanfiction ethically and effectively encourages creativity.

One of the most popular arguments used by people who oppose to fanfiction, is that it is disrespectful with the original authors. They state that by practicing fanfiction, fanficcers are unethically “stealing” the original authors’ ideas, because they are using their creations, characters, stories and settings to produce non-original work. Nevertheless, it is mostly considered by the whole fanfiction community – and even some original authors – that this is not true at all. Therein lays my first argument: fanfiction is an ethical way to practice a creative activity without being disrespectful with original authors.

First of all, many original authors and creators feel flattered by fanfiction, and even encourage it. Wouldn’t it feel really complementary that people love your creations so much, that they even start writing about them? Wouldn’t it feel fulfilling that your work has encouraged so many people to start writing and being involved in creative literary work just like you did? Original creators like Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and J.K Rowling (Harry Potter series) find flattering that fans love their plots and characters so much. Whedon even says “I wish I had grown up in the era of fan fiction, because I was living those shows and those movies that I loved and I would put on the score to Superman and just relive the movie over and over”. It is most likely that creative people – as Whedon or J.K Rowling – are going to enjoy creativity, even if this implies that other people create non-original stories based on theirs stories. This happens simply for a reason: as Whedon said, they would have loved to have that opportunity of enjoy fanfiction themselves.

The second point is that, as long as fanficcers put a disclaimer in their creations or “fanfics”, they are clarifying that the entire universe they are writing about is not their creation and doesn’t belong to them, so they don’t infringe the author’s right properties, and therefore they are not “stealing”. Besides, fanfiction writers don’t have financial profit as an objective when making their creations. They just write for the sake of...
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