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Is Fanfiction Better Left in Cyberspace?

On November 8, 2010, in Commentary, by Mokibobolink

Scared girl watching tv

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how NCIS fanfiction came to life when CBS aired the episode “Flesh and Blood”. For years many of us have been fans of the Tony/Gibbs father/son dynamic, reading and writing countless stories about it. When scenes in the show echoed those close father/son bonds, it felt like part of the fandom rejoiced.

Recently though, as I noted in my review for Supernatural “Family Matters, once again it feels like fanfiction has made its way onto another show.

In neither case do I even remotely claim that the writers for these shows are reading fanfiction and using it to write their scripts (mostly because I have no desire to be sued by anybody on either side, LOL). What I’m simply saying is that the themes that some of us thought would only stay on our computer screens, are now making an appearance on our television screens.

For instance on Supernatural recently (WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD!!) Dean became a vampire temporarily and it was just revealed that Sam has come back from his trip to hell with no soul. Both are very angsty storylines and neither were ones I’d ever thought would make it onto the show itself.

But unlike the outpouring of praise that came from this year’s episode of NCIS, recently it seems like a lot of the Supernatural fans are complaining. It’s hard to tell of course how many are actually fans of fanfiction but it’s still interesting to me nonetheless.

Be careful what you wish for.

Now that Supernatural has had some storylines that feel a bit more like fanfiction (at least in my opinion), not all the fans seem happy. They complain that they miss the old show the way it was and their characters the way they used to be. Let’s just assume for a moment that at least some of those people are fans of Supernatural fanfiction (which is pretty likely considering how well known it is in the fandom, heck it’s even been mentioned on the show itself). So if some are fanfiction fans, I wonder whether or not they would have read these exact storylines in a fic and if so, would they have given it rave reviews? I think there’s a chance they would have so is it truly better offscreen than on?

Would we rather read it than watch it?

I’ve seen some pretty wild stories in fanfic, in many genres, from Supernatural to Firefly to NCIS and beyond. Characters who would never be together hooking up, other characters who are dead suddenly coming back to life and still others put into situations you’d probably never see in real life, let alone on screen. As fans, many of us gobble this stuff up like we’re chucking back our favorite junk food. But, like junk food, maybe it’s something we don’t want all the time. Maybe we want to keep the wacky fanfic right where it is in cyberspace.

The slash question.

Do we really want to see our sexy male characters (or females, in the case of femslash fanfiction) get it on or do we just like the fantasy of it? I realize not everyone is into slash fanfiction but there are plenty who are into it and I have to wonder if the slash fans really would like to see their favorite stories played out on a television screen. Or do they think it only belongs on the glowing screen of their laptops?

Where do we draw the line?

As a hurt/comfort fanfiction aficionado, I know that there’s nothing better than a little whumpage to really get my interest piqued – not only for a character, but for the show itself. In my post Hurt/Comfort Fanfiction, Why Do We Hurt The Ones We Love? I talked all about why I like it. For me, seeing it on screen is totally fine by me, the more the merrier in fact. But what if they did it to my character all the time and he never got to be brave or strong because he was too busy getting whumped every episode? Or what if they hurt him sometimes, but nearly always made a joke about it? (*cough*NCIS*cough*). I wouldn’t like either of those scenarios at all.

Where do you stand?

So I have to ask you, the fanfiction fans (both readers and writers) what do you think? How much of your beloved fanfiction would you actually like to see played out on screen?

Want to know every time I add a new post? Be sure to subscribe to Moki’s Fanfiction Blog!

More from Moki’s Fanfiction Blog…
Moki’s Latest NCIS fanfic “The Cavalry Rides Again” – chapter 12
Moki’s Latest Supernatural fanfic “Black Cat” – Final Chapters!
Fanfiction News: Article – The Trouble With Fanfiction
My Ezine Article: Writing Fanfiction Can Help Start Your Freelance Writing Career
Fanfiction Reading: To Review or Not to Review, a guest post by Laine3112

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  • TrekkieBeth

    Fanfiction can basically be separated into either AU or stories that are consistent with canon, right? Any story in which a character acts in a way that contradicts what we know about them from the show/movie would be AU.

    So if the show started adding in a bit more h/c, the fans would enjoy it and there would be nothing wrong with it. But if it happened so much that the character seemed to lose his or her bravery or strength, that would be changing the nature of the character and it would no longer be consistent with canon. That would be a bad thing because, while it’s fun to be free to change things up in fanfic, you never want the show itself to be contradictory.

    The slash issue is pretty straightforward, I think. If it’s established that two characters could only get together in an alternate universe, we shouldn’t see them get together unless the show is literally visiting an alternate universe. So for example, Sheldon and Leonard of BBT should never hook up in the show because it’s established that Leonard is very straight and Sheldon is basically asexual. However, if the pairing isn’t out of character then it could be acceptable for a popular pairing to be played out in the show.

    I hope all this made sense. I’m not feeling well today and my brain is a little sluggish.

  • Inchy

    I agree with TrekkieBeth. I adore reading h/c fics but to see this too often on the show would compromise the very being of the characters I love so much.

    I also think shipping should, by and large, stay in the fanfic world. History has shown that ships do not work well on tv and once the “thrill of the chase” is over, fans lose interest.

    Anyone old enough to remember Moonlighting or X Files will know that once the focus of those shows turned to romance rather than the story lines that made those shows successful, it was all over red rover.

    I would hate to see my favorite show, NCIS, go down the gurgler because of a focus on TIVA – this is an ensemble cast and a crime procedural show, afterall, not a daytime soap. There’s a lot to be said for subtext.

  • Mokibobolink

    Beth – Welcome! Thanks for dropping by and yes, your comment made perfect sense. I like hearing from other readers and writers because sometimes I feel like I get too far into my own head. Good point about the h/c reaching levels of AU, as well as slash being in that territory as well.

    Inchy – See, this is where I think it gets very personal for the fan. I for one HATE (did I mention the word hate?) the idea of “Tiva” on NCIS. But it appears that many people like it, considering how many Tiva moments they’ve been putting in the show recently. Occasional flirting never bothered me, but like you said, the moment they start focusing on romance, I’m gone. But I don’t like to read those stories in fanfic either, so at least I’m consistent. LOL.

  • Stacy

    I agree wholeheartedly with the other comments. I, too, am a h/c fan but I believe that too much h/c “on screen” for our favorite characters, where they are in constant need of rescuing or comfort of some kind, would lead to that character becoming a shadow of the one who first captured our hearts. I love to see it occasionally on the tv eg (SWAK) but I think it should stay within the domain of FanFiction.

    NCIS’s Tony is the perfect example. How many times have we seen this intelligent, street-wise, former police detective with almost 20 years of law enforcement behind him, need to be rescued by Ziva just to provide a few TIVA moments? That’s great for TIVA fans but it leaves Tony looking weak and incapable.

    I am a HUGE Tony h/c fan but do not like slash or TIVA. As a fanfic reader, I have the option of venturing into one or more of the genres available. Should the show’s writers decide to cater to any of these genres, these genres are then “forced” upon the viewing audience whose only choice would be to stop watching.

    Keep it in the realms of FanFic where we can read or write our favorite genres to our hearts content.

    Moki – Laine’s latest parody of the situation where Tony constantly requires rescuing by Ziva, is a funny yet perfect example of a great character becoming a joke. (Feel free to delete this from my post.)

  • Mokibobolink

    Stacy, Laine’s latest parody about the current Tony and Ziva situation on NCIS is hilarious and brilliant. I hadn’t realized how bad it was until I read it and then I couldn’t stop laughing.

    I think that you’ve hit the nail on the head by mentioning as a reader we have the option to venture where we want. If a genre interests us, we simply click on the story and read it. If we don’t like it, we move on.

    I also like that fanfiction is there whenever a “mood” strikes. If I’m in the mood for some h/c, it’s there. Or if I want to read some humorous stories, those are there too. Fanfiction gives us freedom that we can’t get on screen. We can really narrow down our interest, whereas the writers of the show itself have an entire audience to think about.

  • Laine

    Hey Mokes,

    Thank you to you and to Stacy for the plug for my story – just a little bit of nuttiness but the reaction to it was very interesting. Seems a lot of people agree with you. I have to ask though, when you said “I hadn’t realised how bad it was until I read it” – I hope you weren’t talking about my story…or were you? :)

    Another thought provoking topic. I agree with all previous comments but would just add to yours that the writers of these much watched shows and much loved characters have an obligation not to venture too far into any one of these genres TOO often, lest they lose a substantial section of their viewing audience. That may leave them a rather narrow path to walk but that’s why they’re professional writers. They need to stick to the tried and true storylines and leave the rest to FanFic.

  • Mokibobolink

    LOL Laine! You’re quite welcome for the plug.

    I also agree that writers do need to stick to their guns a bit more. These days it feels like, in the case of NCIS for example, that somewhere along the line they started reading fan comments on message boards and are now trying to please everyone. I think they should just go back to writing the show as if they had never heard a peep from the fans. Ironic as it sounds, it’s those episodes that I love more than the Tiva, Hero Tim and Goofy Tony stuff that’s coming out from them these days.

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