Real Person Fiction / Real Person Fanfiction (aka “RPF”)
I was out and about on the internet looking for fanfiction news and came across this great article at ology.com. It’s about a form of fanfiction called “real person fiction” which I myself haven’t read much but find interesting. I especially enjoyed the quote from Ian McKellan and his opinions on fanfiction in general.
To read the article on the ology site, go HERE
Fandom Friday: Real Person Fiction
by Natalie Zutter
Happy Fandom Friday! Each week, I highlight an aspect of the various fan communities that have sprung around mostly movies and TV shows, but sometimes books, games, or even just memes, if the level of dedication is awesome enough.
Over the summer, Jack took you through some of the Web’s most surprising fan fiction communities, like depressing 30 Rock fic; and of course we know about the scandals involving NSFW Harry Potter and Gummi Bears fic. But what if I told you that this odd merging of fandom and creativity has also touched the celebrity culture?
A lesser-known realm of fanfiction is RPF, or Real Person Fiction. Though the fics may still deal with plot elements of entertainment like Lord of the Rings or WWE, the protagonists are the actors/celebrities themselves. It’s a behind-the-scenes peek constructed by fans who think they have a handle on the emotional turmoil that actors or singers may experience—or who are willing to convince themselves that these love affairs happen all the time in showbiz.
Yes, they’re usually sex fics, dealing with performers’ insatiable attraction to their co-stars. In a sense, it’s the flipside of the showmance issue: Rather than allowing actor couples to present a thinly-veiled version of their romance in the movies, fans beat them to the punch by writing about real or imagined couples. Subtext is a major factor, with consumers reading into their favorite stars’ on-screen performances (or even just on-set photos and blurbs in magazines) in order to conceive of this reality.
RPF often finds its source in speculation on the on-set lives of certain performers. A few years ago, a Hugh Laurie/Jennifer Morrison community popped up on LiveJournal, receiving a lot of backlash from the House community; fan fiction authors usually disdain RPF, finding it too invasive. The community, which still exists, is called Guilty Euphoria; it’s as if they knew the negativity they would incur.
Another name for RPF is RPS, Real Person Slash. This offshoot isn’t surprising, since a lot of fanfiction is slashy, playing with subtext to present a more sexual/romantic take on the bonds forged in performance. RPS became more prevalent when the Backstreet Boy and *NSYNC were popular. Young men traveling together, presenting some cohesive image of the perfect guy? Yeah, I can see room for interpretation.
There are, of course, legal issues inherent in this kind of writing, but as long as authors include a disclaimer in their stories, they seem to be protected from slander and libel. Fanfiction.net forbid RPF in 1998. For the most part, celebrities ignore the trend, but Ian McKellen did respond to a fan’s question regarding the subject:
From: Saathi QueenB@trust-me.com
Q: My fellow yahoogroup members and I all respect you, the cast, crew, and movie itself. Most of us indulge in a hobby called ‘fanfic.’ A great deal of us write (or read) ‘slash,’ and a few members write ‘RPS’ (Real Person Slash.) What are your thoughts on such things? Do you consider them slanderous to your good character and/or to the good character of any actor/movie/etc?
A: I am not well acquainted with slash but find nothing harmful in sharing fantasies about favourite characters or their interpreters. Within the context of such sites even Real Person stories seem unobjectionable as they are clearly fictional.
I was going to link to a handful of fics, but due to their NC-17 nature I’m uncomfortable posting them here. I’ll just say, check out Archive of Our Own (which will be getting its own Fandom Friday entry soon), because there are several that actually do a good job at guessing at the dynamics of acting with someone else.
But remember—it’s just guessing.
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