What went wrong in Fan Fiction?

I’m legitimately asking.

Because I’m so confused.

I’m sitting here at nearly 4am, baffled. I’m occasionally sent a piece of fan fiction by viewers.  Sometimes Sailor Moon, but not always. This most recent one was from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Now I’ve seen MLP and enjoyed it as did my 1 year old daughter.  I’m definitely impressed by what Laura Faust made out of the festering 90’s cesspool of Yore.  But I’m far from what you would call a fan. This young person’s fanfic was filled to the brim with violence and sexual abuse, and yet he/she specifically asked me  “please dont be too negative because the story is supposed to be sad”. Let me reiterate this is My Little Pony, a show about cartoon ponies.

It’s difficult to make a judgement call on something like this. Mainly because I feel any criticism I give will be received very poorly. So I’d like to say for the record that everything I write here is done so purely out of real concern and not mockery or disrespect. The most important question is one I want you to ask yourself…

Why do you want to hurt these characters so badly?

The last time I checked, Scootaloo was a peppy, young pony on a quest to get her cutie mark. What this young author has written has absolutely nothing to do with Scootaloo, and frankly nothing to do with My Little Pony. The character and setting is a loose fitting mask for the dark, violent story they wanted to express. And this type of fiction is not rare, at least not anymore.

Back in the days when I wrote fan fiction, it was mostly self-insert romances and the original adventures of {insert franchise here}. There were odd ships, yes, but very little if anything like this new crop. In all my time on Livejournal and DA I never came across fan fiction as harsh and volatile as today’s work. Now there are entire genres dedicated to “alpha/beta” relationships in which characters from anything like MLP to Harry Potter savagely rape each other…

savagely rape each other. <— JUST MAKING SURE YOU GOT THAT.

Perhaps there is a misconception that this kind of violent writing is somehow mature or dramatic. But I’m afraid it’s not. It’s more akin to torture porn. Because characters never overcome their problems. They aren’t put in these awful circumstances in order to journey past them. They are put there to suffer, so you can watch them suffer. It’s a writer indulging in a fantasy so readers can also indulge in it.

I don’t want this to come off like I’m judging you and calling you a sick weirdo. I genuinely want you to take a look at what you’re writing and ask yourself “what does this say about me? Why is this my fantasy? Why, when given the opportunity to lord over others, do I choose to hurt them?”

This kind of fanfiction bewilders and concerns me. It says far more about the authors themselves than it does about My Little Pony, Supernatural, Sherlock , what have you.  But one thing is abundantly clear: The  authors of these stories have extremely skewed, and unhealthy views about sex and relationships.

I know that dark writing is often a means of expression and I’ve used it that way in the past. However, there is a difference between expressing sadness/anger and wallowing in it. Trust me, I know. And indulging too often in dark thoughts can actually make you more depressed. That rabbit hole goes very deep, and some find themselves incapable of finding their way back.  It doesn’t make you cool or complex. It just makes you sad.

I know self reflection is difficult and embarrassing. I assure you this was not written with the intent to humiliate or shame. It’s comforting to hide inside the echo chamber of like minded voices. But you asked my opinion and here it is: This is all very disturbing. I’m not offended or disgusted, I’m genuinely concerned at the growing number of authors who delight in torturing the characters they claim to love so much.


4 thoughts on “What went wrong in Fan Fiction?

  1. I’ve been trying to dabble in fan fiction for a while, first one I wrote was a WAFF where Professor Monroe from Cannibal Holocaust teaches young minds why anthropology matters, I wish I was kidding, but I made that exist. Currently I’m trying another WAFF where Sgt. Calhoun de flowers Fix-It Felix from Wreck-It Ralph like only a woman who’s seen war can, but I’ve never written truly rapey sex scenes in my fiction because I think writing tender and sweet love scenes when people expect dark hurt comfort catches readers off guard and touches them on emotional levels their feels were not ready for. The novel trilogy I wrote two thirds of is about an Axis Powers love child whose consciousness of what his gramps Tetsuo did in Nanjing makes his finally finding a woman who wants him near her one of the sweetest, tender romances I’ve created thus far. Likewise my WAFF Sgt Calhoun Fix-It Felix ship fic would involve Calhoun feeling a little nervous, but really excited about this adorable puppy Mario man who loves her with all his honey-glow heart. Adorable puppy man finds love with tough, yet maternal gal pairings probably say a bunch about me psychologically since I feel scared and nervous about romance and might like a tough, maternal gal to snuggle me into sexual maturity and an adult relationship.

  2. It’s telling that my novel trilogy about an Axis Powers Lovechild whose consciousness over his Japanese Imperialist gramps war crimes causes him to gain tender intimacy with the woman who’s happy to have him near her has less troubling sexual politics than most fan fiction these days, I’ve been tinkering with a WAFF where Sgt Calhoun from Wreck It Ralph de flowers Fix-It Felix like only a woman who’s seen war can, but rather than crappy hurt comfort fanfic it’s this sweet and tender exploration of how excited yet nervous Tammy is to make love to the man whose cheeks have got the honey glow for her at last. I’m attempting to create the change I see in the world by making less troubling romances, even if my urge to ship adorable puppy men with tough maternal gals says terrifying things about how scared I am of sex and romance having never entered an adult relationship before.

  3. I don’t think stories like that have much to do with actual sexuality or rape. Fan fiction is usually generated by young and/or inexperienced and/or just flat bad writers. I think a lot of the time these writers mistake hardship and suffering for action, plot, character growth, etc.

    I also think a lot of fan fiction gets created in an echobox. Themes bounce around in the echobox, gaining speed and strength, gaining popularity, until it gets to the point where you have to use those themes to be popular. I doubt most of these people actually realize they’re just pandering to the popularity echo.

    Slash and sex got popular in the fanfic community. As it got popular, like an addiction, it had to keep one-upping itself to stay fresh. So, sex became gay sex between canon straight characters, became BSDM/fetish sex when the gay sex lost that new car smell, became rape fantasies when the BDSM started feeling stale, became literal torture porn. One of these days some new kid will come along and write a fic full of purple, flowery Harlequin Romance porn and that’ll be the hot new thing, and the rape fetish will collapse under its own weight. Then it’ll start all over again.

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