so liek! the other day (last week >_>) on IRC, worldserpent posted a link to some interesting fanfic meta.
There's a lot of nattering about elephants and hummus and Stargate fandom, so I'll skip that and summarize the post for you in case you don't want to read it (though I suggest you do): "People need to warn me that I will disagree with their views on canon! Possibly by reading my mind with magic! Because any fic which disrupts my own view for even one second not only staples my eyes open and forces me to read the rest, but is also offensive to me!"
As may be obvious, I think this person's complaint is a bit silly. Of course I sympathize -- most people don't want to read a story they find offensive or which strongly contradicts what they themselves perceive in canon -- but that's why we have the Back button. One thing that bothers me about the post is that she claims she is forced to eat the elephant. What? Nobody's making you do a damn thing. Rather than force down the elephant and puke up tusks, why not go to a table that hasn't got an elephant on it? And if for some reason you can't find a table serving up the things you really like... you might have to set up your own table.
I hate them all the more for being well-written: that gives them a power over me that badly-written stories don't have. These stories seduce me with their snappy dialogue and smooth prose, and then bam! I get slapped in the face with the author's agenda.
I'm sorry, am I the only person who writes fanfic with the goal of convincing the reader that my view of canon is one which is plausible? I always write fanfic with an "agenda" in mind. If I didn't have to convince you, at least a little, that my idea is possible, then it would be canon. Well-written stories which successfully promote their agendas are the stories I APPLAUD. I want more of them. To use a huge fandom as an example (since nobody is familiar with mine): No, I don't like Draco and Harry as a couple. I think it's stupid and totally against canon. However, once or twice, my friend has recced me a Draco/Harry fic. She'd swear it was good, and I'd sigh and put on my bib and dig into the elephant. And you know what? Now and then, a little elephant is pretty tasty.
There have been several times when well-written, convincing fics have totally changed my feelings or thoughts about aspects of canon. Usually, it's stuff where I either didn't have much of an opinion before, or where the change wasn't TOO violent, but it happened just the same... and I'm glad. I feel like I had an epiphany every time someone else's writing makes me say, "Wow, yeah, I never looked at it that way! That totally makes sense!" I can only hope my one of my own fics will ever provoke that response.
Do good fics for things I hate or object to change my mind? Generally not, although it has happened a few times. Do these fics help me understand a chunk of fandom I previously found completely crazy? Often, yes. A good ficcer can show me how a certain group thinks and make me more sympathetic to them, even if I still disagree. when I write, I am big on adhering to facts presented in canon, with ten pages of notes if necessary... but that doesn't mean nobody disagrees with me. Surprisingly, many people feel that non-canon het, faggortry, incest, and/or gay incest, are not compatible with their views on canon. Who knew.
In other words, the world and characters I perceive in canon may be very different from those someone else sees... but that doesn't mean one of us must be wrong. Personally, I write fanfic because I get ideas in my head about things that might have happened before, after, or during a series, and I'd like to write them down and see if anyone agrees, or if I can bring someone around to my point of view. To me, an agenda is inherent to the writing of a fic.
Recently, people have used the "robot argument" to say that some things are too ridiculous to accept, or that really unusual premises HAVE to be labelled AU... but I think that's bullshit. You know what? If you wrote a fic where someone has been a robot THE WHOLE TIME ZOMG, I wouldn't even consider it an AU if you did it right. No, canon DOESN'T SAY the guy's not a robot. Therefore, he might be, and you can fuck off if you don't like that. Obviously, the more your fic differs from my own personal view of canon, the better it'll have to be to make me buy it... but unless you've actually made Starsky & Hutch into teenagers who attend high school on the moon (i.e. changed clear canonical facts), it's not necessarily an AU.
The common factor here is that all of these people seem to want more labels and warnings so that they never ever have to read even a page of something that makes them at all unhappy. Does this fic not match my personal perception of canon? ZOMG IT IS AN AU!! Is it going to contradict something I feel, break up my OTP, portray one of my favorite characters in a negative light, espouse a social or political concept I disagree with, or otherwise make me mildly uncomfortable in some way? DAMMIT, SLAP A LABEL ON THAT BITCH!!
WARNING: MAY CAUSE THINKING
"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'" -- Sean Connery