One of my biggest web obsessions (websessions?) is PBS’s Idea Channel, where adorable and articulate ginger Mike Rugnetta expands pop culture into bigger ideas, like is Doctor Who a religion? Or what do hot sauce labels say about America? Recently, Rugnetta and his team took on the fan fiction phenomenon become canon Korrasami.
I know 14 minutes is an eternity in web content, but trust me this vid’s worth the runtime.
Fan fiction is often derided, regarded as sub-par, hyper-sexualized riffs and shippings of popular fictional characters from manic mega-fans. But what Idea Channel breaks down is how fan fiction is a brand of art in its own right that’s respectability has changed over time. That topic was previously explored in this compelling vid that details how Sherlock Holmes and Fifty Shades of Grey are connected.
Rugnetta now posits that fan fiction is not only a way for the characters on a given show or movie to have a life outside of the canonical property, but one that challenges the lack of LGBT diversity in mainstream pop culture. For instance, The Legend of Korra finale had an implied lesbian relationship that fans had not only been pushing for for years, but also created fan art to take us where the show did not dare to go. (Like the GIF up top.)
It’s all too easy to snark at fan fiction. But with the explosion of it on the internet, it’s becoming increasingly impossible to deny fan fiction’s impact on the very properties it is influenced by. It’s sometimes a circle. And in the case of The Legend of Korra, it’s one that is giving a voice to those too often marginalized.
Whether consciously or not, Hollywood’s money men propagate the lie that audiences want only straight white male heroes. (It’s the way it’s always been done, so it must be right, right?) But fan art shows us a passionate audience thirsting for more diverse narratives. And with the success of Fifty Shades of Grey—a movie based on a book that began as Twilight fan fiction—this is a truth that even studios might need to take notice of.
So five-highs to fan fiction.