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"We Need To Talk About How We Talk About Fan Fiction" by Ciara Wardlow

Contextualizes fanfic as part of women's SFF reading and writing: Yay!!!

Anyway, as fan fiction has started to seep into the wider public consciousness, I have also noticed a growing derisive attitude towards it, especially since coming to be damned as the source of 50 Shades of Grey. A review of The Last Jedi for WIRED magazine features the line, “After a recent decade in which the majority of big-budget blockbusters have become at best, impressive adaptations of old comics and at worst over-engineered fan-fiction,” and such comments are not uncommon. When it comes to derisive comments about fan fiction, we culture critics seem to be the worst perpetrators. Over at The Verge, a critical review of the most recent season of Game of Thrones ran under the headline “This season of Game of Thrones feels like fan fiction.” While I actually agree with the majority of the complaints made in the review in question, I must take issue with the headline. Season 7 felt like just okay fanfiction, because have you ever read the really good stuff? It would blow the pants off the penultimate season’s lopsided character development and at times unfortunately trite plot machinations.

“Like fan fiction” is an increasingly common criticism being thrown around in the world of pop culture commentary. Fan fiction is a female-dominated expression of fandom, and it is arguably the expression of fandom that is quickly starting to receive the most derision, even as fan culture becomes more and more mainstream. There is a long and well-documented history of things considered feminine—whether personality traits, pastimes, or forms of entertainment—being devalued and disproportionately criticized. I think it entirely possible that these two things are not unconnected.

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