Chicks be crazy. And we know it, too. Well, most of us. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about fandom. Specifically fanfiction, and exploring how and why women are so fiercely into it.
This is the first part in a series that I have been wanting to write for a long time. My disclaimer is that this is in every way an opinion piece, and in no way based on fact or assumptions on any fandom community. This is all strictly anecdotal. So enjoy my ramblings.
Firstly, I want to explore fangirls themselves. I am one. Most females I know are as well. And I’m not talking ‘OMG PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES ARE LIFE’ kind of girls (though I am one of those too, want to fight about it?), I’m talking fictional character obsession. Where we see a movie or tv show and can’t stop thinking about a character when we close our eyes at night.
The kind of addiction that causes us to take to fanfiction.net in a desperate attempt for more story. And we read the cringeworthy self insert Mary Sue fics with author’s notes begging for gud reviows in the hopes that at least the sex scenes are good. (Spoiler alert, they usually aren’t.)
Just me? I think not. Go ahead and google ‘Harry Potter Fanfic’ and take a gander at what pops up. I’ll wait. Nice to see you again! How was that? Okay, try Walking Dead next. Have fun in that rabbit hole. Back for more? How about Riverdale? Like video games? Try Pokémon or Final Fantasy. There’s something for everyone.
I mean we all have imaginations, right? I asked a bunch of guys I know ridiculous personal questions about how they perceived fictional characters as teenagers, and the general consensus was that if the actress (or good cg render) was hot, she made it into the spank bank.
For girls, as is usually the case, there’s much more to it. My first crush was Fox Mulder. I am dating myself like a motherfucker, but I was old enough in the 90s to be watching The X Files when it first came out. But notice how it was Mulder that was my crush, not David Duchovny? Don’t get me wrong, I could stare at pictures of DD all day (that could be interpreted so badly), but it was the quirky open minded FBI agent that I was in love with.
Yes, in love with… I was a young girl that wanted to grow up to be one half of a kickass alien hunting FBI duo that also went on dates on the weekends. Because I’m romantic as fuck. I’m pretty sure my grade school diary had FOX with a heart around it multiple times.
Approaching my teen years, I got into Leonardo DiCaprio, as many 90s girls did (and still do, let’s be honest). But even then, as much as I loved my 26×36 poster of his face above my bed, the dreams were of being Juliet or Rose or that French chick from The Beach (who totally doesn’t sleep with him in the book because she’s not a total asshole, tyvm Hollywood). I didn’t know Leo as a person, I knew his characters within the realms of their stories.
But this is a Venus/Marsgument that is as old as time. Dudes are visual (tits) and chicks are emotional (her heart fluttered as his lips claimed hers, threading her fingers through his flaxen locks as their souls entwined forever etc.). So it would make sense that teenage boys go ‘just saw Tomb Raider, gonna spank it to Angelina Jolie tonight’, whereas girls go ‘just saw Walking Dead, what if I was Rick’s cool/pretty sister that everyone is friends with and I coax Daryl out of his shell and we ride off into the sunset together on his motorcycle?’
You laugh, but that shit is ALL over Wattpad.
So we fall in love with these characters, and through the course of their canon storyline wonder about things, like how they would react in certain situations or who we’d rather see them romantically involved with. (I’m looking at you, Katniss!) Then when the story runs out it’s all headcanon from here on in, baby!
My favourite fanfics are the ones without original characters (with exceptions, more on that later), because in general OCs are blatant self inserts. And in trying to make these OCs perfect and likeable they end up being intensely unlikeable. (I’m looking at you, Anastasia Steele!)
But it is in these fics that we can see the depth of wish fullfillment in the people that write them. Where they fall in love with these characters and weave these fantasies in their heads and then write it down so the rest of us can enjoy it. Some we enjoy making fun of, because WOW, but some have such well written canon characters that it feeds our own imagination.
My favourite fanfics take canon and make it better. They stay true to the characters and the created world and give me the more that I’m craving. The best example I can give is The Debt Of Time by ShayaLonnie, a Harry Potter fanfiction epic that is over 700,000 words and 154 chapters. It centers around Hermione, and time travel, and soul bonds and friendship and it’s honestly more canon to me than Rowling’s work. I’ve read it more times than any of the Harry Potter books.
My bestie and I are DoT fangirls. We’re Potterheads, for sure, and united in that we are also united in fanfic. Because we always just want more of our favourite characters, more story, just more.
And as an adult now, while I enjoy reading YA novels, good fanfic tends to be more adult. What would make Harry Potter better? Swearing and fucking, of course.
Stay tuned for Part Two!