Why Fanfiction Matters
Fanfiction is a strange topic. When mentioning it, you’re bound to be met with a wide range of reactions, from “You write fanfiction too?” to “You mean that nerdy fiction that tweens write?” As someone who has been in the fanfiction community for quite a while, I have seen my fair share of both well-written stories with in-depth characters and vivid world-building… and fiction that reads like it was written by twelve-year-olds who forgot spell check exists. Regardless, even the worst writers improve as they age, honing their writing skills and eventually creating something worth hyper-fixating on. However, despite the harmless fun of writing about characters of certain fandoms, many people still disregard fanfiction as a childish hobby. What these people fail to realize is that fanfiction does matter, for a variety of reasons.
The first is fan interaction. It seems like certain fandoms such as Harry Potter, Supernatural, and even Twilight just won’t die despite their stories concluding years ago. That is mainly due to the number of dedicated fans still writing and reading about these characters. While the stories aren’t written by the authors of the original source material, fan interpretations can either be a refreshing look at a character or be so similar to the author’s work that it’s hard to tell the difference. Just because the main story is over doesn’t mean it has to stop for readers. In addition, fanfiction can be used as a creative outlet and allow people to become better writers.
Writing can also be therapeutic. Sometimes people will write a character with whom they feel a connection in a situation similar to one that they are currently experiencing, to better cope with the event. This is an example of what someone would call a comfort character. As strange as it may sound, doing this can be a real benefit to people as it helps them feel less alone in whatever situation they are facing.
The last issue is the judgment fanfiction writers face. Fanfiction writers get called childish or face mocking because of the stereotype of it being something only tween girls do. To this, I ask: why do people care so much about what someone does in their free time? There are worse things people can do than writing stories about fictional characters. It’s also not like fanfiction is anything new; some classic literary works we read in Civ, such as Dante’s Inferno, could be considered fanfiction. It keeps people creative, and some of the best storytellers of the modern era got their start by writing fanfiction. It allows people to connect and form bonds in ways they wouldn’t be able to normally. It’s an experience unlike any other, and instead of being scorned, it should be encouraged to allow people to dream and be creative with the characters they love.
It’s Not Okay to Comment on Other People’s Bodies
Regarded by many as a popular music icon with over 90 million records sold worldwide, Ariana Grande has been in the limelight since she was 13 years old performing on Broadway. With time comes experience, and Grande is well aware of the public scrutiny that accompanies fame and fortune. Recently, Grande posted a short video to TikTok addressing people’s overwhelming concern about her body. In it, she addressed how people often compare her current body to the body she used to have, which she mentioned was during a period of her life when she was at her lowest and unhealthiest. While Grande doesn’t owe her audience an explanation, the fact that such a successful artist felt the need to record an explanation is something that her audience should contemplate.
Living as a celebrity and even living as a human being in general brings judgment, whether it be from other people through a screen or from people in one’s daily life, especially in a time where all people have some form of social media, leaving them vulnerable to negative comments regarding their appearance. While the Internet has proven itself to be a positive place where people can come together to discuss shared interests and learn about situations around the world, there’s also plenty of evidence to show how people often feel comfortable body-shaming other people because of the confidence they get from being behind a screen.
Ariana puts it perfectly when she says, “People need to be gentler about commenting on other people’s bodies.” No one is entitled to speak about other people’s physical characteristics, especially when they are unaware of the journey that person has taken to get to the stage of life they’re currently in. Even though celebrities share a large portion of their lives with the media, people need to remember that it doesn’t give them the ability to speak on their personal business or comment on their appearance without knowing what they’re going through physically and mentally, simply because they seem so open.
Every person’s journey with their body is different, and that journey affects them in different ways, good and bad. Even if a comment might be well-intentioned, focusing on people’s bodies reinforces the idea that one’s physical characteristics are a defining factor to who they are, when in reality, one’s character is just as important. Instead of commenting on people’s appearances, people should work to give comments that aren’t appearance-based and praise other beautiful attributes, such as their creativity or their resilience. Positive compliments about a person’s good qualities can brighten someone’s day, rather than a compliment about appearance, which can be hurtful to one’s self-esteem.