I have, for a number of years, been a participant in the fan fiction and fan video communities and every so often it hits me how racked with disrespect these communities are. It reminds me greatly of the problems of other minority communities that I’ve seen. Members of these communities have internalized popular culture feelings that they are inferior to Legitimate Artists and that their work, therefore, is not truly creative. This is absurd! I have seen incredibly nuanced and insightful works of fan fiction, and the editing on some fan videos are truly top notch. The fact that every part of the work did not originate with one author (the writer or vidder) does not denigrate the contribution that that person contributed. In the professional world, an editor almost never creates the work that he edits. A director gives them the video or film, and they cut it to enhance an emotional effect. The fact that an amateur does the same with someone else’s video does not make them less creative. I would argue that it requires more creativity to take a finished work and bring out something new.
As for fan fiction writing, some of the highest paid writers in Hollywood are the people who fix up film scripts. They take an existing script which includes someone else’s characters and story, and they add to it to make it better. A great number of fan fiction stories are what we call “fix-ups”. Stories where glaring inconsistencies in the original text, or errors (real or imagined) are repaired to make a compelling story. I’m not saying that everyone who writes such a story should be considered a professional. They are not. I am only saying that fan artists deserve respect for the creative work that they do legitimately contribute. No one should be insulted for doing what they love.
The next time that feel the need to insult fan artists, take a moment to step back and realize what went into these works. Please give fan artists the respect that they deserve.
I’ll leave you with a fan video that I just found recently, and I’ll explain why I think that it is relevant.
A Sherlock Fan Video by Avidityfire
This video takes a recurrent theme in the Television show Sherlock (The separation of two friends) and matches it to a song about how we use photographs to remember people when they are away. By pulling out scenes from the show, they distill one essence of the work and draw your attention to the emotions in the work.