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Jenny Reads After

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The latest fanfic sensation sweeping the internet is After, a One Direction RPF written by a twenty-five year old named Anna Todd. Ms. Todd’s fanfic is getting a lot of attention due to its:

  1. staggeringly high page view count on the serialized fiction platform, Wattpad
  2. sexually explicit content
  3. depiction of 1D member Harry Styles as an emotionally abusive boyfriend
  4. recent representation of film rights by United Talent

As you may remember from my 50 Shades of Grey recaps and various other long-winded rants, I am not a fan of P2P or fanfic properties garnering a profit. But I feel there’s a bit of a murky line when it’s literally just the names of famous people inserted into original fanfic. After all, lots of authors (myself included) base our characters of the appearance and speech patterns of celebrities. The only difference I can see with RPF is the fact that those celebrities are depicted as actual representations of themselves through the use of their names.

In the case of a fic like After, I can understand why that would be problematic. I’m sure Harry Styles is probably not over the moon about being depicted as a total dickhead in a book that has millions of readers. But I don’t think it’s quite the same as what we saw with 50 Shades of Grey. There’s a difference between taking someone’s name and building a character around it and taking someone’s character and changing their name.

Still, I am intrigued to the point of recap by the author of After openly admitting that she doesn’t edit her work because it might ruin it (clearly laboring under the delusion that all first drafts are pure gold and the touch of an editor’s hand is like some reverse philosopher’s stone), as well as the abusive boyfriend content that we’ve all come to crave now that our wet, wanton holes have been filled to maximum capacity by the 50 Shades of Grey media glut. Oh. We are so ready.

It will also give us a chance to discuss how our media culture exploits the sexuality of teen girls while simultaneously dismissing the same sexuality. Even the Jezebel article linked above makes a snarky jab at the fact that After has a large audience of female teens. Material marketed toward teen girls– packaged supergroup One Direction among those materials– rake in tons of cash, but are mocked as lacking value. I’m not going to argue that all of those things have some underrated artistic value, just that the near universal hatred of these franchises is disproportionate to the derision our culture holds for fads traditionally marketed toward teen boys.

Marvel movies, for example.

So, beginning this week, expect to see recaps of After in two to three chapter chunks. The chapters are quite short, especially in comparison to the forty-pages-of-absolutely-nothing-going-on monstrosities in 50 Shades. Keeping the recaps shorter enables me to stick to my other blogging features like Merlin Club, The Big Damn Buffy Rewatch, and Wednesday Blogging.

Look for the first recap later in the week, and if you haven’t had a chance to read After or you’d like to read along, you can find it– and its sequels– here.

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35 Comments

  1. She doesn’t. Believe. In editing.

    What.

    April 21, 2014
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    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Right?! I can’t wait for the glorious mess (or just plain mess) this will turn out to be.

      April 21, 2014
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    • Right?! I wish I could edit IRL conversations. I’d be so much wittier.

      April 22, 2014
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  2. Obviously, being absolute up to the minute and bang on the button, I haven’t a clue what After is but I am really looking forward to reading along with you! 😉

    Cheers

    MTM

    April 21, 2014
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    • Teresa B
      Teresa B

      I’m with you MTM! Haven’t read it but looking forward to the recaps 🙂

      April 21, 2014
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  3. Some wincing and cackling is long overdue 🙂 I’m glad it’s more manageable for you too.

    April 21, 2014
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  4. Rachel Ozanne
    Rachel Ozanne

    I was unaware of RPF until your post, but heard about wattpad a couple of weeks ago and was intrigued by the possibilities. It seems like it’s not an unproblematic format (especially the attitude toward editing!), but it might be a good way to circumvent traditional publishing. I don’t know. In any case, I’ll be reading along!

    April 21, 2014
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  5. She doesn’t believe in editing? Who is she, Anne Rice?

    This is gonna be good. And by good, I mean the recaps, not the actual fic.

    April 21, 2014
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  6. MaryKate
    MaryKate

    Godspeed Jen. I just heard about After yesterday and read a bit; the writing does make E.L. James look like Michael Chabon. But now that you’re going to be doing recaps, I might need to continue reading. It made the 50 Shades recaps that much more enjoyable. (Longtime blog reader, first time commenter.)

    April 21, 2014
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  7. Teresa B
    Teresa B

    Does EVERY fanfic have to be made into a movie or have film rights? Geez. Makes me want to boycott the theater.

    April 21, 2014
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    • Lee
      Lee

      I agree with you! I am SO happy FSOG is banned over here. At leat my country got one band right.

      March 13, 2015
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      • Lee
        Lee

        Damn, I hate autocorrect. Sorry for the errors!

        March 13, 2015
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  8. Flo
    Flo

    I guess the question I have is just how much will the movies stick to the original tale? Or is this simply a case of too many people in the movie making biz who no longer have the ability to come up with an original idea? I can see where that could be a situation where someone could be taken advantage of. “Oh, wow, you want to buy my story and turn it in to a movie? Sure, I’ll sell it to you for $10,000. Just think of all the clothing I can buy with that”. Producer- “wow, this is great, this kid has no idea just how much money I can make off this idea!”

    April 21, 2014
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  9. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    I’m VERY excited/looking forward to reading your recaps. I’ve been seeing the same news about “After” recently and I almost, ALMOST started reading it this morning just to see how terrible it was, but then I thought, “Nope. It will only depress me.” You are a brave lady.

    April 21, 2014
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  10. Kim H
    Kim H

    de-lurking just to say yay for more recaps!

    April 21, 2014
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  11. Alison
    Alison

    I’d never heard of it so I followed the link and skimmed the first few chapters. Wow, it’s super boring.

    April 21, 2014
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  12. She doesn’t believe in editing? *Smacks head* That means she’s lazy and she thinks she will be a special snowflake for her publishing company and an editor will do all the work for her.

    Sad thing is, even with the editing errors, this p2p will end up being a big hit ala Fifty Shades.

    April 22, 2014
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  13. Honey
    Honey

    “Her favorite books include 50 Shades of Grey…”

    Well that explains it all, doesn’t it? (Quote taken from her bio on Wattpad)

    April 22, 2014
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  14. Gwen
    Gwen

    I…. no…. it’s so bad. So, so bad. The grammar and misspellings are enough to make me want to punch someone in the throat. And don’t even get me started on the “story”. You, Jenny, deserve a medal for even considering to recap this awful, awful …. I can’t even bear to call it a book …… thing.

    April 22, 2014
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  15. Kristen
    Kristen

    I’m so excited for this–mostly because I really miss your commentary on sexuality and abuse from the 50 Shades recaps.

    Also, THIS: “…the near universal hatred of these franchises is disproportionate to the derision our culture holds for fads traditionally marketed toward teen boys.

    Marvel movies, for example.”

    April 22, 2014
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  16. TayciBear
    TayciBear

    Looking forward to it. Theres been a hole in my heart since the end of your 50 Shades of Grey Recaps.

    April 22, 2014
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  17. Theresa
    Theresa

    So, I started reading it. You’ve got your work cut out for you. It’s… just bad. Awful, really. And stay out of the cesspool that is the comments section. It will just depress you.

    April 22, 2014
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  18. Irene
    Irene

    I read the first chapter and didn’t feel like reading any further. Not particularly bad, just boring. So I’ll be glad to come round for the recaps 😀

    April 22, 2014
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  19. Jessica
    Jessica

    Uhh, I just read a few of the comments on Wattpad about After. I don’t understand how so-called fans of fiction can themselves be completely incoherent in their own writing. Broken education system, perhaps!? Most of the comments are nonsense, so I can only assume the book is equally dreadful. Good luck Jenny! While I can’t bring myself to read the story itself, I will happily enjoy your recaps.

    April 22, 2014
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  20. Radiance
    Radiance

    I read your post and thought ‘Hey, it can’t possibly be all that bad!,’ so I started reading.

    I’m sorry I ever doubted you.

    April 22, 2014
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  21. Flo
    Flo

    I have to say that I went to read–got through a couple of chapters and quit. Little girl style of writing, not what I’m used to. You’ve spoiled me Jenny!!! Looking forward to you picking this apart. 🙂

    April 23, 2014
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  22. Suzy
    Suzy

    I got as far as her bio where it said her favorite book is FSoG and stopped. If I get Alzheimer’ I don’t want her book to be my memory.

    April 23, 2014
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  23. Ilex
    Ilex

    I feel slightly confused. This story is popular basically for the sole reason that the lead male character is named Harry Styles (apparently standing in for Chedward) … but he’s not in a band or anything … so readers are supposed to picture the Harry Styles in their heads, without this actually being about him? Or something like that? My head is spinning with the meta here. But whatever. I’ll happily read the recaps!

    April 23, 2014
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  24. Kristin
    Kristin

    Well- I’m excited for the recaps anyways! I’d never heard of After until your blog post, so decided I should totally go check it out. *spoiler alert* after the subconscious grabbed popcorn and made two other appearances, he “kissed me. really kissed me”, and we found out she’d never been touched…that way” my head exploded.
    Kudos to you for taking on recaps. As for me, I don’t think I can take anymore After first hand. We’ll see, though. I need to have something to read, but I’ve been saving The Bride for my vacation reading, and I still have several days until I can catch up with my favorite fictional couple! I may be forced to either read more After. Or maybe I could just re-read The Boss and The Girlfriend instead!

    April 23, 2014
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  25. Michelle
    Michelle

    I have a degree in sociology and was raised catholic, so I’m very much looking forward to engaging in the discussion about teenage girl sexuality and how -and you’re totally right about this- it’s simultaneously exploited and dismissed. And maybe I’m juuuuust a bit of a Harry Styles fan. Oh I can’t wait for the Trout Treatment this fic is get.

    Good luck, Jenny. Guide us through!

    April 23, 2014
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  26. Worm
    Worm

    Ok, so having seen that her favourite book is FSoG I was totally prepared to hate read this. Then I started and blew through the first book in one evening. While I wasn’t too impressed because NOTHING HAPPENS HOW THE HELL WILL THEY MAKE A MOVIE OUT OF THIS, I also started getting the feeling that she was totally trolling E.L. James. Not just in the way she was stealing stuff from FSoG, but the way she was FIXING stuff from FSoG. It’s like she read your re-caps about the lack of consent, unrealistic virginity losing, blond woman shaming and abusive boyfriend behaviour, and then turned a corrective PSA into a 1D fanfic so teenage girls would read it. I just started the second book, and at this point I would be in no way surprised if Harry ended up killing Tessa as a lesson to us all.

    April 24, 2014
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  27. Aflix
    Aflix

    This is going to be brilliant! I started reading a bit of it last night and I can honestly say that it seems to be a plagiarised version of 50 Shades (similar character dynamics, similar insecurities and mary-sue -isms)which is mind-boggling considering that 50 Shades is a plagiarised version of Twilight. It’s plagiarinception!

    April 24, 2014
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  28. JLDA
    JLDA

    OMG. I had never heard of this thing until you started this, and in the spirit of “can’t criticize what you haven’t read for yourself” I started reading. Oh. Dear. God.

    1)I’m actually starting to think this makes 50 shades look feminist. The Harry character is incredibly abusive, and the lesson that it’s teaching is it’s okay for a guy to treat you like crap if he’s “troubled”.

    2) I’m not sure the author has ever actually had sex based on her “descriptions” of the act. (Or if she has, it has NOT been good).

    3) the lesson of the (completely unsexy) sex scenes (at least the intercourse ones) seems to be that it’s enjoyable for women only if the guy is having a good time because it always is going to hurt. See #2 above.

    4) There is actually a guy who owns a publishing house in this book named “Christian.” I kid you not.

    5) On one hand, we have a heroine so emotionally stunted that she can’t even say words related to sex, but her inexperience is supposed to make her the “best he’s ever had”. Also one of the other characters acts like she’s a freak for still being a virgin in college at 18, which a LOT of people are.

    SPOILERS (as if it matters)

    6) Apparently the only way to lend a male lead any emotional depth is to tell a rape story about his mother. Over and over again. Folks with trigger issues be ware.

    7) the author has read Dangerous Liaisons once too many times.

    May 6, 2014
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  29. Lee
    Lee

    I have always hated After. It is pathetic and DOES glamorize abusive relationships. I’ve had arguments with people over this. It’ written by a married woman who really needs to get a life.

    Also, the fact that Cosmo called Anna a sensation or whatever of this generation makes me want to puke.
    1. She is NOT of this generation.
    2. The genius of our generation is a code 404: Not found.

    Another thing. I like how Afternators (yes, that pathetic fandom has a name) think that Anna Todd write quotes like ‘Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same’

    HA HA HA!

    If you idiots knew anything, they would know that quote was written by Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heights which is actually what literature is.

    After makes me sick and I agree with you here Jenny.

    March 13, 2015
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