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:
- staggeringly high page view count on the serialized fiction platform, Wattpad
- sexually explicit content
- depiction of 1D member Harry Styles as an emotionally abusive boyfriend
- 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.