Monday, April 30, 2007

Fan Fiction & Reading Contemplations - Julianne Seubert

Seinfeld Fan Fiction

Fan fiction illustrates how the internet enables individuals to exert their control over things which previously remained inaccessible. For example, through fan fiction devotees are able to dictate how their favorite TV programs and movies play out. Hearken back a decade, and the only way people could respond to their favorite movies programs was through conversation or reviews. Yet society has undergone such a radical transformation in that individuals can now script their own episodes through fan fiction. Accordingly, Seinfeld has always been one of my favorite programs for the characters witty banter and comical antics never cease to entertain me. Consequently, when browsing’s list of television programs, I made a point of scouting out Seinfeld. Reading the various plots that fans have come up with is a testament to how individuals can use the internet to convert television into a creative outlet. For example, I came across a script entitled “the Schizophrenic” which exhibited such a striking similarity to a real Seinfeld episode that I was surprised it hadn’t been published. Moreover, Fan fiction enables individuals to connect with others by sharing their ideas with fellow enthusiasts: creating a network of individuals united by their creativity and interests.

Rules and Regulations of Fan Fiction

I found it interesting how strict the rules for fan fiction are. For example, when I came across the guidelines for Star Wars fan fiction it stated that all stories must be set in the Star Wars Universe only: no crossovers with other media or the real world. This is rather interesting, considering Star Wars fans cultivate their relationships with other Star Wars fiends via the media. Yet no one objects to these rules: they have become an accepted component of the fan fiction culture. I also found the review process quite exhausting. In regards to the review process, states: “At least two reviewers must approve your story before it becomes archived. A reviewer is a fan fiction archive volunteer who has read extensively in your type of story. For example, if you submit a Luke/Mara story, it will be assigned to two reviewers who love reading about Luke/Mara and have read many stories of that type. If two reviewers disagree, the story gets sent on to one of three editors, who has the final word. Note that reviewers and editors are not beta readers, although some may function as both.” Reading this infused me with a newfound respect for fan fiction authors. They must cut through so much red tape in order to publish their script, yet they continue to persevere in order for their story to be shared. It also shed light on the credibility of authors, for the intense review process is used so that the script aligns with the original published work. Moreover, fan fictions reliance on the internet illustrates the power of the web as it enables amateur authors to find mainstream success.

The Guardian,,1336775,00.html#article_continue

Fan Fiction is incredibly influential as it has the power to penetrate ones emotions. Fan Fiction weaves characters into the reader’s fantasies: creating an erotic yet powerfully serious read. I thus found it interesting that fan fiction is scorned by individuals who cannot get past the sexiness of the genre. Yet while this provocative writing does entice readers, I think it represents the reason individuals are able to live vicariously through their fantasies. Walters states “By putting in the sexuality, the humor and the irony that the original tales often lack, these writers can change the way some readers see the works, and not always negatively.” Thus individuals, who aren’t interested in the published version of television series or movies, are suddenly paying attention because of how fan fiction authors creatively incorporate the humor or sexuality that the original versions lack. Moreover, the fantasy that pervades fan fiction is a testament to how individuals can cultivate relationships through their imaginations.

Friends meets Sex and the City

In regards to a piece of fan fiction I could write, I think that creativity is essential to appealing to an audience. Part of the motive devotees write fan fiction is because it allows them to add things to a show, movie, or book that they would like to see incorporated. Accordingly, if an individual had a creative twist or hilarious antic that they insert into their script, individuals with the same interest will be drawn to it. Something that I have always been infatuated with is when two TV shows fuse together (think back to our childhood days when they made the “Flintstones meet the Jetsons” movie.) Consequently, in regards to a fan fiction script I would propose bringing two sitcoms or dramas together (or maybe a sitcom and a drama) and then coming up with the plot.

For example, imagine what would happen if you brought the characters from “Friends” together with the characters of “Sex and the City”? The result would be quite enjoyable. There is no doubt that Joey, Ross, and Chandler would have a field day with the classy and gorgeous New Yorkers Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte. However it would be deliciously unavoidable to have a few vicious catfights between the women interspersed with many extravagant shopping trips. But hey, this script actually could be plausible. Think about it: both shows are set in New York, both appeal to young adults and adults, both lace comedy and drama throughout their plots, both enrapture audiences with beautiful characters and scandalous relationships. Honestly, fusing Sex and the City with Friends would surely appeal to fans. Fan Fiction is powerful in that it enables individuals to sculpt the experiences of their favorite characters. Fans of Sex and the City and Friends would thus have a heyday if they got to sculpt the experiences of such a diverse array of characters. Of course scandal would be essential to the plot, but then again, we live in a culture that is infatuated with watching beautiful people engage in appalling antics.

Digital Speech and Democratic Culture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, and Piracy

I have always thought of the technological infrastructure as conducive to democratic culture in that it supports free expression and democratic participation. However, in his essay “Digital Speech and Democratic Culture” Jack Balkin addresses how those same technologies can also create methods of control that limit participation. Individuals can use telecommunication networks to become active participants in the production of public culture. However, Balkin posits that businesses that control telecommunication networks seek to limit participation because it is inconsistent with their economic interests. Moreover, the very same technologies that offer these possibilities also offer media companies a myriad of ways to push their favored content and products. Consequently, these businesses will try to halt participation that is inconsistent with their economic interests because they want to direct internet users to their own goods rather than towards their competitors. Interestingly, Balkin makes the claim that business strive to push consumers back into their pre-internet roles as “passive recipients of mass media content”. Paradoxically they encourage interactivity that facilitates the purchase of their own goods. This is an extremely important fact, for I had previously been oblivious to the fact that technology can actually limit individual’s democratic participation.

One of the most points in John Perry Barlow’s essay “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” is that Cyberspace is supposed to be a realm void of privilege, prejudice and power. Cyberspace is supposed to be realm where individuals are free from society’s judgmental wrath: a sanctuary where the keyboard is the medium for self expression and chartrooms lead to the cultivation of relationships. Accordingly, Lawrence Lisseg’s article about Piracy serves as an example of how individuals are being deprived of the rewards they deserve for their creative property. The Declaration of Cyberspace works to acknowledge how the internet should be a frontier of self-expression and identity formation. While piracy isn’t an issue of cyberspace rights, it is an issue revolving around individual rights. By using someone else’s creative property without permission from the creator, the artist is being violated and taken advantage of. Similarly, government intervention in Cyberspace violates individuals for it leads to the formation of a hostile virtual society governed by laws rather than the mind. When the government tries to enact laws in cyberspace and when artists lose credit for their own work, the human mind is being robbed of the right of creative expression: a demoralizing violation.

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