Fan writing, especially the more highly publicized homoerotic form known as “slash,” has gained a certain rebel mystique. As media conglomerates become ever larger and copyright law expands to curb the free exchange of internet file-sharing, any instance of consumer agency may be interpreted as subversive to corporate control, while stories written by amateur authors and circulated beyond the professional publishing apparatus may appear stridently rebellious.

(…) Implicit assumptions that the content of fan writing meaning fully diverges from the limited set of options provided in mainstream mass media cannot account for fans’ creative work that happily reproduces forms, themes, and content borrowed directly from the mainstream, at times even normalizing conventions, like “benign rape,” which could arguably be termed reactive and regressive. 

Some fan fiction does indeed produce radically transformative and transgressive racial, sexual, and class scenarios, but after living in the same culture as professional writers, fans’ writing cannot be assumed to present a meaningful ideological divergence merely by virtue of its amateur status or provocative appropriation of published characters.

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