When writing about RPF, there is one crucial question that makes it different from other parts of fandom (generally accepted as media fandoms).

How does it work without a clearly-defined central
canon text to play with?

MARTIN, Anna (2014). Writing the star. Stardom, fandom and real person fanfiction,

Now for those who expected the difference to be between fiction and reality, I invite you to message me and continue an everending discussion on whether that difference exist as something we can interact with. But when it comes to the way fans approach the source material, reality doesn’t figure into it. Whether there is a living, breathing body connected to our favourite ships, is also of no concern as even Henry Jenkins already talked about how fans read these bodies on the screen. What does is whether there is a central, agreed upon canon text or the fandom lacks it.

So the question is: how, indeed? What is your experience, how do transformative works operate without canon texts?

Why is RPF different?
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2 thoughts on “Why is RPF different?

  • 05/03/2021 at 14:24

    What do you think, how different it is compared to fandoms centered around a side character from a clearly-defined canon who don’t actually have much ‘screentime’ in it? In my experience a lot of them have nearly as well-defined fanon personalities and backgrounds as some more central characters. Would RPF allow for the same kind of ‘overwrite of canon’?

  • 11/03/2021 at 07:23

    Hi! This seems like a discussion I can participate in as I’ve been reading RPF for a very long time and have started to write my own RPF fics. Of course, I can only speak for my own experience and perhaps people operating with similar fandoms as I do may relate to an extent.

    My fandom is K-Pop so I primarily write RPF for idols in these industries. I feel like for current purposes there are two ways writing “without a canon text” operate for these fandoms. The first one would be writing an alternate universe where the idol is a different person (i.e. they have different jobs, may even be genderbent, etc.) but preserving some kind of personality that we, as fans, ascribe to them. Of course, this does not mean we assume idols to have that kind of personality in their real lives. We merely use their public personas to build our characters with (an idol may have a “cool” image, another may have a “cute” image, etc.)

    The second way is writing these idols in their “canon”, or perhaps more accurately within the idolverse. We write their experience in the industry, how they cope with fame, etc. Sometimes this means we also work from situations that happened in reality and consider that as canon. For example, one of the most significant situations that happened in my fandom is when one of the idols suddenly left the group. Many authors wrote stories based on this situation, and others wrote “fix-it fics” where the idol patched things up with the rest of the group, remained in contact with other members, etc. Again, we understand that this is just fiction and idols or anyone for that matter do not owe us an explanation for their actions.

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