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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

If you are staying up late to read your seventh fanfiction this week with a laptop warming up your lap and the wall clock striking 1 am, then let me tell you that you are not wasting your time but participating in a much larger movement of subverting hierarchies. Yes, just by participating in the fanfiction culture, either through reading or writing, you are raising your voice against the canon, its hegemony and the discourse of high brow literature. 

While the concept of fanfiction might seem naïve to some people, it is actually a much more loaded concept wherein the fans take control of the narrative and create their own stories. It is through this takeover by the fandom that power is subverted. After all, they who hold the narrative hold the power. 

Resounding Voices

Fanfiction gives space to people from marginalized groups to voice their own stories. Be it portraying Hermoine from Harry Potter as a woman of color or reimagining popular characters as queer, fanfiction allows alternate voices, voices that would never be taken up by mainstream media or canon, to assert their identities. 

Let’s take the example of J K Rowling and her not-so-recent transphobic comments. One would assume that having the creator of Harry Potter be essentially cancelled by progressive audiences, the fandom of Harry Potter would now be finished. On the contrary, the fandom has collectively taken the control of the Wizarding World from Rowling and is using the fictional world to voice their own opinion. This particular fanfiction is the perfect example of the fandom taking over control.

This subversive aspect of fanfiction is limited not only to problematic creators like Rowling but also to disappointing or ambiguous storylines and endings of different texts. When the fandom feels that the creators of a show/movie/book have not done justice to a text, they take the narrative and mold it to their own satisfaction. Given the plurality and diversity of fandoms, you will find that there are multiple interpretations of the same text.

A Marxist Reading

Cornel Sandvoss in Fans: The Mirror of Consumption talks about the first wave of fanfiction theory being influenced by Marxism. This is in reference to the powerless fans in the face of mighty franchises and corporations that owned the rights to the texts’ characters and storylines. They used to have hegemonic control over their creations. But after fanfiction became more common, fans were no longer powerless but could now take the narrative into their own hands. 

If we look at it closely, fanfiction, in its current form, is then actually an infringement of copyright laws. But doesn’t that make it even more powerful?

Fanfiction (on the internet) is free from commercial and capitalistic ties. It is a Marxist protest to read and write fanfiction, a big 'screw you' to powerful corporations who commodify culture and prey on the audience’s emotional attachment to a TV show/movie/book. 

Through fanfiction, we get to participate in a huge culture spread internationally through the internet. We get to exchange ideas, read and critique other people’s work, have our own writing reviewed by strangers and, not to forget, be a part of a fandom. Of course, like any space on the internet, fanfiction can sometimes be a little bit of a nuisance and all rules of cyberbullying apply. One must be safe when participating in online fandom conversations. Keeping this aside, the potential of fanfiction as a weapon of the common people cannot be ignored. Fanfiction does not come in beautified covers or hard-bound copies. It is free for all and in that ‘free-ness’ lies its protest against capitalism and totalitarian authority. 

Yashica

Delhi South '22

Yashica (she/her) is an undergraduate based in Delhi, India. A student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women, she is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature. Her poetry has been published by Sapphic Writers, The Red Megaphone, AsianZine, and The Write Order. She is also the coordinator of the creative writing society of her college. While she briefly worked as a content writer, she usually finds herself writing about the grotesque realities of the human psyche and society. Her work ranges from horror fiction to confessional poetry. She also writes about Dalit issues and her experiences as a member of the queer community.
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