Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction

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Press Commentary
Title: Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction
Commentator: Elizabeth Minkel
Date(s): 02 April 2012
Venue: online magazine article (The Millions)
Fandom: Twilight
External Links: Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction
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Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction is an article about Fifty Shades of Grey and the literary tradition of fanfiction.

The book is notable, too, because to some degree, it’s forced erotica into the mainstream conversation. Much of the coverage of Fifty Shades of Grey has focused on sex: women are passing around the novels at spin classes and telling the Times how nice it is to be able to read porn and talk about it with friends. (“It’s relighting a fire under a lot of marriages,” one woman said.) But then there are the books’ origins: the trilogy started on FanFiction.net, as a story entitled “Master of the Universe,” in which James’ main characters, Anastasia Steele and Christian Grey, were called Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. It was Twilight AU, or Alternate Universe fan fiction, wherein Stephenie Meyer’s innocent girl and vampire were re-imagined as innocent girl and manipulative billionaire. The story eventually morphed into something more original — and “Masters of the Universe” was removed from the web — but the threads remained.

The article criticizes that journalist often sound "like anthropologists discovering some long-lost tribe — and a somewhat unsavory and oversexed one at that", when they write about fanfiction, and that "outside of all of the various fandoms, and even occasionally within them, a few assumptions seem to prevail: that there is something inherently embarrassing about fan fiction, that it’s cause for anonymity and secrecy." Lev Grossman's arcticle The Boy Who Lived Forever is mentioned as a much better approach and from there the article goes on a historical journey to show that using someone else's universe/canon/characters is part of our literary heritage.

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