If Frodo loved Bilbo...

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Press Commentary
Title: If Frodo loved Bilbo...
Commentator: John Allemang
Date(s): 30 November 2002
Venue: Globe and Mail
Fandom:
External Links: If Frodo loved Bilbo... via Wayback
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If Frodo loved Bilbo... is an article about fanfiction which appeared in Globe and Mail in November 2002.[1] The author interviewed Thamiris who talked about pseudonymity, writing, community, slash, and fanfiction as literature.
When it comes to sharing her gift with the outside world, our Thamiris is filled with maidenly modesty. It's not so much the erotic nature of what she writes -- most of it highly charged male/male pairings designed to boldly split a prim grammarian's tight infinitives -- as the fact that her literary output is, she says with an intellectual's secret shame, "based on TV."[1]
The article name-checks Henry Jenkins and the author's research must have included the Foresmutters Project because he refers to numbers[2] that could only have come from there: "Fan-fiction archivist Mary Ellen Curtin, writing two years ago, offered a very conservative estimate of half-a-million 'fanfic' stories in on-line circulation. The number is far greater now. 'It's a huge literary movement that the official publishing and academic world is largely unaware of,' says Sharon Cumberland of Seattle University."[1] Cumberland is identified as the author of a study about five women who wrote collaborative fiction revolving around characters played by Antonio Banderas.

The article has a strong focus on the legitimacy of the genre and is fairly positive, even if it gets some things wrong. For example, it mentions that "the genre's leading Web site, fanfiction.net, has recently banned the more salacious forms of sexual storytelling known as slash (after the oblique line that separates the two partners in a coupling)."[1] This probably refers to Fanfiction.net banning NC-17 fanfic which shows that the author conflates explicit fanfic with homoerotic fanfic, a common mistake that outsiders reporting on fandom make. However, the article gets many things right as well, such as this good insight into some of the controversial fannish topics at the time: "There are many Web-log discussions about the need for moral boundaries within the on-line free-for-all -- though granted, these tend to be less about avoiding sex than advising against couplings that involve real-life boy-band members or underage screen characters."[1]

Fandoms, Fans, and Fanfic

Fandoms mentioned include Hercules, Smallville, Buffy, AtS, Star Trek, Starsky and Hutch, General Hospital, and Queer as Folk. Strangely enough, given the title of the article, Lord of the Rings isn't mentioned at all. Fan writer Tara O'Shea is mentioned in connection with the medium's value.

The article quotes from Thamiris's Sexed-Up Grammar Guide, her Bible slash story In Principio, and several stories by other authors who were not aware that they would be quoted in the article. Some authors were caught off guard by this and there was discussion about it on livejournal.[3] Mary Ellen Curtin called it "something of a journalist landmark, because it's the first story on fanfic/slash I've seen in which stories were quoted wholesale without the authors' permission. Welcome to the Internet, please secure all tray tables and seat backs in the upright and locked position, enjoy your flight."[3] Although the general reception of the article was positive[4], some fans pointed out that it focuses too much on sex and femslash isn't mentioned at all.[5]

The excerpts in the article are introduced as "a selection of fan fiction, from the steamier end of the spectrum" and were taken from the following stories:

  • Fancy's Hot Fire by Jungle Kitty (Star Trek)
  • The Road Home by Merryish (Smallville)
  • Rite of Passage by Rushlight (Harry Potter)
  • Supple by LaT (Due South)
  • Elizabeth and Darcy by Cassandra (Pride and Prejudice)

Reactions and Reviews

  • "A Star Trek-heavy and fairly accurate article about fanfic, but more specifically, the prevalence of slash -- and more to the point, salacious slash. Mentions some well-known names out of fandom (I recognized them, anyway), including Thamiris and Mary Ellen Curtain, which adds credibility. It's a keeper -- and not just because it led me to another promising-looking DS author, lol."[6]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 John Allemang. If Frodo loved Bilbo..., in: Globe and Mail, 30 November 2002. (Accessed 07 December 2009)
  2. Fan Fiction Statistics, data from June 2000. (Accessed 07 December 2009)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Discussion in Thamiris' livejournal. (Accessed 07 December 2009)
  4. Slash in the Canadian News, discussion in Thamiris' livejournal, 30 November 2009. (Accessed 07 December 2009)
  5. Fan Fiction - sizzling and predominately female, posted to the Willow/Tara Kittenboard, 02 December 2002. (Accessed 07 December 2009)
  6. Bennie Robbins. Metafic (Accessed 01 April 2012)