In Dull TV Days, Favorites Take Wing Online

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Press Commentary
Title: In TV's Dull Summer Days, Plots Take Wing on the Net
Commentator: Amy Harmon
Date(s): August 18, 1997
Venue: The New York Times, print
External Links: Link to article
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In TV's Dull Summer Days, Plots Take Wing on the Net appeared in the New York Times in 1997.


In this season of their recurring discontent, fans of TV shows from the critically acclaimed drama "E.R." to the campy "Xena: Warrior Princess" have already moved on, coloring cyberspace with back stories, subplots and character arcs that veer gleefully astray from their creators' more predictable plans.

Unfettered by formula or the strictures of internal consistency, fan fiction traces its roots to the photocopied pamphlets passed around in the 1970s by the notoriously cultish "Star Trek" devotees at conventions and through the mail.

But the recent outpouring of digitized fan scribbling -- one "X-Files" Web archive has accumulated 6,000 stories in its 18 months of existence -- seems to signal the genesis of a cultural movement with a much broader appeal."

"If you go back, the key stories we told ourselves were stories that were important to everyone and belonged to everyone,"said Henry Jenkins, director of media studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of owned by the folk."