RPS and privacy

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Title: RPS and privacy
Creator: ignazwisdom
Date(s): April 29, 2007
Medium: online
Fandom: RPS, Bandom
External Links: page 1; archive link, page 1; page 2; archive link, page 2
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

RPS and privacy is a 2007 LiveJournal post by ignazwisdom.

The post has 119 comments.

Some Topics Discussed


...what, if any, precautions do you take to keep the "wrong people" from stumbling across your RPF? Sidebar: what kind of RPF do you write (gen, het, or slash? Are the subjects mega-celebrities like the NSYNC guys or people with significantly less name recognition?), are the subjects aware that fiction about them is out there (and to what extent), and do these things affect the decisions you make about how public your RPF is? Finally, have you changed your position on this over time, and in what ways?

RPF readers, please feel free to jump in with your own thoughts and experiences. I'd make a poll, but I'm sure I'd forget some options and I don't want people to feel constricted in their answers.

I'm bringing this up because I'm thinking about making my RPS a little less accessible, probably by way of the old friends-lock (I essentially have a comment-and-I'll-add-you-back policy, so this would only be restrictive to people outside of LiveJournal). In my case, that's a little like shutting the barn door after the horse has already been out, gone into town, had several drinks, picked up some girls, and is now cavorting about on the front lawn and has been doing so for several years. Still, there's always the possibility that some poor bastard who really doesn't deserve the trauma of seeing my RPS could stumble across it tomorrow. I'm wondering how other people deal with that issue, so please feel free to link this elsewhere.

Comments at the Post

[evlia elf]:
By wrong people you mean the celebrities themselves?

Well, I write RPS and the pairing is...a bit very obscure. (See icon) RSL is pretty well known, and Alan Davies is in the UK. There has been RPS written about them individually, but not together except for me and the person I cowrite them with.

I have never seen the need to lock my posts. Not at all paranoid that the people I am writing about will see (hell, they might be amused...or not) but I don't really care. Never had complaints from readers, either, I just make sure to have things well labeled.

Have no idea if all that answered question or not.

Why are you thinking about locking your RPF? Did something happen?
I mean them, their families, and anyone else you want to designate as "wrong." I'm writing this as openly as possible so I can get the best possible range of answers.

That totally answered my question! I'm just trying to ascertain how many people see this as a matter worthy of concern, and for what reasons. It seems like you're not bothered by it because you think it's unlikely that either RPS subject will find your writings and if they did, you don't think they'd be terribly upset about it. That's exactly what I want to know :)

As for me, nothing "happened," but I did come across a comment to the effect that some of the people I've slashed lurk in a fan forum where I know my stories have been talked about and linked (thank you, SiteMeter!), and for me, the possibility of them following those links and finding the stories and being very cross about them is a concern. That's just where my head is right now.... I'm not worried about legal action, and if they did, I think the worst anyone could do is a C&D.

This might be really silly of me, but I don't want these guys to be upset or offended :)

I don't think there's any bulletproof precautions you can take to keep the "wrong people" from stumbling across your RPF beside the usual precautions of keeping your LJ from the public eyes: disallow/minimize indexing of your LJ (Google is your not friend in this matter) and restricting your syndication setting (either allowing only the first paragraph of your post or only the title to be read by RSS feed readers).

I'm sort of against friends-locking fics because I want to be able to access RPF fics without having to jump through hoops. It is sort of frustrating for a reader to be intrigued by a fic and wanting to read it, but being blocked from accessing it when clicking on a link. But I realized that it is up to the authors themselves and not in the hands of the readers.

I think most of the celebrities from the established RPF fandom are aware of fanfiction (either of the slash or non-slash variety) being written about them. Like I said in above, Google is not your friend in this regard. I think for the MCR fandom, one of the members of the band has a t-shirt that said "Don't Google Yourself." But getting back to the point, I don't think most authors let this fact affect their decision about posting their RPF too much. Mostly because, I think, they don't expect the celebrity in question to actually read their story. The celebrity may be aware of fanfiction being written about them, but they wouldn't touch it, sort of thing? They would try to avoid it.

But this is all assumption on my part and speaking from my "observation" of Popslash fandom, a fandom that has been established for quite a while and large enough that the visibility of it is just a given. Most authors writing for Popslash have already worked out their RPF dilemma and have already set their boundaries.

Uhm. Yes.
Most of my RPF isn't even on this LiveJournal, because it was written before I even knew LiveJournal existed, and the site where those stories are hosted has the appropriate meta tags and a robots.txt file, both of which work surprisingly well -- perfectly well, even -- to keep search engines out.

I had never heard of this "syndication setting" thing, so I'm going to have to check that out. Thank you.

I'm with you on the friends-locking fics thing. I understand that it's frustrating for readers -- hell, as a reader, if someone's stories are locked like that, there's probably a 99% chance I'll just hit the back button and not even bother. In that sense, maybe this idea of mine is a little harebrained and hypocritical. On the other hand, though, I do have this concern about the subjects finding the RPF, and it's something that's been bugging me and will probably continue to bug me for a while, so at some point (assuming I don't just keep ignoring the issue as I've done for so long), I'll probably have to decide what's more important to me.

(On a completely personal and tangential note, this is complicated by the fact that I hate most of the stories in question and would gladly remove them from the internet forever if I (1) wasn't aware that people do like them and appreciate having them around and (b) didn't believe that tiny/rare fandoms should be encouraged. /end rambling)

I'm sure the popslash guys know about RPF, as well as My Chemical Romance and most of their brethren. The bands I wrote about aren't really in that mainstream (well, one is), so I don't know how much awareness they have, although ... yeah, they must know. They'd have to be absolutely daft not to know.

Mostly because, I think, they don't expect the celebrity in question to actually read their story.

Now I'm thinking this whole discussion really hinges on that issue. Would people read fictional stories about themselves if they somehow found them? Would I do that? I honestly don't know.
I am... intensely conflicted about RPS. On the one hand, I think it is a horrendous violation of privacy, and tends to lead towards objectification of the actors/artists and also to real life confusion about appropriate lines of behaviour to someone who is essentially a stranger.

On the other hand--one of the prices of celebrity is the loss of privacy that comes with an increased public profile.

In general, I kind of believe in a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" policy as regards RPS. That is, write it, fine. Share it with other interested people. DO NOT bring it to the attention of the celebrity involved--that's when it becomes a violation of their psyche. I don't think that writing it on livejournal, even unlocked (so long as it's under a cut and has the appropriate warnings outside the cut) really counts as bringing it to their attention. If they choose to google/search livejournal for RPS, on their own heads be it.

I try to think about how I would feel if someone wrote RPS about me? But then I get distracted by the thought of being famous, and Oooh! Maybe I'd have awesome conversations with Terry Pratchett and make heaps of money and life in a house with a pool transitioning between inside and outside. I would have a dog called Schroedinger, and then I realise that I just descended into imagining myself into RPS and god, when did I become that pathetic anyway?

I tend to think that if I stumbled across RPS about myself--even some of the more lurid stuff, that I would tend to shrug and laugh. I am told that some celebrities feel violated, which--fair enough. I'm not taking away from their right to feel like that. And because they feel like that, I'm not going to write it, and (after an intense struggle, because I really think Callum is HOT) I'm not going to read it. Which is really hard, because there's some awesome AU stuff out there.

It's just--part of my personal decision to draw lines. (Heh! Bet you didn't think I'd have any) I decided, no matter what the temptation, that I would not engage with wank. When things get hostile, I just walk away, because I could argue and argue and never win, and I don't want to be that kind of person. I'm feeling a lot happier for it.

The decision not to read RPS is more recent than the wank decision. And, I'm having a hard time with it. But, given that more than one celebrity is not happy about it, I'm happiest saying "Yeah, fine" and finding something else to be obsessed/creative about. The right to write RPS is not something I choose to stand and fight for, whereas I would for fanfic in general.

This does not in any way reflect on people who choose to write it. It's a Voltaire thing again "I do not approve of what you do, but I defend to the death your right to do it." Only in my case, it's more like "RPS? Not my kind of thing. You write it? No problem."
I'm a popslash writer, and I haven't taken particular precautions that would prevent members of Nsync (or Backstreet) from reading my stuff, because in all honesty, if they were to Google themselves there'd be many thousands of links before they got down to mine, and if they're that determined to read fanfic, let 'em! Not that I particularly want any of my muses to read what I've written, because although some of it would probably make them laugh, there's some that would not.

Obviously the sometime members of Nsync are aware of the existence of fanfic. I've seen Lance Bass quoted as saying he reads it sometimes, and thinks it's funny. In any case, the stuff on my website is carefully disclaimed, with the RPF and the slash content made clear before a newcomer would ever get to the story index. I don't have a job that could be influenced in any way if someone in authority discovered my writing, and if my RL friends find it, well, caveat lector. Admittedly, I'd prefer my father and father-in-law not to read it, for their own sakes!

Also, I don't friendslock my LJ, which is where quite a lot of the fic gets a first airing - from my perspective, I want more readers, I don't want to make it difficult for people to find what I'm writing.

I figure that the disclaimers are reasonable, and that in any case there are far worse fictions perpetrated about 'my boys' under the guise of truth and journalism.
[elva barr]:
I sometimes want to read/write RPS, but I always shy away. I think it's okay for people to write it, so long as it's at least somewhat friendslocked, or in a place where you wouldn't find it unless you were looking for it (like an RPS community or website, or something).
Some months ago the largest newspaper here in Sweden featured a largish (half-page, below the fold) article about RPF, specifically stories written about one of the contestants in the Swedish version of Idol. The article was a completely matter-of-fact description of this online phenomena, no sensationalism and definitely no condemnation because these stories were written about a real person. The tone was exactly the same as in the big (a whole page) article on FPF they featured about three years ago. I think this nicely illustrates that a lot of the Problem of RPF (and especially RPS :-) is probably seen as more of a problem within fandom than outside it. In fact, I think a lot of people would probably think that you're more weird for making up stories about characters in a tv show than if you did it about pop idols and celebrities. After all, books that do this are regularly published. And then there are the gossip mags of course. I don't imagine for a moment that most people who read those actually believe the editorial claims of "truth". It's fiction pure and simple. So why should you want to lock away your stories just because they're published on the net and not on paper?
I think this nicely illustrates that a lot of the Problem of RPF (and especially RPS :-) is probably seen as more of a problem within fandom than outside it.

I think that's probably a very accurate point :) I remember articles on bandslash being published in Q (a British music monthly) as far back as 2002, so the cat is pretty much out of the bag, I suppose.

After all, books that do this are regularly published. And then there are the gossip mags of course.

This is very true. I am wondering, though, how much the tone or style of our respective forms of fiction matters. For the most part, gossip rags use one style of writing to make stuff up about celebs, and fandom writers use another.

Additionally, everyone is familiar with journalistic articles about famous people, whereas people are less familiar with prose about famous people (as evidenced by the fact that your Swedish newspaper reported on RPF being written about Idol contestants -- when's the last time any newspaper journalist wrote an article essentially saying, "Hey, did you know there are these gossip magazines that make up fake or altered stories about celebrities?"). I'm not sure how important that issue is, especially since more and more people are becoming aware of the kind of writing we do, but it's something I've been thinking about.
...I write popslash, and with the exception of way back in 2000 when all my 'security' involved writing under a different penname, all my fic has always been on the open so to speak. I hate finding locked fiction because that only makes fandom look closed to all newbies.

All my stories are disclaimed, and while I'm a bit of a canon-nazi (Even in AUs, go figure), the 'breach of privacy' never comes into the equation for me. All our 'canon' is what they chose to make public, by interviews, concerts, radioshows. There's nothing we RPFrs (And doesn't that sounds weird) know that a regular fan can't know, so it's not as if we were rumaging through their trashcans.

(Although, the more I think about it... Who are the wrong people? The only ones I've read to demand that RPS and RPF is kept locked and away from the public eye are other fans. The Celebrities for the most part seem to honestly not care)
I hate finding locked fiction because that only makes fandom look closed to all newbies.

I feel the same way, which is why I also feel a little dirty about considering this at all. *g* Also, the particular fandom I'm thinking about here is very, very small, and as a fan of small fandoms I really believe in encouraging participation in as many ways as possible.

I don't feel guilty or concerned about invading their privacy by having written these stories, because like you said, I haven't rummaged through anyone's trash bins and quite honestly, my "canon" knowledge is considerably less in depth than that of a lot of fans who are actually opposed to RPF :) I am somewhat concerned, though, about invading their privacy/comfort zones by having these stories in a place where the subjects can find them, which (I think) is a different issue. (It may also be completely irrational, as I'm trying to determine.)

As for who the "wrong people" are, I wrote that with deliberate vagueness. The "wrong people" are whoever you think they are -- the celebrities, their friends and family, or even that handful of fans who think it's just a swell idea to print someone's RPF and present it to the celebrity in question.

Also, you're right about the celebs mostly not caring, but there have been a couple of incidents of RPF subjects taking legal action to have stories removed from the web, and of course we can't really know what everyone thinks unless they've actually said something about it.
My Hugh&Bobby RPS fics are the joys of my writing life, yes even more than writing angsty House&Wilson.

I know my particular approach, which includes the characters real life friends, spouses and even children by name really rubs some people the wrong way, to the point where I've been called everything from "evil" to "sociopath" and there was brou-ha-ha that even got mentioned on Fandom Wank. (Proud day in my fannish life, let me tell ya.)

I always post plenty of warnings. Anyone who ends up reading one of my stories has no one to blame but themselves.
There isn't a whole lot I write any more, but I read RPS. I used to read LOTR RPS way back when, but the I made the mistake of leaving honest feedback before I figured out that people don't want to read it, and everyone came to the writer's defense like I just threatened to rape her dog and then...I don't know, something more horrible. Honestly, I only said something like, "This is good but you could improve this, this, this, and this." I think. I lost interest.

I read CKR/HD on ckr_actorfic because I can't exactly read Hard Core Logo fic when I'm in a good mood, and I really don't want to watch Slap Shot 2. Some of the fic is really sexy and hilarious, most of it is really well written. And the men in it are smokin' hot. malnpudl has a great disclaimer on her/his fic: This is a fictional story about fictional characters who happen to share names and faces with some real people. I'm not confused about the difference between them; I trust you aren't, either. That's how I see RPS. And I would feel better about posting something in comms that are locked. That hockey RPS I just discovered? The writer has a fic journal/comm thing that she locks because her fic got indexed on a Google page. But she lets anyone join and responded pretty quickly.

Although, and I might have already blathered about this but hell if I can find the article where she said this, one of my favorite writers Lynn Flewelling said that fanfic about her book series felt like her children were being raped. [1] I can imagine how she'd feel about RPF.

But still, I feel like there's a different kind of invasion of privacy when writing or reading RPF than, say, standing outside of an actor's house to take pictures of her or him, following an actor's kids around, putting sensationalist headlines in seedy magazines. To me, RPF is less invasive. For one, we're not stalking anyone. For another, we're not making money off these accusations and no one is presenting them as true.
what, if any, precautions do you take to keep the "wrong people" from stumbling across your RPF?

Actually, my fic is pretty much the one thing I don't f-lock that much. Personally, I think people are a little over-sensitive about "omg what if people seeee?" Like, I get covering your own ass (actually, I have a story about the fic I did f-lock), but if people are vanity-googling, they kind of get what they get. I don't know.

what kind of RPF do you write (gen, het, or slash? Are the subjects mega-celebrities like the NSYNC guys or people with significantly less name recognition?), are the subjects aware that fiction about them is out there (and to what extent), and do these things affect the decisions you make about how public your RPF is?

I write lots of different RPF. I used to write a lot of bandfic (like, back in high school), and I've written some popslash (and pophet!), and lately have been writing sportsfic. Mostly I write slash, but sometimes I write gen or het. It really depends. Obviously the popslash and bandfic guys are a little more high profile than a lot of the athletes I write about (although some of the dudes I've written sportsfic about have gotten a lot more high profile since I wrote the fic. Oh, Grady Sizemore).

The only fandom I've really worried about the whole "what if they find it!" in is sportsfic for two reasons. (1) Andy Pettitte's lawyer has sent C&D's to people writing slash about him in the past [2], so there's some precedent for sports figures a. knowing about fanfic, and b. not being down with the stuff showing dudes being gay or doping or whatever. (2) The one fic I locked was about some dudes in college sports, and I attend one of the colleges in question there, and said college has a pretty strict rule about what qualifies as harassment, and apparently people have gotten in trouble with this before. So I f-locked that. (Although both dudes are in the NFL now, so I think once I graduate, I might un-lock it.)

Generally, I'm more apt to lock personal information about myself than the fic if I'm being self-protective. If that makes sense? And I totally get why other people stay locked in RPFandoms, but all that fic being locked makes it hard to get new people into the fandom, and makes it hard to really enjoy the fandom even if you're in it. Some people just don't want to take the legal responsibility for these things on themselves, so I'm trying to start a baseball fic archive to try to keep the fandom alive (It's slowly dying), since I guess I'm cool with getting my name smeared in the eye of various sports figures, if I must.

Finally, have you changed your position on this over time, and in what ways?

I actually never used to get why people would lock RPFic at all (I've been writing and reading it since, like, 1998 or 1999 or so, back when there was a lot of RPF kerfuffle about the 'net, and I've always been very defensive of it). Now, I kind of get it, especially because there's some evidence that in certain fandoms dudes are litigious, and I totally don't blame the people in those fandoms for f-locking. Even though I am very sad that their fic isn't more available to the community at large. Y'know?

Er. And back in bandfic, I did actually have some contact with one of the dudes I wrote about back in 2000-ish (I also ran an unofficial fansite, and we exchanged some e-mails, etc.), and that was a little awkward. I don't know if he found my fic or anything. Probably. But he didn't say anything about it, so I figured it wasn't an issue.

Most dudes in bandfic today know and are either cool with it (think it's funny, or are like "at least they're doing something creative") or just sort of sigh and ignore it. A lot of interviews with My Chemical Romance have brought slashfic up with them, and they're kind of like "yeah, okay. can we talk about something else?" (I think the best response of a person having fic showed in his face by a reporter was Frank Iero from MCR, who was like "It's by fans and for fans. It'd kind of weird me out to read it, and it would probably weird them out if they knew I'd read it.")
[molotov bitch]:
right now, I'm trying to reconcile those feelings with my own concerns, which aren't so much about protecting myself as protecting the people I've written about. I'm really not concerned about legal action; if I get a C&D, which seems unlikely, I'll ... well, C&D. I seem to be alone in this "but what if I hurt their feeeeelings?" kind of whinging :)

No, you're not alone at all! That's the main reason why I continue to lurk most of the time in RPS fandoms, and why I get so mad at people who shove it in their faces. Even if they already know about it and it's all over the net, I wish people would at least give them the courtesy of pretending it doesn't exist to save them some embarrassment. But apparently embarrassing celebrities is a national sport, so of course they'll bring it up. If any celebrity I'd written about found my stuff (and I knew about it) I'd delete it in a flash even if it meant losing readership because the last thing I want to do is upset them. I mean christ, they're my freaking idols!

I worry about what they'd think quite a bit actually, and there are some things I just can't read cos I think it's gone too far. So instead, I assuage my guilt with overly long disclaimers.

I get you about wanting to find a balance between not making it too hard for actual readers to find but at the same time making it harder for the subjects of it to find, as well as keeping it separate from your RL identity. I guess a separate fic identity and public posts but blocking spiders would be the best way. I guess I haven't done that because when I started my RL and fic internet handles & accompanying info pretty much went together and to try and separate them now would be an exercise in futility.
Since RPF writers generally get their ideas from real life events and stories (albeit, some tabloid), I personally don't feel it's a bigger invasion of privacy than has already happened. I feel for celebs that have to put up with some crazy stuff, but at the same time, a lot of the spotlight is simply the respect and name-recognition. A few bad apples do not a fanbase make.

First off, this is said with almost all my knowledge of RPF being HL/RSL fiction. While I enjoy reading RPS at times, it either comes off unrealistic, which as a reader I find distracting. Or conversely, it's realistic and well-written, as is the case with a lot of HL/RSL, and I'm mostly entertained but also feel a bit guilty. If it by some odd chance ended up that Hugh and Bobby are more than friends, I would immediately stop reading, because at that point it's voyerism and not just imaginations run wild.

With RPS, my biggest concern isn't privacy in general, but the potential (albeit small) of outing someone in the pairing being written. For instance, a lot of people in the House fandom think RSL is gay or bi. He very well could be, we don't know. If he is, that's his business unless he makes it otherwise. The fact that we don't know means that he isn't out if he is. And if he is in the closet, then he probably has good reason to be. Queer actors face a great deal of type-casting (even more than his resume would suggest), especially men. It could be family related. Hell, it could be that long-distance perma-engagement thing he has going on. It's hugely important for a person to determine when and to whom they come out. If a celebrity comes out, they lose the power to judge whether it's okay or even safe to do so on an individual basis. Hell, I'd consider myself out for the most part, but the fact that there are a couple people in my life that don't know makes a big difference, and celebrities don't have that luxury of being out to "almost" everyone.

At any rate, sometimes fiction readers forget that it's fiction because it imcorporates real life circumstances, and let themselves think that they really know this person. If said readers say that such and such actor is queer to the wrong audience, or if that reader passes said "knowledge" into hands it shouldn't be in (for instance the media), that can be a problem.

Meh, I'm not sure what my point is anymore. I guess I don't have moral qualms with it, so long as it's well labeled and you communicate to curious fans what bits are true and not true via the comments. I wouldn't f-lock, unless you're concerned about your RL identity being assosciated with the fic. If slash were being written about me, I'd probably laugh.
I've just recently started reading bandslash (P!ATD and FOB, mostly), and I'm fairly conflicted, and am pretty sure I'm a hypocrite. Because while I have no problem with (and, in fact, love) when my favorite characters on TV are slashed together, when it's real people, who could read and be affected by fanfiction about them, I'm almost offended on their behalf. And yet I read it, with varying degrees of guilty pleasure. I don't have a problem with people who write RPF, but up until recently, I didn't want to read it; I'm still embarrassed/ashamed that I do now, for various reasons that I can't coherently articulate. I think that as long as the fic is clearly labeled and (obviously) disclaimered, then the author has fulfilled their responsibility to protect the subjects, as much as they can while writing the fic in the first place.
Well generally, there's no really way to 'hide' your fic. That is, if you don't keep your writing journal and your real life journal together. I would be horrified I think if a celebrity had come across any of my fan fiction, to be honest. There are so many crazy speculations of their private lives and almost teeters of the edge of invasion of privacy.

Not only that, there are several squicky things in fic that I know would be... strange to come across. I know I'd be weirded out if I read about being romantically involved with my best friend, regardless of gender. XD

However, that's why warnings are in place. If a celebrity happens to 'stumble' across a fic about them, or anyone else they know for that matter, they must get some kind of gist before reading. And if they don't, starting to read it should do it.

Then they could always stop, you know. :/

If authors (myself included XD) were that worried about celebrities reading their work, they should Friends Lock their personal (real life) entries. If they're really paranoid, keep separate journals and all personal stuff off of your website. XD

I write RPF and RPS. But I also write regular fan fiction (movies/books/tv shows). I write about mainly Mega Popstars XD, but I have yet to post the fic I've written about lesser famous people.
what, if any, precautions do you take to keep the "wrong people" from stumbling across your RPF?

I only post my RPF in locked communities or sites--either my own lj or a fic comm under friends-lock, or an archive which has members-only access. Nothing that would show up in a google search, basically, if I can help it. I also generally don't post *about* my RPF except under f-lock, to people who know and I know are okay with these things.

I also use a different fannish pseudonym for my writing "identity" and activities, and for my general fannish one. That is, "sidewinder" never shows up on official messageboards for the bands I write about, or on any general fannish site. Only my other fannish identity does, so that no one following any links for my pseudonym won't accidentally end up where I post my RPF.

what kind of RPF do you write (gen, het, or slash? Are the subjects mega-celebrities like the NSYNC guys or people with significantly less name recognition?)

Mostly slash, rockstars of pretty high name recognition and popularity (see icon for my primary fandom).

are the subjects aware that fiction about them is out there (and to what extent)

Not that I'm aware of in my main fandoms, though some of them do like to play up or joke about things in a slashy way publicly.

and do these things affect the decisions you make about how public your RPF is?

If I knew the guys I write fiction about were aware and okay with it, I might not be as cautious about it. But unless or until I know better, I try to be careful. Not so much because I'm ashamed of it, but because I don't want to cause a stink or any wanks on the general messageboard.

Finally, have you changed your position on this over time, and in what ways?

I've become more cautious with time, actually, as my activity in the "general" part of some fandoms -- including contact with the celebs I've written about -- has increased. That's actually the main reason I'm so cautious about it -- I don't want to cause waves or have something come back to bite me in the ass as I've developed some ties beyond strictly fannish ones.
My fandom is LOTR RPS and I read/write both het and slash. I don't hide it, because I know fans will look for it. But I disclaim it as fiction and warn for explicit smut and figure that actors are grownups and can live knowing we write out our fantasies. Several of them have said so.
I occasionally write sports RPF, but (as of now) mostly in my domestic football (soccer) league and sometimes long track speed-skating. (I read a wider variety of RPF, though.) What I've written so far is slash, femmeslash, and some gen. Those aren't mega-celebrities by a long shot. I wouldn't know if they're aware people write fic about them, but I don't really take any precautions; my fic is publicly available at my writing journal. Frankly, I think I'm meaner to them in my personal journal, where I often sometimes end up cursing them to hell and back ranting about them like now. Damn them.
[paradise city]:
I've written a bit of actor slash (LOTR, SGA, SPN, and Star Wars) and I actually don't think anything but the SGA fic is locked. It's all posted to relevant communities only, though, so I feel like there's a bit of distance and safety in that regard, however misguided that may be.

My main concern is what to do with RPS on my website. It's not up and running yet, but I've seen one person password protect her RPS and I think that's probably a good idea. That greatly reduces the chance of someone stumbling upon it accidentally and I think I'd feel much safer knowing it's not out there for general consumption.

It's a sticky situation, and there aren't easy answers aside from just not writing it. But this was a great question, and the comments have been interesting. Thanks for throwing this out there.
...what, if any, precautions do you take to keep the "wrong people" from stumbling across your RPF?

All of my stories are posted to a locked comm and/or my own (non-indexed) LJ under flock.

... what kind of RPF do you write (gen, het, or slash?) Are the subjects mega-celebrities like the NSYNC]] guys or people with significantly less name recognition?)

I write slash. It's not always explicit, but it's always slash, and with as many RL details as I can - including the names of wives and kids. In punditslash, the fame of the individuals doing the news - real, fake, and sports - varies. Jon Stewart? High profile. Keith Olbermann? Not as much.

... are the subjects aware that fiction about them is out there (and to what extent), and do these things affect the decisions you make about how public your RPF is?

Shortly before I started writing, in about February of 2005, the DC gossip blog Wonkette found tds_rps and posted an excerpt from a particularly purple story and as I understand it, Msrs. Stewart and Colbert found out what was being written. The fandom went to ground after that, you didn't see anything unlocked or without a huge legalese disclaimer. I came into the fandom during this time, so I of course followed suit.

Finally, have you changed your position on this over time, and in what ways?

Nope. I'm one of the few people who still take all of those precautions. My main pairing these days is one guy with a live-in girlfriend and one who's married with kids - the oldest of which is 15. I don't want any of those people finding what I write.

In addition, my other self is involved with activities involving these guys which are very above-board, respectable, and read by staffers (if not the guys themselves). It's important to keep that and the slash as far away from one another as possible....

Punditslash is a fandom so small you can put it in your pocket - a dozen comments on a story is a landslide victory for me. But within the fandom it's not at all unheard of to lock all fic, so it's never been an issue with my readers.

There are some relative newcomers to the fandom who are writing very PG stuff without benefit of flock, and it's shown up in my Technorati searches. I just shake my head and close the door on my bunker.
I write IdolslashRyan Seacrest and Simon Cowell — and those two are such media whores that I can't imagine for a second that they aren't vaguely aware that there is fic, particularly given that the singers seem to be aware that there is fic about them, and I'd say they'd be irritated if there wasn't fic, rather than unhappy that there was. Given that there is regular speculation about the exact nature of their relationship in the regular media, particularly places like the Advocate, I'm pretty sanguine about the whole privacy thing. I'm not sure that what I'm doing really violates their privacy more than the odd OK! magazine article, and heck, Ryan is a celebrity journo himself, so.

That said, I've found that the "wrong people" for the RPF/RPS stuff I've written and read — Idolslash, and I've lurked about in punditslash/TDS slash about the Holy Quartet of Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert/Anderson Cooper/Keith Olbermann — are much more likely to be online fan forums or official blogs, where occasionally stories are linked to with sarcasm. tds_rps and punditslash are locked up because the Comedy Central blog finds Jon/Stephen slash amusing and likes to link to it. cakeforever, a comm for Idolslash about Chris Richardson and Blake Lewis, is locked up because people on Idolforums and Vote For the Worst also like to point and laugh. The problem is less those actual people pointing and laughing, and more that the link and ensuing publicity can lead to trolling and other ridiculousness.

I haven't seen that happen at all for my pairing, more I think because a lot of people half think they're actually doing it anyway so it isn't that funny, but occasionally I do think, should I lock it up? Where I'll probably end up is leaving it unlocked on my LJ, which isn't a hotspot destination, and locking it up at idolslash, which is the first place you'd look for it when you wandered into LJ. All of these comms have either entirely open membership or just do a cursory check that it's a real LJ, so I don't feel like there's a barrier to newbies there. But I don't want to have to friend piles of people just so they can read my fic.

I've changed my position on RPF in general over time. When I first came online LotRPS was at its height of tinhattery and so RPS got a very bad name among the HP-fen that I first knew. But as usual, the sane outnumber the crazies, and as I got interested in idolslash I decided that I didn't really have a big drama with it. Before I witnessed the recent "Cake" drama and the ongoing problems of punditslash I wasn't too worried about locking up, but now, at least on the comms, it seems prudent.
[molotov bitch]:
My old old RPS about AFI used to be on a public site and I just didn't consider that they'd find it. When I started writing the fandom was pretty small and it was only later, with the massive influx of people that came with their breakthrough record, that I started worrying about it. By that time I had taken it down because someone I knew found it anyway, and I reposted it under flock on LJ.

AFI have since found out about the fandom because some stupid girls sent them stuff. Later, Metal Hammer magazine shoved it in their faces with a more recent interview where they showed them some of the most fucked-up fanart ever and basically tried to embarrass them with it. They kept asking them questions about how come it's only them that this stuff gets written about, implying it was their fault for attracting such rabid fans, when in fact tonnes of bands have it written about them it's just the AFI's are the most prominent. AFI had known about the fic for a while before but no journalist had ever brought it up. I really hate that magazine, they're the trashy gossip rag of hard rock journalism.

So with the subsequent fic I write I pretty much don't want that to occur again (even though by the time the journalists came along I, along with pretty much any sane person in AFI fandom, had left it). It's incredibly niche so it's flocked & customed to the only 3 people who would be interested. It's more I think I do for the enjoyment of me and a few friends rather than something I want the world to read or to start a fandom for (so does that effectively make it drawerfic and therefore not actually applicable to your discussion? Gah.). There is no other fanfic about them out there apart from some gen badfic where they turn into animals.

I guess this whole meandering is about who, exactly, the wrong people are for me. The celebrities themselves, their families and friends, my family and friends/acquaintances, and journalists. In the case of my current bandom, the regular fans of the band are pretty much off-limits too as they are mostly 30yo men and would probably flame me into oblivion.

AFI are now mega-famous, but my current band aren't. This does affect what I do about privacy as if I was gonna write AFI fic I wouldn't bother with locking or anything at all. The cat's already out of the bag in a really massive way and my fluffy slash is nothing compared to badly-drawn necro fanart and Nazi AUs. Yes, that has been done, a friend of mine who used to be in the fandom with me still has TWS about it and reads the badfic for the lulz.

However, I'm not even sure that the other guys count as properly famous- sure they're the most well known within their scene but that scene is not well know. I do kind of want to keep their virgin eyeballs away from it as I don't think they're yet in a position where they should expect that sort of thing. They're quite old so I don't even think they know what fanfic is, never mind RPF.

As an additional note, I don't think it's OK to include celebrities' so's or family members unless they are famous too. The celeb made the choice to go into showbiz, nobody else did. Plus when you include girlfriends, 99% of the time the writers either bash them or Sue them.
I agree with the girlfriend/family members thing as well. I always used to hate it when the tabloids started picking on non-famous acquaintances of celebs, and after I got into RPF I just found it incredibly creepy. It's kind of a "get that real person out of my real person fic! D:" reaction.
I'm a bandslash writer. The emo/weemo fandoms.

In bandslash, pretty much EVERYONE knows that the fic is out there, which makes for some really awkward, but also fairly hilarious moments. unloveablehands and a few others have brought up the MCR responses. A lot of the bands are mildly uncomfortable with it. Ryan Ross of Panic! at the Disco called it "sick" in one interview, but actually didn't seem all the bothered by it. (He actually invented a new word for it in that interview: pornfiction. AHAHAHAHAHA.)

Then you get guys like Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz, who is basically god's gift to slash fiction. He regularly answers fan questions on his blog in EXTREMELY slashy ways. He's pretty much in love with his lead sing, Patrick Stump, so yeah. There's absolutely no way he doesn't know about the stories.

I can't even count the number of conversations I've had with the WMHC (A group of friends with very close ties to My Chem and other bands, which includes Alicia Simmons, Mikey Way's new wife, and Eliza Cuts, Gerard's girlfriend) about fanfiction. In fact, members of the WHMC are members of slash-friendly communities. They've read it and they LIKE it. Bahahahahahahahaha.

BTW did you know that Gerard Way, lead singer of My Chem, once wrote Planet Of The Apes fanfiction? LOL more than likely it was NOT slash, but one never knows... [3]

My god I love my fandom.

So yeah, in conclusion, in bandom, there are no more secrets about slash. Everyone knows it's out there. The bands talk about it whenever they are asked and have varying levels of interest in it. Some of them even ENCOURAGE it. It's hilarious. But still, among many writers, there is a reluctance to opening discuss it with them, for obvious and massively awkward reasons. ROFL.

As for my own personal fiction, it's available (or it will be soon) in a 100% public archive journal. I honestly don't care who reads it, because the fandom is so open about it.

I do post fiction on my personal journal in locked posts, but that's only to keep my parents from reading it. AHAHA. Yeah. They don't need to read about Dan Whitesides' fantasies about his new bandmantes. AT ALL.
I totally understand. It's hard to make a judgment on your own fannish practices because individual levels of privacy are such a personal decision, but I don't think you're being silly. I may be protecting my writing a tad excessively -- I only have one Manics fic remaining on the internet, but I still found the need to create an entirely separate fic journal just in case I wrote more later! Even I think that's a bit much, but it makes me feel better to have some amount of separation between cachiad and the rest of my online life.

Locking stories is a default action for me, tbh -- I'm glad people are comfortable and secure enough with their fannish identities to leave things unlocked, but there's a part of me that's always going to think "What if someone SEES this?!" I really doubt any of the Manics are going to find your site specifically, especially since you have all those security measures in place. (Actually, after my hard drive crashed and I had to re-bookmark all my favorite sites, I had a terrible time trying to find yours again!) But, at the same time, I try to censor what I say on FD now because I know Nicky and Sean are lurking. If I had more writing out there, I'd probably be as paranoid as you are, if not more.

I guess my point (if I have one somewhere in the preceding novel) is that I can understand why you and other RPS writers would be concerned. I'm sure the Manics wouldn't care what you wrote about them, and Nicky would probably hit the back button at the first sign of cock anyway, but I can understand the worry.
[neon geisha]:
I'm involved in all manner of RPF - started out in popslash about 5 years ago, and have since moved on to actorslash and bandslash (American/European bands and Japanese bands). The handling of this issue is very different depending on the closeness of the band to their fans, and on the relative fame of the band, I find. Actorslash doesn't really ever come up re: the issue of them finding it (the sole exception I can think of is in LotR RPS, with the Domlijah tinhatters and the people who actually printed out LotR slash art and gave it to the actors... that was a huge kerfuffle right there. ><), because I think they just see it as a matter of their having things like tabloids, etc. to worry about more so than the writings of a comparatively small cluster of fans.

But then on the other hand, you have American bandslash, in which the bands (here I'm thinking of Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, and 30 Seconds to Mars, my main fandoms) frequent their own message boards and lurk their communities, where of course, people talk about slash a LOT. It's pretty much inevitable that they'll find out about it, and it's interesting and cool that they seem to be encouraging it (Pete Wentz and Jared Leto give ambiguously gay answers in interviews, and Panic! scripted a gay almost-kiss and dialogue into their stage show). I saw this in Japanese fandom, too, where the bands are very aware that this appeals to their fans (copyright/intellectual property laws are incredibly lenient in Japan, and a lot of fans will self-publish fanfiction or manga about members of these bands). And of course because of this, because they know that it appeals to their audience, they'll kiss/grope/hug/touch their bandmates on stage as "fanservice". And everyone is happy. XD

So, my point of this whole thing is that I don't lock my fic or my fanart, because there's very little chance they'll find my stuff (I'm not exactly a popular fandom person, more of a lurker), and there's far, far worse stuff they'll run into on the internet than my little doodles of Brendon Urie and Ryan Ross making out. XD
[azrielen ]:
Oh, another annecdote to add to all this. I wonder if anyone thinks it's different for openly gay celebrities?

For instance, I'm a part of a group of (openly gay singer-songwriter) Rufus Wainwright fans that follow his tour along the East Coast whenever he tours, going to as many shows as we can. He knows a lot of us by name at this point. ROFL.

But anyway, a few years ago, he mentioned he has this ongoing crush with Ewan McGregor. So, on his OFFICIAL MESSAGEBOARD, we started writing a Moulin ROuge AU starring Rufs and Ewan's character from the movie. It was round-robin style and got to nearly 100 printed pages. Someone made a Ewan/Rufus photomanip for the cover, we printed and bound it, and gave it to him at a show. The next show we went to, we found him backstage again and he said he LOVED it.

AHAHAHAHAHAHA. Rufus is, of course, a special case. He EXPECTS his fans to be insane.
I do know that I, personally, would not be okay with writing something about a real person, slash or het, gay or straight, and then presenting it to them. Although it's cool that Rufus was so taken with it, that's a huge line I just won't cross, you know? There's the LOTRiPS thing, to start with, and back in the X-Files fandom, a fan once presented actor Nick Lea with a bunch of slash (and, I think, photomanips) of his character and David Duchovny's character ... I just think it's generally a very bad idea to approach a celebrity or TPTB with that kind of thing, no matter how good the creator's intentions were.
I've actually been very lucky so far. I write Jeremiah fanfic/slash (in a private flocked seperate journal), as well as role play in that fandom. 2.5 years ago the MGM/Platinum Studios got in touch with me having read my public RPing - and offered to use my writing as part of their canon. It's on their web portal site now.

I also write Starcrossed slash (Starcrossed is a 12 minute indie gay film about 2 brothers falling in love) but it is heavily locked down to a private flocked post as it is brothercest, though that is canon. The director of the film tracked me down via an LJ community and asked to read my work. I gave it over to him and he was impressed and happy to know others were playing in his narrative sandbox.

However, I've been mega lucky. I teach about copyright and media ownership (Pop culture university professor) and most companies would not react in the postive manner I have experienced.

I rarely post to communities, since I do know directors and corporations who read over non-locked communities.

I *won't*, under any situation, post RPS to any online forum, though I have written much of it. RPS borders on defamation and celebrities and their families can track down RPS about themslves. Fandoms are well known and marketed towards, and there is less appreciation of RPS these days compared to slash posting.
I think real person slash will always be less appreciated than regular slash, although there's actually a really long history of bandfic in zine format. In "fandom" at large -- which is dominated by media fandom -- RPF has actually progressed to being widely accepted (at least in my experience and the experience of most people I've talked to). When I first got into fandom -- the X-Files -- slash about the actors was completely verboten. Compare that to Supernatural today :)
Much of my RPF (in the Daily Show extended universe), fic and art, is pretty tame. Quite a bit of it is gen, and I wouldn't mind if the subjects came across that. Much of the rest is crossover AUs of various levels of crack (see middle_america, sailorjon), which takes a bit of the anxiety off because it's so obviously divorced from reality.

When I write or draw something that I wouldn't want getting back to the subjects, even accidentally, I post it in a community, but under lock. This includes not only the relatively explicit but the personal.

I figure, by the time you've signed up for LiveJournal and joined the community, you've done too much work to accidentally stumble upon something. If any of the guys do that, they ought to figure out what they're in for.

"Invasion of privacy" isn't the problem with RPF. We're making things up, not ferreting out and broadcasting actual facts that the people would rather keep to themselves. There are understandable objections to RPF, but "privacy" concerns aren't among them.
My very first active involvement in fanfic writing was in a fandom where even the idea of RPS was regarded as so utterly abhorrent that I can't imagine what the actual reaction to any being written. The alleged existence of a single RPF story about an actor and his wife had been a factor in a huge explosion in the fandom, which twenty years later was still a source of bitter division and enmity. Even a gen comedy story where an actor and character swapped universes was regarded with some suspicion, and considered the very limit of what was morally acceptable.

And then I moved on from there to popslash.

When I started writing in popslash, I made myself a new pseud, a new LJ, and I archive my stories on different website. This is partly because my old and new fandoms just don't mix, and partly because I like keeping things separate anyway. My old fandom site is now where I keep my original slash stories, and I moved the old fanfic to a fandom archive I maintain. I'm just obsessive tidy-minded like that.

I keep my popslash website noidex, noarchive, and it doesn't pop up out of the blue on Google, and I do that because it's polite. I do actually like most of the people I write about, and I don't want to make them sad by having them stumble across things they'd rather not read.

In reality, there's really no way to actually stop people reading things once they're up on-line. Password protection and friends-lock only go so far. If a celebrity, or anyone else, is really that curious, there's nothing to stop them signing up to LJ or an archive, or e-mailing an author for a password. But I figure that if they do and the disclaimers don't put them off, then at that point they really only have themselves to blame.

I think a lot of the OMGRPS!!! reaction is to do with fandom's long-standing mores. In the rest of the world, sexual fantasies about popstars or actors are a normal reaction -- it's fantasies about fictional characters which are considered weirder. There's celebrity fantasy all over the place, including on the shelf in Borders, and the celebrity section in the Nifty archive long predates the growth of RPS in fandom.

When Justin Timberlake takes his shirt off for a photoshoot, then the whole point of the exercise is to get the fans hot. I don't think that he cries himself to sleep at night over the fact that his fans fantasise about him. Particularly with boybands, it's a basic part of the marketing. And, well -- clearly, it worked :-)

I guess my biggest current concern about RPS isn't about the celebrities, but about other people around them. I'm pretty damn sure that Diane Bass would not like the idea of RPS about her boy. And when Baylee Littrell and Briahna Fatone are old enough to be allowed on the internet unsupervised, they *are* eventually going to find stories featuring not only their families and other people they've known since they were kids, but themselves too. It's something I do think about, still.

Ultimately, I think the crucial factor with RPS for me is the difference between keeping things clearly labelled and placed so that it isn't easy to stumble on stories unaware, and shoving stories in people's faces (such as handing printed slash over to celebrities). The latter is just damn rude. It's possible to take a stand for good manners without having to be against the very existence of RPS.

Oh, for me, one of the 'wrong people' is/was my mother. She knows I write m/m original fiction, and she knows about my media fanfiction, but I didn't really want her to find the RPS. However, she found it in the end because I'm bad at keeping my pseuds apart. So, that was a waste of a new identity, really.
My very first active involvement in fanfic writing was in a fandom where even the idea of RPS was regarded as so utterly abhorrent that I can't imagine what the actual reaction to any being written. Was it the X-Files? :D When I came into that fandom, which was as late as 1998, there were still those who really seemed to think that people who wrote stories about the actors should be strung up. I really internalized a lot of that, being very young and extremely impressionable, so when I moved to my very next fandom -- bandslash, around 2000 -- I spent months feeling guilty and trying not to write the stories I wanted to write.
Was it the X-Files? :D No, it was Blakes 7. It's a fandom with a lot of very long-term fans, so the anti-RPS was still very strong in 2001, when I joined the slash mailing list. I think it was a bit different to X-Files fandom, though, in that I don't think anyone ever even tried to write about the actors. It was just an absolute barrier. If you suggested writing about actors in any context at all, there would be a sharp intake of breath, and everyone would tell you that it's completely forbidden in fandom.
Oooh! I have information on WHY RPS is forbidden in Blakes 7.

Way back when, there was a conference in Australia. There were 'zines available at the conference, and one of the zines contained RPS. Paul Darrow read it (I am not sure whether he was browsing and found it or had it presented to him) and was NOT IMPRESSED. Neither was his wife, who was with him at the time.

(Nothing to do with anything. I just heard this from someone who was there, and thought you might like to know) [4]
I've heard roughly the same story (and another version where the story was sent to him by post and he subsequently turned up to a con with it, breathing fire). However, I don't know of anyone who has actually *read* this RPS story, or can produce a copy of it, or can even say who wrote it or what it was about or what zine it was. So I'm always a bit hesitant to actually say it existed. Because, well. Given the turmoil in B7 fandom at the time, I wouldn't trust Paul Darrow not to embellish the truth on something like that. If you do know any of the other details, then I'd love to hear them. I've always been curious about what really did happen, and a lot of the people who were involved in the fan wars and are still around really don't like talking about it, for perfectly understandable reasons.


  1. Actually, that person was Diana Gabaldon, see Fan-Fiction and Moral Conundrums (Diana Gabaldon).
  2. Read more about this at Fandomination.
  3. Yes, he is a fan. From a interview in "Rolling Stone": "I bought myself a computer, and I occasionally buy Sixties sci-fi DVDs, like The Twilight Zone and the original Star Trek and I'm really into Planet of the Apes." -- Q & A: Gerard Way
  4. Read more about this at The Blake's 7 Wars.