Flogging Elitism in the Fanfiction World

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Title: Flogging Elitism in the Fanfiction World
Creator: Cynical Otter
Date(s): July 22, 2004
Medium: online
Topic: Fanfiction
External Links: Flogging Elitism in the Fanfiction World, Archived version
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Flogging Elitism in the Fanfiction World is an essay by Cynical Otter.

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.

Part of a Series


One has to wonder what goes through the minds of snobby fan fiction writers. You know exactly whom I refer to, the nerds who form cliques and tear apart those fan fictions they deem as “inferior”. These are the people who created the terms “Mary Sue” and “fan girl”, the people who quickly label your story with them.

These are the geeks and fanatics who form websites for the sole purpose of finding what they see as horrifying examples of fan fiction. Chances are, as a fan writer, you have encountered the rabid, foaming masses of them and ran for your life, metaphorically-speaking that is.

As part of my endeavors to delve into the world of fan fiction, I jumped into the plane of fan fiction elitism. And believe you me, what I found was not pretty. I found heaps of insecurity and pretentiousness, served with a side order of the no-life syndrome. People so depraved and obsessed, that if you even attempt to go against their status quo, you are forever exiled as the dreaded “troll”. They have no inkling that fan fiction is nothing but fantasy and fun. It isn’t legally publishable and if your fan fiction sways to close to the original material, you can get sued by the actual creator from whom you stole.

I was immediately targeted the moment I decided to remind people that fan faction is NOT as serious as say, human rights or war. Apparently, fan fiction is a more serious topic then any issue that involves the state of our planet. A person can support burning small animals alive but gads-forbid that same person write a fan fiction that involves glorified versions of themselves and Lucius Malfoy. Oh the horror of it all! I found many endearing qualities in which to describe the fan fiction elitist.
What do we do about this sinister sect of the fan fiction population? The best bet would be to ignore them altogether. Harder said then done I’m afraid though, seeing as that they truly do not like being ignored. They set up obnoxious web sites and go onto other fan fiction venues just to hunt for possible rule-breakers and report them. Why you ask? Because this type of individual gets some sort of orgasmic pleasure out of seeing someone’s story removed from a site for an infraction. Again, this only points to the inescapable virus of low self-esteem. We could be petty and make our own websites that counter their group, but do we really want to sink to their level? While it could be fun, it won’t aid your credibility much.

The best way is to simply beat them at their own game. Continue to remind them that what their lives revolve around is nothing but glorified plagiarism, continue to write your Mary Sues, you love them and they love you. Yay love! Read their stories and tell them what you really think, that their grammar and punctuation is lovely but that the content of their story is dry and unoriginal. They really hate that. No one likes having their creative IQ questioned. For fun, carefully comb their story and find the one typo that slipped past their 20 beta-readers’ eyes. Take that typo and write the most patronizing review you can about the misplaced coma. It will fluster them because they are, after all, perfect.

But most importantly, remind them and yourselves that fan fiction elitists are nothing special or important. That their incessant whining and uber-critiquing is but a tool to shield the fact that they are lonely and bitter. And remember, regardless of what the elitists think, fan fiction is not some Olympic competition in which a winner can get a gold medal. There is no real fan fiction royalty and there is no way that their opinion of you could prevent you from having your original novel or nonfiction book published, endeared, and read by millions willing to buy your product. You could very well become the next Stephen King and these dorks will still be online picking on other fan fiction authors.

Remember kids, fan fiction is for fun and entertainment purposes only. Maybe at most, it is practice for when you decide to use those brain cells for an actual novel created entirely by you. I write fan fiction and am the first one to dismiss it’s relevance in my offline life. Actually, when my computer is turned off, I rarely think about my stories. It’s hard to focus on such trivial topics when you have kids whose needs outweigh that of some Legolas / Persephone smut. It all puts it in some perspective. I’m sure you are imagining why I wrote this article? If fan fiction elitists are nothing but boils on the butt of humanity, why bother? Bother because their numbers are growing and they are destroying both the fun and self-esteem of hard-working individuals who like to write stories based on their favorite books, TV shows, movies, and plays. They have taken something meant to be a therapeutic hobby and mangled it to the point of nausea. They are attempting to limit fan fiction to the arrogant and snobby groups of pre-selected and pre-approved intellectual creeps that sit around in cyber-cafes and sneer at the less then acceptable works of fan fiction. They must be stopped or at least mocked mercilessly.

One last word, before the assumptions start flooding the masses, I did go to college. I am proof that someone can go through college and make it without thinking that you are somehow, more elite and special then those who didn’t go to college. So if you think that I have something against college students, I don’t. My problem rests solely with the dingdongs that decided that going to college and taking Women’s Lit. somehow gives you an advantage over 99% of the general population. You know exactly what kind of person I refer to.

Please send all hate mail to Persephone_2000@yahoo.com. I do not want you psychotically emailing the nice person that runs this site.

Reactions and Reviews

you know, even fanfic_hate had the decency to try to critique the writing rather than the writer. Otter may consider herself cynical, but, personally, I find ad hominem attacks simply in bad taste. We've heard the "get a life, you lonely bitter hags" too many times for it to even sting.

I think I need to dust off my "why i don't read ffnet" post, b/c I think the argument that there are various types of writers/readers with widely varying demands/desires/interests/incentives can be made without getting personally offensive and insulting. what's her "therapeutic hobby" may be my professional engagement; what's her "for fun and entertainment purposes only" may be my serious attempts to hone my writing skills.

I try my best not to mock the parts of fandom I do not enjoy or understand; I wish she granted me the same courtesy! (fwiw, even the communities and sites she mentions tend to critique the text rather than the person which is more than i can say of this column). [1]
I just wanted to reply to this. First off, thank you for reading the column. More importantly, thank you for responding. I read all of the comments and have "snorted in" all your words, like Bush and a line of cocaine.

One person commented, that she has encountered me on other forums and noted my "in your face" tactics.

I am very "in your face" because I don't believe in sugar-coating my opinions. If I think you to be an intolerant jerk, I will call you an intolerant jerk. It might sound "babyish" to you, but I prefer to call it flat-out honesty.

Sometimes my opinions are popular and sometimes they are well...less then pleasing...ie..here. But that's ok by me. I simply state my feelings and move on.

I don't know where this particular person has encountered me before, perhaps from forums in which I wage war(metaphorically) against extremists in any group.

Maybe she knows me because I am a militant anti-PeTA/animal-rights activist...maybe because I am also an anti-Bush activist...who knows. But my "in your face" attitude transcends all facets of culture.

As odd as it may seem to you, my true intention is to start controversial dialog. This column has been up for less then 24 hours and already has nearly 30 comments. Just because, most..ok..all, are directly criticizing me, does not mean, the column failed. I enjoy all feed-back because it means, that I stimulated some minds AND got some opinions off my chest.

No...I didn't have my column edited because,it was something I did pretty late at night while my "mojo" was still going. So, I noticed that many of you found a certain irony in that. Good for you.

And I just wanted to add, that I believe, that some of you, missed the true target of my article.

It wasn't aimed at teachers.(I don't recall even mentioning them) as a best friend of 2 English teachers, I understand that they cannot read anything that is below, their knowledge of par material, without cringing and pulling out a red pen. And it wasn't aimed at the everyday fanfiction writer who does take time at their work.

I believe I made it very clear who the target was, so unless, you meet all the 7 points I mentioned..you weren't the zealot I was after.

In other words, if you don't lose sleep over another person's online fanfic, then you are not among the dingdongs I was flogging.

I also wanted to reach the victims of the fanfiction elitists, most of whom, are emotionally-fragile and impressionable 14-year olds. They, who have yet to hone any writing skills and do fanfic for the fun of it, only to be attacked,quite cruelly, by a bunch of meanies.They, who have nothing else to do but go after the stories of hapless kids, make them feel like crap, and then further insult them with some(according to them)witty intellectual insults if the kids dare speak back.

That's all I'm gonna say in that defense.If you still don't get it...then sorry.

Any-who, thanks again for reading and voicing your dismay. I am 100% pleased that not only does a venue like this exist, but that I am not preaching to the choir.

Have fun all!

The Cynical Otter. [2]
Taking you at your word for your intentions, I have to say that I think we're back to the audience miscalculation thing.

You sent an exceedingly confrontational essay to a site frequented by people who tend to read, write, and enjoy critical analysis of fan fiction, and who have had exactly the kinds of things said to them that you said here, and you didn't actually identify who you were talking to. You may say that we were excludes by the points you raised, but again, people have actually made those kinds of assumptions about people who respond critically to fan fiction.

I'll agree with you that the reviews on ff.net are often unnecessarily harsh. As someone who does read some of the various mary Sue mocking communities, I often wince at the reviews that show up after a story is reported, and I've said publicly that I don't think walking the mockery to the writer is even remotely appropriate. I won't agree that suggesting to a 14-year-old that she needs serious work on her grammar before posting a story for public consumption is a bad thing, however, and I won't support the idea that fan fiction being a hobby means I shouldn't point out when something is shoddily done, particularly when I do so in a helpful, constructive manner. [3]
Umm ... I understand not liking sites that mock bad stories (although I don't see how feedback offering "editing" is the same as pointing and laughing). But this article is mainly a series of personal attacks and insults, and I don't see the point of that. [4]
I don't write fanfiction. But I do write original fiction, and some of the reviews I've received haven't been all that great. The Cynical Otter said "I also wanted to reach the victims of the fanfiction elitists, most of whom, are emotionally-fragile and impressionable 14-year olds. They,who have yet to hone any writing skills and do fanfic for the fun of it, only to be attacked, quite cruelly, by a bunch of meanies.They, who have nothing else to do but go after the stories of hapless kids, make them feel like crap, and then further insult them with some(according to them)witty intellectual insults if the kids dare speak back."

You see, I'm thirteen, and I know that loads of people my age don't write all that well. But to call us "emotionally-fragile" and "impressionable"--it makes you sound quite stupid, actually, in our ears. If your work actually is bad, then you should be able to take constructive criticism; not everybody in your life is going to love everything you do. I already know that very well. But thinking that just because we get unfavorable reviews we feel like crap all the time is incorrect. Why? There are other things in our life than reviews. You can laugh at really bad reviews, just like you can laugh at really bad stories. Some of us know that ]]concrits\\ can actually help you; people aren't just trying to deflate your ego. If you're giving constructive criticism, you're not being a "meanie". You're actually being pretty nice, by taking the time to try to help others with their writing. The worst thing to do would be to let them go on writing badly, so that they can't become better. I leave reviews a lot; I try to help others write better, because headaches are all too common in the fics at the fanfiction sections that have fics that I read. But some are just too bad, and so I don't even bother reading those. I don't need more headaches than I already have.

By the way, it seems as if you need to hone your writing skills. Your commas are overabundant and some of your spaces seem to have run away from the horrible-ness of your writing.

I'm going to quote wylde_terra, because that says just about what I feel: "If it makes me an elitist to refuse to read careless work then so be it. I'd rather be an elitist than have the headache I get from trying to read slop." [5]


  1. ^ from cathexys, LiveJournal comment; WebCite posted to Fanfic Symposium Discussion Site community, July 22, 2004.
  2. ^ from Cynical Otter, LiveJournal comment posted to Fanfic Symposium Discussion Site community, July 22, 2004.
  3. ^ from cereta, LiveJournal comment posted to Fanfic Symposium Discussion Site community, July 22, 2004.
  4. ^ from penknife, LiveJournal comment posted to Fanfic Symposium Discussion Site community, July 22, 2004.
  5. ^ from elenbarathi12, LiveJournal comment posted to Fanfic Symposium Discussion Site community, December 31, 2004.