Real World Events in Fanworks

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Related terms: Historical AU
See also: Race and Fandom, Social Justice,Judaism and Fandom
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Some fanworks focus on a contemporary or historical real world event, such as natural disasters, disease outbreaks, terrorist attacks or other tragedies. These are typically viewed with near-universal negativity or at least a great deal of controversy.

American Slavery in Fanworks

Hamilton (musical) fandom generated much controversy due to its rewriting of real-world historical figures, which involved changes to represent "American Now." The musical casted people of color to play historical figures who were white, and it was common practice within Hamilton fandom, like any fandom, to have different headcanons about characters' identities, and to diverge further in AUs. Controversy grew over the distinction, and lack thereof, between the canon of the musical and real world history. Specific issues are whether or not fans were properly separating the musical characters from their historical bases, whether or not separating them is truly possible, and if the fandom or the musical romanticized or minimized historical atrocities. See Hamilton Controversy.

the infamous "weeaboo drug dealer Thomas Jefferson" character sheet by ask-crammaster-ham, 2017

This controversy is exemplified by ask-crammaster-ham, a Modern AU ask blog which created character sheets for its reimaginings of the Hamilton characters. The Thomas Jefferson character sheet was spread, mocked, and criticized, becoming known as "weeaboo drug dealer Thomas Jefferson."

Nazi Germany, the Holocaust and WWII in Fanworks

Main Article: World War II & Nazi

Many pieces of media are canonically set during this period, while others are not but people make Historical AUs about them. The Hetalia fandom is notorious for its Nazi imagery, as one of the main characters is a gijinka of Nazi Germany. Cosplayers have been known to do Nazi salutes for photographs.

One edited photo posted on DeviantArt showing Rainbow Dash, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic character, during the Holocaust was shown in many cringe compilations and also mocked widely on reddit.[1] The My Little Pony fandom also has a fancharacter called Aryanne with a swastika cutie mark.[2]

"Nazifurs" such as Foxler are furry fans who promote white supremacy, fascism or related agendas. They are generally hated by the rest of the fandom.

There was also a meme Hail Hydra in the Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom, which was criticized for resembling the phrase, "Heil Hitler."

An animash screencap posted on Outofcontextanimash depicting edited versions of Kiara from The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride and Bambi from the Disney film in a Holocaust setting caused some outrage and confusion on tumblr.[3]

screencap from Outofcontextanimash

Fanworks related to Taika Waititi's 2019 film Jojo Rabbit are also a minor point of fan contention. Some artists wonder how to present fanart of characters, considering even child characters are wearing Nazi uniforms. The major debate is whether it is appropriate to ship the most popular pairing, Freddy Finkel/Captain Klenzendorf. Both characters are Nazis, although many fans argue the subtext is that both men are gay and secretly working with anti-Nazi resistance.[4][5] Some posit that no one should be shipping Finkel/Klenzendorf, or at least that the overwhelming amount of content focused on shipping Nazis compared to other parts of the film is inappropriate.[6]

The AIDs Crisis in Fanworks

Hivliving was a tumblr user who wrote a Hamilton fanfiction where the characters had HIV. She falsely claimed to have HIV herself and also scammed people out of money.

9/11 in Fanworks

After 9/11, many young people made "9/11 tributes" with their favorite characters. These were also widely mocked for being insensitive. They were common in the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom and were often parodied. There are also a number of animash videos with 9/11 as a theme.[7]

Other Events

Some The Hunchback of Notre Dame fans made tributes or spoofs about the church when it was burning.

Example Fanworks


Of More Value Than Many Sparrows[3]by icebluenothing is an episode tag for the Doctor Who Series one episode Father's Day that has Nine take Rose to New York City on 9/11.

Examples of controversial fics.

Can fics about real world events be done respectfully?

  • tevere's Generation Kill story set in East Timor, Sixteen Days in September[11]. This story was used as an example of how fanfic, even slash fanfic, can be set in these kinds of times and places without the problematic results of the Haiti fic. Tevere posted the meta essay Fanfic as a Vehicle to discuss her story, the Haiti story and the "interesting part of the discussion around this story is the ongoing conversation on whether or not fanfiction -- as opposed to original fiction -- is ever an appropriate vehicle for the exploration of real-life natural or man-made tragedies, particularly in non-white and post-colonial settings."

Fanfiction on Terrorism

  • Anarfea's work By His Dirty Hands We Know Him is extensively tied into the real-life Shankill Road Bombing by the IRA. The story is part of the BBC Sherlock fandom and has one of the characters (Mycroft Holmes) deliberately fail to prevent the bombing in order to damage public sentiment towards the IRA.
    • Anarfea's author's notes address the issue of using real-world events: "I understand that the Shankill Road Bombing was a real tragedy with real victims, and hope that no one will find my writing about this real historical event offensive. My intent is to explore the thought process which may go on inside the heads of those who make terrible, politically motivated decisions, and the resulting psychological aftermath."
  • College Boys and High School Girls incorporates the Boston Bombings.

Fanfiction on The Holocaust and WWII

  • Oswiecim is a work by Gabrielle Lawson in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fandom. The work uses the common Trek trope of time travel to send one of its characters, Julian Bashir, back in time to 1943. The story appears to have an overwhelmingly positive response, perhaps due to the extensive research (it comes with a page of references), and the lack of romanticism or apologia.


Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Charity Zines and Other Fannish Fundraising

A mulitfandom zine titled Mourning was published following the events of September 11, 2001, with the stated intent being that "a minimum of $5 from the purchase of each zine would given to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund" for the aftermath of those losses.

Also See


  1. ^ History student is amazed by a holocaust photo with rainbow dash photoshopped into it Discussion on Reddit
  2. ^ Aryanne on Know Your Meme
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Untitled Tumblr Post, Archived version A short post demonstrating difference of fan opinions.
  5. ^ Untitled Post on how fans approach terms of endearment for the ship, Archived version
  6. ^ I am a Jewish Jojo Rabbit fan, Archived version
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ here we go again post by Cambodian fan hesychasm reacting to "Nisay," 21 Oct 2007. (Accessed 4 Jan 2012)
  9. ^ Comments about Nisay in bossymarmalade's journal, comparing it with the The J2 Haiti Fic: la_vie_noire's comment, June 14, 2010, and skywardprodigal's comment, June 14, 2010, accessed August 9, 2011
  10. ^ "I tried dealing with the experience of visiting the Killing Fields with respect, I realize now that that wasn't enough, and has totally failed to work for some, especially those with personal connections to it. I'm sorry for that. I took the whole two paragraphs out now. As far as I'm concerned, that's the end of the story for me." From follow-up post by the author of "Nisay," 23 Oct 2007. (Accessed 4 Jan 2012)
  11. ^ Sixteen Days in September, accessed August 9, 2011