The strange world of fan fiction

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News Media Commentary
Title: The strange world of fan fiction
Commentator: Allison Ballard
Date(s): 15 July 2002
Venue: print, The Wilmington Star (South Carolina)
Fandom: multimedia
External Links:
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The strange world of fan fiction is a 2002 article that attempts to explain fan fiction.

It includes quotes by Henry Jenkins, mention of a Stephanie Plum website called Plum Crazy, fiction about Dawson's Creek, a Star Wars fan film called "Sins of the Jedi," and Napster.

This article was reprinted DIAL #23, a Pros letterzine.


While the Internet didn't start fan fiction - stories written by enthusiasts of certain comic books, television shows, movies, music or books - it has changed it, said Henry Jenkins, director of comparative media studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Fans have been writing stories and publishing them in fan zines or making their own photocopies for a circle of friends for the past 30 years or so. But the Web has made it easier for more and more devotees to write their own stories.
Historically, writers of fan fiction are college educated, middle class white women, Dr. Jenkins said. They tend to have what's called pink-collar jobs and work as nurses or librarians. 'These are extremely bright, creative women and their work doesn't use the full range of their talents,' he said.
Tony Colucci of Wilmington is directing a project that could be considered fan fiction. He and a group of local filmmakers are making an Internet video series that takes place in the Star Wars world called 'Sins of the Jedi.' Mr. Colucci co-wrote the scripts. "I am most definitely a fan," he said. "But using someone else's work does restrict your creativity, in a way." He has gotten around it by creating his own characters instead of using established ones. The film makers also are avoiding problems of working in the Star Wars realm by not charging people to download their work.
Dr. Jenkins sees a potential problem for fan fiction in the Napster issue. He said that was likely the first volley in an upcoming war about consumers and producers need and want in a new age o f interactive entertainment. "It's about what are the permissible forms of fan participation," he said. "People want to participate in the stories and don't just want to sit back and accept what they see." Fan fiction offers them an alternative mode of expressing themselves."