When Fics Take on a Life of Their Own

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Title: When Fics Take on a Life of Their Own
Creator: storiesfortravellers
Date(s): December 24, 2011
Medium: fanfiction
Fandom: RPF, pan-fandom
External Links: Read on Ao3
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When Fics Take on a Life of Their Own is a fic written by storiesfortravellers for Yuletide 2011, in the style of an email exchange between an author and Feminist Ryan Gosling, who is her beta-reader. They discuss feminist theory and the challenge of attempting to separate political and ethical opinions from the desire to write shameless smut about celebrities, and whether it's possible to do so at all. Other fandom-related topics like misogyny in fandom and the public perception of fans are brought up and explored as they relate to writing.


The author, named keyboardvirago83 (shortened to kv in subsequent emails), says that she has recently gotten into Fassavoy and asks Feminist Ryan Gosling (FGR) for advice on how to proceed in light of accusations of domestic abuse[1] which were brought against Michael Fassbender by a former partner.

The author puts forward several possible ways to reconcile this, exploring various story formats to try and connect both of the aspects of the problem together. Feminist Ryan Gosling largely supports kv's ideas but agrees that it's a complicated topic with no clear answer. In the end, kv decides to leave the Fassavoy fic on the backburner and write an unrelated story involving a Tilda Swinton threesome.

Author's Notes

1. First, there are mentions of domestic abuse which are not at all explicit. But abuse, and people's often problematic attitudes towards victims, are mentioned often. This could be triggery for some people. There is also sexist language, though it is used to criticize sexism.

2. I do not claim to be an expert on either domestic abuse or on the controversy surrounding the celebrity discussed here. I apologize if anyone feels that I have treated the matter with inappropriate lightness. Although there are some exaggerations and satirical comments, as a whole, I tried to reflect a sense of real discussions that I or others have had privately when trying to think through how to write fic about topics that we have some moral or political ambivalence about. I tried to express some of the tone, the half-worked-through thoughts, and the sometimes strange or impolitic things that cross your mind in this process (at least for some people).

3. Kudos to the creator of the Feminist Ryan Gosling tumblr, which I am in no way affiliated with. If you are not familiar with it, it's easy to find and it's amazing and fun.

4. Thanks to the requester - asking for Critical Theory RPS made me curious, but asking what Feminist Ryan Gosling would say about these questions was such a cool and fascinating idea that I really wanted to write a treat for it. I didn't get a chance to address all the questions you brought up in your request, but I hope it's something like what you were looking for.

5. Contains profane language and references to critical theorists. Not always at the same time.[2]

Related Works

A podfic of the story was published by klb and Podcath shortly after the original work. It features the two podficcers as voices of keyboardvirago83 and Feminist Ryan Gosling. The intro includes a clip of the real Ryan Gosling saying "hey girl" before the story is introduced. During the FGR email segments, the production features sound effects of birds chirping and a gentle piano melody.


As of June 2021, roughly 10 years after the publication of the fic, it has garnered 250+ kudos and 43 bookmarks.

Um, having had at least half of these conversations IRL with friends whose concerns situate themselves at the same intersection of fandom/politics/feminism, can I just tell you that this has just absolutely won the internet for me?! Unlike some meta, which can become self-indulgent to the point where it almost becomes gratuitous, this felt like a way of really foregrounding important issues (even if it doesn't necessarily provide answers to the Big Questions that it poses). It is problematic that people are more likely to listen to feminist theory when it comes from the Hulk or Ryan Gosling, but I can't help but thinking that meta and humor are still some of the best tools at hand "to negotiate that line between ironic appropriation of patriarchal conceptions and complicit valorization of those conceptions." Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing fic that makes me think about fandom and politics and feminism in a complicated way while still letting me laugh out loud occasionally. I'm pretty sure the world is a better place for it.

Reading Redhead [3]

I really dislike RPF, but I'm a big critical theory fan, so I listened when a friend shooed me over here. This is brilliant and I love how you capture the dilemma of, "This is what I want to write, but this is how what I want to write contradicts my ideals. And how can I discuss social issues within the fic without stopping the story dead?"

Liviania [4]

Hey kv83,

I love your new fic idea. However, I see a problem/opportunity with regards to the replacement of Fassbender by Tilda Swinton as the unproblematic alternative despite her support of Roman Polanski. Doesn't that take you back to the issue of feminist female support for the misogynistic male artist? This could be a great breakthrough, though, as Tilda Swinton as a critical character could be far enough removed from the stereotypical Fangirly Sue to really engage in a productive discourse. Just an idea.

- Feminist Tris B

(I saw this request during signups and fell in love! I am so so excited that a fic worthy of it has come of it, and I really enjoy all the points you make, especially about the female consumer as a character in RPF herself. LOVE.)

TrisB [5]


  1. ^ Zimmerman, Amy; Briquelet, Kate . "The Shocking Abuse Allegations Against Michael Fassbender". Amy Zimmerman, Kate Briquelet; The Daily Beast, 2018-02-16.
  2. ^ storiesfortravellers, Author's Note, 2011-12-24
  3. ^ "Ao3 comment by Reading Redhead, 2011-12-26".
  4. ^ "Ao3 comment by Liviania, 2011-12-28".
  5. ^ "Ao3 comment by TrisB, 2011-12-29".