When Hamlet met the A-Team

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News Media Commentary
Title: When Hamlet met the A-Team
Commentator: Robbie Hudson
Date(s): 8 April 2002
Venue: The Sunday Times
Fandom: multimedia
External Links:
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When Hamlet met the A-Team is one of the many articles in the early 2000s that attempts to explain fanfiction to the masses.

This one states that "fan fiction lets writers place characters in new adventures, allows women to write about relationships in ways that are unsanctioned by the popular media, and the web's implicit interactivity has created digital communities dedicated to the genre.... It might not be to everybody's taste, but fan fiction represents a democratic pop-culture phenomenon that has gone largely unnoticed by a media that claims to be obsessed with popular culture."

The article includes quotes by Henry Jenkins and Camille Bacon-Smith, mention of the Spooky Award and a quote by moderator Lauryn, and links to three websites: Writers University ("An eloquent guide, the Writers University explains key terms... giving writing tips and advising that most fan fiction violates copyright, as it usurps "the rights of copyright owners to control all derivative works based on their material." It also pleads for honourable behaviour within the community, especially restraint of plagiarism. Derivative works can be transformed by their authors' originality, while plagiarism is "stealing and wrong."), www.fanficweb.net ("This, the best organised set of fanfic links available, leads to stories of every kind, be they about Sherlock Holmes, Watership Down, Les Miserables, Zorro, Knight Rider, The Usual Suspects or Star Trek. The Information section contains a group of essays and articles that explain why authors write fan fiction, why people read it, and its strengths and weaknesses."), and www.pemberley.net ("This is home for all things Austen. Stories are frequendy epic in scope and published chapter by chapter.").

This article was reprinted in DIAL #23, a Pros letterzibe.


It also lets readers see beloved characters in new situations. The desire to see this happen is not confined to spherical Iowa teenagers wishing that they could meet Spider-Man — Martin Amis [1], fresh from finishing Pride and Prejudice, is reported to have said: 'I found myself thinking it could do with a 20-page sex scene, with Darcy acquitting himself uncommonly well.' Well, Marty, get online.
Sexy fanfic is called "slash fiction". It is often explicit, is usually labelled well enough to be easily avoided, and is named after the slash dividing the name ofthe protagonists, as in Darcy/Elizabeth, Bond/Moneypenny or Kirk/Spock. Jane Mortimer, a slash writer, explains that the genre is "faster than a speeding bullet", exploiting the reader's wish to have well-known characters 'panting over the bed-springs in a single bound'.
All this begs the question: is fanfic any good? With so many stories out there, there is, inevitably, a lot of rubbish, but the hit rate is higher than you might expect. Pop-culture icons such as Buffy and Harry Potter attract plenty of reasonable writers. The best way to find them is to start at one of the main archives (www.fanfiction.net) or links pages (www.fanficweb.net), and hunt around until you have an idea of what you enjoy.
It is easy to be condescending about this populist genre. The grammar and spelling are often dreadful, but the writers are frequently young, and it is hard not to be impressed by 10-year-olds writing enormously long and complicated sequels to Harry Potter. Online participation depends on writing, and this is breeding a confidendy literate group of followers. We can see people learning, so let he whose schoolwork was perfect cast the first stone. What is more, a significant proportion of fan fiction is produced by talented adults who are deploying the well-established techniques of intertextual writing. A few are also developing highly lucrative skills. Popular American television series tend to be written by teams that are hired after submitting sample scripts written about the established characters — just the type of efforts produced by fanfic writers.

Reactions and Reviews

...a bit weird - and I can't help thinking the writer either didn't research it very well, or missed the point by quite some way. It's from the Door, a (computer) section of August 4's The Sunday Times. And of course it won't surprise you to find Mr Rent A Quote himself Henry Jenkins in there. I'd love to know how much lecturing he gets to do in between his media appearances![2]
It's the first really encouraging and non-patronising article I've ever read about the phenomenon of fanfiction. Thought it might brighten the day of fanfic authors everywhere....

There's a whole section where Martin Amis searches for a Darcy/Elizabeth slash...

Hope this brought as big a grin to your face as it did mine! And I certainly enjoyed the expression on my boyfriends face as he read it!! [3]


  1. a fan?
  2. from DIAL #23
  3. [1] VoyForum, by treacle antlers, posted 11 August 2002, accessed 22 April 2012