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Do people write fanfiction about actual people

2024-04-14

Fanfiction, a genre of fan labor where authors rewrite or expand upon original works, has grown exponentially in popularity in recent years. The genre, which originated from a subculture of science fiction enthusiasts, has spread across all forms of media, from books to movies, television, and even real-life celebrities and public figures. This brings us to the controversial topic at hand: Do people write fanfiction about actual people?

The Phenomenon of RPF (Real Person Fiction)

Real Person Fiction (RPF) is a subgenre of fanfiction where real people, typically celebrities or public figures, are used as characters. This concept is not new and has been around for some time. RPF has been popularized by fandoms of boy bands or celebrities, where fans go as far as imagining romantic relationships, often called 'shipping', between band members or celebrities.

Do people write fanfiction about actual people

One can easily venture into platforms such as Wattpad, one of the largest online story-sharing platforms, and find a plethora of fanfiction focusing on real people. Wattpad accommodates all types of fanfiction, including RPF. User reviews indicate a general satisfaction with the app due to its ease of use, friendly interface, and categorization which helps to easily search for preferred fanfiction genres.

The Legal Prospects

Legally speaking, there's a clear distinction between fiction about fictional characters and fiction about real people. While there are freedom of speech provisions that protect certain types of creative works, writing about actual people can tread on precarious grounds, potentially infringing on privacy rights and defamation laws.

Irrespective of the potential legal implications, several platforms like Archive of Our Own (AO3) continue to host RPF. AO3, an open-source website specifically for fanfiction, has been praised for its comprehensive tagging system, which allows readers to better find what they're looking for, RPF included.

The Ethical Dilemma

RPF often provokes ethical debates because it uses real people as characters without their consent. Many argue that creating fictional narratives about actual individuals can potentially harm their reputation and personal life.

Others counter-argue by stating that as long as the work is clearly labelled as fictitious and is not intended to maliciously harm the individual in question, it falls within the realm of creative expression and should therefore be allowed.

Psychological Drivers

For many, writing RPF is a way of expressing admiration or forming emotional connections with their idols. Some psychologists argue that fantasies about celebrities or public figures can offer a safe space for individuals to explore their own identities, relationships, or fantasies.

These scenarios, although fictional, allow writers and readers alike to connect on a deeper emotional level with their subjects. To its critics, however, this form of emotional connection raises questions about parasocial relationships and the blurring boundaries between reality and fiction.

Public Figures and their Reactions

Reactions to RPF among celebrities have been mixed. Some embrace it as a form of flattery or evidence of a strong and passionate fan base, while others express discomfort over the breach of their personal privacy.

It is worth mentioning that while some celebrities have expressed their discomfort, others have remained relatively silent on the matter, a silence that some fans interpret as implied consent.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the world of fanfiction is as diverse as it is contentious. While RPF is a subgenre that sparks controversy due to its nature of involving real people, the debate ultimately boils down to respecting boundaries, maintaining ethical considerations, and balancing creative freedom. As fanfiction continues to evolve and transform, it will remain essential to keep these practices in check.

FAQ

1. What is Real Person Fiction (RPF)? - RPF is a subgenre of fanfiction where real individuals, typically celebrities or public figures, are used as characters.

2. Is it legal to write fanfiction about actual people? - While there are freedom of speech provisions that may protect certain types of creative works, it's important to understand that writing about actual people can potentially infringe on privacy rights and defamation laws.

3. How do celebrities react to RPF? - Reactions among celebrities vary. Some view it as a form of flattery or evidence of a passionate fan base, while others express discomfort over the invasion of their personal privacy.

References

[1] "Real Person Fiction." Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_person_fiction. [2] "Why We're Terrified of Fanfiction". The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/07/why-were-terrified-fanfiction/260080/

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