I didn’t always read Fan Fiction Friday on ToplessRobot.com, but when I did, I usually laughed out loud. Fan Fiction Friday was a segment where Rob Bricken would find an abhorrent piece of writing and interject his own comments, narrative and occasionally the pic of The Guy From Scanners’ head exploding. For a hilarious example that might even be safe for work, see this Garfield/Kate Middleton FFF. For a more representative sample of how awful, barely coherent and disgusting the fan fiction usually was, see this one about a diaper-clad Fievel and Mickey Mouse.
Rob recently left ToplessRobot to write for io9, Gawker’s Sci-Fi centered blog. He published two FFFs there before the editor decided to pull the plug. One was about Captain America/Iron Man the other was about Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy’s dad pissing on each other.
When I read that io9 would not be running the feature anymore, I assumed it was because readers objected to the content. This was true, but it wasn’t the Fan Fic content - It was Rob’s comments!
“Many of the people who wrote to us to explain their concerns about FFF used the word “shaming” to describe what they felt the feature was doing. Again, this was not our intent, but intent doesn’t matter. Because if people are feeling shamed by what they read, then that’s a problem.”
To clarify, this is io9 editor Annalee Newitz saying that people wrote in and said that they felt the feature “shamed” the author who put pen to paper and wrote sentences like:
Lucius had pushed him back onto the bed and taken Harry’s erection in his mouth, but not for long. They both knew that Harry would never hold his bladder through the tremors of orgasm, so he was denied and frustrated, and more aroused than ever.
Captain Rogers, I would like to point out that Master Stark did not hesitate to please you when he discovered that you are a necrophiliac,” the A.I. said in an attempt to knock some sense into Steve.
Even more baffling to me was that commenters on io9 and metafilter (where I discovered this link) seemed to universally applaud this decision. They stand united and say “The anonymous person who assumed the narrative point of view of a baby Fievel from An American Tale and wrote
My crib was there from when I and that blue bunny use-ta play around. He had an affinity for liking to eat poop… and at times, liked puking. He loved it when I had way too much formula in my body… he’d eat it, when I’d spit it up'
this person is not deserving of our scorn.”
And I must ask…What the hell people? Is this really how it’s going to be going forward? Everything is great and nothing is worth being ashamed about? Stories about cartoon mice pleasuring each other through their diapers written under a pseudonym and published on a public forum must be treated with the same kid gloves we would a three year old’s drawing, lest the author become ashamed?
This isn’t mocking something beyond anyone’s control - nobody is born with an inherent need to write Fan Fiction about stars of popular animated movies. Nobody was being identified or outed, Rob didn’t rip these stories out of their diaries, these stories were posted on the internet under pen names. And far be it from me to employ the dreaded “Too much time on your hands" quip - I’ve been on the receiving end of that one several times. But this stuff these people are writing is indisputably abysmal!
This wasn’t an instance of Rob finding a non-erotic Harry Potter fan fiction and mocking it for poor grammar and spelling. It was about plumbing the depths of a fringe community for the most depraved and ridiculous work imaginable. Many of these commenters seem to want to employ the “everyone gets a trophy” philosophy that Little League teams use. I posit that when you do this, not only does it devalue the trophy, but when the guy that got the trophy ahead of you takes the mic and starts to talk to you about cartoon mice getting off on eating each other’s shit, it kind of makes you not want to go up and accept your own trophy.
Not everything is good. Lots of stuff is crap. To pretend this is not the case and that everything has inherent positive value devalues every great movie, tv show and scientific discovery that we praise. Fortunately, most of the crap stuff is not worthy of our attention, and we don’t feel the need to tell the creators it is bad. But what Rob was able to do was take something that no reasonable person would ever read more than two sentences of, and constantly turn it into something hilarious, at times transcendentally so.
I guess my point is, we don’t need to pretend like some things are not worthy of our scorn. It’s a weird attitude. It’s like a modern version of The Emperor’s New Clothes where all the subjects are watching the emperor read his fan fic about Donald Duck fucking Huey, Dewey and Louie in Launchpad’s helicopter while Magica DeSpell fists the Beagle Boys and thinking “What a creative talent. Nothing about this bothers me. The emperor is really making a positive contribution,” and a little kid is sitting in the back of the room thinking “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Or, as Metafilter commenter Mezentian says oh so much more succinctly: “If you can’t mock a Sherlock Holmes enema fic, what can you mock?”