EDITORIAL: They Are Just Fictional Characters…

They Are Just Fictional Characters…

They are just fictional characters. I never thought I would actually say that, at least not publicly, because on the surface it feels like I’m minimizing people’s perfectly valid feelings. But the events of the last 12 hours have shown me that some people in the Glee Fandom need a serious reality check.

As some of you know, many fan fiction writers are also online friends. I have a friend who writes a wildly popular continuing Glee story. This story is approaching 100 chapters and has had well over 100 reviews on fanfiction.net and many many more on Twitter and Tumblr. Typically these reviews say things like “your story is better than the show!”

About a month and a half ago my friend and I were talking about a plot point that she was seriously considering for her story; one that had the potential to alienate a significant number of her long time readers. We discussed her reasoning for it and it became apparent that it was in the best interest of the overall health of the story given how she wanted the remainder of the story to go, which she had recently decided to continue for another year-and-half longer than she had previously intended. We discussed ways to make it believable, and I tried to reassure her that as long as it was done realistically and explained in authors end notes, that while some would be upset, the majority would accept it. She agreed.

The chapter containing the plot point in question (I won’t spoil it for any who may know who I am talking about here but haven’t read it yet) happened in the chapter published last night, and the early reviews were fairly accepting and understanding.

When I awoke this morning, I had a Twitter DM from another friend, sent in the middle of the night, asking if I was on, and that it was potentially a matter of life and death. It’s not often you hear that from a friend who lives on the other side of the world (in this case Australia). I messaged my friend and checked my Twitter feed, and it turned out that our mutual friend, the before mentioned fan fiction author, was getting hate reviews, hate messages, and apparently death threats. Obviously she was taking it badly. I messaged my author friend and asked her if she was okay. She said she would be. We’ve been talking since then and I think that she will be fine. It just all came as such a shock, and overall the majority of reviews have been supportive.

This illustrated in living color to me something that has been bothering me for quite some time now. Some Glee fans (an I include myself here at times) are taking a fictional show WAY too seriously. Some of the more attached fans are also fiction writers. Kitty and Artie are probably my two favorite character on the show, but they aren’t real people. They are fictional characters that exist only in the collective minds of the writers, actors, and fans. Finn and Rachel aren’t real. Cory and Lea are, but they are not their characters just because they also dated in real life. Kevin and Jenna are real. They apparently dated way back when at the same time that their characters dated. That doesn’t make the characters relationship any more real or destined to be. To follow that logic, Puck and Santana should be together.

Getting back to my friend’s story, sometimes bad things happen to good people. That’s real life. My friend is one of the best fic writers I’ve ever read. She had legitimate reasons for the plot she chose, and handled it well with sensitivity. She does take an unusual amount of reader suggestions, but like all fic authors, she has the right to write the story any way she likes. Ultimately it’s her story. She doesn’t deserve the hate.

Glee is supposed to be about bringing people together, but from what I’ve been seeing it’s been having the opposite effect on people lately. Ship wars are tearing the Fandom apart. I definitely have my favorite characters and favorite ships (as well as those I dislike), but ship wars are stupid, especially ones that are between ships that aren’t even competing ships. Who cares weather Brittana or Klaine are better, they are compatible ships and both got their happy endings. Why tear each other down when you should be celebrating together? I absolutely hate Tartie, I hate it with a fiery passion (for reasons explained elsewhere) But I don’t hate Tartie shippers, and I don’t go posting hate reviews of Tartie stories or attacking Tartie shippers online. Live and let live.Ship and let ship!  Read the storied for pairings you like, ignore the ones that you don’t. If you don’t like a particular story and you can’t frame the review constructively, don’t say anything at all. Hateful reviews and messages hurt!

Unless you’re a fic writer yourself you can’t really understand what it’s like. Writing fanfic (at least good fanfic) takes a great deal of time and energy as you pour your heart and soul into something that you put out there for other people to read and hopefully enjoy reading. If you’re lucky the majority of readers will like your story. If you’re really lucky a handful of these readers will post review and most of these will be good, or at least frame any criticism in a positive way. I’m actually a bit surprised that I haven’t gotten more negative reviews than than I have (Kitty has a lot of haters), but then my stuff isn’t a fraction as popular as my friend’s.

We fanfic writers are real people and we have feelings. Think about that before you post your next review.

UPDATE (4/22/15):

I’ve had a number of people ask me who the story is about, and my friend has spoken openly about it, including linking to this blog on her Tumblr 

http://gleethnystory.tumblr.com/post/116249208990/editorial-they-are-just-fictional-characters

so I think it’s okay to say that I was talking about chapter 85 of Glee: The New York Story – Don’t You Worry Child (4×16) by Fire Girl125

https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9630908/85/Glee-The-New-York-Story

For anyone interested, here is her official explanation:

http://gleethnystory.tumblr.com/post/116292907360/an-explanation

I’m happy to report that this seems to have blown over, for the most part, and she is still writing and hasn’t backed down on her story, but the point this blog is still an important one to remember and share. WORDS HURT! (Even if they are only typed.)

 

 

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