Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Awful Weekend

Just wanted to let people know I'm still around and alive, just behind. It's been a really horrible weekend and my other online community exploded in a firestorm.

Remember the plagiarized book that made it to the Eppie finals? It was originally fanfiction, and fandom just found out. BOOM! Proof positive that readers and writers are exactly the same everywhere -- the exact same arguments and defenses and attacks were made here (and are still going on, although it's finally slowed down) as were made in the Cassie Edwards incident. Substitute "fanfic" for "romance" and everything else is the same -- "It's only fanfic, why are you taking it so seriously?!" and "The standards are different in fanfic than they are elsewhere!" and "Hasn't she been through enough?!" and "Why are you being so mean?!" and "You're just jealous!" and "You just want attention!" and cetera.

If anything, I think it's been worse than the Cassie Edwards blow-up. Then, so far as I could tell, the people defending her were just readers, no matter how devoted. But Lucia Logan was a member of our community, many people consider her to be a good friend, and quite a few (myself included) have met her in realspace. That makes it much more personal, and the intensity went up correspondingly.

And also as with the Cassie Edwards case, Lucia Logan's response isn't helping any. :(

Everyone's in shock, there's a pall of anger and resentment and broken friendships -- I've been defriended by several people myself, and I wasn't even one of the main posters -- and I'm exhausted. I have over 200 blog posts piled up in my reader and I'll get to them eventually. I might not go all the way back, so if I miss anything important I apologize in advance. This has just been a completely sucky few days and I'm looking forward to... I don't know, next week? next month? whenever things get back to even a fragile mask of normalcy.



Nancy Beck said...

Jeez, Angie, that's horrible! :-(


I know what it's like to be drained emotionally (boy, do I ever!), so take your time coming back on board, here, okay?

::more hugs::

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm very sorry to hear this. Human beings are so emotional. Sometimes you just need a break. I hope you get a good walk in today, get some fresh air, get away from the online community for a bit.

Sarai said...

That is horrible. I am sorry that everything seems to hit at once. We'll wait for ya whenever you feel like coming back!
Charles has some good advice, whenever I'm feeling drained I go get some fresh air and ignore the blogs for awhile.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

That sucks! But don't let it get you down!

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight: someone took fanfic and switched it up a bit, then published it as their own? OMG that's completely stupid and wrong.


Angie said...

Nancy, Charles, Sarai, Ello -- thanks all, and hugs and such back. It's kind of died down now, but things are a lot quieter than they used to be, and a lot of folks still aren't talking to each other so far as I can tell. At least it's more peaceful, as opposed to everyone being on a hair trigger. I think my blood pressure's a bit lower, too, which is always good. [wry smile]


Angie said...

WW -- so far as that goes, it depends on the fanfic. If it was fic based directly on whatever the canon property was, then yes, that'd be a problem. I don't know any publisher that'd take something like that because of the liability. So yes, if it had been a fanfic about Harry, Ron and Hermione at wizard school, (or even Harvey, Rod and Harriet at sorcerer school) you're right that trying to sell it would have much suckage, in addition to being massively illegal.

The kind of fanfic which is usually polished up and sold, when it's done at all (which it isn't all that often, but it is done) is usually AU, or "alternate universe" fanfic. In that kind of story, the characters are put into a different setting, usually with different occupations, and then the story is told in that new context. What makes it enjoyable for fanfic fans is seeing the characters they love and are familiar with, in that new setting doing something different but still behaving recognizably like themselves.

So for example, what if Gil Grisson from CSI were an entomology professor instead of a forensic investigator? Or what if he hadn't been able to go to university at all and had ended up working retail? Twenty-five years later he could be a district manager for Wal-Mart and pulling down a ton of money every year (probably a lot more than canon!Gil makes with the Vegas PD, actually) and have a completely different life, but still collect bugs as a hobby, and again that could be a setting for an interesting story about him, exploring some facets of his character that would be different from his real (well, real-fictional on TV) persona, but still recognizable as the same person from the show.

The fandom Lucia Logan wrote in was real-person fiction, which is just what it sounds like. Our chunk of it writes about actors, but there's fanfic elsewhere about musicians and athletes and just about anyone else with a fan following. Actor fiction is particularly welcoming toward AU stories (which not all fandoms are) and it's usually thought of as writing the story and casting the movie at the same time.

My point, though, is that an AU fanfic is usually about this close to being an original piece of fiction anyway. Most of the time you can change the names, change any recognizable physical characteristics and hobbies and such, maybe diddle with some people's nationalities, especially if you had to stretch to make those fit in the first place, and there you go.

[And yes, I've done this myself. :) Of the four stories I've published so far, two were AU fanfic with the serial numbers filed off, and two were completely original, written just to submit to my publisher. Can you tell which are which? ;) ]

So, had Lucia Logan actually written an adaptation of Jane Eyre, no one would have had any problem with it. If she'd taken the basic "Orphan is treated cruelly by relatives, sent to oppressive school, becomes a teacher, then a governess, falls in love with and eventually marries the master of the house" plot line, but written her own story based on that, that would've been fine. It's the fact that she lifted exact lines from the novel while mistakenly believing that saying the story was "inspire by" or "an homage to" Jane Eyre was adequate citation that has everyone upset.

The criticism of Speak Its Name re: the unrealistic acceptance of a romance between two men in Victorian times would still have been valid, but it's not unusual for m/m romances to be set in a better version of the world, if the story's not meant to have a large subplot of oppression and intolerance. Sometimes you just want to be romantic and not deal with the gay-bashers, so as a reader I'm willing to consider this sort of thing to be another kind of "alternate universe" story and get on with enjoying the romance itself. But the "OK-Homo" charge would've been a minor complaint without the plagiarism.

Anyway, the fact of the story being reworked fanfic sold as original fiction wasn't the problem. That can work, and very well. It was the plagiarism that caused all the shrieking and howling. :/