In the spirit of yeeting content into this space to see how it functions, have some #fandommeta
to chew on
have all heard this rant before.
I remember reading this thing about Egyptian mythology -- that part of the reason you don't get so many anthologies of Egyptian myth is that the myths are all different. Different places told different stories about the same gods. And at different times throughout history, the myths were changed to suit the needs of the people. Infinitely branching variations with an infinitely variable cast of familiar characters. There is no One Egyptian Mythology Book because Egyptian mythology was whatever the people (or the pharaoh) needed it to be.
That's been stuck in my brain for so long that I can't remember where I heard it and I'm not sure whether it's even accurate, but it is meaningful and here's why:
Later, on tumblr, I found this quote:
Fan fiction is a way of the culture repairing the damage done in a system where contemporary myths are owned by corporations instead of by the folk.
It's attributed to Henry Jenkins. In classic internet form, this is not actually what he said, but it is what got me thinking.
What ARE movie superheroes and book characters and TV show casts and video game avatars if not folk heroes for the modern age? What are franchises and media properties if not mythology? And how deeply fucked up is that? How fucked up
is it that our folk heroes
It's like we're living in version a feudal England where King John owns
The real Henry Jenkins quote goes like this:
Contemporary Web culture is the traditional folk process working at lightning speed on a global scale. The difference is that our core myths now belong to corporations, rather than the folk.
That first sentence is what got to me, and really settled
me. Fanfiction isn't repairing
anything, there's no damage to be repaired, it's just a natural part of the process. I’m a writer, and as soon as I hand my story over to the readers, they will make it their own. There’s no fighting that process, it’s just what happens. The Egyptian myths were whatever people needed them to be, wherever and whenever people needed them. King John can never own Robin Hood.
Maybe this sounds like a war cry, but the fact of the matter is that really internalizing this idea has made me considerably less
warlike. We talk a lot about Death of the Author, and how canon is just whatever we want it to be, but this isn’t quite that. It’s not Death
of the Author it’s more like Demystification
of the Author. Turns out the Author is just a guy (or a whole bunch of guys in a trench coat wearing a Mickey Mouse hat.) Canon is mythology and fic is mythology and their version of the myth is objectively speaking no more or less valid than mine, even if it’s more widely told.