So, for anybody not familiar, Rule #34 of the internet is that “if it exists, there is porn of it.” The articles for this week demonstrated an interesting example of that phenomenon, and the internet seems to be the catalyst that lets this exist.
As we have mentioned before, subcultures thrive on the internet because it unites people who are otherwise divided. It takes surprisingly few people to create an active subculture, but without the web, it is unlikely those people would ever meet. Sexual subcultures are an even more extreme example, as it is very unlikely that people will mention even fairly tame sexual fantasies in passing conversation. The internet, however, strips away both social constraints around these issues via anonymity and the physical boundaries that divide people who share an interest in them.
I was very intrigued by the article “Why Heather Can Write,” and was surprised that there was no mention of the historical roots of fan fiction. Fan fiction is not a recent invention. The Aeneid is, in essence, a piece of fan fiction, taking a minor character from the Iliad and expanding upon his story (whether this piece of fan fiction shows signs of that other hallmark of fan work, I will leave up to your interpretation).
The recent trend towards a desire for every part of a story to be original is just that: recent. Most works that received substantial notoriety prior to the last few centuries were either retellings of existing stories or were advertised as such. Myths and legends are another example of “fan work.”
It is very interesting that the internet has provided an easy way for people to simultaneously return to an earlier model and drastically expand upon the way it works.