I thought the Cumberland reading was really interesting, mainly because it addressed many of the things I experienced during adolescence. I used to love watching Xena: Warrior Princess and I used to read fanfiction for my favorite video game/manga/anime characters (yes I’m one of those people). At one point during my Neopets days, I used to be a fan of a furry artist who also drew furry Neopets… ‘Nuff said.
Anyway, I agreed with Cumberland’s point that the supportive online community of female fanfiction readers/writers encourages the creation of more slash/fanfiction works. Cumberland poses the question, “in what way does the openness and anonymity of cyberspace allow women to appropriate power over their own imaginations and bodies?” Since fanfiction content is so easily accessible on the internet, and because of the anonymity of viewing/accessing fanfiction websites and forums, more women are able to view and contribute to fanfiction works than would be possible without the internet. We don’t feel judged by entering a questionable website in the same way we would if we stood in the erotica section of Barnes & Noble or entered an adult video store. While everything is public on the internet, to each website visitor, the act of accessing a website is something individual and private (on your own personal computer screen). This sense of anonymity promotes the expression of our (mostly socially-unacceptable) desires in ways which could not happen so easily IRL, where social norms and pressure prevent us from behaving “abnormally”.
On the effect fanfiction has on the original works, I think that when the audience creates derivative fan works, they feel even more invested in the original work (as if they’re contributed something to the series/story). That said, I think creators should be glad when they have fans willing to create derivative works– it only adds to the original work’s popularity and increases the size of the potential audience.