Cause for concern: The other night, my twelve year old niece was on her ipod touch, every free minute she had.
Cause for relief: She was just reading.
Cause for concern: She was reading fan fiction.
I explained to my sister that you have to watch out for fan fiction – as Shades of Grey started out as fan fiction. So – yes, there are some types of fan fiction a twelve year old should not be reading. But, more importantly, I said – “the writing is bad in fan fiction.”
Now, that’s a generalization, I know. Not all fan fiction can be bad. So, before I passed judgement, I asked my niece to pass over the ipod so I could take make an educated judgement.
I quickly gave it back to her.
“No, you shouldn’t be reading that,” I said.
“Why not?” she asked. “There’s nothing inappropriate there.” She had heard my sister, my brother-in-law and I use the word inappropriate many times. She knew what it meant.
“It’s not that,” I said. “Legolas – he doesn’t ‘crash through bushes and arrive breathless’, ” I quoted the website. “He’s an elf.”
My niece looked at me in confusion.
“Elves don’t belong in teen romance stories. Elves don’t flirt. Legolas is never breathless. He’s like 200 years old and he’s wise and serious and not subject to flight or fancy. He doesn’t fall in love. Elves don’t fall in love.” I repeated the last sentence for emphasis.
My sister jumped in, “What do you mean, elves don’t fall in love. What about Aragorn and Arwen? Didn’t they fall in love?”
Ah, I hadn’t seen it. When people start watching the movies, instead of reading the books, misconceptions are created. Perhaps movies were another sort of fan fiction.
I struggled to explain myself. “They were an exception,” I said. “And that whole romance thing – it doesn’t happen in the book. Well, it happens in an appendix – which is separate. But it wasn’t like that.”
Or maybe I had gotten it wrong? What would J.R.R. Tolkein say? I felt guilty, like I didn’t know Middle Earth as well as I should.
Really, what was I complaining about? My niece wanted to know more about Legolas’ back story. Is that so bad? I mean, that’s harmless compared to all the V.C. Andrews books that my sister and I had been exposed to at her age. At the age of twelve, I would have gobbled up any “sideline” stories I could find about Laura Ingalls and Almonzo Wilder or Princess Leia and Han Solo. And yet, what if they had gotten Leia’s personality all wrong? Inconsistent with her character’s history and development. It seemed wrong. Maybe it’s because I knew how much work an author puts into creating their characters. Let me tell you – months. They have whole histories – even the characters that appear in only one chapter.
I’ll have to see what others think about fan fiction. Perhaps, I’m biased. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts … fan fiction – admirable homages or dangerous delusions?