“Convergence culture” has done amazing things for fan cultures. As a big fan of Lost, I’ve been endlessly entertained by memes created from the show and even fanfictions that depict alternate endings to the series (because we can all agree that season 6 was terrible, right?).
But while I support the ability of fan cultures to come together online to adapt stories and images owned by big companies, I can recognize that there are downsides.
Lack of originality is a major one. Take the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon for example. The trilogy originated as Twilight fan fiction. While many argue that enough of the story was changed to make it “original,” there’s no denying that similar themes and characters are present in both books. Is it a problem that two of the best selling trilogies in the last decade are based on the same, tired approach to love and relationships?
Taking into account the vast array of other fanfictions and vampire/BDSM genre knockoffs (film and television in addition to literature) inspired by the trilogies, it isn’t a stretch to hypothesize that a huge portion of the population is experiencing the same story over and over and over again.
I recognize that GOOD fanfiction explores relationships, friendships, conflicts, etc. in unusual, often fresh ways. However, for every instance of a cool and creative take, there are 1000 examples of uninspired drivel that beat the same concepts to death. If only all that “creative power” went into original stories, with original characters, we’d probably have more diverse representations of love in contemporary pop culture.