The Problem w/E.L. James

“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.

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2 thoughts on “The Problem w/E.L. James

  1. daniel.farber@american.edu says:

    While making a very good point about sometimes the lack of originality, I must say I disagree. Every culture product is based to some extend on previous products, you can draw lines form the most ‘original’ storytellers to someone else who said it first. That’s not a problem, as long as fair use is being kept.
    I wouldn’t want to see 1000 stories branching out of Twilight if they are all just an obvious knockoffs trying to benefit from a trend, especially if they are pushed by corporations . But if a 1000 fans wrote something, interesting that they got the idea for from reading the book and all of them done something different – that’s great.
    Some will be good a lot will suck but it is an outlet for creativity and that’s what inspiration suppose to look like
    Daniel

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  2. I have not read 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight, but I do understand the concept of mimicking what is best/selling. I feel the mood of the country is wanting similar story lines because it is relevant today. I believe that it is a compliment to the original writer to have their story be told in so many different ways.

    I think it would be interesting to see why people today are infatuated with Vampires and these love stories.
    -GSingh

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