I have a confession to make: I read One Direction fan-fiction. This is a confession because it is breaking the golden rule of responsible fandom: never read RPF (Real Person Fiction). I fiercely stick to that rule when it comes to actors, but when it comes to bands, there is no fictional character for me to separate them from, so I cave and read RPF instead.
It’s like, as far as we’re concerned, the boys [in One Direction] aren’t actually real. Stick with me on this one. Like Draco Malfoy or Arthur Pendragon, we have their names. We know what they look like. But because we don’t know them, they are basically fictional characters. In our minds, they’re able to become whoever we want them to be.
We create fictionalised versions of the boys in 1D (or the actors in Supernatural/Glee/Insert Show Here) that we can then write about to our heart’s content. Through AUs, they’re no longer themselves, they are characters named “Harry Styles” or “Zayn Malik”, but be placed in whatever position we would like them in, have whatever personality traits best suit our purposes. They can be fashion designers, high school students, college professors…We can use them as bases to create a story that we want to tell.
But Georgie, I can hear you saying, just because we don’t know them doesn’t mean they’re not real people with real feelings, because they are! And I know. But as long as you maintain the distinction between fandom and reality, there isn’t a huge problem. Where the problem exists is when people start taking the character traits given to the boys in fic, and applying them in real life. I have no problem with you reading fics about Larry Stylinson (because that would make me a mega-hypocrite), but it becomes an issue when you send Louis’ girlfriend Eleanor hate messages because you think she’s a beard. It’s fine to read a fic where one of the boys struggles with depression, but don’t project those feelings onto the actual boys. This is 110% important to remember when you read slash fics (which I do, because we all know het RPF is filled with Mary-Sues). Unless the boys come out with a statement announcing that they are gay, we need to respect them and assume they are straight (especially when they have girlfriends!). It is fine to read slash fic (and I truly believe that), but you do not mention it, or tell the boys you think they belong together, or “need to come out”.
My golden rule of fan-fiction is don’t ever bring it up around the people who portray the characters you’re reading about, or who are the people you’re reading about. Don’t mention your ships, don’t mention that you read fic, just don’t be that fan. Do not send One Direction links to the fan-fiction you wrote about them. Don’t tweet them ship names. Keep fandom and real life separate. This is a big enough deal when you’re working with 100% fictional characters and their actors, but it becomes a major issue when you’re messing with real life. Because when fandom involves real people, there’s real feelings involved. There’s the potential for you to severely affect an actual human being because you’re being douchey with the way you irresponsibly use fandom. Read fanfic to your heart’s content, but keep it to yourself. Please.
In order to further my research into the subject (because fandom is something I find endlessly fascinating), I posed the question of “what do you think about RPF?” to the Australian Nerdfighters Facebook group I belong to. Some of the responses I received were as follows:
- AU’s to me are the best? Because it completely changes the person into a character as opposed to a real person?
- i’m fine with it, because it’s really just turning a real life person into a character. i was initially really weirded out by it (and shipping real people) but i found that it’s easier to get the narrative started without having to set up characters inthe first place – you can dive right in, even with an AU. it’s only when people get fanon and canon confused that it becomes a problem.
- RPF creeps me out something crazy. I have never read it and it just sounds like something that would be awkward and uncomfortable to read.
- I’m fine with it as long as it’s kept separate from the real actors.
- I think everyone reads/writes/whatever 1D fanfic… even if they’re not fans; it’s like all fans dirty-little-secret.
- If it were me, I’d feel super uncomfortable about it, so I’d never inflict it on others. Do what you will, but I don’t get it.
- You only really know the celebrity by their persona in the media and the roles they choose, so really its still fan fic. the weird RPF is when its done with people you actually know.
- For me, RPF isn’t actually applied to the real people involved– it’s more using their inherent characters and making up stories about how their interactions could go down. Some people have personalities that mesh really well together and reading about those relationships is interesting as hell. When people apply these fics to real life and push their headcanon persona’s on the real people, that’s definitely taking it too far. But if it’s kept to the corner of the internet that is fanfiction and fanart, I honestly can’t see the harm of it.
The overwhelming consensus of the responses was that RPF is fine to read as long as you keep it far, far away from those you are reading about, and that it is often a super interesting method of character examination.
So I will continue to fuel my 1D fanfic addiction, and try not to feel too guilty about it. And you should do the same.
Have you ever read RPF? What are your views on the subject?
frangipani princess xoxo