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The Hatters' Herald

Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800

The Hatters' Herald

Danbury High School     43 Clapboard Ridge Road Danbury, CT 06811     (203) 797-4800

The Hatters' Herald

From Wattpad to the silver screen: fanfiction’s rising influence on mainstream media and its effects

Movies based on fanfiction via Screen Rant

From The Idea of You, to the After movies, to Fifty Shades of Grey, movie adaptations of fanfiction have grown to be increasingly prevalent. As fanfiction grows in popularity through social media and expands its influence on mainstream media, one may argue that the longstanding stigma surrounding fanfiction has begun to subside. Not only that, but the fanfiction genre as a whole may be altering the movie industry as a whole with its increased focus on the queer community.


Fanfiction: on online platforms and in movie adaptations

Fanfics–as defined by Moriah Richard, managing editor of the Writer’s Digest–are “stories about popular fictional characters written by fans of the original story and most often posted on the internet.” Writing from this genre is often found on online writing platforms such as Wattpad, Archive of Our Own (often referred to as AO3), and Tumblr. Such writing does often carry a stigma with it; Moriah laments that “many writers these days look down on fan fiction writers,” which is often due to fanfiction’s almost exclusively online presence and use of already existing published sources.

Nevertheless, the fanfiction community has flourished. Video production teacher and avid fanfic reader Maria Ruscitti spoke about this community noting how “there’s a whole culture around [fanfiction] that is very rich and that, [she thinks], goes heavily hand in hand with social media.”

In recent years, more and more fanfiction has expanded from online platforms to the big screen through movie adaptations. Fifty Shades of Grey is a prominent early example of this phenomenon given its origins as a fanfiction based on Twilight by Stephenie Meyers. More recently is the published book Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood–which was initially a Star Wars fanfic–which is currently being adapted into a movie.


Destigmatization of fanfiction

This rising popularity of fanfiction in mainstream media may be having a destigmatizing effect on the genre. With movie adaptations exposing fanfiction to broader audiences and validating it in the eyes of the general public, there may be a decrease in the taboo of reading fanfiction.

Ruscitti spoke of how readers have become more respectful of fanfic authors. However, “anything that is new and pushing boundaries, there’s a stigma that comes with and the community as a whole is working to get rid of these stigmas. But the more people talk about it the less stigmatized it will become.”

A study of fanfiction-related TikTok videos by a Muhlenberg College student found that “results indicate a possible shift in the ways that fans perceive the stigma around fanfiction, which parallels the general lessening of stigma around homosexuality and female sexual expression.”


Fanfiction, mainstream media, and the LGBTQ+ community

Fanfiction also has close ties with the LGBTQ+ community–a group that is often underrepresented in mainstream media. Satviki, a mononymous opinion writer for Vice, noted how “fanfic has always been treated as the shameful sibling of popular fiction. For queer communities, however, it has provided a safe space to explore and accept their identity.”

Ruscitti added on, noting how the queer community has taken non-LGBTQ friendly works and transformed them into writing that includes the queer community. Ruscitti particularly referenced the Harry Potter fanfiction writers. These writers took anti-trans author JK Rowling’s work and “co-opted that world and have turned it into a world that has every variation of LGBTQ representation that you can think of.” With the increased representation of the queer community in fanfictions, it has become more clear to publishers and producers alike that this is a gap in the media world that people desire to see filled.

Fanfictions represent the desires of the people–they are made by the general public after all. As new fanfictions become increasingly popular, such desires for queer representation and original stories are called to the attention of mainstream producers. As Ruscitti said, fanfiction is  “forcing them to create things that they wouldn’t normally give time to. [Fanfiction] is what a large percentage of the populous wants.” Not only does the shift from Wattpad to the silver screen validate fanfiction as a genre, but it also validates what the population wants.

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About the Contributor
Riya Pharsiyawar
Riya Pharsiyawar, Staff Writer
Hey! This is my first year writing for the Hatters Herald and I am super excited to be learning about Journalism. I am currently a junior here at DHS. I love reading and writing and I am the Treasurer of the National English Honors Society as well as an editor for our school's literary magazine, the Nutmegger. Besides this, I am also very interested in international relations and hope to pursue a career in this field. For fun, I like to travel, bake, and learn new languages.

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