Wrong Direction

My first celebrity crush was Peter Tork of the Monkees.  I should clarify here that I am not quite old enough to have watched the show when it was a prime-time phenomenon (although pretty darn close), so my sisters and I watched it together in reruns on Saturday mornings with some of the neighbor girls.

Davy was cute, Mickey was funny, Mike was smart.  Peter was just sweet .   Sweet and stupid.

Not an auspicious beginning for me.

Although my tastes these days run more toward the Eric Allan Cramer/Ed Harris/Michael Chiklis type, I had my share of celebrity crushes on the Peter-type.  Sweet, somewhat helpless, always the underdog.  Never the popular choice.    When everyone else crushed on Johnny, I adored Roy; girls everywhere swooned over Ponch, but my heart belonged to Jon.    My friends daydreamed about Michael Stipe while I had all kinds of naughty thoughts about Mike Mills.

Okay, maybe I was the one on the right track with that one.

The point is that I knew the difference between a celebrity crush and the real thing.  I knew my fantasies were just that:  fantasies.  No matter how many imaginary romantic scenes I thought up about my current celebrity crush, I knew the difference between fantasy and reality.  I knew what could and couldn’t happen in the real world.

I bring this up because of a disturbing trend that I have been seeing on the fiction sites where I post my work for feedback.  It’s called RPF, for Real Person Fiction, and it creeps me right the hell out.

These aren’t all kids writing this stuff.  Some of these writers are my age, and older.   They write and post graphic sexual fantasies about everyone from Justin Bieber to One Direction to The Beatles.  And they don’t just write self-insert tales where they themselves are part of the risqué little romps.   No, that kind of story, while still creepy, is at least somewhat understandable.  Somewhat.

The stories that make me want to take a three-day shower with a heavy dose of brain-bleach are the ones that pair real people up with other real people, regardless of gender or orientation in real life.   Stories that portray members of One Direction performing oral sex on each other back stage, or give graphic descriptions of John Lennon giving blow jobs to Paul McCartney.

I don’t get it.

Then there are the stories that go even farther into “yuck” category.  Stories of incest between Canadian siblings Tegan and Sara, or among the members of those squeaky-clean Disney kidlets known as R5.  The writers create these tales of sibling love as though it is a good thing.  A thing to be envied.  And if a baby is born from these incestuous get-togethers, why, the “characters” rejoice.

Why, why, WHY?

I don’t understand how anyone could even think up a story like that, much less portray it as a thing of beauty.   I get that there are all kinds of sexual fetishes and different proclivities that are beyond the scope of my admittedly white-bread existence, and I am usually more than happy to step back and agree ”to each his own”.   I try really hard not to judge.

All you toe-suckers and role-players, live it up.  Whatever floats your boat.  Or humps it, if that’s your thing.

But I have to draw the line when it comes to writing real people into these twisted tales.  It scares me that there are people out there who would write stories about real people, moving them about like toys in their stories.  It makes me worry about their mental condition, especially when they say things like, “but I’ve heard they read these stories and they like them!”

It makes me want to shake them and ask, “Really?  You honestly think Ross Lynch enjoys stories about getting his sister pregnant or having sex with his brothers?” or “Where did you see Tegan Quin announce that she likes stories about screwing her twin sister?”

Is it too much of a leap to wonder just how tenuous is their grip on reality?

I’ve had my share of fantasies about Randolph Mantooth, okay?  (So sue me.  He’s aged better than Kevin Tighe.)  Eric Allan Cramer has occasionally been a bit naughty in my dreams.  That’s normal.  After all, I’m fairly certain my husband has had some impure thoughts about Faith Hill, pin-up girl Hilda, and the adorable blonde mom from down the street.   Actually, even a straight gal like me can be attracted to those last two.  Totally acceptable to fantasize in that way, as long as neither one of us ever does anything to make those fantasies a reality.

But I don’t write stories about Randy Mantooth and Kevin Tighe doing each other.  Call me a prude, I guess.  What kind of total nutburger thinks it’s okay to publish tales like this about real people?

I have to wonder how Emma Watson feels when she hears about stories that portray her as a backstage tramp screwing everyone from Rupert Grint to Alan Rickman.  Who in their right mind would ever believe that she would be flattered by that?  I question how Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato feel about “femslash” tales that have them performing sexual acts on each other that defy logic and gravity.  How do Ross Lynch’s parents feel about stories that have their underage kids having sex with each other?

There are arguments flying around on Fanfiction.net about the legality of RPF stories, and the possibility of lawsuits brought against the site because of them. Excellent.   I hope it happens, and soon.

But for me, the problem goes beyond a legal issue.  For me, it’s a problem of “How can you think this is okay?”  Some fans get so obsessed with the fictional tales that they begin to confuse reality with RPF fanfiction.   They come up with “ship” names for their favorite pairings.  Andley.  Raura.  Larry Stylinson.

That last one is a fan name for the pairing of Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson of One  Direction.  Fans of this “ship” are at times so vehement about it that they claim they boys have to pretend to be straight just to appease their manager.  The form support groups and sign petitions to help the boys “come out”. These folks have been known to get a wee bit testy – possessive even – if either of the two singers is ever seen in public with a woman.  The hatred and pure vitriol that floods the internet in the wake of such a sighting is truly frightening.

It’s almost as if they forget that the RP in RPF means real people.    Not fictional characters.  These fans don’t seem to grasp that they do not own creative control of Harry or Louis or Ross or Emma –real live, breathing people, who function in the real world.  They are not fictional characters created into a fictional universe, and fans have no say in what these real people say or do in the real world.

Whenever I encounter RPF and its fans, I can’t help myself.  I get a chill down my spine and I wonder just how long it will be before someone makes the jump from RPF fan to Robert John Bardo or Mark David Chapman.

I don’t think it’s an “if”.  It’s a “when”.

And that scares me.

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18 thoughts on “Wrong Direction

  1. This is my problem with RPF. Mind you, I’m interested in stories where real people get to meet fictional characters or they go on wacky adventures. I once read a story where Michael Phelps met Luna Lovegood and he beat his record while practicing because she preformed a spell on him without him noticing. It’s the kind of stuff you find in Jackie Chan Adventures, or even the show the Monkees had going.

    Relationships though do cross the line. I’ve less issues when we’re talking the younger writers because they’re innocent compared to some of the things I’ve heard from adults. The first I talked about actually is faltering, and depending on the person they can find some of the more innocent relationship stuff faltering. Only a select few don’t mind though the less innocent and even the hard core stuff.

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    • I bet the Michael Phelps/Luna Lovegood story was hilarious. I guess some RPF would be okay, in a situation like that. Sort of like a cameo appearance of a celebrity on a TV show. — like when Mel Torme would show up on “Night Court” as himself.

      Overall, though, I just think it’s . . . Icky. Should use a stronger word, but that’s the best I can think of here. And I’m really a stickler for rules. If FFNet says no RPF, don’t put it there. Pretty simple.

      I know it’s an unpopular opinion to express, but I wish there would be another “purge” of massive amounts of rule-breaking stories.

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      • It was.

        The rules don’t actually say no RPF, they say no RPF with non historical characters. Unfortunately the site admins haven’t defined what they mean by a historical character. Michael Phelps for example counts as a historical character despite still being alive as the records he holds at the Olympics is in fact a big deal, but the question in the long run comes down to what the site admins definition is.

        I also wish there would be another purge. If you’ve been following the blog you would know that another writer has spread the rumor that the RTB (reading the books) stuff is all right, even going so far as saying Rowling approves. This has spread past the Harry Potter fandom and now the Percy Jackson fandom thinks… hey, if the site admins aren’t doing anything about the stories we’re in the clear. Boy are they going to get a shock though when a new purge does come.

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  2. I couldn’t agree more, these stories seem vile. (I don’t read RPF’s and thought they were banned on fanfic websites) I’ve read fan fictions of a similar ilk where the incest is just dropped in like a bomb (I report that crap tho! Ewwww I feel unclean just thinking about it, pass that brain bleach please!)
    Peter Tork was dumb but in an endearing way on the Monkees tv show (I saw reruns as a kid too, although I liked Davy and Mike, Don’t judge me for that I was only a little kid!) 😉 great article I can’t wait to read more x

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    • RPFs are banned on FFNet and FictionPress, but that doesn’t stop people from posting them anyway. Until the staff steps up and starts responding to abuse reports, I’m afraid the problem will just continue to get worse. There are entire fandoms that have been taken over by RPF so badly that authors of non-RPF have just given up. Check out Misc. Plays/Musicals.

      Technically, the incest stories should be considered MA (Mature Adult) and not allowed on those sites, either. But it’s the same situation: no enforcement equals no deterrent.

      And you were smart enough to like Mike?! Hey, his mom invented Liquid Paper. He was already filthy rich, and then went on to become one of the most successful producers/directors of music videos in the 1980’s and 90’s. I was never smart enough to fall for the smart, successful ones.

      Thanks for commenting!

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    • RPF with non-historical characters is banned. For example, you could write a Harry Potter fanfic where Harry and company get to meet the seven wives of king Henry. RPF in the long run actually isn’t fanfiction (the only reason its called that is because people are using the lose definition of ‘fiction written by fans’) unless it is based off an already existing RPF or involves an actual fandom, it’s original fiction. So the argument “but its fanfiction” doesn’t work, particularly when dealing with a site that holds that fanfiction is “forms of derivative work written not by the writer”. The reason RPF has the label of fanfiction now also has to do with the fact DA stuck RPF under fanworks (which is an accurate statement) and the only literature to stick it under was fanfiction for the written stuff. Other sites picked it up not realizing the term really isn’t accurate.

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    • Probably not familiar with it at all. I try not to talk about fanfic very much in my blog because most people find it ALL weird. But this issue has been kind of gnawing at me . . . I usually enjoy reading fanfic, but the RPF stuff is taking over more and more categories. It’s getting out of control.

      I was recently told by a writer that the members of One Direction all have accounts on FFNet and personally review her every chapter. She worries that “the guys” may be sad if she takes her stories down.

      That is just a whole new flavor of crazy.

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      • That’s interesting about One Direction having accounts on FFNet. It could be that “the guys” and their handlers feel any publicity is good publicity (as the saying goes) OR maybe they feel the need to be on top of any weird stories that are released about them. I’m with one of the other commenters that maybe there is room for legal action with this kind of thing. I really appreciate and understand why you do not want to blog about this, but I’m glad you did (this one time!) as a way to inform/enlighten some of us 🙂

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      • Thans, I appreciate that.

        I don’t believe for a second that 1D guys have accounts there. I heard the same routine from a BTR fan who believed that the guys were also sending her secret messages in the lyrics of their songs.

        I think that nutburger was a little bit overcooked . . .

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      • What research I’ve done actually indicatees 1D is fine with RPF, but they aren’t fine with slashfic. Apparently someone else who was doing research into the matter… I wish at this point I remember the article… found out that there was a major backlash against the 1D slashfic writers when the 1D guys voiced the fact that while their fine with other RPF slashfic did upset them.

        I think one of the reasons I’ve only found a few stories on wattpad that have crossed into the territory many of us are leery about is because the majority of the 1D fans are fully aware that the 1D guys are aware of what they write and thus there are standards and if you don’t meet said standards there is a backlash. Just like the sensitive wall flowers here flee to other sites, those from wattpad flee to other sites which is where I believe the influx of 1D stories started from. Eventually others trickled in who thought it was allowed.

        However, the fact the 1D fans are fully aware of the RPF written about them likely doesn’t help this particular person when they believe that it is really them. If the story is slash, well… you know that someone is trolling her or she’s got some issues. Thing is, if 1D is as aware as they are of RPF they will also know that RPF is not allowed on ffnet. They know their fans are breaking the rules. Why support that? Not to mention the fact I’ve never seen them reviewing stories over at wattpad despite being well aware of the RPF fandom going on for them.

        This is as bad as the person claiming they got permission from Rowling and her publishers to write RTB that copies large amounts of text from the books.

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      • Yemi, I’ve seen that letter that is supposedly from Rowling’s agents, giving fanfic writers permission to copy her work verbatim and take credit for it on fanfiction websites. I’m not sure what’s dumber: the idiot who created this fantasy letter and those who insist on circulating it as Gospel Truth, or the utter morons who actually believe it.

        Some copies of the letter actually get Ms Rowling’s first name wrong. Hmmm . . . . Maybe it’s just my internal skeptic acting up, but I really think that her agent probably knows her first name isn’t “Jackie”.

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    • Part of the reason it isn’t popular is because celebrities hate talking about it themselves, that’s how ick it is. You should see the interview Tom Felton did where he had to look at a picture of himself photoshopped with Radcliff. Not only was he embarrassed he said a family member loves teasing him about the image.

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      • Yes, I definitely get being uncomfortable about it if you happen to be the focus. I still consider myself a RPF innocent so I don’t know of its depth/breadth, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with gay imagery/associations. We have heterosexual imagery/bias everywhere and the gay community is forced to deal with it. I just don’t know if it’s right to put some of the stronger stuff on real people — and to make what is normally a personal violation or something obscene seem cool. Maybe I am getting old…

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      • No, I don’t have a problem with the gay imagery, per se. What bothers me, I guess, is writers who force their own opinion of the celebrity’s orientation and try to insist that it is reality. If Harry and Louis are gay, don’t they have the right to decide whether to “come out” or not?

        Look at the flipside. I have seen fanfics that place Adam Lambert in heterosexual sex scenes. Since he is open about his orientation, wouldn’t it be disrespectful to him to write hetero sex scenes about him and insist that he’s not really gay, that his agents just force him to say so to boost record sales?

        Crazy, huh? But that’s what some of these 1D fans are saying — that the guys are being forced to hide their orientation because of concerns about record sales. These kidlets really think they are “helping”, but what if the guys are straight? What if they ARE gay but not ready to come out publicly yet?

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      • First, I want to say I really appreciate this candid conversation and introduction to RPF. I knew little or close to nothing about it (and still don’t know much), but at least I am more aware. I don’t think I will ever really be a fan of this genre for the several valid points you and others have made. My one concern is if the distaste for the genre is due to some of the gay content. I don’t believe gay content/pictures in and of itself should be disparaged any more than similar heterosexual content/pictures. With that said, I agree with you completely about the invasion of these stories with the lives of real people — and how it can violate their privacy, freedom, and it sounds like even their reputation/image. I think that is very sad and troublesome — some of this reminds me of tabloid stories (and maybe that’s where a legal case can be made). However, I hope that we can see the distinction between the content of stories/pictures (whether gay or straight themed) versus the impact that those stories/pictures are having on lives — and to make our judgement based on those distinctions. Aside from the potential negative impact on real people (which I don’t want to discount), I hope we can measure how a gay picture/story would make us feel if it was the exactly same but straight-themed (or vice versa). I think we’re on the same page (I like your Adam Lambert example). Thanks again — I’ve enjoyed the discussion and learning more 🙂

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  3. Insightful article! I agree with you. And you’re not prude, you’re actually one of those rare people that have an inhibition. Sadly it is very rare to see kids of today acting upon inhibition. It all materialises from allowing whatever to be spoken about. In this day and age, when freedom of speech is celebrated, they are obviously abusing this idea. And of course once it has been spoken about so readily, acting it out is not much of a hard task. That is why we hear such horror stories of incest and all sorts. Its quite sad. But I enjoyed reading this article very much!

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