Musicians Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Harry Styles of the band One Direction all have been featured in real person fan fiction.

Musicians Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, and Harry Styles of the band One Direction all have been featured in real person fan fiction.

The new movie “After” seems like standard rom-com fare. Two attractive people meet, fall in love, life gets in the way. But it’s based on fan fiction.

It’s not an entirely fresh idea — the 50 Shades of Grey series was modeled after the Twilight saga. Some might even argue that John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost was Bible fan fiction.

But “After” is different because it’s about a real person, Harry Styles.

Styles is in the boy band One Direction, and although the names in “After” were changed for legal reasons, the movie stems from a wildly popular fan fiction series by Anna Todd.

Todd’s work is a part of the fan fic genre “RPF,” or real person fiction. It’s exactly like it sounds — real people are the characters, and fans of their work create stories around them.

But some critics have ethical and moral concerns about the genre. They say it raises questions of consent and privacy and, just plainly, whether it’s creepy.

Fan fiction of all types can overlap with erotica, and can often include rather spicy scenes. The pairing of characters can be called “shipping,” as in, wanting people to be in a relationship.

Here’s how writer Tonya Riley broke it down:

And while fanfiction forums are populated with just as much of the innocuous and bizarre as the steamy, mixing fact and fiction can blur lines for some writers. This is especially true for younger fans who grew up with the internet as their primary source of fan interaction. Online shipping has led to real harassment of celebrities who aren’t following their fandom’s script.

We speak with a person who had RPF made about him, and ran with it — YouTuber Joey Graceffa and two experts on fan fiction who have researched the legal and ethical implications.

What does RPF tell us about how we consider celebrities?
Is RPF unethical, or just a realization of the inaccessibility and facade of celebrity?

Produced by Avery Kleinman.

Guests

  • Stacey Lantagne Assistant professor of law, University of Mississippi; @StaceyLantagne
  • Joey Graceffa YouTube personality; author, "The EDEN Trilogy" and "In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World"; @JoeyGraceffa
  • Katherine Larsen Professor, George Washington University; author, "Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirl"; editor, "Journal of Fandom Studies"; @kal58

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