This blog post is Part Four in my series about the different categories of fanfiction, as outlined by Henry Jenkins. Part One can be found here, Part Two here, and Part Three here. So far, I have discussed different ways in which the story of the source text can be expanded to reveal interpretations of the characters, how fans shift perspectives and genres to get “more from” the source text (Pugh 19), and the emotional and erotic intensification found in some fanfic. This final post considers how characters are dislocated from their source text and put into different ‘verses and genres.
According to Jenkins, cross-overs “blur the boundaries between different texts” by taking characters from one text and putting them in the setting (the ‘verse) of another (170). Jenkins explains that these “stories break down not only the boundaries between texts but also those between genres, suggesting how familiar characters might function in radically different environments. ‘Cross-Overs’ also allow fans to consider how different characters from different series might interact” (171). My cross-over between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural explores the different value systems of the two shows and their varying class and gender politics.
“Welcome to the Hellmouth”
“What the hell are you doing?” Buffy said. She had been in the graveyard. With Spike. Patrolling. And there might have been some minor smoochies. Okay, major smoochies. Head-swimming, toe-curling, forget-about-heaven-and-the-pain-of-being-ripped-out-of-there smoochies. And then out of nowhere these two guys with a really unfortunate sense of fashion were pulling Spike away and threatening him with a pretty vicious looking knife.
“Back off, lady. We’ve got this,” the shorter one growled.
“You so do not.” She pulled at his arm, which currently had Spike pinned up against a crypt.
“Son of a bitch!” He shouted, as she pried his arm off and Spike slipped out of his grasp. “We’re trying to save you.”
“Okay, I know this is going to sound crazy,” said the tall one, who had hung back. “But, you see, your boyfriend here is a monster.”
There was something so patient and earnest in his tone and she couldn’t stand it. “Alright. Three things:” she said, moving between the men and Spike “One: I do not need saving. Two: He’s not my boyfriend. And three: I know he’s a vampire.”
“You tell ‘em, Goldilocks,” Spike muttered rubbing his throat. “Soddin’ bugger. That’s gonna leave a bruise.”
“We saw reports of vampire attacks in the area and came to investigate,” the tall one explained. The shorter one was trying to look like his arm wasn’t bothering him. Guess she’d been a bit rough with him. “And we saw you and him and thought he was attacking you…”
“Yeah, well he’s not gentle.” She tried not to blush; she was certain of Spike’s smirk and raised eyebrow behind her.
“You don’t seem surprised.”
“You Hardy Boys aren’t from around here, are you?” Spike drawled.
“No.” The tall one eyed him warily and the short one scowled.
“Yeah.” Buffy said, “The flannel kinda gives you away. Welcome to Sunnydale. Vampire attacks are pretty much an on the daily thing here. Or I guess nightly. Not such big fans of the sun.”
“And you…” The tall one asked.
“I slay them.”
“Didn’t look like slaying to me,” the short one scoffed.
“Yeah, well, Spike’s different.” She felt guilty enough for the things she let him do to her. The things she did to him. She wasn’t going to let some guy who looked like he did all of his shopping at Lands’ End shame her too.
“Are you trying to tell me that Billy Idol here is a good vampire?”
Spike chuckled darkly and moved to stand beside her. “Not on your life.”
“Down boy,” said Buffy, grabbing his shoulder. She directed a pointed look at the two men. “Not good. But different. And you’re not going to kill him.”
“And, you think that just because you’ve got some demented Ann Rice thing going on here that you’re going to be able to stop us.”
“Oh, I know I’ll be able to stop you.”
“Because I’m Buffy.”
In “Character Dislocation,” frequently know as Alternative Universe (AU) fics, characters are displaced in terms of genre and historical period (171). In some cases, the character names are changed, in others they stay the same. But these stories do often attempt to retain character traits and relationships, demonstrating the writer’s interpretation of them. My story dislocates the characters of Pride and Prejudice, placing them in contemporary high school, a frequent trope of AU fiction.
“That Darcy Guy”
“Oh my god,” Jane squealed as she slid into the cafeteria seat. “Have you seen the new guys?” She did not notice Charlotte Lucas, her sister’s best friend, discretely shaking her head. “Aren’t they just gorgeous?” Only then did she notice her sister’s stony expression. “What’s wrong, Liz?”
“Nothing.” Liz sat glowering, her arms crossed in front of her chest.
“It’s not nothing. You look like you’re about to literally eviscerate someone.”
“I said that it’s nothing.”
“Oh, knock it off. You can’t lie to me. It won’t work. Know you too well. So just tell me so that I don’t have to torture it out of you.”
Liz’s grim expression broke into a brief smile. “I can’t imagine you torturing anyone, Jane. You’re far too nice to be any good at it.”
“Well, then, I’ll be insufferably nice and break you that way. Anyway, you’re not going to distract me. Spill.”
“Fine. It was just one of the new guys. That Darcy guy.”
“What did he do?”
“He refused to be her partner for an English project,” Charlotte interrupted. “Poor Lizzy. It was stupid and he’s a jerk.”
“Oh,” said Jane, looking thoughtful.
“What’s with the sudden pensiveness?”
“Just something Charlie told me.”
“He’s the other one. The other new guy. His locker is right next to mine and he is really nice and funny and cute and really, really nice.”
“Shut up,” Jane said, smacking her sister’s arm. “Anyway. I asked him how he liked Netherfield High, and he said that it was great, but that he was worried about his friend. Darcy, it seems, can be a little antisocial.”
“Antisocial?” Liz exclaimed. “He’s barely housebroken.”
“Perhaps we shouldn’t judge too quickly,” Jane quietly demurred.
Liz sighed. “Dude, I already confessed. Stop with the insufferable niceness. The guy is a jerk. End. Of. Story.”
Finally, fanfiction can allow for a kind of “Personalization” (171), a way for fans to put themselves in the story. This self-insertion is generally done in two ways: 1) the insertion of an idealized author avatar in the form of a “Mary Sue” character (171), a practice derided throughout fandoms, or 2) through humorous metafiction (172). My story takes the latter approach as I imagine how the characters I have written about her might respond to my stories.
The author sat with her computer in front of her, her fingers moving furiously over the keys. She paused only to take a sip of the steaming Earl Grey in the mug next to her computer. “Just one more line,” she murmured. “Just one last part to tie this all together.” She bit her lower lip, and then smiled, her fingers back on the keys. “Got it.”
She was interrupted by a knock on the door. “Who the hell?” she said as got up to answer it. She wasn’t expecting visitors.
And she certainly wasn’t expecting the hoard of people that pushed their way into the front hall of her small, but cozy, home.
“We just wanted to say thanks,” said a man in a black mask that covered half of his face. “We appreciate everything you’ve done for us.”
“My dearest Westley and I are in a PG movie,” the striking woman who was clinging to the masked guy’s arm was saying. “He can barely get away with mentioning my breasts, let alone touching them. It was a real relief to be able to do something more than a single relatively caste kiss—no matter how it stacks up in the history of kisses.”
“And I’m glad someone considered my perspective for once,” said a young woman with bushy hair who was dressed in black robes. “Those boys were beastly to me for no real reason. At least until the troll…” She trailed off and then her expression, once again, became indignant. “And then a bit afterwards too, at times, like the Yule Ball. Sometimes I don’t know why I put up with them.”
“Well I’m not happy with you at all,” said a supernaturally beautiful young woman with dark hair and golden eyes. “I was supposed to live, or be undead or whatever, happily ever after. Edward is my soul mate. But you ruined it.”
“Actually, vampires don’t have souls,” interjected a young woman from the back, who was holding hands with a man with beach blond hair and long black leather jacket. “So, not so much with the soul mating.”
The author, feeling very overwhelmed, turned back to the dark-haired young woman. “Do you really think you’d be happy for an eternity with your high school boyfriend.”
“Edward loves me. He wouldn’t want to live an eternity without me, and I can’t imagine even a month without him.”
The author rolled her eyes. “Edward is an abusive chode.”
“He didn’t abuse me. He was trying to protect me.”
“Listen Stockholm, he disabled the engine in your truck, stalked you, dictated who you could be friends with, and snuck into your bedroom to watch you sleep without your knowledge or consent, all while telling you that if he lost control he would kill you because of what you do to him.”
“Okay, you may have a point,” she mumbled.
“Any other complaints,” asked the author, turning to face the crowd that had spilled over from the front hall into the living room.
“I don’t mind being political, even if it isn’t honorable,” said a sullen young man dressed in dark furs. “But you do know that Sansa’s my sister, right?”
“You know nothing, Jon Snow,” said the author. “Just wait until next season….”
“Okay, but he is definitely my brother,” said Sam. “That’s not going to change.”
The author ignored him and looked past them to where blond woman and the Billy-Idol look alike were standing in the back of the crowd. “Don’t you have anything to say?”
Buffy shrugged. “We’re canon. Can’t complain about much.”
“Wouldn’t mind a bit more shaggin’ though,” Spike said. “You tend to skip over all the fun bits. After years on network television it would be nice not to fade to black whenever things get interesting.”
“Noted,” said the author with a blush. “Anyone else?”
They all looked at her silently. There were a couple of people, some teenage girls and severe but beautiful blond woman, who hadn’t yet spoken. And now, it didn’t seem like they would.
“Well, it was great of you all to stop by, it really was,” said the author. “And I appreciate your input, though” she looked pointedly at the sullen young man, “it probably won’t change all that much. But if you don’t mind, I need to get back to my story.”
Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. Routledge, 1992.
Pugh, Sheenagh. The Democratic Genre: Fan Fiction in a literary context. Poetry Wales Press, 2005.