mijan: (Doctor Crusher is NOT amused.)
[personal profile] mijan
I get reviews on old fics on my ff.net account fairly frequently. Usually, it's my big Harry/Draco fanfic from back in the day. Sometimes, it's my smaller fics.

The one in question today was a one-shot. Posted in October of 2005, it had just over 5,000 words, wasn't terribly deep (although it did have some insightful content), and could almost be categorized as crackfic in some regards. The title was "Stop the World! (I Wanna Get Off.)"

Anyway, it's a one-shot. It was MEANT to be a one-shot. That's it. Some readers, it seems, jut can't accept that. There were some reviews begging for a sequel, or asking why I wouldn't just continue the story. (Uh, because THAT IS THE STORY. Period.)

However, we all know that when people beg for more, it's really a compliment. I totally get that. I've expressed to some of my favorite writers that I hope there will be more of a particular fic, or a sequel in the works. That's not what today's meta is about. Today, we're discussing entitlement culture.

You see, today's review gave me pause, NOT because the person wanted more. No, it was actually the specific phrasing is what caught my attention:

That.is.not.fair. What do you mean no sequel is planned? D:

It's not fair? o rly? In what way "not fair," dare I ask? Maybe I'm reading far too much into this, but tough luck... I'm gonna read into it anyway. See, it's a trend I've been seeing in the generation coming up behind me. The following assumptions:

1. Life is fair. And by fair, they mean "all about me," providing all their desires with no effort or input from them.
2. Pouting is an effective way to get what they want.
3. The things they want will magically appear out of thin air simply because they want it.
4. Everyone owes them something.

You see, my fellow fandom friends, we don't OWE each other anything when it comes to fanfics. We really don't. I could be completely in awe of the best fanfic writer EVER, could sing his/her praises, and dote on every word they've ever posted... but that writer owes me NOTHING. Doesn't owe me a sequel. Doesn't owe me another chapter. Doesn't even owe me a "thanks" for my carefully penned review. It would be nice, but they don't owe me. And thus, if I read a fanfic or see a piece of art that I get to enjoy, I find myself grateful that someone put in the effort to create something wonderful, and then were nice enough to share it with us.

Now, we're a polite fandom, yes. And we usually engage in certain courtesies. For example, I write fanfic, you read fanfic, you review fanfic, I say thank you for the review. Politeness achieved. Also, as someone who likes to write long, complex fics, I understand the amount of time and effort that goes into the labors of love. That's what these are. We're not getting paid, and we don't expect payment. We hope for reviews, but we don't even expect that as an automatic response for what we post. So, when I READ a long, complex fic (which is my preferred fic format for reading - I LOVE a thick, juicy fic), I KNOW just how much personal time the writer put into that story. They don't owe me a damned thing. They've already given me so much. I just got to read a free novel. And if that writer DECIDES to write more in a fanfic universe I've come to love, then I count myself fortunate, and sing their praises for the next story. But they don't owe me.

At the end of the day, every fanfic is a labor of love, and nothing more. We write our artistic expressions (some more artful than others) of our beloved fandoms and characters. We post them to share our enthusiasm for these stories, ideas, characters, and fictional worlds. Our creations begin and end where our passion and enthusiasm begin and end. No matter how much we might want to write something, in fandom, if we can't get our brains behind it, it's not going to happen.

Really, what got me today was the "That.Is.Not.Fair." If the true sentiment had been appreciation for the story and a wish for more to be written along that line, the general comment would have been, "Oh, I loved that! But why did you stop there? It seems like it could be the start of a longer story." See, I could totally understand that. I've read fics that could have opened a delightful continuation, and I've sometimes asked the authors if they might continue to write in that universe. But if the answer is "no," then I can simply appreciate that they took the time to write something good enough that kept such a strong interest from me. Their time is valuable, and their creativity does not belong to me.

It's not fair? Oh, my dear, my dear... LIFE isn't fair. But not getting an unlimited supply of the fanfic you want, on demand, for free? That's perfectly fair. What is NOT fair is the EXPECTATION that another human being owes you their time and effort for something as trivial as a fanfiction.

Of course, there are levels of human decency that we should be able to expect from people who are not our friends or relatives. If you're choking on a hard candy, you can reasonably EXPECT me to attempt to save your life with the Heimlich maneuver. If you are in a car accident, you can expect someone to at least call for help, and offer aid if they're capable. If you are lost, generally, you can expect people to give you accurate directions if you ask for help, or at least direct you to a place where you can get directions.

Truly altruistic people might go a step further and offer you food, shelter, clothing, and other basic needs of life, but unless they're FAMILY (and even then, not always), you can't EXPECT that.

But to pout that it's "not fair" that you're not getting more of the fanfic you desire? That's like someone giving you a home-baked chocolate-chip cookie, and then you stomp you foot and whine, "It's not fair! I want a whole dozen!"

Oh, honey, it's VERY fair. You got a free cookie. Be happy with it. The baker has finished making cookies, and has moved on to scones. The scones will also be free, if the baker decides to share. I'd say that's pretty damned generous. The baker has enjoyed the free sandwiches from the deli down the road, and the delicatessen has enjoyed the free ice cream from the local ice cream shop, and the ice cream maker just got a free happy-ending massage from the local spa. Folks in this fandom small town love to share with each other. What keeps the system going is the appreciation for what we do get for free, the respect for each others' work, and the knowledge that this is ALL gravy. We don't owe anybody anything here in Fandomville. But damn, we do like to share.
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