Welcome to the second of my series of articles I call ‘Fanfic Subgenres’. Here, I discuss certain subgenres of fanfiction, and how certain professionally-produced media can sometimes fall into the same categories.
While my first installment dealt with crossover and ‘fusion’ fics, this one will discuss the ‘fix fic’. What is a fix fic, you may ask?
A ‘fix fic’ is when a fanfiction author takes a certain part of a series (be it a TV series, comic books, a series of movies, or other stuff) that didn’t sit well with them, and then proceeds to rewrite or undo it. In some examples, they go to incredible lengths to retcon, undo, and/or explain away certain parts they did not like.
In some cases, this may be kind of justified. Every now and then, something goes wrong with a series. Something goes VERY wrong. A formerly brilliant series could somehow sink to horrible new lows because the writers and/or producers don’t seem to care anymore. A show can easily jump the shark when it goes on long after those who are working on it are tired of it, or when Executive Meddling rears its ugly head, or when the writers and producers just take the audience for granted and assume people will keep watching no matter what. Or when they run out of ideas so they use ideas that would have been rejected several years ago.
(See: The last two seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess, the fifth season finale of Highlander: The Series, and most of The Simpsons from the eleventh season and afterward for just a few examples from television shows).
In these cases, a well-done fix fic can be better than the shows it’s based on, for it’s firmly rejecting something that happened that’s stupid or insulting to the audience’s intelligence, and replacing it with something better.
In other cases, however, a ‘fix fic’ can be eye-rollingly bad. Especially when they’re ‘fixing’ something that isn’t broken.
Linne aka AFanfictionCritic, reviewed such a fic on her (sadly now defunct and, as far as I know, no longer available outside of a few fan uploads) show. This would be ‘Seven Years Later’, a fanfic based off of James Cameron’s Titanic. In this fic, seven years after the sinking of the Titanic, Rose is re-united with Jack Dawson in New York. Jack shows up in Central Park alive and well with absolutely no explanation, and they live happily ever after.
This of course flies in the face of what we see in the movie. There, Jack Dawson is unambiguously dead from hypothermia. Rose sadly lets his body go to sink beneath the ocean forever. One does NOT just show up after that as if nothing happened.
Furthermore, the author of the fic completely misses the point of the movie. The ending did not need to be fixed, because it was what made the movie resonate with so many viewers. Having one of the lovers die (something many in the audience weren’t expecting) fit in with the overall tragedy of the shipwreck, and helped bring the tragedy home to many viewers. The film wouldn’t have been nearly as successful had both of the lovers survived.
The author of that fic, however, clearly didn’t get it. And she also clearly didn’t care enough to even give an explanation as to how Jack could show up alive seven years later. Of course there’d be no explanation that would make any sense anyway. As a Youtube commenter said “But there is no way that Jack couldn’t be dead. He wasn’t breathing. He was very dead, frozen, and Rose watched him sink. You just can’t fix that.”
Fix fics exist outside of fan fiction, too. They are especially prevalent in comic books, where often at times something that seems like a good idea at the time might backfire. For example, the infamous Clone Saga in the 90s Spider-Man comic books went too far for most fans when they tried to claim that Spider-Man’s clone Ben Reilly was the real Peter Parker, and that the Peter Parker who’d been in the books for the past twenty years real-world time was the clone. When the fix came revealing the text results were rigged and that Ben Reilly was the clone after all, most fans didn’t mind the reversal since the initial ‘revelation’ was not all that popular to begin with.
Later Spider-Man ‘fix fics’, however, have not been as well received. I’m sure many people on this site have heard of ‘One More Day’. Joe Quesada, clearly of the belief that Peter Parker’s marrying Mary Jane was the most horrible idea ever, decided to ‘fix’ the books by having Peter and Mary Jane make a deal with the devil. Or rather, Mephisto, a recurring evil demon lord who’s close enough to the devil to be described as ‘the devil’. The deal was that Peter and Mary Jane’s marriage would be retconned (in other words, made so that it never happened), and in return, Aunt May (who’d been shot a few issues ago) would be healed of her life-threatening injuries.
The whole thing was forced, out of character, and illogical, and the very second Mephisto says “I don’t want your souls. I want your love … I want your marriage.”, willing suspension of disbelief shatters like the glass of water one might have just dropped after reading that line.
I’m not going to rant about ‘One More Day’ too much further. Linkara and The Last Angry Geek have already done so plenty. However, in later blog entries, I might discuss another horrible Spider-man fix fic that actually got published and considered ‘canon’ by those running Marvel (though NOT by me. It will NEVER be canon to me). It’s a fix fic that paved the way for ‘One More Day’. It’s ‘The Gathering of Five/The Final Chapter’, and it made me angrier than I have EVER been at a comic book story before.
But that is a rant for another time. My point is, fix fics, like crossovers, exist outside of fan fiction too. And some of them are good, and some of them are unbelievably horrible. Some of them are so horrible that those ‘fix fics’ end up being the subject of ‘fix fics’ in the fanfic world.
That’s all for now. Feel free to leave your comments below.
Originally, this article received 5 Comments
01:02 AM on May 17, 2012
I don’t like Titanic, but changing the end in such a manner is strange. It would be like denying that Rick and Ilsa didn’t really go their separate ways at the end of Casablanca. I imagine this form of authorship can work, but can be really bad sometimes. Good article
01:20 AM on May 17, 2012
Man, I gotta be careful of what I do in my work…
That is just ridiculous what that IDIOT did to “fix” Titanic. She really didn’t get the movie at all (or he I don’t know). It wouldn’t have as strong of a conclusion if jack survived. Things just don’t get better if your fist your way to make it better. Even without a goddamn explanation!
“I thought you were dead!” “NOPE!”
10:52 AM on May 17, 2012
@Sydney and @BigBlackHatMan, you’ll get no argument from me there. The author of that fic was indeed fixing something that didn’t need to be fixed. For me, and for many others, Titanic was a much better film for having Jack die. It gave the film its strength, and was a major contributing factor to its success.
Linne, aka The Fanfiction Critic, said she didn’t really care for the movie, but she understood what made it a hit, and gave the fic an ‘F’.
As for you, Soja, what I’ve read of ‘Charlie’ seems pretty good so far. I for one am not calling that one a bad fix fic. Instead, it’s of the good kind. 🙂
11:14 AM on May 17, 2012
Hi Chris Lang. Excellent analysis of this sub genre, my friend. Of course that Titanic fanfic author was living in another reality when they though their idea made sense LOL! That’s almost as bad as that Titanic cartoon where the giant octopus saves ALL the passengers from dying when the ship sinks…….which is a huge insult to all the passengers that DIED that night.
I’m with you on the subject of SOJA SOJA 88’s fanfic of Twilight….THAT ONE IS COMPLETELY JUSTIFIED AND 100 times better than that hackjob novel by that talentless storymaker Stephanie Meyer(I refuse to call her an author)
Great job. I look forward to your next article. Peace.
10:54 AM on May 17, 2012
Well, that explains Cinderella III then and what they tried to do their. Interesting article and while I’m not into fanficiton myself, this was a fun read.