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Fandom / Television / Celebrities PopWrapped | Fandom

Caitlin Moran's Sherlock BFI Fanfic Debacle: A Report And Opinion

PopWrapped | PopWrapped Author


12/16/2013 10:50 pm
PopWrapped | Fandom
Caitlin Moran's Sherlock BFI Fanfic Debacle: A Report And Opinion
Media Courtesy of BBC

Shelby Arnold

Staff Writer

Feminism (adj): advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men. Fan fiction (noun): fiction written by fans of a TV series, movie, etc., using existing characters and situations to develop new plots.

The number of “best selling” authors to date who are women: 22 out of 92, according to an incomplete list on Wikipedia.

Now that I've bored you with figures and definitions, let's get on to the real story at hand. Caitlin Moran. She's a journalist, author, broadcaster, self-proclaimed feminist and Sherlock fangirl. Also, according to Twitter, she's a homophobe, transphobe and an anti-intersectionlist feminst. Homophobe, I get because no other sane, non-homophobic person would force two highly skilled and talented actors to read a slash (homosexual) fan fiction in front of hundreds at a respectable venue such a British Film Institute airing of the first episode of Sherlock season three. But that's exactly what Moran did. The BFI sold almost one hundred tickets to the fans for Sunday nights screening of the new episode “The Empty Hearse”. The rest of the tickets went to journalists and the cast and crew. From what I've heard, the episode is absolutely brilliant and well worth the wait. I've heard it's witty and funny and well executed. What wasn't so well executed was obviously Moran's Q&A panel following the premiere. Now, Moran has done a Sherlock Q&A before and it went by just fine. Sunday night was a disaster. What made matters worse was Moran forcing Freeman and Cumberbatch to read fan fiction while Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, the director of the episode, and Sue Vertue watched in horror. You can watch the painful three minute long clip here. While Cumberbatch and Freeman were fairly decent sports about it, you know they were as uncomfortable as they looked. Also, what did Moran gain from embarrassing not only the author and the panel but also the legions of fans in the fandom as well as the select few people who were privy to the BFI showing? To make matters even worse, Moran not only violated the author's privacy by making her the center of very unwanted attention, she ridiculed it. She called the writing “clumsy”. She mocked it. She did all of this without even asking the author's permission to use her work. In the US, asking permission to use fan fiction is unheard of, mostly because in our neck of the woods, fan fiction is technically a copyright violation. In Britain, fan fiction writing is protected by copyright law in favor of both the original holder (in this case it's Hartswood Films and BBC) and the fiction author. I leave you with this link for reference. Fan fiction is sacred in the world of fandoms. No one likes the fourth wall broken by creators of the show, journalists, anyone, especially to someone who'll mock it and make the author's life a living hell. Some people have bemoaned that fan fiction is in public domain, but, public domain does not mean use without permission for the pure intent of libel. Libel, you ask? Yes, libel. What Moran did was use a work of fiction in a defaming way, not only to the author but the fandom as a whole which includes hundreds upon thousands of people. Now, whenever someone who has never been subject to fan fiction or Tumblr, in any form, sees this horribly degrading clip, they'll think everyone is a Johnlock shipper or everyone has hyper-sexulized writings all holed up on their computer waiting to be released onto the world. In a time when homosexuality is more protested than ever, it's a very scary thing to be met with, especially for mildredandbobbin, the author who wrote the now infamous fan fiction. (And, the thing is, it shouldn't be infamous. It's a fine piece of writing.) The outpouring of love for the mortified creator of the story has been immense and her statement on the matter is truly a class act. Amanda Abbington, who is married to Martin Freeman and who plays Mary Morstan in series three, has been shown the statement and has said that she will pass it along to the appropriate powers that be. The Sherlock fandom is far from being a big, happy family. Shipping wars tend to go on behind the scenes and, for the most part, the fandom is very polarizing. I should know, I proudly belong to it. So, seeing this type of togetherness is rare, but it's deserved. The author is quite talented. She didn't deserve the type of ridicule she had to endure at the expense of someone who calls herself a feminist.  Feminism is clearly about empowering women in any form possible and her actions at the BFI panel were hypocritical, to say the very least. In bobbin's words, “I hope Caitlin Moran understands that she was hurtful and unprofessional, that in fact she used her position of privilege to belittle and humiliate, and that she leaves us in peace to enjoy what we enjoy.” That's what the fandom is about: enjoyment. Not only that, as stated previously, there are an estimated twenty-two out of nearly one hundred women writers who are best sellers. Just twenty-two. How many people, women included, who may have wanted to be in the writing profession, have now been scared off from it because of these actions displayed on Sunday? The BBC thus far, has not made a statement regarding Moran but according to some reports, she was vehemently reprimanded after the panel by the BBC drama controller and the network has urged everyone to take down their recorded footage of the panel. Whether the latter was a result of the shameful proceedings, it's hard to tell. Either way, Caitlin Moran has successfully uninvited herself from further Sherlock junkets and panels. Let's hope she remains as far away from any other fandoms as well. Heaven forbid if she got a hold of a fandom like Glee or Doctor Who.


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