…the less you can tolerate.
When I was at the tail-end of high school, I read fanfiction for the first time. It was mostly uninteresting, except when someone I respected (and probably still would, if we’d kept in touch, so that’s saying something) recommended a Harry Potter fic to me. Although thinking on it now, it had a lot of things I ought not to have liked, it was incredibly well-written and managed to make things like Ron the Death Eater work in a story. Which is actually pretty funny since I like Ron much, much better than Harry.
Anywho. I thought since I had liked that, I should try other things in the same vein. The very second HP fanfic I ever read was something that these days probably would have made me turn up my nose and walk away with bored disdain. At the time, I was fascinated with how little it delivered in the name of the author’s self-indulgence. It was a rather new concept for me at the time.
It had a songfic element in it, a homeless American female author insert, and a confrontation with Draco Malfoy that was simultaneously taken nearly verbatim from the book and a clear indication that the fic writer had not understood the scene. I still find this curious and a little funny, rather than irritating.
Finding fanfics irritating came later.
I found pottersues in the early days–pretty much all of this went on during the long wait for The Order of the Phoenix. This was where I learned the term “spork” in its connotation of riffing or otherwise ranting about a work, as well as “pepper jack cheese”. Basically a bunch of Mary Sue rant/reviews in the Harry Potter fanfic universe. I actually got tired of Harry Potter during this wait period and moved on to other things. Like my own work. And Dune.
But that introduction to Mary Sues and the treatment thereof stayed with me. A formative experience, one might say. I also love MST3K, so you’d think I’d always be in for a good riffing/sporking.
I’m so not.
It’s… Just being angry at a work and going on and on about how dumb it is… I’m sorry, but that’s boring. Think of your favourite MST3K quotes. Are any of them just declarations that the movie sucks? I’m willing to bet they aren’t. None of mine are. My favourite quotes are things like, “Why is there a picture of a hamburger on my wall?” and “Would you–another nice day!”
So why are all the online sporkings of anything (especially written work) just illiterate angry people? No type of writing is easy to do well, I guess. These are so unfulfilling, though. They aren’t funny, they’re just lines like:
- Oh my gosh my eyes are bleeding
- [quote from fic] *kills with hammer*
- SEEK THERAPY
- [expletives with little to no purpose]
- This is gonna be a long sporking. How shall I ever survive?
The last one is actually annoying. It’s so far from amusing that it takes you out of whatever reason you might have to read a spork attempt. We all know that the writer chose to write this. Complaining about it like it’s some evil chore from hell that they are under some geis to complete. What even is this? A call for sympathy? An attempt at some kind of humour? It isn’t funny. It just sounds stupid.
I should think that the point of sporking a fanfic is to provide some insight in a humorous way. This doesn’t include pointing out the bad spelling and grammar–we can tell they made mistakes, and unless they happened upon an inadvertently funny typo or misused word, there’s no joke in saying “this is spelled wrong huuuurrrrr”.
I dunno. I’ve seen so many of these sporkings, riffs, “MSTing”s, what-have-you that have a fair idea of quality between them. This happens through getting tonnes of anything in your system. I don’t really seek them out, so I’m not actively adding to it. After being linked to one yesterday, I might start turning them down.
Although I still like pottersues. The community has shrunk considerably, but it’s all still going on. Harry Potter fanfiction is a load of insanity in any case.