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Bad Stories and Good Fans

The other night I watch a documentary about a movie I haven’t seen. Well, the title Best Worst Movie caught my attention. And I had, at least, heard of Troll 2.

Have you seen Troll 2? Even if you haven’t, watch the documentary.

At one point, people in the film talk about how something badly done is still great if done with passion, love. Though they also say that is true of a film, not of a book.

I’ve heard people say a movie is so bad it’s good.

Does anyone ever say that about a book?

Do you love a movie that is so bad it’s good? A book? Anything?

Another moment from the documentary I could discuss–if someone were hear to listen to me!–was George Hardy’s reaction to the horror film fans. (Hardy is a dentist who starred in Troll 2.) Now, I don’t like horror films, but I love those crazy fans. Sci-fi fans, horror fans, fans who wait in lines, fans who collect insane amounts of memorabilia. They have passion. I don’t like apathy, and these folks are not apathetic. Even if I don’t get what they love, at least they love.

Good for them.

The other day someone on facebook–good ol’ facebook–posted about how he thought people who write fanfic are wasting their time. Well, okay. That’s his opinion. But he said he spent a lot of time trying to convince the fanfic writers how wrong they were to write their fan stories.

Would you try to convince these people they’re wasting their time? Is that true? Have you ever written fan fiction?

If you had (have) a novel published, and someone out there loved your characters so much, that person wrote more stories about the world you created, how would you feel? (And I don’t mean people who steal your work and call it their own. Maybe you still call it stealing, but if they’re honest about–hey, this is fan fiction–would you be bothered or flattered?

I’d be flattered.

15 thoughts on “Bad Stories and Good Fans

  1. I love Troll 2! It hasn’t inspired me to write any fan fiction or geek out at some sort of sci-fi convention but it’s still pretty great. And now you’ve got me thinking about what the literary equivalent of Troll 2 would be. It’s hard because clunky prose and poorly articulated characters (in books) don’t seem as endearing as cheesy special effects and bad acting.

    • I think you need the visuals. A bad book is a pain. And a bad movie you can share easily. You can sit in a room and laugh and joke with friends. A book is solitary, so when it ‘s bad…well, there’s nothing to do but throw it across the room.

      I haven’t even seen Troll 2, but I loved this documentary. If I get a chance to go to a showing with someone who appreciates the wackiness, I’ll go.

  2. Interesting. I think it’s harder for people to enjoy a badly written book, but I think the 50 Shades phenomenon might answer your “so bad it’s good” question (though I’d beg to differ. So bad it was dull. How do you make that topic dull?!))

    But wow! Don’t you think your FB guy was not only dead wrong but wasting his life? If people are being creative how is that wrong? If they attempt to profit from someone else’s intellectual property that’s a different discussion, but I don’t believe any creative act is a waste.

    And I’m probably old enough to be flattered rather than fretful were someone to write fanfic based on my work.

    • I haven’t read 50 Shades, so I can’t speak to that at all. But I haven’t heard anything that makes me want to read it. The world is filled with books. I won’t miss anything.

      But I’m with you. Why waste time bothering people about their creative efforts? Here in my neighborhood is a car with Barbies stuck all over it. It is a crazy-looking car. And I’ve heard some people think the person who did this wasted their time and had “nothing better to do.” This is inevitably said by someone who spends lots of time watching TV. What exactly would that better thing to do be? They had fun. They expressed themselves. They’re probably pleased as punch people stare at their car. Honestly. Good for them, I say.

      ANd be flattered. It is extremely flattering!

  3. I’m a fan of B movies in general, although somehow Troll 2 has so far gone unseen. It’s interesting to me that so many stories of epic adventures and romances use the phrase (sometimes implicitly) against all odds, but reviews of B movies (and “bad” novels, and so on) never seem to consider how hard it was to bring the things into existence. I’m not saying we should award these things A-for-Effort Oscars, or anything. But in so many of them you can see the spark of a brilliant (or otherwise) idea that fired their creators’ imaginations.

    There’s a film called When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, a particular favorite of The Missus and me. It’s about cavemen who, since it was made in the 1960s-70s, seem to have been all of the surfer-dude blond-tan-raggedly-coiffed generation. The fascinating thing about it is that it’s dialogue is written entirely in a nonexistent language, so no translation or dubbing or subtitling is possible. And 75% of the dialogue seems to be a word sounding something like akeeta, all by itself, the meaning of which is conveyed using a variety of inflections and facial expressions. Like:
    He: [raises eyebrows] Akeeta?
    She: [nods head, points to horizon] Akeeta!
    Tyrannosaur crashes on-camera from jungle, and starts running amok.
    Both: [clinging to each other in a way which says "we're terrified now but will be seriously making out in about 30 minutes"] Akeeeeetaaaa!!!

    I think I’d be flattered by fan fiction. I’m not sure I’d go to the conventions, but they’d be fun to read about and watch!

      • Akeeta!

        Hey, if you watch Troll 2, let me know what you think. And somewhere in that documentary, someone mentions the love, the spark, the creator has for the story. That’s the difference between wonderfully bad and just bad. The spark that goes into it.

        I think I saw that dinosaur movie a lifetime ago. Oh, I dated a guy whose father loved bad B movies. (I blogged about that boyfriend a long time ago–you might remember the tactophobe. :-) ) It was fun to see him enjoy his killer clown films and the like. I think being able to appreciate bad films–the weird love that went into them–is a quality on its own. Not everyone can see it.

  4. I think I’d adopt Jacqueline Carey’s attitude and policy toward fanfic–general support, even steering folks who want to write and socialize to the established sites, but with a stated policy that anyone seeking to profit from it will be prosecuted, and a vow to never read it myself, to avoid being influenced or for the writers of it to claim ‘their’ ideas were stolen. But yes, most definitely flattered.

    Btw, as a mod on the site the guy made the fb comment on, I was chagrinned, but in the end, pleased. His somewhat ugly–or at least quite negative–sentiments galvanized the rank and file, showing how accepting and supportive the community is to all types of work (versus literary snobbiness). Yay, WU!

    • Oh, that is a good point. I’d cheer them on and all, but stay away.

      Yes, I liked most of the WU comments. I left a long comment on that thread too, but all I really want to do was shake him and tell him to get over himself.

      We’re all just trying to find our way. Snobs are gnats on the road.

  5. The ‘so bad it’s good’ idea works in a film because it’s not a huge time commitment to watch one, so you can be entertained by the badness, and in two hours tops its done. Reading a book however is a much bigger time commitment and the novelty of something being bad will soon wear off and make us annoyed that we are wasting our time.

  6. You got me thinking! I’ve never heard “so bad it’s good” applied to a book. I think people feel ripped off if a book doesn’t deliver because of the time commitment it takes to read. Plus it’s a solitary exercise. A movie is a social event–You go for a couple of hours then you and your friends do the post mortem at the pub. Which is more fun when the product is terrible? Reading alone and throwing the book across the room in frustration, or getting slightly wasted and glorying in Badness? Glad I found your blog!

    • Oh. I see we’re thinking the same thing. I think I must’ve read your comment, absorbed it, forgot I read it, and then “came up with” the same thought. Ah, the Internet and the brain. Anyway, I think you’re spot on. And thank you for reading!

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