We're making movies out of fanfic. It's a thing now in the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey (began life as Twilight fanfic) and The Mortal Instruments and its upcoming TV show Shadowhunters (began life as Harry Potter fanfic). It just is, get over it, you'll be told that you're a bad person if you somehow think bad writers hijacking existing properties for their (often sexual) personal use is in any way lame or not a terrific direction for us to be going. You'll be reprimanded and told that Shakespeare wrote fan-fiction, which is like when I was a kid I told my mom the dirty dishes in the sink were in the spirit of the discovery of penicillin.
So acknowledging that we just live in a world where fan-fiction is part of the entertainment cycle that is amusing us to death, doesn't it seem weird that there's going to be a movie based on someone writing a fanfic about themselves fucking a member of teeny bopper pop group One Direction? That's the case with the book After. Appropriating fictional characters is one thing, but appropriating humans just seems... odd. In the defense of writer Anna Todd, she has taken the members of One Direction and turned them into college kids, but they all have the same names and stuff. The main story is about a girl named Tessa who falls in love with a boy named Harry (as in Harry Styles, of the band).
Paramount bought the book, which was viewed ONE BILLION TIMES on the free service Wattpad. They've decided to move forward now with the screen adaptation, which is being written by Susan McMartin, a writer on the current hit show I have never heard of Mom, as well as the show I have heard of and it fills me with despair, Two and a Half Men. Adam Shankman is producing. Todd herself has compared the book to Fifty Shades, so this may be kind of a fan-fic of a fan-fic, which as anyone who has made copies of copies can tell you always works out. The movie is conceived as skewing younger, so it'll be less steamy. I have no idea how racy the book is, and I hope to never know.
This latest step into mainstreaming fanfic is really intriguing to me; like all of the previous fanfics that have been adapted I'm sure that there will be major changes as the story goes from being just a rip-off/obsession material into something else. That step has usually already happened when a writer writes something - they synthesize their influences, not simply replicate them. You've heard the idea of the elevator pitch, right? It's the "This Movie meets This Movie" way of explaining a film premise. Imagine if that was actually what they wrote - Die Hard meets Iron Man as a pitch becomes an actual script where John McClane hangs out with Tony Stark - and then someone else has to come along and pull the script out of direct IP theft territory. That's what's happening with these films.
We talk about the dearth of original properties in Hollywood, but the mainstreaming of fan-fic has literalized this in a way that defies satire. It does seem to fit in with our current post-copyright remix culture, a world that craves the same again and again as opposed to finding new things. Even the comic books that have become the lifeblood of this movie culture have stepped away from actually creating new characters, opting instead to redesign and remix old ones.
It's so weird to me. I guess I'm just a relic of an era when you at least put some effort into ripping things off, back when porno movie didn't just put Not in front of a movie title and : A XXX Parody at the end of it. An era when our pornographers - both professional and fan-level - tried a little harder.
The big question on everyone's minds: who will play Keith Calder?