I don’t have a problem with fanfiction (I actually read quite a bit), but it must be kept within the fandom, well-written, and…oh did I say it should be kept within fandom? I believe I did.
Following the excruciating success of the phenomenally badly-written Fifty Shades series, a fanfiction featuring Harry Styles is set to make the leap from pap to film. Yes, Harry Styles.
After, an e-book by Anna Todd, which has “over a billion hits” on Wattpad (is the human race that befuddled?), features a character “based on Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey”, Hardin Todd. Just like Christian, Hardin apparently likes to perpetuate a misogynistic viewpoint that seems to think women must be subjugated by men and are “beneath” them in every way possible. Well.
Anna, who wrote the story whilst her husband was deployed with the military, told the BBC Radio One programme Newsbeat that she “loved” the Fifty Shades books (well that explains a lot, doesn’t it?)
I used to work with a gaggle of women in their 60s, all of whom loved Fifty Shades. Despite me rolling my eyes and telling them it was a version of Twilight – and an even worse one at that – they continued to coo over Christian and Ana. Yes, they actually cooed.
“I just wrote the book to entertain myself” Todd said. Of Styles, she actually, really said that she “would like to see Harry in it but I don’t think he can really get into that grouchy, rude kind of role.”
Well yes, dear, and he probably also doesn’t want to be associated with a soft-core book with a misogynistic character based upon himself. I think someone needs to tell Anna that Tumblr and real life are two separate things.
I do feel sorry for fans of Styles. He is a sweet lad and millions of young people look up to him; his name shouldn’t be within a million miles of something like this. In fact, there is a petition on Change.org asking for the film project to not be made.
The petition states “After is not a love story. It’s the tale of a girl who is physically, mentally, and emotionally abused by a misogynistic boy, who everyone…will see as Harry Styles. Whether or not the name is changed, everyone will know who it’s originally about, and we can’t have him portrayed as that…keep After a fanfiction, it’s not meant to be in theatres everywhere”.
While the petition will have no effect whatsoever on the project, it’s interesting that fanfiction adaptations stir up so much controversy. Wait, maybe interesting isn’t the word, maybe I should say “inevitable”.
Anna has landed a six-figure deal for After and a further three books. Paramount has optioned the film, and I think news of casting will start sooner rather than later to capitalise on Fifty Shades hype.
As a writer myself, I want to wish Todd all the best. It’s every author’s dream to land such a deal. However, Harry Styles fanfiction? It just seems incredibly awkward, and more than a little troubling.