So, this is another thing I love about Fanfic that I haven’t really talked about before, the fact that people can take the same character and that character’s canon and come up with completely different interpretations of that character’s motivations.
I mean, in the first place there is the fact that consuming fiction is a largely subjective experience. Everyone brings their own experiences to what they read and how they interpret it.
It’s like reading Loki fanfic. There are tons of different takes on Loki that I can all see as valid interpretations of his canon, in the films and/or comics. Loki as outright villain, Loki as childhood abuse survivor, Loki as conniving antihero…
In the Check, Please fandom, there are some amazing interpretations of the character of Kent Parson as someone suffering from Narcissism, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and/or anxiety, or being a child abuse survivor. As well as, more rarely, Jack’s quiet and reserve being interpreted as cold, neglectful or outright emotional abuse. More often, Jack is interpreted as being on the autism spectrum instead of, or in addition to, the anxiety disorder he has canonically.
And while many of these interpretations vary wildly, I can look at the source material and see the canon justification for all of them.
Different readers pick up on different things in the source material, oftentimes things the creator included as flavor or a quirk to give a little more depth of personality to the character, and run with it. Thus Kent Parson shifts from arrogant asshole, to insecure and trying to guard against people knowing about his mental illness.
People did this for years before fic was a widespread thing. Read literary reviews by different critics, and you will frequently find that one critic praises a character for confidence and certainty of action, while another reads the same character as an arrogant hothead. But with fic, now people are taking those little hints and bits they find and running with them to create fan works that emphasize the things they loved in a character.
And to an extent, this is also fic writers trying to find representation in places where it traditionally has not existed. Looking for accurate portrayals of mental illness in popular media has long been an uphill battle. If you believe the media, all people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities) are serial killers or at least one personality is, people with Depression never have good days, and so on.
This is why the first season of Jessica Jones on Netflix was so important with its depiction of PTSD related to sexual trauma. Because all you ever see of rape survivors in most media is ball-busting ice queen terrified of sex or women who become promiscuous to prove something to themselves. And you very, very rarely ever see depictions of male sexual assault survivors, let alone accurate ones.
But back to the how of it, for nearly every single, often vastly different, portrayal of a character in fic, the author can lead you through their logic and the bits of canon that led them there.
Fic is fascinating, you guys.
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