The picture above is one of my favorite pieces of all time by the incredible fan artist, Kaye, on Tumblr, so you can guess what this post is going to be about. I was thinking the other day about creative expression and how Kpop fans have transformed their love of their idols into art and writing and I wanted to talk a little bit about each medium. I think there are some blurred lines about what is and isn’t acceptable in fan art and fan fiction and I think, as fans, it’s important we discuss it so we can work together to better our community.
I have fan artists I would go to war for, but I think that’s common. It’s easy to appreciate art because you can see the love the fan has for the idol in the time they spent crafting something beautiful. Portrait pieces of idols in watercolors and sketches of them in airport looks abound on both Twitter and Tumblr and fan artist accounts nearly always have a huge following.
However, there is always a line to toe. Fan artists can take liberties with an idol’s sexuality–as in the case with “ship” drawings–and they can get very loose with an idol’s skin tone. I’m thinking in particular of BTS, but this happens with many groups. You’ll be browsing fan artists and see two idols in the same group drawn in an intimate position or drawn deep brown just because they’re a little tan in real life.
On the one hand, I understand art is subjective thing and you can’t control people’s interpretations of their idols. On the other hand, I think it boils down to respect. Yes, this is your art, but it’s also a representation of an actual human being. You have to think about the implications of drawing a real life person having sex with another group member or drawing your idol unrealistically dark just as a way to distinguish them.
The same can be said of fan fiction. I’m a writer. I write fan fiction. I think it’s a valid expression of one’s love for one’s idol in the same way art is. You can take someone you admire and put them into a creative space that you’ve created. You can live out fantasies you dream of like turning your favorite Kpop group into a coven of witches or royal families feuding.
But I understand the trepidation with fan fiction as well. Smut can be just as bad as R-rated fan art and it can be a little jarring for those just looking for some sweet reader x idol fics to pass the afternoon.
So where do you draw the line?
I think as with all things it’s a case by case situation. I don’t want to ban all R-rated art and smut because I can’t pretend I don’t admire some well-drawn piece or well-written fics. However, I think both mediums should be used for what they’re intended: to celebrate our idols. The second we start to think to ourselves “This might make my idol uncomfortable” is the second you might want to step away. Because whether we like it or not, the stuff we put out on the internet can reach our faves one way or another. So if it’s not something that makes you–and would make your fave–proud, maybe just keep it to yourself.
What do you all think about fan art and fan fiction? I know some people ban all fan fiction across the board but love fan art while some don’t deal with either. I’d love to hear your thoughts!