By now, everybody’s heard that Dumbledore is gay. That is not, I promise, what this post is about — just the inciting cause of the post.
To entertain myself, I took a brief look at Fandom Wank, wondering what kinds of reactions they were rounding up. (Answer: pretty much the ones you’d expect.) The only link I really followed was one to westeros.org, where they were discussing the issue of “interview canon.” And there I found an attitude that really raised my eyebrows.
I’m paraphrasing here, because several posts I saw raised this point, each one phrasing it differently. But the reaction was something to the effect of, “Authors shouldn’t create canon in their interviews; it should all be in the books.”
Step back for a moment and look at that. Authors shouldn’t create canon . . . .
Imagine you are a non-fanfic-writing-individual. An author you like gives an interview. They reveal — in response to someone’s question — a detail about the story you didn’t know before, be it that so-and-so is gay, so-and-so grew up in a home with seventeen cats, so-and-so really likes mint chocolate chip ice cream. What is your reaction? Me, I’d think, “oh, that’s interesting,” and enjoy the sense that there’s a real world the author is writing about, that exists beyond the simple words on the pages of the books.
Now imagine that author answering such questions with “Eh, I don’t know.” Makes the world look like those old Hollywood facades, doesn’t it? A pretty front with nothing behind it. What you see is what you get. Kind of boring, really.
Authors shouldn’t create canon in their interviews.
That statement contains a giant roaring assumption that just boggles me: that fanfiction is some how an end goal for what an author does. That authors should be taking the desires of fanficcers into account when writing their books, when talking about their books, when answering the questions of fans. Why? Because apparently it makes things more complicated for the fanficcers, having to track what got said when and whether or not it should count as canon.
If the comments had been phrased in the vein of, “man, now we have to debate whether or not to count that as canon,” I wouldn’t mind. It’s a problem for the people writing fanfic; let them decide how to handle it. But the accusatory tone I saw in some of the comments . . . how inconsiderate of J.K. Rowling, to create canon in her interviews. Apparently she makes a habit of this. The nerve! To know more about her characters than she wrote into the books! To share that information with people when they ask!
Fandom wankery, indeed.