History is not a long series of centuries in which men did all the interesting/important things and women stayed home and twiddled their thumbs in between pushing out babies, making soup and dying in childbirth.
History is actually a long series of centuries of men writing down what they thought was important and interesting, and FORGETTING TO WRITE ABOUT WOMEN. It’s also a long series of centuries of women’s work and women’s writing being actively denigrated by men. Writings were destroyed, contributions were downplayed, and women were actively oppressed against, absolutely.
But the forgetting part is vitally important. Most historians and other writers of what we now consider “primary sources” simply didn’t think about women and their contribution to society. They took it for granted, except when that contribution or its lack directly affected men.
This does not in any way mean that the female contribution to society was in fact less interesting or important, or complicated, simply that history—the process of writing down and preserving of the facts, not the facts/events themselves—was looking the other way.
But the funny thing about that is we (as readers/viewers) sometimes miss out on information that might have been interesting. The author didn’t think it was, but fans? Most fans will soak up content like a sponge (see: LotR extended editions, cutscenes, etc). And so we’re likely to ask ridiculous questions like “What is laundry day like at Avengers Tower?” - not because it’s important to the narrative, but because we’re curious.
Not to mention: every narrator is an unreliable narrator. Especially the ones who seem the most straightforward. Which means there are a wealth of stories not being told hiding right behind the story that is.
Which, I think, gives an inkling of the primary difference between original fic and fanfic: original fic is declarative, saying “here is the story, these are the important events and characters and aspects of the world,” while fanfic is exploratory (even when it’s got a cracking good plot).
Fanfic exists in the interstices, in the ellipses and the enjambment. Fanfiction exists in the moment before the wave function collapses. A transformative work doesn’t actually transform the original media it is based off of (because the original medium exists in a fixed state and cannot be literally changed by fans unless the canon creators allow it to be so) so much as take the essential structure of the narrative and the characters and twist it, turn it, rotate and reflect it until we’ve built a fractal around it.
JESUS FUCK THIS HAS HOW MANY NOTES??
When you get to the end of a story and want to fill in all the blanks, that’s not necessarily the sign of a lack in the original. Sometimes it’s just because you don’t want to leave this amazing new world that has been created!
Yes, this. A hundred times yes.
in stories featuring aliens, they’re always like “on my planet this never happens!” or “in my culture, this differs from your human culture.” and that’s neat and all because i like worldbuilding and all that jazz but wouldn’t it be fun if they just. couldn’t do that?
i want a story where humans encounter an alien who frustrates them because they don’t know enough to tell them anything concrete
like humans will ask “tell us about politics in your planet!” and the alien’s all “uh… hold on it’s been a while since i took gov. um….”
"what sorts of plants grow on your planet?"
"i dunno i grew up in the suburbs. they’re like… purple? idk what you want me to say"
"tell us about the culture on your planet!"
"do you have any idea how many fucking countries are back home, i don’t even know where to begin"
"your planet is obviously much more scientifically and technologically advanced than ours. is it possible for you to enlighten us on certain matters concerning space travel, or would that be a form of interference you must avoid?"
"naw it’s cool, it’s just that, um, i’m a philosophy major"