Reimagining The Tabloids

by Chris Bodenner

Allison Yarrow fills us in on a new form of Internet literature:

Thousands of young writers are playing god with the real lives of the famous and the notorious in an outgrowth of fan fiction called real person fiction (RPF). Most stories build complex plots 849954-256-k134741around actors or pop stars, including the members of One Direction, Chris Brown and Selena Gomez, and can attract tens of millions of readers to a new genre that melds fan fiction with tabloid news. And while fan-fiction writers rework hit novels — extending Harry Potter’s wizarding long after the books ended, or uprooting Alice from Wonderland and introducing her to Dorothy in Oz — RPF reinterprets the escapades of celebrities, culling inspiration and plotlines from Twitter, rumor and news. This fictional frontier is exploding online, boosted by the massive growth of user-friendly blogging platforms over the past three years.

In previous decades, sexual fantasies about leading men, like David Cassidy or Kirk Cameron, were relegated to private diaries, racy fan mail or intimate whispers among friends. Now, young women can live sex, dating and rejection scenarios out loud online, and draw instant comments. These authors cast themselves as Taylor Swift’s bestie or Justin Bieber’s girlfriend, reimagine the volatile Chris Brown as a gentle hero and transform the accused murderer Tsarnaev into a paramour.

(Image: The cover of Oh My Love (A Chris Brown Love Story), a RPF by 17-year-old Adriana Brooks, who “recasted Brown – who pled guilty in 2009 to a felony assault of his then girlfriend and fellow pop star, Rihanna – as a savior who rescues Audri (Brooks’ fictional stand-in) from her abusive boyfriend Kyle.”)