The reasons for creating and consuming RPF vary from person to person, and they change over time. Why I read RPF as tweenager obsessed with the cast of Lord of the Rings and why I read (and occasionally write) it now are vastly different experiences. As with many other fandoms, content creators and consumers bring different aspects of themselves to the RPF table and there’s no “one size fits all” approach to RPF as a whole. Some people write and read stories about their favorite celebrities in situations that mimic their real lives, like the behind-the-scenes moments of a film or set during the afterparty of an awards show. Many others take these celebrities out of their world entirely, writing them in epic fantasy stories or dropping them into college campuses. Just as the reasons behind creating and consuming RPF differ depending on the needs and wants of the fan, so do the settings that fans and fan-creators gravitate towards.On RPF and Why People Love to Write Stories About Public Figures
I’m nosy and easily attached to celebrities. As a result, the second I realized that people beyond tabloid writers made up stories about celebrities I saw on television or in movies, I was in. When I was a tadpole in fandom, I started with Lord of the Rings RPF. I wanted to brush Orlando Bloom’s hair and then I found people online with more… prurient interests in that beautiful man. In high school, I read literally everything realm_of_ylith wrote (and wow was she responsible for… so much of my early “so hip hop seems kinda queer” thoughts thanks to her one Eminem story).
I have a lot of thoughts about RPF. Honestly, you’re all lucky that it took me… seven and a half months before I whipped out the RPF column because the RPF stuff is… adjacent to my primary fandom. The thing that actually drives me a ton… It’s my actual passive ability, being super interested in celebrities. I don’t care too much for rumors, “tea”, and other forms of gossip these days because I don’t want to know too much, but hand me a meaty fic or a bunch of YouTube videos about the celeb’s interactions with their friends and I’m set for a good while.
What’s been interesting about writing this article is thinking about myself in relation to RPF – as a creator, not as an object (as I’m like… a non-celebrity so anyone writing RPF about me instead of just… asking me out, needs to fix that.) RPF is kind of like… this thing I’ve always been into but only people who’ve known me for a very long time seem to remember me talking about it? Or clock that I still do clearly talk about and follow creators/shippers in different fandoms. I’m aware of the complications behind RPF – especially as it comes to Stan Twitter now that I’m getting to speak with celebrities – and that’s definitely been fun to navigate. (But also stressful and I have scrapped work so I was doing for myself just so, if I ever got to interview the celeb, I didn’t have to feel Anxiety.)
But then on top of that, a lot of my friends in fandom now, are RPF writers who’ve taken great pains to get their best work out and show the celebrity Everything I’ve thought about RPF and my relationship to it, I’m able to do because of the generations of writers and artists who’ve come before me and whose work and tweets are right there. There are iffy things to be sure when it comes to RPF, but for me… I do take it on a case by case basis because the fandoms aren’t the same and neither are the fans.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next column I do and I hope y’all are too!
2 thoughts on “Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On RPF and Why People Love to Write Stories About Public Figures”
This is so interesting for me because my first RPF fandom was popslash, which in a lot of ways really was the progenitor of modern RPF, and happened at a time when there was NOT much interaction between celebrities and fans, especially in the pop music realm, altho we were on the brink of that, and slash was still somewhat of a hush hush thing, and I was nineteen years old and had to do a lot of thinking about what I was okay with, what I was not okay with, but that ended up being a lot easier for that fandom, which was based largely on controlled personas, than for bandom, which I joined about eight years thereafter, at which point, the world had changed dramatically in terms of parasocial relationships. And suddenly I had a lot more questions about what WAS all right to consider “canon”, what wasn’t, etc., etc.
I have mixed feelings about RPF, mainly due to the porn and shipping sides of it. I appreciate you trying to approach it in a nuanced way.