Tulsa World


This is a transcript of an article that appeared in Tulsa World On-line. Below it, you will find my humble opinion on fanfic in a Letter to the Editor.

Out of Nowhere
By World's own Service
7/3/98

The internet reels -- as does the mind -- with Hanson fan fiction.

Some Hanson fans love the Tulsa trio sooooooooooo much that they channel their obsession into their own, um, artistic expression. Instead of merely daydreaming their fantasies of hanging out with Taylor, going camping with Zac or finding a soulmate in Ike, legions of fans are writing those fantasies into Hanson fan fiction and posting it on the Internet for all to see.

The web is now thoroughly packed with clearinghouses of this novice prose. The stories are written mostly by girls and -- yeeees -- a few older women, and they cover just what you'd expect them to: idolizing a Hanson, meeting a Hanson and eventually smooching a Hanson.

If you ever need justification that young girls harbor ambitions of becoming the next generation's Harlequin romance novelists, tune in. A good place to start reading, if you dare, is through the stories link at the Ultimate Hanson Links Page.


Hanson fan fiction has it all -- sex, violence, drugs and the dropping of more brand names than a professional product placement representative could contract in his or her entire career. It offers a glimpse into the lives of a segment of American youth that most miss -- or ignore -- and it ain't always a pretty picture.


They've never been to Tulsa.

You wouldn't believe the number of stories that describe the Hanson home with a horizon of snow-capped mountains in the distance. In the notorious "Tulsa 74132," written by anonymous authors, Juliet and Isaac spend a day in the fictional Metro Parks, described thusly:

It had huge ponds, trails, swamps and educational buildings, plus a ton of wildlife took sanction in the park, making for an always exciting animal spotting adventure. And now they sat on a bench in Buttermilk Falls, just enjoying the view. Buttermilk Falls was one of the most spectacular sights, for it was a trail that led from one stream of waterfalls to the next. Each bed of water was crystal clear, showing the hard work the city put into keeping it a nice area.


They have underdeveloped palates.

In one story ("Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow,") Taylor treats his latest female admirer to dinner at a Tulsa eatery called Ray's Restaurant:

He picked up a menu, scanned it quickly and reclosed it.

"I'll take the dill salmon and a large root beer."


They are ready for the realities of marriage.

"Tulsa 74132" includes a scene in which Isaac's new lover, Juliet, pushes him away and retreats into pouting. Isaac tenderly inquires as to the source of her distress and is met with this harangue: "We never go anywhere. All we do is sneak somewhere and make out. Why don't you take me places?"


They are incredibly defensive about their work.

Rare is the piece of Hanson fiction that does not begin with a disclaimer warning all naysayers to step back, something like Rachel Munro's statement at the beginning of her 20-chapter story "Forever Friends": "There is only one rule I put on my story and that is that only true Hanson fans are allowed to read it." So there.


The safe-sex messages are getting through.

Every story in which fan-Hanson copulation actually occurs makes explicit mention of using condoms -- and not just rote regurgitation of safe-sex lectures from school.

For instance, in "Near You Always" by Ashley Elizabeth Farley, Isaac and a young girl named Emma seal their undying passion after making sure that all the safe-sex requirements are met -- with Isaac singing all the way through it (yegods).

In "Tulsa 74132," a young temptress named Juliet sidesteps the typical safe-sex reluctance and insists on being smart.

You go, girl!


Shakespeare is still required study in American classrooms.

"Tulsa 74132" features a protagonist named Juliet in its tale of star-crossed love. Some other story titles: the aforementioned "Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow," "Where for Art Thou, Taylor?" and -- really -- "Methinks They're Sooooooo Hot!!!"


Some of them are foul-mouthed little brats.

Some Hanson fiction authors use the medium simply to mouth off. Case in point: "Barbie and Her Three Kens" by Kitkat, a Dadaist stream of nonsense that turns the Hanson brothers into offensive little thugs. In Part Two, they insult every aspect of another girl's appearance -- to her face.

"Toss It Up, Tulsa," by an unidentified author, is loaded with profanity, vulgar situations and a version of Zac cast as a salivating sex fiend. Turn on those parental controls and wash out these modems with soap.


There are plenty of lines that are fun to quote out of context.

Par example: "Suddenly Isaac realized what he was doing: sitting in a darkened movie theater, looking at and feeling women's lingerie" (from "Tulsa 74132").

MY RESPONSE

Dear Tulsa World:

I am sure that your article mirrors the concern of many people regarding Hanson fan fiction. However, as someone who interacts with young people on a daily basis as a middle school teacher, I am not quite clear towards whom the concern is directed. Is the concern for Hanson or for the young authors? I suggest that the writer's purpose was to mock Hanson fans' expression of adoration for this talented band.

Hanson has never mocked their fans publicly. In fact, they have openly expressed gratitude to those who appreciate their music. Adoring fans are an easy target for ridicule, but their love for this talented trio should not be a mystery. Hanson embodies what is most endearing about youth: the wonder of discovery. Not to mention, the band has been recognized by professionals in the industry as being talented musicians.

On several occasions, Hanson has cited their deep family and religious values as what have grounded them through some of the craziness of the recent recognition. Anyone who has seen the band in interviews could not possibly miss the humor and uncanny wisdom with which the band responds to fame:

All our lives we've sung and we've always had that. But you really have to laugh at it. Because it's really not you they're screaming for. It's just an image of you. It's because you're in a band, not to do with you personally. - Taylor

And if you're concerned for the young authors of Hanson fanfic, what can you do? Let me begin by saying, as a Christian, I do not condone illegal or sexual activity for young people - on paper or in real life. However, caring adults can address these issues by modeling good decision-making. They can help young people make informed choices about their activities and between good and bad art. I understand some of the writers of these stories are older. I trust that these authors would care enough for the band members to treat them with the same respect that the band displays for their fans.

There are some beautifully written stories on the internet that should not go ignored. If Hanson has proven to be a muse for these authors, I'm sure Isaac, Taylor and Zac would feel honored. They are essentially artists at heart.

Sincerely,
Jackie


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