This article started out as a response to a comment on this post, but it quickly grew beyond a comment.
The comment was a question about the recent quotes by Benedict Cumberbatch regarding fan fiction. His comments about Johnlock fiction upset a number of people in the Sherlock fandom and spawned, among other things, this great article in response.
Let me preface this by saying that I have been writing fanfiction for more than 3 decades, and I have written slash stories, including a pre-slash Incredible Hulk story when I was 13 and honestly had no clue what I had written. I say this because I have been reading and writing fanfiction since a time when what was considered blatant subtext would, compared to today, be mild.
When I started in fandom, there was no chance of a slash pairing becoming canon, and we understood that. Now, writers and show runners recognize that slash pairings are popular, and they write the subtext into the shows, sometimes quite blatantly.
This changes the relationship between fans, the actors and the producers of shows. Fans believe they have a say in whether a pairing becomes canon. The media is fascinated with slash and writes about it. Some actors, like Martin and Benedict are understandably uncomfortable with some of the stories fans write. Too bad they are starring in a show where the romantic subtext is barely “sub.”
Common sense is sadly lacking sometimes in both the coverage of shows and in the actions of fans. Journalists should stop asking actors about fanfiction. Panel moderators should never ask actors to read fanfiction. Fans really should use better judgement about what they send actors.
Fanfiction (even slash or fem-slash) should not be hidden or swept under a rug. It’s good for a fandom. However, everyone involved should have reasonable expectations. If show producers want to add obvious subtext, then no one should be surprised or offended if fans run with it. However, fans need to remember that not everyone wants to read or be confronted with their stories and art. While fans can certainly ask that a pairing become canon, they shouldn’t think they have the right to demand it or become angry when it doesn’t happen.
Ultimately, fanfiction should be a fairly harmless way of interacting with our favorite shows, if everyone involved can treat each other with respect.