Fanfiction is an extremely popular source of entertainment that caters to extremely specific desires of people who spend their time adoring a certain band, cast, actor, film, or anyone else. If you have never read fanfiction, chances are you don’t know anything about Wattpad, a platform that allows writers their writing for free online. That’s fine if you don’t know about it, because this post is all about the semi-atrocity that has become of 2013 One Direction fanfiction. Aviron Pictures is releasing the film version of a One Direction fanfiction called After that was published through Simon & Schuester in 2017. Yes, that’s right. An erotic fanfiction about a girl who goes to college with One Direction members as characters and not a band has been made into a movie starring Hero Fiennes, nephew of Voldermort, and the real-life younger sister of Hanna from 13 Reasons Why.
I first read After when I was in high school. I would stay up all night thumbing through my iPod touch, reading chapter after chapter about the dramatic life of young, prudish Tessa Young. This fanfiction portrayed Harry Styles as a bad boy. Many fanfictions turn all of the characters into bad boys, but Harry Styles as a bad boy is probably the worst portrayal possible. Anyway, the point of every fanfiction is that the girl and the boy fall in love, but half of After is about how Tessa can’t fight her sexuality and hooks up with Harry repeatedly despite feeling bad about it every time. [SPOILER] The even worse part is that for most of the first book, Harry is only hooking up with her because Zayn dared him to.
It follows the fantasy boyfriend plot of every famous celebrity fanfic. The boy has tons of money and gives Tessa everything, including a high profile internship, an apartment, vacations, a car, and sex. Miraculously, Tessa never has a pregnancy scare because by the third book she finds out all along her uterus is too small to carry a baby, which, I’m not sure that’s how that prevents her from getting pregnant. Other memorable moments are when she looks for Harry in a crack house.
The wonderful thing about Wattpad (I’m not joking) is that you don’t have to be an experienced writer for your books to go viral. Anna Todd, the author of the series, wrote the first three books on her iPhone. All of the formatting of a novel is done through the Wattpad app. This is the future of literature. At the end of the chapter you can “like” it, as well as any line of text, while you’re reading. You can tweet as you read. Amazing.
Okay, so going back to this movie. First of all, if Aviron pictures would have translated the books to film as they were written, all five members of One Direction could have sued the shit out of Anna Todd, Wattpad, God, the world, their fans, everything. Wattpad is profiting off of the slandering of celebrities, essentially, and they could probably sue them for sexual harassment. Except the writers are probably protected by copyright clauses that say all content published through their app is fictional. So Anna Todd and her editors had to gut the books of their One Direction element (which, was the entire point of the novel). Harry Styles’ character name has now been changed to Hardin Scott. And just imagine the rest of One Direction’s names taken down multiple notches. I actually believe that fanfiction leaves much of the plot to the readers. They bring their own sexual tension, emotion, and opinions to the fanfic and bring it to life. They see themselves as Tessa Young, fighting with Harry Styles at a wedding, and waking up in the morning and brushing their long brown hair and thinking about their own blue eyes.
What I love about the One Direction fandom now is that we look back on the writing that was produced during this era and joke about how every fanfic has the lines:
- glowing green orbs
- our tongues battled for dominance
- threw my brown hair into a messy bun
There was also a popular plot of girls being sold by their parents to “masters,” who were One Direction characters. Yeah, put that on your plate.
Anyway, let’s think about what it means to take One Direction out of a One Direction story. After becomes a story about a very prudish girl who goes to college, has arguably consenting and non-consenting sexual encounters with a guy, can never shake him off despite them both being terrible to each other, moves in with him, is emotionally abused for their entire relationship, and… I don’t even remember how the series ends. The trailer, as cringey as it is, really portrays that to the audience right away. You actually know what you are getting into when you watch the trailer, because you have to suffer while watching Voldermort’s nephew go down on Tessa Yong. There’s no connection that this thin boy is supposed to be Harry Styles. Tessa was dreamcasted from the very beginning, so it’s no surprise that she looks like a generic white girl. But this entire movie is about a college girl learning about how to have sex. WHY ARE WE DOING THIS.
The demographic for this film is 20somethings who read Wattpad in 2013. We are beyond college. We are adults. And we might show up and buy a ticket, because the reality of a Wattpad “sensation” being turned into a film is slightly rare. But please, Wattpad and Aviron pictures, if you are going to translate a One Direction fanfiction to a movie, you can’t take One Direction out of it. Let me push my favorite fanfic New York, as mentioned in previous posts, as a better option to make into a film. Keep it about boyband members. Don’t keep it about COLLEGE SEX. That’s WEIRD.
Here is the trailer:
So, should you care about this movie? Yes and no. Hate-watching is not a good thing to do, but I personally need to see my high school pastime be commercialized because I really feel like a grassroots organizer whose campaign has gone corporate. The carpet has been ripped out from under my feet. One Direction fanfiction was a niche that was meant to exist quietly like every other fanfiction, where fans can go back and read their favorites and never be judged. But no. Someone wanted this out. And now we must deal with the consequences. A movie about college sex.
Let me know what you think about this, and if you are going to see it at the movies. I live in a small town so I might not even get to see it when it comes out in April.