Bandfic (The Police)
An introduction to bandfic
Bandfic, short for "band fiction" or "band fan-fiction", can be defined as stories written by fans of a musician or group of musicians setting them in a fictional context. These stories are often written to be shared among other fans as a hobby or part of fannish interaction, although professionally published band fiction has been produced for many decades as well as a legitimate form of literature.<ref>"Published bandfic bibliography." Fan History Wiki. 21 Mar. 2008 <http://www.fanhistory.com/index.php/Published_bandfic_bibliography></ref> Bandfic stories can closely follow the known "canonical" history of a band, filling in details of life on the road, recording albums, or speculating on why events in a band's history may have happened the way they did. Bandfic stories can also exist as "alternative histories", changing events such as when a band did (or didn't) break up, if a band member became romantically involved with others (either with original characters often created as stand ins for the author, or with other band members). Bandfic stories can also place band members in entirely foreign or alien environments, such as historic England, the high seas, or even outer space. There are few limits on the subject matter and storylines which may be told in bandfic stories, although members of the bandfic community often "police" themselves and each other regarding making sure the lines between band members real lives and privacy and fictionalized stories about them are respected and made clear.
Modern Bandfic fandom can trace its origins back to the 1960s, if not earlier, with technological advances setting the stage for easier communication between fans of various musical acts and genres (including doowop and rock at the time) as well as the distribution of recordings and bootlegging. However, the roots of a celebrity culture and the market force of "teenagers" as consumers of music and that celebrity culture reach back even further, to the 1940s with the expansion of radio and television as a means of entertainment.<ref>Ecks, Michela. "History of BandFic, an overview" Fanthropology 3 March 2008. 19 March 2008 <http://community.livejournal.com/fanthropology/420048.html>.</ref>
The Beatles were the focus of one of the largest fandoms to come from the 1960s, and is also credited as "the first mass outburst of the sixties to feature women – in this case girls, who would not reach full adulthood until the seventies and the emergence of a genuinely political movement for women’s liberation".<ref>"Beatlemania: Girls Just Want to Have Fun". Lewis, Lisa, ed. The Adoring Audience. New York: Routledge, 1992.</ref> These Beatles fans would take part in creating fannish works to share with each other including fanzines, fanart, and bandfic. Oral "role-playing" games, where fans would pretend to be members of the band, their girlfriends and wives, or other individuals associated with the band were a popular activity at gatherings of Beatles fans.<ref>Interview conducted by sidewinder with Beverly Lorenstein, Beatles fan, fanzine publisher and fan-fiction author, 2007.</ref> The Beatles themselves would encourage the mythology of themselves as fictional characters engaged in wild adventures and romance through such films as "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" Their image and the success of these movies would lead to continued blurring of the lines between reality and fiction in the pop music world, as in 1966, NBC television would launch The Monkees, a television comedy about a fake musical group created just for the show. The series became so successful that the band actually became a real pop group.<ref>Wikipedia. Mar 2008. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 19 Mar 2008 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkees></ref>
Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, teen and fan magazines such as 16 and Tiger Beat would run writing contests, some of which would include popular music stars.<ref>Ecks, Michela. "History of BandFic, an overview" Fanthropology 3 March 2008. 19 March 2008 <http://community.livejournal.com/fanthropology/420048.html>.</ref> It would also not be uncommon for fanclub publications and other fanzines to include stories, poetry, fans "dreams" about their favorite celebrities, and other creative works intermingled with news, comics, and other materials. However, the material published in such official magazines had to meet strict guidelines for being suitable for all audiences, even as some fans began to rebel against such rules. Just as the rock music of the time challenged and brought sexuality--and alternative sexualities--to the forefront of mainstream consciousness, so did fans begin writing and sharing bandfic stories of a more sexually-charged and explicit nature.<ref>Nash, Ilnah. "Hysterical Scream or Rebel Yell? The Politics of Teen-Idol Fandom" Disco Divas: Women and Popular Culture in the 1970s. Ed. Sherrie A. Inness. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003.</ref>
The late 60s into the 1970s would see the formation of a number of bands which would later develop bandfic communities such as Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, and Yes. In the early 1970s, Yasuko Aoike, a Japanese manga artist, would use Led Zeppelin as the character bases for her manga Sons of Eve. Later she would fictionalize the members of the band and use them as the base for what would become her extremely popular From Eroica, With Love series.<ref>Lorrah, Jean. "The connection between Led Zeppelin and Eroica" Jean Lorrah’s Home Page. 20 Mar. 2008 <http://www.simegen.com/jean/connection.html></ref>
At the same time, television media fandom was beginning to develop around the show Star Trek, with the first Trek fanzine published in 1967 and the first Trek 'zine featuring erotica-only fan-fiction appearing in 1972.<ref>"Star Trek" Fan History Wiki. 19 Mar. 2008 <http://www.fanhistory.com/index.php/Star_Trek></ref> Despite many parallels in their development, however, the media fan-fiction community and the bandfic communities existed and operated largely separate from each other at least until the mid-1980s, when some media fans began writing thinly-veiled Led Zeppelin fiction (either using the Dorian and Klaus characters of From Eroica With Love, or writing them as Tris and Alex, a fictionalized version of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant). Indeed, until recent years media fandom has largely considered writing fiction about "real people" a taboo subject as compared to writing fiction about television, movie, and other media characters. Stories written about actors instead of the characters they played had to be shared in secret among the media fandom community compared to the more open publication of bandfic in zines in the music fandom community.
The 1970s would also see several other developments which would affect the development of fan communities and fanworks such as bandfic. With the punk movement of the mid 70s and its "DIY" (do-it-yourself) motto, fanzines or 'zines would flourish as Xerox machines became more accessible and commonplace (even to become the subject of the song "Zerox" by Adam and the Ants). Punk zines often mixed fanart, fiction, and comics along with concert reviews, political commentary, and discussion about punk acts. Videotape and the development of consumer video recorders and players would set the stage for music videos and allow those who could not attend concerts in person to see their favorite bands and for those bands to expand their fanbases.
Duran Duran, one of the first bands to truly exploit video technology and the music video as a method for promoting their image, would also become one of the first truly large bandfic communities in the 1980s. The band was enormously popular in Japan, where fanzines featuring the band members in stories and art--often in what could be considered the style of "yaoi" (a genre marketed at females, focusing on male/male romantic and sexual relationships. From Eroica, With Love, the earlier manga inspired by Led Zeppelin, was also part of this genre). Fans in the United States and United Kingdom would also begin writing stories about the band, but did so mostly in isolation until the 1990s when they began sharing stories through fanzines such as UMF, at conventions, and through the growing technologies of internet mailing lists and discussion forums.<ref>Ecks, Michela. "History of BandFic, an overview" Fanthropology 3 March 2008. 19 March 2008 <http://community.livejournal.com/fanthropology/420048.html>.</ref>
The explosion of the internet in the 1990s and internet archive sites and Usenet groups such as alt.sex.stories, the Nifty Archive, FanFiction.Net, and then AdultFanFiction.net, gave writers of bandfic stories new methods and ways of sharing their stories with like-minded fans. Services like onelist.com and egroups (both of which later became part of yahoogroups) allowed fans of specific artists and bands to set up fan communities specifically for them and for sharing bandfic about them. Bandom writers did not begin crossing over or interacting more with media fan-fiction authors until the explosion of NSync and Metallica fandoms in the late 1990s, which drew fans from both fandom backgrounds and cultures, sometimes intermingling on mailing lists and archives but sometimes continuing on in separate communities.
On 2002-09-12, Fanfiction.Net, one of the largest archives for fan-fiction of all kinds, banned all real person fiction from the site, including bandfic. This had a large and immediate impact on the bandfic community, which had previously centered a great deal of activity around the site. Other internet archives such as Fandomination.net attempted to fill the void left for bandfic writers and became popular with some band fandoms active at the time, but not all. Quizilla, MySpace, RockFic, slashfanfiction.com, and LiveJournal would all become part of the new scene of bandfic fandom which would grow and continue to spread on the internet in the 2000s, gaining more widespread attention and also sometimes acknowledgment from the bands featured widely in such fiction. Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, and many other groups loosely associated under the "emo" or "Fueled by Ramen" umbrellas were even begun to be seen as catering to or encouraging the "slash" genre of fiction popular among many bandfic authors by playing up the "subtext" or sexual chemistry between band members, whether for real or simply as part of their stage personnas.
At this time, however, tensions still exist between bandfic fandoms and the general-interest band fandoms for many popular artists. As bandfic is still largely an activity or fanwork created by female fans, and often with sexual overtones, it is frequently derided by male members of band fandoms as well as by those female fans who do not share an interest in this kind of fan activity. While some bands embrace bandfic as simply another way of promoting their materials, others object to the way they may be portrayed in such stories, though few instances of actual legal action against bandfic writers and authors of celebrity fiction in general can be documented.<ref>To date, there are only four known "Cease and Desist" letters documented regarding "real person fanfiction" posted on the internet. One was received by FanDomination.Net on 2003-03-13 for materials regarding the baseball player Andy Pettite, who wanted "libelous materials" removed from the site. Another letter asked for character journals featuring Canadian Idol contestants to be removed. A third letter was in regards to fan-fiction about the Ohio State University women's basketball team with other real life consequences for the person. A fourth, the only one directly related to the bandfic community, involved the AdultFanFiction.Net archive and an NSync story which involved one of the band members being written as a minor. In general the response to Cease and Desist letters within fandom has always been to comply with the request to remove materials from public access, even if legally authors may be covered under parody laws and through the use of prominent disclaimers that identify their stories as entirely fictitious in nature.</ref> Tensions also remain strong between members of bandfic fandoms and members of media fandoms who object to the idea of using real people as characters in fictional storylines. The bandfic community and its face to the public is continually evolving and changing, with its role in relationship to the bands it focuses upon as well as the rest of band fandom ever-shifting.
Bandfic in Police fandom
The Police bandfic community exists in association, but separately, from the main fandom community for The Police. The bandfic community is primarily active on various multi-bandom LiveJournal communities as well as the website archive and forum RockFic. Bandfic is not often posted nor discussed on general-interest Police communities, including official websites, although there have been some exceptions to this with gen and parody stories. Much of The Police band fiction is slash in nature and largely focused on the Sting/Stewart relationship, although some gen and humor-fic has been popular as well. "Crossover" stories with other bands have some popularity, in particular featuring the Foo Fighters because of their close association with the Police.
In relative terms, The Police bandfic community is a small one, with only a few regularly active writers. The popularity of the bandom has increased significantly since the announcement of the 2007-2008 Reunion Tour, although it still does not enjoy the same level of popularity as other bands which were active in the late 70s through mid-80s such as U2 or Duran Duran.
Below is a partial list of terms used in The Police bandfic community, as well as the bandfic community as a whole.
- Gen: Short for "general audiences", gen stories are those suitable for readers of all ages, usually with little or no romantic storylines and more focused on action, drama, or character studies.
- Gong!fic: Stories featuring Stewart's impressive gong from the 2007-2008 Reunion Tour. This term is also used in Pink Floyd fandom.
- Het: Stories of a romantic nature, featuring characters in heterosexual relationships. Het stories may be sexually explicit or they may not be.
- Mary Sue: Terminology carried over from Star Trek fandom. A "Mary Sue" is an idealized female character, often written as a stand-in for the author, who becomes romantically involved with a band member in the course of a story. "Mary Sue"s are generally unpopular today among readers, although they are frequently written by younger fans as a way of expressing their crushes on pop stars and idols and fantasizing about being in a relationship with them.
- Round-robin: A story written by multiple authors, usually where one author writes a section or chapter and leaves it up to the next author to determine what comes next.
- Slash: Stories featuring characters in same-sex relationships or with homosexual undercurrents. Slash stories may be sexually explicit or they may not be. The term slash comes from the "/" symbol used in denoting a slash pairing, which was first introduced in Star Trek fandom as a way to differentiate gen or friendship stories from those with romantic or sexual themes (ex: Kirk/Spock).
Police bandfic timeline
The following is a general overview of events which occurred within or had impact upon The Police bandfic community.
- In 1969, Jenny Fabian released the book Groupie, which was a thinly-fictionalized account of her exploits as a groupie of various rock acts of the 1960s including The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Animals and Pink Floyd. Future Police guitarist Andy Summers appears in the book as "Davey", whose "girlish fair hair and skinny arms really turn (Jenny) on."<ref>Fabian, Jenny and Johnny Byrne. Groupie. London: Omnibus Press, 2005.</ref>
- In 1987, Sting was quoted in Spin magazine, talking about his relationship with the other band members<ref> Garbarini, Vic. "Invisible Son." Spin Dec. 1987. </ref>:
Sting: I still love Stewart very deeply...I really do love him. I miss him. But no way will I return to that situation.
SPIN: What about Andy? You had him play on the new album, and he knocked off these exquisitely beautiful and complex parts in one or two takes at the most. Obviously some of the old artistic chemistry is still there. But personally your relations with Andy were never as polarised as your relations with Stewart were they?
STING: No, no. Stewart and my relationship - he wouldn't understand this - but it had a sexual tension in it that was very strong. And that was never true of Andy. He's a different age from me and a different kind of person.
This quote is one that had some impact in creating a subtext for slash fiction within the community.
- Lady Neha's Tribute To: Sting was a website that featured short-stories about Sting. The website was opened on 1997-06-21 and closed on 2003-05-10.<ref>Lady Neha's Tribute To: Sting Jun. 1997 <http://members.aol.com/neha333/index.html></ref>
- In November of 2000, Sting/Stewart Copeland slash fiction was being discussed on RS-X, a yahoogroup for rare slash pairings.<ref>"newbie says hi." Online posting. 9 Nov. 2000. RS-X. 20 Mar 2008 <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RS-X/message/5088></ref>
- sidewinder posted her first Police story, "No Apologies", to LiveJournal on 2003-02-14.<ref>sidewinder. "A fic for Valentine's Day." Online posting. 14 Feb. 2003. Have we got contact. 20 Mar 2008. <http://sidewinder.livejournal.com/2003/02/14/></ref>
- In April of 2003, Guitar World magazine published the article "Don't Stand So Close To Me" by Vic Garbarini.<ref>Garbarini, Vic. "Don't Stand So Close To Me." Guitar World Apr. 2003. </ref> The piece examined the failed Police recording sessions of 1986 and the difficult relationship between the band members at the time. While much of this information had been discussed in articles and interviews previously, the detailed conversations and inner thoughts releaved by the band members in the article were startling and left some to comment that the piece almost read like fiction. (sidewinder)
- A LiveJournal community for Police bandfic, twosynchronous, was created in May of 2003<ref>sidewinder. "I feel so lonely...no, actually, I *don't* anymore!" Online posting. 13 May 2003. Have we got contact. 21 Mar 2008. <http://sidewinder.livejournal.com/2003/02/14/></ref> before being deleted later that year without warning by the moderator.
- On 2004-06-08, Ask Uncle Ian forum member George began posting the story "May 2004. Scene : Backstage cafe", which received praise from many members of the board including Ian himself.
- On 2004-06-09, George began his popular "You Never Know Who's Listening" series of humorous tales on AUI.. These stories would continue on the board through 2007.,,,,
- On 2005-01-09, sidewinder posted "Vertigo" on RockFic. This was the first Police story posted to the archive.<ref>sidewinder. "Vertigo." Rockfic. 9 Jan. 2005. 21 Mar. 2008 <http://www.rockfic.com/viewstory.php?title=Vertigo&storyid=3005&numchapters=1&category=The%20Police&author=sidewinder&m=f&sort=date&ratinglist=&genrelist=&charlist1=&charlist2=>]</ref>
- On 2006-04-01, Rockfic Press released Road Hazards, a band fiction anthology with featured some Police fiction.<ref>ScrewTheDaisies, ed. Road Hazards. Asheville: Rockfic Press LLC, 2006.</ref>
- On 2006-04-01, Rockfic Press released Get Bent, a band fiction anthology with featured some Police fiction.<ref>ScrewTheDaisies, ed. Get Bent. Asheville: Rockfic Press LLC, 2006.</ref>
- On 2006-09-12, Rockfic Press released Internal Affairs, an anthology collection of Police fiction by sidewinder.<ref>sidewinder. Internal Affairs. Asheville: Rockfic Press LLC, 2006.</ref>
- On 2006-11-14, Rockfic Press released Rock Hard, a band fiction anthology which included some Police fiction.<ref>ScrewTheDaisies, ed. Rock Hard. Asheville: Rockfic Press LLC, 2006.</ref>
- As of the end of 2006, there were 24 stories featuring The Police on RockFic.
- This bandom was represented in the 2007 xmas_rocks exchange, with 1 story posted in January of that year.<ref>sidewinder. xmas_rocks! 21 Mar. 2008 <http://xmas.sockiipress.org/></ref>
- On 2007-04-27, the LiveJournal community bandfic_100 was created. It featured some Police fan-fiction.<ref>bandfic_100. 27 Apr. 2007. 21 Mar. 2008 <http://community.livejournal.com/bandfic_100/profile?mode=full></ref>
- On 2007-07-25, members of the Stewart Copeland Official Site began a round-robin story, "The following conversation was overheard backstage"<ref>"The following conversation was overheard backstage." Stewart Copeland Official Site Forum. 25 Jul. 2007. 21 Mar. 2008. <http://www.stewartcopeland.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3687></ref>, which continued receiving contributions and comments through October, 2007.
- As of November 2007, there were 52 stories featuring The Police on Rockfic. The upsurge in fiction can largely be credited to the reunion tour of 2007.
- This bandom was represented in the 2008 xmas_rocks exchange, with 3 stories posted in January of that year.<ref>sidewinder. xmas_rocks! 21 Mar. 2008 <http://xmas.sockiipress.org/> </ref>
- In February 2008, Seattle Sound magazine published a cover story on bandfic entitled "Slasher Girls".sidewinder, an author of Police bandfiction, was one of the writers interviewed for the article.<ref>Handelman, David. "Slasher Girls." Seattle Sound. Feb. 2008.</ref>
References and footnotes