When Random People on the Internet Write Fan Fiction About You

by Matthew J.X. Malady


People drop things on the Internet and run all the time. So we have to ask. In this edition, BuzzFeed Beauty Editor Arabelle Sicardi tells us more about having very creative fans on the Internet.

oh my god pic.twitter.com/vYuwAYRXIp

— Arabelle Sicardi (@arabellesicardi) March 3, 2015

Arabelle! So what happened here?

The short story is that someone wrote a really lovely and…florid fan fiction about selfies I posted on tumblr. The longer story is that I have a really dedicated and absurdly lovely following that totally pampers me in ways I think is quite rare in online writing communities, particularly in a feminist space, which is what I occupy? My Tumblr followers are really loyal and dedicated in ways that boggle my mind. I’ve gotten really sweet fan letters and fan art, people have bought lipstick on my recommendation and sent me selfies wearing it (the highest compliment they can give to me, truly), translated passages from books they thought I would enjoy. It’s really lovely. I print out every piece of fan art I get. Someone did their senior thesis based on my Tumblr and gave me a copy. That was surreal. That’s all the good stuff.

I’ve had legitimate stalkers who have found out where I live (or lived, I’ve since moved) and have left me letters and magazines and, I guess, offerings. And I’ve had people try to bribe me to unblock them after they’ve weirded me out, too. I guess it’s the Internet version of getting recognized in the street? That happens too, but this was just a really lovely fan fiction, totally harmless. I thought the line about whales was great. I don’t know what compels people to spend so much time on Internet strangers such as myself. I go through the tags of people who have reblogged me sometimes and I don’t think they realize I am also an actual breathing human person who poops. Like, I’m not real to people. They think I’m my Internet presence, and not that I am a person that happens to use tumblr. Not a person, an idea. They think of me as like…well, worthy of fan fiction, I suppose. Which is both terrifying and fantastic in equal measure. I’ve truly become a cyborg.

fan fiction

That fan fiction piece is pretty heavy stuff! Could you take a shot at unpacking some of the themes that show up in there, and perhaps discuss the ways in which it may or may not relate to your selfies?

Sure. It’s a myth about gods and scars and bodies and ascension and death, because those are things I talk about and explore on my personal blog a lot. I have categories of research that I document publicly outside my “published work”: gods, monsters, mortality, skin, and bodies are all things I discuss every day, so it’s no surprise to see it in a fiction about me. I am fascinated with monsters and how we articulate ourselves through fantasies and nightmares. I write — and point out — the patterns between gods and the traumatics of being a woman (and inevitably of) being a monster under patriarchal conditions — a lot. So a fiction about me that talks about that kind of stuff seems pretty on point. Beauty is terror, and gods are not good. I’m what my friend calls a closet Catholic…I don’t believe, but I want to, and I still totally have that Catholic shame in me that I love to pervert and dismantle and discuss. I love talking about bodies, and shame, gods and gory human mechanics of being. Bodies are totally gross but also divine, the things we’re capable of doing and feeling, how can there not be something more? It’s nice to think about. Beauty is super erotic to me, gods are super erotic, everything is so deliciously visceral and ripe to explore and corrupt and pull apart in new ways. This fiction, I guess, is a morally ambiguous fantasy where the dark spaces are infinitely more interesting to explore than the stuff illuminated by goodness and what is obviously right. How flattering that it was based on me. I guess my selfies show that I am not really interested in being good or nice? I don’t know. I never smile in them, or I do tend to look wicked. Wickedness is very me. I want to be Gabriel, the Tilda Swinton kind.

Lesson learned (if any)?

Sometimes I’m like “No one will ever love me,” but there are people that literally write fan fiction based on my photos, so I’m sure I’ll find someone to make out with eventually. I remain optimistic? Ha.

Just one more thing.

Photo by NMCIL

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