“Listen to me, Lou. You’re going to find an amazing guy one day, someone who loves you for everything that you are. Your faults, your beauty, your passion, everything. And he’s going to be the luckiest guy in the world because he will have you to come home to every night. He wasn’t that guy, he didn’t appreciate you when he had you. But you’ll meet that guy one day, and it’s going to be the best thing that ever happened to you, yeah?“ – dont_stop_larry
Being a fan of something today embodies something very different than it did in even the not so distant past. With technological advances and a social media driven age, there are a number of outlets for fans to express the inspiration they find in the things that entertain them.
From film and television to super heroes and villains and even bands and actors; there’s a subculture of pop culture that focuses on the interaction of people and characters in entertainment. While the creative outlet that is most common isn’t a new one, it’s certainly one that has gained notoriety in the last few years and most of that is thanks to one of the biggest acts in music; One Direction.
That creative outlet is called fan fiction and it’s origin is most commonly linked to the 1970s and Star Trek, more specifically, the relationship between Kirk and Spock. The fiction written about these characters was linked into two large parts; simple fan fiction and slash fiction. Slash fiction is a genre of fan fiction that ‘focuses on interpersonal attraction and sexual relationships between fictional characters of the same sex’.
“You know…” Louis whispers against his mouth, running his hand across Harry’s bare chest. “Yesterday you got to kiss me everywhere, but I didn’t get to do it, so…can I?” he asks, staring him in the eyes, thumb caressing his lower lip.
“Yeah, yeah, Lou, please, I’d love that.” Harry replies eagerly. He wants that, Louis kissing him everywhere, he needs it too. He needs the feeling of Louis’ mouth on his body, on him.” -ropeandanchorls
It started off being largely male on male and usually sexually explicit in nature but over time has grown to include any relationship between people of the same sex; it’s no longer exclusive. This type of fiction got its name due to the way of labeling the fiction. Most frequently a slash between names signified a sexually explicit relationship while the ampersand stood for a friendship.
Fan and slash fiction grew and found a home in just about every fandom there is. From Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural to The Walking Dead and One Tree Hill, many pairings have both fan fiction and slash fiction written about them. The same is true in films like Star Trek and Captain America to Twilight and Top Gun. The pieces of fiction written about the number of pairings in the aforementioned series’ and films are usually greeted with an open mind, at least as far as the general public is concerned. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they’re not heavily media focused, maybe it’s because the actors who play the characters can joke and embrace the talent and passion of the authors, or maybe it’s because they embrace that they’re just stories and know that the stories aren’t written in an attempt to make these ‘fantasies’ come true.
When One Direction became the subject of fan fiction, especially Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson; things changed and there seemed to be a lot more scrutiny involved. Again, this could be due to the worldwide phonemonen that is One Direction and how all things surrounding them are items on a metaphorical media playground but many people are stuck in the great debate that is “Larry Stylinson” and it’s become less of a ship and more of an all out battle of wits and will and a game of who will outlast; seriously, sometimes it feels like Survivor.
The name Larry Stylinson came from Louis and Harry themselves when they caught on to the awareness and fondness the fans had towards their relationship. Seeing the two of them together was like watching the blending of blue and green to make a beautiful cyan. They moved together and spoke to finish the others sentence and they were quite frankly inseparable in all ways of speaking. They moved in together soon after they met “it just sort of happened” and it was like fate got it right with the two of them.
“Louis sighed, looking down at his hands that were placed in front of him, “Does Harry love me?”
Niall scoffed, “Love? I wouldn’t call it that.”
Louis frowned, his heart and hope falling. “Oh.”
Niall smiled, smirking seeing Louis saddened look. “Love wouldn’t even begin to describe what Harry feels for you. Harry is infatuated with every single thing you do. He would literally die for you Lou, yes he loves you, but it is so much more than that.” – inkslingermars
Things began to change and this is where people chose sides: you were either a “larrie” or an “anti” and the middle area was basically a firing ground that no one wanted to get caught up in. The dynamic between the two seemed to break as they spent less time with one another, seemingly found themselves unable to communicate publicly, and with one tweet from Louis, fans saw the fracture in Larry.
In most fandoms, the subjects of fan fiction can embrace the idea, some even say they read it and find it entertaining as well, some play it up but very rarely is it treated as enough of a taboo subject to cause a large and painful divide.
Some say that the One Direction fandom itself is to blame, that the idea of a relationship between the two was so outrageous and forced upon the pair that it became something they hated. They believe that they’ve been with a number of women between the two of them and that the idea of Larry has grown to disgust them. Others believe they were forced to deny a relationship with one another and they’ve been kept away to appear more inviting to their target audience and sadly, in the entertainment industry, closeting isn’t unheard of. The theories are deeply woven into both the fandom and the fan fiction but the truth is; no one but Louis and Harry themselves know if there was or is any validity to the idea that is Larry Stylinson. Another truth is that it’s sad that something so pure and rare has become such a tainted point of discussion.
There are extremists on both sides of the fandom, some people took the fan fiction and idea of Larry way too far and began to tag friends and family members of the pair in sexually explicit tweets, photos, and flooded their social media with all things Larry. This same behavior happened with fans who believe Larry was a long running joke and that the boys are both straight, there are still sexually explicit tweets, provocative comments on their social media accounts and fan fiction that paint the boys as involved in sexual relationships with women.
No matter what you believe, Louis has, on social media, denied Larry and said that he was straight; some think they were forced tweets while others believe those accusations are crazy. There were also a few moments where the topic of Larry got brought up in televised or written interviews where the pair shrugged it off or other members of the band denied it. For every action performed there are two extreme beliefs from both sides of the fandom and it’s created an unhealthy place for fans to enjoy the idea of Louis and Harry.
“I need to call me mom, shit—I, I forgot to call me mom”, he said, voice loud, so damn nervous. “I didn’t talk to anybody, I—- I forgot. Oh, but Lots. I haven’t called her either, fuck, I… How am I gonna—I need to be in there, right?” He turned to Harry who had stopped walking too.
His eyes were scared. Louis looked younger than ever and Harry, who was breaking, just really, really wanted to help him.
“I’ll call them, okay?” He said, stepping closer. “Look at me”, Harry asked and held his hands. “It will be okay. You go watch your daughter being born and I’ll make the calls.”
“It’s okay, Lou”, Harry sighed. None of that was okay. “I’ll call Jay. And Lots. And everyone else. You just go.”
“I- thank you”, Louis hugged him. Harry didn’t let himself get lost in Louis’ smell, just stepped back and told him to go, go, because it was time.
Harry made all of the calls. And then tried to listen to some music, but he couldn’t concentrate. More people from Briana’s family arrived but Harry couldn’t look at them. He wasn’t sure what he was still doing there, but something in Louis’ eyes told him that he needed him to be there when he got out and Harry just… He couldn’t get any more broken, could he?
A little over an hour later a sweaty Louis walked towards him. And everyone was expecting him to say something, but his eyes were fixed on Harry, who just stood up and waited for him to get close. Star’s here, he said in a low voice.
That day a Star had been born, or maybe it was a universe.” – sincewewereeighteen
The sad thing is that so much has been lost due to the pissing contest the One Direction fandom divided themselves into and one of the ways it suffered was the loss of fan fiction being accepted.
This divide was noticed even outside the fandom and the fic written about Larry has been a topic of conversation in a number of ways but most recently, and perhaps most interestingly, it’s the subject of a trailer and hopefully soon to be available series called Truth Slash Fiction. Truth Slash Fiction is directly inspired by Larry and both the fiction and theories that the writer and producer read.
The pilot focuses on a band called Truth and a young adult who writes fan fiction about it’s members. While the idea was inspired by Larry, the team was sure to express their desire for Truth to be its own band with a unique sound and character style. It’s not a One Direction knock off!
When the trailer hit social media it immediately took Twitter by storm. People were excited and curious to know what was in store for viewers and how it would relate to their own fandoms and experiences. On the other hand, some people greeted the idea with caution and a hint of concern thinking Truth Slash Fiction would be a way to exploit Larry and again make a mockery of that part of the fandom. It was made clear by watching the trailer that this idea has layers that have yet to be explored and none of those layers appeared to be a mockery, at least not as far as we were concerned. Instead, they seemed to want to show what it’s like to be in a fandom as a fic writer and what ups and downs come along with it.
The trailer was largely well received, even amidst the nervousness and we wanted to know more! We asked the creator and producer if they would answer some of our questions and they were more than happy to, they wanted fans to know that their intentions were pure and that they were also putting pieces of themselves into this pilot and the idea around Truth Slash Fiction, they wanted it to be authentic.
Our interview with Charlie Sohne (Writer/Creator) and Daniel Schloss (Director/Producer) exceeded even our own expectations and we are excited to share it with you!
Your pilot was inspired by fanfic, specifically “Larry” which is Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles; did you know anything of the rumors before you found the fan fiction and if not, did you look into it after?
We had read a bunch of Larry fic both before and during the process of developing the pilot and we were very much inspired by the emotional pull of those stories and the vibrancy of the fandom. At the same time, we really wanted Truth (the band in the pilot) to be its own group, with its own characters and musical style. The core of the show to us is about the slash writers themselves and the sense of artistic community that drew us to the material in the first place.
Some people are nervous that this is found to sort of “poke fun” at Larries, but that doesn’t seem to be your intention at all, why was this an important pilot to you, what do you think people would learn from a series?
We’re well aware that the community has not been represented fairly in the past, so we want to make it absolutely clear that this series does not make fun of Larries. The slash fiction writers in our show are very much the people who we were in high school: funny, creative and self-aware — therefore, the emotions of these characters are taken seriously. These are people who find artistic community through their slash fiction and use their stories to express and reflect on much of the real life drama that they’re going through. We would hope that people walking away from the show will have developed a better understanding of the myriad of reasons people are drawn to slash and view the genre with much more respect.
Where do you think fan fiction fits into a fandom?
Fan fiction is a vibrant part of any fandom. When we’re talking about a fictional series, fan fiction is one way a fandom can build in representation that they don’t see in the cannon or draw out what’s unspoken. As far as the 1D fandom is concerned, we think it’s great in that people are drawn to 1D songs partially because of the romantic idealism written into the lyrics and a lot of fan fiction is interacting those ideals: it’s what we initially found so moving about the stories that we read.
Did the actors know each other before this idea was pitched to them?
Most of the actors did not know each other – we worked with a casting director, Bess Fifer, to hold auditions, and we knew of a few of them from the New York musical theater scene. Luckily everyone got along!
Will their characters have been a band for a while, or newly put together?
More information about the band will come out slowly across future episodes – you’ll have to tune in!
You say you are showing fic writers who came to the fandom for different reasons; are some of these reasons because of comfort and feeling a sense of home (much like in the 1D fandom)?
Absolutely. Finding a sense of community is the main theme of the pilot episode and that’s also partially why we made the decision to have an actual writers group at the back of a bookstore: so you could have a visual sense of what that sense of home and community feels like.
Have either of you worked on anything this unique before?
We (Charlie the writer and Daniel the director) used to be college roommates, and made movies together during the summers. Some of it was quite unique, but we think/hope we’ve gotten better at filmmaking since then. From the beginning, this story felt like it would be exciting, original, and fun for us to tell.
As someone who’s written fanfic, it’s interesting to see this close knit group of writers who get to meet up and discuss things and ideas in person (most of us don’t), will you show relationships online with other fic writers as well?
Yes! In the pilot, Emma discovers a bunch of fic on AO3 and in future episodes we will find ways for the online community to play into the story.
Will any of the writers face criticism for what they write?
We can’t really reveal too many plot details of the season moving forward at this point. But stay tuned!
What’s one thing you want to tell your already thousands of fans and even ones who haven’t heard of you yet?
We want you to know that we take your excitement seriously and we understand the importance of this material — we don’t want to let you down. That’s why we’ve been so thrilled at the number of people who have reached out to us: open communication and active participation of the community is an absolute priority on our end. We still don’t know exactly when and where we’ll be able to release the pilot and shoot more episodes, but we will let everyone know as soon as we can!
If you’ve not yet seen the trailer, check it out above and follow Truth Slash Fiction on Twitter to keep up to date with new information; we can’t wait to see what comes of this idea and we’re thankful it’s going to give viewers – both in fandoms and not – a different view of what fan and slash fiction mean to the authors, readers, and pop culture itself.