Much as Jews constitute community through our interpretive storytelling about Torah, fans constitute community through our interpretive storytelling about pop-culture and literary source texts. Fanworks in all media can offer interpretive readings of source texts, though I’m focusing here on fan fiction because, like midrash, it’s a written form.
Fan stories, like midrash, fill in lacunae in our source texts: for example, Doctor Who stories that ask, what other adventures might the Eleventh Doctor have had with River Song when they were courting? Fan stories, like midrash, articulate motivations and emotions that aren’t explicit in the text: for example, LOST stories that explore what Ben Linus might have been thinking and feeling when he turned the underground donkey wheel to move the island.
Fan stories, like midrash, articulate motivations and emotions that aren’t explicit in the text…
Fan stories, like midrash, resolve contradictions in the text.
Fan stories, like midrash, give voice to characters who aren’t front and center in narratives as we’ve received them.
And fan stories, like midrash, make meta-points about their source texts and about our community’s readings of those texts: for example, though Hawaii 5-0’s televised narrative privileges its white male characters, fan stories that explicitly focus on Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua implicitly critique that focus both on the part of the show’s creators and on the part of its fandom."