On facebook I am a fan of Anne Rice. So I get her wall-updates and posts.
I mostly look, but sometimes comment.
Yesterday's post was about how upset Ms Rice was about people using the name of her most beloved character Lestat and among other things claiming to be him on facebook, used Lestat as a bandname, as a name for a café, in chatrooms and fan fiction. Ms Rice was displeased about people calling themselves Lestat online and doing something unpleasant and then said she felt deeply discouraged by it.
While I understand that Lestat is very dear to her, (and an author's character is almost like their baby, so who wants their baby's name defiled?) and she is upset that people are misusing his name to do or say bad things, I still can't fully agree.
I will give you my main argument why, last.
But my first is: the internet; in chatrooms and on facebook and social networks of the likes. There is no way you can control this. It is just a fact that people can call themselves whatever they want online and since much more serious crimes are being committed on the internet every day, the usage of character-names are not prioritized.
My main argument is: the usage of the character Lestat in fan fiction. As I am a writer myself of the odd fan fiction story and most of the people I use are celebrities or fictional characters from TV series/movies or novels I was a bit upset by this. For example, one of my favorite hobbies is reading and writing Harry Potter fan fiction. All the Harry Potter books are out, and there will not be any more in the near future (or ever), but that doesn't mean I still don't want to read about exciting adventures they go through, or romantically pair up two unlikely characters into a very convincing and creative story.
This statement that Ms Rice didn't want Lestat to be used in fan fiction shocked me, because had I used the internet when I was 15-16 I would have most definitely posted the stories I had written about Lestat (but because of lack of internet they remained unpublished to the public eye).
Lestat was the reason I started to write when I was a teenager. This character inspired me to develop my creativity and my writing skills. Plus it gave me great personal pleasure to write (about him) and discover that I was pretty good, and this probably had never happened had I not started reading fan fiction about Lestat and other fictional characters from famous books.
If I were in her shoes:
If I was a successful author, I would not discourage my fans (or any one else for that matter) to write about my favorite and most beloved character. Sure, maybe I wouldn't be happy about hearing that someone had either misinterpreted my characters or made them into ludicrous, malicious or hateful characters, but I would still be honored that they cared enough about my character to use it in a fan fic. And if THAT is what makes people develop their writing skills, and fuells their creativity (and at length encourages people to become interested in the literary world, then so be it.)
But that is just my opinion. I think I am right. Hahahah! No, but I understand that Rice wants to protect her character from over-use and keep Lestat's name "clean" so to speak, but once you have a character published out there, there is only so much you can do to keep people from using or misusing that character's name. And I agree with Ms Rice completely that it is such a shame that people should use Lestat's name and behave badly, whether on the internet or in real life, but again, people will be idiots, no matter what they call themselves. And there's not much we can do about people's idiocy, right?
Concerning café's and rockbands I fully agree with Ms Rice, they should ask her permission first as they make money from the name, and also fan fiction that is for sale (not a lot of that goes on, but in the odd case) they should ask for permission from Anne Rice or the publishers, legally.
Who is to say that every fan fiction is bad and "tarnishes" the name of the original character?
A counter-argument someone could have (and that I saw on facebook) is "lack of creativity" or "it's better to make your own characters" and write stories about them. Well, I'm sure for the people who are serious about writing they probably do this as well as writing fan fiction (I know I do). And I think using an already made up character for your story is not any less creative, or makes the story any less good, just because it's not published or original. I have read some pretty detailed and awesome fan fictions in my life and I think some of the fan fiction writers out there even excel some of the published ones.
Think about it, isn't it better to let someone use "your" character's name and let them take pleasure in reading fan fiction or writing fan fiction to help them start out their creative path, rather than to stifle their creativity by prohibiting them to use their most beloved character in a novel?
When it comes right down to it I think it's all about "mine and yours". I think Buddah was right about that we have to let go of the thought that everything belongs to us, because nothing really does in this world, not even your own thoughts. You may create a character, but does that make him yours? And how far are we willing to go to maintain that this character, that this figment of our imagination is used by others? And why can't we let them? Maybe we need to. Maybe to grow as people we must learn to share. As we did when we were toddlers. A toy may have been given to you and you may call it yours. But when it's out there in the world, and you are not using it, does it still belong to you? And why can't you let someone else play with your toy every once in a while and let them enjoy it on their terms?
Okay, this became considerably more philosophical than I intended it to be.
But my point is; there is no point. Only opinions.
I dedicate this post to Anne Rice, who, with her fantastic character Lestat de Lioncourt brought beauty, adventure, sensuality and reading in English into my world! I love her dearly, she helped shape me with her literary works and is one of my top female rolemodels.