Real body, fake person: Recontextualizing celebrity bodies in fandom and film


  • Melanie Piper University of Queensland



Biopic, Celebrity, Real person fiction, The Social Network (2010)


Comparisons between real person fan fiction (RPF) and film or television texts dramatizing real people have been made in debates over the ethics of RPF as a fan practice. In an effort to direct the scholarly focus on RPF from these ethical issues to the texts themselves, I propose examining the similarities between the textual process of adapting real people to fictional characters on both the cinema screen and the computer screen. This paper examines the work RPF writers do in appropriating the various bodies of their celebrity subjects: the fragmented intertextual body of the star image, and the celebrity's physical body as a signifier of star image and status as a real person in the world. I argue that the fannish textual process of adapting real public figures to fictional contexts shares a common element with adapting public figures to the screen in the biopic: both work to recontextualize the public self of a celebrity through the representation of a fictionalized or speculated private self. To illustrate this, I will be engaging with a case study of The Social Network (2010) fandom through works in its kink meme, and how the adaptations of textual bodies are at work in fictionalized fan writing about real actors performing in the Hollywood fictionalized film about real tech entrepreneurs.

Author Biography

Melanie Piper, University of Queensland

PhD candidate in the School of Communication and Arts.