I adore the way fan fiction writers engage with and critique source texts, but manipulating them and breaking their rules. Some of it is straight-up homage, but a lot of [fan fiction] is really aggressive towards the source text. One tends to think of it as written by total fanboys and fangirls as a kind of worshipful act, but a lot of times you’ll read these stories and it’ll be like ‘What if Star Trek had an openly gay character on the bridge?’ And of course the point is that they don’t, and they wouldn’t, because they don’t have the balls, or they are beholden to their advertisers, or whatever. There’s a powerful critique, almost punk-like anger, being expressed there—which I find fascinating and interesting and cool.
The ‘no obligation to be socially responsible’ argument is extremely boring and tired, and it’s usually utilized when people don’t actually want to engage with the content and substance of the discussion at all. They can avoid any responsibility as viewers and fans to consider the critique, simply by declaring the entire critique invalid and not of interest. It’s one of the tell-tale signs I look for in responses to criticisms, because of the embedded ideas presented in it.
And it’s notable, too, that many people who use this argument are the same people heralding work as socially progressive. You cannot have it both ways. People cannot claim that Glee is a show with positive messaging and important lessons about the world and then turn around and attempt to silence critics who disagree with the messages the show sends. Joss Whedon fans can’t claim his work is feminist and then smack down any feminists (or others) who interrogate his work from that perspective, who grapple with the subjects he discusses and talk about where his handling perhaps falls short of the stated ideas and goals.