One of the things that saddens me is the lack of discussion! Or, I mean, there is discussion, but it’s all about what’s basically a different universe that was created by the fandom, which doesn’t have a lot to do with Les Mis. More like
some sort of College co-op in an American queer utopia. I just feel like I’m raining on everyone’s else parade, but I just… don’t get the appeal of most of the headcanons I see around when they’re basically about OCs rather than Les Mis characters. Which doesn’t mean I don’t love how creative this fandom is, because I do! Especially all the incredibly talented artists we have who have given life to so many headcanons. They rock and I hope will continue rocking just as hard. And honestly, I understand that people are just having fun and there’s no need to be a party pooper, so I generally just ignore the nails-on-chalkboard feeling that some posts give me and carry on.
But then the odd post will cross my dash that says the oddest things about stuff that’s supposedly stated in the Brick, and swears up and down (usually fairly aggressively, for some reason?) that some things are canon and how dare anyone say otherwise. Things like Grantaire who argues with Enjolras and calls him Apollo, or Joly being disabled, or Javert being Roma, or the common reading of the “Be serious”/”I am wild” interaction which I’ve talked about once before. Some of them, I get where they come from and it’s often a problem with misinterpretation or mistranslation of the text, but others leave me just ??? are we talking about the same book here?? where are you getting this stuff from? Or, like, certain common characterisations I also see in fic, like naive!idealistic!Enjolras that needs to be schooled in the real ways of the world, usually by Grantaire (??? Out of everyone, Grantaire???). I just… how did this become fanon? It’s such a baffling interpretation of Enjolras’ character, and it’s outright contradicted by the original text.
It just feels like there’s so little thought behind so much of the fanon that floats around this fandom. I mean, I love AUs. I seriously, unquestionably love AUs. I’m all over AUs like white on rice. But there is a difference between AUs and origific that borrowed some characters’ names, and I’m pretty sure it’s a distinction that has gotten lost in this fandom. Of course people can write and headcanon whatever they like, but why keep calling it Les Mis when it ends up looking nothing like Les Mis? Just to cite the most obvious example, so much fic is set in the USA, without ever giving a reason why. I remember when I read my first Les Mis modern AU and halfway through it realised that it was not set in Paris or anywhere in France, but somewhere in the US; the change of setting wasn’t tagged, or even mentioned in the summary, so I waited and waited for some sort of explanation for this change but it just… never came. And that’s just par for the course, so much so that this change of setting from canon is never stated in the tags, or the summary, let alone in random Tumblr headcanon posts: it just becomes clear from the text that it’s not set in France.
But it is so odd! Think about how strange it would be if, say, 95% of the Avengers fic was set in Portugal, for no reason. Everyone is Portuguese by default, and the fandom just goes on like there’s nothing strange about it. That’s what Les Mis fandom looks like! And don’t get me wrong, I would find a Portuguese!Avengers AU absolutely fascinating to read, but I still wouldn’t want 95% of the fic to be Portuguese!Avengers. I try to be charitable and not read it
in bad-faith, but it’s hard to believe that this is anything but people not
bothering to extend the courtesy that so many non-American (or non-UK) fanfic
writers do by spending a little time researching the original setting of the
canon, just because it’s not already their countries. Like, so many amazing authors who don’t come from the US or the UK and whose first language isn’t English manage to do it and keep their fic in the original canon setting, it is far from an impossible task.
Yeeep, this has gotten long. And rambling. And I think I haven’t even touched on some of the things I meant to talk about, argh. If you want to ask me anything more specific about some of this stuff, please feel free to do so! My inbox’s always open. :D