FanFic and Jewish Days of Awe: Exploring Your Favorite Jewish Characters

Now that Labor Day has subsided, Northern California looks ahead to the quieter days of the grape harvest season which coincides the Jewish High Holy Days or Yamim Noraim, translated as "Days of Awe." 

At the same time, with all the breathless hype and pulsating ads, networks and critics are gearing up for the Emmys and the autumn premiere onslaught.  But some fanfic writers are taking a different tact altogether. 

In honor of the Yamim Noraim,  a little livejournal site called "Days of Awesome" aims to celebrate the Jewish High Holidays by inviting fanfic writers to participate in a Jewish character ficathon and to pen stories about their favorite Jewish characters.

"There are so many fabulous Jewish characters who are so often written in both fanfic and canon as Jewish in name only," says the site’s owner, JadeLennox. "This seven-day challenge using the days of atonement between those two holy days will highlight those Jewish characters and their Judaism."

Participants can pick a prompt from the table provided, the Yom Kippur recitation of sins, and post seven days of fic or fanart or even vids.  "Just feature their Judaism in some way or another: religious, cultural, ethnic, family, or any way at all. You want to have Cristina Yang [Grey’s Anatomy] eating kreplach? Magneto remembering his childhood? Kitty Pryde negotiating with Colossus about raising the kids Jewish? Young Greg House at James Wilson’s Bar Mitzvah? Go for it," urges JadeLennox.

JL recommends checking the wikipedia page of fictitious Jews.

(Thanks to Kassrachel for the icon.)

I mean really - let’s be honest - a lot of television is painfully vacuous.  Piles of money are spent producing fluffy dreck.  (Case in point: TNT’s cliche-infested Heartland,  thankfully terminated just the other day.) 

I love the way fanfic writers tease meaning and depth from the clay of marginal shows.  Or the way fanfic writers explore facets of a series or a character that production time, money and/or censorship just doesn’t allow. 

Or…just the way a little site like "Days of Awesome" can give a superficial medium that touch of transcendental sheen.

Sometimes the fanfic is a heck of a lot better than the show.  But I’ve often wondered why the premium cable channels - which aren’t bound by the usual restraints - have never taken advantage of this enormous wellspring of creativity and energy. 

Showtime did, to a very limited extent, when they invited L-Word users to submit their own stories.  But the submission and writing process was a round-robin -  tightly controlled by the same guys who started the controversial FanLib, so the results were pretty much guaranteed to be leached of the adventure and originality typically found in fanfic.

Tapping fanfic would presume, of course, that Hollywood would relax its white knuckle grip on the hierarchical approach.  Current TV has embraced an interactive relationship with their viewers and the network is an indication of how much talent is waiting in the wings to be discovered.

Oh, in case you missed it the first time (because my FanLib post was ridiculously long and the discussion was featured at the end), here’s a link to the blog of Henry Jenkins, Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities.  Jenkins has long written about the phenomenon of fanfic, gaming etc.  

Jenkins’ blog has an interesting discussion of NBC’s Heroes ensemble writing process, and he’s even confessed to having penned a bit of fanfic himself

As for "Days of Awesome," the livejournal site gets my vote as the cool television/user-generated concept of the week.

  Old School moment:  Blair Sandburg (Garett Maggart, from UPN’s The Sentinel), a much-loved Jewish character explored in the fanfic universe.