for me, the most important and neatest thing about fanfic is how it personalizes mass culture, which i think is very exciting and a very good answer to pompous cynics who say things about brainless television or movies dumbing down civilization. [for instance, i think the fannish interpretation of Harry Potter is much more meaningful, complex, and all-around interesting than a straight reading of the books would allow; and that even though Law & Order SVU is a formulaic, silly show, fanfic has added vast new dimensions to it that simply weren't there before.] ultimately, i think fanfic is a necessary part of any...umm...pop-cultural object, whether it's a television series, a movie, a popular book, etc; not only does it take the original universe, storyline, or whatever places its creators are unable to, but it allows people to interact with mass culture and brings vitality to it.
i get the idea that fanfic writers, and most fans in general [i'm assuming here, correct me if i'm wrong] would say that characters like Harry Potter or Olivia Benson are not solely a product of JK Rowling or NBC, since they are formed just as much by the perceptions of those who consume them as the motives of those who produce them. for instance -- i know a lot of people [myself included] are irritated by Olivia's recent appearances in clothing that's seen as too femme, because that's "not Olivia" -- obviously, if NBC owned her character entirely, it would be Olivia by definition, because NBC says so; but fans don't see her as the sort of woman who wears pink, so it's a betrayal of her character to make her wear a pink blazer.
so, my question/topic is, what do people specifically find unethical about real people fiction? i've never really believed that celebrities are real people as such; there is a real man called Justin Timberlake, but it's entirely different from the character "Justin Timberlake" on the radio and in magazines. so don't Justin Timberlake's fans own this character just as much as i own Olivia?
full disclosure; the only time i've ever written fanfic was when i was ten or eleven, about a certain popular-in-the-late-nineties boyband [no, not Nsync]; it was all truly horrible, mary-sue type stuff that i slapped up on the Angelfire fanpage i ran with a friend. i'm vaguely aware that RPF has a reputation for being awful, but i don't know that that's necessarily an inherent quality.
ok, that's all. apologies if this is rambly or pompous, i can get that way sometimes. and also apologies if i've assumed things about fanculture that are wrong; like i said, i'm not really active in it, i'm really just an observer. i'd like to hear others' opinions about characterization and such, definitely.