My thoughts are all screwey and I don't guarantee that they make a lot of sense, but here we go.
I don't believe in BNFs. I know that, to some of you who are more actively involved in fandom [and especially in the HP and Buffy fandoms, it seems] that this just doesn't make sense. At all. I mean, who in the HP fandom hasn't heard of Cassie Claire, right? Well... me, until semi recently, I don't think. And I only heard about her because of some wank involving a stolen computer, and I could not for the life of me tell you what her lj handle or where you could find any of her fic. Hell, I barely know what any of her fic would even contain.
See, here's the thing. No one is known by everyone. And even if they're known by a lot of people -- they aren't liked by all of them, and they aren't necessarily popular.
I'm not explaining this well. Okay, we have fandom as a whole, right? I'm going to work with the Harry Potter fandom here, because it's the fandom I'm most active in, and also the largest fandom I currently participate in. So. Fandom in all it's glory. Then we have this sub-section of fandom that exists on livejournal. There are other subsections -- like mailing lists and archives and whatever else. Livejournal can also be broken down -- lets say into communities, personal journals, and fan-related journals. Communties are the most specific of those three, generally dealing with a very specific topic or pairing. Fan-related journals are less specific, as they could deal with anything that particular person enjoys so long as it relates to fandom in one way or another. Personal journals are the least specific because the fandom posts will be mixed in with things that have nothing to do with fandom at all. And then, of course, we have the wonderful daily communities who bring us the "best of the best" and make it easy to find the majority of fandom going-ons for one day.
And whether it be through art, or fic, or just really good rants, some people get popular, and some people don't. And these people, who are usually a part of invite-only comms, have separate fandom and personal journals, etc... they have huge friends-of lists. Their fic or art is largely read/looked at, and they generate a large number of comments on nearly every entry they make, even if it's in their personal journals. And then people start to call them BNFs.
I have a few of these so-called BNFs on my friends-list. I don't buy it. What makes a BNF? The size of your friends-of list? The amount of fic you can produce? I have someone on my friends list who produces a great number of fics, but only about half of them are worth anything. So what's the point? Producing just to keep attention?
That's probably my main reason for not believing in BNFs -- as soon as they stop producing, it's over. They are no longer known or followed and people forget about them. I probably shouldn't name specific names in this, but... take Ivy Blossom. I'd say that she was one of these so-called BNFs at one point; but no one talks about her anymore. A lot of people probably don't even know who she is. Why? Because she isn't producing. So people forget.
And I'm not saying that it's a bad thing or anything like that. But I think that, in the very act of naming someone a BNF, you start their downfall. Suddenly they have this title that they have to live up to, they have a ridiculous number of fans, and in an effort to produce more and more to keep generating fans, quality falls. And then people know them, but they aren't worth much -- and to me, someone has to be good at what they do to be considered a BNF.
Being good at what they do doesn't mean pleasing everybody, either. It doesn't even mean pleasing me, despite how this may read. It means being a good writer, or a good artist -- it means producing something of quality, even if the idea or subject or theme may not appeal to everyone. It means using proper grammar and having plots that make sense and not raping canon for no good reason.
And going beyond that -- BNFs are a silly idea because of the subcategories in fandom. A BNF according to who? Livejournal? One set of shippers? I don't read Ron/Hermione, even though I like the ship. I could not even begin to tell you where to find good R/Hr fic, because I've never read it. I'm sure it exists, somewhere, but I don't know about it. And to some R/Hr shipper, it's probably a shock that I don't know their favorite fic author. And that author might be considered a BNF. But I don't know of them.
Just like I wouldn't expect non-H/D shippers to know of Cassie Claire, or R/S shippers to know of... I don't know, anniesj, or someone.
This doesn't make a lot of sense, I'm sure. And maybe not believing in BNFs isn't quite as accurate as saying that I think the whole concept is stupid and overrated.