thedeadparrot: (obvious place)
(posted by on Nov. 3rd, 2013 06:13 pm)
So one idea that's popped up into my head recently (and I'm willing to accept that it's an awful thesis that is WRONG and full of truck-sized holes), is that each OTP in fandom of a certain size tends to have its own Ur-Fic. This is a slight misnomer, as it doesn't have to be the original fic in that OTP or that fandom, but it is that general plot and attitude of a fic that all fic in that fandom tends to be based on. This even crosses over into AU stories, and I think, fundamentally, AU stories are about unearthing these Ur-Fics so that we can tell them to ourselves with the window dressing changed.

Examples of ones that I have thought of:

Mark/Eduardo (The Social Network) - Mark and Eduardo have to learn to love each other again!
John/Rodney (SGA) - John and Rodney have adventures (and occasionally wacky misadventures)! And are forced to admit their feelings in awkward circumstances!
Kurt/Blaine (Glee) - Kurt and Blaine are totes soulmates. Watch them figure this out together!
Charles/Erik (XMFC variety) - Erik is a brute, and Charles is the gentle soul that must soothe the savage beast!

I think there are several fandoms where I have thought the idea of a pairing as intriguing, but the Ur-Fic in that pairing was just really off-putting to me. And there are a few pairings where my own conception of the pairing ran counter to what the Ur-Fic said it was.

So, do these examples hold up to you? Do you have examples from other OTPs? Am I overgeneralizing to the point of offensiveness? Let me know!
thedeadparrot: (help! help!)
(posted by on Jul. 8th, 2012 10:05 am)
I'm kind of curious as to how Fifty Shades of Grey is changing the way people see fanfic. I've always been fascinated by the ways in which outsiders talk about 'us,' whether it's dismissive or fascinated or just plain wrong (and all of those things are quite common). If you're looking for some of the stuff that gets posted by outside sources, the [community profile] otw_news links roundups are usually pretty good, and this week's roundup is what triggered this post.

Pre-Fifty Shades in the more mainstream outlets, the sexual aspects of fanfic tended to get de-emphasized in favor of talking about shipping, AUs and whatever else, but now I think there's a struggle to understand that this stuff may have a huge crossover appeal, and that it's not just those women who can and will enjoy it.

I know M and [personal profile] ninhursag and I have have had some conversations about our frustration that Fifty Shades of Grey is the thing that crossed over so hugely, because it sounds like it is kind of shitty and offensive, more so than usual. Still, I want to see this conversation happen. I want to see people grapple with their assumptions about us and what we do.

There's still a lot of getting-it-wrong all over the place, but, as gross as it sounds, there's now a financial stake in getting-it-right, and it's changing the tone of the conversation. I don't know where it's going, but I'm still curious about it, all the same.

Anyone have any other interesting articles on this stuff? Thoughts? Opinions?
thedeadparrot: (bloody hell)
(posted by on Jun. 19th, 2012 08:02 pm)

There's this new movie called Magic Mike that's coming out soon. It's about hot guys stripping. There's about as much nudity involved as you might expect. Here's the red band trailer (most likely NSFW).


There are a lot of half-naked men dancing in sexually suggestive ways for female pleasure in that trailer. The camera definitely treats the dudes as objects to be stared at and appreciates how sculpted their pecs are and how oiled their skin is and how low their pants hang on their hips.

What is also interesting to me is how despite the fact that they are objects, they are still positioned as the subjects of the film. They're the people we follow through the trailer. They're the ones who get to talk to one another in a display of 'insiderness' while the women act as vehicles of exposition. Hell, even the synopsis of the movie emphasizes their agency: "Mike, an experienced stripper, takes a younger performer called The Kid under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money." Even with the large number of women on screen in this movie, I honestly doubt it will pass the Bechdel Test. Which isn't really a good analysis of how feminist/women-friendly a movie is, but it is really telling about whose stories are considered 'important' and relevant within the framework of the story. Especially in a movie where the camera is ostensibly following a female gaze.


Dude slash has come under fire for fetishizing and appropriating gay male sexuality, and while we all have our own ways of dealing with and handling that accusation, it's not an entirely unfair criticism. We do fetishize the hell out of our male characters and their bodies. One thing that I've always found entertaining is how overblown physical descriptions are in dude slash, where even people like Rodney McKay (sorry David Hewlett!) become this sort of pinacle of male beauty. We love their eyes, their hands, their noses, their legs, their hair, and we like to talk about these things in great detail. The popularity of Tumblr is partially due to the never-ending continuation of old school picspams, a chance to dissect and analyze and stare at these men (our men?) some more.

One interesting thing about particular fusions (particularly in the reel_* genre) is that all we're really doing is swapping out bodies into the stories. Sure, some of the details change. The rich sugar daddy runs a financial/internet startup/pharmaceutical company. The students go to MIT/Harvard/Columbia. The snarky brainiac teaches English/Art History/Computer Science/Physics/Engineering. But what we really want out of these fusions are the swapped bodies. Their blonde hair, their goatee, their brown eyes, their freckles, their narrow hips. Robert Downey Jr's face and James McAvoy's lips and Tom Hardy's biceps.


At the same time, when we write stories about them, they are the subjects of our stories. We give them agency. We give them internal lives and feelings and overly angsty backstories. (How many foster homes did he go through? How many friends has he lost to war/zombies/vampires?) We give them motivations and families and pets and kids and embarrassing exes. They are the subjects of our stories. We care about them as fictional (and maybe even less-than-fictional) people. We want them to be happy. We want them to be sad.

I don't know if this makes it okay. Or if it even wasn't okay to begin with.


Talking to [personal profile] merisunshine36 about this, we were trying to come up with a functional male equivalent of Emma Frost in XMFC. A side character meant to be looked at, meant to be stripped down and exposed for the camera and also a character with no history, no feelings, no important motivations, and very little impact on the story. We couldn't come up with anything off the top of our heads. I'm sure you can think of one. It took us two seconds to think of Emma. How long does it take you?


When talking about female objectification, privilege-denying dudes like to talk about feminists want all women in our media to be ugly, desexualized.

The usual counter-argument that I give is that we just need a wider range of female characters. We need them to be ugly, to be old, to be fat, to be short, to be stick thin, to be gawky. The way we think of women right now is so limited, so small.

But the women that get fetishized are women too, and we can't and shouldn't say that they don't have a place in our stories either.

Is there a way to balance these tensions out for female characters the way we do for male ones? Can we make them be beautiful lust objects and to be genuinely important subjects simultaneously? Or is the weight of all this historical oppression too much and it every instance of objectification just one more shitty thing to add to the pile?


I really wanted this to have a neat argument, a central thesis to tie all of this together, but I really don't. I don't know what any of it really adds up to, good or bad. All I can really say is that here's this one thing and here's this other thing, and I guess you'll have to come up with your own interpretation of it.

thedeadparrot: john watson palming his face (facepalm)
(posted by on Feb. 6th, 2012 07:19 am)
Fandom is something we do outside, out in the open, where anyone can see us. It hasn't always been this way, of course, but that's pretty irrelevant because we are now.

I found fandom through a friend of a friend, but not through 'zines. I was a lurker in those days, hunting through Geocities archives with shitty design and bad organization and always being too afraid to e-mail any authors my feedback. I remember the mailing lists, which also gave an illusion of privacy, an extra hoop to jump through, a way to prevent people from getting in when they didn't want to. I remember when you had to send an e-mail to certain archives to prove you were of legal age in order to read the porny fic. I remember the first move to LJ.

I think in some ways, fandom has always been feeling this tension between becoming more public or trying to be less public. The lines between creator and fan have been coming down especially fast now that we have things like tumblr and twitter giving us access to celebrities. And it doesn't help that tags get aggregated outside our own semi-walled journals and communities, making it even easier to stumble across each other in new and interesting ways.

People are able to find us. I don't think we'll ever be able to go backwards, to go less public, less open. Being mocked in public is a blip. (Yes, there has been a blowup in the TSN community over this, unsurprisingly.1) Having jokes about it on SPN is a blip. Jokes at our expense are a blip. Even Strikethrough, that wonderfully epic shitshow, came and went fairly quickly.

I guess this counts as fannish history now, as it happened five years ago now (omg!), but the reason why AO3 even exists is because fandom wanted to learn how to control its own image in public, wanted to stop hiding to some degree. This isn't to say that you can't or shouldn't if you're more comfortable that way. If the OTW were that dogmatic about their views, they wouldn't give people the option to lock their fic. But the AO3 is there to be seen, to be public. The OTW does have a public relations arm. They helped Lev Grossman with his article about fanfic. They do legal advocacy for vidders. Fandom is public. It's out in the open. It lets the lurkers see us. It lets the gawkers (pun intended) see us too. There are prices we pay for that openness, but I think it's worth paying.

At this point, I don't think there's any point in trying to force the genie back into the bottle when it comes to slash fic. And to be honest, I think if we start shutting things down, if we start forcing the lurkers to stop lurker fandom will become a much smaller, much more insular place. I don't want that for us. I don't want a return of the password-protected archives. I don't want all our fic disappeared until someone can prove that their intentions are good.

Fandom means too much to me. Even though my lurker days are long since past, I remember what it was like on the outside, looking in. I don't want to take that away from anyone else.

1 For the people who need the background: Gawker wrote an article about Mark/Eduardo and I won't link it because they don't deserve the page hits. TSN fandom is in total meltdown mode right now, not just because of the article, but because of some other stuff that is just so stupid, I won't even dignify it with a full explanation.
thedeadparrot: (staring at the sun)
(posted by on May. 25th, 2010 11:01 am)
One thing fandom likes is its geniuses (Tony Stark through Greg House through Patrick Jane), but I'm really struggling with the way fandom likes to portray these characters (myself included). There's this one particular Iron Man AU that's really well done and really smart, but I had a lot of problems with it, because it plays into this mythical idea of genius and the way it's constructed in Western society.

We have this image of the lone genius, sitting in a room by himself as he comes up with these amazing things, whether these things are weapons designs or medical diagnoses. (And yes, I am using gendered terms here, because the Myth of Genius is incredibly gendered and racialized.) He doesn't have to work for his intelligence, it's been given to him, like a gift from God. Possibly a vengeful one. Sure, he may have a support system, but that support system could never truly contain intellectual equals. He doesn't need them to balance him out professionally, just emotionally. His only professional weaknesses are personality flaws, not flaws of the intellect. He gets to be an asshole, because no one else can come close to what he's capable of doing. He can build anything, solve anything, do anything he damn well needs to, because he's Just That Smart.

Obviously, I'm generalizing to the extreme, and some of these things are less true for some of the pop culture geniuses than others, but I think all these pieces are common enough that was can recognize them in a lot of our media.

First off, one thing that really annoys me is the idea that there's only one type of intelligence, that there's only one way of thinking (scientific/mathematical) that really matters as 'intelligence,' as if there isn't a type of intelligence necessary for running a small business or understanding kids enough to teach them English or in figuring out how exactly to cook a fish so that someone is willing to pay $50 dollars to eat it. And then there's the assumption that knowledge of stuff == intelligence, which I also find kind of frustrating, because the type of skills needed to know and remember lots of stuff and the type of skills needed to come up with mathematical proofs are completely different. This is not to say that people can't have scientific/mathematical skills and lots and lots obscure knowledge simultaneously, but they are different enough that I think claiming that they're the same type of intelligence to be kind of ridiculous. Intelligence is a lot more complicated than the on/off switch our culture tries to sell us, and a lot of the myth of genius is about trying to tell us that there is only one way of being intelligent. And the geniuses have it while all the plebes don't.

Another problem I have with the myth is the way it isolates the genius, where the genius goes into a room and when he comes out, he's been magically gifted with the solution out of thin air. All science builds on other science. Breakthroughs are built on previous discoveries, on entire bodies of previous work. It's the same problem fandom has with prowriters calling us hacks, because we explicitly acknowledge and engage our inspiration. Science is a conversation as much as art is. Science cannot be done without other people. It's rare to see only one name at the top of a scientific paper and it's pretty much required to have a 'Previous Work' section to address the ideas and concepts that has inspired or provided a foundation for your work. Science doesn't happen in a vacuum. Edison doesn't discover the light bulb without the twenty-two other guys with crappier ideas for incandescent lamps that came before him and Watson and Crick don't discover the shape of DNA without Rosalind Franklin and Raymond Gosling's X-ray diffraction image of DNA, and I'm only using these big names here because history has erased or hidden all the other scientists and inventors who directly or indirectly contributed to these things.

I also refuse to believe that intelligence is simply something a person is born with, rather than something that you have to work towards achieving. One thing I've discovered over the course of my college career is that the problem-solving parts of my brain are like a muscle; they weaken with lack of use. I've run into problems that would have seemed trivial a few months ago and found them extremely difficult because my brain hasn't approached that type of problem in a while. I've discovered that certain problems become easier if you've spent a lot of time thinking about similar ones already.

There's this one person I know. She's a lot smarter than me, and it became increasingly obvious the more time I spent around her, because she totally kicked my ass at math. Once, she told me that she doesn't think she's smarter than most people, but she just ends up thinking about these problems she has to solve all the time; while she's walking around, while she's eating, while she's falling asleep. After she told me this, I keep thinking about the people who have the luxury to do that. Who has the luxury of spending every waking moment thinking about math problems? Who has the privilege to be a genius? How many more geniuses could we have had if so many people weren't simply trying to survive?

How much easier is it then, to be a genius when you don't have to worry about paying your way through college? Or don't have to worry about making sure your parents are fed and your mortgage will be paid on time? Or don't have to worry about whether or not your ex-boyfriend is going to try to kill you next week, next month, next year? What does House have that Cameron doesn't? Why can't Rhodey be as smart and as innovative as Tony? What makes these people special?

I can only rationalize their specialness enough so that I can enjoy them as characters by acknowledging the privilege that comes with being a white, male, middle-to-upper class, cis, straight dude in a Western country. By acknowledging that they have access to decades and centuries of previous bodies of work. By understanding that their privilege is why they can behave like complete jackasses and not just their abilities. I have to rationalize things this way or else I'd feel complicit in believing that white, male, middle-to-upper class, cis, straight dudes in Western countries simply are smarter and more competent than everyone around them, and I am really not okay with doing that ever.

The damage that comes from the Myth of Genius are not theoretical to me. I'm involved in the Women in Computer Science (WiCS) group at my University. I know so many incredibly intelligent, incredibly capable women who feel like they're dumb and stupid and don't have 'it' -- whatever 'it' is when it comes to CS -- because of the guys who are better at faking it, because of the guys who don't have to deal with paying for college, because of the guys who don't have to deal with the social pressures involved with the many, many contradictory messages about what it takes to be properly female in our society. I've felt it too, this weird, creeping feeling of inferiority because I don't think I have that touch of genius in me, because some of the guys make it all seem so easy even when I know it's really not.

This is not theoretical to me, and when I see the myth play out in fiction in a way that reinforces the way I see it play out in real life, it hurts me. It hurts me and it makes me angry.

So I guess what I'm trying to say that this whole Myth of Genius thing is a really shitty way of conceptualizing intelligence, and I'd really like for the concept of it to DIAF now.
thedeadparrot: (blind)
(posted by on May. 4th, 2010 10:13 am)
I'm KIND OF SORRY I'M GOING TO DO THIS, but I'm about to rec an awesome book that is currently out of print (in the US, at least). But not for long! Amazon tells me there will be a reprint coming out in October, and, um, I'm tempted to buy copies for anyone who wants one, because it is THAT AWESOME.

So, the book is Stories Of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang, and it's a sci-fi anthology of short stories. I basically scoured everywhere for a decently priced copy, and I ended up getting it shipped from England. Yeah, you heard me.

Anyway, Chiang writes science fiction about Science and Math, capital letters included, but he never loses sight of the human beings at the center of it all, and even when he's rambling about mathematical proofs, he still makes you care about people first and foremost. They're not the most distinct characters ever, but they still live and breathe and ache, and they still feel like people you'd know, people you'd meet. He even writes smart female scientists without a trace of smugness or condescension, which is what frequently aggravates me when cis male writers try to write competent female characters.

I'm a little disappointed in the ways he doesn't really touch on identity issues, especially racial identity issues. Nearly all his characters read as white with the exception of those that take place in a particular non-white historical context.

But on the other hand, I dig the way he investigates religion and philosophical systems and his worldbuilding is epically awesome. Some of my favorites out of this collection are "Seventy-two Letters," "Tower of Babylon," and "Story of Your Life."

Seriously, go find a copy somewhere and read it.


I should start busting my ass off on remix. I have a story and an idea, now I just need to sit down and write it. Unfortunately, final projects and such are kicking my ass. Alas.


Speaking of remixing things, there's yet another pro-author telling us we're disgusting thieves. It's all boring and routine and blah, blah, blah. I don't really feel the need to refute her points, because plenty of people have done that before and better. No need to ride that train again.

However, I would like to humbly request that people stop defending fanfic by saying that it's a good training ground for becoming an original writer. This argument just reinforces that really annoying hierarchy, where fanfic isn't writing. Only original fic is, and the only reason to write fanfic is a pitstop on your way to doing things that are actually legitimate. Or whatever. This argument basically makes their argument so much easier, because this argument allows them to make the basic assumption that fanfic is inherently inferior to original fic. Yeah, I'm not okay with that. On any level, really.

Look, I love writing fanfic because it's fanfic, not in spite of it. I love fanfic because it's a way for me to talk back to, to explore, to argue against the media I love and maybe sometimes hate and occasionally have "It's complicated" relationships with. I love fanfic because it's always in conversation with other fanfic, because it's a reclamation of stories that are written for other people, other audiences other than us. I have no desire to channel whatever writing skills fanfic has given me into a pro career, and if you do, that's great! Good for you!

But please don't shit all over what we do in your attempts to defend it.

We should be arguing that fanfic is worthwhile in and of itself, not just what it enables us to do later. We should be arguing that fanfic is creative work, maybe not creative work defined by what is commercially important and commercially viable, but creative all the same. We should be arguing that fanfic is legally transformative, that fanfic is parody is criticism is reader response, and it is important. Because it is.

And not just because it sometimes gets us somewhere that's considered more respectable.

P.S. I would like to propose the following (somewhat flawed) analogy for future fanfic debates: Publishing your stories anywhere public ever is sort of like owning a farm and selling someone a cucumber. Yeah, you can hand it over to them with the intention that they eat it with some delicious salad, but it's kind of stupid for you to tell them after the fact that they can't place said cucumber in whatever bodily orifices they damn well please.
thedeadparrot: (crouching tiger)
(posted by on Apr. 11th, 2010 09:43 am)
So there's a few new conversations about Mary Sues that have come up lately:

on mary sue policing and why i cannot abide it by [personal profile] niqaeli
Such stuff as dreams are made on by [personal profile] staranise

I just wanted to make a point that hasn't really come up yet about how deeply problematic Mary Sues often are.

First off, I do have to say that a lot of gut-level hatred for Mary Sues tends to be overblown, and I will say that I did tend to experience such hatred when I was younger and more judgmental. I really don't believe that we should police anyone's desire to write Mary Sues, and I don't agree that we should shame people who write them.

But seriously, I am getting sick of hearing about how awesome and feminist Mary Sues are, because 90% of the ones I have read are predicated on the idea that the canon female characters are not good enough for the hero, and, of course, Mary Sue is there to give the hero someone he could ~*really love*~. One of my first fannish experiences with Mary Sues was in the Legend of Zelda fandom, where Link fell in love with a new girlfriend who was awesome because she could shoot arrows on horseback and because she was so much better than Zelda, that lame, prissy, jealous harpy. This was even in Ocarina of Time canon, where SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER happened, and I remember the gut-level anger I felt at the way the author dismissed Zelda that way. Because I like Zelda, and I really hated seeing her treated as if she were less than nothing, insignificant, in comparison to this new character who I had never met before, who I didn't even know.

Recently, I read a Jed/Abbey story where the two of them sort of got Stued/Sued, and everyone wanted to fuck one or the other of them, and all the other female character were so mean and also jealous of Abbey (except CJ, I think). Look, I love Abbey like crazy, which is why I was reading the story in the first place, but all the women except her were treated as if they were flawed for not being her, for not being beautiful and sexy and loved by everyone and having the perfect husband and having wonderful children. If this is our idea of empowerment, tearing down other women for not fitting into some perceived feminine ideal, I don't want into it.

And if you don't think that this fantasy is not harmful in any way, imagine being a WOC who identifies heavily with Uhura and then running into Spock/Mary Sue with long descriptions of how much more beautiful and amazing and better for Spock the white Mary Sue is than Uhura. Imagine that you're a WOC and once again, you're reading fic that reminds you that the ideal woman is not you and will never be you. Fantasies are not inherently unproblematic, not inherently unharmful. There's a reason why feminists are always calling out porn that's made for men, and a reason we're always calling out story lines/images/characters in our canons that are meant to titillate men. Yeah, fanfic does not have that same cultural power that our canons do, but to think that white women in fandom cannot harm WOC in fandom through their fantasies is something we've gone over before. And race is just one axis along which this true. There are many, many more.

I am not exempt from having my own Mary Sues in my head, and I'm sure a lot of us do, but you know what? I've had a few different ones since forever and at least half of them were white (while I am not). Some of them were even male. None of them were disabled, fat, transgendered, or lower class. Mary Sues will always be a power fantasy, and they're also a power fantasy that uses the kyriarchy's standards of power and importance. It's one thing to let these fantasies live in our heads. It's another to actually have them contributed to the fannish conversation.

I found this quote off of TigerBeatdown, and I think it hits on something important:
We seem to be special women here, we have liked to think of ourselves as special, and we have known that men would tolerate, even romanticize us as special, as long as our words and actions didn’t threaten their privilege of tolerating or rejecting us and our work according to their ideas of what a special woman ought to be. An important insight of the radical women’s movement has been how divisive and how ultimately destructive is this myth of the special woman, who is also the token woman.

- Adrienne Rich, “When We Dead Awaken”

Mary Sue the ultimate special woman, the ultimate token woman, and the ultimate celebration of her existence as a cultural construct. I can't embrace her, and I don't know why I would even want to. Yeah, it is true that the amount of vitriol directed at Mary Sue tends to be greatly disproportionate to the dangers of her existence. But don't tell me she is not problematic in other ways besides offending our sense of taste.
thedeadparrot: (obvious place)
(posted by on Jan. 5th, 2010 09:38 pm)
So this article, In Defense of Fan-fiction (courtesy of the [community profile] metafandom feed), which is kind of hilarious coming in on the heels of the whole OTW thing and the discussions about fan works and how fandom is becoming more public.

So I think I need to check my biases here, because my first reaction is to say, "who the fuck are you to represent fandom? You post on" Which of course is silly to say, because is part of fandom, and it has its own fannish communities, and to say that her fannish experience is invalid is totally a douchey thing to do. So I won't do that.

What I will say is this:

  1. There are a lot of reasons to write fanfic.

  2. No reason for writing fanfic is more valid than the others.

  3. This paragraph:

    Some people think that fan-fiction is purely voyeristic (spelling?!) – in that people like to imagine their favourite fictional couples together, and that’s the end of that one… and on some levels, yes; I agree. A lot of if is voyeristic. But, to counter that, a lot of it isn’t. True, “romance” is probably the most popular genre on, for example, but I have to say that probably has a lot to do with the people writing and reading it. Sadly, I fall firmly into this category – teenage girls who can’t really help themselves but let their daydreams carry them away.

    makes me flinch, because I believe that we should not be ashamed of writing fanfic. Yeah, I write romance. Yeah, I even write porn. Yeah, I did this as a teenage girl. And yeah, I sometimes daydream about characters. None of this should mean that my writing -- our writing -- is automatically worth less than that of some fanboy who daydreams about being Paul Atreides and about things blowing up and writes a script about his daydreams and then gets it turned into a movie. I am looking at you, James Cameron.

  4. Fuck the need for outside validation. If other people want to pretend that we are all stupid and giggly and can't write for shit, then it is not my job to educate them or convince them they are wrong. (And, of course, they are.)

  5. I haaaaaate the "Why don't you write original stuff?" question, because my answer is, "I don't want to." I love taking things that already exist and turning them inside out and playing with them to see what they do. I love mashups. I love remixes. I love fan films. And I love fan fiction as a means of reclaiming stories and turning them into stories that are written for us. I have better things to do with my time than to write stories I don't really care about, kthnx.

  6. Kirk/Spock is hot, and I think Kirk totally loves to bottom.

  7. I think I could give a list of fics that I think define fandom to me, what it is, what it can do, how it operates, how it can be transcendent. But I don't trust my motives in doing so, so I won't.

  8. I love fandom, you guys. I love what we do. <3

    No shame.

thedeadparrot: (meta)
(posted by on Jan. 7th, 2009 02:22 pm)
So, a few conversations about Merlin (and its race and gender issues) on my flist have made me think about what we ask of our source material, about how we deal with the problematic aspects of what we love.

Like, I know that there's a fuckton that's problematic with Merlin, I really do. But I still love it and its stupid storylines and its characters and the destiny-filled pontifications of the goddamn slash dragon. Even with all of that, though, there's a lot I have to overlook, and there's a lot I have to pretend won't happen, and there's a lot I have to remind myself will happen, in order for me to fully enjoy it.

I prefer to live in a land where Morgana doesn't go evil and crazy, for example, and instead, becomes a powerful sorceress who has her own kingdom that she runs by herself and teases Arthur when, for plot related reasons, he has to beg her for help. Gwen, of course, goes questing with Arthur and kills lots of mystical beasts and helps Arthur run Camelot and makes out with Morgana for fun. And Merlin. And Arthur, even. (Because I'm totally an OT4 girl at heart.) I know that's not how it's going to happen, but fandom's the place where I can make that happen, right? Fandom's how I can remake the source in my own image, right?

It is a lot of work to do that, but to me, the work that goes into making Merlin palatable to me is worth it. I know that it won't be for everyone one. And the thing is, I have to compensate for these things with pretty much every television show and movie I watch, whether it's the evil seductress robots of BSG or the marginalization of Ronon and Teyla on SGA or the horrendous treatment of Rachel in The Dark Knight. I have do this all the time in order to enjoy anything at all.

Even then, there is definitely source material out there that I can't enjoy because, for me, the problems outweigh my enjoyment of it. Firefly has gotten to that place for me with its race issues, the more I think about it, because on a very visceral level, it erases me and my ethnicity even as it co-opts my parents' culture and language. And the show is so much fun, too. I love Joss's sense of humor and I love how the show messes with Western tropes, but at the same time, I watch it and I go, "Is it really that fucking hard to find East Asian actors good enough to give lines to?" Then I get angry and need to go somewhere else and possibly pull out my copy of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

So, my question to you guys is, how do you guys cope with this bullshit? Do you rewrite canon? Do you just try to ignore it and make it background noise? Are there any particular things that squick you enough that you can't enjoy the source material anymore? How much is too much for you?
thedeadparrot: (meta)
(posted by on Apr. 5th, 2008 11:09 am)
So, I enjoyed the BSG premiere, but it didn't hit me where I live the way it does when it's really good. I think I'm dissatisfied by the way they drifted off into mystical land right now. There's not that same feeling of, I know this. This is us. That's how I fell in love with show originally, and I think the more allegorical elements are being overshadowed by the OMG MYSTICAL MYSTERIES. Sure, I want to know the answers, but they mean less to me.

Okay, now some crossover meta. I could work on remix, but that would make too much sense.

So I love crossovers a lot, and I don't think I've really spent enough time thinking about why I love them, and I think this is as good a time to start as any.

First off, I think we need to acknowledge the fact that crossovers take two very different forms: the regular ol' crossovers and the fusions.

I think desire to read/write both comes from a very What If? sort of place (like most fanfic), but the types of What If? are different.

Regular crossovers are generally more about characters. What if character A met character B? Would they like each other? Hate each other? Become tentative allies? Characters meeting, characters interacting. That's the focal point of them, what makes them interesting. There's generally a sort of compare and contrast going on between the characters, their interaction shedding light on the characters themselves.

The crossovers I love best are the ones where the relationship between the characters are complex, where the compare and contrast elements aren't made explicit.

Fusions tend to be more about situations. What if we put character A in situation B? How would they react? The same or different as character B? There is an element of compare and contrast here too. The characters will behave differently because they're different characters and the ways they behave differently inform us of the similarities and differences between the two of them.

I think that's why I'm always dissatisfied with fusions that follow the original storyline too slavishly. Usually, it requires the author to bend the characters into odd shapes in order for them to get it to work.

There is another type of fusion that works by taking character A and dropping them into the world of character B, but doesn't take character B's exact situation. This is more about letting the situation cast light on character A, seeing how the situation forces the character to behave, whether it's the same or different.

So, enough of my rambling. What do you guys think?
thedeadparrot: (mentallyscarred!Wilson)
(posted by on Jul. 1st, 2007 11:03 am)
[ profile] leiascully has said it much better than me.

And it's still true that fandom is a giant karaoke bar.

On a vaguely related topic, I want to say that I hate the bad rap crackfic gets. Not to mention how many people mislabel their fics by calling it crack. But that's a separate rant.

Crack can be just as well-written, just as intelligent, just as thoughtful as anything else in fandom.

It can also be just as bad, just as stupid, and just plain WTF as anything else in fandom, too.

Either way, it's just as on topic as people's epic angstfests involving Wilson dying of cancer or falling off tall buildings or whatever.

Feel free to hate it! Feel free to wish it'd disappear off the face of the earth! Just don't tell me it doesn't belong in fandom. 'Cause it does.

Fuck this shit. I'm going to make some cookies.
thedeadparrot: (hiro)
(posted by on May. 23rd, 2007 08:51 pm)
Okay, so I love crossovers, and I've read a pretty fair share of them, and I've been trying to establish, in my mind, exactly what I think makes a good crossover good.

Okay, one of the key things, in mind, that separates out the bad from the good is the way the story stitches the two (or more) worlds together. Can you see the seams? Do they stick out like sore thumbs? Do you twitch because the characters take a while to introduce themselves?

Like, one thing that I find really annoying when reading crossovers are the long, boring explanations of one fandom to another. ("Hi! I'm Buffy, the Slayer. I kill demons and have super strength and heal faster.") It's generally unnecessary, because it slows down the action and draws attention to the fact that these fandoms don't mesh together naturally.

One of the really nice things about fusions is that you don't have that same problem with exposition. House doesn't need to learn what the Galactica is and Rodney doesn't need to have mutations explained to him. It removes that need for exposition.

Anyway, the point of these ramblings is to say, I think, that generally it's easiest to assume that your reader knows all the fandoms involved from the get go, so you don't get bogged down with the boring shit.


P.S. And no, I'm not thinking about these things because I'm writing a sequel to High School Is Not Another Name For Hell. Why do you ask?

P.P.S. This is not a GIP at all, either.
thedeadparrot: (meta)
(posted by on Mar. 29th, 2007 05:34 pm)
On the subject of crack, how do various people define it? Because I, personally, think that a lot of people in the House fandom have it kind of off. Somewhere, someone was comparing it to parody, and I was thinking, wait, no, they're nothing alike at all.

In my mind, parody is about exaggerating the show as it is or maybe common fanon of the show in order to make it funny.

Crack is all about taking some external, bizarre thing and inserting it into your universe so that the character reactions are funny. Like, turning everyone into girls! Or random dinosaurs! Or truth serums! Or more dinosaurs! Or robots! While the show/characters may be exaggerated to bring the funny, it's not to the same degree or with the same attitude.

I've seen parodies labeled crack, though, and just simple comedy labeled crack, and I think I've seen a few people asking what exactly the hell crack fic is supposed to mean. So yeah, maybe I'm just thinking about this all wrong. What do you guys think?
thedeadparrot: (meta)
(posted by on Jan. 29th, 2007 01:10 pm)
So Cory Doctorow put an entire book of short stories of his on the internet under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License, which is kind of cool and kind of interesting.

This licence explicitly states that you can modify the work and distribute the changes any way you want as long as you a) credit him for writing whatever he wrote, b) don't make any money off of it, and c) license your work under the same license. Those of you familiar with such things will recognize that this license is a whole lot like, but not identical to, the GNU GPL, which is used for licensing code and has been the cornerstone of the free software/open source movement.

What's interesting about this is that it completely legalizes fanfiction, which is something that tends to live in a legal gray area. I doubt that these particular stories have enough fangirl appeal to really form an actual fandom, and even then, they probably don't have the depth necessary to spark fanfiction (which isn't a slight, really. Most short stories don't).

But what if the work was something that did inspire fanfiction? I mean, in the Yuletide Archive there are 1009 different fandoms represented, some of which are things like Penny Arcade, a web comic. If more authors also start releasing books like this (which is up to debate, of course), it's entirely plausible that one year, a novel licensed under this particular license will spark some sort of fanfiction.

And that brings up the question of whether or not the written fanfiction is automatically licensed under the same license. Or would it just exist in the same legal gray area that it does at this moment? Would fanfiction authors want it that way? Ideas in fandom spread pretty far, which is how fanon happens, but would a change like this mean more fanfiction fanfiction? More blatant fanfiction fanfiction, at least?

I think that it wouldn't, in my mind, at least. Fandom does take to changes pretty easily, but this is more of an etiquette thing than a legal thing, so while it would be nice to be legally protected while writing fanfiction, I doubt it would significantly change the way fandom works.

Anyone else have thoughts?
thedeadparrot: (meta)
(posted by on Oct. 18th, 2005 06:24 pm)
I used to love [ profile] metafandom. I still like it, but then you realize that the same discussions about the transgressive-ness of slash, the ev0l that is RPF, and Why No One Reads Your Fic show up every few days/weeks/whatever.

Dear fandom,

Find something new to talk about.

thedeadparrot: (Let it be)
(posted by on Sep. 13th, 2005 12:39 pm)
Ok. I know I promised [ profile] lykaios that I'd do this ages and ages ago, and I know I sort of forgot about it. Sorry.

This is a pseudo director's commentary thing of one of my "older" fics (fandom time). It's Beatlesslash, which you should avoid if you have an RPS squick, but the whole thing is so cracktastic (and yet, not funny) that you might not care. Your choice.

Original: On LJ. On my website

Resurrection in Ten Parts - Teh Commentary )
thedeadparrot: (meta)
(posted by on Aug. 5th, 2005 08:44 pm)
I updated [ profile] parrotdroppings for the first time in like, forever.

I am far too easily distracted by video games. And comics. And lots of things.

My cousins from Taiwan are going to stay over for a month, which isn't really a bad thing, per se, it's just that it makes things around the house more complicated.

Also? I hate it when you can't seem to get your writing under control. Like, I can't get this thing to cohese very well. The individual parts, I like. I think they're good, but as a whole, it doesn't quite work. Anyone else get that?
thedeadparrot: (batman begins)
(posted by on Aug. 4th, 2005 08:39 pm)
Anyone out there willing to beta Batman Begins fic? Anyone?


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