M*A*S*H

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Name: M*A*S*H
Abbreviation(s): MASH, Mash
Creator:
Date(s): 1972-1983
Medium: Television
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: IMDB
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Contents

In its most familiar form, M*A*S*H is an American half-hour television series that ran from 1972 to 1983. Set during the Korean War of the 1950s, it follows the exploits of army personnel stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH).

Canon overview

M*A*S*H began life as a novel, MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors (1968), written under the name "Richard Hooker" by Dr. H. Richard Hornberger (a Korean War veteran) and writer W. C. Heinz.[1] The book focused on the adventures of two MASH doctors, Duke Forrest and Hawkeye Pierce. In 1970, the book was adapted into a movie, MASH (M*A*S*H, in publicity posters), in which thinly disguised commentary on the contemporary war in Vietnam was presented as a dark comedy in which the characters use humor and alcohol to deal with the horrors of war.

Although the movie was somewhat controversial, it was popular enough that in 1972, a television version debuted on primetime. (It was with the TV series that the punctuation with asterisks became the accepted spelling.) For the television version, the focus shifted to Hawkeye and another MASH doctor, Trapper John MacIntyre, with a supporting cast that was partly original.

M*A*S*H* was wildly successful, redefining the American half-hour comedy genre in a number of ways.[2][3] The show ran for 11 years; the Korean War only lasted three.

For a list of related fandoms, see List of Military Fandoms.

Cast

art from Odyssey, Hawkeye Pierce by Carol Walske

The show consisted almost entirely of ensemble comedy, although in its 11 years there were several casting changes. This is a list of some of the lead characters (not all), along with a few distinguishing characteristics.

M*A*S*H Fandom

back cover of Warped Space #37, Jackie Paciello

The MASH fandom is somewhat small, but because of the show's pervasive nature (it was on the air for so long, and is still played more than once a day on cable networks such as TVLand), references to MASH, its characters and its canon can be found sprinkled liberally throughout the fannish world.

The first MASH slash story was Three Day Pass, by Arduinna, a Hawkeye/Trapper story written for the zine Nothing to Hide in 1998 and posted to the net a year later. It was the only MASH slash until 2001, when the mash-slash mailing list was started up on Yahoogroups.

Best Care Anywhere and M*A*S*H The 4077th Home Page

From the mid 90s through the early 2000s, MASH fandom was largely organized around message boards located on the websites Best Care Anywhere and M*A*S*H The 4077th Home Page. The M*A*S*H The 4077th Home Page, commonly known as "Andy's", referred to its forum as the Bulletin Board and also featured The Officer's Club, a chat room that required users to manually refresh the page in order to see the latest updates. In 2001, a small group of fans from the Bulletin Board and Officer's Club arranged a meet-up in Toledo, Ohio. The Bulletin Board has since relocated to its own domain, and some users from the 90s and early 2000s are still active.

Fan Fiction

Fan fiction was not typically posted to message boards; rather, it was e-mailed to the site owner who would format and post the stories to his site's fan fiction section. Gen and het were the norm, with Hawkeye/Margaret being the most common pairing and Charles/Margaret also developing a loyal following. Rivalry between supporters of the two pairings was largely good-natured.

There was a small degree of controversy when the owner of Best Care Anywhere reportedly refused to post a m/m slash story by author Megan Faye. It was also around this time that smaller M*A*S*H fan fiction archives such as Colleen's began to appear. Some of the newer archives allowed slash as well as NC-17 stories.

Mash-slash mailing list

The mailing list has generated some stories every year since 2001, although activity has been erratic in the last few years. With no archive available, though, the stories are restricted to list members. However, in 2004 the list membership organised the Mash Slash Awards[4] which provides an overview of some of the best stories available then.

List membership tends to be young, mainly high-school and college-aged. Stories on the list tend to favor Hawkeye/BJ, but cover almost every imaginable slash pairing; it's also considered perfectly acceptable to post a story with no character names attached, inviting the readers to imagine their own favorite characters in the roles. Femslash is rare, and usually features Erin Hunnicutt, the daughter of BJ Hunnicutt (never seen in the show, during which she was a toddler), aged up to high-school or college age and generally paired with an OFC.

Stories on the list -- particularly those featuring Hawkeye in any way -- also tend toward somberness and angst; there's lots of deathfic (often suicide); sometimes the death itself is the focus, but stories also revolve around funerals. There's also a remarkable amount of cutting and similar coping strategies.

In recent years, the mailing list has developed a sister-LJ community, also called mash-slash.

M*A*S*H in Yuletide

Yuletide has become a steady source of MASH fanfic, mainly gen and slash; the most common slash pairing seems to be Hawkeye/Trapper John, although there are some stories featuring Hawkeye/B.J. and one featuring Hawkeye/Mulcahy.

M*A*S*H on fanfiction.net

MASH stories started appearing on fanfiction.net in 2000, most of them apparently gen or het.

M*A*S*H and other fandoms

MASH has also been crossed with other fandoms, from Buffy[5] to Quantum Leap[6], to Highlander[7] and The Manchurian Candidate[8] as well as being used as a setting for other fandom stories in which characters from other fandoms are cross-cast as various MASH characters.(need citations, examples, links)

The show's combination of humor and pathos makes for a rich playground for many genres of fanfiction, from angst to fluff to schmoop.

A Fan's Appreciation for Two Characters

I can't remember a time when I didn't watch MASH, and while I loved the whole series, my favorite seasons were the first three, with Trapper and Hawkeye at the heart of that. I love the joy they take in each other, the way they delight in delighting each other, whether with a joke or a shared smile or a drink after a hard day at the OR. They're hugely competent, and smart, and caring, and when they're together all of that is more than multiplied. I also love that they can disagree, and argue, and even fight, and still come out of it with an intact, strong relationship - they may back each other, but they're not each other's yes-men, and they're not blind to each other's flaws. [9]

Mailing lists and LiveJournal communities

Tumblr Blogs

MASH has a small but vocal fan community on Tumblr, which, like the rest of the current fandom, tends to skew quite young. Fans circulate animated gifsets of episodes and run role-playing askblogs.

Fanzines

Newsletters:

Gen:

Fan Websites

References

  1. Information from the Wikipedia article "MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors".
  2. John Thornton Caldwell, Televisuality: Style, Crisis, and Authority in American Television, (New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1995), 61-62.
  3. Michelle Hilmes, Only Connect: A Cultural History of Broadcasting in the United States, 2nd Ed., (Canada: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007), 237.
  4. Mash Slash Awards (for Excellence in Fanfiction), accessed November 3rd, 2008
  5. Twisting the Hellmouth, MASH accessed October 25, 2008.
  6. Q*U*A*N*T*U*M*L*E*A*P, by Kathryn Lively accessed October 15, 2008
  7. Walker Among The Dead by Jane Carnall accessed November 3rd, 2008
  8. Radar's First Time/Return A Man by Scribe accessed November 3rd, 2008
  9. from Dear Yuletide Writer, posted by Arduinna, November 12, 2009
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