Mythbusters RPF

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Name: Mythbusters
Abbreviation(s): MB
Creator: Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci
Date(s): 2003-
Medium: television series
Country of Origin: US
External Links: Wikipedia
Discovery Channel website
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Contents

Mythbusters is a popular science education show made by the US Discovery Channel, and a very small RPF fandom. Its hosts are special effects experts, artists and electrical engineers who test urban myths using their technical skills and expertise. These so-called 'myths' are drawn from history, submissions from the Discovery fansite, youtube, the news, and hearsay. The Mythbusters team have tested, among other things, whether or not pants can explode if treated with particular chemicals and then exposed to sunlight, whether the NASA moon landing may have been faked, why the Hindenburg burned as fast as it did, whether you can pancake a convertable in a head-on collision between two SUVs, and whether it's faster and conceivable to clean out a cement truck with dynamite[1].

The testing of these myths often involves them building outlandish machines or robots, use of a high-speed camera, or putting materials and objects under strains and stresses for which they were not built. They often end in explosions. Although many of their results are not scientifically viable because of small sample sizes etc., the Mythbusters do follow something resembling scientific process, and make obvious efforts to keep their experiments scientifically plausible while also entertaining television. The show's production has a certain DIY feel to it; its five hosts are largely unscripted, although seasons 6 and 7 have involved more set-pieces of talking to camera, and various people involved in its production, such as camera crew, researchers and sound engineers, frequently appear on-camera. This adds to the 'transparent' feel of the show's experimental processes and also its 'enthusiastic amateur' appeal, which is helped by the enthusiasm, energy, competence and personality quirks of its hosts.

The two main hosts are Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage. They hosted alone for the first season and part of the second; mid-way through the second season, Kari Byron, Tory Belleci, Scottie Chapman and Christine Chamberlain, workers at M5 (Jamie's special effects company), began to take a larger part in the show and appear on camera more frequently, and they soon began tackling myths independantly, forming the 'build team'. The latter two left the show in season 3, and were replaced by Grant Imahara. In season 7, when Kari took time off to have a baby, she was replaced by Jessi Combs.


Main Characters

Adam Savage is probably the most active and notable host of Mythbusters. He is heavily involved in the American geek community, appearing at many conventions and on the lecture circuit, and with a popular Twitter account. On the show he appears hyperactive, enthusiastic and excited about everything. He is obsessively interested in movies, sci-fi and various other aspects of nerd culture, and is a self-confessed 'props geek' and collector. He is much more comfortable than Jamie on-camera, and in fact was at one point an aspiring actor (he did a semester at theatre school, but has no other post-high-school qualifications); he cheerfully humiliates and endangers himself frequently on the show, from donating various personal bodily fluids, to getting his temperature taken rectally on camera, to drowning himself repeatedly in the 'sinking car' myth. His designs are typically beautiful and complex. He makes fun of both himself and Jamie, and does a notable Jamie impression that involves him hanging his fingers down over his mouth like a moustache. He is relentlessly over-sharing about his personal life. He is married to a woman, and has joint custody of twin eleven-year-old boys from a previous relationship. He wears a hearing aid as a result of a congenital inner ear condition, and suffers from severe motion sickness. He has bright red hair.[2] In fanfiction for the show, he is often paired with Jamie.

Jamie Hyneman is perhaps the most memorable host of Mythbusters; although he is much less effusive than Adam and is obviously less comfortable on camera, his personality is a big part of what makes the show work. He is totally bald, with an impressive walrus moustache, and always wears a beret and a white, long-sleeved shirt. He is often shown on the show (particularly in the Mythbusters Revealed special) as being methodical, slow, uncomfortable with people and very fixated on tidiness. His designs and engineering solutions are typically efficient and simple. He has a degree in Russian Linguistics and grew up on a farm in Indiana, from which he ran away when he was in his teens. He has also worked as a concrete inspector, pet store worker and divemaster in the Caribbean. He is also, according to Adam, 'unusually strong'. He was the one first approached to be a host of Mythbusters, but he did not think he would be interesting enough to host it on his own, and brought in Adam Savage, with whom he'd worked before. He designed and built the robot 'Blendo' (with Adam Savage on the electronics) for the US version of Robot Wars. It was dismissed from two subsequent competitions with an automatic win because it was too dangerous. He is married to a woman, but never speaks about his private life on the show. He is a crack shot.[3] In fanfiction for the show, he is often paired with Adam.

Kari Byron is currently the show's only female host. She has an art degree, and typically works on more design-oriented projects in the show. She took much of the seventh season off to have a baby. On the show, she appears sweet, smart, and something of a moderating influence on Tory. She has a kooky fashion sense, is a vegetarian, and is repelled by the dead animal parts which occasionally appear around the set.[4]

Tory Belleci (short for Salvatore) is a special effects designer and maker. Unlike Adam, he has a college education. On the show he appears, again like Adam, somewhat hyperactive, very physical, ready to humiliate himself on-camera, and prone to hurting himself. He dresses and talks like a thirteen-year-old skateboarder. He and Kari both worked with Jamie before Mythbusters began. He often does more of the technical 'heavy-lifting', welding etc., in the build team's engineering solutions. Among the most conventionally attractive of the show's male hosts, he was been a popular character in fics featuring slash pairings in the fandom's earlier years.[5]

Grant Imahara has a degree in electrical engineering, and met Jamie Hyneman when competing in various robot battle competitions. He often builds robots on the show, with memorable moments being the 'zombie catbot' and 'surfing Grantbot'. Kari has expressed a concern that he is building himself a robot army. On camera he appears somewhat shy, quiet and more cerebral than perhaps any of the other Mythbusters except Jamie. He, like Adam, is a prolific twitterer, although his account is more exclusively to do with the show.[6]

Scottie Chapman appeared in earlier seasons of Mythbusters. She had a lot of tattoos, and worked largely with metal and car engines. She seemed to get on well with Kari in particular. She was once a primary school teacher.

Christine Chamberlain also appeared only in earlier seasons. She had been an intern in Jamie's workshop, and typically helped out on whatever was being done. She often seemed somewhat worried.

Jessi Combs replaced Kari on the build team during her maternity leave. She previously worked on 'Xtreme 4x4', on Spike, as a metal fabricator.

The Fandom

Because of the nature of the show - being reality-based, not having a 'plot' as such, and the hosts (with the arguable exception of Grant and Kari) not being traditionally attractive - the fandom has been very small, although in 2009-10 it has had a small surge of interest. In 2004, a livejournal community dedicated to Mythbusters slash was started, arising from an earlier Yahoo mailing list. It had a mild level of activity, with only 234 entries since its creation [7]. Its user profile indicated interest in stories for the Jamie/Adam pairing, but in practice it hosted stories for a number of pairings both het and slash, including one extremely long story depicting a love triangle between Jamie, Grant and Tory, with an Adam/Kari side-plot [8], written by _nextboldmove_, who was a particularly prolific writer in the community. Mythbusters has also made an occasional appearance as a requested/written fandom yuletide, although these fics were typically gen.

In 2009, thingswithwings and eruthros became fannish about the show; they quickly recruited toft to their cause, and created the dreamwidth community Myth Confirmed [9] in October 2009. Since the community's inception, both Toft and thingswithwings have produced a number of Mythbusters RPF fanworks, gen, het and slash [10]. 2009 was a particularly good year for Mythbusters on Yuletide, with five Mythbusters stories written for the main festival collection [11].

The Myth Confirmed community has a moderate level of activity, with a number of authors new to Mythbusters posting fanfiction and art there. As of 27th Feb 2010, it has had 31 entries since its creation in October 2009.

Fanworks

Mythbusters does not have any particularly dominant pairing, although more recent activity has slanted towards making Adam/Jamie the most popular ship. Various permutations of the build team are also popular, as is gen fic. Most earlier pairing fic has tended towards realism, while gen fic was frequently more inclined to crack[12]. However, recent pairing fics have included a number of AUs, including an apocafic, an inanimate objects AU where Adam is jam and Jamie is toast, and a space station AU [13].

thingswithwings, toft and eruthros have also focused on the kinky aspects of the show - Adam is frequently tied up, hit, etc.. This resulted in thingswithwings' vid 'James Bondage', and Toft's fic 'Normal Working Relationship', both of which have had a certain amount of crossover appeal and drew attention to the fandom.[14].

Kerfuffles

In January 2009, thingswithwings stated that she would break up Adam/Jamie for Grant/Jamie; Toft then made a public statement breaking off their friendship. This resulted in the Grant Wars, which embroiled much of the fandom and lasted several minutes. [15]

Notes

  1. Mythbusters episode guide
  2. Adam Savage on wikipedia; Mythbusters factoids resource post by katwithallergies; Adam Savage on Twitter.
  3. Jamie Hyneman on wikipedia; Mythbusters factoids resource post by katwithallergies.
  4. Kari Byron on wikipedia.
  5. Tory Belleci on Wikipedia
  6. Grant Imahara on wikipedia; Grant on Twitter
  7. Mythbustersslash LJ profile Accessed: 27th February 2010.
  8. Trail Blazers Part 1
  9. Myth Confirmed community
  10. Toft's fanworks page; Thingswithwings' fanworks page
  11. Yuletide 2009 collection on Archive of Our Own Accessed: 27th February 2010
  12. Busting the Undead - a Mythbusters zombie fic
  13. Apocapromptfic by Gloss; Butter Side Up - crack AU by Toft; Robots Need Love Too - space station AU by Toft
  14. James Bondage, vid by thingswithwings; Normal Working Relationship by Toft; 'Things What Are Awesome' - Astolat recs Normal Working Relationship; 'Hurt/Comfort: Vid Style' - thefourthvine recs James Bondage.
  15. Thingswithwings makes the controversial statement; Toft responds; Livrelibre weighs in, arguably worsening the situation. Accessed: 27th Feb 2010
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