Drastically Redefining Protocol

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Fanfiction
Title: Drastically Redefining Protocol
Author(s): Rageprufrock
Date(s): 2008/2009
Length: 45,731 words
Genre: slash fanfiction
Fandom: Merlin
External Links: DRP (author website)
DRP (AO3)
series of sequels to DRP (AO3)
DRP (Ebook Library)
DRP Podfic & Wedding (revolutionaryjo)
DRP Podfic & Wedding (Lunchee)
Fictional The Sun article from Drastically Redefining Protocol.

Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Drastically Redefining Protocol (short: DRP) is a Merlin/Arthur slash AU novel by Rageprufrock. It was posted as a WIP in serial format on Livejournal with the first part published in December 2008[1] and developed quite a following. Although it started as a text-only story, it turned into a multimedia fanfic event. Word count: 45,731.

Summary: "In which Prince Arthur meets Merlin and all hell promptly breaks lose."

In this AU Merlin is an intern at a hospital in London and Arthur is the Prince of Wales. A chance meeting leads to more, and it plays out exactly as one would expect in a fairy tale with paparazzi, outing and a happily ever after.

From the author's notes about the multimedia aspects of her story and the people involved:

This story absolutely would not have happened without the time and handholding provided by The Hoyden, who fell in love with Merlin with me and warned me not to watch certain episodes without adult supervision; Zoetrope, who made this staggeringly good trailer for the story but—more importantly—laughed at my jokes and Moonklutz, who endured my raving about this story, entertained my more insane flights of fancy, exacerbated the problem, and then helped me populate pretentious Vanity Fair article with images. And then there are the rock stars that helped to turn this story from a tragic, washed-up narrative into pictures with words in between them: Stellarmeadow, who imagined Arthur's iPhone, risked his one-of-a-kind watch, captured his Pudsey-related agony, and then splashed his royal face all over Drudge; Mei laid out the morning papers and then came into tighter focus with the Guardian, The Sun, and inevitably, the New York Times; Vickie jotted up Arthur's—okay, Allistair's—royal diary; Dramaphile showed us that we thought Arthur and Merlin's affair was delicious; Goat_Song gave life to our ALLCAPS with some Oh No They Didn't! action; Sissi seasoned the whole story with Microsoft Art jizz and Xcaliginous brought this to life on the most important media source in the world, Gawker. I hope you enjoyed reading this even a tenth as much as I enjoyed romping through St. Bart's, stealing lighters and expensive watches, sharing first kisses that make you sigh, and choosing, over everything else, to have your happily ever after.
Drp best au.jpg
Drp best epic.jpg

DRP quickly claimed the place that the earlier crackfic AU MERLIN held in the affection of the fans and became the story everyone recommended to those who joined the fandom after DRP was finished.

DRP won at the Merlin/Arthur Fanfic Awards 2008 in the categories Best Alternate Universe Fic and Best Work-in-Progress and it won the Spring 2010 Merlin Slash Awards in the "Fanfiction: Arthur/Merlin" categories Best Epic and Best AU.

Multimedia

Header of Zoetrope's Drastically Redefining Protocol Trailer (2009)

Zoetrope created a 1:13 min fic trailer for DRP[2][3] while the story was still in progress. The last part of DRP with all its multimedia elements was fittingly published as part of 14 Valentines on February 14, 2009.[4] The story contains as embedded elements fake headlines and speculations from The Sun, a short Daily Mail article with gossip about what Arthur might be up to after a disappearing act in a children's hospital and his rumored disappearance during a state visit to Denmark, and an ONTD entry with even more rumors. Later in the story there are excerpts from Arthur's Royal diary and after some incriminating pictures hit the news, another ONTD entry with thousands of comments.[5]

Other embedded media reactions include headlines and short articles like "Prince Arthur in Gay Scandal" (Drudge Report), "Prince Arthur Fucks Dudes", "Gawker Exclusive: His Majesty's Twinkmails!", a news item from AP London, and a screenshot of the delicious main page with the most popular bookmarks being the already mentioned news articles and fannish reactions like a "New LJ Comm: Queen Arthur" with already several hundred bookmarks, the probably first RPS for the pairing: "I Cannot Believe I Did This: Arthur/Merlin WHAT SHUT UP YOU" (labeled arthur/merlin, rps, slash, nc-17 smut), and a "Prince Arthur/Merlin comment thread: It's not RPS if it's REAL".

The story ends with articles about the wedding between Merlin and Arthur. The Sun describes it as "Arthur Bags His Prince Charming: A FAIRYtale COME TRUE!" while The New York Times gives some insight into the broader meaning of the event and writes "In the Cultural War About Gay Marriage, a Wedding Opens a New Front". The most impressive piece of the media puzzle is the epilogue to the novel, written as a brilliant six page VANITY FAIR article.

And They Lived Happily Ever After. Mostly.

There is more

Podfic cover, read by Lunchee (2011)
Podfic cover, read by revolutionaryjo (2010)

Pentapus made a chibi cartoon illustration[6] of Merlin and Arthur from DRP and zoetrope wrote a fanfic set in the DPR universe[7]. Xenakis later made two illustrations, one of Arthur and Merlin from DPR[8] and one of Everett and Astrid, two OCs from the sequel Five Secrets That Ought to Be Kept (And One for the Road)[9]. In 2010, revolutionaryjo created a podfic version of the story.[10] Lunchee repoded the story in 2011.[11] This version is more than an hour longer than the first podfic version and it includes sound effects.

Sequels to DRP written by Pru include:

  • Honeymoon (25 Feb 2009, word count: 1,749)."The original plan had been, in fact, to honeymoon in Spain." Honeymoon was translated into Russian by in between days.[12]
  • Throw-In (2 Mar 2009, word count: 2,280). "The throw-in begins play at the start of the game, after each goal, and after the ball goes out of bounds."
  • Keepsake (9 May 2009, word count: 4,303).
  • Services Rendered (9 Jul 2009, word count: 5,418). "Imagine the PR nightmare if good, hardworking French escorts found out."
  • Five Secrets That Ought to Be Kept (And One for the Road) (25 Aug 2009, word count: 4,906).

Pru also wrote a untitled WIP snippet on May 26, 2009 set in this universe. In 2011 she wrote DRP Wedding for The Merlin/Arthur Royal Wedding Comment Ficfest which was immediately podficced by both revolutionaryjo and Lunchee.[13]

Recs and Reviews

  • "In which Arthur is the Prince of Wales, Merlin is a hapless and very, very gay intern to accidentally locks them in a closet together, there is explosive sexual chemistry, ninja rape dogs, lots of text-messaging, another really amazing public coming-out, and, eventually, a royal wedding as portrayed through the tabloid coverage. This is Arthur/Merlin slash as chicklit romance. (This is also *the* Arthur/Merlin modern-day AU. Read it even if you read none of the rest of these.) "[14]
  • "I'm a huge fan of zoetrope's vids, especially her fic trailers. To me a fic trailer has two purposes: if you haven't read the story then it should make you want to go read it RIGHT THE HELL NOW, and if you have read it then it should recapture the feelings of glee/angst/terror you had while reading and make you want to read the story again:)"[15]
  • "this began very well, but then petered-out into a shocking dribble of nothing-much. i was disappointed, and annoyed. ETA: i checked out the follow-up stories in the series. it gets even better, but it also gets even worse. on the one hand, there are some lovely scenes and some funny jokes and some hot sex, but it's all built on how awkward everything is, like that's, you know, the height of drama. if discomfiture porn is your thing, then you should check this one out." [16]
  • "On re-read I still love this fic, surprised it doesn't have more ratings here. It's full of character, Merlin shines and the story is sweet, funny and dirty. The extra ficbits show us glimpses of their future; family and private play time. Effort went into mocking up newspaper articles, texts and photos all adding to the story. One the first fanfics I read. Remember loving it and the podfics for it, but it's been awhile so will re-read before reviewing ;)" [17]
  • "I was gonna write a whole review for this but I read it 846 years ago and I can't remember shit. It's really good though you may want to avoid the follow up stories. Didn't really ruin it for me, but there were some things that I could've lived without knowing." [18]
  • "I would probably say "brilliant" but that would be deflecting from how beautifully understated it was, occasionally tangled up in the mess of its lovable details. I love that the style and construction of the prose--not gonna lie, an editor would probably wrestle all those parenthetical remarks into something that doesn't require drawing up a graph of all the points being made in one run-on sentence--forced my eyes to stumble. I liked the words I found in the monstrously detailed sentences. Because usually when reading mmrom my eye just slides through the thing like half-asleep body through memorized motions. Like when you leave the house in the morning and you know you locked the door but can't remember doing it. I remember being awake for almost every sentence in this fic and being so delighted to discover fresh ways to write about the same old things. It was tender and heart-stoppingly, quietly romantic. While never going sappy for longer than it took the narrative to take a swing to punch everyone back into awkward normalcy or just in the general vicinity of the balls. Arthur and Uther's distant relationship made me choke up because it was an aporia like all the messy, imperfect parent-child relationships in real life. It's not the same old frustrating, dumb narrative where you get a parent who did Bad Parenting Things and the child who needs to Condemn them, Conquer the Issues that childhood gave them, and move on to be happy. Arthur and Uther's relationship was complicated. There was no big do about forgiveness and redemption. Uther was a bit of an ass, Arthur had a bit of issues, but between that was an implied, distant and almost not-there love that bound them like a duckling and porcupine duct-taped together. Instead of the kind of simplistic crap where a lifetime of hurts and resentments is magically fixed because your father suddenly realized, prompted by a dramatic display of your disappointment, that he'd been wronging you his whole life, apologizes and learns to communicate and put your emotional needs first. That doesn't work. Or works, for a few days, until something you do reminds them you're the useless, slow-learning child, the one that needs to be trained regularly how to do things right, starting with how to fold your clothes and ending with how to choose the goals of your life and what to expect from other people. You never seem to learn how to do things exactly as they should be done. Parents are just trying to help you be less shitty. And when you insist on doing things your own way, they're just angry because everyone (including you) would be better off if you did things their way. Parents usually don't change and the reason they do Bad Parenting Stuffs is usually not that they wanted to fuck you up. Probably just the opposite, in fact. Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with you, who's just an innocent bystander. They're not gonna become different people because at 26 you finally made them realize there was room for improvement. Anyway. I loved that there was no bow-wrapped conclusion or epiphany or dissolution for Arthur and Uther's complicated relationship. I loved that Arthur saw them both as two people who tried and usually failed to do the right thing. But they could learn to anticipate each other's mistakes and remember that they would always be learning, and they probably wouldn't change much, if at all. My favorite thing about the whole fic was the details, lots of details. And the characters. Brave hearts, occasionally amazing, sometimes bumbling fools, sometimes naive and peculiar, but blessedly not the romance playbook types who cause their own drama because they're 13 y/o girls in grown men's bodies. Side characters refreshingly useless, with no obvious, plot-progressing agenda (or with their own shit to do) or tv trope label cross-hatched onto their uniforms. Overall: pure delight" [19]
  • "I'm at 92% and gonna stop now. There's just no plot beyond two guys hooking up and one of them coming out (under rather weird circumstances that aren't explained/developed at all, like so many things in this fic)." [20]
  • "If I didn't find it very awkward, does it mean I'm very awkward? Well, I loved it. So your opinion is wrong, obviously \^_^/ But I only read the first part (up to the wedding) and I'm kinda fine with stopping there? I gotta admit that once or twice I freaked out a bit when no-condom sex happened in all kinds of fic. I'd be screaming inside if two guys who just met were like "ooops forgot the condom but I'm clean--me too" and take the plunge. Mostly because I'm paranoid and think some guys would lie about being clean to have unprotected sex. It's not even abt hiv, there's tons of nasty you can catch from a manho. But that's probably my own issues. But, I think some of the silly condom politics might be more about writers not thinking this is all that important and going the standard condom-happy route to not freak out paranoid people? Though in committed, faithful long-term relationship, I don't see the point unless you don't trust your partner." [21]

References

  1. Rageprufrock. WIP: Drastically Redefining Protocol (pt 1/?), 02 December 2008. (Accessed 31 January 2010)
  2. Zoetrope. DRP trailer, posted to Youtube 29 January 2009. (Accessed 02 February 2009)
  3. Zoetrope. New Vid - Drastically Redefining Protocol Trailer, posted to Livejournal 02 February 2009. (Accessed 02 February 2010)
  4. Rageprufrock. [14 Valentines] Drastically Redefining Protocol, 14 February 2009. (Accessed 02 February 2010)
  5. OMG CALLING ALL QUEERS - THE DAY WE NEVER DARED HOPE FOR HAS ARRIVED: PRINCE ARTHUR OF THE GLORIOUS PECTORALS AND IMPROBABLY DELIGHTFUL BACKSIDE GETS OUT OF THE GAY SIDE OF THE BED, FOLKS. As an LJ-cut: (To you, Merlin Emrys, we say: you win at being gay possibly forever.)
  6. Pentapus. Rec: Drastically Redefining Protocol, 15 February 2009. (Accessed 02 February 2010)
  7. New fic: Pale, 08 December 2009. (Accessed 30 March 2010)
  8. Xenakis. Redéfinir drastiquement le protocole (ben quoi? J'ai ben l'droit), 20 July 2009 (Accessed 30 March 2010)
  9. Xenakis. Ma chère Pru, c'est à ton tour..., 27 November 2009. (Accessed 30 March 2010)
  10. revolutionaryjo. Drastically Redefining Protocol, posted to the Audiofic Archive 20 January 2010. Format: mp3 (255.1 MB), m4b (128.3 MB), 4 hrs 26 minutes. (Accessed 1 August 2016)
  11. Lunchee. [merlin] drastically redefining protocol, 01 May 2011, 5:33:16 hours. (Accessed 01 May 2011)
  12. in between days. Медовый месяц, 31 October 2009. (Accessed 26 March 2011)
  13. lunchy_munchy in amplificathon. [merlin] drastically redefining protocol wedding by rageprufrock, 09 May 2011. (Accessed 22 May 2011)
  14. melannen. Longfic recs for Stellar_dust (and anybody else who wants them), 12 January 2011. (Accessed 12 January 2011)
  15. dodificus. Rec: Merlin, 03 February 2009. (Accessed 28 January 2011)
  16. comments by Julio at Goodreads, 2015
  17. comments by Meep at Goodreads, 2015
  18. comments by Rosa at Goodreads, 2015
  19. comments by Apeiron at Goodreads, 2015
  20. comments by Day-thief at Goodreads, 2015
  21. comments by Apeiron at Goodreads, 2015