Fandom Opinion by mijan

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Title: Fandom Opinion by mijan
Creator: mijan
Date(s): January 13, 2007
Medium: online transcript, podcast
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: transcript online here; WebCite
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Fandom Opinion by mijan is an essay at Slashcast.

Topics Discussed


I doubt many fandomers will argue with me when I say that the slashers of the Harry Potter fandom have produced some of the best works of fanfiction on the internet today. Some of the novel-length stories I've read are nothing short of publication-quality epics, sometimes better in scope and quality than the canon novels themselves. We've had a great number of memorable short stories as well, by equally talented authors, but it's the novel-length epics that have become our folklore, our legends, our foundation, and our common language. It's the novel-length stories that keep drawing us back, that pull us together, and that define our ships. These are our cornerstones. But I've noticed something that often comes up missing in our beloved slashy epics. For those of you who know me, you know that I have a special love of fics that stem from canon as closely as possible. I don't think it traps the writer – I think it gives the writer the platform to keep the feel of the Potter books alive while taking it to the next level. To me, that's one of the things that makes a fic feel real. I want to start reading a fic and feel that I've walked right back into J.K. Rowling's universe, only I want it more vibrant, more intense, more colourful, and more homosexual.
There's a place for all types of fanfic. Please don't think that I'm knocking post-Hogwarts, or AU's, or comedies, or (one of my recent favourites) crackfic. The clichés, the fandom in-jokes, the post-war speculation… the morning that Severus woke up, rolled over, and found Gilderoy Lockhart naked and horny in his bed… I love it all. Some of my favourite fics have been post-Hogwarts. Some of the most memorable scenes of fanfic come from AU's. The diversity of our stories is part of what make our fandom so fantastic. There are the cornerstone fics and the new legends. There are the stories that define every aspect our ships, our boys, and our big little niche in the fandom. But where are the stories that just happen to be slash, yet strike a common chord that in itself could resonate with the whole fandom? Where are my canon slash fics?
This has been a focus of mine ever since I first found Harry Potter slash in 2002. With very few exceptions, it seems that almost every slash story's primary plot is built around the ship itself. If you were to remove or change the pairing, the story would cease to be. We see genfics that contain incidental het, but almost no genfics that contain incidental slash. It makes me wonder why the slash itself has to be such an overwhelming entity that we can't write homosexual relationships without a whole song and dance to explain it. Why can't Percy Weasley come out of the closet without devoting a major portion of the story to that alone? Of course, the exception is if there's another primary slash pairing that has the spotlight in that fic, and in this fanfic universe, everyone is gay. (Although we could devote a chapter or two to the political fallout when an older Percy is caught sending sexually explicit Owls to young male Ministry aides, but let's not digress.)
In almost every slash fic I've read, if there is slash, it has to be ALL about the slash. It could be a case of an elaborate AU built around a significantly altered character. Or a story that chronicles the trials, tribulations, and teenage angst associated with two boys falling for each other. Or perhaps an elaborate ruse to put two unlikely boys in the wrong place at the wrong time. These aren't bad types of stories. I adore many stories that fall into these categories. I've written one or two myself. But my fanfic love stems from canon. When I first started looking for fanfic, it was because I needed more canon, so I had to go for the next best thing. Slash took me into a whole different direction that drew me in and trapped me, but genfics had the best chance of recreating the original world with which I fell in love. I want to see more fics that combine the best of both.
Now, don't get me wrong: I LOVE PORN. I'm a slasher. It's almost a given, especially considering some of the insanely hot porn being produced by our beloved authors and artists. However, I've noticed a slow takeover of our pervy little sub-fandom by NC-17 fanfic. In recent times, I've seen less and less high quality PG-13 and soft-R. There are some great epics coming out right now, but not that many. Action/adventure, drama, mystery, suspense; stories that take our characters for a ride, outside the frame of the slash itself. Stories with a complex plot that entertains the reader in its own right, completely aside from the fact that our favourite wizards are snogging each other silly in the broom closet. Or, in the very least, stories in which the pairing is woven into such a rich plot that the slash only one shiny facet to a tale that is wonderful in other aspects as well.
I want to challenge people to write genfic slash. I want to read genfic slash. I want to see canon carried on in a way that makes me squee with slashy delight. I want to see slash fics that cause the het readers and genfic die-hards to blink twice and wish they were slashers. (Hey, I'm always game for converting the non-slashers.) I want to see the tradition of classics being carried on with new "classics" from new authors, and I want to see my world of slash merged with canon in new and exciting ways. There were two Big Bang challenges in the Harry/Draco ship, with the intent of sparking new canon-compliant novellas. They were good. Some of them were damn good. But none of them stuck with me in the way for which I've been hoping.
Maybe we're just too busy. Maybe we're just waiting for the 7 th book to happen. Or maybe we've shifted our focus as a ship, and not necessarily for the better. I miss the ambition the writers seemed to have when I joined the fandom. I miss my search for canon-continued. I miss the surge of delight in reading the first chapter of a fic and knowing that I'd stumbled upon a real hidden treasure. I miss the fiendish delight in thinking that J.K.Rowling is missing the best part of her own fantastic universe.