Hey Spock, Lookin' Good ...

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News Media Commentary
Title: Hey Spock, Lookin' Good ...
Commentator: Lakshmi Chaudhry
Date(s): 05 September 2000
Venue: Wired.com
Fandom:
External Links: Hey Spock, Lookin' Good ...; archive link
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Hey Spock, Lookin' Good ... is a 2000 article about slash fanfiction. It introduces the genre to a mainstream audience.

Picture this: James T. Kirk and his trusty First Officer Spock soap each other in a bathtub. X-Files' Agent Mulder enjoys a merry threesome with boss Walter Skinner and arch-nemesis Krycek. Better yet, Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan gets hot and heavy with his master Qui-Gon Jinn.

Welcome to the strange world of "slash," a wild, wacky, and increasingly popular sub-genre of online fan fiction. But this is fan fiction with a difference.

Based on popular television or movie characters, Slash stories always involve a homoerotic relationship, usually between men. And they are written almost entirely by women.
The article contains the obligatory Henry Jenkins quote:

While many such stories contain only PG- or G-rated content, a lot of slash is highly explicit. And the adult stories often get more traffic.

But fans are quick to differentiate slash from mainstream pornography.

"Most male-oriented porn is about escape from responsibility. It's about two anonymous bodies coming together," Jenkins said. "Here sex is embedded within long-standing relationships. It comes with baggage."

Zoe Rayne and Mary Ellen Curtin get to answer the Why Slash question as well.

From Rayne:
The central message of slash is hard to miss: Women are turned on by the idea of two men having sex.
From Curtin:
Apart from its sexual appeal, the focus on male/male relationships is also a result of the lack of strong women characters. Curtin says it's hard to construct a heterosexual relationship when most of the interesting lead characters on television are men. "Female characters may start out interesting but they usually get progressively more cardboardish and stupid," she said. "So if you want to write a romance, it ends up being slash. It's the dynamics of what's available on screen."
There is a nod to the long history of slash fandom, starting with K/S fanzines and conventions, but the article says slash has now gone almost entirely online.
"The Internet has popularized fandoms much faster. People begin reading, writing, and communicating more quickly," Rayne said. She points to the explosion of slash literature spawned by the 1999 release of Episode I: The Phantom Menace. "Within a year, there were several thousands of stories posted on the Net," she said.

Fan Comments

Better than the last one I read, but definitely. Nice that they talked to you. But it does look like they interviewed two people, read one Jenkins article or maybe got the quotes from you and Zoe, looked at an archive, and went to press, and it's yet another one that indicates that print fandom is drying up and blowing away, not what I've been hearing. -- Jat Sapphire

True--K/S print fandom, at least, appears to be thriving. It's not as big as it was in the 80s, but it exists; we have some new publishers, and several big anthologies and novels are published every year. In fact, online fandom seems to be feeding print fandom somewhat (of course the reverse is also true), as online authors discover printzines and contribute to them. And now kira-nerys is going to publish the SFF in hardcopy . . . I think print fandom is doing fine. <g> LL&P -- J S Cavalcante
Thanks for the citation, though, I'm glad to see it's not just played for laughs *every* time. -- Jat Sapphire
Thank you, Dr. Slash! I've been writing K/S for myself for 20 years, and it took you and this list to make me appreciate how important it is. Most fiercely best regards, Rae [1]

References

  1. ^ Slash in the news, again (September 4, 2000)