Homoerotic Fanfiction: Slashing Culture
|Title:||Homoerotic Fanfiction: Slashing Culture|
|Date(s):||18 October 2000|
|External Links:||Homoerotic Fanfiction: Slashing Culture, Archived version ; archive link|
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Homoerotic Fanfiction: Slashing Culture is a short 2000 article by Lynn Reed about slash fanfiction with several website links.
In a culture of passive entertainment, the writing of fanfiction is a subversive act. It transforms the process of consuming entertainment into an active, dynamic experience.
Granted, that doesn't mean the output is always good, or even readable. But fans who take the characters, plots, and settings that they love and make them their own are doing more than just indulging in escapism. They are turning the expectations of corporate creativity upside-down and declaring that the starship Enterprise - or the FBI, or the strange little suburb called Sunnydale - is their playground too. And if fanfiction is subversive, homoerotic fanfiction is doubly so.
'They' call it slash. It evolved out of the fandom for the original Star Trek series, when some fans - mostly straight women - thought they saw gay subtext between Kirk and Spock that the show could never actually portray.Some thirty years later, slash has expanded until there is a slash fandom for almost every science fiction series you can think of, and many non-SF ones as well. There is slash based on the characters in books or movies, or highly obscure shows, often called rareslash. There is slash based on real people, always a controversial topic, such as band members or famous actors. And, of course, the popular television series slashers are still going strong.
These days The X-Files gives all the Star Trek series combined a run for their money, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a not-inconsiderable base behind it as well.
The differences between slash and 'genfic' - general, non-adult fanfiction - are more than just topical. Slash, many are quick to say, is not pornography, it is erotica. While the distinction between those areas is vague, it is true that slash fiction tends to be more thoughtful and relationship driven than all-out smut is. Relationships are carefully developed, sex comes after pages of doubt and tension, or as a part of a loving, stable partnership. While some slash is purely PWP - plot-what-plot?, the fanficcer's term for just the smut, please - the majority is not.
Why do slashers do it? Some have said it is a feminist act: women taking control of men in a way they cannot in real life (or simply being unable to find female characters they can relate to). Others think it is a thrill of taboo-breaking that drives them on.Slashers themselves have engaged in a lot of debate, over the years, about the meaning of it all. But these days, most slashers would answer the question "Why do you do it?" with a simple reply: "Because we like it, that's why, and that's enough."
Reactions and Reviews
- "Fanfiction as subversion and slash as an expression of female initiative in a traditionally male-oriented genre -- be still my heart, I feel the urge to go do something politically aware. (Don't worry, it'll pass. But it's kind of exhilerating, you know?) Look to the end for some great links to popular slash fandoms and authors."
- Jezebel Slade's Infamy: One of the darker sides of slash: real people. Here you can find stories about, no fooling, Bill Gates getting it on with with Steve Jobs, inspired by the television movie The Pirates of Silicon Valley (1999). These stories were met by the slash community with shouts of "that's sick!" and "you'll get us all sued!" The stories themselves are mostly notable for their controversy, better than some as fiction, but not the best around. Interestingly, the "that's sick!" reaction was more because this is real people slash, and less because it involves a naked Bill Gates gettin' it on.
- Fanfiction On The Net: Slash Fan Fiction: This is an alphabetical guide to many slash story archives and personal collections. It is a good starting point, though not comprehensive, which would be impossible. The links can't always be trusted, especially the ones for rarer fandoms.
- The Complete Kingdom Of Slash: This is an attempt at a multi-fandom slash archive, including many rare ones alongside standards like Star Trek. The design is irritating and overall the archivists seem to have sacrificed quality for quantity, but often one can find stories unavailable anywhere else here.
- Jane St. Clair's Fan Fiction: Considered one of the best younger authors of slash, het, and general fanfiction out there, Jane St. Clair takes on Star Trek, The X-Files, and even the gay-themed indie flick Velvet Goldmine (1998), about which she says "because stealing from Oscar Wilde isn't just a pastime, it's an art form."
- Doctor Science: Accuracy In Media Treatment Of Fan Fiction & Slash: Here you can read a slasher's analysis and response to Brill's Content and Slate coverage of Slash.
- Luke Skywalker Is Gay?: This Slate magazine article (April 14th, 2000) by David Plotz asks the question: "So why on earth do normal people spend their lives writing fantasies about TV characters?" Plotz attempts to answer it, though he seems to ignore the "because we like it" aspect, focusing on politics and community. The article also addresses the legal issues, questions of copyright.
- Down In The Basement & Archive/X: This is the archive of an X-Files slash story mailing list, and is probably the biggest and best X-Files slash archive around. Stories are indexed alphabetically by title or author, and indexes by pairing are also available.
- Alt.StarTrek.Creative Archive: The main Star Trek fanfiction archive. This contains postings to slash-friendly newsgroups alt.startrek.creative and alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated. Slash as well as gen and het - heterosexual adult stories - are available. This archive is in the process of being redesigned and is badly in need of updating, a process which is under some controversy on the newsgroups and their reflective mailing lists. Thousands of stories can nevertheless be found here.
- Constance Penley: Star Trek Professor: Of course, academia wants to be on the boat too. Many papers, lectures, and projects have focused on the slash phenomenon. An article on University of California at Santa Barbara professor Constance Penley is found here. Penley is a Star Trek academic who authored NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America (New York: Verso Books, 1997), including a lot on slash, of which the book's title itself is suggestive.
- The Foresmutters Project: The Foresmutters Project is the attempt of a group of slashers, led by well-known slasher Mary "Doctor Science" Ellen, to document the early stages of slash, and archive older material currently found only in print zines for the now mostly online slash audience. The slogan at the site's opening page is "If information wants to be free, slash really wants to be free."
- Te's Fan Fiction: One of the best authors in fanfiction, the excellent Te's work centers on The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and a whole slew of assorted rarer fandoms. Te has the quality the better slashers possess of not taking hir work too seriously all the time. Story summaries reveal everything from "Mulder goes looking for Alex, and is found by him" to "An unfortunate incident involving T&A, a bottle of Finlandia, Bobo III aka Sam the Homosexual Slut Bear, and 12 (go ahead, count 'em) mystical trollkinds inadvertently ripped a hole in the fabric of space-time, leaving our own reality wide open and heartwrenchingly vulnerable to this exceedingly alternate universe."