The hot new thing

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Title: the hot new thing
Creator: wisteria
Date(s): August 18, 2003
Medium: journal post
Fandom: Buffy
Topic: slash in BtVS fandom
External Links: The hot new thing[1]
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the hot new thing is a 2003 post by wisteria with 213 comments into two pages.

The discussion starts out with a lot of chat about Buffy fandom and then becomes an intense discussion of slash and whether it is common and trendy.

Some Topics Discussed

  • pairings and trends in Buffyverse
  • does slash trivialize and insult gay people?
  • massive generalizations
  • reading personal motivation into fanfic
  • popular fandoms "soaking up" the better writers
  • "Sure, Spander and the like lends itself to lots of snark and great dialog, but it always seems to end with some cold dead seed spilling into someones bowels. Why not try a classic sexless buddy story (i.e., Bing Crosby/Bob Hope or Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis)? Lots of snark there, and no cheeks were parted in the process."

The Essay

The other night, I got into a big discussion with some friends about the vicissitudes of fanfiction. In other words... trendiness.

circe_tigana surprised me by saying that Spike/Angel is the hot new trend right now, because I haven't seen all that much of it recently -- though I expect we'll see quite a bit once the season starts. I only started the "Purgatory" series when I read some spoilers for season five and thought, "Damn! They could make *such* a fascinating and fun pairing to write, even if it's not twoowuv4eva." I definitely never planned on writing S/A; hell, I'd hardly read any Angel fic before I started it.

We also talked about some other things we've noticed over the past few months, but I won't give specifics for fear of offending some people who've always liked those things. ;)

It got me to thinkin', though.... What do you see as the "trendy" things in BTVS/AtS fanfiction these days? I'm not talking about people who have always shipped, say, S/X. Instead, I mean both pairings and fic styles/quirks that have quickly and unexpectedly become popular.

What do you think the new trends will be? Do you think these trends are here to stay, or will something else replace them as people's tastes change?

Have you noticed any trends that were intensely popular for a while before fading away? Why do you think that happened?

(BTW, this is not a thread meant to bash any particular pairing or fic style. I'm just honestly curious. And I apologize in advance if I don't reply to each post. You know me and my reply phobia *g*. I'm just opening up a line of discussion that has intrigued me.)[1]

Some Fan Comments at the Post

[herself_nyc]

I keep thinking S/B is over too, but then I just go on writing it![2]

[onetwomany]

Oh, me too. Although I don't really believe it's over. There are still a heap of people reading Spuffy fic, even if many of them are branching out into other stuff as well.[2]

[wickedprincess3]
Human AU fics, they're not just for illiterate teenies anymore. (really I haven't been around long enough to judge these things but I have no idea why people think there's a downturn in the number of S/B fics being written)[3]
[eliade]

I agree on the Spike/Angel thing. Except that I think right now it's actually more like an anticipatory murmur-murmur (icons and chatter and posts) rather than a huge upswelling of fiction. I think we'll see the fiction surge starting in the fall. ;)

The sudden popularity of RPF--and not just RPF, but role-playing RPF--took me by surprise. I find that I'm not really into BtVS/AtS RPF that much; I've read a few things in the past (twincest, yay, ahem), but strangely I'm more into popslash, a fandom where it's the *source* material I have no interest in. My own lack of interest in role-playing doesn't surprise me, as I've never been inclined to it.

Anyway. Tangent off, back to trends--there was definitely an S/X trend there for a while, and I think it's still lingering. One can't help but notice. :) (And, in my case, be pleased that people were writing it.)

I can't say I've noticed any other trends, except for new-fandom stuff, like the O.C.[4]

lanieday:

Spike/Angel is one of the oldest ships in the fandom, ever since School Hard, so I don't think it can be classified as trendy even if it appears that more people are writing it(not that I have that impression myself, it seems to be a pretty steady ship, new writer's enter at the rate older writer's move on).

Spike/Xander? Trendy, even if it did have a following before it got all scary popular. It was a small following. If you look at the amount of S/X exclusive archives out there, past and present, not really as big as we may think.

Spike/Buffy? Just as popular as its ever been. It had a big fanbase prior to season five and has a larger one now. The fanbase has changed but it still exists and is still big.

Xander/Andrew in my opinion was/is a bit of a trend. There's not a devoted following though a lot of Xanderslash fans have probably pondered it.

There will, more likely than not, be a Spike/Fred trend. I don't think it will take off and I think most fans, those of Spike and Fred, will hate it.

Surprisingly Spike/Willow has a permanent fanbase, though we seem to have disappeared off the shipper map, but it's still big if not kind of illiterate.

There was a Spike/Cement block movement for a while there but it was *pure* trend, a terrible shame as it threatened to become my OTP.
jack pride::

I think a lot of confusion is being created when "fanbase" and "trend" collide. Spike/Angel has indeed had a large fanbase from the beginning, as have Spike/Xander, Spike/Willow, and a whole bunch of non-Spike pairings, too. ;)

But that doesn't prevent the pairings from becoming trendy when something happens onscreen that suddenly lends them new life. Spike/Angel may already have a large fanbase, but certain casting spoilers are quite likely going to make it the trend-du-jour by bringing in those fans who are just passing through. Some will stay, most will go. I don't see a permanent fanbase and trendiness as being mutually exclusive.

Me? I'm a S/X shipper. I'm not trendy. Spander is trendy. ;)
janus74:

Spike/Xander

Spike/Dawn

and

Slashing everything.

I always thought this happened in every fandom at the end of its run. It's like writers (and readers) want to go beyond conventional ships and story lines.
wisteria:

LOL -- I can see those trends, yeah.

And hmm... interesting interpretation of the end of a fandom. Could be because of the wide-open possibilities, where we know that (for the most part) we won't get trumped by canon.
elz:: I think that's why Dawn is popular at the moment - all that untapped potential.
sockkpuppett:

Having now been involved in several fandoms, there's usually an upsurge of every kind of fic once the show is over, and then it sort of levels out. I have fanfic-writing friends who don't embrace shows that are currently on the air simply because they prefer the containment of a finished canon. And that's cool.

Weirdly, because it's All. About. Me. -- I've only noticed my own trends. I bounce from slash to het to AU to slash to gen--whatever strikes my fancy at the moment. I guess I'm sort of a fanfic whore in that I'll read anything, as long as it's well written. If it's not, I'll probably still read it, then wash my eyes out with acid, and then mock it. I can't, in the service of fairness, dismiss anything until I read it. So... my life is full! (ETA: Okay, I don't think I'll be reading any Gunn/panther stuff, but you just never know. )
moireach: I don't tend to see slash as a trend in the fandom, and I wasn't even really aware of a particular upsurge lately, although I could be looking in the wrong places; it's always seemed such an established, near-central part of Buffy-fandom because it was so strongly encouraged by the intentional homoerotic subtext present from the first season on. But again, maybe just me.
janus74:

It's most likely the opposite. I was into Spuffy, and because you either love it or hate it (I've found), I tended to only go to Spuffy shipper sites.

Now, what I'm seeing are a lot of the same authors expanding themselves and trying out slash writing.

Which is not a bad thing. Except I still don't get Spike and Xander. I don't think I ever will.
estephia:

I've seen more Spike/Wes recently. Not sure if that counts as 'in.'

Spike/Buffy really seems to be 'out' - IMHO that's not surprising. There is a huge amount of good Spuffy fic (tons of bad stuff too but that's not the point) that's hard to compete with. It's also difficult to be original. Since Buffy is no longer Sunnydale based, Spuffyfics that are post-Chosen are gravitate towards roadtrips. Which gets old fast. Then there's the disenchantment with Buffy and the lack of sparkage during S7. *shrug*

As far as I'm concerned I've read enough S/B to last me a lifetime and my favorites are S5 and early S6 stories anyway. I have no desire reading about Buffy, fanfic!Buffy is a different person than the one on screen anyway. Not many people write a good Buffy - must be because it's too tempting to 'fix' her.

I haven't seen a lot of S/A, to be honest but I expect there will be more. What I *have* seen is an increase in RPG activities and tons of PotC fic - which I resent only because I still haven't seen the movie. *sulk* These two RPG and PotC seem to soak up talent that's sorely needed for more S/A or S/X - but that's just my own selfish self-scentered opinion. :-D

As for S/X, well that's incredibly die-hard. That's partly because a lot of S/X fanfic is still set during the nummy summer, i.e. during S4 - and I don't think that's ever going to change.

I fully expect Spike/Fred to become more popular.

Briefly there was an increase in Ethan fic, following R. Sachs's appearance at a convention. I thought that was a good thing because Ethan is a fun character.

As for styles. It seems everybody is writing present tense these days.
onetwomany:

As for styles. It seems everybody is writing present tense these days.

Slight OT, but speaking of styles, I found myself reading some old X-Files classics the other day, and I was stunned by the number of people using the first person. I haven't seen a whole lot of that is Buffy fic.

I guess it's a matter of what you're comfortable and familiar with.
leslina:

As a casual observer I see it more as a bandwagon effect amongst various pockets of author groups and cliques across a fandom. What may start as an individual whim slowly escalates to a "competition" or a challenge if you will, where multiple authors must test their "skillz". What this leads to a lot of the time are stories that do not hold true to the established characters I know and enjoy watching on television. They're used for the authors personal whim and I find that off putting. In this case, authors should focus their efforts on writing original work. I'm no opposed to slash writing at all, if the characters were originally oriented in the series or if the characters are original. Things like Spandrew in my mind, is just rediculous and well, not BtVS....

What I wanted to convey is that often authors will thwart a characters given traits and characteristics as they are established in a series to suit a means to and end and that in my mind is a diservice. Is [isn't] wrong to sample with differing environments etc -- no. Changing the character completely -- yes. I use slash as an example because slash was the prevelant example that Wisteria mentioned. Given Spike and Andrews characterizations in the series slash fic between them is deviating not only from their characters but from the series. It's no longer fanfiction, but original fiction in my opinion.
wickedprincess3: Oh yes screwing up characterization in favor of a ship is a big no no. Though I do think some things can be up for interpretation, EX: To me? Andrew is gay. Spike? heteroflexable or at least the type of person who would seek out love/comfort wherever he could. I like Spandrew and there is some wonderful in character S/Aw out there. But again that's my opinion YMMV ect. Same thing goes with me and a lot of redemption Spike fic, as an evilista I just don't buy it but its interpretation, as long as the interpretation has *some* support in canon *shrug*
eliade:

As a casual observer I see it more as a bandwagon effect

Or cross-pollination, which will always occur. People write pairings for friends, or pick up challenges to stretch or keep their hand in during a writing block. But a "bandwagon effect" can happen, and may be a consequence of momentum: one brave pioneer writes an unusual ship well, and that sparks another writer who wouldn't have considered it otherwise, and once a few stories get attention, other people get interested or playful, may sketch out a few story whims, then find it doesn't hold their attention permanently, before moving on, or moving back to preferred pairings.

What this leads to a lot of the time are stories that do not hold true to the established characters I know and enjoy watching on television.

I see that a lot too. "Tucker's Brother" is a good Spike/Andrew story. But it doesn't necessarily follow that every offhand S/Andrew snippet or drabble or whatever is going to be good. Some non-canon ships have an uphill battle for plausibility and, in most authors' hands, will need length to do them justice, if they can be done at all.

I've written a lot of tiny unconventional snippets in my LJ, I admit. I try to make everything believable, persuasive, but I suspect some things don't achieve success by my own standards. Authors aren't above developing blindered vision about their pairings. I'm a slasher but I lean toward canon and I want slash and unconventional ships to be canonically convincing--or at least to *feel* like canon, if an AU. And it's not a popular opinion, but I do think that some slash writers take UST between two characters--their purported attraction--for granted in a way that doesn't serve the story well or make a good case to a non-slash reader who comes unprepared as it were.

There's a lot of stuff I enjoy as a slash reader, but if I step back and consider a story in a larger fandom context, it may not be as persuasive. And sometimes that's fine--not all stories need to work for all readers; we're here to have fun. But in some cases I may make judgments--I may rate a piece of fiction in that larger context.

I'm no opposed to slash writing at all, if the characters were originally oriented in the series or if the characters are original. Things like Spandrew in my mind, is just rediculous and well, not BtVS.

But you can't just talk about slash. Or you can, but it makes more sense to talk about any non-canon ship. Compare trying to make, say, S2 Giles/Willow work against trying to make S4 Spike/Xander work (when they're living in boxer-clad proximity and sniping familiarly during a time when Xander has sexual issues and might in fact get experimental one night while they're drunk together and while Spike is feeling manipulative, etc).

The goal should just be to make your premise work well, regardless of how loopy it is. ;) And some people can write craptastic Buffy/Angel while others write convincing Oz/Giles. I've found that to be true, anyway.
ginmar:

The goal should just be to make your premise work well, regardless of how loopy it is. ;) And some people can write craptastic Buffy/Angel while others write convincing Oz/Giles. I've found that to be true, anyway

That's my big issue. I think there's a certain standard that can't be met by stuff that's approached casually, which is what I see a lot of this as being. It's one thing to experiment, but writing is kind of a threeway truce between reader, writer and character, and sometimes it's impossible to be fair. To be honest, I see some writers giving the heaviest weight to themselves in that triad, although I can't really say what the balance should be. I do know that I think the characters should really get the most concessions, so to speak, but then again, I've read some awfully-characterized stuff recently, and it's left a bad taste.
eliade:

Some nuances of character are really up to the individual viewer to discern, however certain aspects of character are what they are and I only encourage authors to stay true to these aspects.

But this of course is the issue: what one author may see as fixed, inviolable traits, another author may see as fluid. I for one think sexuality is fluid for most characters--*if* the context is right. Take any male character, and you could probably find your way to making at least one scenario work: situational homosexuality or drunken wanking or a one-night stand with a side of self-disgust. But making romance work against the grain of canon--where default heterosexuality is so prevalent--can be more difficult. And making romance work between two characters who don't have chemistry and history is harder still.

But anyway, authors will differ on which points of character are fixed and which are fluid. Take amoral, who-gives-a-toss Spike before he was souled: what's less likely, that he'd have sex with a guy, or that he'd suddenly take to wearing khakis and flannel shirts? An author would have a much harder time making me believe that Spike loves the fashion statement of khakis than they would that he'd pick up some guy in a bar and screw him to steal his wallet, say. ;) So Spike's fashion sensibility, at that time in canon, is more fixed to me as a character trait than his sexuality, when I can easily extrapolate so many plausible scenarios for Evil!Spike.
estephia:

I agree that fanfic is for experimenting.

But then *you* really try to make it work, Circe. Some people do the stunt pairing thing to evoke a certain mental image which they think is hot: Throw two pretty guys into a pot, stir, presto - hot slash. Not.

But that has nothing to do with slash or het, conventional or unconventional pairings, it's simply bad writing.
onetwomany:

And hee! onetwomany wanted Frillow yesterday, so maybe that's something ;)

Ooh, I hope so. I want at least a half a dozen from that femslash challenge. :D

On Spander, the way I see it is that as more BNFs and established writers got into reading and writing it, more people gave it a shot and liked it. I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying this, but it’s not an intuitively appealing ship, especially for many Spike fans who either (a) don’t see Xander as particularly sexy or (b) despised him in season 6 and have had a hard time forgiving.

The first Spander stories I read were ones written by writers I admire (mpoetess, juliatheyounger and a couple of others). Modus Vivendi (which I have certainly spelt wrong) was the first one I read for the heck of it, and I was surprised to love it. Even now, though, Spander is something I read because it’s something so many good writers make work, and work well. And because many spander writers have a great gasp of Spike’s character. I guess that makes me more a fan of spander fanfic than a spander shipper, but I’m not sure whether that makes me part of the trend!
circe tigana:

Hee! I'm sure others have said it more eloquently. But if your placque can transmit the passion in my belief that fanfic Spander is not about a fandom love of slash and is in fact about a viable pairing as legitimate as (and sometimes more so) any canon pairing, then yup, go ahead ;)

It's not about the gay, it's about the snark.
sleipnirr:

Sure, Spander and the like lends itself to lots of snark and great dialog, but it always seems to end with some cold dead seed spilling into someones bowels. Why not try a classic sexless buddy story (i.e., Bing Crosby/Bob Hope or Dean Martin/Jerry Lewis)? Lots of snark there, and no cheeks were parted in the process.

Don't get me wrong - I don't mind the fact that slash exists and I know you gals sure seem to like it, but I just can't wrap my head around Xander and Spike fucking like bunnies (which would freak out Anya on several levels, hee), then giving each other a bath and combing each other's hair and donning each other's socks.

To each their own, of course. It just makes me sad that I have to skip so many stories (including a certain Spank epic) that may be good because I'm tired of skimming over the buttsex and schmoop to get to the rest of the plot.
saraslash:

I dunno--how can you really define a writer's motivation as this or that concrete thing, anyway? Let's say a writer *does* try something because other people are. Can you really say that's the only reason? I don't think so. I think it would be impossible to make it through a fic if the author didn't find anything appealing about the pairing--so really, it's "Wow, [insert good writers here] are writing this, I wanna try," backed up by "because that pairing would be really hot/interesting/complicated/angsty."

And again, I don't necessarily think it's the writer's "motivation" that makes a fic good or bad. There have been some really terrific things written for ficathons/challenges, imo, where the motivation is...what? "I want to expand my horizons and try something new," presumeably. Which isn't the "pure" motivation that you seem to be talking about. I don't think the key to a good fic can be boiled down to motivation or trend status or characterization or any one category.
ginmar:

I don't think the key to a good fic can be boiled down to motivation or trend status or characterization or any one category.

O, I think it can, very easily. Look at Mary Sues. Pure authorial self-indulgence. Writing because of an urge to be part of a group doesn't serve the characters. I once had a very interesting discussion with a writer who blithely dismissed twisting the characterization to fit the plot. That's not good. Just because people are fooled by it because it fits their bias doesn't meant it's good.
miggy:

I can't really see S/X or S/A as trendy, because they've been around forever (well, really since S4 and S2, but you know what I mean). S/X was the first fanfic I read, and it's hard for me to see that as trendy when I was reading stuff written in S4 and writing my own stuff last year, y'know? I can see how others would, but for me, it'd be like ten million people suddenly discovering how great The Amazing Race is and giving S5 its best ratings ever. I'd be like, "Yeah, welcome to the party! You should have seen the first season! Team Guido stuck in Alaska! Bwahahahaha!"

But there is something that I see as very trendy, and it's something that creeps me out. In places I frequent, there's been a huge upswing in William fics. Sexual William fics. He's perfect and malleable and oh-so-polite and gragh, stop the Mary Sue from putting on a floppy wig and little glasses! It started about three months ago and, for some time, overwhelmed any other type of fiction.

I'll read about Dawn sucking cocks, no problem. But for some reason, (with the noted exception of Mr. Grieves and the Fallen Woman), I just don't truck with William stories. Brrr.
needfire: I think ultimately it's the quality of the writing, if enough good authors examine a character [eg herselfs william] they make it real and believable. I read my first piece of fanfic last year, was introduced to non canon genres a couple of months after that and found that if a piece was written well, it transcended pairing. I don't really read anything that doesn't have Spike as a main character, but i have learned not to judge by pairing or fashion rather wait and see what the author can do. The idea of trends to me develops when the muse drys up in one area forcing the author to look else where. A couple of people do a good job opening others eyes to more diverse possibility's and it takes off from there. I see this in my line of work [artist] it's the 'old school dance mentality'people cluster around the empty floor, shuffling uncomfortably until someone gets up and dances, the rest slowly follow. Trends only stay trends when they peter out swiftly, if they last they become genres....anyway thats my hungover sleep deprived two bits worth..b.
kita0610:

The idea of one genre stealing writers from another genre is just so silly. As a writer? I can tell you that if I'm writing something, it's because that's all I CAN write at the moment. You hit the point where you've just SAID everygodamnthing there is you can say about a character or a couple, and until something new happens, either on screen or in your brain, you are just NOT gonna have anything left to contribute to the fanfic world on that topic. So I'm RPGing til the new season starts. *G*

Just my 2cents.
bubonicplague:

OK. I will be honest.

I am sick to death of gay male slash being trendy.

I used to like some slash pairings in fic, but now I find it disgusting. I am sorry, but I do - it's not about sexuality and exploration anymore with most writers, but about the fact that it's "shocking" or "cool". No.

I don't like seeing gay men trivialized in the manner of hot cock = cool fic. Want to develop a great relationship, fine, but a guy giving it to another guy up the ass for a female audience is somehow a patronization.

I've even given up my long-term Spike/Angel slash love because of this.

Hate me if you want.
lanieday:

it's not about sexuality and exploration anymore

Personally I think this is something that can be applied to all sexually graphic fic, or your classic PWP. It's not something that falls soley on the shoulders of the slash community.

Why *are* Spike and Dawn going at it like bunnies anyway? Because they're both pretty? Just saying this is applied to any ship really, even those with a basis in canon. I'm a Spuffy gal but you can't convince me the two are just going to fall into bed with each other because they have in the past. You have to have a story.

Without a story aren't you objectifying the female characters and male characters involved in a het sexfest as much as you are the m/m or f/f characters in a sexfest?

It comes down to plot and the fact that it's something a lot of writer's are skipping out on, it's an ailment of the het fic community as much as it is the slash fic community.
bubonicplague:

I would tend to agree with you, but, you have the fact that people in the slash community are WAY crossing the line and making up role playing games involving the actors. I find that concept wretched, and I don't care if I am called a prude for saying so.

As for Spike sex, yeah, you're right. I have never seen much of a basis for Spike/Xander or Spike/Dawn fic, but they tend to be the "in" things to do right now. Never mind story or buildup. Cool pairings speak for themselves, yeah?

Hell with it. At this point, I just would like to read something *realistic*.
thebratqueen:

I would tend to agree with you, but, you have the fact that people in the slash community are WAY crossing the line and making up role playing games involving the actors. I find that concept wretched, and I don't care if I am called a prude for saying so.

You can find it wretched all you like and I won't call you a prude. I'll call you someone who doesn't like RPS because that's a far more accurate description.

However, speaking as someone who writes the RPS in question that you hate so much - please do not lump the rest of slashdom in with it. This is a Venn diagram with very little overlap, and I know there are slashers out there who don't like the RP of S either, so it's not fair to them to blame them for something they are neither doing nor condoning.

Don't mind if you hate me, just hate me for the right reasons and please don't hate other people for things that they're not doing. Buck stops here. Thanks.
wesleysgirl:

...it's not about sexuality and exploration anymore with most writers, but about the fact that it's "shocking" or "cool".

I think it's unfair to generalize about the assumed motivations of "most" slash writers unless you honestly feel that you know most of them personally enough to speak of said motivations. Say you don't like it, but don't say that you know why people are writing it.
bubonicplague:

I have absolutely nothing against slash fic. I really used to like it, a lot. And yes, you are right, I should not say "most" writers, because I do not know their motivations.

But, when I read fiction, I want to read about characters who actually have some motivation to sleep together. Simply sticking two guys together because they are hot seems to be a current trend. I'm not knocking PWP, and I'm not knocking slash PWP. I am, however, knocking the fact that slash seems to be the flavor of the month with a lot of people.
flaming june:

Look, what you're talking about can't be blamed exclusively on slash. Spike/Willow? I've never understood the onscreen chemistry there, nor do I especially think that 'ship is supported by canon. Same with Spike/Dawn, really. But you know, whatever. To each his own.

Attempting to evaluate fic writers based on their "motivations" is a specious exercise in the first place, anyway. Didn't Deconstruction teach us that we'll never, ever be able to recover authorial intent? And that it doesn't matter, anyway, because as active readers, we participate in the creation of the text?

In fact, isn't that what fanfic is all about? Infiltrating (and sometimes subverting) a master narrative to our own end? Whatever flavor you're reading or writing-- slash, gen, het-- I hate to say it, but that's what you're doing. So when you complain about wanting to read fic that's more "realistic," perhaps you should step back and reconsider the nature of the whole fanfic enterprise, hmmm? Realism, it ain't.

Finally, it sounds to me like you would just do well to do a little selective management of your friends list. Then all this icky slash and RPF won't contaminate your happy fic domain.
taffimai:

The reason I am put off by it now is because of the bandwagon aspect of the whole thing.

Except that slash has been around since the late seventies. This isn't a "bandwagon" thing or a trend, despite how it may appear from your corner of the world.

I don't disagree that there is badly written and poorly characterized slash, but this is a function of the skill of the writers involved, not their genre. I don't believe that slashfic as a whole is any better or any worse than genfic.

Actually, I've been in several fandoms where the gen is so poorly written that even people who don't particularly enjoy slash are avid readers of it simply because the slash stories represent the vast majority of the well-written stories in the fandom.

What's REALLY funny is that every fews years in each fandom I've been in, we tend to get a what's-with-this-slash-trend kerfuffle. (Usually at a time when there's been no discernable increase in the quantity of fic produced.) And the slash writers who've been busily writing slash for years just have to stand around and do the, "Ummm, we're not exactly news, people."
bubonicplague: Oh, I know slash has been around for a while. I am simply referring to the popularity of it. There has been an upswing in that, as there has been an upswing currently in the media representation of gay males
wolfling:

I'm not sure I'm following your logic.

Because there's more people who are reading/writing slash that means that suddenly you don't like it anymore?

I read and write slash, have done so for the last five years. (And that was by no means the dawning of slash.)

There's been poorly written stories all along. There's been damned good stories all along. I hope that I've contributed to the latter category myself.

Something doesn't suddenly becomes bad just becuase you perceive more people are liking it. If that's not what you saying, please clarify.

And the place where you lose me is that the "Any Two Guys" badfics aren't new (which is highlighted by the fact that they have a name).

They're not a new concept that just started when slash became the 'in' thing. (Which isn't really something I've noticed but will concede that being within the slash culture I might not have noticed when others started noticing us.)

So, from where I'm sitting, it's looking like you're upset that people like slash and citing something that's been happening all along as the reason why.

We're in agreement that Any Two Guys fics are generally bad fics. I don't see how this can be attributed to a sudden popularity of slash however.

You also mention that you're not talking about new slash writers who write great fic. If you're blaming bad writers on the sudden "trendiness" you also have to keep in mind that there's at least as great a chance that these new good writers are here for the same reasons.

Also, by continuing to talk about the trendiness it sounds like you're saying "slash is fine as long as it's unpopular." As a slasher, that's not exactly a sentiment that's making me all warm and fuzzy.
Valerie z:

I don't like seeing gay men trivialized in the manner of hot cock = cool fic. Want to develop a great relationship, fine, but a guy giving it to another guy up the ass for a female audience is somehow a patronization.

I see what you mean. It's like homosexuality in general, which should be respected, is instead used purely for pornish reasons.

However, they do this to women all the time. In Playboy (moreso in the special picture magazines than the regular magazine) there are frequently two naked women in a picture together. And it's hardly there to show their fabulous lesbian womyn power.

To me, the point of smut/erotica/pornography/whatever isn't to make a political statement. You make your political statements elsewhere. With porn, it's whatever gets you off, as long as it doesn't involve children or farm animals. And two guys gets me off.

Of course, it would be wrong for me to go to the gay pride march and yell, "Woo hoo! Make out with that other guy!" But, like porn for straight men, slash fanfic is provided specifically for the purpose of entertainment. And if someone's allowing their porn to color their view of society, then they have bigger problems than Spike and Angel going down on each other.

I hope that made sense. Again, I understand your point bubonicplague.
herself nyc:

Porn is about getting off and isn't a political statement.

Except where the freedom to get off to the porn of your choice is a political statement.

Actually, and this is a whole other tangent, I think sometimes about porn I find disgusting versus porn I like. I'm all for freedom of the press so I'm not about to come out for suppression of anything. But there's a lot of porn that men consume that is degrading to women in its representations, and which I can't help feeling was degrading to the actual women who participated in it, even if they were being paid. That grosses me out and I don't want to see it or think about it. Then there's the porn "we" like in our little fandom--what we watch and what we create ourselves, and that strikes me as wonderful and healthy and progressive. To an outsider, especially one who loathes porn, though, it's all loathesome shameful porn.
ex devilpig935:

The trend toward male/male slash isn't something that I have much interest in. I don't have any slash OTP, but I've read slash stories that have affected me deeply, and written some of dubious quality.

However, I did start to notice people's reactions to the idea of slash pairing more than the fics themselves. To me, the whole "pretty boys kissing" attitude does smack of objectification. This becomes more apparent because full gay rights/gay acceptance/insert your politically correct catchphrase here is, bizarrely, a concept my nation hasn't embraced yet.

It's true that using porn for politics is rarely intended. But as long the position of homosexuals in our society is still precarious, I believe that can occur regardless.

However, they do this to women all the time. In Playboy (moreso in the special picture magazines than the regular magazine) there are frequently two naked women in a picture together. And it's hardly there to show their fabulous lesbian womyn power.

Totally. And I don't find that offensive, even though it's also objectifying. Maybe it's easier for me to see it as 'just for fun', because I haven't been exposed to the kind of inequality as a woman that generations before me have. I'm more confident that I'll be treated appropriately outside of the 'Hustler' medium.

I guess for me, it's just the difference between "Woman are here" and "Homosexuals are here...for our entertainment." And look, I know that no one in this discussion really feels that way. The input I've read has helped me understand the appeal of, and reaction to, slash more than I did before. But as a casual observer, I got a different impression.
nepthys:

I don't like seeing gay men trivialized in the manner of hot cock = cool fic. Want to develop a great relationship, fine, but a guy giving it to another guy up the ass for a female audience is somehow a patronization.

I read a fair amount of slash fic. Much of it is about entertainment, pure and simple. There's also stories with very realistic portrayals of gay men and relationships. I like both, and tend to consider the former pretty harmless. Many slashers are gay/bisexual, so it's not all a matter of straight girls getting off on hot cock.

[snipped]

I would tend to agree with you, but, you have the fact that people in the slash community are WAY crossing the line and making up role playing games involving the actors.

That isn't in any way exclusive to slashers. I don't read RPF, but there's almost as many stories involving het couples, as far as I can tell. There's been a number of JM/SMG fics on FF.net, and tons of stories about David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson from X-Files.

As for Spike sex, yeah, you're right. I have never seen much of a basis for Spike/Xander or Spike/Dawn fic, but they tend to be the "in" things to do right now. Never mind story or buildup. Cool pairings speak for themselves, yeah?

There's always going to be people who ship what's "cool", whether slash or het. Some writers like to write popular pairings because it gives them more status/feedback. Frankly, I don't see what the point is. For me, the fun part about shipping is really loving the characters/pairing. Getting involved with ships I don't particularly like would feel like nothing but a waste of time.
bubonicplague: See, I love certain slash pairings. But lately, the moment a new show comes out, people pick out two hot guys and write a fic where they have sex. Or they write about the actors having sex. Or they write about men in reality shows having sex. And I think it's a bit disturbing that "gay" is the new color for fall. You know what I mean?
wickedripeplum: I feel like you're mostly bitter that you're not the cool unique kid on the block. It's cool to like a band when they're underground, but as soon as the teenyboppers start listening to it, fuck that shit. I get that, we all do it, but I think you're assigning motivations to people which simply aren't true.
herself nyc:

I don't know that slash is turning any community's lifestyle into anything. First of all, what community? Men who have sex with men? That's a big multifarious community that may not even see itself as a monolithic community, except in a VERY loose sense. Nor do they share a single "lifestyle." Sexual orientation in and of itself isn't a lifestyle, by my way of looking at it--gay men lead all kinds of lifestyles, and they have all kinds of sex, from all kinds of viewpoints. Are you equating the "lifestyle" with "sex style?" Because even sex styles vary widely among men who have sex with men.

Porn never claims to be about realism. Porn is often--perhaps inherently--over the top.

And literature--a piece of writing that uses skillful characterization and description to try and show something true about human experience--needs to be free. Gay men don't own stories about gay men. Women don't own stories about women. Anyone is free to write about anything, to use their experience as a feeling human being to empathize and project into the experience of other human beings, even if that experience is one they haven't lived. That's an important part of what makes art art.
stakebait:

It's shocking?

This reminds me all over again that since most of my fannish chatting is on LJ, my mental picture of fandom is not necessarily representative, or anything like what other people are seeing. I'd say about half my fannish friends have m/m slash as a major interest, and have had for years. So I'm not seeing any more slash than I usually do, and it's no more shocking to them or their target readers than, you know, having Buffy characters in a Buffy fic would be. But I guess that doesn't mean it isn't shocking someone.

"Cool" I can't deny, since it's a general term I tend to use for stuff I like. I like slash, when it's well written and in character. Also het. Not so into the femslash, except for Buffy/Faith, since it usually doesn't have the same power struggle charge to it. But I did write a Dawn/Buffybot once.

Obviously you don't have to agree with me, but I don't think slash is inherently patronizing, and none of my gay male friends seem to either, though some are bemused by the phenomenon.

The whole premise of entertainment, let alone porn, is that we enjoy watching things done for an audience which is not identical to the actors or the characters. And for all we get some of our greatest pleasure from the ways in which we can identify with them, we also get some fun out of the ways in which they're different from us. If we can get off on watching vampires or hot skinny chicks that can kick ass without patronizing them even though most of us aren't members of either group, why can't we do the same for gay men?

And frankly, I don't see why having "a great relationship" would be okay if hot cock isn't. One night, or even 15 minute, stands are as much a part of gay culture as committed relationships are. If our female gaze is exoticizing gay men to their detriment, I wouldn't think selecting only the parts of that culture that conform to traditional feminine values (relationship good, casual sex bad) would *decrease* the offense.

Why would we hate you? If you don't want to read slash, don't. It's not mandatory. Personally I can't stand any Fred pairing.
bubonicplague:

I love great slash fic! Good writing is never an affront to anyone, well, at least not IMO.

I am not trying to slam slash writers at all, I am really just seeing a trend that extends into fanfic right now - that being "Queer is cool, yo!" To me, that trivializes the acceptance that gay people have been working toward for a long time now. As someone else mentioned since I got involved in this kerfluffle, it's a bit like white people adopting black culture to be hip or trendy. Kinda degrades the whole thing.

I'm not saying I know what to do about it, because I don't. Part of it is human nature and part of it is jumping on the current fad, and I don't want to see anyone's lifestyle/culture/nature treated in that fashion. You know, like a pashmina scarf.
glosseth:

a trend that extends into fanfic right now - that being "Queer is cool, yo!"

Your default assumption seems to be that all writers are straight and seeking to co-opt queer culture. I find that highly problematic, not to mention questionable.

trivializes the acceptance that gay people have been working toward for a long time now

Which 'gay people'? Puerto Rican transsexuals tossing bricks in the West Village? Butch dykes in Buffalo in the 1950s? Nancyboy streetwalkers in Five Corners in 1870? Harvey Milk shot in the gut? Artists and prostitutes and lovers dying of a disease fostered by malign neglect?

Or do you mean the marriage-wanting, straight-acting assimilationists who are a step away from Promise Keepers? You're making 'gay people' into some kind of homogeneous monolith, which is a lot more dangerous than any possible cooptation of queer culture.
estephia:

Yes, you are right, gay themes are kind of 'in the air' and that is reflected in fanfic. Smallville is openly ho-yay, Queer as Folk is popular, Queer Eyes for the Straight Guy is a crowd pleaser, Will and Grace are popular, politicians fight either against or for gay marriages... people link to articles about subject matters pertaining the status of gays in art and society.

All this may draw additional attention to slash fic, and with new readers there will be new writers giving it a try. Not all of them good.

However, many people have been writing slash for years and are not jumping on a bandwagon. And they do not intend to triviialize or demean. Many m/m slash writers are either bi or even gay themselves. And those of us who are not, are interested in a lifestyle that often puts people on the fringes. Those of us who are not gay, but geeks know too what it's like to be snubbed or ridiculed; what it's like to feel left out. Hence a hightened interest in gay themes.

I am grateful for finding slash because it has broadened my horizon. We're playing with gender roles here as much as kinks, guilt-free and without an industry geared to make money out of people's insecurities or horniness.

Labels like cool or trendy do not make slash less liberating or entertaining. I don't care if everybody and his dog read slash. I write it for myself and my friends. And I find it extremely liberating.
eliade:

I am not trying to slam slash writers at all, I am really just seeing a trend that extends into fanfic right now - that being "Queer is cool, yo!" To me, that trivializes the acceptance that gay people have been working toward for a long time now.

I don't understand your alien logic at all. "Queer is cool" trivializes the acceptance of gay people? No. It *is* the acceptance of gay people, the celebration of gayness and queerness, both real and fictional, often by people who are unconventionally sexual themselves. Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, sex industry workers--I personally know all these types of people involved in slash fandom. You seem to be concerned because there's a focus, in fandom, on sexual and fiction aspects of queerness by people who are not card-carrying gay men, instead of--what? What is it you'd prefer? A chorus of serious, high-minded political support? I've seen this opinion about "correct" attitudes toward gay culture parodied in "Dykes to Watch Out For" *years* ago. It's old, it's dead, it's dried up. Not every battlefield is in the courtroom or the schoolroom or the senate. The side one takes in a seemingly lightweight culture war can further social consciousness just as much as how you vote--and TV shows, homoerotic Gap ads, fan-fiction and joyful appreciation of sexual diversity and the male body all help smash conventions of hate.

You use the analogy that women writing slash is like white people adopting black culture--so what? Don't try to argue that the natural spread of human culture--its proliferation, adoption, and mutation from group to group, degrades culture itself. Ownership of cultural characteristics isn't something pure, like the sanctity of royal bloodlines. That's just silly. If some white suburban kid wants to wear Pan-African colors on his tee-shirt and listen to rap, we might think he's a bit of a pretender, or juvenile because he's so eager to glom onto the superficial earmarks of someone else's culture in order to establish his own identity--but he may actually pick up a book on African history or date a black girl, instead of picking up a baseball bat and bashing in the skulls of local "niggers" in some Nazi skinhead initiation ritual. I don't see the bad. It's in the nature of "high" culture to be commercialized and watered down for mass consumption, slowly sinking into the hegemony and reshaping it. It's just one more process that slowly latches together communities and creates commonalities between people.

There's always going to be a see-sawing tension between isolationism and assimilation, insiders and outsiders. It's natural that groups will hold onto their cultural, racial, religious, and gender identifiers and to resist incursion or appropriation from "outsiders"--I've heard it said that drag queens are inappropriately thieving and dissing "real" women's experiences; does that make female impersonators shaking their ta-tas wrong in the way that slashers or role-players are supposedly wrong for their porny fun?--but it's just as inevitable that cultural poaching, blending, and hybridization will happen.

All this aside, you keep talking about gay male culture as if it's something that is degraded by women writing certain types of slash; when I step back for a moment, I just find that funny as hell.
tzikeh:

What I was really trying to do was comment on the fact that slash is all of a sudden the popular thing to write, and too many people trivialize it.

This is only tangential to the argument, but slash is not "all of a sudden" the popular thing to write. Slash has been around for 30 years. The exponential increase in all kinds of fanfiction due to the rise of the fannish net culture may be misleading you into thinking slash is suddenly trendy, but it is no more trendy than any kind of fanfiction. It's just much more visible than it ever was.

And people trivialize het too. And have been trivializing slash for 30 years, as well as writing it very well for 30 years. And fandom can be enjoyed completely outside socio-political agendae.
bubonicplague: No, there I disagree. Slash has always been around, and had a fanbase, yes. But I don't ever remember it having the sort of popularity it does now.
tzikeh:

I've been in fandom for over 20 years, and I was in gen/het fandom for 10 years before I got into slash as well, and the ratio of slash fiction to gen/het has not changed with the advent of the 'net - *everything* has grown exponentially. There's way more gen/het than slash at most generalized fanfiction databases / archives. Maybe many of the people you're currently hanging out with on lj or on lists or what-have-you are getting into slash, but the wider world of fanfiction is not undergoing some kind of disproportionate slash explosion, when taken as a whole.

And slash has always had huge popularity - but you had to know where to find it, even within fandom itself. Whereas the gen/het stuff was readily available and visible.

[snipped]

I don't think you're a homophobe at all. But I think readers may be put off by what seems to be an attitude that somehow slash has had a recent surge and it's suddenly all the rage - because that isn't the case. I don't think lots of people are writing slash because it's a current trend, I think they're writing it because they *like* it.

I'm not sure what kind of chronology you're talking about though - do you mean a lot more than in the past 3 years, or a lot more than in the past 15 years? Because yes, there is a lot more slash than there was 15 years ago, but there is a lot more *everything* than there used to be in fandom, thanks to the internet. If you mean that there's a lot more slash now than there was three years ago, all I can say to that is that you're wrong; there isn't. Maybe you're just seeing more of it.
merryish:

I don't think you're a homophobe or anything like that. =)

I do think you're maybe making some assumptions that you're not backing up. For one thing - I've watched a lot of slash writers get into Buffy/Spike and become pretty well-known writers over there, over the years. They're not stealth or anything -- just, the het relationship was what they were in it for, at first. I think some of them are not "getting into" slash now because it's cool, but rather reverting to slash because that was their thing before and pretty much was their thing all along.

Also --unless people are actually saying that they're only doing it because it's cool? -- it's entirely possible that they're getting into it because they've just been exposed to it and they *like* it. In which case, it's kind of uncool to lump them in as a bunch of conformists when they could just be exploring their interests.

And finally -- exploitative is a heavy word, and I'd have to understand how you were defining it and what you meant by it to argue it. But just for now -- it's a heavy, heavy word with its own inherent assumptions about motivation and effects that comes off as very negative, in this case with no back-up.

I guess all I'm really saying is, the things you're saying here are negative and based on assumptions that aren't backed up in the argument, and that's why people are getting upset. Maybe the fandom's seeing an upswing in slash stories, but it doesn't necessarily follow that a) this is only because it's "cool", b) these stories are morally suspect in some way ("exploitative").

I totally get that it may be highly unpleasant for someone who's seeing authors she likes writing things she doesn't get and doesn't want to read -- that's never fun. But it doesn't necessarily translate into the things you're translating it into.
liviapenn: Um, as someone who's been running the Smallville Slash Archive since week one of the fandom, and ran the largest slash list in the fandom for almost two years, you're on crack if you think there's a "huge rise right now." There was *always* lots of slash in Smallville. There's not been "a huge rise" in the number of slash fics posted to the archive *or* the list since it started-- it's been growing slowly and steadily, as the fandom grows. So has the all-inclusive list, which accepts gen, het *and* slash, for that matter.
mimesere:

Having been in Buffy fandom for the entire run of the show, and being on many, many lists for the show during that time, I can tell you that slash is not new to the Buffyverse, it is not suddenly any more 'cool' to be a slasher than a het writer, nor was it ever really trendy. if you go to UCSL, which, I believe, is *still* the largest non-canonical pairings list for the fandom, the vast majority of the fic there is het. It has always been het, and probably will always be het.

Saying that there's been a rise in slashfic over the past year, and then saying that SV's presence in fandom at large explains this by *being* slashable, is inaccurate, as others have said before me. Had you said there's been a rise in f/f slash, sure, I'd concede that point. Had you even said that there's been a rise in PWP slash fic, I might even concede that point. But the rise in slash fandom is mirrored by a rise in fandom-at-large and fic-at-large. I will even give you that a non-fandom *awareness* of slash is at an all-time high, given recent articles in the press.

Also, saying that slash is written primarily by straight women is wildly inaccurate as far as *I* know. I can't speak for anyone but myself, but I'm pretty darn queer and perfectly happy to write guy on guy sex. You may say that there's no emotional or character-driven quality, but I may think that there is.

And, even more than a general media acceptance/awareness of slash as a legitimate genre, there is the whole notion that culturally speaking, we are just more accepting of queer relationships. Why shouldn't a straight woman be interested in two guys getting it on? There's nothing inherently wrong with that, and the impression I got from your comments to this whole thread have been that because they're straight, they can't...what? Capture what it means to be a gay man? I'm not black, but I think I do a fairly good job of understanding the mindset. Hell, I'm not white and I think I can do a good job there too.

I don't think that you're a homophobe, for what that's worth. I just think that you stated your position in inflammatory language and haven't bothered to clarify that position in terms that are less loaded. You have an opinion and that's fine, but the fact that so many people have taken exception to *how* you said what you said should maybe get you to go back and try to figure out why. We can't all be reading your comment inaccurately, or, if we are, perhaps there is something in the language you used to express yourself that lends itself to an inaccurate reading.
bubonicplague:

Blah blah blah blah. You people haven't dropped this, jeez. STILL.

I said I THINK there has been a rise in slashfic over the past year, and I am not the only one who thinks this. I also said I THINK that a lot of it is crappy and exploitative.

And, frankly, I am tired, after the 100+ posts I have responded to today on the subject.
mimesere:

No, we haven't dropped it. 'cause what you said is the equivalent of me saying, "Spike writers justify rape by saying 'she asked for it.'" You slammed an entire genre's worth of writers because you failed to take into account the whole notion of overgeneralization and appropriate language.

Most people on the 'net know that if they say something inflammatory or insulting, they're going to get called on it. The fact that you apparently thought slashers were going to let it slide because you backtracked and were all, "No, I didn't mean *all* slashers, just the ones that write *porn*!" like pornography is, by definition, a bad thing (again, overgeneralization) or because we'd be all, "Oh, you know, she's *right*, it's exploitative!" is just sadly mistaken.

So, you THINK there has been a rise in slashfic over the past year. Fine. I THINK there has been a rise in the level of people unable to a) argue with any degree of success or b) apologize gracefully and *rephrase yourself*. Is that so hard? I mean, really. Did it ever occur to you to maybe look at what you had said and go, "Oops, my bad, let me try saying that another way"? No, of course not.

You're tired? Do you know how tired *I* am of having to justify being interested in character interactions outside the heteronormative? Fine. You think slash where people are just two cocks and an asshole, maybe a mouth, maybe a few fingers, is disgusting. That's no big. There are a lot of people who think that. It's not my own personal cup of tea. But then, neither is sex with a attempted rapist corpse, but that doesn't seem to stop anyone from getting all het up over Spike.

No one is making you comment back to people. If you're tired, then stop. Be the bigger person and walk away, because as long as you keep answering people back with a complete lack of manners, then they're going to be mannerless right back. Fandom is a small, petty place. We don't let go of stuff. I'm surprised you haven't learned that yet.
bubonicplague:

I am walking away. Because, frankly, you make little sense to me.

I stated that I thought there has been a huge upswing in slashfic, and that a lot of people seem to be jumping on a bandwagon because they think it is a trend. You don't agree? Fine. I don't care. A lot of people do.
liviapenn:

Wow, way to completely dodge my main point, which was about HET couples. But thanks for playing.

So, just to be clear on what your position is:

Slash couple constantly reduced to porntoys = degrading and wrong

Femslash couple constantly reduced to porntoys = degrading and wrong

Het couple constantly reduced to porntoys = fine and dandy

Also, I have a question. What about M/M/F PWPs? Do you consider those to be degrading and wrong, or are they fine because they've got some het in there to counter the boring, trendy, overdone slash, which we must not write about except in a positive, respectful and politically correct manner, making sure all aspects of life, even the boring-ass unsexy ones, are represented equally?

(The thing is, I think OT3s are slowly becoming trendy, so you may have something new to rail against in the future. Fun!)
astarte99:

And I just don't get how writing slash is an affront to the gay community

My thoughts: it's not writing slash. It's writing bad slash.

In my experience, many ppl tend to think that if you sometimes play on the gayer side of the fence, you will want to sleep with anyone else who has a compatible sexual orientation. Yo, just b/c I like girls does not mean that I want to sleep with not to mention have a relationship with any other L/Bi girl I meet. I think that the ghost of this idea tends to come through a lot in slash fic.

I.e.: they both seem kind of gay-ish and they both are around each other a lot/both are vampires/etc, so they must get together and have lots of hot!gay!sex. No idea if they do much of anything else, but they have lots of hot!gay!sex, maybe get jealous and bicker and go kill things. Any relationship aspects are very shallow and things are all hot and cold. This just perpetuates a stereotype of gay relationships, which (in my experience) tend to be seen as more violatile and more crazy sex-filled, generally more soap opera-ish.

References