Why I Don't "Buy" Slash

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Title: Why I Don’t “Buy” Slash
Creator: L. Goldman
Date(s): November 30, 1999
Medium: online
Fandom:
Topic: fiction writing
External Links: Why I Don’t “Buy” Slash/WebCite
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Contents

Why I Don’t “Buy” Slash is an essay by L. Goldman.

"Writers have a basic responsibility to be true to the characters as they have been created. Canon is there for a reason and not to be discarded as it suits the author's purposes. If it is, then it is no longer fan fiction; it is simply fiction or pornography using the character's names."

It is part of the Fanfic Symposium series.

Excerpts

Okay. Let me make a few confessions here before I begin, huh?

First off, I hate writing sex. I suck. Period. End of statement. When I can write good sex, winged simians will come soaring out of my posterior.

Second, I am the co-author of a slash extravaganza. I freely admit to being one-half of a duo currently subjecting people to a (quite possibly) endless manga-style story arc. (The first arc is completed and I'm editing the second as fast as my little fingers and my RL will let me). My other half writes much better sex than I do.

That said, it is the only slash-type relationship I've ever “bought” enough to be able to read or write about. By “bought”, I mean I'll consider the pairing the author has given me, but if the author can't convince me, forget it. Now, before you decide to email me with all your suggestions of stories that would make me buy other particular pairings, let me explain my thinking....
“I'm Gay. Did you know that?”

A continual ploy I have found in numerous fandoms that really irks me is the “Look, I'm Suddenly, Totally, Irrevocably and Happily Gay!” storyline. This is closely followed by the “I've Been Closeted All My Life and I Just Need the Right Man to Release My True Self!” method of bringing two characters together. I'm not saying that life-altering experiences aren't possible, and angst is all well and good, but, really, enough's enough.

Putting aside subtext, et cetera, in shows like The Sentinel or Highlander or The Professionals or…or…Andy Griffith and Barney Fife, for God's sake, as a first-time traveler to these strange lands, I want to read these stories, I want to follow along with the characters and see their development, to see this relationship develop. Instead, I get the fanfic equivalent of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2 (“They always fuck you at the drive-thru!”). Essentially, I get shortchanged.

What the story boils down to is I'm reading is two men who, as far as I can tell, have never remotely thought about boinking each other except in their cold, lonely beds at night as they pine and sigh (thereby producing more carbon dioxide than our planet's vegetation can handle).
“Allow Me to Introduce Myself…in excruciating detail”

Now we come to the next reason I don't “buy” slash. In this particular piece of fiction, the characters may or may not already be together, but the author is making sure we know that he or she is very aware of The Issues. This can include always noting that the character is dressed in his AIDS Awareness T-shirt (Every time he walks out the door? He must have a closet full of these things!) or that they collect for the United Way or they volunteer every spare hour they have to the Society for Blind Llhasa Apsos Cursed with Tone Deafness.

I'm not trying to be snide (well, at least not in this paragraph). I appreciate authors who attempt to tackle issues within their fic, whether it be AIDS, sexual/physical abuse, child pornography, the difficulties of relationships or any host of topics. However, when the characters take backstage to the author's personal soapbox and it's the character speaking in the author's voice, saying what the author wants to say and only what the author wants to say, I'm outta there. You may be trying to educate, but you're going about it in such a heavy-handed way that I'm not interested in sticking around long enough to find out. Instead, I've decided a pod person has taken over the character and I'm going to be far, far away before they come looking for me.
Character Rape or Who Is This Person? Could someone please tell me when Mulder began crying all the time and what I can do to make sure it never happens again? When did Blair Sandburg suddenly begin channeling that episode of Star Trek where a woman was trapped inside Captain Kirk’s body? When did Walter Skinner start beating up his agents for sex?
Sugarpie, Honeybunch To the best of my recollection, I haven't seen more “babys” outside of a maternity ward. Every time I see it, I think, “Dear God, not another ‘Jim's pregnant’ story!” (this needs to be said in the manner of Westley in The Princess Bride when he says to Prince Humperdinck, “Dear God, what is that thing?”). I know very few grown men or women who call each other “baby”, “sweetie”, “honey”, “lover”, or “darling” with every breath – or, in some cases, instead of ever using the character's name again in this lifetime! I read much more of this and I'm going to need to have my insulin levels checked.
You Only Hurt The Ones You Love?

I have seen Mulder infantilized to a degree that was damn near pedophilia. I have seen Scully referred to as a “stupid cunt” for daring to suppose she could have any opinion on the Mulder/Other Partner pairing of the week. I have seen Blair horribly raped and then seemingly replaced by BlairySue (acted by a guest appearance by Norma Desmond minus the turban if the character's actions were any indication). I have seen grown, capable, intelligent men feminized to the point of absurdity and women with the same capabilities reduced to the point of caricature and, now, I have definitely seen enough.

Why is it necessary to vilify someone like Dana Scully who has been written as a strong, intelligent, classy individual? Should she be subjected to rape, torture or even crude, base comments that reduce her to the sum of her body parts simply because, in the author's opinion, she “wouldn't understand” the Mulder/Other relationship? If you don't know what Scully's response would be, don't put her in the story! Does Blair have to be reduced to a grasping, whiny, needy child with the IQ of a rutabaga before Jim notices him, metaphorically spanks him, and they get on with life? Why is it necessary to have Mulder raped by Skinner and then have him come crawling back for more?