[personal profile] rusty_halo
I just tried to post and it turned into a big personal rant about my family, so I posted that privately. Now trying again with a real post.

Quick summary of my life at the moment: work is stressful, family is stressful, real life is stressful.

I've been away from LJ for almost a week; I stayed up until 4am last night trying to catch up with all I've missed. I have a hard time skimming anything; I'm obsessively thorough, and so I want to read each and every thing. For the most part, I've not been commenting, since these discussions are days old.

If I've ignored you, it's not a slight; it's just me being busy and away from the internet.

I did miss a whole big kerfuffle, which is probably for the best. My problem isn't so much with the subjects of the discussion, it's with the way many people choose to argue. Almost all of the people whose thoughts I read have genuine reasons for feeling the way they do, and they have every right to feel that way. The problem is with how they communicate; many people have this tendency to assume that because they think something, it's "correct," or that "every sane person agrees." Some also have the tendency to think that because they dislike something, it's not just personally squicky to them, but "morally wrong," and therefore that the people who do it/like it have morally suspect motivations, and that every single person who does it thinks the same way. I'm really tired of reading statements that imply that "all slashers," "all gay people," "all RPF writers," "all Spike fans," "all people with blue eyes," etc think exactly the same way, or that the entire group is suspect just because one person in one of these groups behaved poorly. There are many many diverse people with different motivations and ideas and beliefs and behaviors in each of these groups, and it's wildly inaccurate to mass them all into one big lump.

A lot of these communication problems are not done intentionally; people write something quickly without realizing that it could be interpreted differently than they intend, or they express something more vehemently than they mean in the heat of the moment. I honestly think 99% of the arguing could be avoided if people just kept their tempers and were more careful not to judge or generalize so much. We all have the right to our differing opinions, and if we could express them in a more calm and understanding manner, maybe we'd have a useful dialogue from which we'd all learn, instead of escalating anger and cruelty and people dividing themselves off into little partisan groups. Also, it just makes me sad to see people I like and respect attacking each other and calling each other names over something so small.

The whole thing also got me thinking about why I read fanfic. I've read so many comments that state, basically, "I don't read slash because it doesn't get me off." Now, I have no problem with slash not getting you off; we all have our kinks and to each his own, etc. But the above sentence seems to imply that the person only reads fanfic to get off. Now, again, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it surprises me. I read fanfic for the writing, the characterization, the plot, the ideas, etc. Sometimes I also think it's hot, but that's just a little added bonus and doesn't have that much to do with my enjoyment of the story. I don't look at ratings when I read fic, and I only glance at pairings to get an idea of who and what the story will focus on. Sometimes I don't even realize that a story has explicit sex; I'm much more interested in what's going on with the character development. The best (IMO) sex scenes are those that use the sexual relationship as another way to explore the characters. The worst (IMO) are those that simply exist as interruptions within the story that don't have anything to do with characters, plot, good writing, etc.

So I guess what I'm saying is that maybe that kind of disagreement just comes down to a fundamental difference in why people read fanfic. Not that one is better than the other, but that maybe the argument keeps going in circles because of this fundamental disagreement. OTOH, I would really encourage people who are interested in more than just smut to try slash, even if it doesn't get them off. Read it for the plot, characterization, writing style, insight, themes, etc, if not for the hot gay sex. (And, y'know, there are even slash stories without sex, so it's clearly not the only reason people write slash). I have read and enjoyed Spike/Buffy stories, for example, even though I find Buffy grotesquely unattractive, or Spike/Fred stories, even though I don't find Fred attractive. I've enjoyed these stories for characters, plot, writing, etc; whether the characters have sex and whether it turns me on is irrelevant.

It always bothers me when people say they don't like something, but haven't actually read/seen/done it. It just strikes me as hypocritical; like those preachers who say Harry Potter is Satanic, but haven't actually read the books. If you walk out of a movie halfway through, don't go around saying you thought the movie was terrible. You can say the first half was terrible, but for all you know it had an astoundingly good ending that redeemed the whole thing. I say this from personal experience, too, because I used to say "I'm just not interested in slash." I'd read a few bad fics and judged the whole group by them, and that was wrong. I should've said "I'm just not interested in crappy PWP fics written by 12 year olds who can't spell and have no understanding of male anatomy." When I finally read a good slash fic, I revised my entire opinion on the genre. It comes down to individual stories; you can't judge every slash story just because you didn't like one (or ten, or whatever).

And the other thing is "I don't read that pairing because it just doesn't seem plausible." Now, it's one thing if you read the story, and say "the author didn't convince me." But I think it's close-minded to say "I'm not going to read that story because the pairing isn't plausible." A very good author may very well make the pairing plausible, through writing and characterization and plot. [livejournal.com profile] estepheia is a master of this; she can make almost anything plausible and true to the characters, because she has great insight into the characters and takes the time to make the pairing work. For example, I generally don't think of Spike/Andrew as a plausible pairing, but Estepheia made it work for me in Knocking on Heaven's Door. Besides, plenty of beloved pairings started out as rather implausible. Spike/Buffy? In season two, this was almost unthinkable. In season six, it was canon. The writers made it work; the same possibility applies to fanfiction.

Anyway, at least this whole thing is giving me plenty of interesting stuff to think about for school, since my concentration is "gender and culture." I still haven't written an essay about slash; maybe I'll manage that this year.

Oh, and um, since it's no kerfuffle day: you're welcome to disagree, but if you hate me and never want to speak to me again, save it for tomorrow?

(Also, I'm speaking of general trends that I observed through sitting down and reading LJ nonstop for 8 hours last night. This isn't a veiled attack on anyone; I'm not thinking of any person specificically, or any group specifically. I can't even remember who said what most of the time anyway. And if anything I said comes off as outraged or judgmental, it's not intended to be; I'm just sitting here sorting through a bunch of random thoughts.)

(no subject)

Date: 2003-08-20 09:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ladyanne04.livejournal.com
For just babbling, you are astoundingly coherent. I think I'd just like to add a hear, hear to your comments.

I have a pairing I’m particularly fond of reading. I also read a wide variety of other pairings out and enjoyed stories where there is thoughtful characterization, an engaging plot or a lyricism to the writing which engages me. I don't especially like slash because I often have a hard time seeing some of the frequently slashed characters relating in that manner - and yet I've read really well done fics (frequently courtesy of your wonderful site) that made me believe in Spander or Spangel, etc.

I read fanfic for the writing, the characterization, the plot, the ideas, etc.

So do I. Thanks for encapsulating what I like about the world of fanfic when you get beyond the cliques, the pairings and the kerfuffles.

(no subject)

Date: 2003-08-20 09:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] swmbo.livejournal.com
I'm so sorry things have been stressful for you lately, hopefully everything will ease up soon.

I'll have to agree with the bulk of what you said. I read fanfic because I care about the characters and I want to see more of them, in different situations. And while there are pairings that I hold closer to my heart than others, it does seem that there are authors out there who can make me like absolutely anything. I might not seek out the pairings, but I'll definitely seek out the authors. Or what they recommend.

To shamelessly flatter you a little, that is one reason I adore your archive so much - I found it very early on when I started looking for fanfic. And honestly, I don't think I would have pursued fanfic at all if I hadn't - finding individual sites can be very hard and while there is some great stuff on some of the huge archive sites, it can be impossible sometimes to wade through the dreck to find it. So, in case you haven't heard it recently, thank you so much for all of your hard work. Even if you never, ever updated again, your site is absolutely wonderful.

/shamelessly flattery

(no subject)

Date: 2003-08-20 09:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hazel75.livejournal.com
Great post. And I think you're right. It's not so much that people disagree that's causing the problem. It's the manner in which they choose to disagree.

And along with posting too fast, I'd add reading to fast to the list of things which causes problems. I think people skim, see something they find objectionable, and respond to that. However, if you go back and read carefully, you realize that wasn't what the person writing intended at all. I've done that and I've seen others do the same.

Good to have you back!

(no subject)

Date: 2003-08-20 11:49 pm (UTC)
spikewriter: (Default)
From: [personal profile] spikewriter
Excellent post -- and I agree with you about the big problem being not the opinions themselves, but the way in which those opinions were expressed. Calm voices seem to sometimes get lost in the fire of those that are perhaps more emphatic than they should be due to the heat of the moment and those who try to deliberately provoke.

It comes down to individual stories; you can't judge every slash story just because you didn't like one (or ten, or whatever).

Absolutely. The slash stories I've read that I've like have been because they've been good stories, because the author made me believe that this was plausible.

(no subject)

Date: 2003-08-21 04:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rockgoddes.livejournal.com
How did someone so young get to be so amazingly articulate? Most folks I know your age can barely type their names properly let alone express themselves the way you do. You continue to amaze me.

As for the content of your post, you know I'm not in a position to comment as I don't read any kind of fan fic so I will refrain from doing so, but your basic idea of people thinking before they "speak" (post) is right on the money with me...


I blog about fannish things. Busy with work so don't update often. Mirrored at rusty-halo.com.

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