South Park Self

furnish it with love

I've spent the last week reading Avengers slash more or less continually, and really, it's not what you think. I can happily give you, if you like, the current state of theory about slash, its operation as a female-produced and female-centred emotional pornography, its response to the body fetish of contemporary media society, its address to gender balances in our cultural texts. All of that is true. But it's not why I read it. I am not immune to the charm of beautiful men articulating their feelings with greater or lesser degrees of angst and humour and smut, but it's really a different kind of intimacy which keeps me immersed in this world, warmed by it: the true pull is the intimacy between the writer and their text.

Fan fiction of any sort has a sort of luminosity to it. However badly it's written (and despite my fastidious focus on the articulate end of its spectrum, I still encounter the odd appalling assault on grammar and coherence), any fan fiction breathes from its surfaces the loving intensity with which its writer regards the story and characters they're appropriating. Fan fiction is about investment, the wholehearted identification with a text which raises the writer to new, in some cases superhuman levels of sensitivity and insight and insane creativity. People spend weeks and months of their lives producing novel-length responses to their canon because that act is the only one with sufficient magnitude to reflect their love of it.

And this has surprising knock-on effects. It has its squabbles and its bigotries, but the fan-fiction world on the whole presents itself as a supportive community, shaped and directed by the overflow of warm and intimate relations with texts into warm and intimate relations with fellow fans. The tenor of fan interchanges tends to be playful and funny and self-revealing, intrinsically about recognition and trust. As a corollary, I increasingly find fics posted with trigger warnings: do not read if you have problems with non-con, BDSM, abuse situations, whatever. It's protective and rather sweet.

Fan fiction finds its own level: a reader looks for writers whose preoccupations and 'ships and responses to a character or world are the closest to their own, and will thus also reflect their investment. Communities grow with a lot in common, but they are also made up of people with a tendency to invest heavily in their cultural artefacts. This spills into the fictional world, so that any fanfic you enjoy is likely to be rife with references to books and films and music and poetry other than the canon text of the 'fic, but which equally resonates with you, not just because you are likely to share tastes with the author, but because even a passing reference is delineated with passion and precision and a sense of loving identification which makes a reference a shining thing in itself. I discover a lot of books and music and poetry via fanfic references, thereby enriching my life greatly.

I don't write fanfic for a variety of reasons, but mostly, I don't write fanfic because I have no need to - because my own investments are content with the nature of the reflection they find in the fiction that already exists.
  • Current Mood: busy randomly analytic
  • Current Music: that damned Coke jingle IN MY HEAD!
I've been totally immersed in Hawaii Five-0 slash, and have to agree with all you've said about the warm and intimate sense of belonging which being part of a fandom, even if only a commenter and sometime lurker, brings. The beauty of the men is also of course a great draw :)

I have a friend who is doing her PhD on fanfiction, and I've sent her the link to your journal - I hope that's ok?