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An Introduction to Slash

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Hanne S

on 27 March 2011

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Transcript of An Introduction to Slash

writing stories about two fictional male characters
and picturing them in a romantic or sexual relationship History Contents Study ??? Why? When? Who? Contents? Fan fiction History Legal implications Contents a literary genre in which fans write about characters they "borrow" from a beloved original text movies novels plays video games Combination of

and adoration frustration the original material does not always satisfy fans' needs fan fiction as fans' eagerness to correct the flaws Roots in the nineteenth century Brontë sisters Alice in Wonderland Sherlock Holmes Star Trek frustration:
a select number of fans started to write their own Star Trek material mid 1970s: fan fiction, fanzines and fan art
are a common practice within the fandom "the Star Trek fandom was born" fan fiction spread out to other fandoms
canon versus fanon Star Trek was cancelled after three seasons Modern definition the Internet from small fan clubs to huge communities

fast expending database that attracts readers
from all over the world

blogs and internetcommunities:
more interaction between readers and writers

As unlimited in its options as any other litary genre
(perhaps even more unlimited)

length quality literary forms

interaction with the fan community: ficathon, prompts, awards specific genres fluff angst smut
(PWP) deathfic humour crack More subgenres to specify the contents Canon expansion

Alternate Universe (AU)


Self-insertion (Mary Sue)

Real Person Fiction (RPF)

Romantic pairings (ships): original or alternate plagiarism?

"real" authors have various opinions
about fan fiction

fan fiction etiquette: disclaimer

The first slash stories were written in the late 1960s

Star Trek fandom:
exploring the homoerotic subtext between
Captain Kirk and Mister Spock

"A Fragment out of Time" (1974)
"The Ring of Shoshern" (1968/1987))

More Star Trek slash in fanzines in the late 1970s,
even specific Kirk/Spock fanzines

Gradually spreading out to other fandoms
and term "slash" coined in 1985
Now, it comprises about 30% of all fan fiction Like fan fiction, slash comes in all shapes and sizes

Special subgenres: Chanslash

Real Person Slash


Readers and writers Fandoms, characters and plot Exploring several aspects of slash today

who reads and write slash?

what attracts people in slash?

what does slash look like in terms
of characters and plots? readers are much more involved in the writing process

the distinction author versus public is not as clear-cut In 1980s and 1990s academics suggested
the following explanations:

* rewritten romance: equality and androgyny

* satisfying pornography for women

* sexual fantasies and identification with male characters Which fandoms are popular for slash?

Which genres are common in slash?

Is slash always smutty? (Is sex an inherent element?)

Are the male characters more feminine in slash? And are they really gay?

Online survey among slash fans
Case study: a corpus of Remus/Sirius slash stories personal facts Mainly English speaking countries...
- the U.S. (50%)
- the U.K., Australia, Canada, New Zealand (26%)

... and European countries
-Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway ... (24%) Whereabouts Age Participants were between 13 and 65 years old. Slash world still predominantly female? YES
Almost 96% of the participants are women.

Two thirds of all respondents knew at least one or two men who read slash.

SLIGHT INCREASE? Slash still mainly practised by
heterosexual women? NO
Heterosexuals slashers barely make up half fo all respondents

Much more bisexual slashers

From the 8 men that participated, 5 were gay, 2 were bisexual and 1 was straight. slash as a hobby Discovering slash Majority of the fans:
first fan fiction, then stumble upon slash
in the same year or the first three years

But sometimes:
fans start reading slash, then discover it is part of something much bigger Coming out Shout it from the rooftops (but only to fellow fans online)

Have uncomfortable conversations (with newbies)

Hide it why write slash? erotic appeal romantic appeal psychological appeal "The only thing better than ONE hot guy, is TWO hot guys, right?"

Attractive: not so much good-looking as interesting

The succes of a couple does not depend on "hotness" but on
- chemistry between the characters in canon
- quality of the story: if well-written, then very convincing

17% labeled slash as "porn", 21 % as "porn for women"

Is slash nothing more than porn?
Erotic pleasure can be very central in slash (it often is)
but it would be wrong to say it is essential in slash for all fans.
40% of the fans labeled slash as "romantic literature"

the majority reads/writes slash to explore the romance between two men

"purer, more beautiful"
"taboo, forbidden love makes it more interesting"
"a welcome escape from the heterosexual-saturated, conventional stories"

the appeal of "total equality between two partners"
is confirmed: slash creates realistic, stereotypical-free relationships literary appeal From a writer's perspective:
writing slash is more challenging than writing het

From a reader's perspective:
more quality stories in slash than in het
*subject is more adult (so are the authors)
*requires more subtle (talented) authors

slash (fan fiction in general) is more satisfying than canon As the audience is largely female:

a male gay relationship is imagined to be better than
anything they have ever experienced

wanting "to be" the strong male leads (identification)
and simultaneously
wanting "to have" them (as sexual objects) Conclusion Fans are attracted for very different reasons

* erotic pleasure
* romantic thrills
* a good read
* psychological appeal

but also

* solely because of its community
* only in certain fandoms (nothing inherent in slash)
* for no apparent reason
What do they slash? * Television series/anime: Highlander, Stargate Atlantis, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, House, Hercules, Xena, Heroes, Supernatural, Ugly Betty, X-files, the O.C., Doctor Who, Life on Mars, Rome, Jeeves and Wooster, CSI, Starsky and Hutch, Lost, West Wing ...

* Movies: Pirates of the Caribbean, Master and Commander, Alexander, Brokeback Mountain, Star Wars, High School Musical, The Faculty, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Mummy ...

* Bands: *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, Duran Duran, Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance, The Libertines, The All-American Rejects, Green Day, Panic!At the Disco, Franz Ferdinand, Kaiser Chiefs ...

* Musicals: Rent, Les Miserables

* Books: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Vampire Chronicles, The Chronicles of Narnia

* Comic books/manga: Superman, Batman, X-men, Bleach, Cowboy Bebop, From Eroica with Love, D. Gray-man ...

* Videogames:Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, Age of Sail, Resident Evil, Minotaur, Avatar ...

But many say:
"If it is well-written, I'll just read about anything." Common characteristics:

* science fiction elements

*fantasy elements

*police or detective series

* quite a lot of non-Western fandoms/anime and manga Characterisation Androgeny Slash as a critique on traditional masculinity

NOT a loss of masculinity

a perfect balance of
traditionally perceived "masculine" and "feminine" characteristics
(the characters are just "themselves")

many slash stories portray unbalanced relationships!
(mpregs, Japanese fandoms)

many slash fans react with disgust Equality an essential quality
when portraying balanced, sterotypical-free relationships

there are many stories in which one man is subordinate to the other

many respondents strongly protest against these protector/protected stories
(while admitting these stories form a majority)
Homosexuality Academics in 1980s and 1990s suggested the characters are not really gay
(cosmic destiny, betraying details)

Twenty/thirty years later: a seemingly more open-minded society?

Only 30% confirms that the characters are gay
55% thinks they are bisexual (reconciling canon and fandom?)
15% still does not think they are homosexual

Sexual preferences are rarely explicitly revealed in stories
(no political agenda)

Golden oldies
* first time stories
* hurt/comfort stories

Relatively new in fandoms
* steady relationship

More specific plotlines
* sex pollen scenario
* blanket scenario

"But good authors always try to come up with something new."

Sex in slash Three answers:

* "Yes. It's sort of part of the definition."
* "No, if I wanted to read porn I'd go somewhere else."
* "Not for me, but it seems to be important for fandom in general."
Plotlines and genres Fans reactions? uncomfortable amused freaked out indifferent eager understanding curious "I can feel conversational and sexual chemistry with someone I don't consider particularly visually attractive. In the same way, I can find a character magnetic and fascinating without considering him "hot". Gimli in LOTR comes to mind, as well as Toby on the West Wing. I wouldn't necessarily want to "watch" the scenes I read if anyone had the balls to film them, but I can be just as touched or turned on by reading about those guys as about more traditionally handsome characters." Conclusion
Slash is a blend of romance and porn with both a soft and hardcore side that give readers erotic/romantic pleasure and satisfaction "You need to explore the characters closely and try to keep things in-character, even though you're changing their sexual preferences." "As a female reader, I am forced to identify with the female character, all too often portrayed as emotional, needy and weaker. I slash I can identify with any or none of the characters." television series ... fans are inspired to write about their favourite characters Slash "Best not to tell anyone who will not get it anyway." Genres

Favourite genres: smut, fluff, angst and humour in equal amounts

Awful genres: mpreg, RPS, incestslash, chanslash, S&M, rapefic, deathfic, badfic, PWP

But for most fans it all comes down to
* personal taste
* fandom and characters
* mood
* quality of the story Conclusion? Slash is
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