Winter Sunlight

Fandom things

... so I went and signed up for avengersfest, since Agent Carter is an option. I'm not entirely sure what the state of the fest is right now, because ... there was a notice two days ago that the mod was going to be closing signups? And then signups don't seem to have been closed? So maybe you can still sign up but I'm not sure. (I mean, this isn't meant to be mod-pokery, it's just that I hadn't mentioned this because I didn't think you could still sign up, but it's possible that you might be able to.)

I've mostly managed to talk myself out of signing up for [community profile] genex, a gen relationship exchange. (Signups close July 23.) On the one hand - gen relationship exchange! That is totally my thing! But the dates are really NOT the best considering my current travel plans; it's bad enough I'm going to need to turn in my Avengers Fest assignment by Sept. 10, but Genex fics are due on Sept. 3, which would give me just a couple of weeks to write both of them when I get back in August. Genex also requires at least 3 different fandoms requested and 4 offered, and while I can do it, I'm not sure how enthusiastically I can do it.

(Plus there's my rather conflicted relationship with gen, of late. I feel like it's probably ridiculous to spend too much time fretting over whether writing gen is ethical, or I should say whether writing the kind of smarmy friendship stuff I like to write is ethical ... but I do worry about it, and while I am absolutely not going to beat myself up for writing a little idfic from time to time, I probably don't need to sign up for a ficathon that's going to encourage me to write even more of it.)

Today's my last day at home before I'm gone for a week and a half, then back for a couple of days, then gone again for almost three weeks. I feel as if I should be using my last day at home more usefully, but aside from proofing Kismet book files (AMAZON, PLZ STOP MAKING ME RE-UPLOAD THESE STUPID ENORMOUS FILES XD) I don't really have anything left to do urgently, and I kinda just want to chill online and maybe write another h/c bingo square.

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Hmm I'm a little confused here. Why would gen fic be unethical ?
Not all gen! I just feel like most of what I write is basically romance that's pretending to be gen (or, I should say, I'm fooling myself that it's actually gen, not deliberately trying to be deceptive -- the emotions are romantic ones, basically) but going ahead and taking it the extra step and adding sex to the plot isn't what I want in most cases.

I don't think it's terribly bad and wrong for me to write it (I get to have my fun brain candy too!) but I do feel like I should also try to keep in mind that it is just brain candy and a steady diet of brain candy isn't any better for you than actual candy.
Ah but that's not unethical. You could call it hypocrite or fooling yourself, but there's *nothing* wrong in writing gen fics.
Also, it might be the abundance of slash fic (and slash fic desire) that makes people see your fics as slash fics in disguise (the same way they see the shows), but that doesn't necessarily mean *you* are the one in the wrong.

Personally I don't think you need sex/romance to have strong feelings and emotional connections. And I actually find it annoying when a show (or a writer) chooses that route just to make the connection supposedly stronger.
(like in Person of Interest when they got John and Carter together just to kill her off. I really don't think he'd have been less affected if they hadn't kissed... It felt forced, out of the blue and a complete rewrite of theit history)

There's plenty of exemples, in shows, movies, books, with great, completely gen, deep friendships. (Heck, White Collar in canon is exactly that).
Wait, gen fic is now unethical? More than other types of fanfic? Is this the old "some smarm was homophobic so the whole genre is tainted" issue or something else?

--And good luck getting ready for the trip! Also please ignore the above in favor of packing and the like, don't want to distract you from that with a protracted fannish debate, just, you know what my favorite fic is, so...!

Edited at 2016-07-18 10:30 pm (UTC)
Oh no, distract me, please. XD All I'm doing at the moment is waiting for files to upload and procrastinating on packing. I welcome further procrastination.

I also wasn't really expecting that part of the post to touch off a bunch of comments, which it seems to have! This is a debate I've been having with myself for awhile now (a year or so, at least); I just forgot that it's not something I've actually talked about on LJ much at all. The gist of it is that I think I'm writing a lot of stuff that is actually romance in disguise. I used to HATE it when people would say that to me, or leave comments on my stories asking me when the characters were going to get together, or that kind of thing ... but I understand, now, why it read that way to people. I feel like over the years I've done a lot of accidental queerbaiting in my fic (or ship-tease with the F/M ones). I mean, certainly ALL of my fic isn't like that! But a lot of it is.

The frustrating thing is, that's definitely what my id wants; it wants intense emotions in gen relationships! But I don't really know how to write it anymore without having it come out queerbaity or shipteasy; I don't know where the line is. Not that I've really changed anything. Now I just write it and feel guilty about it. XD But I am trying to write it a bit less, if possible.
Huh! Okay, a lot of random arguments here, none of which may help, but...!

First off, I think the term queerbaiting has gotten overused to the point of losing meaning. It's a valid and real concept, but it does not and logically cannot apply to every pairing fans ship. Like a lot of important social justice concepts, it's been co-opted as another scorecard point in a lot of really old basic and trivial fannish activities, which is diluting it to the point that it's all but useless.

Putting that aside -- you are not obliged to give readers everything they want to see, either in fanfic or your original work. In original work you may validly feel social responsibility to provide characters and relationships parts of your audience can identify with. But in fanfic that's not really the case at all; when it's not your characters to begin with, you can't make or break representation. Just as writing a million ship fics cannot turn a ship canon, writing a gen fic (or a million gen fics) cannot turn a relationship platonic.

In fanfic, too, if you are tagging your fic clearly for the right pairings or relationships, then anyone who reads them expecting/wanting consummated romance is deliberately messing with themselves. That's on them. Same as with non-con or death or any other potentially triggery concept - it's your reader's responsibility to get what they want and avoid what they don't want, not yours.

Finally, the idea that intense emotions in relationships MUST be romantic, that loving someone else or not wanting to see them die or wanting to be with them or whatever you're writing, is always fundamentally a romantic feeling - either that's stretching the definition of 'romance' to include platonic/familial love (which is fine; I actually do think of a lot of my smarmfic as 'romances' in the antiquated use of the term, as high adventure stories.) Or it's massively oversimplifying the human experience. Which is what a LOT of fanfic does, because a lot/most fanfic is id-driven, and it's pretty common for our ids to fixate on single concepts - you don't want distractions, not in the course of a single story. Fortunately for the majority of fic fans, their id often wants smut and erotic romance, and so there's a lot of it written and a lot of it to read. For those of us whose ids (or on occasion) crave something different, it can be more difficult to find what we want, which is why I prize well-written smarm fic so much, because there isn't that much of it, not in most fandoms.

And I can see why from your perspective, it feels like you're doing something wrong/unethical, because the majority of what you're writing is not what the majority is wanting to be reading. But in context, what you write is actually less common and hard for those of us who do love it to find?

(Also, your comment above re: braincandy...that feels like a different argument from ethics, to me? It's like saying a chocolatier is unethical for only making candy and never making anything healthy to eat. A parent who only feeds their kid candy, that could be unethical. Or falsely advertising chocolate as a healthfood when it really isn't, that's unethical. But becoming a master at making delicious candy and providing it to people who want a dessert, there's nothing unethical about that?)
This is an excellent comment with which I agree.

I have never thought the gen stuff Sholio writes is queerbaiting.

If I want to read about John and Rodney doing it, I can read that in about a million billion places. If I want to read about John and Rodney being BFF and only BFF, I have much fewer options.

I find that kind of very intense friendship really fascinating to read about because I've had several friendships (mostly when I was younger) that I think qualify as epic but only one epic romance.

Obviously you can't help how you feel about a thing, and if you're feeling this, Sholio, it doesn't mean you're wrong or weird; the feeling is coming from somewhere. But I don't think this is a thing you are actually doing.
And then of course I wandered off and didn't have the time/energy/spoons to come back and answer properly! And I'm leaving in the morning; gah. (There is some interesting discussion happening in the DW comments, btw.)

Anyway, I agree in particular with your whole paragraph about the oversimplification of human emotions -- that we inevitably are going to do it in fic, to get a particular feeling, but it usually gets oversimplified in one direction: towards romance. It actually makes me feel better about one of the aspects of gen smarm that's an issue for me, which is that it's not realistic; people don't normally do those things with their friends. (It's not that you couldn't, given certain relationships and certain kinds of people -- but let's face it, you are usually not going to catch 40-year-old military guys cuddling with their friends or any of the other things people get up to in smarm. XD) However, the idea that it's still oversimplifying, just in the other direction, and providing a sort of balance, really works for me. :D

... I guess what it really comes down to is that I just like gen, and I love having non-romantic emotions treated as just as powerful and valid as romantic ones. I just don't want to lose sight of the fact that I'm not writing this in a complete social and moral vacuum.
Eheheheh yeah, I was thinking you might not have the chance to answer! Hope I don't distract you too much (or at least not in a bad way...)

Yeah, that's the reason for a lot of it for me - fic is so often about distilling a story down into one of its component elements, emphasizing that one aspect, bringing out a particular flavor. And for a lot of people, the flavor they want is romance - but to make that the only flavor that's allowed, or ethically correct to explore, is absurd.

While I hear you on the social/moral vacuum - you're really not writing in one, and when the majority of fic in most places is romantic in nature, I don't see why everyone should be obliged to write it? Especially if it's not what they're interested in writing? Most of the people who write romance fic (including m/m and f/f and more 'socially conscious' focuses) aren't doing it to serve a higher cause; they're doing it because it's what their id craves. And the idea that I'm somehow ethically or socially inferior because my id (and myself) is not really interested in sex...that's a disturbing thought (and not what you meant at all, I know, but sort of where your argument ends up?)

And a lot of romance is stunningly unrealistic! So why should gen cleave to some higher standard?
I feel like it's probably ridiculous to spend too much time fretting over whether writing gen is ethical, or I should say whether writing the kind of smarmy friendship stuff I like to write is ethical ... but I do worry about it

Wait, what? Why would gen be unethical? How? *boggles*

(Sorry, but you've just managed to completely baffle me.)
See above, my comment to xparrot; I tried to explain a little better there. Also, I sort of forgot when I mentioned it in the post that, while this is something I've been thinking about for months, I haven't actually talked about it on LJ, so this is going to basically come out of left field to people.

The gist of it is that I think a lot of my fic is sort of accidentally queer-baity (or ship-teasy in the case of F/M pairings) but I have absolutely no idea how NOT to write it that way, except to put in sex and make it an actual pairing, but I usually don't want to. Naturally I'm dealing with this in a suitably grownup way, by changing nothing whatsoever except now I feel guilty when I write gen. XD I am making something of an effort to write more fic that's overtly got pairings in it, but my id doesn't get off on it in quite the same way.
Okay, I see where you're coming from, but as someone who loves gen AND loves shippy fic, often about the same characters, your genfic has never read that way to me. Your gen reads as gen to me - exactly the kind of gen I like best, too. And it feels just like canon often does - there's enough subtext that you could easily turn it shippy, yes, but that doesn't mean it has to be. And that doesn't make it romance in disguise, or queerbaity, or anything. It just makes it canon-style gen. ♥

Honestly, I feel like fandom has come all the way around from "this emotionally intense relationship is in NO way shippy/slashy, how dare you, that would be WRONG" to "this emotionally intensive relationship HAS to be shippy/slashy, don't you dare suggest otherwise - that would be homophobic/misogynistic/queerbaiting/WRONG", and I think both versions are about equally wrong-headed.
Honestly, I feel like fandom has come all the way around from "this emotionally intense relationship is in NO way shippy/slashy, how dare you, that would be WRONG" to "this emotionally intensive relationship HAS to be shippy/slashy, don't you dare suggest otherwise - that would be homophobic/misogynistic/queerbaiting/WRONG", and I think both versions are about equally wrong-headed.


I think I kind of get where you're coming from, Sholio, with the is-it-smarm-or-is-it-slash push and pull (though I think calling it unethical is pretty loaded?). A few of my recent fics have kind of trod that line. Something to think about-- a lot of the discussion in the asexual community separates attraction to other people out into several different aspects (which don't just apply to asexuals, they apply to everyone, it's just that the other aspects all tend to get conflated into sexual attraction in most discussion). Aside from sexual attraction, there's also romantic attraction, aesthetic attraction, intellectual attraction, sensual/tactile attraction, and emotional attraction. (There's some good definitions of these here.) IMHO, I think what gen/smarm fic does is explore these other concepts of attraction in the same way that slash fic explores sexual attraction-- especially emotional attraction and sensual/tactile attraction. (And when I say "explore", I mean it's basically porn for those kinds of attractions. So of course it's not going to be entirely realistic.)

tl,dr: Saying that smarm is queerbaiting is only true if you assume that that those other kinds of attraction and emotional closeness can only be experienced in concert with sexual attraction, which isn't the case.

There's even a concept for it!:

One of these types of relationships is referred to as queerplatonic relationships (QPRs). Queerplatonic Relationships (QPRs) are those relationships that are not romantic in nature but they involve very close emotional connections that are often deeper or more intense than what is traditionally considered a friendship. Since there is not adequate language to describe queerplatonic partners, some people refer to these partners as zucchini.

Ok, hopefully that made some sense.
I'm coming into this conversation with no background since I don't hang out on tumblr enough to know these things, so I'm curious if you know what's the difference between queerplatonic and just straight up platonic? I mean, does 'queer' indicate that the relationship must involve people of the same gender? I find the term confusing even with the given definition because all it seems to say is it's a "close platonic friendship". What is "normal" or "traditional" friendship?

Halp. :)

I have no idea when you'll see it, but I wanted to wish you a fabulous day and an awesome year anyway. :D
"whether writing the kind of smarmy friendship stuff I like to write is ethical "

I know what you're talking about and tbh I think this sentence encapsulates everything wrong with fandom lately... -.-

*likes to read smarmy friendship stuff*