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Whither gen?

Via metafandom: author_by_night has started what's shaping up to be an interesting discussion about the prevalence of romance and smut in fanfic. I don't know yet if I'll formulate anything worth contributing, but it's a springboard to another topic that I should really get around to ranting about properly one of these days.

Because I'd actually take the question a step further, and note that not just fic but discussion has become increasingly, and to my mind maddeningly, pairing-centric over the last several years. Part of the reason I stick to those "little corners of fandom" of mine is that they're the places I've found where I can have any kind of conversation that's not dominated entirely by who should be shagging whom. Because OMGSICKTODEATHOFIT.

By no means do I have anything against either romance or sex in fiction. I even like the occasional piece that centers on it. I mean, hello, opera singer! But to my mind, something has gone seriously wonky with the proportions in fandom.

This isn't the rant yet. Mostly I just wanted to point out the cool discussion happening. And promise the rant. :-)

Comments

( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
ithildyn
Jun. 22nd, 2007 08:40 pm (UTC)
"ship-indifferent" I like that tag! Whenever I do some meme, or friending thing and get to the 'favourite ship' part, I never have a reply. I don't really have any. And then I think there must be something wrong with me [g] Well, may be there is, but I'm just not shippy.
wiliqueen
Jun. 22nd, 2007 08:44 pm (UTC)
"ship-indifferent" I like that tag!

I coined the phrase in some discussion last year whose content I've completely forgotten (although I'm fairly certain mrv3000 was involved in it, so maybe she can jog my memory...I think I even promised icons, which I have failed to deliver), and have used it a few times since.

I actually rather hope I won't be banging on about it enough to warrant a tag, but then again there are probably some old posts I could go back and attach it to. The driving-me-bonkers of it has been known to rear its head here in the past, I'm sure. :-)
(no subject) - mrv3000 - Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Addendum - wiliqueen - Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Addendum - mrv3000 - Jun. 22nd, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Addendum - wiliqueen - Jun. 23rd, 2007 01:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
neonhummingbird
Jun. 22nd, 2007 08:49 pm (UTC)
I totally agree with you here. There are a few fandoms where, I confess, I'm all about one ship or another (West Wing comes immediately to mind). But most of my fandoms, I'm generally much happier when no one's shagging anyone else, or if it's only happening in the background.

Not everything is about sex! Just tell me a story! < five-year-old whine >
bktheirregular
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:02 pm (UTC)
Amen! When I go digging for fanfic, more often than not, I'm just looking to read a good adventure or something. Not to mention that some ships? Need to be introduced to a limpet mine. I was going to say "need to be torpedoed," but when dealing with those kinds of ships, that's just asking for trouble...
iingaartist
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:09 pm (UTC)
I was having this discussion with amilyn the other night. I showed her an episode of The 4400 and she agreed with me that it was a really intriguing show. Part of me can't understand why this show doesn't have more of a following. I almost never hear anyone mention it. And the only real explanation I have for that is that there is pretty much zero sexual chemistry on the show. (All of the romantic/sexual relationships that have happened on the show, have actually *happened* and run their course in a natural manner so there isn't any angsty unresolved sexual tension.) I can't really imagine wanting to read a smut fic involving any of these characters. I just think it's sad that that translates to no one wanting to squee about the show, because *plotwise* there have been lots of squee-worthy twists.
aj
Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:35 pm (UTC)
Whereas I've squeed over that show lots in the past. I just... there are just episodes that make me want to smack my head repeatedly into a desk and go "WHO HIRED THAT ACTOR!? WHO HIRED THAT WRITER!? WHY!?!?!?!" Third season pretty much killed my love for that show because I spent the whole time going "...Shawn, you're a moron and I don't want to stare at you anymore. Ever. Go away."

*pats* (Sorry?)
(no subject) - iingaartist - Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - aj - Jun. 22nd, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iingaartist - Jun. 23rd, 2007 12:13 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - studiesinlight - Jun. 23rd, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - studiesinlight - Jun. 23rd, 2007 05:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jun. 23rd, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
phantomminuet
Jun. 22nd, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
I think part of the explanation lies in the fact that women write the vast majority of fanfiction, and women love romance. They love angst and longing and unrequited desire and the course of true love never being smooth.

Me, I'm just in it for the porn. ;-) But being a woman, I like a little story and a little humor with my porn.
wiliqueen
Jun. 23rd, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC)
I think part of the explanation lies in the fact that women write the vast majority of fanfiction, and women love romance.

Guess I'm not one, then. *wry g*

Seriously, I do actually acknowledge the value of the statement, as far as it goes. But the generalization is frustrating to me in and of itself. I don't dislike all that stuff, but it's not what I'm looking for with my fandoms. It's ironic that a lot of people say "Well, if I want gen/plot/friendship/whatever, I get it from canon." Me, if I want to focus on romance as the main course instead of a side dish, I'll get it from Puccini or Shakespeare. :-)
(no subject) - iingaartist - Jun. 23rd, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jun. 23rd, 2007 11:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jun. 23rd, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
diannelamerc
Jun. 22nd, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
Might it not also have something to do with the fact that you have your own long-term 'ship IRL, whereas most fans of my acquaintance (including myself) don't?

Yet another facet of vicarious living through TV for the win, Alex.
studiesinlight
Jun. 23rd, 2007 02:47 am (UTC)
Well, perhaps it's only proving the rule by exception, but I'm unfortunately relentlessly single, and I don't ship, either. (In fact, in my teeny, tiny circle, I've become moderately notorious for dismantling ships. 101 reasons Nick and Natalie should be platonic friends! Yes! ~g~) I love stories that read like episodes; it's my favorite kind of fanfic.

I suppose that if your fandom has enough episodes -- is that possible? -- or enough authorized novels that read like episodes, and your show is not, um, in need of repair because its PTB are nitwits, then you would turn to fanfiction for things episodes cannot hold ... ? Not sure I've ever yet loved such a blessed show! ;-)
(no subject) - diannelamerc - Jun. 23rd, 2007 05:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jun. 23rd, 2007 02:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - studiesinlight - Jun. 23rd, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
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therealjae
Jun. 22nd, 2007 11:16 pm (UTC)
It's ironic, given that the raison d'etre of my huge sprawly fanfiction series is most definitely a pairing, but I couldn't agree with you more. And I'd go you one further and say that there's not only not enough genfic, but there's also not enough gen aspects to our pairing-based fic. If you look at what fans tend to produce, all these people tend to think about is their sex lives and their romantic relationships--but they have work lives and friendships and families as well. This trend especially bothers me in fic for workplace dramas. We KNOW that these characters care about their jobs, so SHOW us that, dammit.

-J
seldearslj
Jun. 23rd, 2007 12:21 am (UTC)
And I'd go you one further and say that there's not only not enough genfic, but there's also not enough gen aspects to our pairing-based fic.

Damn straight. I like pairings/romance like I like my chilli - a little bit on the side to spice things up, but not the main course. (Okay, so sometimes you just want a jalapeno, but mostly...not.)
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jun. 23rd, 2007 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
studiesinlight
Jun. 23rd, 2007 02:57 am (UTC)
When I was a newbie to fandom, I did some ships, but that lasted just a bit over a year, and was long ago. Since, what I want most are stories that read like episodes -- really, really good, insightful episodes! ~g~ Romance is fine, of course, and I like it, but I prefer it as a side dish, or sauce, to a main course of episode-like qualities.

I wonder if it's what draws us to fanfic that makes the difference? That is, there are shows I adore, but for which I almost never read fanfic, like Doctor Who, because all I ever need is available in the plentiful canon. On the other hand, we have poor neglected Forever Knight, where first season in its glory alone cannot sustain me, and I must have and write fanfic to help prop up the ever-in-danger-of-collapsing universe. That is, I'm coming to fanfiction with my hard-hat on and tools in hand. The people who write all-ship, all-the-time are coming with blankets and picnic baskets? Just a thought.
wiliqueen
Jun. 23rd, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
I wonder if it's what draws us to fanfic that makes the difference?

It totally is. There's been meta galore trying to categorize it, and I never seem to fit any of them. But then I'm not sure anyone does completely.

I used to favor fic that read like an episode, but more and more I've found myself gravitating toward the "missing scene," or to character studies that examine stuff the show is dealing with in further detail. But it needs plot to make it happen.

F'rinstance, I'm 14 pages into the plot that's finally gotten me to the discussion that first blossomed in my head, for the purpose of further examination the overlap and differences between Vicki's and Henry's ethics of obligation. It's been shown as absolutely intrinsic to each of them, and they've butted heads over it, but there's a lot more to be said about it than will fit in the framework of the medium.
(no subject) - studiesinlight - Jun. 23rd, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wiliqueen - Jun. 23rd, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
havocthecat
Jun. 24th, 2007 12:32 pm (UTC)
Heh, you know me. I unabashedly love romance and 'ship. I also love gen. But some shows seem more gen to me. Like Doctor Who (yes, even the new stuff) and Blood Ties. They're very solidly gen-feeling to me.

Am I making sense?
wiliqueen
Jun. 24th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
You are, although I think it would surprise a lot of people. :-) Especially Who, with large chunks of it in the throes of an absurd shipwar. *eyeroll*

Considering the marketing focus for BT, I've actually been pleasantly surprised by how broad-based the meta is, at least on bloodties_tv, where I mostly go for discussion. (The Bloodlines forum is a little shallower so far, regardless of topic. Part of me thinks the threaded forum format just doesn't lend itself to more in-depth discussion as well as LJ somehow. I haven't worked out exactly why, but the fact that it more or less forces shorter posts is part of it.)

The preponderance of the fic I've seen coming out seems to be pairing-centric, but what people want to actually talk about is right in proportion with what's happening onscreen. Which is nice.
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )

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