…What the Hell’s a Slash fan?
Posted by S.R.B.
…What the hell’s a Slash Fan?
It’s my damn title, I might as well answer the question.
Technically, a slash fan is someone who interprets popular media (books,TV, movies, etc) with a coded or subtextual homosexual relationship between two characters of the same gender.
Some of you reading will say: okay. I don’t see it, but whatever floats your boat. Sit tight, and I will explain.
Some of you will say: that’s rediculous! How could you–I don’t even–! and these people might not want to continue reading.
Some of you will say: It’s not subtext if it’s that obvious. My people. I welcome you.
Slash is usually split into two categories, Slash and Femslash. While these labels are not universal (some authors will label femslash, slash) they are the most common.
Slash also vastly outnumbers femslash, for any number reasons. I’ve heard that more female characters are liable to be lesbians than men are gay. I’ve heard that it’s a ratio thing; that there are more male characters than women (remind me, later, and I’ll talk about the Bechdel Test). I’ve heard that it’s because women aren’t written in the same way as the men; or in such a way that their relationships center around family and (traditional) romance, while men get a broader spectrum. This last theory is, personally, my favorite.
When looking at gender roles in society, at the way men and women are expected to behave, lesbianism is more acceptable than being a gay man. Women, traditionally, form closer, more intimate relationships between each other than men, and the step from BFF to GF, doesn’t really seem that far. On the other hand, according to social norms, men do not form those types of bonds with other men. The development of the “bromance” has started to counteract the rigid Victorian-1950’s ideal of masculinity.
Ahh. Bromance Never has a word sounded so sweet to a slasher’s ears.
Personally, I feel that “bromance” is just the men of this world finally catching up to women in terms of the acceptability of intimacy between friends. It’s a good thing.
However, in terms of what’s portrayed by the media (specifically television) the concept of “bromance” gets a little funny. Maybe it’s because of the rise of the “fashionably gay,” or the growing acceptance of homosexuality, but more and more, the impression remains that “bromance” is code for “romance” when the network is too afraid to show mainstream gay characters. Because of the word “Bromance,” media can display intimacy between men without the residual gay stigma.
This is, I feel, a particularly American phenomenon. Thank you, Torchwood!
Of course, we slashers see right through you, muahahaha*hack cough*.
The most obvious is in Supernatural. And the most controversial. Catherine Tosenberger has written a wonderful article on this, and edited an issue of the Journal of Transformative Works on Supernatural Slash.
Why is it so controversial? Because the two main characters ripe for slash are Sam and Dean…Winchester. As in Brothers.
(Supernatural is also fanfic heaven, because the show gets very meta about fanfic and the fan community. Particularly wincest shippers and conventions. But that’s another post)
I view the rise of “Wincest” as a way of the fans saying, “We know you made them brothers just so that we couldn’t do this. Well, screw you, we’re doing this anyway!” There are a lot of indicators that, if they weren’t related, they would be lovers. Those brothers are so close…well…
The Winchester brothers share an intimacy that our society usually reserves for married couples, mostly due to their insanely intimate upbringing. It’s canon that they grew up in a car, and in motel rooms, at very close quarters. It’s canon that Dean took over the role of “Mom” for Sam. (which makes wincest Oedipal, as well. Oh, man.) It’s canon that Dean slept with Sam’s prom date.
Fanon would say, they both did. Then did each other, which she watched. Oh, fanon.
Anyway, it’s not so much a perversion, but a close reading of subtext based on societal norms that creates wincest. Sam and Dean are each other’s be all and end all; the idea that someone else might come first is painful.
But the incest taboo is strong. So what does fandom do? It adapts. There are more not related!aus, rps (real person slash; fic based on the actors. J2 in this case), and rps aus, than I have seen in any other fandom. The show is ripe for slash, and instead of bowing in the face of social taboo (fanfic always laughs in the face of taboo! But again, that’s another post) they explain why: No, really, incest is bad. But it works for them and only them. Even going so far as to make incest legal. Or they write about the actors. Or different incarnations of people who the actors might have been. Either way, early Supernatural fandom is filled with tension between those who are willing to go there, and those who are not.
Then Castiel showed up, and Dean/Cas EXPLODED. Finally, two attractive men with a deep emotional bond that the fans could make fuck. But, once again, we have two men who share a deeper than usual bond (Cas pulled Dean out of hell; Dean wears his brand on his shoulder; Dean’s soul is linked to Cas’s grace for all eternity…*ahem*) Theirs is a deep, soulful love. And in the last season finale, they must have referred to Cas as Dean’s best friend ten times – after teasing the fans with slashy comments and references for the last season. It reeks of “Me thinks they doth protest too much.”
Why do they feel the need to protest in the first place? Supernatural is noted for it’s sympathy and acknowledgement of its varied fan base, so why give with one hand and take with another?
I feel that there is a void that needs to be filled in American television–a void that is filled by slash fic. If this is what the fans want, what they’re waiting for, what they’re spending their time and energy on, what they’re willing to do in face of incest, then I think the American public should get what we want.
Yes, thank you, Torchwood.
Slashers aren’t doing this for our health, people. Tosenberger says in her article, that the beauty of online fandom is universality. It doesn’t matter what you want, if you can’t find it, and write it, someone will read it. That storytelling is essential, and stories need to be told. The stories told by slash fic are not getting told, or told correctly, or told by the right people. I feel that Slash speaks fills a need of the storytellers as well as the readers, and filling a hole left by what is “acceptable” in popular culture.
So…what the hell’s a slash fan?
A slash fan is someone who fills the void left by the constrictions on what is “acceptable” to be portrayed in books, television, and film. A slash fan is someone who’s storytelling needs are not being met by “offical” media, and strike out to find, or make, their own.
So, when I say, I was reading this story, what I mean is that I am engaged in an underground movement to change what is acceptable to read, because people are more diverse than the mainstream.
Also, fanfic has the best porn.
Speaking of which, I was reading this story…