Francine - harvest
I Blame the Dutch mpoetess
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Who, me, defensive?


I think I just picked a fight, and I'm not entirely sure why.

Discussion on the Buffy Cross & Stake about "Never Happen but I Wish It Would" couples. A poll, actually, just asking for a listing of the poster's favourite pairings. No reasons required, just a fun little thingy.

And I didn't respond, because everybody there who knows who I am knows what my answer is, and enough people had already listed S/X as one of theirs, that I didn't feel the need to chime in, just to chime in.

Then somebody who's a massive B/S fan titled her post "Sees Spike/Xander and begins screaming in pain. It burns!!" and within, added a rather large "Gaaaahhhh!!! NO! ABSOLUTELY NOT!!" Then listed her unconventional prefs as Spike/Faith and Xander/Cordy.

I didn't jump on her prefs. I think S/F is cool if done right, and Xander/Cordy in its heyday was wonderful. I *wouldn't* jump on her prefs, no matter what they were. That wasn't, in fact, the point of the thread. Pissed me off that she jumped on other people's, but I didn't get steamed by it, really. Just replied with a little "It doesn't burn if you do it right, ;-)" tagline.

To which she replied, ha, funny, not what she meant, but funny, and... okay, hell, I gave the link above; it shows the conversation.

What got to me was not that she isn't a fan of Spike slash. *Lots* of people aren't fans. (of slash, or of one individual character being slashed). Lots of people don't think it's likely, and don't prefer to read stories that slash Spike.

It was that she referred to them as poorly written. She took such a huge and nebulous concept -- someone's sexuality -- and decided that it could be reduced to as easy a characterization issue as unrealistic dialogue, or other standard crapfic content. I wasn't taking up for slash (which she didn't condemn as a genre, if it *is* a genre, issue for another time), or for S/X, but for the idea that any slash pairing *you* don't buy, without having read the fic, automatically means the fic is badly written.

harriet_spy made a case for certain pairings being more *likely* to be badly written, based on past experience with reading them, and authorial behavior, but this is an instance where someone is saying that the pairing itself is what makes the story badly written. Spike slash pisses her off. (I can't imagine how she would ever be forced to read it, or could come across it accidentally, so I'm taking the "pisses me off" reference to mean that the very existence of it pisses her off.)

Arrgh.

Addendum Oh, arrrrrgh. First she takes back what she damn well *did* say. Then she does the whole "I'm right but it's open to interpretation and we're never going to agree so let's just drop it, happy holidays, kisses" thing.

I *know* these discussion go in circles. But sometimes they go in circles with people actually learning form each other, instead of just refusing to discuss it. Maybe I'm too used to the writers' circle around here, where these things get discussed to death. Maybe it's because I can see a value judgement no matter how many layers of "This isn't a value judgement" you wrap around it. Maybe I want thamiris to post a fascinating and distracting writerly discussion topic, purely for my benefit, regardless of what she needs to do with her real life or her own preferences, because it's all about me, me, me, dammit. :-)


wolfling

2002-02-14 12:35 pm (UTC) (Link)

You're not the only one that such comments annoy. I've had this argument before in other forums about other characters but it always makes me grind my teeth. This assumption that because they don't see any slash tendencies in canon then that automatically means a slash story cannot be written with good characterization -- and almost invariably this is uttered by someone who has never read slash -- just makes me want to scream.

I write slash and dammit, I do my best to write characterization consistent with what is on the screen/on the page. And that kind of broad, sweeping dismissal of my efforts because of the type of store I write is insulting.

So...err...yes. I agree with everything you said.

mpoetess

2002-02-14 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)

I think it may grit my teeth *more* that she seems to have read a bit of slash. It's not slash in general that she objects to, only certain characters being slashed. I'd actually be more laid back about her saying slash itself is out of character, because I think it's a ridiculous statement, and I'd have written her off as not worth discussing it with. But by bringing it down to particular characters, she's making "slashable" -- an individual opinion -- into a characterization issue.

It was the attitude. The conflation of "Doesn't work for me" with "Doesn't reflect the show, and is therefore poorly written." She couldn't (or didn't want to) give specifics on *why* she felt it was out of character. She basically stated that it was just a feeling. It's fine to have just a feeling, and not prefer certain storues based on that feeling, but if you can't even articulate what makes you feel that way, how can you *possibly* claim that you have an idea what does or doesn't match the stance of the show?

Re:

wolfling

2002-02-14 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

Exactly! I had the exact same reaction you did -- even briefly considered posting a reply before deciding I had better ways to spend my afternoon than banging my head against a brick wall. Especially since you had said pretty much everything I would've already to absolutely no effect.

But that was the one line that really made me grrr.

Where does she get off pronouncing what is and isn't in the subtext of the show?



mpoetess

2002-02-14 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Where does she get off pronouncing what is and isn't in the subtext of the show?


Oh lord. She's actually rather mild and poilite, compared to many of the posters there. There's a huge "If you don't see what I see, you're not watching the same show" and "If you don't agree with my take on characters' morality, you're obviously immoral yourself" attitude there. And it's partly because it's such a huge, open board. You get everyone from fans purely of watching the show, to writers, to rabid shippers, rabid anti-shippers...

And some of them are a lot of fun, and some of the dicussions are really interesting. Some are silly, and some are verging on brilliant (Sanguine's reviews, for instance.) But argh with the arrgh, in some cases.

The only reason this one got to me was because it seemed to be about dissing someone's preference, at first, which only prompted a good-natured joke from me, and then when she explained herself, it actually started offending me, because it became about writing, and judging someone's skills based on reader preference. I wasn't saying she *should* read Spike slash. I was saying that her stating that all Spike slash is out of character and therefore poorly written, was pretty freaking arrogant, no matter how couched in tones of "just my opinion" it was.

cicirossi

2002-02-14 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Can I just add a general Grrrr. to your more coherent comments? *grin* Personal prefereces are not canon. Mine or hers.

thamiris

2002-02-14 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Maybe I want thamiris to post a fascinating and distracting writerly discussion topic, purely for my benefit, regardless of what she needs to do with her real life or her own preferences, because it's all about me, me, me, dammit. :-)

Yo, woman! I did it, so I hope you're digging through your story files as we speak, hunting for your favorite bits. How's that for instant gratification? *g*

mpoetess

2002-02-14 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Actually, am scrambling to put in a little actual work at work, befor ethe network shuts down on me. Then, home, to dig through my story files.

Mwah! Thank ye!

ephemera

2002-02-14 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Someone who won't answer your questions, won't actualy *engage* in the debate, just skirts of - that's both rude and frustrating. - grrrrrr. Plus, you know, Grrrrr to your original point...

(Deleted comment)

mpoetess

2002-02-14 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

"But would you say it's fair for someone to say, "Well, no, [x] doesn't seem very slashable to me, and here's why?"

Sure. Absolutely. And I would've been happy to engage in that discussion with her. In fact, it's what I was really trying to weasel out of her -- "What in Spike's character makes you feel that he'd never do this?"

She didn't answer, though -- didn't do the here's why. And she made her "[x] doesn't seem very slashable to me" into "[x] doesn't seem at all slashable to me, and therefore I consider the act of slashing him to be the same level of poor writing as inappropriate dialogue or cardboard-stereotyping a character based on one thing he's said or done. I can't tell you *why* [x] doesn't seem slashable, in any sort of detail, but I'm going to consider anyone who slashes him to be doing the character a disservice, because you're not writing from the standpoint of the series."

And kind of ended it with "My opinion is based on the text, but I realize everyone has interpretations and we're not going to agree, so let's drop it, and have a nice Valentine's Day..." And, you know. Grr. Because anything I said in reply to that besides "You too, bye," would have seemed antagonistic. If indeed I d9idn't already seem antagonistic.

mpoetess

2002-02-14 04:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

And kind of ended it with "My opinion is based on the text, but I realize everyone has interpretations

Okay, to be fair, though it came off that way, I do think she meant, "My opinion is based on what I *see* in the text..." vs. claiming she's crawled into Joss' head.

I don't want to misrepresent what she was saying; her lack of knowledge of how arrogant she *sounded* is kind of what got to me. *Being* arrogant is fine. Not being arrogant is fine. But people who try to pretend they're all humble and gracious and willing to let other POV's exist in the world, and don't realize how patronizing that sounds, get to me.

Yack...

jainieg

2002-02-14 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Don't worry, hon, I went through something very similar to this - you're kind of offended, kinda not really - last night, when somebody who likes a very geeky-looking (imo) actor and doesn't like Jude Law (who I'm a big fan of). Now, I didn't come out and say, "Your guy's UGLY. U-G-L-Y your guy ain't got no alibi, etc. etc."

I just kept my comments to myself - 'cos this chick was very into her guy. Yet she can sit there and snark and say Jude's got a tiny nose? Not to sound like I'm 3 (although this entire post probably doesn't do much for me, in that capacity), but no fair! No fair! *stompy tantrum*

Okay... that last beat was definitely 3, I know that.

Anyway - I feel your pain, luv. *huggles* S/X rocks, Spike slash rocks, you rock. :)

Much love,
J

Anonymous

2002-02-14 08:09 pm (UTC) (Link)

I'm not quite sure how VelvetBlood made it from her (assuming female) first post to her last. I think that she was doing quite a bit of backtracking in an attempt not to come off as too judgemental. I don't think that it worked very well. I would have liked to hear her reasons why Spike couldn't possibly be gay/bi (but could be Angel/Angelus's toy) as well.

Any time a character that is shown to be straight on the show is made gay it has to be slightly against their character. I find it to be more out of character for Spike than most because he seems to have this whole obsession with the ideal/unobtainable woman going on. I don't think that he would fall for another man just because he wouldn't look at one long enough to - he's too busy chasing his Madonna, either the dark one or the pure one.

Still, there are a few scenes (especially the one in "Spiral" where he can't work his lighter with his injured hands.. yum) that almost make me start writing S/X slash. Perhaps I would if others (including you) hadn't written so much of it so well that I really can't find another story to tell about them. That and I would be afraid that anything I wrote would just add to the absolute mountain of crap that has been written about them.

- Persephone

On the Angel/wimpy Spike thing

Anonymous

2002-02-14 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)

I also feel the need to weigh in on the Spike/Angel thing.

Like you, I am annoyed that so many Spike/Angel stories get stuck in the sire thing. Unlike you, I have yet to find one that seems the least bit realistic. This is partly because I have never seen anything on BtVS indicating that sort of relationship between a vamp and his sire but mostly because I just can't see Spike letting anyone control/dominate him.

Sure, Spike will sit there and let Buffy beat on him because he thinks that she needs to let her anger out, but that isn't the same thing. Being willing to do anything for the one that he loves isn't quite the same ballpark as calling someone master and actually being controlled by them. I can see Spike as someone who enjoys letting someone else play top, but again that is quite a bit different than actually being dominated/controlled by another.

I can not accept that the Spike that stood there and made fun of Glory's wardrobe while she stuck her fingers in his chest and crushed glass in his face could be dominated by anyone, much less Angel or Angelus. Spike and Angel as lovers, yes, but Spike obedient to Angel not by his own choice, no.

It is possible that I might just have some issues with a character I admire for being strong being made weak. The same thing happens when I read some of the wussy characterizations of Xander that appear in so many S/X stories or most X/Angel and all S/Alus stories that I have come across - as well as many of those that depict Xander's parents as abusive. Xander may be insecure at times, especially in matters of love, but the Xander who goaded Angel with a cross to go save Buffy in "Prophesy Girl" or who kept throwing himself at the troll when he must have known the fight was hopeless in "Triangle" does not sit there and snivel in fear.

I feel the same about stories where Buffy constantly seems to be sitting around waiting for one of the big, strong men to come save her.

- Persephone

Re: On the Angel/wimpy Spike thing

kestrelct

2002-02-15 08:10 pm (UTC) (Link)

The way I always thought of the Spike-totally-submitting-to-Angelus thing was that it's *not* the Spike who stood up to Glory. It was, at least in the beginning, William. Can we say "wimp"? He did seem to get rebellious in a hurry in FFL, but presumably he was fairly William-esque for at least a short time after he was turned. (Or possibly vampires have no charictaristics in common with their human selves and I'm totally wrong. There is some evidence for both, I think) Some writers use this as an explanation, but there are those who just write Spike out of character because it fits the story, as far as I can tell.

Re: On the Angel/wimpy Spike thing

Anonymous

2002-02-16 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)

What makes you think that it was William who stood up to the Glory? William is dead. Spike has his memory and thus little bits and pieces of him, but William's gone.

Vampires do have some characteristics in common with their human selves. Angel said it and we have seen it on occasion. However, I doubt that Spike was very Williameque when he rose as a vamp. He still had a few of the same traits like his obsession with love and a few emotional hangups left over from being human (the torturing with railroad spikes was probably a result of the insultign remark about his poetry the night he died, for instace), but the main him would have changed. The way he spoke of becoming a vamp it was a big deal for him. His change completely rewrote the rule book and put him at the top. I think that all of his timid behavior died with him.

Remember Jesse from welcome to the helmouth? He was a loser in life but immediatly on becoming a vamp he was cool and said that he felt more alive than ever (similar to Spike's words). Most of the vamps that we have seen rise or newly risen and gotten to see a bit about how they are (Angelus, Jesse, the vamp they mistook for the anointed one, every vamp who rose from the grave and saw Buffy and thought that they could kill her) have seemed to believe that they were king of the world. I doubt that Spike was any different.

- Persephone

Re: On the Angel/wimpy Spike thing

mpoetess

2002-02-20 11:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Er... while I agree with everything you said, I think you misinterpreted what kestrelct was saying. She meant that the Spike who stood up to Glory was not the just-post-turning William/Spike of FFL, because the vampire himself had changed much over the years.

A lot of vampires do seem to rise with the attitude of "Wow, I'm on top of the world, there's all this energy rushing through me..." - but William/Spike had to try *very* hard to shake off his humanity, if FFL is any indication. His attitude, to me, seems so very much one of trying to get a new reputation, with Darla and Angelus chuckling at him, asking him why he feels like he has to do that. It's not, as far as I can see, about his personality suddenly having changed because of the vamp demon, as much as it is that he's in a new situation now, and he's *consciously* changing his personality. *Trying* to shed his nerdish roots, as opposed to just *poof* he's sudden'y cool.

And I'm not sure it isn't th same in WTTH/The Harvest. When I watch the Jesse scenes, I see somebody who *thinks* he's suddenly cool, but mostly, he's just grooving on the new physical abilities being a vampire has brought him. Cordelia thinks he's inexplicably cool, because he has The Voice. And The Walk. And The Eyes. All these things that seems to come naturally for some vamps the minute they turn -- but I don't really think it was a personality change. It was dork-boy realizing he had these abilities now, and using them, just the way he probably would have if human!Jesse had suddenly had physical magnetism dropped onto him.

So, me on Spike/William: early on, I think he probably still had much of William in his surface personality, and had to constantly beat it down in order to project this new, invented, Spike personality. Now, the "Spike" persona is natural to him, and the William-ish moments only come out subconsciously, usually when he's dealing with someone he loves.

Submitting to Angel(us) -- much of the Sire/child submission fic was written pre FFL, for one. Without that indication that Spike invented his Spike persona so quickly (the same year he was turned), I think it's certainly reasonable to think that Big Bad Spike could have begun as someone much more under his Sire's control -- maybe someone broken to it, as Dru was, or woo'd to it, or maybe just a physical infatuation, as Angel seems to have with Darla. The Big *big* Bad Spike, bowing to no one, could have come in the hundred years since he parted from Angel. A reaction to being abandoned, in his view. So, it's not out of left field to write pre-FFL canon sire/child stories where Spike rages between standing up to Angel, and falling back into a pattern so engrained, it's almost subliminal. A look, a tone of voice, etc.

Post FFL, it's harder. Spike pretended to be a hradass very soon after his turning, and probably *was* a hardass not long after. We see him standing up to Angel almost right away. I don't know how well A/S fic deals with that, now. I've seen people in denial-mode (I like some of Peasant's stories, which are sort of conscious denial -- that is, she says, "I don't see anything wrong with writing to pre-FFL canon, saying Spike is as old as was originally implied, near 200, and that he predates Dru." And if you consider that an AU, it works.) I still see that it's *possible* to write current-canon Spike who has *been* submissive to Angel at some point -- I just think it's more likely to have happened semi-voluntarily, as pointed out. Playing bottom. Or entering into a relationship with Angelus knowing that such is the way he is, and Spike would have to deal with that. But it's harder to buy completely cruel, nonconsensual Master!Angelus, after FFL, I agree. Don't think Spike would've stood it. He might have run rather than fight, but one way or another, it wouldn't have continued.

I'm always willing for someone to come up with a plotline that disconceives me of that notion, though!

You, defensive(?)

Anonymous

2002-02-20 09:53 am (UTC) (Link)

ok, this is me entering a space where i don't belong but (damn) i can't help it...
1
I feel like I've read all the BtVS fanfic there is in the last 3 months. I know it's not true, but it feels that way. I do believe though that there are a whole of important tendencies in fanfic pairings. I could go on about this (probably on and on), but I wont. Most obviously, I think, the more 'mainstream' the pairing the more likely it is to produce really careless/bad fanfic (starting with the really obvious number theory and moving on...). I'd be shocked (or at least I'd like to be) if anyone disagreed. So, while there is bad BtVS slash out there (oh yeah), there's proportionately less than in say B/A.
2
I could argue that every character in BtVS is open to slash, because it's generally well-written (and 'people' are mostly somehwere somewhat in some way open to slash). But I could also more precisely argue for male characters on BtVS and AtS being slashable -- I think it's a theme the shows play with. Frankly I think you'd be a very unobservant viewer if you'd never noticed the motif of 'does Xander have gay/queer[pick your label] thoughts'. It's totally scripted (and before Larry too). But with your conversation there's more query about whether Spike can be slashed (I gather)? I do think he's tougher than Xander, because he's more ambivalently framed as sexy-male-lead (oh except with Angel/Angelus I guess, the shows are a bit more explicit about that subtext -- and yes, for god's sake, force whoever into a literature program subtexts *are* explicit). While there are slashy Spike moments, creating a credible Spike-slash piece is clearly a matter of narrative skills and tactics. I think you (Mad Poetess) do a great job at Spike-slash as do other people in sometimes very different ways. EG I also admire Pet and Jackson's versions of slashed-Spike though they're quite different.
[see part 2 to this post - who knew there was a word limit?]

Re: You, defensive(?)

mpoetess

2002-02-20 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

2)

While there are slashy Spike moments, creating a credible Spike-slash piece is clearly a matter of narrative skills and tactics.

I think it's a matter of characterisation skills. I think. That is, I think canon Spike, so far, is in enough of an indeterminate place that there wouldn't have to be an *explanation* for slashing him. (i.e., he's nominally straight and would need a plot device to get him into a slashy situation) We've seen him in love with three women (if we count Cecily) and having loveless sex with a fourth (Harmony). W've seen subtext up the wazoo with Angel(us). So, for me, it's not a matter of anybody having to convince me that Spike could fall for a man, so much as the author having to convince me that this is *Spike* whom I'm seeing. A convincing Spike, falling for a man, or sleeping with one, for Spike like reasons. They don't have to be *special* reasons, like the situation in Esmerelda's "Stranger Things" series, though I enjoy those types of setups. They just have to follow a logic that it seems like canon Spike would follow.

So much of the problem with Spikeslash right now seems to be his canon love for Buffy. Someone above mentioned him simply never having tome to *look* at another man because he's always been chasing either his dark Madonna or his bright one. But in the hundred and twenty years he was *with* his dark Madonna, he didn't have to chase her. He *had* Dru. He might have had to work hard to keep her safe, but he had her. So I don't find it unlikely that he would notice other men during that time period, most noticeably Angel, presumably. Now, with Buffy, every bit of his energy is focused on her. He's obssessed, and slashing him with anyone, even Angel, requires deep plotty and character thinking. It's hard to write him into a new slash relationship while keeping with current canon, because (for me) his feelings for Buffy are genuine. Stories that deny them, ring false.

But I suspect (only suspect) that the original poster may be mixing up "deeply, painfully in love with a woman, and being the man he thinks she wants" with "could only ever love women." Joss hasn't helped this with his portrayal of Willow, imho. Her relationship with Tara was perfectly believable to me (and still is) -- but this thing of declaring herself loudly to be gay, only late in the day after her relationship is already accepted, mystifies me. It sort of started with the argument in "Tough Love" and got very very loud, this season. It mystifies me because there's been nothing shown anywhere that says Willow is no longer attracted to men, or that she wasn't attracted to men in the past, except her loud statements that she's gay now. As if the use of the word to label herself automatically changes her demonstrated feelings for men in the past. It's spawned long, bitter debates on the BC&S over whether she's really gay or bisexual, and do we have to respect the self-identification of a fictional character when past canon implies one thing and she says another... arrgh.

So, there's a large contingent that has this "Willow says she's gay and she's with a woman, therefore she won't ever be paired with a male again," outlook. And that's something that carries over into looking at the traditional couples on the show. The assumption is that if they're in a passionate relationship with one gender now, and they've never been shown having big sparks with another gender, they're not slashable. After all, if in some viewers' opinion, Willow isn't allowed to be, if you like, "het-ed" even though she *has* had relationships with males in the past, then it must be quite a stretch for them to buy slash with character who haven't been shown having romantic relationships with both genders.

Eh.

You, defensive(?)

Anonymous

2002-02-20 09:55 am (UTC) (Link)

[and here is part 2]
3
All of my second point relies on some dedicated relation to canon and well that's obviously not required. I read your journal a couple of times when you were deabting your dedication or not to producing more CG, and in response to your concern about whether the CG characters were consistent with current BtVS characters I just kept wanting to say 'so what'. Every episode the writers on BtVS write changes who those characters are, and the same goes for fanfic if it's any good. The more you write a series, the more variables enter into the relation between your X or S and theirs. I was never sure why you were worried because you seem better at (or smarter about) fanfic than that. Because you actually have a storyline for these characters it inevitably drags them somewhere rather 'else'.
4
And now I've broken a cardinal rule of academic relations to objects of study and suggested something concerning how you should talk about yourself. Aargh. Trying to recover I think I'll play something postmodern (I'm not sure whether to cringe or gag) and ask if it would be ok for me to archive and thus quote and comment on this discussion (I mean this specific thread only). If you don't want me to I certainly won't, and if anyone in it doesn't want me to I guarantee not to quote them. Oh but yes I probably should have said at the top of 4 (at least) that I'm an academic writing on Buffy at present (and getting anxious because I have less than 2 months to finish, which is not the same as people writing to you pleading for the next section of CG -- and by the way could I have that please -- but is definitely somehow related).
best wishes
Cat

Re: You, defensive(?)

mpoetess

2002-02-20 12:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

3) The more you write a series, the more variables enter into the relation between your X or S and theirs.

In one sense, I know that the characters have to conform to the characterization one started out with, and each fanfic changes them, so that current canon characters don't *have* to match up with the characters in a fanfic that was started two years ago and went off in its own direction.

At the same time, sometimes seeing things that a current canon character says or does, or the way he acts, makes me re-examine past canon, and say "Did I really interpret S4 Xander correctly, given some of the things he's said in S6?"


4) I don't mind you using my bits of it. I didn't directly quote Velvetblood (and the link to the original BC&S post is probably dead by now; they're only archived for about a week), so I don't think there's an issue there. I don't know about the other people who commented on this entry. I'll put up a new entry, with your request, and ask everybody who commented on this one, to reply to the new one, stating whether they'd be okay with their comments being archived/used? The default being, if they don't answer at all, then don't quote them. Yes?

cheers,
Amy



Re: You, defensive(?)

Anonymous

2002-02-20 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)

I don't think there's such a thing as a 'correct' interpretation of S4 Xander, or S6 Buffy -- there are only interpretations that are useful, productive, viable for certain purposes, that kind of thing. The series writers are producing interpretations of Xander or Buffy too -- it's just theirs have a very different kind of authority.

Re quoting: Thanks Amy, that sounds fine. If they don't reply, I won't quote them. All the best, Cat