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18 May 2007 @ 04:37 pm
Discovering "Smarm"  
Not the obsequious kind, either.

Yesterday, wandering through metafandom, I happened on a discussion of "smarm" fic. thelana is probably laughing her butt off right about now...


So, "smarm" is what one really might consider sexless slash. Proponents don't see it that way, and it doesn't always cross that line, but sometimes the manLove is more than brotherly, you know?

What thelana's going to laugh about is that I have unwittingly written "smarm" on occasion. Sometimes I still think of it as Gen (the manLove is typically brief and doesn't go on and on), and other times it's supposed to be Slash but doesn't get as far as I'd intended (in which case, I really consider it "light Slash").

A very thorough definition/argument of what constitutes "smarm" can be found here. The audience for it is readers who want big manLove and affection and often touching and cuddling, but no sex. Slash lovers may wonder what the point of that is, but I clearly remember that my first Slashy desires were around age 13/14, and I would have been perfectly happy to fade out with romantic kissing and snuggling together in bed. Obviously, I've expanded my horizons since then, but you get my point. The thing is, though, that's still Slash to me.

So, case in point there is this Sentinel story, Beach by two very big fans of smarm, and for me that is definitely slash. Check out this chapter here, where there is kissing, tonguing, and I believe also declarations of love.

Looking at the larger story (I wasted some 3 hours at work reading this thing, and hating myself afterwards), if you look past the buckets of crying in the story it is a big hurt/comfort-fest of touching, cuddling, kissing, hair-petting, declared love, romanticizing of the other person, pondering on "joined souls" and "owning each others' hearts". There are also some 11 installments of naked showering, and some 6+ of naked bed-cuddling before it wanders off into a dream sequence (still a WIP).

See, now, that is clearly romantic love to me-- it might be brotherly love if they were actual brothers (though if there's tonguing, I think some misunderstandings are going to arise!), but how is that NOT light Slash? The fact that there's no mention of arousal when they're mooshing their groins up against each other? (Seriously. And as the rest of the story is written, if you're that emotionally thrilled by someone I don't see a physical reaction not happening, especially for men).

So, I read some more in that genre last night (could not help myself-- and I never even watched the Sentinel!). Some of it is just a hug, a touch here and there. But there are loads of what can only be called cuddling, honestly.

I don't know. I can definitely see why there would be an audience for stories that cut off at the pre-sexual point, but most of what I read I'd still say is Slash or Slashy.

And that particular story, 70+ installments and not yet finished... I have to call that emo-Porn, because it totally is. Not a bad thing, but that definitely describes it.

Clarification: I totally forgot about the range of canon behavior. I.e., if we're talking "Starsky and Hutch" even a single kiss on the mouth might just be Gen smarm, depending on how romantically skewed that was. Virtually everthing else was already canon. NOT that I have any complaints about that...

What do all of you think? Probably many of you were already aware of it long before me!

So, thanks to the time wasted on the story in the cut zone above, I never did get out to exercise yesterday. :( Which means that today, I had legs and then some! In other words:

Cycling: 34 miles for speed today! Whoo! Plus a couple more to warm down. I did nearly get hit by a van, making a U-turn right into the bike lane where I was progressing, and she stopped right in front of me. I was pissed. I smacked one of her back windows with my fist and came around to discuss this with her, but she was already stumbling through an apology and was honestly so horrified with herself that I relented, and thanked her for apologizing. Yikes!

No interesting animals today-- not even the pygmy goats were out! Earlier this week, along this same route (the office, not the bike path), I caused a mini cattle-stampede. \o/ On the plus side, the roadkill count is still down.

Got a drabble to post this weekend for bluesister, if I can force it to be 100 words and not keep creeping up. Almost there...



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dannywinterlive on May 19th, 2007 12:53 am (UTC)
yeahhhh, slash is slash unless it's canon. willow/tara kissage can be gen. willow/buffy kissage is slash.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam/Dean kisshalfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Actually, I have to edit the post, because I forgot about Starsky and Hutch, and other shows where the major manLove is canon. The line kind of moves depending.

Willow/Tara is still Slash to me, but it's canonSlash. Obviously not adventurous in that it already exists, but "Slash" is our category still for same-gender stuff.

Now, there ARE those that have no interest in reading Slash if it's canon. That's a whole 'nother kettle of fish. :D
(no subject) - winterlive on May 19th, 2007 01:04 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 01:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - winterlive on May 19th, 2007 01:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
I'm for wine and the embrace of questionable womenmissyjack on May 19th, 2007 01:46 am (UTC)
mmm interesting. i mean i have written stories with no sexual content that i still class as slash because thats how i am thinking of the backstory of the relationship. Of course the fic can certainly be read as Gen, but i know if i post it in a slash comm no one will question why its there.

of course a lot of hurt/comfort tips into thinly disguised romance.
Starsky and Hutch *sigh* when i was 13 and making up h/c stories about them - even then i knew my version of the relationship was 'more' than just friendship.

PS am in awe of your cycling!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)
i mean i have written stories with no sexual content that i still class as slash because thats how i am thinking of the backstory of the relationship.
Yes-- that's the distinction for me. If the relationship is romantic (even if only one-sided), it's Slash to me. And I don't in my own mind do stuff like, "Oh they are totally soulmates, two halves of a whole, and they have found their missing parts in each other" and go "but that's still Gen, right?" :0

even then i knew my version of the relationship was 'more' than just friendship.
Oh, me too. Mmmmm.... happy Starsky/Hutch thoughts...

PS am in awe of your cycling!
If only my extra poundage were in awe as well! Grrr...

34 miles if speed is my longest ride ever, though, so \o/. When I ride tomorrow, I'll probably be so saddle sore that I'll wonder why that seemed like a good idea. :0
Deadbeat Nymph: brothers kissdeadbeat_nymph on May 19th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
I agree with you entirely on this 'smarm' thing. Slash is slash, regardless of the sexual content - that's just a matter of rating. There can be G-rated slash as much as there can be NC-17 rated slash. As soon as it's two boys (or two girls) in a romantic or sexual context, it's slash.

Actually, this reminds me of a rant I had a while ago about slash denial.
Deadbeat Nymph: brothers kissdeadbeat_nymph on May 19th, 2007 01:49 am (UTC)
(There's a link there under 'slash denial' but you can't really see it. Emboldening it here in case you care to read.)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 07:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - deadbeat_nymph on May 19th, 2007 02:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 04:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 07:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 07:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 07:44 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - were_lemur on May 20th, 2007 08:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 20th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - were_lemur on May 20th, 2007 08:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 07:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
bluesister on May 19th, 2007 02:25 am (UTC)
Life is too complicated already for me. Sex, romance, luff,...it's all slash or gen to me. Only the ratings change.

Hey, you can make it a wee fic! Let the muse decide.
bluesister on May 19th, 2007 02:29 am (UTC)
And be careful! I've known a couple guys who died on the road. And someone who broke his collarbone 'cause some asshole ran him off the road intentionally.

The only time I've met a bumper while on a bike was when I ran into a parked car. Whee!
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 03:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 03:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
Kronette: SPN-Dean and Dad from Salvationkronette on May 19th, 2007 04:37 am (UTC)
I think I like this definition: emo-Porn. I was involved in Sentinel when the smarm hit the fan (around 1998 or so), and I was quickly turned off by it. I can't BELIEVE that story is still being written! I'm talking *years* ago when it was started, and most of us had the same complaint: naked showering and kissing is SLASH, no matter how you write it. It was Problem #231980319 for that fandom for me. I didn't leave until the excessive warning debate started. No, I won't get into it, and everyone would be better off to stay faaaar away from that topic :)

Of course, I'm weird in that I want my m/m stuff to be labeled slash, whether it's canon or not. Again in my weirdness, I see three genres: gen, het(or adult) and slash, and ratings from G to NC17 within each of those genres. I don't write much violence any more, so that particular problem hasn't come up since my Horseman days (talk about violent stories...). *shrug* I said I was weird.

I feel human again, so I can finish my nearly-finished finale AU ending, then finish up a few other little stories and get them posted. Yah!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: SN Lovershalfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 07:00 am (UTC)
I'm talking *years* ago when it was started, and most of us had the same complaint: naked showering and kissing is SLASH, no matter how you write it.
I don't know what the authors were thinking there, honestly-- they don't seem to know they're writing slash (though you'd think the kissing on the mouth that keeps cropping up would be a clue). Not all of the "smarm" stories are Slash by a long shot, but that one-- god yes. It may be stalled out, too-- no indication of when the last update was, and the dream-sequence they seem to have wandered off into was a mistake. It's out-of-place in the story, and has gone on far too long.

Of course, I'm weird in that I want my m/m stuff to be labeled slash, whether it's canon or not.
I definitely like to know what I'm getting into, even if it's canon. And since I like M/M slash, that's always a plus! If it's Het, I want that as a warning even if the pairing is canon.

And if it's Slash masquerading as Gen, well... not all Gen readers are on board with that. Warnings matter!

I don't write much violence any more, so that particular problem hasn't come up since my Horseman days (talk about violent stories...). *shrug* I said I was weird.
:D No, not at all. I have much the same problem.

I posted a Prison Break fic for a challenge that was a Het piece with Drug mentions, self-destructive behavior, and some dark elements (supported by canon, even). I rated it NC-17, and over time I've dropped the rating to "R" because the sex is barely R, and there is no "NC-17 for darkness" in the rest of the world's rating system. Violence yes, "Dark"... no.

It's hard to frame your own particular biases against the larger world on stuff like that! Honestly, the darkest stuff I write is a drop in the bucket to a lot of people, and I need to get over the urge to rate it higher and just use the warnings instead like a normal person. :0
If it's not slash, maybe it's slush? <g> - klangley56 on May 19th, 2007 11:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Slush factor - saffronhouse on May 20th, 2007 01:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 05:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - julchen56 on May 21st, 2007 11:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - klangley56 on May 20th, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - saffronhouse on May 21st, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 04:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - (Anonymous) on May 21st, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - wneleh on May 21st, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 11:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: Slush factor - wneleh on May 20th, 2007 10:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on May 19th, 2007 06:46 am (UTC)
I don't think that it's laughworthy at all. I can totally get the desire for smarm*. And I agree with you, I would group it under slash.

Or rather: in my personal invention "shippy fic". I mean, if the story is all about A and B are meant for each other and how they do cute things together and how they are the best and about how much they adore each other, of course that is shippy in nature. The story is all about the relationship and somebody who doesn't care for the relationship will most likely be bored if not annoyed, even if there is no sex.

I'd even say even if the acts don't even go beyond what is normal in canon, if that's all the story is about, it would still feel shippy to me. I still say, you can *feel* if a story is Gen or Smarm. Because normally you can just feel if the author is pinging more for a sober, down to earth, de-romanticized, simple portrayal of a relationship or whether the author believes at heart that there is something really special and precious about this relationship and how it is potentially above all others and the fic is about portraying that, then that is clearly "shippy" to me and not Gen. It's kinda the difference between enjoying and appreciating a pairing and getting really shippy/giddy about it.

Let's say Lincoln and Veronica have a relationship. It's canon that they have had sex, had a relationship, kissed, declared loving intentions. So a fic that just mentions "they had sex" could be Gen. A fic where Lincoln muses about his life and mentioning his relationship with Veronica could be Gen. A fic about how sweet and precious their love is shippy. A fic with a large action plot with some side emo porn about how they adore each other and sacrifice for each other and bawl and cry is still shippy because it's about showcasing a particular relationship. Even if it's not the only thing that happens, it's about what the emotional focus is. And/or how much dramatic license you take.

I kinda have this theory that "Gen" is more about *people* and shippyfic is more about "Relationships" as a unity/entity. Kinda the difference between portraying a relationship as being something a certain character happens to have and that happens to be part of them and portraying the relationship as the main deal. If it's more "X muses about the relationship" or "the relationship affects X" then it's more obvious that the character of X stretches beyond the relationship. With shippy fic it's more often that the relationship is the beginning and the end, the above and beyond of the characters and/or the story. Err, am I making any sense?

Basically, even if people are in denial about how slashy (or "het-y" for that matter) a story is, I think they'd at least have to acknownledge that it is shippy.

*After all, I have said before, with certain pairings, especiallly brotherslash there are plenty of times when a Gen story on their relationship can be at least as satisfying as a slash story. And that is even a lesser definition of smarm since doesn't even need to be a big emphasis on love and cuddling, just angst and the relationship being the most significant and emotionally relevant.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 07:05 am (UTC)
I don't think that it's laughworthy at all. I can totally get the desire for smarm*. And I agree with you, I would group it under slash.

Oh, I definitely understand why it appeals and why some people want it to stop short of being sexual. But just as you say-- it's still Slash to me.

Your "shippy fic" definition really worked for me in explaining the difference between Gen and not-Gen.

Regardless of how the 'ship manifests itself (sexual, musings, angst, fluffy thoughts), it's still not Gen at that point. It's a romantic/sexual genre instead.

And that is even a lesser definition of smarm since doesn't even need to be a big emphasis on love and cuddling, just angst and the relationship being the most significant and emotionally relevant.
Yes, I agree. For some readers, brotherslash is really more about the love-- they might prefer it to stay under a certain level of explicitness and just focus on the emotional aspect instead.
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 08:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 07:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 08:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 08:27 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 08:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:53 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 05:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
*sneak peek* - thelana on May 20th, 2007 06:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *sneak peek* - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:56 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *sneak peek* - thelana on May 20th, 2007 10:23 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - were_lemur on May 20th, 2007 09:00 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 08:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 08:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:38 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 08:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 05:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 08:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 08:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 09:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 09:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on May 19th, 2007 09:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
she said mysteriously: :slam: resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 07:34 am (UTC)
I like smarm (though, not the name). I don't think it necessarly has to go hand and hand with slash, but I do think there is a relation there. When I was younger I used to really enjoy affection between men--subtle touching, shared vulnerability, deep commitment, etc. Coming from a nonexplicitly homophobic family (it was more my ex step father than anything), I didn't understand the sexual attraction of two men touching until I was about 15, but from I'd say about 12-14ish smarm was like the best thing in the world to me. I then accidently read Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan slash and slash became the center of my fannish world. :D

I still like smarm. But then, I think friendships are erotic without being sexual. I think the world would be a much better place if we could all embrace smarm-like behavoirs in our personal lives.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam/Dean kisshalfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 08:34 am (UTC)
When I was younger I used to really enjoy affection between men--subtle touching, shared vulnerability, deep commitment, etc.
Oh, me too. Hell, I still do-- I practically live for it. It's a total kink. And like you, I was a "smarm" kind of person until a certain part of my teen years, because the sex was unnecessary for me to enjoy it.

I think the world would be a much better place if we could all embrace smarm-like behavoirs in our personal lives.
Word. Actually, much of the recent Sam/Dean and Jensen/Jared writing on my f-list hasn't been what I'm looking for at all. It's so antagonistic, or so detached, and that has very little appeal to me. I'm all about the love-- Slash without love is just far less compelling for me.

Maybe I'm just a big mushball, though.
(no subject) - resounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 08:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
Shardamethystshard on May 19th, 2007 08:51 am (UTC)
Freaky. I was just thinking about smarm this morning totally apropos of nothing. Mostly about how I haven't seen any smarm fics in years, since I dropped out of the Sentinel fandom.

I was just a teenager when I got into slash, but I was too young both emotionally and legally to read NC-17 fics (okay, so I did read some, but looking back I really do think I was too young). Smarm was my best alternative. It was like slash, but without the graphic sex. At the time, I think, there wasn't much in the way of PG rated slash (at least in the sentinel fandom). If it was PG, it was considered smarm not slash. Now it would probably be called "pre-slash", which is how I always viewed it.

There's usually flirting, touching, declarations of "platonic" love... The stories often went hand in hand with hurt/comfort. Some were just friendship fics, some definitely crossed the line of slash. But I think the original intent for smarm was meant to be friendship/soul-mate fics. Like Xena and Gabrielle (okay, that might be a bad example). *g*
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: SN Lovershalfshellvenus on May 19th, 2007 06:00 pm (UTC)
Mostly about how I haven't seen any smarm fics in years, since I dropped out of the Sentinel fandom.
It's funny, someone else on my f-list mentioned wanting smarm after the SPN season-ender, and I thought, "How does a concept I've never even heard of before start randomly cropping up everywhere?"

Sentinel seems to be a smarm-fest (god, I'm reading it even though I've never watched the show!), and I definitely see its appeal. It's when it gets excessive or goes beyond into light Slash that I mostly just wonder what the heck the authors are thinking. :0

Smarm was my best alternative. It was like slash, but without the graphic sex.
Yes-- that totally worked for me in those teenage years. All the emotional satisfaction without TMI. BUT... I did still think of it as Slash (as much slash as I wanted then). Because guys falling all over each other and cuddling and kissing (!) is a little extreme to still be thinking of as Gen. I definitely like it, just don't think it's Gen. :)
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(no subject) - amethystshard on May 19th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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Re: we think on the same wavelength! - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 05:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
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Re: we think on the same wavelength! - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 05:49 am (UTC) (Expand)
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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:04 am (UTC)
Re: here via metafandom
I suspect it was the same post I was talking about. In reading through the comments, I fell across the discussion of "smarm," and that was when I first became acquainted with the concept of it as a genre.

it's fine if you want to have non-sexualised love between men. Go for it.
Yes-- it's a valid genre (better when not overdone), though it could use a better name.

But when you get to the "tongue-kissing is gen," you have got to be in denial about yourself as a Slasher. Wow.
Re: here via metafandom - ratcreature on May 20th, 2007 11:21 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - ratcreature on May 20th, 2007 07:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - wneleh on May 20th, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - ratcreature on May 20th, 2007 10:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 02:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - ratcreature on May 21st, 2007 02:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 03:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - ratcreature on May 21st, 2007 03:34 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: here via metafandom - wneleh on May 21st, 2007 09:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
Wolfling: dean and sam hard not to worrywolfling on May 20th, 2007 01:20 am (UTC)
Dude, Beach is still going? We were boggling over it back when I was in TS fandom in 98, 99. (Same boggles -- naked showering and kissing with tongue is slash no matter what you call it.)

But yeah, emo porn is as good a definition as any I've seen for smarm.

It's interesting to me too, that while I couldn't stand smarm in Sentinel fandom (partially because it seemed a hell of a lot like people wanting slash but not wanting to want slash...), in SPN fandom a lot of what I love about the show and some of the fic I read could probably be considered smarm. (I've been calling it emotional porn though because "smarm" is just too smarmy a word for me.) Hell, the first fic I wrote in SPN fandom had them crawling into bed together for comfort and I posted it as a gen story.

Apparently I can "smarm" for Sam and Dean in a way I never could for Jim and Blair.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Sam & Dean Genhalfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:12 am (UTC)
Dude, Beach is still going? We were boggling over it back when I was in TS fandom in 98, 99.
You know, it may simply have stalled out. I read the whole 70+ installments, though I started skimming through the last 6+ of them when the dream-sequence started up. At that point, it seemed that the authors had totally lost the thread of the story (a huge danger with longer chapter-based WIPs, in my experience).

Hell, the first fic I wrote in SPN fandom had them crawling into bed together for comfort and I posted it as a gen story.
My first Supernatural Gen story was smarm, and I wound up delinking it because I decided it was simply too overemotional and OOC (given that we made it through S1 without the boys resolving overtly some of the abandonment issues of Sam leaving Dean, and what that did to their relationship). And darned if I can resist the bed-cuddling thing-- especially with this show, where for Dean at least Sam is all he really has for emotional comfort. Even if there's no cuddling, I've definitely written a bit of the "smarm" in some of my SPN Gen (gads, I hate that name. It's revolting).

Apparently I can "smarm" for Sam and Dean in a way I never could for Jim and Blair.
Sam and Dean have some specific pain that belongs to them as brothers (not strangers who happened to come together), and is also at times due to each other. That makes the "smarm" more... I don't want to say meaningful, but I think more deeply resonant for the reader/author perhaps.

Also, too-- I'll bet Jim and Blair were more affectionate on the show than Sam and Dean are. Part of this is Kripke, and his desire to drive the fans nuts. It kills me to watch Sam just sit there when Dean is crying, or to have Dean tell him that he wants to be a family again and Sam just pops off with "Dean, I don't," like that's not going to just cut Dean wide open.

Kripke shows the rifts, even pours salt in them once in awhile, and does not heal them. If that won't drive fans to do it themselves with fanfic, I don't know what will. :0
Helen W.wneleh on May 20th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC)
Here from Metafandom...

I've seen it said that slashers are born, not made. I feel the same about being a lover of smarm - it's a deep, basic part of me. Yes, I get an the erotic thrill from a good het/slash story. And I like mellower forms of friendship fic too (and write them). But it's smarm I'll read at 4 in the morning, and I'll read worse-written smarm than anything else.

I find for some authors there is a smarm-preslash-slash continuum, but for many (and many people write both) slash and smarm are separate things. And neither necessarily maps well onto how real human beings handle interpersonal relationships with friends and lovers, IMO, which is perfectly fine with me.

As for Beach... well, I'm a bit of a fangirl of it. Yes, it is still, officially, a WIP, and I think it will always be one. I find this symbolic of what Beach is - a moment (a long, long, long moment) in time that pushes many boundaries: what can platonic love encompass, how big is the smarm tent, what can the characters endure, how long can its readers suspend cynicism/disbelief... I don't think anyone but Martha, who is one of the best writers, pro or fan, that I ever read, and Kitty, who knows from smarm, could have produced anything like it. And it's the sort of story that could only be fanfic.

- Helen



The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:20 am (UTC)
I find for some authors there is a smarm-preslash-slash continuum, but for many (and many people write both) slash and smarm are separate things.

I think they can be-- and ideally should be. But the extreme of smarm definitely seems to be light Slash, and the more bizarre thing is when authors have crossed over that line and still think they're writing Gen.

Again, to clarify, I definitely understand the appeal of smarm. It's very close to the light Slash that was my first fandom love (though I always want the kissing).

in time that pushes many boundaries: what can platonic love encompass, how big is the smarm tent, what can the characters endure, how long can its readers suspend cynicism/disbelief...
I'm sure there are fans of it-- huge fans. It's one of those things where I can read it (in a fandom I don't read), and think that the basic story-telling skills are obvious, though it crosses the line both into emo-Porn and light Slash for me, and there is far too much crying for my tastes. But, YMMV!

Platonic love can encompass much-- especially in giving for someone else, which is different than taking. The selflessness is always more expansive and intriguing. I don't think tonguing and lengthy naked showering are still within those boundaries, though. Now, given that I love Slash, that wouldn't bother me as a Slash reader. However, if I were looking only for Gen, at some point I'd feel like the authors were trying to see how much they could squick me before I bailed out.

And it's the sort of story that could only be fanfic.
Oh, yes-- and though people say that about a lot of stories in general, it's not necessarily bad. You'd never see anything remotely close to that happening in reality (emotionally speaking), but that has nothing to do with the fact that it can be immensely satisfying for readers, and that's the point of fanfic after all. :)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 20th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:45 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 21st, 2007 01:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 02:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - izhilzha on May 21st, 2007 05:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 21st, 2007 10:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
*curious* - thelana on May 20th, 2007 06:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - wneleh on May 20th, 2007 04:16 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - thelana on May 20th, 2007 04:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - thelana on May 20th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - wneleh on May 21st, 2007 01:42 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 02:22 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - thelana on May 21st, 2007 07:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - wneleh on May 22nd, 2007 01:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
Re: *curious* - thelana on May 22nd, 2007 06:20 am (UTC) (Expand)
Courser: Disturbingshutthef_up on May 20th, 2007 06:42 am (UTC)
Thank you! From the bottom of my little fannish heart for linking to the whole meta-thing on the origins of the term 'smarm'. This is something that has been making me nuts for a long time.

It seemed to me that the term originated with TS slash, but I was wrong. It pre-dates that and apparently, entirely by accident.

It's made me crazy because, by dictionary defination, 'smarm' is not really what it is. But I accept that the term has been co-opted by an entire genre of fic.

Thanks again!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 07:01 am (UTC)
It seemed to me that the term originated with TS slash, but I was wrong. It pre-dates that and apparently, entirely by accident.
What's funnier to me is to realize that it IS an explicit genre, and one that would have appealed to me lots as a teenager (still has some appeal now, within limits).

It's made me crazy because, by dictionary defination, 'smarm' is not really what it is. But I accept that the term has been co-opted by an entire genre of fic.
I really hate it as a label of a genre-- partly because it seems to have been chosen by people who like the genre, and that term is bettered applied to the worst, weepy parts of the genre.

You'd think people could have chosen a better name for it! "Mush" is more accurate, and actually less inflammatory to me. "Schmoop" very much covers it when it's not angst-fic. But "Smarm" is just such a negative word.
julchen56 on May 20th, 2007 09:30 am (UTC)
I personally believe that there are a lot of women who do not really like sex - or rather the 'messier' parts of sex, like penetration, exchange of body fluids etc. Of course, hardly anybody likes to admit that - because it's natural and the body is beautiful! - especially as 'being good in bed' is a qualitative statement everybody likes to claim for themselves. So, writing smarm they describe their ideal form of sex. Sex lite with all the good bits (like intimacy and cuddling and a little tongue etc.) but withouth the messier parts (as mentioned above). Also, it very nicely prepares the ground for 'we are not gay! we just love each other!' Homosexual sex being even a bit messier. YMMV, but that's my opinion.
Helen W.wneleh on May 20th, 2007 11:29 am (UTC)
Well, speaking for myself - I like sex quite a bit; and I'm always astounded when a slasher writes in her LJ about being a virgin or being long-term single because if you're that into sex I'd think you'd find someone interesting to have it with.

And, as a mom, I have a lot of experience with bodily fluids. Lots of different forms, inconveniently timed. Semen just doesn't hold a candle to most of them in terms of volume and containability issues! But I don't know how many smarm writers are moms, and me loving smarm far predates motherhood.

As for the WNGWJLEO - I dunno. I think about this a lot. When I first started grooving on smarm, as a pre-teen in the 70s, I don't think homosexuality was at all in my worldview. That changed, of course; and now I live in Eastern Massachusetts. But still, I think the 'purity' of nonsexual, platonic love was part of the initial pull for me. Maybe. Or maybe I just hoped someone would love and love and love me at a time I didn't even know sex existed, and that imprinted, and decades of being a pretty normal, friend-and-lover-having person haven't made a real dent in this? Again, I don't know; could be.

- Helen
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 21st, 2007 12:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 21st, 2007 01:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 22nd, 2007 07:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 22nd, 2007 10:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 22nd, 2007 12:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 22nd, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 22nd, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 22nd, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 23rd, 2007 11:51 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wneleh on May 23rd, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 23rd, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 04:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 24th, 2007 08:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 20th, 2007 06:53 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 21st, 2007 12:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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izhilzha: jim&blair gen pride!izhilzha on May 21st, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
I'm a Sentinel fan (see my icon, *g*) who loves the canon, and canon based fic. I'm also a genficcer. Slash squicks me, mostly because I'm fed up with the idea in fandom and in society that close emotional relationships are somehow better if they end in sexual intimacy, or that close platonic friendship somehow isn't "as good as" romance. Or that people only touch each other because they sexually desire each other.

Whatever. Simply not true. So I prefer friendship stories, and that includes (especially in TS fandom) smarm.

Beach, though? I got a few chapters into it (I'm a fan of Martha's genfic) and had to quit reading. It may not be intended as slash, and I understand that many fans read it as pushing the umbrella of smarm in a totally acceptable way, but...it kind of disturbed me. I never tried to finish it. "Too close to slash." There are several other fics in TS fandom that I've mentally labeled that way, but Beach is definitely highest on that list.
Helen W.wneleh on May 21st, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
RE: Beach - would you have been happier with different header information? Or was it no big deal?

- Helen
(no subject) - izhilzha on May 21st, 2007 11:11 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on May 21st, 2007 11:17 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - julchen56 on May 22nd, 2007 12:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
klangley56klangley56 on May 22nd, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
Now, if you want to read some *really* slashy "gen"
Try any part of Susan Foster's curiously popular Sentinel AU series, her GDP universe, found here:
http://www.susans-stories.co.uk/

She seems to have inadvertently created a new fan fiction sub-genre, dubbed "intense bonding fic."

In the course of her series, it is necessary for Jim and Blair to bond and "claim" each other with a frequency and intensity that suggests an animal in heat. Blair must be submissive, often naked, usually fondled and sniffed and tasted and so on, all over, by a very possessive Jim . . .

And in her series within the series--a historical version of the parent series, the Blair and Jim characters are equally aggressive and possessive in the whole bonding-and-claiming shtick:

"Blaer gave a cry of frustration as his hands where caught and held tightly in one large hand at the middle of his back. Using his free hand the Panther cupped his Guide’s face, his thumb brushing almost roughly over Blaer’s full lips so that he could taste his Guide’s scent. A shudder ran through the Panther as he Guide’s tongue swept around the ball of his thumb. That swept away the last of the Panther’s control. When confronted with his mate in the heat of the dark bond, needy body pressing against him begging to be claimed not in words but in action, the very heart of the primal panther was touched. His hand brushed his Guide’s face then fastened on the long hair. He pulled Blaer’s head back exposing his throat. With a roar the panther, his teeth clamped onto the pale skin at the base of his throat bit down hard at the same time his body pushed the Dark Guide deep into the furs.

0-0-0-0-0

Outside the tent a smile twitched the lips of the Shield as heard the moans and cries coming from the dark Guide as he was claimed in the darkest bond. His blood already heated by the fight, Blaer was vocal in the furs. A good sign in a mate, but then it was always said of the Dark Guides, that no other Guide could come close to them in the bond. The scream was then overlaid by the low-throated growl of the panther."
Helen W.wneleh on May 22nd, 2007 09:56 am (UTC)
Re: Now, if you want to read some *really* slashy "gen"
I was wondering if GDP was going to be the next series/author mentioned! Because her stuff also doesn't read as slash, through my Sentinel-fanfic-tuned filters; it reads as dreck. And the bit quoted? Purging in from my brain as I type....

While I think a good chunk of TS fandom is happy rating "Beach" smarm and leaving it at that, the major TS gen archive has decided not to allow stories with "bonding scenes" that it feels push the limits of gen: http://www.skeeter63.org/~tslibrary/misc/bondingpolicy.htm.

The funny thing for me is that, while the sub-genre the GDP series inspired that includes bonding squicks me majorly, GDP has also inspired many stories/series in which guides and sentinels are a major part of society, absent the oddness that is GDP, with different authors having different takes on how this would work; and many of these stories are marvelous.