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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...

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.
she said mysteriouslyresounding_echo on May 19th, 2007 08:43 am (UTC)
True, true. I still love my smarm. In truth, if I had to choose between smut and smarm, I'd choose smarm (I think).

See, I actually like the love-less relationship angle. Or, rather, when the issues outweigh the love and the relationship suffers. Or when the love isn't understood/acknowledged until it's too late. I want smarm in RL and issues in fandom. :D