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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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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