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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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The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2007 03:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Now, if you want to read some *really* slashy "gen"
W.O.W.

:0

That's definitely Slash to me, obviously. I do wonder sometimes if people are confused into thinking that for true Slash the characters must be either 1) secretly gay, or 2)secretly want it.

A lot of Slash is (not saying that this is a realistic premise, just attractive to many readers) characters that are actually straight, but who find themselves loving someone far beyond where they thought love could go-- past the potential squick of it being someone of the same-sex (squick for the character, not the reader). I mean, some of it appeals as more the "ultimate" romance rather than just the sex-- loving the soul of the person and not the "packaging."

And then there's the occasional "thrown into this mess together" thing that starts out non-con, but they get over it. Or don't. But there's sexualized behavior. That sounds very much like the genre of what you linked above!

Same-sex characters having sex or with highly sexualized behaviors (such as kissing, french-kissing), for whatever reason, is Slash.

Same-sex characters who are basically in love with each other... also Slash, even if nothing further happens.

Wonder why that's so elusive to some writers? :0

Now my slashy little heart wants to go and read that story, even though it sounds painfully over the top in terms of... something. Laughability? Manufactured drama?
Helen W.wneleh on May 22nd, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Now, if you want to read some *really* slashy "gen"
As the saying goes, the great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from! And so it goes with defining slash, I think.

Sometimes I'll take a story defined as slash and choose to interpret it as non-slash because I get a bigger charge out of the interaction that way - I'll link one such from home later, the author is great, I really like her slash, but this one story is really what I like to read.

As for GDP... it's not just the flowery prose, it's the spelling, the interesting sentence structure, the protagonists going to a mall food court when trying to avoid all contact with humanity... and her site crashes my PDA :-(

- Helen
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Venushalfshellvenus on May 22nd, 2007 07:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Now, if you want to read some *really* slashy "gen"
it's the spelling, the interesting sentence structure,

Ouch. I have so little tolerance for that, I imagine I wouldn't read much of it.

There is a wonderful online friend whose personality and such I get a big kick out of. But her writing hurts me to read, in large part because of the syntax, which jerks around within subclauses in such an awkward way that you have to parse out the actual meaning of the sentence almost every time. I... just don't have the energy for that. :(