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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...

Helen W.wneleh on May 23rd, 2007 12:40 pm (UTC)
Heavy usage of a certain kind of drug can tell a social/behavioural scientist a lot. As can the expressed preference - in writing or reading - of a certain kind of fic.

I *like* the social sciences. I just tend to only agree with social scientists about half the time (so, IOW, we randomly agree) and can usually think of 5 or 6 things that they aren't considering, or should have controled for better, even when I do agree. Shrug. I'm also pretty skeptical of the physical sciences; medical and biological research completely baffles me, I don't see how anyone can possibly draw conclusions from that data! But I read the papers anyway because I want to see the data for myself because I trust the analysis even less.

RE: windows into the soul: See, I've never (and this goes back to early childhood) felt I had a handle on someone unless I encountered them in at least three separate contexts. So I'm always interested in seeing people with their families, with other groups of friends, going to their church with them, whatever. Reading their fic and their LJ or email list posts and the type of writing they do for work. Looking at their bookshelves and talking parenting and politics and religion.

There are a couple of people I knew IRL before I read their fic (fan or original). Their fic is another piece of the puzzle of them (and it's interesting when the characters are having the same argument you've had with the writer!) but it's JUST a piece, and not a very useful one for me.

But I think we may just be talking about a difference in how people percieve others here. Socialization didn't come naturally for me so I developed a bunch of rules and strategies that I find work, enough that I forget that I'm really pretty odd, and there's a reason we live in Eastern Massachusetts and it's not the weather!
julchen56 on May 23rd, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC)
Well, I didn't say it tells you everything there is to know about them. Of course it doesn't. But it does give information away - sometimes information you're perhaps not to keen to give.