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28 December 2006 @ 07:11 pm
the subtext is rapidly becoming text...  
(crossposted from my Vox account)

Everyone has a right to an opinion, right? And everyone should have the right to give voice to that opinion. The internet has become an astounding tool towards achieving that end. Yes, there are still issues over freedom of expression, especially in countries such as China where government and ISPs work in tandem to 'censor' the internet. China is perhaps the most well known extreme of this, but it is a fact that no one truly has complete freedom of expression via the internet for one reason or another.

The point remains, however, that the internet is a great tool to 'publish' and find others with similar interests. I would in no way deny anyone the right to this tool, to share their opinions, but lately I have been finding myself thinking that some people just... shouldn't. Yes, I'm aware that I'm contradicting myself here, and that I'm being more than a little bitchy, but bear with me for a while.

Fandom is one area in which there are vast numbers of participants each of whom has their own 'niche'. Some of these niches are more vociferous than others (they are not necessarily larger than other niches - take the BtVS season five Spike fans. They were the 'loudest' on the forums and had sites which were promoted non-stop and yet when the producers gave them what they wanted, it became clear that the fans of the other characters were just as numerous and as a result bad feeling grew up amongst the fans because it was felt that one sector was being pandered to at the expense of all others). And people who participate in a 'niche' in one fandom will tend to gravitate towards a similar niche in another fandom.

And here's where I start to draw somewhat nearer to my point. Slash, Het, Gen. It seems to me that the niches most likely to cause flame wars are those revolving around 'ships'. From my experience as a primarily gen Xander writer I've been witness to huge mud-slinging matches where some people on the het 'side of the fence' will vehemently deny any possible basis for slashing that character; and I've also seen some people on the slash side of that fence argue just as vehemently that the character is clearly portrayed as being attracted to other men on the show and therefore slash is the only justifiable way to present him in fandom. I read all types of Xander fic, well... all types of Xander fic that is well written, and as well as gen I have written both Xander het and Xander slash and will probably do so again in the future. However I still get squicked by some pairings. Season 1-3 Xander/Giles for example, or season 5 Xander/Dawn, or any version of Buffy/Dawn and my instant reaction to seeing these fics is to shake my head and skip on past them. I am sure there are good fics out there in those categories, and I am just as sure I am missing out. The reason I mention it is actually just to highlight the fact that although I don't oppose slash or het or gen, there are some things that I cannot bring myself to read.

Now my point is actually in sight now. I have multiple fandoms, I'm probably better known (if I'm known at all) for working with the Buffyverse fandom but lately I've been writing and making graphics for both Doctor Who and for the fandom with which I am having issues - Supernatural.

Not surprisingly given the nature of the show, a lot of the Supernatural fandom have arrived via the Buffyverse fandom and there are recognizable niches forming again, with the 'usual suspects' (not a derogatory term, I swear) veering towards the types of niche they were/are a part of. However, the show only has two regular characters and only one or two recurring characters a season (thus far, although season two does seem to be introducing more in the way of recurring cast) and those regular characters are brothers.

Those whose normal reading of the shows in which they participate is a slash reading have been faced with a choice: slash one or other of the brothers with a character who only appears in the show once; or slash the brothers. The latter seems to have become the norm, resulting in the fandom term 'Wincest' (which also includes slashing the brothers and their father). My point (yay! I finally got to my point!) is that the basis for the majority of 'Wincest' seems to be primarily a reaction to the lack of options given for a slash subtext. Slashers want to see a slash subtext in the show and they therefore slash the two main characters regardless of familial relationship.

I should point out here that I am using slash in the original fandom meaning: a same sex relationship between two characters who are portrayed in canon as being heterosexual (or asexual) but whom fans of the show have chosen to read a homoerotic subtext (Xander/Spike is slash, Willow/Tara is canon).

Would those who write or make graphics around Wincest normally participate in incest fandom? I honestly do not know. The cultural norm is to frown on incest, to view it as inherently wrong. And yet when Kirk/Spock first appeared in 'zines, the cultural norm was to frown on homosexuality, to view it as inherently wrong. Times have changed (thankfully) and 'slashing' is no longer the subversive act it once was.

So are the Wincesters reclaiming the subversive nature of fandom? Or are they merely slash fans who are taking the only option available to them?

The thing is, I don't like Wincest, it is a squick for me, and yet I am fascinated by it. The graphics, the fics, the determination amongst the fans that it is the only way to 'read' the show - that the subtext is rapidly becoming text - I watch it all with growing interest, but I still find myself wondering why they do it, and why it is the most vociferous niche in this fandom.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
(Deleted comment)
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: spn//road trip - mewhiskyinmind on December 28th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
There is a history of het relationships for both brothers - Sam was with his girlfriend Jessica at college before her death prompted him to join the hunt, and Dean had a previous relationship with Cassie who called them in for help during season one. In addition, there have been options for recurring relationships - Sam and Sarah who appeared in Provenance and was mentioned in later episodes, and Dean and Jo who has been in three (I think it's three) episodes of the second season. Your point is a good one though, long-term shipping is a problem in the show because of the lack of recurring characters.
velvetwhipvelvetwhip on December 28th, 2006 07:50 pm (UTC)
Interesting meta, Sho.

the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: scoobies - mewhiskyinmind on December 28th, 2006 07:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks Gabrielle - it's something that's been on my mind for a while now and I figured it was about time to put it out there.
Laura: jonstewartwha? - equanimity23dimlondeiel on December 28th, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)
Never having seen Supernatural and sometimes coming across graphics when it's posted with my other fandoms, I have gone 'aren't they meant to be brothers!" more than once.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: spn//not watching porn - _taylerwhiskyinmind on December 28th, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
It's definitely an odd one, I can see the germs of the 'spacecest' ship with Simon and River (although I don't tend to read any) but with Sam and Dean? All I see is brothers, and I'm curious to know why so many others see the incest subtext there. (*couldn't resist using this icon though...*)
smhwpf on December 28th, 2006 11:01 pm (UTC)
Never seen SPN, but if it's that prevalent, it does sound like people are just importing their slash preferences into the show...

It does strike me as a big squick, and I think it would be for most people in most circumstances. I find it hard to imagine that many people not having an incest squick. It sounds like they're just conveniently ignoring it. Though obviously I can't really say that without reading it.

Generally speaking, there just isn't sexual chemistry between siblings. When they've grown up together in a totally different sort of relationship... you'd need something really convincing as to why a sexual dimension suddenly emerged. The only real exception is where siblings have not grown up together and only meet in later life. I don't know if that's the case in SPN?

Basically, a fic would have to be really, really good and have a really good explanation and development for how such a relationship developed between siblings. Most fic writers are not as good as that requires. Therefore, I am inclined to suspect that it's more a case of a lot of mediocre ficwriters shoehorning in a slash relationship where none belongs o satisfy their slash craving. But I say this purely on the basis of statistical probability rather than actual knowledge. :)
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: spn//the boys and their car.... - mewhiskyinmind on December 29th, 2006 12:13 pm (UTC)
In canon there is backstory indicating that not only did the boys grow up together but that Dean as the elder brother became the secondary carer for Sam after their mother's death. So as well as a fraternal bond, there is also a slight parental/child bond there. Sam left home to go to college when he was 18 and appears to have cut off all contact in that time, but even when they do meet again after four years, the instant fraternal connection is obvious (to me at least).

The Wincesters will point out parts of the show which appear to have a slash leaning but which I still fail to see it - in the episode Hell House the two of them are (for an actually pretty thoughtful reason) pulling practical jokes on each other throughout and at one point Sam is wearing nothing but a towel and there is a claim that Dean is 'checking him out'. When I watch the scene all I see is Dean trying not to meet Sam's eyes because he's just put itching powder in Sam's clothes... And in the episode Bugs, they are visiting an 'open house'at a new property development and the looks on their faces when the property agent makes the assumption that they are a couple clearly (to me) shows that it's just not an option for them. Others read that completely differently though, and see the look as confirmation.

What gets me is that I know a lot of the names of the authors who are writing Wincest, I know their work from other fandoms (primarily, but not limited to, the Buffyverse) and they are good writers.

I just get the impression that they are *handwaving* away the family relationship so that they can write two good looking men together.

Speculation type thing here which I'll colour white, if you want to read it then highlight it - it is pure speculation but might end up being spoilery... there is a widespread belief that Sam is not actually his father's son, that he is in fact half-demon, or perhaps a 'changeling'. He certainly has psychic abilities that have yet to be explained and in season two so far Dean has been carrying (and buckling under) the weight of a 'secret' he has been told about Sam. Even if that is the case (and honestly I think it's too obvious for Kripke to go down that route - he's a better storyteller than that) then the fact of the matter is that the boys have grown up as brothers since Sam was born. So even if there is no blood relation, or if they are only half-brothers, they are still family. It would still be incest.
Maryfresleyforever on December 29th, 2006 01:31 am (UTC)
This was a very interesting read-I liked how you analysed the whole Wincest thing. And slash in general.

But Wincest is a big squick for me.
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: spn//sam & dean - mewhiskyinmind on December 29th, 2006 12:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you muchly - it's something that's been on my mind for a while now and to be honest it was only when I checked out a fic community that I'm a member of but don't have on my flist that I realised that every story on the first page was Wincest. I just... don't understand why there is such a prevalence of it in the fandom.
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the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstone: xander//happy place - emeraldswanwhiskyinmind on December 29th, 2006 12:21 pm (UTC)
Honestly I keep forgetting I've got that account, I've posted a grand total of two posts to it and only really mentioned it in case anyone thought I might be stealing someone else's post. :)

It's 'marajaded'