Written in response to this question from drunken_hedghog in the You Pick The Topic Meme
Have you ever encountered an intelligent (or even non-Troll) opponent to
RPF or even fanfiction in general? What were their arguments and how did
you refute them?
On that note, have you ever felt that you had to justify something you've
written? What was it and why?
This couldn’t possible get controversial, could it?
I’m posting an RPS story tonight, so it seems appropriate to put this essay up today, especially since the story has the potential to bother a lot of readers who might be more accepting of other pairings.
Let’s start with the big RPS wank of 2006:
I’m not posting this to invite anyone to go back in and comment. The wank is over. house_wilson did a poll about whether they should allow RPS at all, and the consensus was YES, If, it included references to House and Wilson as well. Since my Hugh&Bobby stories stem from the on-screen chemistry evident in the House/Wilson relationship along with tidbits about the actors gleaned from the media, as well as those made up of whole cloth in my twisted mind, I have generally gotten a free pass since then.
Of course, I had posted my previous stories in the series to the same community, with virtually no brou-ha-ha at all. At that point my biggest problem was a sense that the Fry and Laurie contingent didn’t approve of me, because I cast Stephen Fry as the jealous, abandoned lover, as much as Hugh’s friend and confidante.
I know of one individual who refuses to read my Hugh&Bobby stories because the idea of Hugh with anybody but Stephen makes her cry. I’m still not sure how she copes with Hugh being married and having kids, but whatever.
Then there are people who are viscerally disgusted and offended by the concept. So be it. There’s no way to argue against the EWWWWWW factor, except with the Green Eggs and Ham approach. I always warn pretty vociferously as to the level of “reality” involved. Those who click on a story are inviting themselves in. I can understand why people might object to RPF and RPS, although RPS seems to take a bigger hit. One hates to wave the homophobia flag, so we’ll just leave the point there and let others elaborate if they choose to do so.
At this point, I’m going to make an extremely egotistical statement: I think my RPS/RPF stories are really good for the exact same reasons that people tend to get offended by it. I go out of my way to make it as realistic as possible. I do research. My Hugh&Bobby, John Barrowman/David Tennant and even something like Stephen Colbert/Keith Olbermann tends to reference significant others, family members (including children) friends, co-workers, pets etc. Because, if you’re not going to do that, WHY BOTHER? Then it’s just smut with famous names, right?
Putting aside the whole “you’re an evil, psychotic, sociopath” thing, the two major arguments tend to be:
1. It’s an invasion of privacy.
2. What if the people involved read it?
#1-The usual answer is: Hey, you’re the one who decided to become an actor, and therefore a public figure. See my above point about the details. Did I tell Robert Sean Leonard to give an interview where he talked about hearing Hugh Laurie’s voice and say “Homina, homina, homina?” I did not. But if he’s going to do it, I see no reason not to incorporate it into my saga.
But never mind that.
I always do disclaim that I’m making it up. I never imply this is actually happening until the story starts itself. That’s the answer as far as I’m concerned. It’s fiction and I say it’s fiction. How can it be an invasion of privacy?
#2-What if they do? Some of the folks involved seem to be more net-savvy than others, but I’m sure they’ve all read things about themselves in the media that were either true or un-true. I didn’t make up Hugh’s affair with Audrey Cooke or the fact that Robert Sean Leonard’s fiancée moved to Israel at the end of 2006. As far as Hugh & Stephen being more than friends, I still don’t know if it’s true, but I’m certainly not the first person to imply it and a lot of their BOFFLE humor seems to emanate from the audiences shared perception that something might be going on, especially Stephen is gay and out, about which more later when we discuss the JB/DT.
My biggest worry about any of them reading my work would be if they thought it was badly written. For what it’s worth, beta_goddess and I work our asses off on these things to make sure that the voices sound right, that I don’t contradict known facts, that the stories are hot and well-written at least to our standards. She sent back the end of Like a Hurricane three or four times until I got it right. (Right, in this case, meaning we both cried.)
One issue that came up during the wank was “How would you feel if it happened to you?” Honestly? If it was well-written and researched and I got to be with somebody as hot as the people I’ve written about? I’d love to think I’m important enough for someone to want to write smut about me.
Let’s pick up a stray issue that’s been nagging at me for awhile as I became more interested in Torchwood and started writing RPS with John Barrowman.
John Barrowman and Stephen Fry are both completely out-of-the-closet, wonderfully cheeky gay men who are in long-term relationships. .
In order to write Fry & Laurie slash that takes place in the present day, Stephen has to be cheating on his partner, Daniel. The Fry & Laurie fandom deals with this in various ways, but I’ve never read anybody, anywhere who objected to Fry&Laurie RPS on that basis, although one of the reasons that comes up in the objections to my Hugh&Bobby stories is that Hugh is married with children and is therefore cheating on Jo to be with Bobby.
I never skimp on the Hugh/Jo issue.
“My” Hugh is cheating, and is nearly perpetually guilt-ridden about the fact. These stories are not just about two hot guys getting it on. They’re about two hot guys, falling love almost against their wills, getting it own, lying to do so and suffering for it.
I really wasn’t expecting to take up another RPS pairing (aside from my occasional forays into pundit-slash), but I accidentally found theroadtohell and was instantly hooked on John Barrowman and David Tennant, although I felt most of the fic there was too fluffy for my taste.
Mr. Barrowman has been very public about his relationship, although his partner isn’t a public figure. We know his name, how long they’ve been together, what he looks like (HOT!!) and thanks to John’s lovely interview with OUT magazine, possibly too much about his (ahem) physique.
If I’m going to write John with David on any kind of sexual level, he is going to have to cheat on that relationship. And that drives some people bonkers more-so than I’ve otherwise encountered when writing Hugh/Bobby, Stephen/Keith etc.
I’ve read some John/David fic that sort of skirts the issue by implying that Scott would be hunky-dory with it, or just ignoring Scott all together. I haven’t read any JB/GDL, so I don’t know if they deal with it or not. I deal with it. The story I’m posting tonight is very specific on that matter and I will warn for it explicitly
My favorite comment to get on my RPS work is “I never read RPS, but I’ll read yours.” Or something to the extent of how I’ve corrupted them into reading it. With the JB/DT stuff, the best variation is, “I would never read any RPS with John in it, but I read yours.”
Defending fanfic in general.
Sort of reminds me of another wank, the one about posting music. You just might remember it. In case you don’t, it went something like this:
And my answer is the same one. That fight’s been fought and lost. Just ask Metallica. Yes, I know there are certain writers/producers/directors who “forbid” fanfic to be written from their source material and I’m sure that’s completely stopped it from happening. *eye roll*
One of the last acts of my LJ divorce was Former Internet Soul Mate, of all people trotting out the old “borderline illegal” argument against fan-fiction, citing copyright infringement etc.
Feel fee to sue me when I actually try to make some money off the stuff.
I’m not sure about “justifying” something I’ve written, except the above referenced RPS wank, where I didn’t really bother to defend myself, as many people did it rather eloquently for me. “Unclench your pearls, mincing priss-pots’ is still a classic.
Thanks for suggesting the topic. I do appreciate the opportunity to flesh out some thoughts and put them together. If the issue comes up again, I can just direct the questioner to this post.