An Elegant Rec
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Below are the 2 most recent journal entries recorded in An Elegant Rec's InsaneJournal:

    Friday, March 28th, 2008
    7:09 pm
    When the Text Doth Protest Too Much: Fanfiction Rebellions Against Overinsistant Canon
    Don't Go Out Tonight, by [info]phantisma (3978 words, Livejournal, NC-17, FPF)

    Don't Say You're Sorry, by [info]phantisma (3747 words, Insanejournal, NC-17, FPF)

    You Tasted All My Purity, by [info]conquest (3341 words, Livejournal, NC-17, FPF)

    Aporias, in televisual as much as in written texts, indicate points of knowledge which the consumer may reasonably be expected to share. When Sam and Dean encounter Little Red Riding Hood (Bedtime Stories, 3x05), they don't need to spend much time recounting the story's plot in detail. The audience, it is presumed, already possesses that information.

    But what of the opposite extreme? When a text provides information not just once, but repeatedly, clearly its author has decided that the audience does not possess, but requires, that information. In the case of a weekly television series, repetition of basic information may be presumed to be for the benefit of the casual viewer who cannot be expected to "already know" the show's basic established canon.

    The established viewer, who may see details of character or setting restated dozens or hundreds of times, can react to this repetition passively, accepting it as a necessary construct of the show. Paradoxically, however, these repetitions of basic canonical foundations may instead provoke an active resistant reading.

    So it is with Dean's sexuality. Time and again Dean's heteronormative, enthusiastic (even predatory) sexuality is reestablished. Show after show points up this "necessary information." Quite probably most or even all new viewers absorb and accept that Dean is fully heterosexual, flirtatious, and sexually rapacious. Yet to the active, more invested viewer, the constant iterations raise questions. The requirements of serialized television create an artifact of doubt and suggest reinterpretations. Why, the regular viewer asks, does this need to be said so loudly and so often? If Dean's sexuality can never be presumed, can never achieve the certainty of an aporia, then space for reinterpretation opens up.

    Nowhere is this reinterpretation more brilliantly yet logically displayed then in "pre-series" fics which deconstruct Dean's sexuality to equip him with past behaviors--and by extension, current desires--quite other than the driven heterosexuality the show insists on. "Don't Say You're Sorry" is a recent example (part of a larger "Don't" series, the first installment of which is also linked above). [info]phantisma answers the question of how a young Dean and Sam might have survived, while at the same time posing and answering questions about Dean's sexual history--questions that, paradoxically, stem from canon's insistence on circumscribing Dean's sexuality. The resultant fic is not merely arousing, but convincing.

    The lyrical and widely acclaimed "You Tasted All My Purity" is a second example of this questioning of canon's refusal to let Dean's sexuality become background, and of resistance to this overstatement and exploration of the doubts it raises. Coolly taking the opposite position--that Dean has not only had heterosexual sex, that Dean is not the two-dimensional sexual stereotype canon seeks to reduce him to--[info]conquest ties Dean's masculine, and initially paternal, feelings towards Sam to an active use of his sexuality that is anything but the stereotypical "masculinity" the series-as-text proclaims.

    Written for, and crossposted to, [info]an_elegant_rec
    Monday, February 4th, 2008
    2:06 pm
    Sympathies of an Intelligible Nature: Regression and Intimacy in SPN Fanfiction (Review)
    We Are Plural, We Are Single, by [info]roguebitch (9308 words, Livejournal, FPF)

    Wasted on the Young, by [info]katjad & [info]memphis86 (15,000 words, Livejournal, RPF)

    "Incest is a strangely fashionable subject," Rosemary Dinnage once claimed, and that she made the claim in 1986 only underscores the point that it is not, perhaps, so much a fashionable topic as one of perpetual interest, although its continued fascination rather compromises her quaint image of a jaded press and a shocked public. The use of incest as a metaphor for intimacy is a familiar one to readers of Supernatural fanfiction, and so obvious it almost passes unnoticed, and unremarked upon except by fans from outside the constructed community of that fandom's sibcest readership. Such outsiders do come close to achieving the shocked fascination Dinnage evokes, but insiders familiar with the trope take the distinction between fictional Wincest and real-world issues as a given, too self evident to be worthy of comment. This raises the possibility, though, that sibcest's value as a shorthand for exceptional intimacy is undercut by its very familiarity. In a fandom in which Wincest is a norm, how can an author convey the strength of the bond between Sam and Dean, and make intelligible to the reader the very non-normalcy, not of the practice, but of the degree of intimacy it encompasses?

    One answer lies in underlining that the relationship between Sam and Dean has existed since they were both children, and thus that it predates not only their first time together but nearly any other expression of their sexuality as well. Their shared childhood means that Sam and Dean have been aware of each other since long before either achieved mature sexual self-awareness. Roguebitch's We Are Plural, We Are Single, a "first-time" Wincest fanfic, makes brilliant use of the brother's shared pre-sexual intimacy to underscore the profound nature of the further intimacy that she depicts. As the story opens, Dean's active sexuality is contrasted with Sam's disinterest in casual hook-ups, paralleling what must also have occurred when Dean reached puberty before Sam--paralleling, too, further developments within the story, as Dean is shown to have been aware of the undercurrents of their relationship while Sam remained innocent of any such tensions. Significantly, it is only following Sam's regression to infantile dependency (as a result of a zombie attack) that he begins to acknowledge the depth of his feelings for Dean, and the sexual component of those feelings. That his helpless state reminds them both of their shared childhood is made explicit, but the thematic note, once sounded, is left to fade into the background as the present-day relationship takes precedence.

    An even more interesting example is Wasted on the Young, a Jared/Jensen real person fic by Katjad and Memphis86. Here the intimacy under scrutiny is that shared by co-actors and friends, not siblings, and the motif of regression recreates a dynamic between Jared and Jensen which is the reverse of that shared by the fictional brothers they play. Jensen's regression to an infantile, helpless state leaves Jared in the position of having to assume responsibility for him, and care for him, with all the intimate yet non-sexual contact involved in tending to the physical needs of a younger brother. Again, it is only after such a period of re-established pre-sexual intimacy that the "real," sexual nature of their relationship is allowed expression. What is created is another successful vision of a bond that is, paradoxically, even more intimate than incest--because the intimacy which preceeds and takes primacy over the sexual contact.
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