Fanfiction Fridays: The Chuck Writes Story by lettered

I’m not really into Supernatural any more, and I don’t think I will be again, despite the fact that the series seems like it will go on forever. But when I stumbled upon today’s fanfic rec, I thought the idea seemed just ridiculous enough to give it a chance. I’m glad I did, because The Chuck Writes Story ended up being the type of meta fanfic that is both funny and thought-provoking. (Truly showing that Supernatural’s glory days are behind it, as this fic was written when Season 7 had just come out.)

Chuck SupernaturalRemember Chuck Shurley way back in Season 4, when all we knew about him was that he was a so-called author who was writing and publishing the (entirely true) story of the Winchester brothers? In this series, after his book series is canceled, Chuck keeps writing because he’s compelled to as a prophet. However, he doesn’t just let the new stories languish—in a desperate bid for attention, he decides to publish them on the internet as “fanfiction” of his own series. As more people start reading and/or complaining about his new “additions” to canon, Chuck attempts to make friends in fandom, but his lack of understanding of fandom culture only succeeds in alienating the few people who do talk to him.

Trawling through [livejournal.com profile] spnkink_meme forced Chuck to acknowledge that by entering fandom, he was taking the characters and—maybe not writing gay incest porn—but certainly he was taking the characters and subverting someone’s intent. Certainly he was subverting the intent of these people on, what was it, [livejournal.com profile] samdean_otp, some of whom seemed to believe Sam and Dean were meant for each other. In the sexual sense.

He certainly hadn’t meant them for each other sexually, and he had created them. Was his intent, then, more important than theirs? What about their Supernatural—and there was that question again: was their Supernatural different than his Supernatural?

What was SPN?

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Fandom, Fujoshi, and Free!

As much as I enjoyed watching it, it’s honestly no surprise that Free! ended up being queerbait—this appears to be true with most modern sports anime, as the internet is only too glad to convince me. Honestly, in watching the Iwatobi swim team go through their struggles to be seen as legitimate, it’s all too easy to forget that Iwatobi High is actually a co-ed school. Free!’s main conflict comes from the miscommunication between two of the male leads; however, this leads into a staggering case of gender disparity among the cast; a problem many anime—especially sports anime—has. Sports anime tends to hyperfocus on a group of teammates and their rivals, bringing attention to every little piece of their past, every small piece of drama within the group, and every lingering gaze they may give each other. The few classmates of theirs who are girls are typically relegated to roles of “unnamed, unobtainable crush”, “childhood best friend”, or “team manager”. These characters are sometimes somewhat fleshed out, but typically only in a way that serves to emphasize how close the boys are. This leads to a majority of ships in these fandoms being M/M (since they get a majority of the characterization), and the ladies getting further swept under the rug, sometimes with great, undeserved hatred behind it.

Wading around in the otome game fandom, and just the anime fandom in general, there’s a very real sense of hate and misogyny lingering in the background of almost every series. Especially in the otome game fandom, where it’s typically one female character planted between a bunch of dudes, the heroine is almost always criticized for being too passive, too bitchy, too emotional, too stupid, or just too annoying. Legitimately the list could go on forever. More than that, though, there always seems to be a part of these fandoms that resents the heroine for existing in the first place—for getting in the way of their gay ships (which, really, why are you playing an otome game then?). Following this logic, for a show seemingly exclusively created for a female audience, it would seem only appropriate that the Free! fandom would show this same vitriol for the show’s most prominent female character, Kou Matsuoka. Yet this wasn’t the case. In fact, Kou was one of the most beloved characters on the show, but I wouldn’t say this was due specifically to her being a good character. Rather, I’d fathom it was because she was a self-insert character for a niche audience: the fujoshi.

As a note, I’m speaking only from the core anime; I haven’t read or watched any material outside that.

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Internet Branding with a Nerdy Slant

Living in the internet age is pretty weird. We’ve gone through a paradigm shift from being afraid to meet people from online in real life to having the possibility of meeting many friends and significant others in and outside of cyberspace. It’s been quite the change. With this openness, increasing ubiquity of access, and wider spread of ideas, the internet has sort of developed its own culture. This has happened to the degree that even specific social networks and sites have their own flavor or subculture; people have a mindset about Reddit, Tumblr, etc., and those sites tend to have self-identified traits. Perhaps more than traits, each of these subcultures perpetuate their own style of memes, and each amplifies their frequency of use to a different degree. Even though they existed long before the internet, memes have seemed to really pick up a lot more steam in the past few years. One area really affected by the memetic culture of the internet is advertising. In particular, social media profiles for products have adapted more humorous approaches to gathering support and fan attention. Nerdy properties were quick to jump on the meme bandwagon, and less geeky products were equally as quick to add memes and other genre references to their plans. I want to talk about both a bit more, since not only do they both show the proliferation of nerd sensibilities to the greater public consciousness, but this usage also shows how companies are making an effort to cater to what people want a bit more.

SonicSonPug

(via—Sonic the Hedgehog Facebook Page)

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Throwback Thursday: Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

We’re going a little deeper into the archives of science fiction this week, to pull out the 1964 Stanley Kubrick film, Dr. Strangelove or: How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The black-and-white visuals and Cold War imagery give the movie a dated effect, but I’m realizing how distressingly relevant the underlying message still is.

nofightinginthewarroom

At the top level, the movie is a satire of mutually assured destruction and nuclear war. A rogue American general named Jack D. Ripper, consumed with paranoia, orders an unprovoked nuclear strike against the Soviet Union, and a fleet of bombers take to the air.

When news of the strike reaches President Merkin Muffley, he descends to the underground War Room, joined by the maniacal General Buck Turgidson, the Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadeski, and the title character, a nuclear scientist from Nazi Germany now serving the United States. De Sadeski reveals the existence of a Soviet Doomsday Device, which will automatically destroy all life on Earth with a cloud of radioactive gas if an atomic strike on the USSR is detected. The Americans and the Russians work together to recall the bombers, but one, piloted by Major T.J. “King” Kong, has been damaged and cannot receive the radio signal, and prepares to deliver its payload.

Earth’s last hope is the failure of Kong’s bomb, spray-painted with the name “Hi There!”—which jams in the bay. But the dedicated pilot climbs on top of it, and jumps up and down on it until it deploys. Kong rides the bomb to the end of the world, gleefully whooping and waving a cowboy hat in the film’s most famous scene.

ridethebomb

Anonymous submission to MakeAGIF.com

The Americans pause for a moment of silence, before planning to resume the Cold War after the apocalypse when they emerge from their bunkers. The credits roll with a montage of mushroom clouds set to Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”.

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Eldritch Terror and the White Man’s Burden: H.P. Lovecraft’s Xenophobia

I’m a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories. They evoke a sense of wonder, dread, and the allure of forbidden knowledge. As Neil Gaiman has stated1, “Lovecraft built the stage on which most of the last century’s horror fiction was performed.” He draws the reader into a world of arcane mystery and nameless horror, threatening his protagonists’ sanity and indeed their very lives with a sense of addictive fascination that practically flows out of the page. Lovecraft’s method of “describing the indescribable” with florid and evocative language has all but made him a genre unto himself.

H.P. LovecraftHowever, he was also a racist imperialist whose protagonists share those biases in spades.

While that never stopped me enjoying his stories, it is sometimes off-putting and makes much of his stuff difficult to read. It is tempting to contextualize this to the period he was writing (where such attitudes were expressed openly), but Lovecraft’s social and racial elitism was considered beyond the pale even for his times; though the tone of his arguments on this topic became more general over the years, they did not appear to change with the times. His correspondence (much of which has been collected and published by S. T. Joshi) bears this out.

But as I’ve re-read his stories over the years, something has dawned on me: the often wholesale embrace of “the white man’s burden” is not only a central metaphor in Lovecraft’s work, it often deepens the isolation of his characters and heightens their peril.

TW: Racist and imperialist language and themes, as well as ableist language and themes, after the jump.

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Stark Justice IV: Sansa is Not a Disney Princess

I honestly did not plan to come back to this series; I figured that I capped it off by jumping from Westeros to an Avenger. But damn if Game of Thrones didn’t imagine Sansa with the sovereign powers of Winterfell this year, at least briefly before Jon Snow was declared King in the North. And so, it’s time again to look at another member of House Stark take on the affairs of law and justice.

sansabrienne

Unlike her predecessors, Sansa has no experience in statecraft; her parents spent their entire adult lives in powerful positions, and Tony’s been around for the entire Cinematic Universe. Not only does she lack experience, but she was not educated to become a ruler. Instead, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the fairy tales of her people, and five grueling seasons of torture at the hands of, well, everyone.

She acts harshly, and many writers have seen this as evidence that she has given into the latter, and that the gentle Northern girl has been corrupted. But Sansa is still living out a fairy tale, and her severity comes from those tales as much as her naivete once did.

Since we’re talking Game of Thrones, beware of spoilers (through Season 6) and triggers (torture and sexual violence) below the line.

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Web Crush Wednesdays: The Setup Wizard

web crush wednesdaysWhen I was a child, like many of you, I was obsessed with Harry Potter. But unlike many of you, the fanfics I entertained in my mind (though I didn’t yet know they were called that) were not about the canonical characters, but all about an American Muggle-born witch OC who looked up her magical “symptoms” online and ended up finding the “Worldwide Wizarding Web”. Even back then, when I was as young as a first-year, I thought it was ridiculous that the wizarding world hadn’t yet entered the 21st century at all, and I decided to rectify the situation.

Well, imagine my satisfaction when, fifteen years later, Hogwarts finally “hopped aboard the Information Technology train” and hired an IT staff to deal with the Wizarding Web and all the Muggle-borns and half-bloods who refused to give up their smartphones when they went off to school! The Setup Wizard is a fan blog that posts daily updates on these IT adventures at Hogwarts, and oh my gosh, it is so much fun.

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