My Two Cents

Hello, darling readers!  I’ve been on vacation and came back to a bit of hoopla following the announcement of the winners of the Fangy Awards, hosted by the Fangreaders, and in particular the Pammy Award which was the Fangreaders Panel’s choice of excellence in writing (in other words, the judges’ special mention of a fic that, in this case, didn’t make it to public voting). Now, to be clear, I haven’t had much luck finding the winners of each category, either on the Blogspot Fangreaders blog, or the LiveJournal one (but LiveJournal hates me, so that could have something to do with it), and because I was on vacation and without a computer, I missed the live announcement.  I do know which fic won the “Pammy,” and for that I have to thank moxiemollymo and her posting on her blog (you can read the articles here and here).  That’s where I first learned of the hoopla I’m trying to weigh into.

Also to be clear, and as a disclaimer, I was part of the Fangreaders’ hosts until my life became extra busy and I wasn’t able to keep up with my hosting schedule.  I still have a lot of respect for the people that make up the Fangreaders and I think of them as very intelligent and generous people.  The subject of domestic abuse and violence in fanfiction has been discussed in their chat room and the links to the transcripts are prominently displayed on their website if you scroll.  I don’t know if the links were taken down at some point and then re-posted, of they were always there and move around as they add new content to their website.  Let’s just say the topic has been discussed in several chats and leave it at that.

I barely touch upon the subject of domestic abuse myself because there are others in the fandom who have done research and are better versed in all that it entails (moxiemollymo, peppermintyrose and Finite Anarchy are three that have posted extensive posts on the subject), the signs, ramifications, strange attraction to it by certain readers, etc.  To clarify, I’m not talking about BDSM, which is a consensual act all around and there are safety mechanisms in place between partners to prevent abuse.  I’m talking about violence against domestic partners, period, and the fanfics that depict domestic violence in the SVM fandom in particular.  I have read only one such fic, and learned quickly to avoid them because, frankly, they’re not my cup of tea.  I’m also not talking about depicting domestic violence in the right light (as in, for example, Sookie is a victim but we all know it’s wrong and it’s part of the story and the development of the character and how she gets out of the situation).  I’m talking about domestic violence that is being written for its entertainment value.  Usually the only “warning” any of us gets is the words “Dark Eric,” on the summary, and most times we don’t get any warning at all.  Those fics rub me the wrong way for many reasons, most of them common sensical.

That said, I’m not out to stop anyone from reading anything they find entertaining.  I live in the U.S., where freedom of speech takes many shapes and some of them are not pleasant.  But, since it affords everyone the freedom to talk against our government, stand up for our other rights, gather peacefully to do whatever the heck we want, etc, I’m not one to censor or be for censoring anything.  I simply don’t read what I don’t like and continue on my merry way.  I am, however, in favor of proper labeling.  If a fic depicts rape, I would like to be told.  If a fic contains a dark side of Eric or Bill, I’d like to be warned, and for goodness’ sake, don’t label those fics as romance!  Romance, by definition, includes NO violence.

Back to the winner of the Pammy.  I have not read the fic (only the first chapter before Eric’s mental chatter made me cringe), true to my predilection for non-violent fics.  It depicts a darker side of Eric abusing Sookie, and it was reported and taken down from Fanfiction.net anyway… if that’s any indication of the type of story it is.  So…ultimately, it makes me wonder: why was it nominated, let alone given, the Pammy?  I was under the impression it was supposed to be a special mention for “excellence in writing.”  True that there have been many books throughout the ages that have been banned for their content and we now think of them as masterpieces, but let’s not compare this particular story to any of those.  The Grapes of Wrath it is NOT.  Why did it win a Pammy?  Why did the majority of the 13 Fangreader panel members choose THIS story?  I welcome comments from those who know the reason (the true reason or the otherwise guessed).

I have only one theory, and perhaps I’m naive: It was a consolation prize for having the story banned from Fanfiction.net.  I refuse to entertain the only other reason that my brain has come up with: friends giving friends prizes, the ultimate act of cronyism within the fandom, and a slap in the face to all those writers who would have truly deserve a prize not based on popularity, but on merit.

*P.S.: I closed the comments, mainly because I got an answer to my question privately.  One of these days I’m sure we’ll all know what happened, but for now we’ll have to wait patiently for the Fangreaders to explain it on their terms.  Let’s just say that it wasn’t either of my theories, not exactly, more like a case of a humongously huge misunderstanding all around: think clusterfuck with a side of strong opinions (as would befit the inclusion of such a story into a poll).

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10 thoughts on “My Two Cents

  1. While I don’t condone violence against women in any form, I am always disturbed when I hear that specific stories and authors are being banned from fanfic. To me this is censorship and patently un-democratic. It also has a chilling effect on all authors. One need only visit the site to see this. I would say the quality of the fanfic being posted has declined. It seems like many of the authors whose stories I’ve favorited (well-written and creative reinterpretations either of canon or the HBO series) aren’t posting. In other words, I don’t think keeping out the “bad” people is having the intended effect. You’re not only driving away the authors who offend you, but also the people who really have something worthwhile to contribute.

    I truly believe fanfic should not be censored unless the story is directly advocating violence against women, or some other vile nonsense. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Give the author your feedback (always constructive), let them know why you dislike their story. But, “punishing” them by going to fanfic and demanding their story or stories be removed because they choose not to heed your feedback has a negative impact on everyone who either reads of posts to fanfic–good, bad or indifferent.

    • You make an excellent point, and one I happen to agree with. If I dont like a story, I simply don’t read it. Fanfiction.net has a set of rules that we all like to push, myself included. Even notorious author Terri Botta had a story banned from Fanfiction for the amount of sex it had. For a story to be banned, all that needs to happen is that some troll needs to report it. But, on the other hand, if someone went through the trouble, then it makes you wonder why.

      I don’t like to do to other authors what was done to me, which was a scathing review for all to see (in my case, my sin was to write in a kiss between Sookie and a non-Eric character, hardly an act worthy of a scathing review IMHO). If the story offends to the point that you must say something, I believe it’s perfectly acceptable to send a PM and see what kind of response you get. Just because an author knows how to write doesn’t mean they’re enlightened individuals. It’s obvious that misogynist tendencies jump the gender gap… Either that or some authors really don’t like the Sookie character and like to punish her by making her a victim of Eric or Bill’s dark sides.

  2. I have read all of texanlady’s work and I feel that the arrangement is a fantastic story. it well written, well, researched. the lemons are hot. yes there is some domination and dark themes, but not rape. lines are certainly crossed, but this is a work of fantasy fiction. and an amazing one at that. In fact there are many fics that are on fanfiction right now that are much darker than this one. Fics that to much more than blur a few lines…they comepletly blow them away. But the arrangement at it’s massive 64 chapters (long chapters) is one of the best fics I have ever read. is it for everyone? of course not. But for those that can appreciate the genre it becomes a story that you wait so impatiently for…checking the site everyday even though you get email alerts for new posts. I reccomend it to all fanfic readers. don’t let a few unfavorale opinions keep you from discovering a wonderfully good/dark story.

    • If I hadn’t read any part of the story at all, I would have to read it to see what the big deal was. I did read the first chapter and, like I would do with any other story our book, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s a personal decision. I read Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, I write mushy romance and love it when the otherwise tough guy becomes a true lover to his mate.

      But, as I said on the post, I’m not out to stop anyone from reading what they like simply because I dont like it, or stopping people from doing anything at all. Like many Americans, I speak with my vote (or my feet or my money) and don’t support that which I dont like. That’s all.

  3. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    The references to the DV chat were most certainly taken off the site for a period of time (before people started pointing it out, I imagine). At first I thought it was just my mistake (the site is rather crowded with information and banners) but at least 5 other people went looking for it and couldn’t find it.

    No one ever advocated censorship or a “ban” on these types of stories or The Arrangement in particular. What was brought into question was what type of group would choose that particular fic to honor, in violation of their own rules, and at the same time, remove content that showed a different perspective, which in fact, is censorship.

    Personally, letting my stance on the issue be made publicly was the only way I could still be a part of the fandom at all. Everyone is entitled to read what they want—though it makes me very sad when people find emotional abuse romantic—but everyone else is equally entitled to express their views on it.

    I love the fandom. But sometimes I hesitate to let people know I write fanfic, and specifically, SVM/TB fanfic, for fear of their response. While people might think it quirky if I was writing fanfiction based on my actual favorite book, which is the Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, they wouldn’t assume I was writing vampire porn of the most grotesque variety. But, if someone happens to see that stories like The Arrangement are what are considered the “best” of fanfiction, they might certainly form that impression of SVM/TB fanfic, and me, by association. If I kept silent on the issue, it might even be a fair assumption.

    It is interesting, that every member of the panel that chose that story to be honored that has spoken about it (at least that I’ve heard) has denied voting for it, and expressed their own distaste for it. So your question as to “why” is an interesting one to me, as well.

    • It seems to me that “why” needs to be asked and not in a private setting as I had originally intended. When I did a bit more research about the story, after reading your original post, I was confused as to why the Fangreaders would honor it to begin with. I hate to call it hypocrisy (even if it smarts of it), because I never labeled the Fangreaders (those I know well enough) as hypocrites to begin with. I read many authors that did not get nominated and would have deserved a mention or a win, if only to direct traffic to them for the true excellence of their work. After all, we all do this for free to begin with, and winning an award is nice compensation. Wouldn’t it have been a nicer gesture to pick a brand new author to give the award to?

      Like I said earlier, maybe I’m naive or too kind-hearted or something. But, you know, not my award and not my website, so all we can do is bring attention to their error so that they may think about it a little better next time. Maybe it was a bad idea to give an award to a fic that was banned from Fanfiction.net. In what’s left of the fic on Fanfiction, where the author mentions having to post the fic on LiveJournal, she also makes mention of a reviewer who depicted the rape of a 9-year-old girl. If that’s the kind of reviews the fic was getting, isn’t there something wrong with the fic?

  4. Good post. Whats weird is that I don’t think the Arrangement is that bad, esp compared to TexanLady’s other story which I flounced immediately. But that is what the little X in the corner of the screen is for.

    Huggles. Hope to see another “Friends” update soon.

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