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).