Anna S. (eliade) wrote,
Anna S.

story recs

To avoid writing, and while procrastinating on answering e-mails that I actually do intend to answer, I thought I'd rec some stories I've read recently.

Thanks to a recent post from merryish, I've been reading Kaneko's popslash stories, which are deeply fun. If things can be deeply fun. Somehow you don't want to say "lightly fun," but maybe that's what I mean, except that you can taste strong coffee under the froth in these stories. I especially like The Vacation, which is funny and then sharpens to a keen edge of longing until it gets existentially disturbing in an interesting way.

While reading these stories, and Velma's The Perfect Game, I really noticed--not for the first time, but more strongly than I have before--that there really is such a thing as popslash canon. Which sounds dumb of me, but I'm an outsider, so on issues like this I tend to have that suddenly illuminated oh yeah reaction instead of the initiated's well, duh reaction. But I'm sure non-sparkly people wonder what constitutes canon in popslash. It's easy to find it in stories like this, where you can see the attention paid to the guys' likes and dislikes, personal tics and fashion sensibilities and performance abilities, group interactions, career timelines, public appearances and statements--and through it all, distinctions are made between the public and the private, the unreal and the real, something that gets an especially gripping examination in The Vacation, where it's the crux of the matter. That's a fantastic story.

Popslash canon is actually a fascinating concept to me. You have the realm of public appearances and statements and fact, where "fact" is really only what can be nailed down: the band toured these cities on these dates, for instance. But compare the canon of a TV show against the canon of popslash: very often, fans take TV shows at face value, and when they talk about canon they mean something unironical, where what's shown on the screen is accepted as a true representation. Or, another way to think about it is: taking canon as gospel truth is the first, simplest level of viewer interpretation. But I think that the act of slashing or writing unconventional pairings, even if you don't want to call it "subversive," is about reworking text to suface possible subtext, to recontextualize what's happening on screen. On that level, you start to problematize the text: Maybe when character X says he likes girls, he's lying, he's covering, or he's leaving out the additional truth that he has also thought about boys. Maybe he's trying hard to pass for straight. We can't see into his head, or know his thoughts. Everyone is just a shifting persona of himself. Et cetera.

But with popslash, you've got it even better--you *know* that your text is, by design, a lie. It's publicity, it's surface, it's performance. And so it's the most natural thing in the world to try and extrapolate from "canon"--the false suface--to the reality beneath, the private realm behind the public face. Pop is *made* to be slashed, and by slashed we can mean all sorts of things: it can be to shatter the smooth surface of text and find out what's beneath, or to piece together a new picture of reality from a mosaic of news clippings and sound bytes and quotes, Other things, I'm sure, that I could think of if my brain hadn't just switched off.

Anyway. I had some Buffy and Smallville recs too, but now I think I need to let my batteries recharge.

Too many thoughts.


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