Dept. of Peeves

Sunday, 2 March 2014 09:48 pm
kaffyr: The First Doctor isn't amused (Bullshit!)
[personal profile] kaffyr
Do You Know What I Hate Pisses Me Off Bothers Me?

After having been in online fandom for (thinks a bit and is suitably croggled) almost eight years, I've had ample opportunity to hear others complain about seeing fan writers fridge some character's significant other because they want to get that character involved with another character. And because they just haaaate that character.

Sometimes it's someone getting rid of the icky girl so that the writer's favorite slash OTP can come true. Sometimes it's defenestrating the icky boy so that the yuri OTP of choice can flower. And of course, just as often, it's someone getting rid of the icky "person who is not part of my OTP," regardless of sex or gender. The commonality is that it is obvious through the writing, or through the author's comments, that the writer truly dislikes whoever the character's significant other is, and, more than that, wants to take out his or her dislike on that character within the boundaries of the story.

The non-ship version of this, of course, also exists. I've heard fans mourn about stories in which a writer will get rid of a character just because they really dislike the character - making it clear in the manner of dispatch how much they despise the character - without the need for OTP-rage-induced plot twists. And I don't much like that either.

Really, whether it's ship or non-ship related, I've always thought that if you were writing in a fandom where you truly disliked a character, you had various options to deal with that; writing in a reality where the disliked character never existed, for instance, or writing a story in which the character doesn't play a part. Or you could focus on other characters.

There are ways to write around the disliked character, in short, without hate-writing and character-bashing.

I understand that fic-writing allows people to write what they want. Fic writing exists for many reasons, not least of which, apparently, is the ability to pen the words "And then the horrible, ugly, mean, lying, tax-return-cheating, puppy-killing skag who I loathe was eaten by a pack of rabid squirrels, and everyone rejoiced, and My Hero stepped over what the squirrels had left and said, 'Wow, you know what? I never really liked her/him, let's go out for gyros,' and they did and then they came home and done sex."

But I always felt lucky that writers I enjoyed didn't do that.

If they didn't like a character, they didn't write about that character. Simple as that. It's not that writers I enjoy loved every character I did. They were often incredibly up front about not liking a character. They just didn't seem to take a great deal of pleasure in damaging that character within the boundaries of their stories. Hell, I've known some writers who, when they became very unhappy with the fandom in which they'd been writing, simply chose to sit it out, or find other fandoms in which to write. I respect that, even if I might not agree with it. That's the classy way to handle it.

So it's been an uncomfortable situation to see a couple of writers whose work I have enjoyed in the past, and who have never shown signs of this before, start slagging on characters. (They're characters I like, but, as I've said, other writers I know may not have liked some of my favorites, but either ignored those characters, or at least got rid of them without indulging in obvious glee)

It's happened a couple of times recently. And it's really both uncomfortable and slightly disappointing. It makes me sad.

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 07:36 am (UTC)
selenak: (Default)
From: [personal profile] selenak
That is one of my fanfiction pet peeves as well. And it happens pretty much in every fandom. :(

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 10:01 am (UTC)
kerravonsen: Romana with hand on chin: *sigh* (sigh)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
(nod nod nod)

It's immature and unhealthy. Not to mention bad writing.
I mean, when is demonizing someone ever a healthy thing to do? Even if that someone is a fictional character?

Yes, there are people who exist in the real and fictional worlds who make me angry, furious, speechless with rage. But doing the literary equivalent of sticking a pin into a voodoo doll does not help - it just feeds the negativity.

(sigh)

Date: Tuesday, 4 March 2014 07:13 pm (UTC)
bibliofile: Fan & papers in a stack (from my own photo) (Default)
From: [personal profile] bibliofile
I mean, when is demonizing someone ever a healthy thing to do?

Wait, even if they're a demon ...?!?
/silly

I'm pretty good at rationalizing almost anything, and even I can't come up with any valid reason for such sloppy writing. Unless you're challenging yourself to write just one thing: horrible, horrible ends for all sorts of characters. One paragraph per, max.

Maybe. Yeah, probably not.

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 04:42 pm (UTC)
trobadora: (Default)
From: [personal profile] trobadora
God, I hate that so much. And it's absolutely everywhere. :(

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 09:15 pm (UTC)
trobadora: (Default)
From: [personal profile] trobadora
I think it's one of the first things I learned when I discovered fanfic back in the 90s - someone is always bashing some character or other, most likely for shippy reasons. Yeah, I could really do without it myself. *sighs*

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
honeynoir: (Default)
From: [personal profile] honeynoir
Ugh, that's always sad.

So it's been an uncomfortable situation to see a couple of writers whose work I have enjoyed in the past, and who have never shown signs of this before, start slagging on characters.
Is there a chance it might be some sort of 'my dislike for this character shines through unintentionally' thing? No? No, didn't think so. :(

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 08:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] a-phoenixdragon.livejournal.com
Oh dear...someone you read regular? Oh no...

Maybe they've hit a frustration point? I just...

I'm sorry, bb.

*HUGS*

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 11:43 am (UTC)
laurel: Picture of Laurel with Garibaldi cardboard standup (tv - b5 - garibaldi - crap)
From: [personal profile] laurel
That would make me sad too.

One of the things that will make me quit a story if there's character bashing. (Also makes me not bother with the work of a particular writer, though I'll sometimes give them another chance if I liked what parts I did read and/or other people say good things about their work.) As you said, there are so many better ways to deal with it.

Date: Friday, 7 March 2014 07:50 pm (UTC)
laurel: Picture of Laurel with Garibaldi cardboard standup (batman - can't get rid of bomb)
From: [personal profile] laurel
I guess I have occasionally read Harry Potter stories wherein Dumbledore is not just manipulative, but more evil about it. I see that not so much as picking on the character, but as going into an AU I guess. And I also have read some where a Weasley or two were villainous in a way. If I know going into a story that's what I'm in for and it's well written and I'm in the right mood, I guess I can deal with it. Again, seeing it as an AU. Depends really on mood and how desperate I am for a story.

What's jarring is if I'm reading along in an otherwise interesting story and then out of left field there's commentary on how loathsome Ron is. Or Ginny. Or whomever. And they behave completely out of character and/or get fridged and bleah. Anyway. What you said and others have said.

Date: Monday, 10 March 2014 06:01 am (UTC)
laurel: Picture of Laurel with Garibaldi cardboard standup (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurel
Very true. If previously you hadn't really detected any hate directed toward a character and then suddenly there's character bashing in a story, well . . . time to side eye their other stories. Though I'll cut slack if, say, it's a first fic of theirs and they've evolved since then.

I definitely do appreciate warnings to indicate there'll be character bashing in a fic. (I think the most disturbing stories are ones where the author doesn't seem to realize it's character bashing, they just think that's the way the character is or is perceived. Then, well, you know you really aren't viewing the world and its characters the same at all and everything is suspect.)

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 12:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] namarie24.livejournal.com
Yeah. I just ... I don't see what's so hard about ignoring the character or quickly getting rid of them "off-screen" if you don't like them.

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 01:57 pm (UTC)
thisbluespirit: (dw - amy)
From: [personal profile] thisbluespirit
Oh, that is annoying when it's an author you like and don't expect it from. I mean, it's a turn off at the best of times, but I suppose some people want to have wish fulfilment by making their darlings the very best at everything (and all who hate them should be sorry) and others go the opposite way, but usually you can just leave them to their own devices and read better things. It is distressing to find it in good authors, too, though. :-/

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
thisbluespirit: (dw - ian/barbara)
From: [personal profile] thisbluespirit
I tend to think - or hope - most people doing it are fairly young. And when with a group of friends, virtually or otherwise, they don't necessarily see it as much different to writing it in your rough book and sharing it. But, yes, it does mystify me, too, why people do it, and especially repeatedly. We all have characters, ships and all sorts of things we love and hate, and no doubt our biases show if we're not careful, probably inevitably even when we are, but why on earth waste so much time and energy on something you don't like?

So, yes. I suppose this kind of thing is the downside of the freedom of fanfic. :-/

When I make comms, my main rule is usually: be nice, and no character bashing.

PS. Am fairly certain you are never that writer, even if a mild bias ever strays into your fic!! ♥

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 09:52 pm (UTC)
kerravonsen: Jack O'Neill writing a report: "It was a dark and stormy mission..." (writing)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
Heh. Maybe because I do stand in front of the mirror regularly and make the "No DTF/LTS" pledge. But thanks for your confidence!

I think it's also because you're the kind of writer who wants to serve the story - to make the story itself the best it can be. Therefore you would avoid DTF/LTS because it is simply bad writing.

Alternatively, if you did indulge in DTF/LTS, you would write it well. (grin)

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 06:16 pm (UTC)
elisi: (Zim)
From: [personal profile] elisi
I still remember the first time I read a story like that. I'd not come across the phenomenon before, and the writer was very good, but it ended with the two characters she clearly despised as near-raving lunatics, and the heroes walking away disgusted. It was well done, but everything was just tweaked that bit too much, y'know? It made me very wary.

Am being deliberately vague, just in case someone might recognise who it is, as she's calmed down a lot. I think [some] people use it as catharsis? If they see their favourite character treated badly by the show writers, and other [in their eyes] lesser characters treated favourably, they want to right the wrongs.

But it's still unpleasant.

Date: Monday, 3 March 2014 09:47 pm (UTC)
kerravonsen: Avon: I see stupid people (I-see-stupid-people)
From: [personal profile] kerravonsen
but it doesn't need to be done by virtue of crapping on other characters

Yes. This. Throwing mud at other characters does NOT increase the awesomeness of the favoured character; it just makes everything ugly.

It's just so STUPID.

Date: Tuesday, 4 March 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sallymn.livejournal.com
It can be more complicated though - firstly, it may not be possible to simply 'not write about the character'. The depths of my loathing for Sam Carter in Stargate are fairly staggering, but given the team setup it's a tad difficult to send her off to but alien kitty litter in the midst of a crisis (it gets even harder when the characters are on a ship in the middle of space). I solve it for myself but trying to write her at last partly filtered through the other characters' eyes, since they love her...

The other point is that - for some of us including me - it's quite fun to loathe, despise and abominate fictional creations (witness a comic dialogue I wrote between Carter and Sevalan, one of the most fun to write I've ever done :). And fanfiction is a self-indulgent hobby after all - I personally think bashing is poor writing and self-defeating when posted publically, but I admit I have a virtual sock drawer with some deeply satisfying trashing of Characters I Do Not Love.

My position is that - if a writer wants to be taken at all seriously - it shouldn't be posted (unless it's for comic effect, maybe). After all, I may loathe Carter but the characters I adore - Jack, Daniel, Teal'c, McKay - love her to bits. If I make her out to be a revolting harpy, it makes THEM look like porridge-brained idiots for doing so...
Edited Date: Tuesday, 4 March 2014 08:44 pm (UTC)

Date: Friday, 7 March 2014 08:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pitry.livejournal.com
Amen.

But I always felt lucky that writers I enjoyed didn't do that.

Sometimes I wonder how related these things are. I mean, I know I like some writers who don't like characters I do, but those I like just found a way to write around the character instead of bashing them. And I think that's part of why I like them - they are capable of doing that. They are capable of writing within canon enough to say, 'I might not like the character, but they're important to canon, so I will find a way not to have to deal with them' but without bashing.

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