said_scarlett: (Default)
Is it really bad that I want to write an essay comparing and contrasting Mercedes Lackey's writing and Stephanie Meyers'?

I've long joked that everything Stephanie Meyer has done (plot and character type wise), Mercedes Lackey did it first in the fantasy genre. This was mainly just a humorous reference to Mercedes Lackey's heavy handed, often stiff and forced romance plots and her penchant for sparkly elves. But! If you go deeper, there are a hell of a lot of similarities. From women's issues to racial appropriation issues to victimization issues. Oh, and of course, sexual identity/relationship issues.

Now, Mercedes Lackey is nowhere near as well known, obviously. But she was quite the leading lady in the fantasy genre for a very long time, especially among teenage girls. Hell, maybe she still is, I'm not quite the follower of the genre that I once was.

There's only one flaw here. I'd have to do a lot of reading. And I don't own the Twilight books, nor do I know where my Herald Mage books are - that would be the Lackey series I'd like to draw most of my comparisons from. That and The Halfblood Chronicles, mainly the second book where Lackey's particular brand of plot and romance development hold center stage - plus, you know, The Iron People.

And before anyone gets on my case, I am not saying anything bad about either of these authors. It's no secret that I enjoy Mercedes Lackey books. Yes, they're crunchy, silly, terribly plotted escapism. But that's okay. As a friend was just talking about on my Flist, it's okay to enjoy things you know have issues. Mercedes Lackey's racial and women's issues? Piss me the hell off. Same with the issues regarding the treatment of women in the Silent Hill series. But I still enjoy the stories and the characters and the world. And I acknowledge the issues and don't shy away from pointing them out or discussing them.

The simple fact of the matter is that both of these authors (one of which I'm terribly fond of myself) have some serious, serious issues in their works. And I'm very curious to see just how deep these similarities run.

In other news! [livejournal.com profile] hbc_fic! The tiniest fandom on the internet has a community! And there's already a piece of absolutely gorgeous fic posted. See, when I get really into something that has no fandom, I just force and pester that fandom into existence.

I completely forgot I had to go grocery shopping this morning, and stayed up too late watching Venture Bros with [livejournal.com profile] nijawial. And I need to talk to [livejournal.com profile] summoneddestiny and [livejournal.com profile] enigmablade about a photoshoot this week.

The weather is beautiful, my plants are doing well, and I've got some fic to work on. Man, I could stare at my new default user-pic for hours. Guh, Bert is hot.
said_scarlett: (Radio cigarette)
I'm sure anyone who's been keeping up on certain fandom issues will know exactly what inspired this post. But it is something I feel I need to say, for a variety of reasons.

When did it become so difficult to make a simple apology?

In my eyes, there are few things classier than an honest apology. Just a simple 'I was wrong, I fucked up, I'm sorry'. No frills, no excuses, no shifting of blame, just the simple admission that yes, I was wrong, and I realize it and apologize.

I can respect a person who does that. I am extremely likely to forgive and forget a slight, large or small, if an honest apology is forthcoming. Even if it's been years - as a few people on my Flist can attest to.

But I lose respect for Not-Apologies. What is a Not-Apology? Exactly what it sounds like. An apology that isn't an apology at all. We all know them. The ones where it goes 'I'm sorry, but...' and then proceed to place blame everywhere else, offer excuses for behavior, and passively aggressively insist that no wrong was really done. Those 'apologies' where it's clear the apologizing party isn't sorry, considers the other party/parties in the wrong, and attempts to turn it around and play the victim. I'm sure we've all seen these. Putting your fingers in your ears and insisting I'm not wrong damnit, you people are! is childish, petty, and ridiculous.

Human beings make mistakes. We fuck up. It's inevitable. Sometimes we fuck up big, sometimes we fuck up small. And people? Are usually pretty forgiving when someone owns up to their mistakes and tries to make amends. How many plagiarists have been welcomed back into fandom after admitting they were wrong and apologizing? Fucking up? Not the end of the world. Making a mistake? Not the end of the world.

If you fuck up and you realize it, or you're called on it, there's really only one right response. Put on your big girl panties and say 'I'm sorry'. That's it. Nothing more. No wangst, no drama, no shifting the blame, no playing the victim, no trying to make anyone else out to be the bad guy. Just 'I'm sorry'.

Seriously, I thought we learned this shit in Kindergarten, people.
said_scarlett: (Damaged Jack)
Lost internet last night. O.o It was very bizarre.

Alright, I debated heavily about posting this, but.... I've got some things I've got to get off my chest. Mainly about fandom, our investment in it, how fandom actions have real life consequences, and a variety of other commentary that most of my Flist probably doesn't want to hear.

Yes, this relates in a way back to Boobgate/Boobwank/whatever you want to call it.

The thing that's been bothering recently is the dismissal of peer pressure and social expectations in fannish settings. The idea that 'wanting to fit it' or 'not wanting to be left out' or 'giving in to undercurrents of peer pressure' is a stupid notion, and no one out of high school should ever fall prey to any of that.

Bullshit. Fannish settings are still social settings. And in any social setting, there will be dynamics of power and pressure. And some people are above it and don't care. But plenty of people do care. I've cared. I've been there. And I'm not weak willed or damaged or stupid by any means.

It is a natural human reaction to want to be part of a group, to want group acceptance. And there are plenty of times it comes up in fannish settings. I'll use my own fannish history as examples. For me, it's mostly been in RPG settings. I can't count the number of times I've gone along with things I wasn't comfortable with because I didn't want to be the spoilsport, or I didn't want to cause a fuss, or I didn't want the nice, well-loved BNF (and her fans) to hate me. Everything from just RPing a pairing I wasn't comfortable with to joining a game I didn't particularly like. Why did I go along with things if I didn't want to?

Because I'd learned my lesson already that saying 'no' or expressing my discomfort would earn me nothing but problems, cold shoulders, trolling and wank. So when faced with those choices, yeah, I kept my mouth shut and went along with it. And then I remember I was in a game with people I thought were my friends, and who I thought would understand if I didn't want to be part of a particular plotline or whatever. And a plotline came up that I was seriously, seriously uncomfortable with due to real life triggers. And I said so, mentioning I didn't want to be a part of it, and just asking that they label any threads involving this particular plot so I could avoid. And I was attacked. I was made to feel like my issues and my comfort didn't matter in the face of this group of people wanting to have their fun. And it made me feel like crap, and I gave in, and the entire ordeal left me a mess. I was crying. I was sick. And I tried to express this but again, I was dismissed. I was told it shouldn't matter, and it was stupid that it had such an effect on me because it was 'just a game'.

If it was 'just a game' I wondered, why was it such a big deal for these people to make me feel worthless in order to play out their plot? Couldn't they have done it without me easily enough? And just marked their logs? Since it was 'just a game'.

Needless to say, I'm not 'friends' with any of those people anymore. (And I'll say right now that if you're on my Flist now and reading this, you've most likely never been involved in any of the above.)

And I'll readily admit I have been cracking under this fannish social pressure as recently as just a couple of years ago. With RP, it's only since [livejournal.com profile] damned that I honestly feel comfortable enough to speak up if something bothers me, or if I don't want to RP a particular something. And it's not because I'm a moderator - I've been in the above situations plenty of times as a moderator - it's because for once I really don't feel much pressure. In other fannish situations? Well, it's still kind of there. Sure, in little stupid things - joining a particular comm because other people are, doing certain memes because I don't want to be the odd one out, etc - but it's still just evidence of fannish social pressure. And I know the same things have happened to friends of mine. I've seen it happen and been able to do nothing other than offer them a shoulder to cry on. Because otherwise we'd be causing trouble and stirring up wank.

So to me, the idea that there is no peer pressure or social bullying in fandom is ludicrous. Of course there is. Fannish folks are still people, and those dynamics exist wherever there are people. Fandom isn't some magical happy place where everyone respects and understands everyone else. It'd be wonderful if it were, but it's just a huge group of real people with real people brains and real people instinct and real people hang ups all coming together. Good god, I've seen fannish groups that operate like cults, with a charismatic leader and a bevy of devoted, close-knit fans who will go after anyone who dares say anything against their 'leader'.

And I like to think I've never inadvertently pressured anyone into anything, but I can't say for sure I haven't. Maybe I have. Sometimes we don't realize we're doing it. And for me there is a difference between inadvertent pressure and active pressure. They both suck, but the former is usually much easier to do away with and get straightened out.

But I think sometimes we all need to remember that everyone we interact with in fandom is a real person. They aren't a faceless computer entity, they aren't famous, they aren't more than a regular person. They don't have any particular power over us except for the power we give them. And above all, no one, be they mod or admin or webmaster or archivist or BNF or whatever, has the right to coerce and manipulate us into doing things we don't want to, or make us feel like any less of a person for our own choices within fandom.

But that doesn't change the reality that they'll try. :/
said_scarlett: (boob perv)
I feel like I should say something about this god awful thing. But so many people have summed up my feelings so much better than I ever could.

I'll just say that I can't understand why anyone would look at that and not see the problems. Not see how it objectifies and degrades women. How in the world can breaking down a woman to nothing but her breasts be anything but?

I will, however, focus on one bit that particularly infuriates me. (The whole thing pisses me off, but again, others have said it better.)

"...a beautiful girl in an incredibly skimpy blue Princess outfit strode down the hallway, obviously putting her assets on display..."

No. Revealing costume =/= ZOMG LOOK AT MY TITS!

I'm sorry, but it doesn't. While there are indeed women who will wear revealing outfits for the attention, because they feel they need the validation - and that's another issue altogether - but that is not every woman. And again, those that do, a whole other issue and that still gives no one the right to ogle or objectify them. This smacks of 'she was dressed slutty, so she deserved it'.

There are a multitude of reasons a woman may wear a revealing costume. Both my Lust costumes are revealing. I didn't choose them because they're revealing. I chose them because I love the character, feel a connection with the character, and want to live out that connection through cosplay and display my love of the character through cosplay. I'm aware it's revealing. And I may joke about that with my friends, but it's not the main reason behind the cosplay.

Do people assume I'm wearing it just for attention? I'm sure some people do. Is that okay? No. Is there anything I can do about it? Not really. And again, that goes back to that other issue that I don't feel like touching on now. Anyway, yes, I have worn a couple of skimpy costumes.

Do I get comments? Hell yes. Ranging from perfectly polite to skeevy. I've had guys say 'I love your costume' or 'you look great' and meaning it, and I've had guys say much less savory things. I've had men ask to touch me - ranging from simple 'can I have a hug' to 'can I grope you?'. I've had men ask for kisses*. I've had men ask me for 'a private show'. Hell, I have a signed piece of art from an American mangaka that says (and [livejournal.com profile] nijawial, [livejournal.com profile] strych9chaitea, [livejournal.com profile] chocomimi and I believe [livejournal.com profile] jade_pen) can all attest to this: 'to the girl with the great tits'. Which yes, I find amusing on a level because she was so very sweet when we were speaking, but it still makes a very strong point. It's not even signed to my name, it's signed to my breasts.

With the classic black dress, it got so bad I won't wear it anymore. I still wear the green because it has a nice shawl I can wrap around myself when not posing for pictures. And yes, I know there are some people who will think 'well, you have to expect it...'

Yes. I know it's to be expected. That doesn't make it right, and that doesn't make it okay. Sure, I love my body. I love my boobs when they're not hurting my back or getting in the way. And sure, I love getting compliments. Non-sexual ones - unless jokingly among friends, because I know where my friends are coming from. But that doesn't mean I love being objectified. Or that I should just sit down and shut up about it because I happened to wear something that showed cleavage.

I'm a hell of a lot more than a set of boobs.

And it is possible to compliment a woman in a perfectly non-sexual way. I remember last time I was down in Phoenix, we stopped off at Atomic Comics. I was in Lolita - my pirate print skirt and scoop ruffle blouse. And there was a guy around my age, in a suit and brief case, who had been looking at me while I was in there. He finally approached me and said, looking straight at my face and with nothing but sincere politeness 'I really like your outfit, it's very pretty'. He thought I was in cosplay, and I corrected him, and he apologized and repeated 'it's still very pretty'. And that was that. Despite obvious interest (as evidenced by him bringing his hand to his face and muttering 'man I really blew that' as I walked away) he still managed to be a perfect gentleman.

So I don't want to hear 'well it's impossible to compliment a woman without there being sexual/sexist connotations!'. That's bullshit. And it doesn't matter how the hell a woman is dressed.

I rambled a lot. And I don't even know if I made sense. I'm not good with words like this. Stories yes, essays no. I just...

Whatever happened to the old adage 'look but don't touch'?

________________________________

*I have kissed people at cons. But not random strangers. And certainly not random men who have been ogling my lady lumps.
said_scarlett: (imagination chii)
Because I do have things to talk about today! Purely fandom things, but still.

It's always interesting comparing fandoms. At the moment, I mainly write for Death Note and Silent Hill. (And HBC, but I'm not counting that here, because I don't interact with strangers in that fandom, and I've stopped posting my FMA work to comms so it doesn't count either.) And I always end up comparing and contrasting my experiences with other fandom fellows between the two.

Mainly, fic feedback. With Death Note I tend to get a lot of feedback, and mainly the standard stuff. A couple of lines of generic feedback. Which I do not knock, not at all. Any feedback is good feedback, as far as I'm concerned. Every so often I get a great review with details and specifics and some con crit, and that's awesome. But that's pretty much it. The general 'hey, great fic!' followed by 'thanks, glad you enjoyed!' or something similar. This, in my experience, is generally how it goes.

Now I've only written a handful of SH fics, but I'm already blown away by the level of feedback that I've seen and received in this fandom. My own fics get long, detailed, specific reviews. Other people's fics get long, detailed, specific reviews. I have yet to see a fic - on [livejournal.com profile] sh_het or [livejournal.com profile] sh_femslash at least - that wasn't answered with a thoughtful, in depth critique.

This boggles me. I'm not used to this at all. I'm not used to routinely getting into long conversations in comments on fics. And now I start wondering... are there other fandoms like this? Is it common in video game fandoms? I've only written video game fic for Xenogears, which is essentially a dead fandom, so I have no experience here. Or is it simply because these two communities are relatively small, close knit groups?

I'm rather used to fandom being a big giant sandbox where the kids kind of have their little groups, and hang with their friends, but interact politely if distantly with the majority and share their toys with a sort of quiet, almost impersonal demeanor. I'm not used to the sandbox being full of kids who get along and play together and end up hand in hand building a sand castle together after sharing the toy firetruck.

I don't know if I had a point, other than 'wow I like this fandom'. Especially since I'd avoided it for so long due to scary stories about nothing but Pyramid Head running off with and falling in love with a steady stream of painful Mary Sues.

In conclusion: awesome feedback is awesome, SH fandom is full of cool people, and I think I'm going to be happy here.

(Oh, and does anyone know where I can get a SH moodtheme?)
said_scarlett: (Naomi Demon)
As most everyone knows at this point, I write horror. In a semi-professional capacity, as I have had a handful of horror-themed stories published in small print magazines. Nothing big, but I read a lot of horror, I watch a lot of horror, and I play a lot of horror. And I research it.

I subscribe to a few newsletters and the like, mostly filled with reviews and articles and a few essays. And a recent essay I read got me to thinking. And as it's eleven o'clock at night and it's horrifically stormy out, my mind has begun to wander and has spit up this post.

The essay was on the evolution of entertainment horror. Interesting enough read, but one thing stuck out to me.

"...what Lovecraft and Poe and the other fathers of horror did was scary at the time, but not in modern day..."

This gave me pause. I thought back to all the older horror stories I've read, and wondered why the themes and monsters and situations wouldn't be frightening today.

Now, admittedly, maybe the way in which they were written wouldn't be quite as frightening today as it was when first written, but that doesn't mean that what they wrote isn't still scary. Most of the staples that those forefathers of horror laid down are alive and well today, and still used to scare the bejeezus out of people. Everything from the supernatural - ghosts and monsters and the like - to the situational - being buried alive, being trapped in a horrific alternate reality - all are still used in modern day horror.

And when attempts to try something nice and new crop up - Sam Raimi, I'm looking at you* - often they just don't really work.

I am of the mind, however, that it isn't necessarily the thing that is scary. It's the way in which it's presented. Atmosphere is integral to horror. Which is why I have an issue with a lot of modern horror movies - it's all gore and slashing and very little mood. Very little subtlety. It kind of reminds me of a strip Penny Arcade did, where it boiled down to Survival Horror = Monster Jumps Through A Window. And going back to what I mentioned in my above paragraph, recent attempts at creeping, subtle terror have fallen somewhat flat.

I find it in a great deal of horror novels and stories, too. Even my greatest influence and admiration, Stephen King himself, is guilty of this. Hell, I'm guilty of it, as anyone in [livejournal.com profile] damned can tell you. But is this because of the evolution of the genre, or the evolution of the audience?

Are we all so jaded and used to being bombarded by visual images that it's the only thing that gets through to us? Are we so used to the horrible and horrific in modern day life, that only gruesome death and dismemberment frighten us? Or has everything else really been played out, so ingrained into us that it's more stale than scary? There are dozens of theories, invoking everything from science to evolution to desensitization. And still, I wonder.

So what scares you? What's the scariest thing you've ever read, seen, played, heard? Share, and maybe shed a little light on my wonderings.

______________________________________________

*I'm referring to the movie 'The Messengers', which ended up some bizarre crossover between Silent Hill and John Steinbeck.
said_scarlett: (memory of eden)
It's 3 AM, and I can't sleep, despite three cups of valerian tea. This post won't let me. So here I am.

First off, while I talk about HP fanfiction, please remember I have not read the seventh book, so absolutely no references to it whatsoever in comments.

That out of the way! The topic on everyone's mind and LJs right now is yet again, fic/art and censorship.

As some people know, I frequent some pretty damn dark corners of the internet. And I mean dark. Why? A few different reasons. One, I have a deep interest in serial killers and their mentality. I enjoy reading stories that delve into that. This means I often do read things that involve graphic descriptions of torture, rape and murders. Both online and in published works of fiction. This includes but is not limited to situations involving snuff and underage characters. Two, I'll admit it, I've got trainwreck syndrome. Some people read Mary Sue fic for entertainment, some read vastly OOC fic, I read horrifically disturbing and bizarre smut. But really, once you've read vore/un-birthing/ovipositioning fic involving a triple breasted giant lizard woman and a killer whale, nothing phases you anymore....

My Further Thoughts )
said_scarlett: (shana; dream come true)
Hokay, so!

I'm always amazed at the people who assume if you like something in fiction/write something/whatever, you must be into it in real life. I saw a lot of nasty, nasty shit in the Harry Potter fandom over it. People freaking out because people who were writing cross-gen or non-con or kids in sexual relationship were, gasp, mothers! And clearly anyone who writes about kids having sex, kids in incestuous relationships, kids doing drugs, drinking, whatever totally endorse it in real life.

*facepalms*

It's ridiculous. I've written a lot about underage characters doing stupid things. Does this mean I think it's a good idea in real life? Hell no! But if I'm writing a stupid fourteen to seventeen year old, then I'm writing what they think and feel. And some of them totally think sex, drugs and rock and roll are awesome.

Now, recently, I've begun writing something I've never written before. A male/female incest pairing. It's for a fandom that's so damn tiny that I have no fear of anyone being all 'ZOMG YOU SICK FREAK!' over it - I'm friends with the whole fandom. The whole fandom is comprised of me and four other people on my Flist. But it has got me thinking. Because when I was writing in HP, I did write a lot of questionable stuff and I did post it publicly on communities, and occasionally I did get a comment or email along the lines of 'OMG YOU SICK FREAK!'.

Anyway! I've found, through talking with people who write far more incest than I ever have, that the backlash against m/f incest is much stronger than it is against m/m or f/f incest. Which, on one level I completely understand. Even I tend to be a little sketchy over it. And tend to disclaim my own male/female sibling ship with 'well, it's pretty much canon' which is lame, I know. Because it's canon that one half is in love with the other, but she doesn't know he's her brother and they never do anything.

Obviously, one of the big issues with m/f incest is that offspring from a union like that has a high chance of being severely f-ed up. That's something that's pretty much ingrained in us. Incest babies are bad, mmkay? Okay, yes, in real life. In fiction? Well, it's fiction. There are no incest babies unless the author wants. Fiction is not real life. This is repeated over and over again. But even a good number of those of us who spout it when it comes to rape, torture, cross-gen, whatever tend to get twitchy around male/female incest.

I don't see anything wrong with this - since I'm the same way - but I just find it interesting. We all have things that even in fiction, we don't like and aren't into. That doesn't mean we begrudge those that are. It doesn't mean we think people who write it are sick freaks. It just means we don't like it. And that's okay!

I've never understood the idea that if I don't like something, it's somehow a personal insult to those who do like it. If I don't like pepperoni pizza, is it somehow an insult to all those who do like it? Hells no. I just don't like pepperoni pizza. If I don't like Orlando Bloom, is it a personal insult to all those who do? No. And yet when it comes to fandom, saying 'I don't like X' in some circles is apparently the same as saying 'EVERYONE WHO LIKES X IS A DUMB WHORE!!!!'. I don't get it. I never have. I never will.

Anyway, this is long and rambling. And I'm going to go write some fic now. Maybe I'll even write some incest.
said_scarlett: (my fair lady (Faye))
As some of you know, I have a 12 year old niece. She's in middle school, she's popular, she's at the top of the social totem pole. Earlier this year, I got her the first DVD of Fruits Basket. I didn't know how she'd take to it - she'd seen my manga and some of my anime DVDs, and she knew that [livejournal.com profile] lennaofmidearth and I watched anime, but I figured it couldn't hurt. And the first DVD was the only DVD of the series I was missing, so if she didn't like it, it wouldn't be a waste.

Fast forward about a month. She's watching the series over and over again every day. She has it memorized. She's introduced it to all of her friends. They all love it. I'm boggled. Lenna is boggled. We're amazed by this. We start looking around into other anime to show her. I don't bother with manga because I had no idea how she'd take to it. Neither Lenna nor I are big manga readers. And besides, it's easier to get anime than manga out here in Middle of Nohwere.

Last week, I'm out on the deck smoking. D (my neice) comes out. She's holding something in her hand. She walks up to me and asks 'hey auntie, have you read this manga yet?'. I don't even remember the title of the series, I was too busy going 'where did she get this?!?' and 'holy crap, my niece is bringing me manga!' It was a Shoujo Beat title, some middle school romance. And it was volume three....

Mechas to Mainstream: Anime Then and Anime Now )

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Faye

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