mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I was going to write a nice celebratory "fanfics that changed my life" post for my birthday week but I got bogged down in this. And since there's a new film based on the works of the creature formerly known as She Who Must Not Be Named hitting the theaters, consider this a PSA.

I got into Harry Potter in between the release of Order of the Phoenix (HP5) and The Half-Blood Prince (HP6). The wait between books seemed interminable at the time, but there was fanfic. My god, was there fanfic. And after I'd read a bunch of it, I turned to two of the writers cited as "must reads," BNFs whose work I'd avoided because they were Draco-centric and my opinions on Draco were mostly "LOLferret." One went by the name of Maya, and her works included "Underwater Light" and "In The Shadow of His Wings" and honestly they were well-written but I didn't really get into them. I mean, "In the Shadow..." was Harry/Draco in an alternate future Hogwarts where a strangely Snape was headmaster because Dumbledore had run off in disgrace. Typical Slytherfen ass-pull, you know? But she was really sweet and her LJ was a good read. She took it all down when she went pro a short time later and I haven't read her works but I wish her well, even if she did think Revenge of the Sith was a good movie.

And then there was the Draco Trilogy, already known as the source of Draco In Leather Pants (TM) but still widely hailed. So off I went to Schnoogle where long-form 'fics were archived on an HP 'fic site and I started in with "Draco Dormiens," the story of how Draco and Harry become friends after an accidental body-swap that sees Harry-as-Draco sent home to live with the Malfoys.

And then what? )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
In the past I've defended sporking 'fics as well, part of the territory.  Big fandom, losta crap fic, lotsa trolls, it's sporking time.  And in a vast fandom like Harry Potter, it really doesn't matter.  You can piss off 5,000 Snape waifus and be confident you didn't want to know a single one of them, and they'll just form a clique of their own and keep churning out crap, and someone like me will just sit back with a bag of pretzels and watch the ebb and flow of carnage.  It's almost as good as Usenet.

Browsing some old HP-related haunts of mine, it occurs to me that the exact nature of the crapfic there, especially the latter-day crapfic, is what really makes the difference.  

Death Eater Apologists
Pseudo-Aristocratic classist tripe that extends to indictments of the author's personal life
People who legitimately seem to think Voldemort and his gang were misunderstood
Dumbledore is the true evil in Potterland, and it's not an exercise in subversion
Weird shit that puts high school bullies in a deeper tier of hell than, well, blood bigots who torture and murder the inferior sort of people

Really gross stuff.  Really gross stuff by prominent writers, spanning multiple comms and archives (and flamewars) and meta sites and on and on and on.  And some of them are decent enough writers that I can see why people would find it "refreshing" and "seductive"-- I sure did back in the pre-Deathly Hallows days before they all revealed themselves to be BATSHIT. 

Sporking this shit-- dissecting it, holding up to the light the ugly guts that make up an ugly, ugly worldview that uses fanfiction as a means of evangelizing The Truth about Harry Potter and his world-- basically amounts to a public service.  There is no parallel to it that I've seen in a fandom like Fire Emblem.  It'd be like if the major strain of Tellius fanfic amounted to heaps of things "proving" that laguz really are subhuman and Ashnard was right about everything.  I've seen a little bit of Ashnard apologetics on tumblr, but nothing like what the Harry Potter crowd does for the Malfoys, Snape, and such. 
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Why heck not?  I like some of these questions.  Swiped from [personal profile] lyndis .

A-Z. Shipping. No, really. )
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Mmm.

Yeah, I could use the distraction:

1. My "gods, I hate you so much, let's fuck right now" ship:
2. My fluff ship:
3. My weird ship:
4. My lame ship that I love anyway:
5. My illegal ship:
6. My master/slave ship:
7. My morally questionable ship:
8. My ship that is totally cliché but I don't care:
9. My more-than-family-love ship:
10. My ménage à trois:
11. My "too bad it can never happen" ship:
12. My friends-with-benefits ship:
13. My "first time" ship:
14. My "they're both so deliciously mean" ship:
15. The ship that everyone loves but I don't:
16. The ship that I'll rip my eyes out with a spoon if it happens:
17. The ship I can't believe I read and liked:
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
I've been wanting to talk about this for a while, and conversations with [personal profile] amielleon  and [personal profile] scarletmorning  spurred me to post it now.  Now, originally I had the post formatted in a proper fashion, defining my terms and explaining the difference between fandom "theories" and a true scientific theory, but I'm guessing nobody cares.  If you want to go into that sort of detail, please ask.

Anyway, use of Occam's Razor in fandom (or anyone else, really) amounts to this: the more complicated an explanation is, the more machinations it requires to work, the less likely it is to be true.  Doesn't mean it can't be true; some "elegant" explanations are wrong.  But the "elegant" explanation is more likely to be the correct explanation for whatever it is you're trying to explain and/or predict.

As Ammie said here (locked post), one explanation for Ike's FE10 ending is that he's a selfish character.  Well, that's pretty simple and to-the-bone.  But accepting that Ike is fundamentally selfish above all else requires ignoring, or bending, a great deal else in Tellius canon.  It's a seemingly elegant explanation that requires pretty complicated machinations to work, and is therefore suspect. 

Fandom isn't science, so perhaps it makes sense that we've borrowed terms from religious debate for fandom discussions.  We invoke "canon" aka "Word of God" to indicate that we get material from a media creator that can't be overturned, but creators can be sloppy.  Creators can change their mind  Creators can give supplemental materials to explain (or contradict) what's in the text.  Things can get altered in translation (see: when Ammie exploded my nice little idea that used the wording of the NoA FE8 script as opposed to the NoA FE7 script to explain the relative ages of the Lord characters).  

And then we can always play "Death of the Author" or exploit readings of the text that are likely unintended but nonetheless make sense on some level (ex: Kirby is the true villain of the Kirby games).  That's part of what makes fandom compelling for those of us who are into the meta and fanfiction.  But the basic rules of constructing a logical argument shouldn't be ignored, even when it's all in fun.  Delightful crack theories are delightful precisely because they make an alarming amount of sense.  Delightful theories exploit "gaps" in the canon, or explain things that hang out there unanswered.  Ideas that exist completely inside a gap in the canon with nothing to support or contradict them, or that explain things that don't require an answer, don't have quite the same impact on a reader. 

Example: Raphi and Sriya were batting around the crack idea that Lyon somehow got transformed into Legault.  It's cute, there's not really anything to contradict it, and Raphi even made a 'fic out of it.  It doesn't really shed any light on Elibe canon or Magvel canon, though-- it's a self-contained little bit 'o crack.  Whereas the idea that [personal profile] kyusil  proposed regarding Roy and his marriage options (that Roy's various unromantic matchups are in fact a demonstration of his alleged political ability in action) is, to me, a highly compelling one.  Do I think that it's necessarily what the scriptwriters intended?  No, I think they were likely just being sloppy.  But the political angle is to me a very interesting one that a 'fic writer can (and should!) exploit to good use.  It offers a new way of examining Roy that takes two things from canon (his diverse marriage options and his stated political skills) and unites them in a way that can be used to shed light upon the characters, their world, or both.  And with Roy being the arguable central figure of the entire Elibe saga, something that illuminates his character "matters" a great deal, inasmuch as any meta-fun "matters". 

And then there's the deep end of fandom meta.  Or the "off the deep end" sector, the kind that constructs amazingly elaborate theories, air-castles of assumptions piled upon tiny projections of canon, just begging to be demolished.  Harry Potter fandom was terrible in this regard.  Please look up "Archiving the Banana Peels of Imagination" if you want to see some of this in action; I will say for this particular theorist that they seemed to be a very nice and enthusiastic person, but their meta was just... incredible.  In the original sense of that word.  The problem with a lot of the HP meta crowd, both the cheerfully zany sort and the oddly... malicious... sort, was that they started with one assumption, slapped another upon it, and then another upon that, and finally they had this great towering edifice of headcanon that made sense to them but had little to do with the actual, you know, books.  Whether the idea was "Dumbledore didn't really die" or "How Snape will save everything" or "Dumbledore is evil" or "Ron will become a Death Eater," they cherry-picked canon (took what they wanted and ignored the rest) and employed complicated machinations to make everything work.  We're talking Rube Goldberg contraptions, if not MC Escher mechanisms.

Well, elaborate contraptions, whether physical constructions or meta constructions, break down easily.  These meta writers had made themselves the meta equivalent of the Space Shuttle-- magnificent and fundamentally faulty.  And when their meta-shuttles exploded, many of them had the nerve to get pissy with Rowling.  If they'd showed respect for basic logic and the principles of argument on the front end, not to mention a bit of respect for canon, they might have come up with sturdy and functional vehicle for their meta instead!

By all means, ignore Occam's Razor in fandom if it's all fun and games.  But if you're expecting to convince other theorists, or if you're trying to provide a serious explanation of a problematic text (film, book, videogame, TV script...), or if you're so invested in your pet theory that it makes you upset and angry to see a rebuttal[*], it's good to keep the basics in mind.  The more convoluted your pet explanation is, the less likely you are to convince anyone, and the more likely you are to be entirely wrong.

And we've all gotten things entirely, 110% wrong. 

* Not kidding about the HP crowd when it comes to anger and vitriol re: exploding headcanon.  Not kidding at all.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Day 25: My Favorite Archetype

Ugh.

I mean, I know it wouldn't be Fire Emblem without them, but the OVERemphasis on them on both the gamer and the 'ficcer sides of fandom has made me a little sick of the whole concept.  Especially the people who try to turn every single character from FE1-4[*] into an archetype progenitor (where's the rest of the "Yumina" types, huh?), regardless of how well the later characters fit the archetypical slot.

Anyway.  I guess I like the Cain&Abel archetype the best.  Its consistent and deliberate application over the years gives it a little more resonance than That Peg Knight You Start With (And When Do I Get to Sleep With Her?) or Lousy Pre-Promote Axe Dude.  Though I am compelled to put in a word for the BFF Wind Mage, uncommon as it actually is in the games.

* Especially funny in that characters who fit one archetype in FE1/FE3 Book I/FE11 fit into a different category in FE3Book II/FE12, and same goes for some of the Jugdral gang.  When is a Lena not a Lena?  When you only get to recruit her during the final boss battle!  When is an Abel not the Abel?  When he shows up as a damn enemy mid-way through the game!  That's why I prefer a conceptual name (Red Knight & Green Knight, Gentle Staff Chick, Flaky Staff Chick, etc) to use of a character name for the archetypes.  Except for the "Jeigan," which is written in stone even if TV Tropes renamed it "Crutch Character."

-x-

I want to write Fire Emblem/Harry Potter crossovers now.  It's Manna's fault.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 So, back to the meme.

#5: Favorite Villain: If we're going with the penultimate Big Bad, the human sort, I have to say Rudolf.  If we're going with the final, not-human, Big Bad, it's harder to say... Medeus (humans have it coming), Idoun (not what was expected) and Ashera (whoa) have their interesting points.  Fomortiis and the Fire Dragon, not so much.  At all.  And if we're just going with a villain, any villain... I do have that soft spot for Caellach.

-x-

So, Harry Potter.  Since people on the f-list are getting interested, I will present the following recs.  These are not necessarily the "best" stories out there, as I have only read a fraction of what is available and my tastes are idiosyncratic, but these stuck with me.

"The Shipping Forecast"-- nothing to do with 'shipping!  A glimpse of Snape as a lad looking to better himself.  I really like this author's take on Snape, which was firmly in the "he's lower-class and possibly Yorkshire" camp well, well before HP7.  This writer also wrote some interesting HG/SS and the only HP/SS I've ever liked, but she yanked her stuff off the 'net when she decided to go pro.  Sad times.

"The Scarlet Pimpernel"-- A Percy Weasley redemption story that made me silly-delerious happy upon reading it.  I mean, really, this sort of "behind the scenes fix-it" tale is precisely what fanfiction is about.

"Dark Gods In The Blood"-- My favorite of the SS/HG post-Voldemort epics.  Sucks to be Harry, but oh well.

"Somewhere I Have Never Travelled"-- Another post-Voldy SS/HG epic, with time travel and stuff.  There are parts I loved and parts, like the whole psychoanalysis bit with the healer from Newfoundland, that just tick me off.  (Also contains some bonus HP/HG, which is Fine.  By.  Me.)

"The Prefect's Portrait" by Arsinoe de Blassenville.  Marvelously entertaining, ingenious, Slytherin apologist BS.  There's an illustrated version out there that's quite lovely.  Ms. de Blassenville has a few other equally marvelous and ingenious works of BS out there that are worth a read if you can stand the deconstructionist stance, I mean canon warping

A word on the SS/HG-- it was really kind of a subgenre unto itself, a very literary subgenre whose writers seemed, at the time I was following it, to be mostly adult women.  It's a crack/AU pairing in its very inception, but the good writers recognized this and tried to run with it anyway.  Hermione is, IMO, usually an author stand-in, or some kind of... I dunno, Jane Eyre stand-in subbing for the author.  And Snape is a smoldering wounded romantic hero in need of a right fixing up.  It gets old after a while, but after plowing through highly-touted and bloody ridiculous Harry/Draco stories, not to mention the complete works of Cassie Claire, the SS/HG was a nice change of pace.

There was also a SS/HG one with Hermione as a ghost (death by potions class accident) that was really sweet and moving even if it went kind of fluffy at the end, but the title eludes me and I never did bookmark it.  Oh well.  I was following some interesting Lupin/Tonks stories, too, but after the way they ended up in canon I lost the taste for it.

I also don't actively seek out HP/HG stories, but I do welcome recs on their behalf.  
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
Discussion on Raphi's LJ on relatable characters and Harry Potter and such made me want to dive back into the "magic" books that enthralled me as a child.  

See, I wasn't remotely charmed by the first two HP books, and other acclaimed modern series like His Dark Materials really haven't worked for me.  I grew up reading the sort of books that are the foundation of kiddie fantasy lit, like the E. Nesbit Psammead trilogy, not to mention lots of Roald Dahl.  If that's what you start out reading, J.K. Rowling and her generation don't seem like much of anything special.  Now, I think Rowling got her groove on with Prisoner of Azkaban, which actually got me invested in her series and characters, but the first two books are pretty standard school-story formula with bonus Dalhian grotesquerie, IMO.  

[I also realize that part of the cultural impact of the Potter books was that, for many kids, that was the first series of books they ever read or wanted to read.  That's a valuable role.  They were NOT the first books I ever read and that's all I have to say about that angle.]

Not that derivative works can't be amazing.  

Cut for length. )

Meme Thing

Aug. 20th, 2011 07:52 am
mark_asphodel: (Crack)
I stole this from [livejournal.com profile] raphiael, in the sense I lifted the text from there. But obviously it's been goin' around.

Name a character and I will give the following for that character.

A) My OTP
B) The runner up
C) The anti-ship
D) My unpopular fannish opinion on said character
E) One person he/she never fell in love with, and why


Fandoms-- FE (though I might not have opinions on a bunch of characters for 4/5 and 9/10), Utena, Ranma 1/2, Gundam Wing, Harry Potter, and BSSM.  Feel free to ask from at least two fandoms per request to mix things up.

Also, after twenty-four hours in the Mid-South, I feel some accent meta coming on.  If I can get my head together.

ETA: Wow, LJ is indeed being weird.
mark_asphodel: (Dead Heero)
 I have been really... disconnected lately.  There's just a lot going on (job/family/overall mundane matters) and I'm not on top of my game right now.  So, sorry if I've not been responding to things in a timely manner.

Anyway, I was planning to write an essay-thing on plot to complement the ones on structure, but then Things Happened as usual and I decided to write about this instead.

Fire Emblem, meet the Lifetime Channel )


Anyway, this is of course all my opinion, offered as free advice, etc.  Happy writing, and if someone writes that Ilyana story I might even read it.
mark_asphodel: Sage King Leaf (Default)
 Moving along with the real Part Three: Canon, What Canon?  Also not about Fire Emblem, FYI.

Meta only gets you so far... )

Anyone who's hung out with me for a while probably has a sense of what's coming in Part IIIB.  That is, the ne plus ultra of Canon, What Canon?

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