There are entire communities out there, on the internet, dedicated to this very topic, some ‘places’ are designated for a singular show, though potentially multiple pairings, or a single ‘couple’, others cover a broader variety within an overarching theme, whilst still more go in for the whole ‘shebang’, more the merrier type of thing.
I reckon that about 90% of what is created is based on ‘potential’ couples, those that should or could be/ have been, often under some sort of fan created nomenclature for that specific pairing i.e. Brooke/Peyton are ‘Breyton’(One Tree Hill). The other 10% (a fairly arbitrary number based entirely on guess work from experience), for example; Olivia/Natalia have become known as ‘Otalia’ (Guiding Light) on the web are based on existing couples (in whatever capacity that might be) or once existing couples such as; Bette/Tina (Tibette) from the L Word, Elphaba/Glinda (though there are those who argue against this being the case, each to their own perceptions, natch.) and of course the main starter couples for those of us ‘oldies’ who’ve been around fandom in whatever capacity since the 90’s, Xena/Gabrielle and their later reincarnations; Janice/Mel (Xena)… and of course that perennial spinoff; UberXena (also known as AU’s (alternate universe) anywhere else in femslash).
It appears that the premise of slash fiction originated in the late 1970’s with the pairing; Spock/Kirk and Star Trek remained a mainstay in slash fiction until the lesbians decided to have a go and created femslash (or publicised it) to fill in perceived gaps within fiction/media and for things it was felt had been ‘left out’, such as what might have happened between scenes that we never got to see, or in Janice/Mel’s case a continuation of their onscreen personas off screen, this rose to more popularity during the 90’s as the internet became more popular and a greater and wider amount of people had access to it.
In the case of Xena this was predominantly because the writers appeared to have chosen not to be overtly obvious about the exact nature of Xena and Gabrielle’s relationship, essentially so that they could walk that fine tightrope line of ‘allowing’ people to read as much into their relationship as they chose to, or not. So for some people it was blatantly obvious that they were together and for others that they were, to put a Victoria Wood slant on it, just ‘jolly good friends’.
With femslash of course, there are some who are specific about where and how they ‘see’ it, and there are others who watch everything with their femslash goggles on, and why not.
All of which isn’t especially pertinent to this particular topic, merely expanding on a point if you will. After the explosion of Xena and UberXena femslash on the internet, the way was paved for ‘new wave’ femslash, essentially everything that followed on afterwards, until fandom exploded. Naturally boyslash continues to be the dominant force on the net… maybe because it’s been going for longer, maybe because they’ve cornered more of the straight girl audience, who knows why, the internet works in mysterious ways at the best of times.
Nowadays, if you can think of a programme/book/film etc and a ‘couple’ within that that you want to see or read about then odds are that you’ll be able to find at least one piece of fiction or video or graphic pertaining to that ‘couple’. Much is the breadth, scope and joy of the ‘interwebs’ and the era of en masse technology. Suddenly fans around the world who had previously been acting in isolation, were suddenly connected to whole communities of like minded folk, who wrote, drew, created for these ‘couples’ and people were no longer thinking that they were alone in their feelings.
Some fandom’s are wildly popular, Xena is still a dominant force as is; SG-1, ST:Voyager, L&O:SVU and Wicked etc, whilst others remain floundering, some inexplicably, in veritable obscurity. Others have emerged from nothing into a pure explosion of outpourings such as Otalia, invisible one day, everywhere the next. Some fandom’s such as Otalia and Women’s Murder Club have even resulted in fan created virtual seasons in order to fill in the shortfalls and gaps in the original content.
For Otalia it was specifically because fandom came to the slow realisation that the writers of the storyline, having started out surprisingly positively and built up a beautiful slow paced and natural development into a relationship and then welched out at the final hour. By the time the show came off air for good in mid-September 09, these two women who had consistently declared there love and devotion for each other and the normalcy of their relationship had been desexualised and made into something almost farcical to watch.
This isn’t the place where I am going to point out and comment on the rise and fall of the Otalia storyline, but a year and a half in the making of something potentially wonderful and innovative (major knuckle chewing included in some places, ain’t soaps great?) these two ladies had resorted to fore-head bumping since there seems to be a blanket ban on their showing any other type of affection, but oy, if looks could cause orgasms, these two ladies never stopped! Despite declarations of their intentions and their desire to be considered as other ‘normal’ couples, Olivia got more action with her ex-husband Josh than she did with the woman she declared she loved more than anyone she had ever loved before.
Hmm…on this occasion, Otalia rant not actually intended…moving on.
My point and I may actually have one at some undisclosed point in time… then again maybe not.
For Women’s Murder Club (WMC) it was down to the fact that there were enough impassioned fans to create a virtual series, in this instance the majority of the writers seem to be on the Lindsay/Cindy bandwagon. Which brings me, in a slightly roundabout fashion, to my next point; the separate factions within a singular fandom see and advocate different pairings. Some are staunch supporters of one and for others well, anything goes its femslash.
This then heralds the acronym OTP (which I am embarrassed to say took me a long time to work out and in the end I believe I just asked, bloody acronyms, they crop up all over fandom), ‘One True Pairing’ are things that are declared proudly, sometimes amidst scoffs from fellow fan girls and boys who have differing opinions. For example; WMC has three; Lindsay/Cindy (who seem to have garnered the biggest following), Lindsay/Jill (second largest) and Jill/Cindy (defended by those faithful few). Personally I’ll read all three. When I read the books, Lindsay/Jill were the most ‘obvious’ when I watched the show I could see all three, but for preference I like Jill/Cindy, I think ultimately they had the more mileage… or maybe it was just because I like their characters the most. However despite this bias, WMC is not one of the fandom’s I frequent, I dip in and out of occasionally, but generally not in my top 3…10.
I read a lot of femslash, in a whole plethora of pairings, sometimes because I like the paring, sometimes simply because I figure why not, I’ll give that a whirl, but ultimately I do keep returning to just a handful. However, there are many I don’t like and some I like more than others. I have found that some of the really popular fandom’s are ones I cannot bear to read, such as Voyager or CSI (yes, I admittedly wrote a couple of CSI fic’s way back in the day but I am not proud of them in fact I actually find it kind of embarrassing when people tell me they’ve read them.)
Generally I don’t get overly involved in fandom. Partly because I find some of it very hard to deal with (not to mention incredibly unnecessary, I don’t do BDSM, Rape, Incest, RPF etc), , (how is it ‘fun’ to read some of these types of things?) such as the popularity contests of sorts that arise, whereby someone’s fiction which might be misspelled, grammatically incorrect and “OMG, I wrote this at like 3am, its not beta’d but I just HAD to post it *g*” (whatever, you lazy troll… it doesn’t make your mistakes forgivable or easier to wade through) is then hailed as; ‘brilliant, write more’, whereas someone else who is excellent but doesn’t know many people gets no comments at all. It’s just a bit weird. If I don’t like something I stop reading and I don’t tend to comment, after all despite what I think, someone has spent time writing this and has been ‘brave’ (or conceited, perhaps it depends on your viewpoint) enough to post it, and I don’t think flaming is either kind or very helpful. If I like something then I will comment on it and tell the author/artist etc.
There was an appalling incident not so long ago, where someone (I will not name names) took someone else work, publicly ripped it to shreds and then others commented on the ‘ripping’, laughing at this person. Yes the fiction was bad, but if you don’t like it stop reading, don’t become playground bullies and rip that person to shreds, especially behind their backs. This wasn’t done in comments to the fiction, it was a separate thing. It was crude, and embarrassing and just hateful… ironically the person who wrote the flaming, in my opinion isn’t very good herself, and seems to have an inflated sense of ego and self worth around the internet… which has been expounded upon by such en masse commenting on her flaming cheering them on.
All of that is simply cruel and unnecessary and also unjustifiable. Where do they get off becoming the fiction police? It’s a public forum. What was worse and just plain sad, was that the person then reposted the fiction because they had had such a ‘response’ and I suspect missed the point that it hadn’t been a positive experience. I do not understand the behaviour or attitude of those who were involved, if fiction is that bad, leave it and read something else there’s stacks out there in whatever degree of bad to amazing you care to subscribe to.
I appear to have an unprecedented knack for latching onto characters and pairings that turn out to not be wildly popular (or at least don’t end up with a large femslash fan base), such as Veronica/Mac from Veronica Mars. Veronica has abysmal taste in chaps though Duncan did win me over slightly once he left with his child, and simply has better chemistry with Mac (the ever wonderful Tina Majorino) and Meg for that matter. There is also the Sabrina/Kelly (who seem to be picking up slightly, Lysachan made a fantastic ship manifesto dedicated to the tow of them) and Tiffany/Kris pairings form the Original Charlie’s Angels. From research forays I have made, I have come to the conclusion that there may actually only be two other people out there who even like Tiffany Wells. I am also rather partial to Idgie/Ruth who are a couple and seem very popular film/book wise, yet they don’t garner much in the way of fanfiction.
Once again, I’m not entirely sure my point is any clearer now than it was at the beginning, or whether I have even made a point. Eh, c’est la vie, n’est pas? J