I don't know how many times I'll start on a story looking forward to something and it's one of those craptastic pieces that is written to be just kind of evil. I get that there is a perversion out there for everyone but I have to ask who are these people that enjoy reading stories where the good guy not only wins but degrades and degenerates the hero.
Just yesterday I read this POS fic. The great thing about freedom of speech is you can say what you want. Even if it is total garbage. Anyways this fic had Warren reworking his Cereberal Dampaner. And this time he uses it on Buffy. Needless to say what he does to her. But he takes it further by using Buffy as his own slave and soldier to his mission. In this fic she kills Spike. Then she takes the same item that is enslaving her and uses it to enslave Dawn Tara Anya and her sister. They end the fic with Buffy snapping Xander's neck and Warren moving in to Buffy's ordering all of the girls to make out and using Dawn as his human footstool.
One fic I read once had Xander as a vampire. He used his soldier memories to develop a superior military strategy to sire all his friends leaving Buffy as the only non vampire. The end of the fic had Xander implementing vampires with in the initiative with in the government and eventually the presidency. The fic ends with Buffy chained and wondering how she got to this world she calls hell and how long till she can die cause it's the only escape.
It just bothers/pisses me off that people have to take something as good as Buffy and twist it and turn it to something perverse boarderline evil.
I use this craptastic piece of work as just one example cause the truth is there is ton of this crap out there. I'm just like who the hell are you people that want to read this. That want your hero to be disrespected so disgustingly.
My friend says that it's woman haters who write that crap. Some men just hate the idea of someone like Buffy being so strong and so powerful and feel better if they can knock her down a peg or two. Now I am a guy myself and I have to say I've never felt that way.
Want to hear from you guys. What is your opinion on this. Is there a place for all Fan Fiction? Even the stuff that seems to insult or degrade the original idea of Buffy?
My opinion is, indeed, that there's a place for all fan fiction. Obviously there are people who like this kind of stuff, otherwise no one would write it. I think it's the fun thing of fan fiction, there's something for every taste. I don't think I would enjoy the kind of FF you describe, but as long as nobody forces me to read it, I have no problem with it. In general, as long as they don't hurt anyone by it, I don't see any reason to prescribe to others what they should write or read.
It's hard to try and get behind the perspectives or reasons for how violent or abusive some of the FF stories get to. Look at how many torture works are out there - and they are popular with a lot of FF readers.
I can't stand the Riley character but I have read some stories where he is raped by vampires as "justice" - all it did was make the characters exacting "justice" worse even than the original abusers. Riley and Xander both suffer a lot of character trashing - and Spike and Buffy suffer from the other side as victims of torture and abuse.
I feel this same dislike for those FF works that use sex without any purpose other than as Text Sex Fantasy - don't know how many otherwise good stories are ruined by the gratuitous use of sex. I wonder if those writers even realize how a lot of the readers just skip over all those sex scenes. Especially if the actual story is good - I just skip all the nonsense sex. There are times when sex or violence and physical torture are pertinent to the stories and other times where all it does is diminish the work.
Darkfic, as it's termed, can be cathartic and provide the type of intellectual or mental release that day to day life doesn't give a large number of people. Some read it for fun, some read it for whump, and some read it as therapy, because it makes their lives by comparison, feel less hurtful.
Many, myself included, read it to challenge their emotional and moral response to disturbing material. Some read it for arousals sake, and some enjoy it for it's way of deconstructing characters and often building them back up stronger than canon would have them.
Lets also not dismiss the subject of the intimacy of pain, whether mental or emotional, and the ways it can be used to deepen ones understanding of a character's background or to explain not only how a character is, but WHY they are that way.
It has the added bonus of being fictional, and happening to fictional characters, which I think we can all agree is preferable to such things happening to real people.
There are many shades of darkfic, and it's not about "being sick" or perverse for most readers. It's about exploring the darkness of the human psyche and expelling some of that darkness into channels that boost creativity rather than anti-social tendencies. For most readers of darkfic, plot and good writing is paramount, as usually they can involve some pretty convoluted OOC actions.
It's a myth that darkfic has the power to obsess or corrupt it's readers - most people read warnings and act according to their tastes, so those who don't prefer or arent looking for it rarely go further than the stated warnings. Darkfic also will not prohibit someone from enjoying the softer side of fanfic or fandom, commonly known as "the vanilla side".
I'd also like to point out, that as most fanfic is written by women, most darkfic is also written by women, not by men with misogynist tendencies. If one doesnt know where the writer is coming from in their own personal headspace, and doesnt see the links between that and where the fic is going, it's all too easy to deride someone as sick or disturbed for writing what some of us would rather not read.
I find it much more helpful to try to understand the purpose of the work than to dismiss writing out of hand as "craptastic", for exploring avenues that I personally find upsetting. (of course, if the writing is bad to start with, then it's all downhill from there!)
The hardest lesson to take from this is that fanfic writers, the majority, aren't writing for you or me or anyone else. They are writing because they can't not write. They are writing for themselves, to calm their own minds or because a bunny jumped up and hit them in the head at 3am and they just have to see how it all plays out. They write to soothe the pains of the day, or to express joy, love and yes, pain and mental anguish. They write because they have to. They share because they know they can't be the only one's feeling what they feel.
Life is upsetting. For some much moreso than others. Darkfic is a reflection of this, in fandom.
The only real answer is to not read what displeases you.
Outstanding post Holdt -
You make great points about the personal motivations and efforts from the writers - I think that when the creative effort comes out of a genuine creative need and honest exploration of self and the characters, a good work is usually produced.
Your idea of pain and suffering as "cathartic" for writer and readers is very true. This work from Herself I believe is a great example of how a very dark work can connect with the readers on a very powerful level. This piece, which I read several years ago, and again only a few months back has always stayed with me. It's like these were real people to me and for all the sorrows and pains, I feel a great connection with life.
Well, in the final analysis, since quality is subjective, one person's crap can be considered by someone else to be a masterpiece. We have freedom of speech and expression, which are usually hampered more from a financial POV, at least here in the U. S.-witness the seesaw betwen Fox and Buffy vidders, or other film companies and vidders-more than anything. For the most part creators of fiction-publishers and writers(professional and non-professional) are left to police themselves, and, for the most part, adult readers as well.
When it comes to really gratuitous, dark subject matter, what would bother me was the intent. It would be one thing to write something to explore "the dark side," and write about things that it seems many people would find disturbing. What would be disturbing, IMO, is that it became apparent that this person was not just writing from a purely artistic viewpoint and trying to create and communicate a particular POV, but that they relished in the darkness of something, and that became apparent because that's the only POV they seemed to have.
So, its a matter of presentation, to me. There have been many things done based on the serial murderer, Ed Gein, who did some absolutely horrendous, terrifying things to his vicims. I would not find something offensive that sincerely explored the madman's darkness, and was just descriptive enough to communicate the horror. I would find offensive, though, anything that glorified the murders, and seemed to revel in the lurid, gratuitous details, because I would find-not just the acceptance, but the appreciation of such behavior disturbing.
Both the Buffy and Angel series dealt with some pretty dark concepts. I thought they made it pretty clear that Angel and Spike, as part of the Fanged Four, did some pretty twisted things, but it was also clear that it wasn't being presented as ok in any shape, form or fashion. This is my own personal critera, but if I suspected that I was reading something by somebody who gave me the impression that they got giddy when they write about another person wrapping the entrails of somebody they murdered around their neck, then I would not read their work. That applies to anything, not just Buffy stuff. Concerning Buffy, I might not like the characters used in a certain manner, but that would not keep me from reading a story.
Thanks for the link, Cil - excellent story and a great example of growth-through-pain and deeper character motivation study.
Also, Lulurose - Yes. That, exactly.
Great post, Holdt! And I’m a fan of these Darkfic. I've read a lot of FF where Spike is captured, chained, tortured, humiliated… and uhh… other naughty things. I adore Spike, I really don't wanna see him in these situations in the actual story, but I'm enjoying reading fics like these and I don't find them annoying even in an iota.
Well, in the final analysis, since quality is subjective, one person's crap can be considered by someone else to be a masterpiece.
Totally agree with you, Lulu! And everyone is free to write and to read what he/she wants! If someone finds the plot annoying just to stop reading it.
Cil, thanks for the link, I'm going to take a look at! I’m enjoying reading every Spuffy and Spangel fan fics – they are my fav.
I agree with what was said and they are all valid points but I keep coming back to this thing once my middle school teacher said. You freedoms end where mine begin. Basically meaning that you have the right to say what you want as long as it doesn't infringe on my rights. I also am a big believer in freedom of speech but where do we draw that line. Is there a place for fiction where maybe Giles is racist and uses the N word or how about a fic where Spike calls Willow all kinds of anti semantic terms belittling her. I'm probably being overly sensitive but hate speech bothers me. What if it's not hate.
Is there a place for fiction that isn't hate filled but potentially harmful to people's mind. There are freaks out there(I may offending using the terms freaks but I don't care if I offend the kind of people that would be offended by me calling them that) who want to read stories about a 10 year old Dawn getting it on with an older man. I don't find that cathartic.
Someone once told me that fictions like that are good because they burn off and desires that might other wise be acted on in real life. I can see that point but believe that fictions like this too often can be used as a jumping off point. Someone starts to read it and it acts as fuel suddenly or even worse it's a starting point where suddenly reading the fiction isn't enough. I think of it like a match. A single flame isn't nearly powerful enough to destroy a forrest. But feed that flame some twigs then a branch a tree and before you know it that tiny flame is now a inferno.
Anyone who's ever read my previous posts knows I am huge fan of freedom of speech but I do feel it needs to be drawn some where. Having the power of freedom of speech is a bigger responsibility then most people realize. Speech is powerful and should be respected. Real words can do real damage.
Again, I have to say, that's what warnings are for.
There is absolutely nothing preventing you from NOT reading those stories.
In other words,they have the right to write whatever they want, and you have the right to choose not to read it.
The fact that you are squicked by them is not a free-speech issue; it is a matter of personal taste. Your rights are not being infringed upon.
Also, if you've never been a 10 year old girl who was used, then you have no right to opine on whether that type of fic is cathartic, or for who, or whether it was worth writing. Just saying.
Xander, please refer to my earlier post about "corruption" - your questions on that have been answered pretty succinctly, I think. Anyone who would be pushed by simple fanfic into doing heinous activities is someone who was going to perform heinous acts already. Blaming the fic is like blaming rap lyrics for violence in the inner cities - the flame or inferno, as you term it? Was already there to start with. What you are describing is someone using an EXCUSE to do what they know they want to do, not someone innocent being corrupted by a bad evil pervy fanfic author..
I really think it's important to make a distinction between what you personally feel is acceptable for yourself, and trying to be a watchdog for all of fandom, which, as Ive stated before, is 90% female.
To me, this stings more than a little of the old "shut down, shut up little girl" arguments of the early fandom days opined by well-meaning males who nonetheless had absolutely no interest in knowing why a woman would write such things, but still felt the need to try to exert control over the situation.
Vis a vis, Watchers?
Equating darkfic with hate speech does not actually make that the reality. Again, I will say, the only answer is that if you know you dont like darkfic, then pay attention to story warnings. If a story has none, or includes subject matter you find offensive, then do not read it.
And yes, calling survivors of abuse who choose to read stories about similar abuse in an attempt for closure or to understand why they feel the way they do, "freaks", whose opinions you could care less about, is extremely offensive to me.
There will always be terrible stories, sexist stories, stories of abuse and darkness but I certainly don't hear anyone calling for a banning of Pride and Prejudice, Anne of Avonlea, The Taming of the Shrew (or anything by Shakespeare), House of Leaves, Plato's Republic, Oliver Twist, Utopia, anything by Stephanie Meyer or A Tale of Two Cities. Popular literature is rife with stories about exactly the subjects you want to disallow fanfic writers.
Think about it.
Allow me to quote noothergods, whose view you may, sadly, find more credible than fellow site-members (though I object to the 'victim-language')':
We all tend to assume that everyone views the world in the same way we do. We assume that everyone thinks in the same way we do. We all tend to feel like no one understands us, but we talk and act like everyone does. Perhaps life would be easier if we talked and acted like no one understood us and felt like everyone did. That being said let me try this again; last time I made assumptions, sparked a lot of debate, and probably managed to hurt some feelings (which was, and is, not my intention).
The value in dark fiction is found in its ability to reach certain people and teach them in a way that nothing else can. I can say, with absolute certainty since I am talking about myself, that a young man who has hurt and been hurt deeply does not need a story about how the good guys win in the end. This young man, let us call him John (A part of me has always wished I was named John…I like my name, but I like John too), does not need a story about a person who has made a few mistakes but sees the error of his ways. Nor does he need a story about how everything works out for good or how God is in control.
John does not need a story that tells him the world is a good place and he should be happy. To John; whether this is because of his experiences, because of his mind, because of his pain, whatever the reason might be; these stories lie. What John needs is a story which reflects the world he knows, a place of hate and pain, and a character who hurts and is hurt as deeply as John, himself. He needs a story, and a character, that can help him make sense of his own pain. A story that can help him understand a God who would allow that pain, and how this God could possibly be called good.
John needs a character who reflects himself. John needs a character that is similar enough for him to connect with. John needs a story that explains to him on an emotional level, as well as an intellectual one, how God can possibly be called good. How there can be hope, trust, and love in the face of pain so extreme that he has no way to express it. John needs a story that shows him that the things he has held onto; the hope, freedom, and joy he has found in hate, in sin, in evil; is a lie. That it is nothing compared to what he could have in Christ. John needs a story that will teach him how to deal with pain, how to love God, and how to love people when the only thing he knows, that he understands, is how to hate. More than anything John needs a story in which he can place himself and follow the path laid out to freedom.
This is the value of dark fiction, the value of graphic fiction. This is the value of that fiction which expresses the deepest levels of pain, and the darkness so often found in the human condition. While it may bring understanding, it may edify others, and it may create a point of connection between very disparate people; the truest value of dark fiction is found in its ability to reach, and bring healing, to people which nothing else can.
I guess at the end of the day, we all have to do what is best for us emotionally and mentally. I in no way am disturbed by your dislike of darkfic, Xander. It's the attached assumptions about fitness of mind and ethics that are bothering me here.
I suppose that I was just hoping that you'd dislike darkfics on their own merits (stated above) or sometime failures (badly written, horrible grammar, no deeper plot than torture, no effort to explore the characterization appropriately), as I personally believe each story should be approached separately, instead of lumped into a generalized category of sameness with other genre-fic. However, it seems once again we are polarized in opinion on these matters. I've become accustomed to it, and have often welcomed your differences of view, but as this is a conversation that has been re-hashed umpty-million times in fandom meta and my personal history, it's probably best on my part to just gracefully decline further debate. With that in mind, let me offer this:
It sounds as though, and correct me if Im wrong, you could use links to more mature-subject matter fics that dont deal with non-con, underage/minors, explicit torture or racial tension, which is nothing to feel awkward about. Though I spoke theoretically above, practically speaking, I also pass on fics including underage/minors and explicit sexual situations involving same. (Hence, Stephanie Meyer!)
If I come across any relevant fics that seem as though you might appreciate them and which explore your stated preferences for het and canon-applicable character study,, I'll be sure to send them your way.
Well said, Holdt.
XH, I think you are wrong in your assumption that the kind of "darkfic" Holdt is talking about equals "hate speech". I think it is extremely unlikely that people who want to encourage racism, antisemitism etc. would choose fan fiction as their medium to do so.