PWP: Plot? What Plot? A piece of fanfiction with no real attempt at a narrative set up. It doesn’t matter how those characters ended up in this situation, we’re just skipping to the sexy part, because who needs plot, man? Let’s just focus on the money shot. So to speak.
Fluff: A story with little or no narrative set up that describes a loving, happy, or funny moment between characters. Similar to a PWP in that it’s focus is a single emotional note rather than a variety of them (just with an interest in a different note). Fun, happy, sweet, and deliberately gauzy and insubstantial.
The fact that both of these exist is, I think, evidence of the incredible power of fandom context and how it is always shaping what we do. You can throw an isolated sex scene out into the fandom ether and it will work because it’s part of the large, writhing, constantly-shifting context of the larger metanarrative we construct together. So yay single note scenes that contribute to our fannish context and conversation!
My impression is that at least one of these definitions has been undergoing a facelift in recent years. If you use another definition for either of these fannish terms, let me know what it means to you below. For those of us from the Old School, having someone call your 60k word angst romance story “fluff” is kind of a blow to the solar plexus if you don’t know it’s definition has morphed a little.
Isn’t language both fraught and fun?
“And here is the most important thing I’ve learned from 10 years in this world: fandom is about people. It is not about a tv show or a ship, it’s not about a character or a creator or about that one fanfic that changed the way you regard fanfic as a whole. Fandom is about finding people who love what you love. It’s about finding someone in Israel who has the same reaction to Milo Ventimiglia’s bottom lip, or someone in Singapore who will share in your Downton Abbey geekery, or someone in Michigan who knows what you mean when you can’t express your emotions beyond “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.” And who will then ask you about your day, or send you a link they know will make you laugh, or recommend something else (a tv show, band, podcast, book, youtube video) they know you’re going to love. Because they know you.”
The leading flank in discovering how to use technology in cool, interesting, thoughtful ways will generally always be the amateurs. […]
I have a whole theory, actually, that the world of fan fiction is the most technologically explosive thing I’ve ever seen in my life. Every single technology that has come along, fan fiction people have come along and colonized it and stress-tested it and found the most amazing things. They were the first people to realize the potential of meta-tagging and bookmarking sites. Like, here’s a link with four tags, and then you go to a fan fiction person, and they have a link, and it has 70 tags. They are pushing this to absolute limit, and they are finding these amazing ways to sort knowledge.
It’s all because they’re passionate and nobody is making any money off of it and they don’t want to make any money off of it. They get some amazing stuff done. If you’re ever wondering about a future technology, just drop what you’re doing and find out what fan fiction people are doing with it. What are fan fiction people doing right now with WhatsApp? I don’t know. But, whatever it is, it’s the future.
- SXSW Interview: Author Clive Thompson Explains FOMO, the NSA, and His Latest Book, “Smarter Than You Think” (x)
If I ever meet Russel T. Davies, the first thing I will say to him is “Thank you, so much, for Harriet Jones.”
As a college student currently focusing my studies on women in politics, nothing made me happier than when Harriet Jones strode on screen in Series One, flashing her badge and telling anyone who would listen that she was “Harriet Jones, MP from Flydale North.” Aliens just crash landed in the Thames? Forget that, she’s got a policy agenda that needs fulfilling. The Prime Minister and most of the cabinet has been killed? Well, looks like its up to her to stand up and take charge of the situation. The country is in chaos? Better form a new coalition and lead Britain into the Golden Age.
Harriet Jones was not only a compelling character with a fascinating story arc, she also defied many conventional stereotypes about female politicians. She was caring and compassionate, taking the time to learn the names of everyone working for her and willing to sacrifice herself to save Rose, but she could be equally ruthless, especially when it came to her decision to destroy the fleeing Sycorax ship. She is interested in issues that are traditionally assumed to be “women’s” issues, such as healthcare and education, but she was equally capable of handling complex negotiations and making military decisions. Best of all, even after being deposed by the Doctor, she stands by opinions and beliefs, not because she is obstinante or stubborn but because she has thought deeply about the issue and analyzed the situation at hand and come to her own conclusion. There was no magical thought transformation to make her opinions align with the Doctor’s, and she didn’t worship the Doctor so thoroughly that she was willing to put aside her own beliefs for him. I can’t thank Davies enough for creating a character which defies conventions without becoming a cliché, and remains consistent in her characterization, even if this puts her in opposition to the Doctor.
Of course, as soon as I’m finished hugging Davies for creating Harriet Jones, I’m going to slap him across the face for the manner in which she was deposed by the Doctor. We’ll leave aside the issues of state sovereignty, pre-emptive strikes, and self-determination that factor into Harriet Jones’ decision to destroy the Sycorax ship (and believe me, I could write an entire blog dedicated to that one clip), but whether it was right or wrong, the Doctor decides that he has to depose Harriet Jones for her actions, and brings down her government with six words:
His six words bring about a wave of criticism on Harriet Jones, not on the basis of how she reacted to the Sycorax invasion of London, or even on the basis of all the reforms she brought about during her term (referred to even by the Doctor as ‘The Golden Age’ of Britain), but on the basis of her appearance. Presumably in the show this is meant to inspire a sort of “Health Crisis” where she is suddenly considered to be unfit for the job, but let’s be clear, she’s being judged on the basis of her appearance. Her physical state did not change during the course of the episode, and a physician’s check up would’ve proven that. And the Doctor deliberately targets her appearance:
Don’t you think she lookstired?
Politicians are questioned about their health constantly, especially older ones, but there is no denying that women face this criticism on an especially sexist level that focuses primarily on their appearance.
A real world counterpart for Harriet Jones would be Hillary Clinton (to be honest, I have a headcannon that if they existed in the same universe, they’d be total badass BFFs). When Hillary Clinton ran in the Democratic Primary in 2008, she faced an incredible amount of criticism based on her appearance. Commentators focused on every single line and wrinkle on her face; radio jockeys asked whether Americans could stand the sight of a woman president becoming "older before their eyes on a daily basis" and whether her aging appearance would directly correlate to declining poll numbers; even in 2013, when after 4 years serving as Secretary of State she retired and published a website featuring a flattering picture of herself, the very first comments about this website focused on whether Clinton had gotten a face lift because, apparently, she looked too good.
In this clip from the Miss Representation trailer, a Fox News host describes one unflattering picture of Clinton taken during the 2008 race and describes Clinton as looking 92 years old and “haggard”; obviously this woman is not fit for office.
In my headcannon, I imagine every month or so Hillary and Harriet would get together for coffee and discuss the latest international crisis they had to deal with and all the sexist crap that they put up with.
"I’ve been working to form a coalition to stop Qaddafi’s massacre in Libya and I’ve been in an airplane for a week straight," Hillary would say with a sigh. "But I come home and all people can do is complain that I don’t spend enough time on my hair."
Harriet would nod knowingly. “Don’t get me started. I looked a tad stressed after an alien invasion, and my government collapsed and was replaced by some young attractive man named Saxon. Of course, we all know how that turned out. Tell me, how is one supposed to look during an alien invasion?”
Barack Obama served for President of the United States for four years and very visibly aged. Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State for four years and also visibly aged. Only one faces snide jokes about their appearance and faces questions about whether they are fit to continue working. That is sexism.
Harriet Jones was many things: a caring daughter, a tough politician, and ultimately a leader who faced a terrible decision. But in the end, despite everything she said and did, she was reduced to her appearance, and on this basis alone she was brought down. That is sexism.
Yet despite it all, Hillary Clinton and Harriet Jones keep working. Hillary Clinton is expected to run for President in 2016. Harriet Jones continued to work behind the scenes with various projects and eventually gave her life to help defend the planet. In the end, she is probably a greater inspiration to women because of what the writers did to her. She taught us that sexism comes from everywhere, even from the people we admire the most, and that we must continue to work in spite of it. But she also serves as a cautionary tale: if we want more women in elected office, we must continue to call out sexism wherever and whenever we see it. As Hillary Clinton knows, this type of sexism isn’t confined to the world of fiction.
So thank you, Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister.
Someone anonymously sent me this ridiculously beautiful video they’d made mashing up Troye Sivan’s amazing song “The Fault in Our Stars” with the movie trailer. I have seen the trailer like two hundred times and heard the song probably a thousand, BUT I STILL CRIED.
When people complain that they can’t find the fanfic they want to read in a fandom, that everything out there is just smut and it sickens them that we write what we do, it makes me want to write a bunch of smut and slather it all over the internet with unrepentant joy.
No one is here to write you the story you want to read. You are not entitled to magically find to the story you want to read on the first try, something crafted with devotion and purpose by someone you don’t know using their limited time, tremendous effort, carpal tunnel, and tears, just because you want it to be there. Our interests are not required to dovetail with yours. We don’t do what we do for your benefit. We do what we like.
“I always thought what Russell [T Davies] did in Doctor Who was extremely ground breaking in a slightly more subversive way than it looked like. It never occurred to me that it was too on the nose, what he did brilliantly was incidentally gay characters obviously as well as some more in your face ones. One of my favourite stories is Gridlock, there’s an elderly couple of ladies who are together and it just sort of passes by and that’s the way - softly, softly. That’s how the revolution happens as it were, you just become aware that people are incidentally gay. I think when the day comes that you have a big detective show where the first half hour was this man at work and he’s a maverick and all the usual things and then we went home and his boyfriend says, ‘Are you alright?’ it was just a thing, then something genuinely changed. I think the problem still is it becomes the issue. I think the thing with gay characters is that it has to be an issue as opposed to being part of everyday life, which of course as we all know is what it is.”
Ballister was holding the elevator door for Ambrosius back when they had just started dating but Ambrosius remembered that he left his cardigan and ran back to get it and Ballister kept holding the elevator door for him but then it closed anyway and it was terrible
lokiloo asks the important question that we’re all thinking.