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Some serious links...
tony expediant or interesting
For some time now, a lot of us have been worried by the messages sent to young people by certain popular novels - I'm looking at you, Twilight and Shades of Grey - and by certain parts of fan fiction. One of my favourite fan writers, who goes by the name scifigrl47 on AO3 and Tumblr, was asked on Tumblr about her thoughts on the characterisation of Loki in the films Thor and The Avengers/Avengers Assemble (and, incidentally, the UK DVD of the latter is appalling - bad transfer, pan and scanned, no extras, a couple of odd cuts.) Her view (with which I agree completely) that Loki is responsible for his own actions, which include attempted genocide and murder, brought a torrent of abuse down on her head in her 'ask' box. This resulted in the linked post, in which she explains why she is worried about certain trends in fan fiction.

There is a tendency, more obvious now than it has been before, to present unstable, unapologetic, dangerous sociopaths and outright psychos as “sexy and desireable.” And that is dangerous.

Read the whole thing at


Also on fanfiction, my friend evilmissbecky an excellent fanwriter, is in temporary (we hope) financial difficulties and is offering to write fan fiction for you, any universe, any kink, for payment. If you are interested, check it out here


Elsewhere, in discussions on C.S. Lewis, I am still trying to come to terms with the idea that most Americans seem to have no idea what Turkish Delight (or Greek Delight, as you would need to know if you were buying it in Greece) actually is. And then a conversation on little_details brought to light the fact that a majority of the contributors to a question did not know that the Bald Eagle did not have a naked head like a vulture, but a white head, using 'bald' in its older sense of 'white'. It seems to me that David Attenborough must have lived in vain.

Meh. I am sad to hear that the DVD is also poor quality. I had been planning on buying the BluRay version (and incidentally a BluRay player) because that's the version with the extras, but on doing some research last night I find that there isn't a UK version that includes all the extras that will be in the US version (and what extras there are have been split across multiple versions as sold by various competing supermarkets etc, so they can claim to have exclusive content on the BluRay as bought from their store). After reading that I thought I'd buy the DVD of it and sod the extras and now I'm really torn. I really want to have a copy but these shenanigans make me seriously cranky with the whole thing.

I am about to order the US version which includes a DVD version (and which I have a player that will cope.) I always intended to get the US version, but as the UK version is cheap...

I think I like bad boys because I want to be one and have unlimited power and rule the world and not because I fancy an abusive relationship.

I had a conventionally passionate romance once full of angst and yearning, on his side at least, and it was hugely tiring and a bit dull.

Yes, but you don't try to excuse your bad boys, which indicates you know they are bad and probably wouldn't want a relationship outside of fantasy.

I'm most annoyed about the Avengers DVD. I was going to have it for a Christmas present, but now I think I'll wait five years and see if a 'director's cut' version turns up.

If you buy Turkish Delight in Cyprus, it's Cyprus Delight (not, for some odd reason, Cypriot Delight). We Don't Mention The T-Word There.

That would be on the Greek side of the island, presumably. Might be Turkish Delight on the Turkish side.

I had never had Turkish delight, nor knew what it was like, apart from Fry's (which was obviously not ambrosial) when I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many years later, probably when I was a student, I had actual Turkish delight, and went -- ahah! Now I get it! The very best Turkish Delight does taste as if it could be magical.

I hated Fry's Turkish Delight (and bugger, now I've got that bloody jingle as an earworm) but once I encountered the real stuff it was love.

Thank you for the signal boost. *hugs*

(Deleted comment)
I'd agree on dangerous and unstable, but less so on Avon as a sociopath/psychopath - I don't think he really was one, even if Chris Boucher said so (did he? I can't remember now). Certainly, I wouldn't be too keen on associating with him in real life, but in the context of the show, he is presented as both sexy and desirable. It doesn't stop him being a right bastard that only Blake could really handle :-)

Some years back, I returned to B7 fandom for a while, and was surprised by just how much I wanted to slap Avon silly for his behaviour, particularly in the latter half of the show. At the time, my general impression was not that he was defended on the grounds of his being sexy and desirable and that making him excusable, but more that everything he does has a reason, and it isn't just about hurting people.

People do like to think they can redeem a bad guy, I suppose - that they are the one who can do it when others fail. Alas, that doesn't often work in real life, and that's where the danger lies.

I don't know that it's a particularly new trend, but yeah, it's sometimes a little troubling. It's fine to like bad guys in fiction, but they are still bad, and the bad things they do aren't excused by their pain, though they may be explained by it to some extent.

I've never quite got the whole woobie villain thing. Okay, maybe a bit, with the most recent incarnation of the Master, and I suppose there's often a tendency to be overly sympathetic to a character you like, even an evil one. I think, possibly, that fans who are into a bad boy character perhaps feel they personally are being judged when someone points out, as this writer did, the obvious fact that the bad guys are responsible for their actions, hence the inbox abuse.

How far this transfers to real life, I don't know. Women have unfortunately been falling for the wrong kind of man for a long time now.

On the subject of the DVDs, there's been a bit of a hoo-ha so I hear, about the poor extras on the UK discs compared to those in the US version, but I hadn't heard that the physical quality was also bad - that's unforgivable in this day and age. Pan and scan? Really? *shakes head* And then they wonder why so many people choose to download illegally.

Well, there's one DVD I definitely won't be buying.

I'll see if the husband has time to search one out next time he's in the US - we hacked our DVD player.

I love scifigrl47's fics - she's one of my absolute favourites. And the post that you link to is very wise. I was in Waterstone's the other day and saw The Story of O promoted as "If you liked 50 Shades, you'll like this". I'm not about to read 50 Shades, but I was curious, so I looked at the first few pages and felt rather sick. Bondage, vaginal and anal gang rape with the express intention of making the woman scream with pain, plus beating. And this sort of thing is now to be considered "okay"? I'm not generally a prude - what's done by consenting adults is fine - but to educate a generation of vulnerable people that this is now the mainstream, normal, desirable and right? That's just irresponsible.

If you know Scifigrl, would you tell her that I'm going to link to her Tumblr entry? I'm not on Tumblr. Thanks.

Edited at 2012-09-19 09:54 am (UTC)

Blimey! The Story of O had a rep as being as hardcore sadistic pornographic as it gets, though I suppose it is regarded as less so now. However, it is definitely not to recc'd to anyone but someone who already knows they are sadists.

I grew up in a Greek family, and though I loved the stuff, we never called it "Turkish delight"; we called it loukoumi. I never heard the term "Greek delight" till today.

The idea of the sexy cad has always been around. I can't say whether it's more prevalent today or not in fanfic, since I rarely read it.

Marketing ploy in Greece. They need to market the stuff to the British and German tourists, but they ain't going to credit the Turks!

I had difficulty explaining to Americans what 'ringing the changes' and 'find the lady' meant. I thought the latter was well-known by that name everywhere, but apparently they call it 'Three-Card Monte' in the States.

That trend -- the sexy sociopath -- worries me, too. You can see in in a number of fandoms ( Heroes for one, where Sylar -- a serial killer -- get to be pin-up hero-guy). It's not new: this is the territory of the Byronic hero, of Heathcliff and co. We are taught to desire the hand that strikes us. Because they are tortured and we can save them, ostensibly.
Or, in the real world, because it upholds the system.

Yes, it's always been there - but you'd've thought people, particularly women, would have stopped or at least been ashamed of peddling the idea that an abusive relationship is an ideal relationship.

They were talking about this in relation to musicals on Woman's Hour this morning in reference to Carousel and Oliver! but it has to be said that, as far as I am concerned, the latter comes under awful warning rather than glorification of abuse because of what actually happens to Nancy. Carousel is more problematic.

James Marsters won my respect forever when he got up in front of a roomful of squeeing fangirls (of all ages and genders) at a con and said flat out that Spike should NOT be considered a desirable partner. "If a man is mean to other people, sooner or later he'll be mean to you."

(Although I have to admit that if you interpret the interactions between Buffy and Spike as "Klingon mating ritual" it becomes very funny indeed.)


Good for James Masters. Occasionally actors say something important.

I'm not actually sure that the romanticised sociopath is such a new trend. 'Heroes' like Mr Rochester or, more notably, Heathcliff, all had elements of crazy. Mr Rochester was a bigamist who locked up his first wife as mad, a common 19thc mechanism of getting rid of extraneous wives that often worked; I always notice that Jane only went back to him when he was blinded by a terrible accident and she was financially independent. Heathcliff hanged a puppy to try to make a naive girl realise he was no good, then married her and made her miserable anyway; he subjected his son to emotional abuse and kidnapped his daughter-in-law for her money and a strange sort of revenge over her father, Catherine's husband. And yet these men were widely treated as great romantic heroes. Sarah Rees Brennan - one of my favourite authors whose main character for her first series, Nick, started out as an exercise in what would happen if the tall, dark, devilishly handsome, terrible communicator, no-apparent-feelings hero was actually real - wrote some interesting things on this topic once. But I cannot find them. Which probably has something to do with the incident where some nasty person deleted her entire blog on the day she published her first book.

Anyway, my point is: this is a damaging phenomenon, and it's having a resurgence, but I'm not entirely sure it's new.

Also: scifigrl47 is wonderful, and I cannot understand why anyone would be nasty to her, except they clearly have been. While I find the theory that Loki's blue eyes were the same colour as Clint's and Erik's, and he was therefore being mind-controlled just like them interesting, it's not canon yet. Canon Loki is mad, bad and dangerous to know on an intergalactic scale, and no-one should be abused for saying so.

The Loki of the comic verses has fifty years of being mad and evil. (In the early days Lee even referred to him as the 'God of Evil'.) It took Ragnarok, resurrection as a woman, and the realisation that if your allies are trying to destroy the world/universe you might not have anything left to rule that promoted first a heroic sacrifice, then resurrection as a child. Though 'his' (it's not the same Loki - the old one is around as a bird) change of heart may be about to be ret-conned yet again.

It is highly unlikely that Marvel will go so far out of comics continuity with the MCU. Loki is far too convenient a villain.

I agree that this is nothing new, but the social scene was very, very different in the Victorian era. I do not wish to see a return to the patriarchy.

A huge amount of YA/teen novels aimed at girls is just utterly depressing. You'd think feminism never happened! I worked Children's fiction for a couple of years, over the period when the YA vampire explosion happened. I even read all the Twilight books (Twilight is relatively harmless, if sexist, fluff, the second and third glorify increasingly toxic gender relations and the fourth is just... insane.)

Meyer was trying to write a great Romantic Hero - a Darcy or a Rochester or a Heathcliff, without understanding what made them so compelling. OK. *I* don't get why Heathcliff is considered compelling - he's a nasty, self indulgent, whiny bastard who strangles puppies and who'd probably do the same to small children if diven half a chance. (No, I do not like "Wuthering Heights"). Rochester is tormented (hello, Mr Woobie) but has a central core of responsibility, if not decency, and at least he doesn't get the girl until his male privilege is removed in a symbolic castration! Darcy is the best of the lot being merely shy and stuck up while he will come through when it matters.

Edward is... really not that compelling a character. The real problem is the plethora of really dreadful YA romances that push the idea that a guy who treats you badly must be doing it because he loves you! And that makes it OK!

And don't get me started on the middle aged woman who asked me if I didn't think Twilight was wonderful for teenagers because of the abstinence message... I replied I was rather more concerned about the pro-teen suicide message. TwiMoms, for fucks sake! By my age (40s) you'd think women would have learned better.

I read half of "50 Shades" because part of my empire is now Erotica. Gave up half way through. Really, really boring and irritating. My 15 year old daughter read it. Her response? "Even the smut's dull!" But she's been reading fanfiction since she was about twelve so she has some basis of comaparison (oh, I am an appalling mother...;-P)

I see all this as being part of the backlash against the gains feminism made in the eighties and nineties. Time to take to the streets again?

Give me Buffy and Katniss any day. Luckily No.1 daughter agrees so I must have done some thing right.

(edited because the key between d and g on my keyboard is sticking and because I'd called Darcy etc Great Romantic Herons...)

Edited at 2012-09-19 06:50 pm (UTC)

One of the problems encountered in Avengers fandom (a reflection of a lot of fandoms) is that the villain (who happens to be pretty) is forgiven everything, but the wonderful female characters (Natasha Romanoff and Maria Hill) brilliant and kick ass and complex, are treated very badly by the same writers, usually the younger ones, who forgive Loki genocide attempts because (with no evidence) they assert childhood abuse. On the other hand, because Natasha totally beats him at his own game of intimidation and lies, will assert that he intended it, that she is nasty and deserves to be raped, and other really horrible things.

Comics Natasha has a really horrible backstory, but she has overcome it to be a hero. We know nothing about MCU Natasha's backstory, but she is also on the road to redemption. The same cannot be said of Loki, yet the love for that character and the forgiveness of his crimes contrasts horribly with the treatment of Natasha in fan stories from the same "Loki only needs a hug" authors.

Turkish Delight is obscure but available in the U.S. I still remember how excited I was the first time I found a place that sold it. And how disappointed I was that it really was not to my taste.

I have since had much better Turkish Delight, but it's still quite low on my list of preferred sweets.

The main reasons Lewis uses it are, I think, 1) that it is expensive and normally only seen at Christmas (which prefigures the arrival of Father Christmas), and I doubt it would have been seen at all in the war 2) that it is very much a 'grown-up' sweet, often taken with coffee or a liqueur or perhaps port, and Edmund would associate it with his parents and it contrasts with the meal Tumnus gives Lucy, 3) that anyone who had eaten Turkish Delight would know there was something fishy when Edmund ate the entire box because, hey, however much you love TD you can rarely manage two pieces and 4) exotic Orientalism, which was not a 'problem' at that point in time.