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KS Alternative Factor

Escapade panel "Ageism In Fandom" & all sorts of related thoughts

I attended the “Ageism in Fandom” panel at the slash convention Escapade (held in Ventura, California from February 24-26. The Monday after the convention, I went to visit butlerdidit and killabeez (waves!). butlerdidit hadn’t attended the convention, and Killa hadn’t attended that panel, so they asked me to describe what all was being discussed.


My mind went completely blank! I never seem to remember any details when I attend any sort of lecture or “spoken word” event until I either talk about it with someone who was there, or else write it down. The process of writing seems to ‘solidify’ the experience for me and then I can talk about it. So I thought I’d write about it here.

The panel was divided into two parts: do fans prefer slashing younger men and view older men as somehow sexless? And, what, if anything, is the cultural divide between younger fans and older fans? (Just as an aside, is the word “fen” as plural for “fan” truly dead? I don’t recall seeing it recently.)

I’m putting some of my own after-the-fact opinions here, and I will try to make sure I enclose these with parentheses.

Part 1. The moderators asked for names of potentially slashable older male characters on popular fannish TV shows. They wrote these names down on a flipchart and asked the question: are these men slashed, and if not, why not?

A number of older male characters were listed who are seldom slashed. I sure wish I could remember all the characters listed! I know there were several characters listed from shows that I’ve never seen – various incarnations of CSI, for example.

The older male characters that are rarely slashed include Cowley, Edward James Olmos’ character from Battlestar Galactica, and Dumbledore.

(Why aren’t they slashed? In “The Professionals”, Bodie/Doyle is the obvious pairing – two men, partnered together, working closely at all times. Cowley is the boss, and has much less contact with them than they do with each other. Some people do write Cowley/Bodie fic; certain other fans find that a squick.)

(I don’t know enough about BSG to speculate re slash in this universe. In the Potterverse, I did have a brief flirtation with Sirius/Remus slash, which I think definitely qualifies as older character slash, but I’ve never read much other fic in this universe. I don’t know if there’s much Dumbledore slash out there, or which pairing. Snape?)

Then there are the male characters who are occasionally slashed, such as Picard, Caine, from Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, and Gandalf. Giles and Skinner were included in the older male group, even though Giles, in particular, might only be viewed as ‘old’ in comparison to the teens he mentors.

In these universes, there is more slash potential than those mentioned above, but not with another male their own age – rather; they are slashed with younger men, i.e. Skinner/Mulder. (Picard/Q is doubtless an exception to this – how old is Q anyway? (smile) –see the ***Methos comment below.)

Then there are older male pairings who are commonly slashed. These include Kirk/Spock from the later movie years, Jed/Leo from The West Wing and Denny Crane/Alan Shore from Boston Legal. In each of these instances, there is an obvious pairing from the show.

Finally, there are those fandoms with lots of slash which pair older and younger men, such as House/Wilson, and Qui-Gon/Obi-Wan.

***Methos was mentioned – remember how the fannish term for him was the ROG (Really Old Guy)?, but it was decided that that including immortals, vampires, etc. was “cheating”.

Once people began discussing these examples, it was clear to me that there’s plenty of slash involving older characters; this indicates to me that ageism in fandom, in this regard, isn’t all that much of an issue.

We then discussed the difference in issues that older couples deal with versus concerns younger men have. Older characters are long past teen angst, long past the problems many face in their 20s. They do face other issues; mortality being a prime one. There was some discussion of the dynamics of power; that older male characters are often in positions where their decisions and actions can affect the lives of many people, far more so than the decisions and actions of younger men. Jeb and Leo, from West Wing, were pointed out as the best example of this dynamic. Kirk and Spock, from the movie years, were also mentioned.

A participant pointed out that, with K/S, we have something rare in slash fandoms – the opportunity to write these characters as young men, middle-aged men, older men – and have canon sources to draw from. I pointed out that many K/S writers have specific preferences in their writing. Many writers only deal with them during the TOS years; other writers focus more on the movie years. A participant pointed out an issue unique to K/S fiction – different rates of aging, with Vulcans being so much longer lived than humans. There have been several good stories dealing with this issue.

People discussed their personal preferences - some only wanting to read younger pairings, some older, and some liking age-difference in pairings.

Part 2 (what, if anything, is the cultural divide between younger fans and older fans?) was mainly a ‘laundry list’ of perceptions of one group of fans about the other. Some of the issues:

Certain older fans (I am not including myself among this number) assume that younger fans: don't respect fannish culture, think slash should be outed to the world, give older characters ‘younger’ issues. Certain younger fans assume older fans are tech-impaired, are paranoid about slash being outed, and are way too nostalgic for the ‘way things used to be’.

A side issue was, a fan can be a newbie at 50 or conversely very experienced in fandom at 25.

Time ran out before this portion of the discussion really took off; I don’t recall anyone coming to particular conclusions or speculating on how people could ‘bridge the divide’.

Panel report over, my own thoughts about all sorts of stuff follows.

I have been boring people to death over the last couple of years by going on about how I’ve been in fandom for 30 years. So I’m going to bore you all a bit more…

I’ve been in fandom my entire adult life, starting when I was 20, and during that time I have heard lots of people say this or that categorically about fandom as a whole. And you know what? They never have the whole picture. No one does. No one can.

Any statement about what fandom “is” and “the way it used to be” is from one person’s perspective. Mine, obviously, included.

A couple of recent examples. On a yahoo list I’m on, people were discussing the various ways zines have been produced during the years. The conversation moved to selling through the mail versus premiering zines at cons. I wrote up a short post, describing how I started selling zines. But I didn’t indicate which time period I was talking about (I did my first zine in 1975). Someone else replied, under the assumption I had only recently started publishing fanzines, and said ‘back in the day’ (i.e., late 1980s) zine publishers had to premier their zine at MediaWest, and hope for enough sales to cover their printing bills.

My response was that I was discussing a period over 10 years prior to what she was talking about, when almost all zine sales were done through the mail, and that the printing was financed by sending out SASEs (self-addressed stamped envelope) when the zine was ready to go to print. Then you waited for enough money to come in to make your deposit at the print shop.

My experience of ‘the way things had been’ pre-dated her experience of the ‘way things had been’. My point in all of this is to indicate how quickly and completely things can change, and how often our ideas on ‘what fandom is all about’ are solidified by what we encounter during our first experiences in fandom.

Another example. A lot of people bring up the subject of mentoring, of older fans taking younger fans ‘under their wing’ to ‘show them the ropes’ as it were. This is always presented as if this were SOP in the ‘old days’.

Except… I don’t remember being mentored. Gen Trek fandom in the 70s was quasi-public and *huge*, on a scale not to be equaled until the first net fandoms spring up. (The first time I ever encountered anything on the scale of gen Trek fandom in the 70s, was when X Files fandom took off on the net in the 90s.) And gen Trek was a fandom which had the tacit blessing of Gene Roddenberry, who stated on more than one occasion that fanzines - even adult ones - were just fine. (As opposed to George Lucas’ approach to the same subject in the late 1970s. All fanzines had to be submitted to his office for prior approval before they could be published, and he prohibited all adult material. This is a big reason why there was no (published) Star Wars slash until the late 1990s.)

I first encountered Trek fandom through the 1975 pro paperback book “Star Trek Lives”. There was an address in the back for the Star Trek Welcommittee. I sent them a SASE and got back all kinds of material, including a newsletter with many pages of tiny-font listings of available fanzines.

I ordered a few, devoured them when they arrived, and ordered a bunch more. I quickly decided I could do exactly the same thing. I wrote to people, and asked for advice on the practicalities and methods of printing, but I don’t recall ever being ‘taken under someone’s wing’. In just a few months time I was off and running, writing stories, getting published, and publishing my own zines.

When I first started meeting other fanfic writers and zine publisher I must admit it was an odd feeling, being the youngest person there. (There were plenty of Star Trek fans my age and younger, but for a few years I was the youngest person in the ‘zine world’, at least the part of it - K&S and then K/S - that I was familiar with. I’ve recently met a gen Trek fan on the net who has been in fandom nearly as long as I have, but we have almost no common reference points. We moved in different circles, read different zines, and wrote different types of stories. As I said, gen Trek fandom was *huge*.)

When Starsky/Hutch slash came into the picture things became much more secretive and exclusive. Certain persons turned in S/H material to TPTB, and there were negative consequences. That’s when slash truly went underground and I’m sure that’s when the mentoring process began and came into its own. And that, along with George Lucas’ edicts, was also the beginning of the fannish paranoia of being ‘outed’. (Individual people, of course, have always had specific individual reasons for privacy.)

But I never was mentored, and I never have mentored, so that’s a part of fannish history I can’t write knowledgeably about.

My memories of that perspective - when everything was so shiny new - are still with me. Because of this, I think it’s very cool that there are so many younger people in fandom now. I worried, for quite some time, that fandom would age along with us, and that this particular subculture, so important to my life, would wither and fade away. Clearly not!

A few general observations:

- There never was a ‘golden age’ when everyone lived in peace and harmony. Flame wars happened all the way back then; they just generally took more time because they were carried out in monthly print letterzines. But the constant use of the telephone (oh! those long distance bills! I don’t miss them at all) made sure anything of special interest got passed along at the speed of sound.

- There have always been certain people who confidently predict their brand of fandom is the only right one, and that anyone who prefers another approach to fandom is a dinosaur. My first experience with this was in 1977, when Star Wars came out, and certain SW fans called Star Trek fans hopelessly old-fashioned and stuck in the past. They were Absolutely! Positive! that we would all see the light and Trek fandom would disappear within a few months. Well - no. And it’s been my experience people who have this attitude usually don’t stick around very long, because they get slammed by the next fannish change to come along and can’t adapt.

- Bad behavior is bad behavior, and it never falls along easily divided “younger vs. older” or “net vs. zine” fans.

- The same is true for good behavior. Fannish generosity is legendary. And I’ve always found far more to the good than the bad in fandom, in its every incarnation.

- Most differences between fans are either personality clashes or misunderstandings about a particular portion of fannish culture. Now, it can be difficult to surmount certain cultural differences (I could write another whole essay on this subject alone), but it’s well worth the try. Good communication goes a long way. As for the former… Well, “people is people”, and some of us just cannot get along.

Things change. And change again. Fandom evolves. But the basics are still this:

For those of us who *can* get along, there is such joy and sheer fun in our shared passion for these wonderful fictional universes. There’s so much creativity and imagination; so much passion and involvement. Why should the medium or the age of the participants matter?

Now, since I’m notorious for going off-topic, I’ll do just that. But I guess it’s not all that much off topic.

First, re ‘generation gaps’. At my last job I had two female co-workers. One, in her 20s, was very much an ‘old soul’. The other, in her 50s, had the emotional maturity of a toddler. Chronological age means nothing.

Second, awhile back I was over at Citywalk (a wonderfully OTT shopping area next to Universal Studios amusement park in Los Angeles) with my (younger) brother. There was a family directly in front of us, mom, dad, and two boys who were probably between 8 – 12 years old.

I noticed something about the boys and said to my brother (I chose these words deliberately), “Do you know what it is about kids these days?”

He sighed and said, “Oh, no, here it comes.”

I patiently repeated, “Do you know what it is about kids these days?”

He rolled his eyes and didn’t respond, so I repeated it a third time.

He gave in. “What is it about kids these days?”

“They have the best toys!” I indicated the boys, who were both carrying those huge Super Soaker water guns. “Wouldn’t you have loved to have one of those water guns when you were a kid?”

He cracked up, and admitted yes, he would have loved one of those water guns when he was a kid.

And so would I.

And ya know… There’s no reason we couldn’t have those toys now, if we really, truly wanted them.

Comments

Wow, neat post!

I love it when people actually talk about stuff on LJ. So much seems to be "I'm swapping this yarn" or "Here's a fanfic" or something. So your post was great to read. (I'm probably saying this largely because I love your attitude and agree with you on a lot of things, but still.)

The older male characters that are rarely slashed include Cowley, Edward James Olmos’ character from Battlestar Galactica, and Dumbledore.

Certainly Dumbledore isn't the commonest to be slashed in his fandom but the nature of the HP fandom is to slash everyone, het everyone, pair everyone crazy until the grindylows come home. I've seen Dumbledore in pairings simply because everyone is in a pairing at one point or another. HP is weird like that.

In the Potterverse, I did have a brief flirtation with Sirius/Remus slash, which I think definitely qualifies as older character slash

Ha, in HP I guess it would be, but they're only in their thirties. Even Snape is only in his thirties. Alan Rickman is SO the wrong age to play him (although, who really cares, seeing as how hot he is and how good of a job he does? LOL.) After all, they all went to school with Harry's parents.

I mean, yeah, they're older than the kids are, certainly. So that counts for something. But when you say 'older' it made me think of all those third five-year mission spirkfics I write. I guess it's all in the perspective.

I don’t know if there’s much Dumbledore slash out there, or which pairing. Snape?

From what I've seen, yeah. But I don't know how much there is. I know Mycroft (the K/S'er) was into that pairing for a bit. And somehow related it to Sherlock Holmes slash, too...

Then there are older male pairings who are commonly slashed. These include Kirk/Spock from the later movie years, Jed/Leo from The West Wing and Denny Crane/Alan Shore from Boston Legal. In each of these instances, there is an obvious pairing from the show.

I think the "obviousness" factor has a HUGE deal to do with it when pairings that are not what is traditionally considered "hot" become the most popular pairing. Alan/Brad has more "hotness points" on BL than Alan/Denny, because of Brad's chiseled looks and the "i hate you so much i want you" factor, but it's bloody obvious how much Alan wants to Massachusetts-gay-marry Denny and that just trumps hotness hands down. At least in my book :-D (of course, in my book, Brad/Alan isn't even remotely interesting...) And maybe it's not just me, because every time there's a Denny/Alanish episode, the slash list gets 8 new members.

Re: Wow, neat post!

And maybe it's not just me, because every time there's a Denny/Alanish episode, the slash list gets 8 new members.

LOL! Though I don't know how much it is true, because IMO is D/A episode every episode where Alan and Denny speak to each other. Just enough is to watch their way how they look at each other!:-)
More, because LJ limited me.

Once people began discussing these examples, it was clear to me that there’s plenty of slash involving older characters; this indicates to me that ageism in fandom, in this regard, isn’t all that much of an issue.

Nice to know :-)

I pointed out that many K/S writers have specific preferences in their writing. Many writers only deal with them during the TOS years; other writers focus more on the movie years.

That's one of the many things that make K/S so important to so many--the variety. We've got thirty years of spirk from which to draw our favorite scenes--more, even, if we write engelfick and academy stories. There's something there for everyone.

Certain older fans (I am not including myself among this number) assume that younger fans: don't respect fannish culture

Sometimes, there are people like shatfat who give that impression simply because they don't understand why there should be only *one* fannish culture. Fandom isn't a monolith by any means in most ways, so it won't work the same way for everyone.

give older characters ‘younger’ issues.

I was accused of that a few months into my posting online by someone who doesn't even believe in or write or read K/S. This was particularly hilarious because the average age of the men in my stories is at least a decade older than the averages of everyone else's Kirk and Spock, seems like.

Certain younger fans assume older fans are tech-impaired, are paranoid about slash being outed, and are way too nostalgic for the ‘way things used to be’.

I haven't run into that with the younger people I run with, but what I have seen is people assuming that all the older fans are straight and that queer gals only got into fandom within the past ten years. It's easy to make that assumption when the outside world is constantly describing slash fandom as "straight women writing gay male fiction." I think the contribution of bisexual women is very important to slash. It gives us a way to play with male sexuality without leaving the 'queer sphere'.
>>> I pointed out that many K/S writers have specific preferences in their writing. Many writers only deal with them during the TOS years; other writers focus more on the movie years.
---That's one of the many things that make K/S so important to so many--the variety. We've got thirty years of spirk from which to draw our favorite scenes--more, even, if we write engelfick and academy stories. There's something there for everyone.

We are so fortunate in this! We have decades worth of canon to play with, and – miracles! – TPTB didn’t screw it up. There’s nothing anywhere in canon to contradict K/S; no significant others in the movies; no indications, after STTMP and up to ST6, that they have spent significant amounts of time apart. There’s an intimacy between them that is present from “Where No Man Has Gone Before” all the way through “Star Trek 6”, and in the later movie years there’s an ease between them that speaks of a long term relationship that has weathered much and survived, strong and whole.

Certain older fans (I am not including myself among this number) assume that younger fans: don't respect fannish culture

>>>Fandom isn't a monolith by any means in most ways, so it won't work the same way for everyone.

Funny you should use that word “monolith”; I’ve used that same word to describe my feelings about the diversities in fandom in conversations that date back over 20 years. This is a subject I’ve returned to, again and again over the years, precisely because there have been so many changes in fandom. And each change has generated similar sorts of issues.

>>>give older characters ‘younger’ issues.
---I was accused of that a few months into my posting online by someone who doesn't even believe in or write or read K/S.

I have a real ‘pet peeve’ with people who comment/criticize about things they haven’t actually read... That person sounds like a real time-waster.

----This was particularly hilarious because the average age of the men in my stories is at least a decade older than the averages of everyone else's Kirk and Spock, seems like.

You definitely write them at a later stage in their lives than most people do. I’ve read a number of good K/S stories set during STV and after, but offhand I can’t think of anyone else who has consistently written them during the time periods you generally choose as settings for your stories. I like your perspective. It’s fresh and interesting getting glimpses of these men during this stage of their lives.

>>>Certain younger fans assume older fans are tech-impaired, are paranoid about slash being outed, and are way too nostalgic for the ‘way things used to be’.
---I haven't run into that with the younger people I run with, but what I have seen is people assuming that all the older fans are straight and that queer gals only got into fandom within the past ten years. It's easy to make that assumption when the outside world is constantly describing slash fandom as "straight women writing gay male fiction."

Part of this is laziness on the part of the pro writers (mainly newspaper) who have written about slash over the years.

I’m going to start with what will at first sound like an odd example.

In the 1970s, I remember reading a ‘TV trivia’ column.

The question was, “I heard the actress Kate Jackson played the role of Daphne Harridge on the TV show “Dark Shadows”.”

The reply was, “No, actually, the actress Daphne Harridge played the role of Kate Jackson on “Dark Shadows”.”

The reply was incorrect. Kate Jackson did play the part of Daphne Harridge – not the other way around.

(See item # 58 in this listing on Kate Jackson:)
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000462/

This answer is too long for LJ, so I'll continue it in another answer.


A side issue was, a fan can be a newbie at 50 or conversely very experienced in fandom at 25.

I'll be 25 in October. I don't really know how much I have to invest in K/S before I'll count as "experienced"--with knitting, they usually list things like cables, intarsia, etc. But I certainly feel experienced, even though it's only been four years. (Four years last week, actually. Wow.)

I have been boring people to death over the last couple of years by going on about how I’ve been in fandom for 30 years.

I'm not bored!!! I like hearing stuff like this.

They never have the whole picture. No one does. No one can.

Exactly--fandom is not a monolith. I think that's part of what alienated shatfat--the fact that most of the K/S fans weren't the kind of people xe was used to hanging out with in other circumstances.

My experience of ‘the way things had been’ pre-dated her experience of the ‘way things had been’. My point in all of this is to indicate how quickly and completely things can change, and how often our ideas on ‘what fandom is all about’ are solidified by what we encounter during our first experiences in fandom.

That was really interesting.

When I first started meeting other fanfic writers and zine publisher I must admit it was an odd feeling, being the youngest person there.

Ha--so that's why you know exactly how to make me feel so welcome--you've been there!! ^_^ Your efforts are much appreciated.

I worried, for quite some time, that fandom would age along with us, and that this particular subculture, so important to my life, would wither and fade away. Clearly not!

shatfat and I will help carry the torch, or something, if people let us. Fans are going to be different--there will still be people for a few more decades who watched the original run of TOS and then got into K/S years later, but there are already a lot of new fans who got into K/S because of slash in general, or because they grew up watching the movies on tv, or something. That in itself is a different experience. If your introduction to Kirk and Spock is the movies rather than the TV show, it colors the perspective a little.

There never was a ‘golden age’ when everyone lived in peace and harmony. Flame wars happened all the way back then

Oh, I kind of assumed it was WORSE back then! Because that was when K&S and K/S tried to eat each other for breakfast--whereas now they kind of coexist in a kind of strange "Oh, look, Gamin posted forty posts in an hour" harmony, lol.

Most differences between fans are either personality clashes or misunderstandings about a particular portion of fannish culture.

Yeah--for a long time, Gamin and Hy were in a snit because Hy thought Gamin was homophobic. Gamin may have some unusual ideas, but when I actually took the time to talk to her, I realized her whole gen obsession doesn't come from homophobia at all. And Hy realizes this now, the time of Big Angst having passed.

I love the story about the super soaker. I love being grownup so I can eat popscicles whenever I want and fried chicken and, y'know, have sex and stuff. I say, you grow up when you can finally do the things you always wanted to do as a kid, but you grow old when you don't want to anymore. Hee.

>>>A side issue was, a fan can be a newbie at 50 or conversely very experienced in fandom at 25.
>>>I'll be 25 in October. I don't really know how much I have to invest in K/S before I'll count as "experienced"--with knitting, they usually list things like cables, intarsia, etc. But I certainly feel experienced, even though it's only been four years. (Four years last week, actually. Wow.)

Four years counts for a lot, as far as I’m concerned. (And congrats on the four year anniversary!)

In the greater San Francisco area, back in the early 80s, we used to have ‘floating’ K/S parties. Several different people would host these parties. Noel and I both had places large enough to accomodate a lot of people, and because of that these particular parties were more like mini-conventions, as we would start on Friday night and go through Sunday. Some people, particularly those coming from far away, would stay the weekend. Some others would just drop in for an afternoon/evening or day, but not stay over.

A lot of people had learned about the existence of K/S through a local SF radio show. A guest on one of their talk shows mentioned K/S, and from that one mention lots of women found fandom.

I can think of a couple of examples where two women, who had heard that radio broadcast, found K/S fandom by going to local comic book conventions. One of them, “A”, just happened to be standing in line behind a guy who regularly attended these parties. (While he was at those parties he quite liked to pose the Kirk and Spock dolls in compromising positions.) They started talking Trek, and then she brought up the subject of fan fiction. He was familiar with it, and after a bit more conversation she mentioned hearing about K/S on that radio broadcast. So he told her all about the local fans, the parties, the zines, etc.

We invited her to the next party; she stayed the entire weekend; she borrowed (and returned) stacks of fanzines, started writing, and went from being a ‘newbie’ to ‘experienced’ in about six months time.

>>>When I first started meeting other fanfic writers and zine publisher I must admit it was an odd feeling, being the youngest person there.
>>>Ha--so that's why you know exactly how to make me feel so welcome--you've been there!! ^_^ Your efforts are much appreciated.

Thanks! When I first met you, I immediately recognized a lot of myself in you. (It’s very easy for me to ‘go back in time’ and remember who I was and what I felt in my 20s, 30s, etc. It doesn’t feel like memory so much as experience, like some kind of SF ‘jump’ into my younger self. I have clear, distinct memories going back to the age of 2, and I can remember who I was then, as well.)

So when I met you I clearly remembered what it felt like to get into fandom in my 20s, and how it felt to be younger than anyone else. I “recognized” you, if that makes any sense at all. I’m glad I made you feel welcome!

>>>I worried, for quite some time, that fandom would age along with us, and that this particular subculture, so important to my life, would wither and fade away. Clearly not!

http://shatfat.livejournal.com/profilehttp://shatfat.livejournal.com/profileshatfat and I will help carry the torch, or something, if people let us.

Very cool! You’re doing a great job with T’hy’la.com. It pleases me so much to think of this fandom continuing to go for many many years to come.

Thank you so much for sharing this. Random thoughts while reading:

Dumbledore/Snape makes totally sense to me since the last book and is the only HP pairing I really like :)

Farf mentioned Holmes/Watson, which is also an "old pairing" and I'm surprised nobody mentioned it in the panel.

My problems with "old" K/S and esp. BL is purely visual - I don't think Shatner aged well, and I can barely watch him in BL. In fanfic, it doesn't matter, but in pictures and everything...I vastly prefer young Shatner :) (While I prefer old De over young De - someone once said she just can't imagine a young McCoy, he seems to be born old *G*)

There have always been certain people who confidently predict their brand of fandom is the only right one - one of my major problems with the K/Sers I met at first. Some of them had quite an religious take on the pairing, too, looking down on any other TOS pairing. Some would be happy to have just those two men on an island forever, so they wouldn't have to deal with *shudders* OTHER characters. Thankfulls, I learned that not all K/Sers are like that. But it's still a bit of my weak point people can step on to hurt further :/

I liked the discussion at the zinelist. So many ways to do it, so divergent backgrounds. I'm frustrated I don't get mine started yet, but rl is just more important at the moment. But time doesn't run away, does it...?

P.S. I love it when you share stories like this. Says this trekkie (since 1976?, online fandom since 2002) :))))
>>>Dumbledore/Snape makes totally sense to me since the last book and is the only HP pairing I really like :)

Yes, after the last book I can absolutely see this pairing.

>>>Farf mentioned Holmes/Watson, which is also an "old pairing" and I'm surprised nobody mentioned it in the panel.

Very good point! I don’t remember anyone mentioning it in the panel, which is surprising, now that you mention it.

>>>My problems with "old" K/S and esp. BL is purely visual - I don't think Shatner aged well, and I can barely watch him in BL. In fanfic, it doesn't matter, but in pictures and everything...I vastly prefer young Shatner :) (While I prefer old De over young De - someone once said she just can't imagine a young McCoy, he seems to be born old *G*)

I thought about this and agree, it’s hard to imagine a young McCoy. I wonder why that is? Whoever said it seems as if he were born old had it right.

>>>There have always been certain people who confidently predict their brand of fandom is the only right one - one of my major problems with the K/Sers I met at first. Some of them had quite an religious take on the pairing, too, looking down on any other TOS pairing. Some would be happy to have just those two men on an island forever, so they wouldn't have to deal with *shudders* OTHER characters. Thankfulls, I learned that not all K/Sers are like that. But it's still a bit of my weak point people can step on to hurt further :/

I think the important thing to remember is that though tastes can be very different, there are lots of people who like the same things you do.

I’m following a discussion on a list in another fandom right now about a related subject: people who only want their OTP, whether it’s K/S, or Bodie/Doyle, or Napoleon/Illya, etc., but who also only want a certain psychological tone to stories, too (i.e., happy endings, no rapefic, etc.) Or, conversely, people who only want angsty dark stories.

Lots of people have very specific tastes – they only want to read one thing, and that’s it. That’s certainly what labeling stories is all about. It’s been interesting reading the pro/con comments on this. (The conversation is specifically about, do writers write for their audiences, or for themselves, or some combo of the two? And people are also discussing labelling.)

Myself, as I’ve said many times – I like variety. I like the Star Trek universe; I like reading about most of the characters, and I’m always interested in seeing where a good writer can go with ideas and plots that perhaps I might assume won’t appeal to me. I just wish I had more time to read more fic! Because I’m multi-fannish, and that means lots more fic to choose from.

My feeling has always been, there's plenty of room in fandom for everyone of every taste. What I don't understand is when people get threatened because someone is writing a pairing or a tone they don't like. It's very easy not to read something you don't want to read. (As long as it's properly labelled, of course.) I don't have enough time to read all the fic I *do* want to read; I can't imagine having the time to read stuff I don't care to read.

>>>I liked the discussion at the zinelist. So many ways to do it, so divergent backgrounds. I'm frustrated I don't get mine started yet, but rl is just more important at the moment. But time doesn't run away, does it...?

It sure does! I hope you can get your zine started soon, because it sounds great! I know I’ll want to read it.

Very interesting!

Your post is very enlightening and offering many points of view I haven't considered yet. There are some of my comments.

1) I don't like the word "fen" because in my language it is plural form of female dogs, bitches. Therefore it too ridiculous and adding totally new and unwanted meanings to many sentences:P

2) Slashing old characters: I'm really only into one pairing: K/S (the other pairings like Donfield/Vladeck or Denny/Alan I consider - though I admit it might sound strange in this second case - as a natural derivates of K/S and therefore still acceptable). And in K/S there is so large time interval where to put one's own K/S story, that the older guys are not discriminated. My first K/S story was from the era 2 years after ST V. My second one from the postTMP era, and only then I've written some stories from TOS era, as parts of one project. Of course, I can't beat dreamplumin the age average of "my" K/S, but still... at least in K/S fandom the age of our heroes is not an issue. I bet it's parly also because they're still sexy no matter the age:P I can see nothing sexy about Dumbledore.

3) New/young and old fans: What I like about K/S fandom is, that it's still alive and prospering, young and new fans are still coming in. It may be the oldest slash fandom, the "founder" of slash, but it's not going to die any sooner as died others younger slash fandoms. The fandom may transform into other form, as younger fans come in and older fans die or leave to other fandoms, but it needn't to be something bad. In fact, I think the change of the fandom is necessary for its survival, no matter how much the "old" fans don't like it.
Also dreamplum is right about what makes the newbie change into the "old", experienced fan. When you're 24, and grew up only on TOS reprises or TOS movies in TV and you're in fandom only a few years (4 in dreamplum's case and 2 in mine), no matter how many stories you write or how active you're in discussions, for those who are in fandom from the beginning you're still a newbie. How hard must a newbie try and write to be accepted by those "dinosauruses" as an experienced, "old" fan and therefore to be truly respected in fandom? I think it's relative. For me, Dreamplum is definitely an experienced fan. But for others, those older ones? We, the younger fans, can't change our age and our experiences. The first zine I've ever heard of was e-zine Side by Side and I've got only 4, relatively new, printed zines (shame on me! bad, bad newbie! don't have the classic K/S zines from 70's and 80's!). The first Trek that I saw on TV in language I understood was TMP and then ST II-IV. Then it was TNG, DS9 and VOY, restof film and only much later it was TOS, because TOS was premiered here in 2002. For most of my trekkie friends the first ST is TNG.(again, bad, bad newbie, because I wans't there at the beginning of the fandom and didn't see the first airing of TOS and therefore I can't *really* udnerstand what it was all about!) And still I managed to show them and make them like the K/S, though the TOS is terribly outdated for them (special effects? What special effects?!). Does all that make of them K/S fans of a lesser quality? Because they don't want/can't buy printed zines and "their" K/S fandom is almost online only? Because they didn't see the original airing of TOS? One can't stop the time. I admit that the early era of K/S has its own magic, but I find wonderful that I can be in almost immediate touch with people on the other half of the globe, without snail-mails and expensive international phone calls.

(Why aren’t they slashed? In “The Professionals”, Bodie/Doyle is the obvious pairing – two men, partnered together, working closely at all times. Cowley is the boss, and has much less contact with them than they do with each other. Some people do write Cowley/Bodie fic; certain other fans find that a squick.)

Boy, do they ever. :-) There aren't a lot of C/B stories but I'm not sure ageism has a lot to do with it (after all, it hasn't stop the wellspring of S/Mc.) I think it's more that Bodie and Doyle are so obviously together. And, for myself, the real equality of the two, neither is the boss, as in K/S (and even NS/IK to a certain degree,) I find extremely enticing.

Once people began discussing these examples, it was clear to me that there’s plenty of slash involving older characters; this indicates to me that ageism in fandom, in this regard, isn’t all that much of an issue.

I think how attractive you find the character might have more to do with it than their age, though, that said, I can't think of one instance where I'm attracted to a slash pair where one or both is old. I can read an odd Ducky/Albert but that's really an extension of Illya/Napoleon in my mind.

There have always been certain people who confidently predict their brand of fandom is the only right one, and that anyone who prefers another approach to fandom is a dinosaur. My first experience with this was in 1977, when Star Wars came out, and certain SW fans called Star Trek fans hopelessly old-fashioned and stuck in the past. They were Absolutely! Positive! that we would all see the light and Trek fandom would disappear within a few months. Well - no. And it’s been my experience people who have this attitude usually don’t stick around very long, because they get slammed by the next fannish change to come along and can’t adapt.

Actually, it's probably a pretty good way to doom a fandom, not allowing change.


I never seem to remember any details when I attend any sort of lecture or “spoken word” event until I either talk about it with someone who was there, or else write it down. The process of writing seems to ‘solidify’ the experience for me and then I can talk about it.

This is so incredibly me! I am completely the same way.

Re: “Older” male characters – I think there are two parts to that. You can mean older as in chronological age, or you can mean older as opposed to a much younger partner. The first is influenced by how old the fan is – i.e., to someone in their 20s a 50 year old character may seem old. OTOH, you can have one half a of pairing who is 15-20 years older than the other half, and consider that person “old/older” just by virtue of the age difference. Harry/Snape, Garak/Bashir and Horatio/Pellew are all examples of this. None of the older halves of these pairs are older than their early-mid 40’s in their earliest incarnations as these characters.

The older male characters that are rarely slashed include Cowley, Edward James Olmos’ character from Battlestar Galactica, and Dumbledore. Why aren’t they slashed?

I think that if you assume the age of the fan and what they perceive as ‘older’ isn’t a factor (which it often is), like most of fandom this just boils down to who turns you on vs. who turns someone else on. In shows/fandoms where there are more than two guys, I have a history of not slashing ‘our hero’ with the person who is, to many, the obvious choice. Usually, it’s because the obvious choice doesn’t do it for me on a hormonal level ;-) and another actor/character does, so I’m interested in the possibilities of that pairing.

The mention of Dumbledore and Gandalf got me to thinking, though. Even though both are fantasy characters and as such supposedly chronological age shouldn’t factor into it, we are stuck with how the characters appear – as very old men, i.e. men in their 70s or even 80s – and I would think that few people would be much attracted to men of that age naked and having sex, other than the novelty factor, somebody dared me to write this, let's see how many people I can squick, etc.

Then there are older male pairings who are commonly slashed.

I don’t know enough about these fandoms to know for certain, but I would assume that most of the writers who are slashing say Jed/Leo and Denny/Alan are older themselves?

Finally, there are those fandoms with lots of slash which pair older and younger men, such as House/Wilson

I find it kind of amusing that people think of House/Wilson as older/younger man, as there is exactly 10 years difference in their ages. But yeh, I know that House is designed to look older, and RSL has always looked younger than his actual years.

People discussed their personal preferences - some only wanting to read younger pairings, some older, and some liking age-difference in pairings.

You know my preference – bwahahaha!

Any statement about what fandom “is” and “the way it used to be” is from one person’s perspective. Mine, obviously, included.

Definitely. But that perspective often includes and/or is at least in part formed by ‘the way it used to be’ stories from the fannish peer group they hang out with as well, going back probably a couple of ‘fannish generations’ (5 year periods?) to include the peer groups 'grandma'/mentor experiences.

Another example. A lot of people bring up the subject of mentoring, of older fans taking younger fans ‘under their wing’ to ‘show them the ropes’ as it were. This is always presented as if this were SOP in the ‘old days’.

I don’t know if it was SOP, but I did have this, and it certainly enriched my intro into fannish life. But my mentoring took place in person. I understand there is now mentoring which occurs online/on the phone, i.e. long distance mentoring, but I wouldn’t know how to compare that to in person.

Re: Toys
I buy myself ‘toys’ all the time, childish, fannish and otherwise. I’ve always felt that was one mark of a fannish personality – we can still take a ‘childish’ delight in amusing ourselves, and no matter our age, other fen (g) will understand.
>Then there are older male pairings who are commonly slashed.

I don’t know enough about these fandoms to know for certain, but I would assume that most of the writers who are slashing say Jed/Leo and Denny/Alan are older themselves?


"Older" is relative. Farfalla does D/A and she's 24. Is she older or younger fan/writer? Compared to average age of K/S writers, she's young, maybe too young. Compared to the average age of some HP writers I know about (that is cca 16yrs), she's definitely old, and already half senile:)). (No offence intended, I just remembered my high school mates and their opinions:D)

Lovely comments

I got into TOS as a local fan with no real fandom back in 1966. I hadn't encountered fandom as a whole. But I fell instantly in love with Spock.
I wrote my poem that started my slash writing--and instant obsession--Requiem--(and btw, Farf, that is the correct spelling. I looked it up. I had been right--but my fibro fog makes it hard to remember sometimes so I took your word for it)--in 1967, late in the year. My brother got into fandom as a whole earlier than I did. It took me a bit over a decade, I believe. Went to some local Star Trek cons in 1977 or 1978.

As for toys, I never stop playing with them. When my Mum was still alive one Christmas the father of my kidlets got me the Darth Vader doll I wanted (for over my door, to guard it, so to speak) and Mum said, "When are you going to grow up?" I told her, "NEVER!".

Unfortunately, though, there are things I don't want anymore. I don't necessarily want dessert. That bums me. I can't run and skip anymore. Well, maybe after I get back in shape. Other than my present one.

But toys? Mine are still being acquired.

And I hope I'll die with one or two of 'em clutched in my hot little claws.

Re: Lovely comments

I'm confused--
and btw, Farf, that is the correct spelling. I looked it up. I had been right--but my fibro fog makes it hard to remember sometimes so I took your word for it

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SBS-ezine/message/2938 <---the only part I'd changed from what you submitted was the subject line, which was the part spelled "em". So I was right. :-p

...and then you told Kira that she was free to correct it on the site but apparently it never was:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/SBS-ezine/message/2997
...which is totally understandable considering the rough times she's been having.
Aww okay. Mea culpa, and was my misunderstanding of what you said then.

*pours ashes over head*

Won't be the first time, nor the last, that I mixed up what was said with what was meant.

Love ya,

Starshadow
I am not really sure how I arrived here..by click after click after click I suppose :)

But I am SO very glad I did. Thank you for this entry, and for your memories/present as a fan. I have been in fandom ten years or so. I splashed along on my own in my very first fandom, and I have been sort of mentored in in my second fandom, and I was lucky enough to get to know fen (I still use it, but I see it used less and less) who've been, like you, in fandom since the 70s.
So, yes, experience is varied :) and most forget this.

Thanks again :)

Outstanding post

Thank you for a refreshing perspective.