December 04, 2005

Slash, or so–called BL

Was about to pour down my melancholy memories, once again, here. But it seems there are far too much to be done before I sink down to my mood swings. So let me catch up with the new catch phrase first.

Since I started my MSc (weird title for a Media Studies masters study), Iíve been feeling in a crisis of being media illiterate so much so that it can be cultural illiterate in a sense. First of all, although supposed to be a future media pundit (or something of its kind), Iím exposed to the traditional means of media (newspaper and TV) only maybe less than twice a week. Being too sceptical of what the media says, and the tricks it plays, Iím isolated with the mainstream culture as a whole. Meanwhile I still use internet. However, it makes the situation worse that even though I have some source of information I canít even catch up the new trends of alternative media forms and topics. Slash fiction, for example, has been a stream of subculture developing mainly with means of internet communities for a while. It has developed into a big thing with young Chinese women recently. Not until the queer spectatorship lecture few weeks before I had gotten to know its existence.

Itís true Iíve been wondering whatís going on with the girls these days (yeh, feels like an old woman alreadyÖ. sigh). I can still remember one day, a few years ago back in my teenhood, I bumped into an internet chatroom called Lucifer . I was talking something extremely normal and silly in the beginning like a/s/l stuffs. But somehow I got kicked out. After changing my nick for several times, I found out that it was a base for a group of girls who liked guys who love guys (yes, in another word gays). They were quite hostile to people from the Ďoutside worldí. Like many other subculture groups, they feared moral judgement from the conventional world, and meanwhile took pride in it.

Such unwelcomed encounter was forgotten quite easily after a while, as usual. Till recently was I reminded of this particular occasion, when I found out a lot of my close friends share similar affection to fictional gay lovers. The girl I shared a flat with in the summer is a great fan of Queer as Folks link . She is in a very critical age for a Chinese girl, that is 25. About 25 there are several sayings. Once I was told that a woman starts to have the real good orgasms only from 25 on. On another occasion, I was told that a woman should start to take good care of her skin from 25 on, otherwise the skin ages very fast without proper protection. Most often, women (Chinese) in their 25 start to feel the social pressure about their marital status. In the age of 25, you are supposed to have a good and steady beginning of your career, one at least two year relationship (a.k.a. a promising one Ė maybe thatís how the theory of orgasm comes into being as well), and other things that can get you a good prospectus for your 30s (thatís when you start to get old). Ms. Wu, my summer flatmate, was in this very stage of a womanís 25. Sheís very resistant to the notion of marriage. She randomly dated some guys, but only in the sense of going out for tea, and thatís it. Her theory was that, she liked men. But heterosexual men are no good, at least, not perfect. Nonetheless, guys in QAF are perfect. Even the new Chinese pop idol tomboy girl Li Yuchun link is perfect because of her blurred sexuality. Wu somehow felt less threatened/questioned by such figures than the heterosexual men she dates who continuously reminded her of the singlehood anxiety. Ms. Foxy was another crazy fan of Li Yuchun. Sheís in her 26, not less critical than 25 for a single woman. She has had several intense relationships, a good career as well. Besides Li Yuchun, she is also crazy for feminine male pop stars (Japanese), such as the Kinki Kids. link Everytime there is a new beautiful boys' group, she went crazy. lol

These ones are not yet Slash/BL fans. The latter are more likely to be found in my age group. I think Ms. Cool (this is the name I give to her, because she never spoke to us, and thus being very cool) must be one of those. Her coolness is very subtle, like the pink polish on her nail. BL seems one of the coolest thing to do with this generation (not including me I align myself to the older generation lol). I believe Ms Cool belongs to a very secret subculture group that they exclude anybody as ignorant as I am, and they dress subtly but enough for them to distinguish the members from the normal people.

Anyway, in order to gain a bit of coolness, I began to google for things about slash/bl, humbly. Thanks for Wikipedia link , I got to know that Slash fiction can be dated back to 1975 mainly concerning with the fan created fictions about the main characters in the TV/Comic etc they like. Star Trek link might be the most written one. There is even a stream of Slash fiction called K/S(Kirk/Spock) fiction. However, the notion of Slash fiction is slightly different from what we call a BL(boyís love) fiction in the oriental world. The BL tradition can be dated back to 1978 with the release of the comic magazine June link , which concerned not merely about characters in the already existed film/TV/Comic characters, but more original characters. As noted in Wikipediaís entry as well, both Slash and BL fictions/comics are not exclusively erotic. June Comics, for example, depicted very innocent relationships with love only revealed by dialogues and sequences but explicit love scenes. The funny thing is, in the video clips the lecturer showed us, many heterosexual male friendships in mainstream male-genre films can be perceived in a homosexual way. Forgive me that I canít remember the artistís name. But he re-edited some famous Hollywood films like Ape Planet and Sound of Music (for whoeverís sake!), and with the original scenes re-edited, those homosexual interactions are very explicit. I think what he tried to do is to show the audiences how other gazes could take place in interpreting the films, which his videoclips convinced us very firmly. Slash/BL fictions, on the other hand, are very often seen as female gaze/reinterpretation into the patriarchy culture. Some would say that female readers gain pure pleasures without violent intervention of the heterosexual power struggle in this particular site. I think I will keep my opinion from it till further studies in this field. At least so far as I have read some synopsis and parts of the BL comics, I found the genetic pattern/plot not much different from the conventional Romantic Fictions. The relationship is very often carried out in a dominant-subordinate pattern, although without aligning particular sex to such roles. Even on the premises that female readers do gain pleasures (without being guided to their own roles in real like in conventional sense), this site of pleasure has always been kept murmuring. In the case of Slash fictions, copyright of the original work is always a legal concern, hence more or less limits their publicity. In the case of BL fictions, although better publicised, very often exposed to a very critical position. The general homophobia aura in the society (I assume) keeps the topics out of sight. Moral defendants always want to associate BL fictions with hentai (with certain connotation of perversion) comics or what so-called YAOI (Yama-nashi, ochi-nashi, imi-nashi Ė no climax, no plot, no meaning but sex), which to certain extend is true. Some attack the genre because itís got a huge teen readership. But erotic fictions/porns are always there, isnít it. Not only the Slash/BL erotics are exposed to the teens. Anyhow, the fans of BL Comics are excluded (maybe out of autonomy in order to resist the mainstream powers) to a small site, and very often communicate in implicit/technical languages to distinguish/mask from the others.

Ms Cool is very cool, I want to dig her secrets! (More about Ms Cool: She's my coursemate, she's pretty but never smiles, she speaks good English but seldom speak out, and she smokes. That's all I know about her really.)

(Preview to next blog entry: Blonde Redhead: Music and the alternatives for orgasms.)


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