Editor’s Note: We were blown away by the internet explosion that was the Ultimate Slash Madness Tourney, and it occurred to us that a regular weekly column on the subject of slash might be a great fit for AfterElton. The name for such a column was easy: The Shipping News. The only catch was who to write it? We realized the only way a column would appeal to slash fans was if the person writing it really knew what they were talking about. So we put out an informal request for a “slash expert” and we were inundated with great responses and suggestions. We then asked interested folks to submit a sample column, hoping to narrow it down to a single candidate. Fat chance. Even after reluctantly eliminating a dozen impressive submissions, we we’re still left with five great people we wanted to work with.
The happy solution we came up with was a weekly column penned by a rotating roster of slash experts. By way of introduction, this first column includes contributions from each of our five new writers, but in future weeks Aja, Adri, Catherine, Hannah or Yvonne will individually pen the column and share their unique perspectives.
First up is Shipping News columnist Aja Romano
Aja is a queer feminist and longtime member of a zillion fandoms, including Harry Potter, Asian pop, and Inception. She’s a fandom journalist for the Daily Dot and would love to hear from you! Find her on Twitter or Tumblr and tell her what’s happening in your fandoms!
Hi, AE! I’m happy to kick off The Shipping News. In this column we’ll share a bit of slash fan culture—our history, quirks, and, of course, yes, where to find the good porn. (If you’re into that sort of thing.) We’ll also take a look at what’s happening around slash fandom: what’s trendy, what’s controversial, and what fics, fanworks, and hot new ships are too good to miss.
Newbies may be wondering: what is slash? Basically, it’s fanwork about “ships”—romantic relationships you root for—between two people of the same gender. Normally slash refers to characters from popular fictional stories who aren’t romantically paired up in the story itself. Slash is inherently subversive. It can also be extremely hot, incredibly well written, and lots and lots of fun. While “slash” can refer to male and female genders, often “slash” is assumed as male/male and “femslash” is fem/fem. For this column, slash is assumed to be male/male.
Slash Dictionary: What exactly is RPS anyway?
A popular recent RPS pairing is Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps
RPS is short for “Real Person Slash.” It basically means slash about real people, usually (but not always) celebrities.
RPS is the slash variant of RPF, Real Person Fiction. This may sound paradoxical, but in the past, some fans who wrote about real people relied on the disclaimer that everything they write is fiction to keep from getting sued for slander, a la tabloids. RPF used to be something of a shocking subject for fandom; but times have changed, and now RPF is so common that the Archive of Our Own has thousands of RPF fics, most of them RPS. Hundreds of stories exist in the historical category alone, dating from the 10th century on up. (The 11th century is, tragically, unficced.)
Lest you think it’s weird that people write fic about real people, think back to the last ep you saw of The Tudors or The Kennedys. How many times did the writers give us a glimpse of some behind-the-scenes moment, totally off the historical record? This is just like that… but with more sex.
What are yours?
Slash News Roundup
- Can we just take a moment to appreciate how many celebrities pimped their show’s fave pairings in the AfterElton Ultimate Slash Madness Tourney? In addition to Misha Collins, Colton Haynes and the rest, we had John Barrowman and David Hewlett urging their fanbases to vote. Gone are the days when fans were on one side of canon and creators, producers, and actors were on the other. I think it’s great.
- The popular Teahouse Web Comic is hosting a BOYS LOVE TOUR IN JAPAN. (“Boys Love” refers to BL manga, a staple of Japanese comics focusing on gay male relationships and targeted towards women.) I don’t think I need to tell you guys why this is awesome.
- Fandom bookworm Mark Oshiro, of Mark Reads Twilight and Mark Reads Harry Potter fame, has been doing live readings on his YouTube channel lately. He’s currently reading one of Harry Potter fandom’s most legendary fics, The Shoebox Project. If you’ve never experienced Shoebox, a beautiful Remus/Sirius fanfic, you’re in for a major treat. Check out the eps here!
Mark Oshiro reads from “The Shoebox Project”
- Yuletide, the largest rare fandom challenge on the Internet, is gearing up for its 10th year! Nominations for rare fandoms are open now through Weds 9pm Eastern. (Must sign up for an Archive of Our Own account– to bypass the waiting list check here.) Now’s the chance to nominate that hot pairing you think no one else ships but you! Trust me, with Yuletide, you’re always surprised.
- The Sterek Campaign is gearing up for their second month! This month’s theme is “Howls for Sterek,” where fans record themselves telling Jeff Davis exactly how they feel about Sterek, and why they think their ship should become canon.
- Like any fan, I get testy when an outsider talks cluelessly about fandom, so the recent articles by Jezebel and Wonkette about Hail to the Slash really irked me. For one thing, the blog has nothing to do with political fandom; it’s just a guy, Josh Fruhlinger, who heard about fanfic and thought it would be fun to use it to mock politics. For another thing, neither Fruhlinger nor Jezebel seem to realize or acknowledge that political fanfic, actual political fanfic, not the satirical parodies you always see in media outlets around election time, has existed for years. “AT LAST, THERE IS A WEBSITE FOR YOUR HOMOEROTIC PRESIDENTIAL FAN FICTION,” Fruhlinger declares on Wonkette. It’s called political RPS, a.k.a. politislash, and you can find it at a fan archive near you. “Tell your pervert friends about it,” Fruhlinger encourages. No thanks. My pervert friends and I already have communities where we can write politislash sincerely.