Ah, May—the month for Star Wars marathons and other masturbate-a-thons. Let’s kick it off with two horror ships, a special report from our secret agents at Supernatural’s NJ Con, a look at an underrated fanwork medium, and a webcomic recommendation. The force is strong with this one.
Fandom News Roundup:
May 3 was Kawoshin day—that is, a day to celebrate the Neon Genesis Evangelion pairing of Kaworu Nagisa and Shinji Ikari. It’s one of the many anime/manga slash pairings that is arguably canon if we conveniently ignore the major character death that gets in the way of the budding teenage romance. We could have had it aaaallll…
Whippany welcomed the cast of Supernatural for its annual New Jersey convention last weekend, and the first traces of disagreement (to be polite) within the fandom surfaced Saturday night. It seems that a panel moderator banned all fan questions regarding Destiel or the sexuality of Jensen Ackles’ character because it makes him, quote, “uncomfortable”. It might have been a wise decision considering the enormous online war on the matter; Creation Entertainment, who organize these conventions, state on their website that all questions asked must “allow our mutual shared time with the celebrities to be […] entertaining for all (including the guest).” The fact remains that it was very poorly worded, especially coming from a convention volunteer who probably didn’t consult Ackles on the subject and inadvertently made him look reluctant to consider that Dean Winchester might not be straight. If it’s any consolation, Misha Collins was asked a Destiel question during his panel and respectfully declined to elaborate on the topic from fear of delving into queerbaiting territory. Tactful and considerate—take notes, everyone.
Star Trek Into Darkness had its London premiere last week, even though us poor fans on the North American continent will only get to enjoy the movie on May 17. I’ve read my fair share of spoilers already (curiosity killed the tribble?) and let’s just say that one of the final scenes in the first Japanese trailer is exactly as we predicted it. I have been and always shall be right. (That was a hint, guys.) I expect the nu!Trek K/S fandom to be alive and well once we’ve all seen it.
Like a beautiful phoenix, the Pinto (Chris Pine/Zachary Quinto) fandom rose from its ashes and…flew straight to Buzzfeed. You say “bromance”, I say “your editor told you to call it that, but we both know you’ve read ’Captain Spanky’ twice”. In all seriousness though, I feel like the Pinto fandom deserves a special award for being one of the few RPS fandoms that can still differentiate reality from fiction and don’t take their ship seriously even when the fans have their tinhats on. Think of Pinto as the yin to Larry Stylinson’s yang.
Pairing of the Week: Peter Rumancek/Roman Godfrey (Hemlock Grove)
Hemlock Grove is a horror-thriller series produced by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever and Hostel writer) that was introduced on April 19 in the form of 13 Netflix-exclusive episodes. The critics were less than enthusiastic; Hemlock Grove seems to have made all the mistakes of monster horror movies (far-fetched mythological justifications, tons of characters we can’t bring ourselves to care about) as well as the common mistakes of thriller television series (drawn-out useless plot arcs and rushed resolutions). It is a bit reminiscent of the second season of American Horror Story in its execution. Still, being a fan of Eli Roth, I marathoned the whole thing over two days. It’s (too) sparingly gory, but there are entertaining plot twists and an adequately terrifying werewolf transformation, so I’m definitely not stamping Hemlock Grove with the “avoid at all costs” label. In fact, I liked it a lot. The cinematography is stunning at times and some lines are just, excuse the horror pun, to die for.
Context: Peter Rumancek (Landon Liboiron) is a gypsy whose terrible timing causes him to arrive in town shortly before a young girl gets brutally murdered by an “animal”. What a shocking coincidence! (Spoiler: It’s not a coincidence.) Unfortunately for him, Peter happens to be a werewolf, and he quickly becomes the prime suspect. Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgård), the heir of the Godfrey estate, average druggie and weirdo with a worrisome blood kink, initially suspects him too until they become investigation buddies and try to find the real culprit together.
Roman alternates between being an adorable big brother and being Tate Langdon levels of despicable, but overall he still appeals to the viewer’s sympathy, either due to the writing or Skarsgård’s portrayal. Everyone is left feeling both confused and uncomfortable, enough to make us think twice about shipping him with anyone. However, it’s nearly impossible to ignore the relationship between Roman and Peter. They’re highly compatible (I’m pretty sure it’s canon that Roman was turned on by Peter’s transformation into a werewolf), they’re codependent (“Tell me, darling, what do you need?” “Peter.”), certain elements of their relationship are so blatantly symbolically romantic that I started expecting at the very least a threesome at some point, etc. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re both attractive.
You know you’ve read too many Wincest fanfics if it takes you
a good minute to realize that Roman is talking about Peter’s
werewolf transformation and not, uh, something else.
The next logical step might be to read the original material, Brian McGreevy’s novel. In the meantime, I’m letting this simmer a bit: the series was just released, after all. AO3 only had nine fanfics about Peter/Roman at the beginning of the week, and now there’s at least twenty-nine. The second novel in this expected trilogy should be out soon, but the future of Hemlock Grove as a television series is uncertain.
The horror genre doesn’t typically hand us slash pairings (or queer characters who survive, for that matter) on a silver platter, so there’s something refreshing about all the ambiguity in Hemlock Grove. Despite not quite venturing beyond subtext territory and still showing the mandatory amount of topless women, it’s not done in a “ha ha, look at how heterosexual I am” way and remains purposely open for interpretation. At least, it’s what I’ve gathered from the few excerpts I’ve read from the book.
Accidentally Shipping: Will Graham/Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal)
This week’s pairing is kind of a guilty ship. I’d go as far as to say that it’s a “reluctantly admitting I like it” ship, and that’s coming from someone for whom shipping shame is a foreign concept. You see, I usually draw the line at cannibals. For me, Hannibal Lecter has always been Anthony Hopkins, the iconic Silence of the Lambs antihero with a taste for long pig. However, switch Hopkins with Mads Mikkelsen, and have the stupidly attractive Hugh Dancy play his Red Dragon colleague Will Graham, and you have one killer pairing. (Oh, more puns.)
Hannibal, the television adaptation of the popular book and film series, is absolutely delightful in every way. It’s beautiful to watch (that might seem like a slightly alarming opinion to have if you haven’t watched an episode yet, but I swear it’s an aesthetical prodigy) and the cast features some very interesting names, like Laurence Fishburne, Gina Torres, and none other than Gillian Anderson. Still, the strength of the show seems to stem from the relationship between Lecter and Graham, although it’s nothing new or even reinvented for fans of the franchise. While Lecter is a complete sociopath (or psychopath, a diagnosis that varies from the books to the films), Graham is pure empathy. Before finding out that Lecter is a serial killer that cooks his victims, Graham is naturally drawn to him as someone he seeks the approval of, whether he realizes it or not.
These puns just write themselves, but the one I’m thinking of right now
might be a little too inappropriate.
It would be interesting to see how this plays out on a romantic level, so I’m curious as to how fanfiction writers portray it. Do they resort to alternate universes to make Hannibal Lecter less of a monster, or on the contrary, does he pull a Armin Meiwes? I’m…a bit scared to find out, actually. Until I get the guts to check, this will remain a purely accidental ship for me.
Fanwork Medium: Virtual Simulations
How much easier would shipping be if you were some sort of omniscient fandom god in control of every single action made by every single character? You could just think up a scenario and have it magically play out right before your eyes. Kind of like a game of Sims! Oh…wait a minute.
The Sims in its first incarnation was released in 2000. Since then, two updated versions have come out, the newest one being The Sims 3 released in 2009. It’s safe to assume everyone knows the point of the game: You create a town, fill it with characters with varying levels of autonomy, and you watch them live their life, interfering whenever and however you please. The expansions for The Sims 3 add to the fun with features such as exotic travel destinations (World Adventures), nightclubs (Late Night), domestic and wild animals (Pets), occult creatures (Supernatural) and universities (University Life).
For us slash enthusiasts, what does it mean? It means I can create a young Tony Stark with traits such as “Genius” and “Irresistible”. Before making him pick the Science career, I can enroll him in college where he’ll study, say, Communications and develop his Charisma skill. He’ll meet Loki Laufeyson, the vampire who owns the Java Hut, and they’ll go on date at the local dive bar. Then one day Loki will die because I’ll remove the pool ladder. Bonus: The game offers you the option to record a video of the whole thing.
If it looks like Stiles is scratching Derek’s belly,
it’s because that’s exactly what’s happening.
Who would waste time doing all that? Apparently, a lot of people. Websites such as The Sims Resource have thousands upon thousands of custom items, objects and lots available for download, all created by fans. But that’s not all! The NRAAS Industries take “playing God” to a whole new level with their Story Progression mods, with which you can make your wildest (and weirdest) slash dreams come true—yeah, even mpreg. The most surprising fan-made addition, however, is probably a mod that allows the player to remove default game censorship and replace the strategically located pixels by anatomically correct crotch models. The website that offers this little extra also has a variety of pre-made obscene poses for your characters. Nothing shocks me anymore.
Ego trip and filthy virtual fantasies aside, what can you get from reenacting slash on a PC game? Well, us artistically challenged members of the slash fandom get a chance to provide fanart and fanvids with minimal effort, since all the work has already been done for us. It’s also pretty therapeutic after a particularly angsty episode of Supernatural, since the Sims universe might be the only place you’ll ever see Dean and Castiel slow dance.
Webcomic: The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal
Let’s venture outside of the realm of fanart this week and look at some really great original work by E.K. Weaver: a gay webcomic called The Less Than Epic Adventure of TJ and Amal. Where other gay comics fail to deliver more than eyecandy and easy sexual jokes, TJ & Amal is refreshing with its honesty and realism. It’s a “road comic” with a kickass soundtrack, relatable protagonists and a good vibe. It’s the story of Amal, who calls off his arranged marriage by coming out to his family. They disown him, and he copes by getting drunk. Very drunk. Drunk enough to wake up with a stranger (TJ) in his kitchen and not remember how or why he got there. They end up on a road trip from Berkeley to Providence, and on the way…oh, don’t act like you don’t know.
Are you feeling nostalgic about the old AfterElton layout? Our Shipping News Tumblr is apparently stuck in a time vortex. How long until we can call the layout “vintage”? Anyway, leave us your questions, comments, suggestions and opinions either there or here in the article comments.
To conclude this week’s column with a third and final duo in the horror boyfriends club, here is a gif of my first slash pairing from a horror franchise: Adam Stanheight (Leigh Whannell) and Dr. Lawrence Gordon (Cary Elwes) from the original Saw movie.