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Me myself and I - Why Sterek is Spander with the serial numbers filed off, and that is not a good thing
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Why Sterek is Spander with the serial numbers filed off, and that is not a good thing

Something I posted on Tumblr, figured I'd repost it here as well.



I think I just realized this morning why Sterek never even managed to come close to catching me in its grip. I mean, I read SPN RPF, I’ve been shipping various slash ships for the past twenty years. And most of them involve white people. And a lot of the tropes you find in Sterek are found in other slash ships as well.

It’s not like I haven’t ever read ships  that have no actual appeal to me while watching the show. Hell I’ve read Gibbs/Tony fic in NCIS, and I definitely don’t ship those two. And I’ll read Renard/Burkhardt in Grimm fandom, even though Renard only partly interests me. I’ve read the occasional Snarry, Wincest or Drarry fics, even though I don’t ship any of those…

So what beside the lack of subtext is it that keeps me from reading Sterek.

It’s Spander.

I’ve always compared Stiles to Willow (from BTVS), because like Willow, Stiles is the favorite character of the show runner, like Willow he keeps getting given storylines at the expense of other, better characters played by better actors.

But when it comes to fanfic, Stiles is far far more like Xander. Hell, half the Sterek fanfics I’ve read so far could be Spander fanfics with a few words changed…

I’m not saying that Sterek writers are Spander fans, hell most of them are probably too young to remember Spander. But they use the exact same tropes, they write the characters the exact same way.

Like Sterek, most Xander-centric Spander fics were horribly ooc.

Xander who was a brave but entitled sidekick who looked up to his best friend who was the actual hero, got turned into the protagonist who’s the actual hero and saves the day. Or he was made the victim, abused and/or ignored by all his (canon)friends, falls in the hands of morally grey older character (aka Spike), who’s powerful, rich, in control (which is where Spike was generally written ooc) There woudl be banter, Xander would be written as Spike’s ‘consort’, which was pretty much the equivalent of ‘mate’, …

Spike, said older character, was often given power, wealth, … in a way that just wasn’t in character for Spike on the actual show. Spike’s actual canon attitude got ignored, Spander writers kept going on about Spike being a ‘master vampire’, the same way Sterek shippers feel the need to cling to Derek’s status as an Alpha. Even though the whole ‘master vampire’ thing was purely fanon informed. In fact, looking at the way Spike was written, the writers were more inclined to write Spike as Angelus, than the way Spike actually behaved even at his most evil.

Often in these fics you had Spike living in a mansion along with several lesser vampires, just like Derek has his ‘Pack’, with the actual canon characters (including Scott) treated as no more than minor lackies to Derek to show Derek’s importance.

See, the thing is, I used to read Spander, but the more I read of that ship, the more I realized that the Spike and Xander in those fics had little or nothing to do with the actual Spike and Xander I loved on the show. And much as it wasn’t my fave ship, (I always preferred Spike with Angel and/or Buffy), I still loved Spike enough to read him with almost anyone. And yet fic after fic turned my fave character, Spike, into someone who just wasn’t recognizable as the character I loved from the show.

It wasn’t just the Buffy and Willow bashing, often found in those fics, though those tended to get me to click back as soon as it started, most of all, it was that though the two chars starring in the fic, held Spike and Xander’s names, they actually had little or nothing in common with their canon personalities, behavior and so on.

I'm not saying Spander in and of itself is a bad ship. There are some awesome Spander fics that do keep both Spike and Xander in character, that bring in the other characters and the boys interactions with them. Spander has chemistry, subtext, history... the problem is that the people I'm talking about didn't care about any of that. To them, all that mattered was using Xander and Spike as respectively, self insert and wish fullfillment.

Maybe I just spotted the tropes quicker, because I never cared about Stiles, the way I still did about Xander. Even at the few times when the character annoyed the hell out of me, I still cared about him. With Stiles, there’s no such emotional connection, so when I noticed Stiles stans turning him into a Gary Stue, I couldn’t look past it. Because fanon Stiles has the exact same character traits that fanon Xander did, the same ones you can find in fanon Richie Rylan in a lot of Richie/Methos fics back in Highlander fandom. The same ones often given to Chloe Sullivan in Smallville stories.

Character traits that instantly mark said character as the writer stand in. These characters no longer are their canon selves. They’re canon stues, they’re an insidious way for fanfic writers to get readers to accept their Mary Sues, by disguising them as a canon character who serves as the ‘regular guy/gal’

Every fandom has them, and over and over again, these characters are taken by fanfic writers, gutted of their canon personality and turned into perfect paragons who cant do no wrong, are ignored or sidelines by their canon friends, get into a relationship with the hottest/coolest/most interesting character in the fandom and then show off as being so much better than the canon protagonist.

(not that actual protagonists are safe from this process, I’m a Dean girl, but I’ve read plenty of Dean-centric fics that fall into the same trap. It’s just not as noticeable when done to the protagonist, because canon already supports that they are the hero of the story)

It’s a tiresome trope, a destructive one, because it removes the complexity of both the canon’s storyline and canon characters.

It’s why I stopped reading Spander, it’s why I outgrew Richie/Methos fics, it’s why I never got into Loki/anyone-pairings.

Because when I read fanfic, I want to read about the characters actually on the show, I can read au, but if the characters aren’t there, then why should I bother. I lost most of my interest in Spander years ago, and I’ll be damned before I start reading a lesser version of it, just with the serial numbers filed off.

Comments
poisontaster From: poisontaster Date: October 30th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I was never really IN Buffy fandom; it's one of those fandoms that I'd periodically dip my toes into, reading wise, but I didn't even get into fandom until well after Buffy (and, I think Angel, too) were off the air. And I LOATHED Spander. Just loathed it. That's not a dis to the people who, like you, enjoyed it, but for all the reasons that you talk about here and with all the self-righteousness of a person newly born into fandom, I LOATHED it.

Now that I'm older and more jaded, in the case of Sterek, I just find it really frustrating because I do want stories about the characters from the show and if you actually LIKE the show and then go looking for fanfic that relates back to the show and what you like about the show...you almost just CANNOT GET THAT from fandom. I've read some stories, Sterek and otherwise, that I've really enjoyed...but as stories, and not because they were TEEN WOLF stories. They could have been stories about any two characters (within reason; the lycanthropy becomes a defining feature that limits "any") and there wasn't anything about them that gave me that feeling like I'm reading an expansion or embroidery on the show. And that...it's really frustrating. SO FRUSTRATING.

So yes, I agree with this wholeheartedly.
red_satin_doll From: red_satin_doll Date: October 31st, 2013 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
WORD to all of this - in regards to fanfic of any ship, in any fandom. (I don't "ship" Spander although I'm interested in their canon relationship, and the fact that I think there's a good deal more mutual respect than either one is willing to admit. They remind me of brothers who snark and argue but when push comes to shove, they'll team up for the good of their "family".)

Fidelity to canon characterization is one of my primary requirements in what I consider "good" fanfic, and one of the things that will have me hitting the back button fastest. Also - Buffy and Willow bashing as you say (Buffy's my girl, y'all, so don't even GO THERE with me.)

As I don't read Spander fic as a rule I've not seen the characterizations you describe but I've seen it in some fics in other pairing where the characters are completely unrecognizable in all but name; in which case I wonder why the author doesn't call a spade a spade, i.e. "original fic". I assume they are wanting the ready-made audience that comes with a fandom?
eilowyn From: eilowyn Date: November 7th, 2013 09:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was a really interesting read, even though I'm not a slash fan, but the similarity in dynamics is something key you point out (also, that dig at Willow being preferred over better characters - totally true, though it never occurred to me.

I don't think I'm as strict about only liking canon characters in fic, and there are a few characters where I really only like them in fanon (Sookie Stackhouse comes to mind. In canon I want to smack her upside the head for being a moron, but in fanon I find she's a lot more self-aware and able to think clearly - but I still mourn for the fact that she'll never be Buffy).

Every fandom has them, and over and over again, these characters are taken by fanfic writers, gutted of their canon personality and turned into perfect paragons who cant do no wrong, are ignored or sidelines by their canon friends, get into a relationship with the hottest/coolest/most interesting character in the fandom and then show off as being so much better than the canon protagonist.

Yeah, this.

mangacat201 From: mangacat201 Date: December 1st, 2013 12:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never actually been in Buffy-fandom, because at the time I loved Buffy to bits, fanfiction and stuff was pretty much manga-centric still, then sweeping over into Harry Potter before Supernatural came along and turned me into an actual involved *crazy eyes* FAN. So this was an interesting read, because the thing that actually made me put Teen Wolf on more than the 'watch on air day'-list was the Sterek dynamic - not even necessarily all the way to the down and dirty slash - and I loved Stiles from the start, because to me Scott might be the protagonist, but Stiles is definitely the narrator of the story. In terms of Sterek fic, I kind of hit the same kind of frustration than you did, though, lacking your experience from Buffy-fandom I attributed it to a whole other set of reasons. To me, Teen Wolf and the corresponding fandom felt a bit like a surprise smash hit turned into a ready-made skyscraper stomped from the ground in way too short a time. So, some experienced fandom writers from other adjacent digs (hello Supernatural fans) switched teams, but also a lot of new crowds discovered fandom as a way to extend the show past of what you have in screen time. And considering there's a lot of MTV audience in it, I think it's save to say a lot of those are young t(w)eens who haven't gotten past their screaming fangirl phase yet and had no chance to temper their writing skills in other fandoms. So a lot of stories are just the baby steps of some very inexperienced writers (and we all were there at some point in our lives, weren't we?) who have not yet discovered that popular clich├ęs churned to butter not a story make. I think the truth is probably somewhere midway. Some people don't care about writer's etiquette and just go for that instant gratification kinda deal, others are not mature enough yet to have discovered such sophistication, thus, the gems are frustratingly hard to find. Pardon me if that did not make any sense at all, I'm just spilling thoughts.
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About this journal
I know what it's like to appear to almost be part of the group and yet, NOT be part of the group.

I know what it is to want something and not to get it.

I know what it is to be knocked down and have to get back up
ON. YOUR. OWN.

I know what it is to feel like your accomplishments aren't valued or perhaps seen by others.

I know what it's like to have a crush on someone and that someone not give a damn about your feelings.

I know what it's like to pretend to be "okay" with something when inside you're hurting but it's better to pretend that you don't care than to show your heart to a friend/lover who would use it against you.

I know what it's like to be lost.

I know what it's like to pretend you're tougher than you are.


Spike I can empathize with. Spike is emotionally accessible to me.

He may be a vampire, but he's more human than any other char on the show.

I am Spike.
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