I love the whole idea of a con, of spending a couple days with people who read and write slash and like to talk about it. I particularly loved the panel discussions at Escapade and am looking forward to them at con.txt. Since suggestions for panels opened, I have been proposing some and reading excitedly what others have been suggesting. I was thrilled to see that someone had put in a suggestion for an X-Men panel:
X-Men: Where's the Slash?
By the time con.txt happens there will be three X-Men movies as well as two cartoon series and a gazillion different (and sometimes contradictory) comic books. Which version of X-Men has the best slash potential? Why are some characters and pairings slashed more in comicsverse and some in movieverse? How to explain the relative dearth of Ultimates slash? What about mixing and matching between different forms of canon? Come to this panel to share and hear opinions on where to find slashy subtext and slash fic for X-Men and related Marvel characters.
I read that and thought "Wow! That sounds like something I'd just love to attend." Imagine my embarrassment when I realized I had suggested it :-).
Other panels I've suggested are behind the cut:
Complicated and Conflicting Canon: Harry Potter, X-Men and Star Wars
What do you do when your fandom includes several versions of the same story, and they don't agree? When "canon" includes books, movies based on books, comic books, tv cartoon series, books based on movies, movies based on comic books and/or books based on movies based on comic books, what do you do? What is canon and what isn't? What if the different canon sources don't agree? Is there a distinction between primary and secondary canon? Are the contradictions so great that you find you are writing AU before you even start? This panel will explore the issues surrounding contradictory canon and the diverse approaches that three different fandoms have taken to addressing those issues.
25 years of AIDS and 30 Years of Slash
The 25th anniversary of the first CDC report of what later came to be called AIDS is upon us. Many slashers weren't even born when HIV first came on the horizon. In real life it has changed so much about how we live and how we think about sex and illness. How has it affected slash? What are you seeing in your own fandoms? What are you writing? Are characters concerned about HIV? Do they take action to avoid infection? Do they not practice safer sex but worry about it? Have you written or read any stories that deal with AIDS directly? Indirectly? Does this vary by fandoms? Some fandoms are set in a time or place where concern about HIV would not be expected. Is there more awareness of it in the more here-and-now fandoms than others?
Lesbians Writing Slash
Ever since Henry Jenkins's Textual Poachers came out, the stereotype of the slasher is the bored housewife with a naughty secret. In reality, we're a very varied group. A lot of us aren't housewives and most of us aren't bored. Slash isn't even a secret for some of us. And, surprising many people (even ourselves) a bunch of us are lesbians. Why would a lesbian want to write and read about m/m desire, love and sex? Does it turn us on? Do we write it because we like turning other women on? Does it give us enough distance from our own sex lives that we feel freer writing about explicit sex (and don't worry that our lovers will think we're stealing our sex lives for cheap fiction)? Does stepping outside of what's expected for our gender sexually make us more open to writing from a gender non-conformist POV? Is it as simple as all the characters we're interested in are men? How are our voices different from those of our straight slashing sisters?
Slash and the Presumption of Heterosexuality
Where does slash come from? No, not from the stork, but from the presumption of heterosexuality. It's reaction to real or imagined subtext in canon that depicts all characters as heterosexual, or in canon that doesn't talk about sexuality but exists in an environment where all characters are presumed to be heterosexual. How does that presumption - in readers/viewers, in canon producers, and in the society itself - affect us as fanfic writers? What do we need to do to make our characters credibly homoerotically active and still credibly themselves? And what happens as that presumption breaks down, both in society at large and in mainstream entertainment media? Does that make media more slashy or less? Is the slashy edge gone when characters are openly gay? Is it even slash anymore?
Beyond Mary Sue: Writing Credible Original Characters
When Dorothy Sayers fell in love with Peter Wimsey and wrote herself into her novels so she could marry him, her fiction went downhill fast. Ever since then, Mary Sues have been problematic. In fanfic, self-insertion has happened so often and been done so badly, that the Mary Sue phenomenon has given all original characters a bad name. A lot of readers are immediately turned off by the idea of a non-canonical character and a lot of writers are scared to write them. Yet sometimes... an author needs something to happen and there's no canonical character available that works. Sometimes an author wants to expand on the character set to introduce new elements, new complexity, new relationships to the story. Sometimes an author just needs an original character and plunges ahead, braving the potential cries of "Mary Sue!" When do you write OCs and how do you use them? How are they introduced? What, if anything, do you do to avoid Mary Sueism? How do you ensure that your OC is credible as a character and credible within your fandom? What are your OC taboos? Would you ever have an OC have sex with a canonical character? Fall in love with one? Would you ever make an OC the center of the story? Do you worry about losing readership over OCs? How have your readers responded to your OCs?
I hope at least one or two of them will make it to the panels list.