There are two main pastimes during the lunch break at PPC Headquarters: bitching about whatever the kitchen staff has laughingly billed "food" and swapping war stories.
"You should have seen the piece of shit we dealt with this morning," said Joe Bob. "'Harry Potter Turns To the Lord', written by a fella called Raw-Talent, who ought to change his name to 'No Talent'."
I inwardly groaned. "Do I want to know what the plot of this masterpiece was?"
*Probably not,* said Zaneth. *It is awful. In it, Harry Potter is plagued by nightmares, runs away from Hogwarts, and encounters a man, David, who is apparently a fundamentalist minister and who convinces him that his dreams are due to demonic attacks and that he should turn to Christ and leave Hogwarts. The only good things about the fic are that it was short, and that David, the Marty Sam, was easy to kill.*
"Yeah," said Joe Bob. "Classic case of 'we came, we saw, Zaneth sucked out his brain in 5 seconds'. Good thing it was short, because it did a hell of lot of damage as it was: Harry Potter is being treated by Dr. Freedenberg of the Department of Fictional Psychology as we speak, and Albus Dumbledore is being treated as an outpatient."
It sounded awful, all right. And I must add that one of the bigger mysteries in the PPC is how Zaneth can eat a Marty Sam or Mary Sue's brain without getting food poisoning. The guy must have a cast iron stomach.
"This idjit, 'No Talent', TOTALLY messed up the characters," Joe Bob went on. "First off, any fool who's read the books KNOWS what Harry does when he's in a jam: he either tries to get out of it himself or gets somebody he trusts to help him. He WOULDN'T go to some guy he'd just met for help! He ain't that stupid. Second, he LOVES Hogwarts. Every time vacation time rolls around, they practically have to drag him away. Hogwarts is his refuge; he sure as hell wouldn't leave it if he was feeling threatened. Third, Dumbledore CARES about Harry, and would want to keep him where he can keep an eye on him. He wouldn't encourage him to leave Hogwarts, especially if there was trouble. And on and on."
I shook my head. "God save us from wannabe preachers who think they can write. Only a HANDFUL of people can slip a sermon into a story and make it work. C.S. Lewis was one of them. From the sound of things, this guy wasn't."
*Hardly. The fic also showcased the writer's arrogance. He wrote it expecting to sway people to his religious beliefs. Unfortunately for him, if I ever did suffer a spiritual crisis, I'd go to a Venerator back home, NOT to some adolescent that I've never met. To judge from the number of flames he's received, plenty of people feel the same way.*
"Sounds awful--but at least this David didn't try to get into Harry's pants," said Mariko, who was in the Department of Intelligence like me, but worked the Digimon beat. She was 15, which meant that she was only slightly older than the main characters in Digimon, and had purple eyes and hair. "I once investigated a songfic, whose title and author I have mercifully forgotten. Unfortunately, I remember the plot all too well: the Digimon Emperor rapes Wormmon."
"Oh, charming!" I exclaimed. "How does he manage THAT? I mean, HOW can a human rape a worm?!"
"Well, the Digimon Emperor--who is NOT a wizard, by the way--somehow transforms Wormmon into a human boy and then rapes him," answered Mariko.
*That makes perfect sense,* said Zaneth sarcastically.
"We see that sort of thing WAY too often," said Mariko. "It's really gross--especially when you consider that the show itself is aimed at little kids. And practically ALL kiddie anime shows have pornographic fics, even Pokemon. Genji told me about a fic in which Misty had sex with Pikachu."
"Now that's disgusting," said Joe Bob. "Why the hell would somebody want to screw an electric mouse? And what's to stop Pikachu from electrocuting somebody who did that to him? I tell you, there ought to be a LAW against writing that kind of crap."
Slash is one of the more problematic genres of fanfiction. It is simply defined as the "depiction of sexual relations between two characters of the same sex." The definition of Bad Slash is just as simple: "the depiction of improbable or poorly written sexual unions between characters of the same sex." In some cases, the Bad Slash writer depicts a liaison between characters of different species that would be physiologically impossible. Fics depicting sex between humans and Pokemon would fall into this category, for example, as the physical differences between humans and most Pokemon would make mating impossible.
The vast majority of Bad Slash involves canonical characters acting grossly out of character. Jay recently dealt with one that depicted Aragorn--one of the nobler human characters in Lord of the Rings--as a rapist. In Tolkien's world, coercion of ANY sort is associated solely with the evil characters. Only the bad guys keep slaves, for example. Since rape is coercive sex, it would also be exclusively the province of the villains, NOT the heroes. Fics that mutilate the characters this severely, even if they're short, cause a LOT of damage, necessitating the intervention of the Medical Department and/or the Department of Fictional Psychology as well as the Department of Bad Slash. Another of Dr. Freedenberg's patients, for instance, is a Ringwraith who fell madly in love (or at least lust) with Frodo Baggins. No, I'm not kidding--I just wish I were. Freedenberg, fortunately, has a VERY high tolerance for the Black Shadow. Even so, he's really been going through the kingsfoil.
Oh, delightful. The summary alone tells me that this fic is bad news: "If you like Boromir, DO NOT READ!!! boromir-rape-legolas fic. eventual Aragorn/Legolas slash. Inspired by A. J. Matthews 'Falling tears. R/R and Dont Sue." Grammar errors in the summary inspire SO much confidence in a writer's abilities.... And while I appreciate the warning concerning Boromir, I've got a job to do. Unfortunately.
Feh. The first chapter isn't a proper chapter at all, just the author's attempt at defending his/her/its monstrosity. It's the usual line: they know Boromir's out-of-character, but they need him to be so in order to advance their so-called plot. Not only that, but the writer apparently can't decide if Boromir is under the control of the Ring or not--which is probably NOT a minor plot point. Not that it matters, since the Ring has NEVER been canonically depicted as altering people's sexual mores.
Hmmm, well, the next chapter says this story takes place after the events in Moria--which means the Fellowship is probably near Lorien. That, of course, begs the question: why haven't Galadriel, Celeborn, or any of the other denizens of that realm stepped in to stop these shenanigans? Rape is something the good guys don't approve of, and it would be something they could easily stop.
The writer hasn't wasted any time here in this fic. S/he starts the story off by having Boromir attack and chase Legolas. The writer does know that elves are partly arboreal, and thus has Legolas take to the trees to escape Boromir. But s/he spoils it by depicting Boromir as being somehow able to keep pace with Legolas, whether they're on the ground or in the trees. I DON'T BLOODY THINK SO! Elves are MUCH more agile and quick than humans. In a properly written chase, Legolas would have left Boromir in the dust. And then Legolas falls out of a tree, and dislocates his shoulder in the process. Yeah, right. Refer back to what I'd just said about Elvish agility: Legolas wouldn't fall out of a tree just because some idiot human was chasing him.
Boromir is one of those unfortunate characters who has an image problem: people depict him as an evil brute, over and over, just because he succumbed to the Ring's lure. What they don't understand is that he isn't evil, so much as DESPERATE. Boromir is one of his country's military leaders. He is the eldest son of the Steward of Gondor, and has thus been raised with a strong sense of duty and responsibility to his people. Unfortunately, Gondor is next door to Mordor, which is Sauron's realm.
Now, put yourself in Boromir's place: you are one of the heads of your country's military. You have a powerful enemy next door--and said enemy appears to be building up their military forces. As you are not a fool or a neophyte, you know this means that your country faces the very real possibility of invasion by the enemy. And then along comes this childlike little man carrying a supposedly all-powerful Ring...
What would you probably do?
Several other characters have image problems as well. These include Thranduil ("Leggy's" mean and abusive father), Gimli (the dumb and quarrelsome dwarf), Pippin (the stupid and immature hobbit), Merry (ditto), and Legolas himself (the beautiful, but weak-kneed and helpless Elf).
Of course, most of these image problems stem from either a writer's misunderstanding of a character or the writer's desire to appear more "sophisticated" or "mature" than they really are. Either way, it's annoying as all hell. And it's hard on the characters, too. Boromir and Thranduil practically LIVE in the offices of the Department of Fictional Psychology these days. (It's also annoying when drivel likes this gets good reviews. Have people NO taste?)
Oh, well, time to get in there and see how awful this thing REALLY gets. A Ranger seems like the most likely type of person to be traveling alone so I pick that for my disguise and step through into the Generic Forest somewhere between Moria and Lorien.
"'Damn!' cursed Aragorn as soon as Legolas closed his eyes. 'He is unconscious'"
Not only do we have less-than-great grammar here, but we have still more proof that the writer thinks Legolas is a helpless wimp. And not only does s/he mangle the characters, s/he also distorts their relationships with each other. This becomes obvious when Boromir returns to camp and taunts the injured Legolas.
"Boromir spoke once more. 'I always thought that elves were supposed to be. what was it? Nimble creatures fast and fleet.' only Legolas got the hidden meaning behind his words. He was taunting him now.
"Despite himself, Legolas spoke, his teeth clenched against sharper words that threatened to be spoken. 'I do not think anyone actually cares what you have to say. If you weren't so blinded by yourself, Boromir, you may actually notice that none actually like you, instead, some have to tolerate you.'"
Again, the writing style seems awkward, possibly because the writer is laboring to mimic Tolkien's archaic style. In any case, their portrayal of Boromir is astoundingly wrong-headed. (If Acacia is ever assigned to the Department of Bad Slash, the writer of this monstrosity had better hope and pray that she is NEVER assigned to his/her works...) He is NOT evil, and he is NOT hated and despised by the other members of the Fellowship. In general, the Fellowship members get along with each other. They sometimes quarrel, true, but they always maintain a certain level of courtesy and friendliness.
Sheesh, that's ONE way to avoid answering unpleasant questions... Aragorn begins quizzing Legolas about exactly what had happened, and Legolas does his best to duck the subject. Oh, and both are skinny-dipping at the time--and thinking about how hot the other guy looks.
"Legolas raised his eyes and just stared at the man, he looked. appealing.
"He tried to shake that thought from his head. After what had nearly happened today, these thoughts were the last thing he should be thinking.
"But reason left his mind as the setting sun highlighted Aragorn's muscled skin.
"Without even knowing what was happening or what he was doing, Legolas found himself pressing his lips softly against Aragorn's."
They briefly make out, suddenly stop and apologize to each other. Aragorn asks Legolas about his fall AGAIN, and Legolas refuses to answer AGAIN. And Boromir has apparently been watching them the whole time and is now jealous of Aragorn, because Legolas prefers him. So we now have a slashy triangle of sorts developing. (I hesitate to say "love triangle" when one of the three is a rapist.)
Then Boromir attacks Legolas, overpowers him and rapes him. Aragorn finds the weeping and beaten Elf and tries to reassure him. So, we now have a hurt/comfort job in this thing, too. And Legolas STILL won't tell Aragorn who attacked him. The most he will say is that a man did it. Aragorn has apparently left his brains in Rivendell as he has seemingly forgotten that Boromir is a man, and should therefore be Suspect Number One. Yet, the dimwit offers to take Legolas back to camp where Gimli and Boromir are. Not surprisingly, Legolas is less than enthusiastic about this.
Back at the camp, Aragorn wants Legolas to take some herbs that will help him sleep. Apparently, he--and the writer--have forgotten that Elves DON'T REALLY SLEEP. They take their rest through some kind of meditation. Then, when the group decides to go down the river, Aragorn assigns Legolas to share a boat with Boromir. Legolas refuses and insists on sharing a boat with Gimli instead. Aragorn agrees to this--but doesn't bother to ask himself why Legolas has suddenly developed an aversion to Boromir's presence. HELLO! Try adding two and two, why don't you? But the writer has apparently decided that Aragorn is a slow-witted moron.
So, in this fic, we have Legolas the Helpless and Pretty Victim, Boromir the Vile Rapist, and Aragorn the Dimwit. Need I mention that I had to turn the character Analysis Device WAY down, as it sounded practically every time one of those three said or did anything? And we JUST barely have the hobbits and Gimli, who are only given the occasional snippet of dialogue when the writer remembers that they're in the Fellowship, too. Fortunately, my favorite Fellowship member, Gandalf, is safely DEAD, and thus spared the indignities of being ignored or mutilated in this thing. (There's something to be said for having badfic writers dismiss you as a boring old fart.) And, so far, there is NO mention of Aragorn's betrothed, Arwen or her father, Elrond, both of whom would probably have MAJOR objections to Aragorn's affair with Legolas.
And the fic itself is shaping up to be an endless round of hurt/comfort and "Who is Attacking Legolas?" when it's pretty damned obvious who. There are only TWO men in the Fellowship, after all!
I've seen enough--and I think I could use a drink....
PPC Intelligence Report
Description: A slash fic in which Boromir rapes Legolas, who then turns to Aragorn for comfort. The fic concentrates on the two Men and the Elf, while largely ignoring everybody else. A major plot point involves Aragorn repeatedly asking Legolas who attacked him, and Legolas just as repeatedly refusing to tell.
Plot Holes: Character Ruptures
1) "Legolas sheathed his blades, turned and hurried away. He didn't risk staying near the man, least he be provoked. He shivered slightly, the cheek of that man, how could he have even brought himself to voice such. thoughts?"
First of all, it's "lest", not "least." Second, "cheek" is a synonym for "insolence", and suggests something far milder and less vicious than verbal sexual harassment.
There should not be a period between "such" and "thoughts". This is a fairly common mistake in the fic, indicating that the writer does not have a competent beta reader.
2) "'I know you lie. Elves do not just 'fall' from trees. Nor are they completely breathless when they do so. Something, or someone, must have scared or chased you, no? And why are you at odds with Boromir? Was it him who scared you?'
"Legolas pushed him off.
"'You are to nosy, Aragorn. Tis none of your business why I do not like that man. And you have been told about what happened. Good night to you!'"
It should be, "Was it HE who scared you?" It should also be "too nosy", not "to nosy". And if Elves don't fall from trees, how can Aragorn say "WHEN they do so?" Saying "IF they do so" makes far more sense.
There is an apostrophe in "'Tis".
"Nosy" sounds somewhat too modern and informal for most Middle-earth characters. Possibly the hobbits might use that expression, but Elves wouldn't.
Most of all, variations of this exchange are repeated over and over and over. Aragorn wants to know what's going on, and Legolas won't tell him. I concede it's true that most assault victims don't want to talk about their attack, but we don't need to spend 10 or 11 chapters on the matter. It just gives the fic a repetitive feel.
Additional Comments: Call the Department of Bad Slash and the Department of Fictional Psychology to work with Boromir, Aragorn, and Legolas. Put Gimli and the hobbits under observation. Have the Medical Department treat Legolas' injuries. After treatment, send everybody to Lorien posthaste. Require the writer to attend OFUM or MUSM for at least one year.