But first - will somebody please explain "Dead Like Me" to me? I know the characters are dead, and they have some sort of "job" to do, but - what is it? To: help people die? make people die? collect their souls? guide them to the afterlife? what? And why are they "living"? You know, holding down jobs, eating, etc.? And why them?
I've caught parts of episodes, and like some of the humor, but am put off by not knowing the "rules" they live by.
Okay, onto the article about slash, which was posted by one of the WoN folks on the Whether or No mailing list (note: there are some typos):
When Frodo Met Sam
[Illustration: Frodo/Sam from The Theban Band]
It's the ultimate fantasy; your fictional heroes getting down and
dirty in a steamy gay clinch. Milly Chen takes a peek at slash
"It was the end of a long journey, and at last they were alone.
Their weary hearts had been forged in fires nobody else could ever
feel or understand and there was only one thing left for them to
share. The silence was like a living creature, soft and silky, as
they leant together, desperate not to misread each other's eyes.
Their mouths met, hungry yet unsure, and they stood frozen in the
fiery release. At last, Frodo broke away and took the other's
hand, `Come to bed, Sam,' he said."
Blimey. Frodo and Sam? In bed together? Who could write such a
thing? Well, thousands of people, actually. Stories of fictional
men (or hobbits) getting down and dirty with each other –
called "slash fiction", after the slash that separates the names of
the protagonists, as in Frodo/Sam, or the original pairing,
Kirk/Spock – are one of the biggest crazes on the internet.
Type "slash" into your search engine and you will find purple-prose
tales of Legolas enjoying knee-trembling homoerotic clinches with
Aragorn, Clark Kent getting jiggy with Lex Luthor, and Starsky
engaged in a bit of sexual detective work with Hutch.
Slash is an offshoot of the Internet craze for fan fiction, amateur
stories based on characters from film and television. There are
literally millions of them out there, and at least half end up with
the male protagonists jumping into bed together.
When I blundered onto a slash website recently (a mistake any late
twentysomething fan of blond elves could have made), I naturally
assumed they were written by some lunatic-fringe cult of gay nerds –
not that I'm prejudiced, of course. So it came as a shock when my
friend Callie, a scary American princess with flicky hair who can
quote every line of ER and Dawson's Creek, told me that almost all
fan fiction, slash included, is written by bright young heterosexual
women. Slash lets them write about relationships without having to
deal with traditional sexual power struggles.
I stopped being shocked as soon as I had spent two seconds thinking
about it. After all, everyone knows that men re obsessed with
lesbians, and magazines from GQ to Playboy celebrate a man's-eye
view of the joys of sapphism – a world of lesbians who are eager to
experiment with blokes. Women have traditionally kept their
fantasies quieter, but why shouldn't we have a little thing about
Men, for all their good qualities, are visual creatures. The
kinky "lesbians" they ogle are all pouting breasts and panting
hair. Women want a different kind of fantasy. Female-targeted soft-
porn magazines such as Sweet Action, which offers graphic shots of
naked men in various states of arousal, fail to push the right
buttons. What sells is a more internalised brand of eroticism, one
explored by Catherine Millet's The Sexual Life of Catherine M and
the slew of best-selling erotic memoirs that have followed. I'm not
saying that the thought of a naked, oily Legolas (for example)
doesn't make me want to pop out to the nearest elf shop, but what
really gets women turned on it what is going on between the pointy
This is one reason that slash has met with resistance in gay
circles. Kirby Crow, a prolific slash writer, told me she is
frequently accused of not understanding gay issues or what men get
up to in bed. "Get over yourselves," says Crow. "Gay men do not
turn me on." It's not as if gay porn is hard to find. Heterosexual
woman enjoy slash primarily for "the intimacy between the male
Callie, who studied modern cultural intimidation at Harvard,
matronisingly told me that men are frightened by slash because women
use it to take control of men's bodies for their own fun, just as
men have been taking control of women's bodies for centuries.
I made my main sole mate, Matt, read some slash. To start with, he
was fascinated. "This is written by women?" he asked. "Kinky. I
like it. Do you know any of them?" Then Matt got bored. I asked
if he found it erotic and he looked at me as if I were crazy. "I
mean, it's funny," he said, "But it's rubbish really – all these
tortured, unspoken desires and strong men crying. It's just like
Mills & Boon, with Batman and Robin instead of Lord Vulcan and
Persephone. You don't find it sexy, surely?"
Leaving aside how well Matt seems to know Mills & Boon, I do find it
sexy, actually. A lot of it is rubbish, and a lot of it is more
graphic than I am comfortable with, but a surprising amount is well
written, well observed, funny and genuinely erotic. Matt doesn't
find it sexy for exactly the same reason that I am not turned on by
airbrushed bimbos on the front of FHM; it isn't aimed at him.
Now mainstream Internet sites are getting in on the act. Libby
Eyres, the editor of Bint, an online magazine for professional women
who gets joked about Jane Austen, but also want to know what's
happening on Big Brother, likes the "secret naughtiness" of reading
stories online. She told me that Bint's comic and lurid sex tales
are an antidote to traditional male porn: "It's not sexy for women
to see pics of buffed-up male models. Reading sex is much sexier."
While men gaze passively at dirty pictures produced by a few mega-
pornographers, women are busy creating a vibrant interactive culture
that doesn't depend on anyone being exploited.
I got so excited by all this that I wrote a story of my own. I'm
not telling you how to find it (my mother is reading this), but
suffice to say that I have always thought Chandler could do better
then that annoying Monica, and Joey is obviously repressed. When I
saw my story online, I felt a small but genuine thrill of
liberation. Maybe Kirk/Spock really was the final frontier.
The Sunday Times Style magazine July 18 2004