taste_is_sweet: (My OTP has issues)
[personal profile] taste_is_sweet
Over at [livejournal.com profile] ushobwri (and why haven't you joined it yet? They have such cool stuff) today, the topic is pet peeves in fanfiction--as in, the stuff that makes one backspace quicker than a porn pop-up add at the office, or keeps you reading only for the hate.

Now, I'm not saying I actually read or write fanfiction, because I'm trying to be all professional an' shit. But if I did, my pettiest peeve ever would be what I call "Passive-Agressive Utopia Fics".

Passive-Agression, if you, O best-beloveds, are unaware of the term, is basically trying to make other people do all the emotional work for you in a conflict. A perfect example is someone who will brood in hurt silence until you realize you upset them and apologize--only for them to then turn around and berate the fuck out of you for the original transgression. Another perfect example is someone who will mope and sigh for hours, but won't say anything's wrong until you ask. Even worse is when you ask and they say, 'nothing', because if you loved them enough you'd already know.

Guilty yet?
 photo Wormpic.jpg

As you can imagine, and have probably read, this shows up fairly often in fic. It generally follows a particular pattern:

1) The most beloved but flawed (and occasionally badly treated) character (think Rodney McKay of Stargate: Atlantis or Ezra Standish of the 1998 The Magnificent Seven TV series) will experience something in canon that is perceived as cruel and/or unfair by his fans (I'm sure female versions of such characters exist, but I can't remember encountering any).

2) The fans, angry at this character's perceived helplessness and unjust suffering, then write a story either dealing directly with the ep where the unfairness happened, or a story that keeps the same general theme of bad treatment.


---The Beloved Helpless Character will be treated with great cruelty and prejudice by the other characters, often to an uncharacteristic or even absurd extent. Shunning may occur in retaliation for something the BHC did in canon or otherwise, or threats to the BHC's continued acceptance in the group and/or employment. Rarely, their life.
---The BHC will not contest this or stand up for himself in any way. There may be an attempt at protest or apology, but this will be rebuffed by the other characters. The BHC will subsequently just accept his fate.
---The BHC will either ostracize himself from the group, or, already shunned, go off alone and/or cease all but minimal communication or interaction with the other characters. Rodney McKay may take himself to the wretched bowels of Atlantis to do horribly unpleasant menial repairs unworthy of his skills and intelligence. Ezra Standish may leave Four Corners without telling anyone, preferably by riding into a monsoon or blizzard.
--- OR, the BHC will attempt or actually commit suicide, or will be believed to have died by the other characters. The BHC will then get to, in essence, attend his own funeral and witness the other characters' praise of him and their remorse at his ill-treatment. (If the BHC dies, then the reader is their proxy for this.)
---The BHC, due to their misery and the privations of their ostracizing, will become horribly ill and/or injured. It will likely take days to find them, unless they manage to drag themselves back to aid. Either the other characters will have begun a frantic search at this point, or will not even realize the BHC was in peril because he's been shunned to the point of insignificance.
---A character who is the BHC's True Friend and The Only One Who Understands Them (like Rodney McKay's buddy Carson Beckett, who is conveniently a doctor, or Ezra Standish's Mom) will then proceed to berate the fuck out of the other characters for their cruelty, generally while standing at the bedside of the insensate and possibly dying BHC. The True Friend will also, if necessary, explain the BHC's real motivations for their original offending action(s) and basically make the other characters go fetal with guilt. Unless they're already fetal with guilt, in which case the True Friend's job is to make them feel even worse about their treatment.
---The BHC naturally survives and either returns to his previous position within the group or gets some kind of promotion. Occasionally he'll leave for a better offer from people who will appreciate him. Either way, the other characters will fall all over themselves in apology and remorse, which the BHC will righteously milk for all it's worth. Maybe, if he deigns to stay with his former abusers, at the end of the fic he'll begin to forgive them. Maybe.

As you've probably guessed, I call these kinds of fics "Passive-Agressive Utopia" because it's possibly the one place in the universe where the tactic actually works exactly the way its adherents would want it to. Their BHCs are vindicated, glorified and defended, all without them actually having to do anything. They go eat worms because nobody loves them and everybody hates them, and they really do get admired for it; they nearly or actually commit suicide and everyone really is sorry. It's the best of all possible worlds.

And honestly, who wouldn't want that? I still have to remind myself sometimes that my darling husband can't read my mind so if I'm pissed off I need to tell him. It's scary to admit you're angry when you've been raised never to show it. How awesome would it be not to have to?

So I get it, I really do. I just wish it didn't show up so often. And you'd better agree with me, or I'm going to slink off and sit outside in the rain until I get pneumonia. And then you'll be sorry.

Picture is courtesy of antpkr at freedigitalphotos.

(no subject)

19/3/14 18:13 (UTC)
frith_in_thorns: Unfortunately, you'll also all blow up. (Diana 1)
Posted by [personal profile] frith_in_thorns
I read your first three paragraphs and went "lemon chicken". Oh, SGA... XD

(no subject)

19/3/14 18:31 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
LOL. Believe me, I was sorely tempted to link to the Stargate: Atlantis - The Post-Trinity phenomenon at [livejournal.com profile] iibnf's LJ. :D

SGA and M7 were particularly awesome for the P-A U, I think. It always makes me groan and smile.

(no subject)

19/3/14 18:32 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] draycevixen.livejournal.com

I've heard tales of this Utopia before, I just don't think I've ran across it much in my handful of little fandoms.

I think it might be because my fandoms tend to be full of characters who could never pull of passive-aggression as they're too busy being really, really aggressive even if only verbally. *g*

I think perhaps you need a fandom that has less self-aware characters? I've only seen a few episodes of SGA but in those it seemed to me Rodney didn't have much idea of how he affected those around him... what am I saying, like it ever took actual canon to kick off a trope. *g*

(no subject)

20/3/14 02:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com

No, no, I'd agree that canon and tropes never did need much in common...

Rodney isn't very self aware, but he's definitely aggressive! Too aggressive to let people treat him the way they do in the P-AU fics, really. But like you said, when did that ever stop anyone?

I could actually see Spock being all woobified for P-AU fics, actually. All that stoicism hiding his emotional torment...

(no subject)

19/3/14 18:34 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] brumeier.livejournal.com
Passive-aggressive used to be my whole way of life, till I Saw The Light and came to my senses. (And paid a lot for counseling, LOL!)

And yes, I hate that in fic too. I'll read SGA fics of a similar type and be like...no. John would never! Teyla would never!

I mean, sure. Sometimes John could be really mean to Rodney, but never to the extent where Bad Things would happen. I just don't see that as canon.

Your peevey peeve is a good one. I approve.

(no subject)

20/3/14 02:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm very happy you approve!

I still have to fight my passive-aggressive tendencies, so I hear you, believe me. I much prefer being assertive, though--at the very least things are resolved a lot faster.

(no subject)

19/3/14 19:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] debris_k.livejournal.com
Funny coincidence: I've been reading Snarry(ish) HP fics lately and I've seen this trope in *so many ff.net fics omg*. The worst thing is sometimes they are badfics of the not-godawful kind which keep you reading even though you know you could be reading something better just to see all those darn folks being sorry they made poor woobie BHC eat those worms. Luckily or not, they're also endlessly long and once BHC starts gloating over the sorry-goers I usually lose all interest, or even if characters start en mass shaking their head at the darn folks in support of BHC.

Honestly, these HP fics I keep stumbling over (and into, ack) make the Lemon Chicken fics seem like world class literature, but gosh darned they're just as addictive. >.

(no subject)

20/3/14 02:32 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
LOL Oh yes, the guilty pleasure of badfic! I love Rodney so much that I have to admit I also enjoy reading the occasional fic where he gets whumped and then everyone feels OH SO BAD ABOUT IT HOW COULD THEY BE SO CRUEL TO LOVELY SWEET MISUNDERSTOOD RODNEYKINS?

But more often than not everyone is so OOC that I can't get beyond the first few pages.

I'm not surprised that HP has that trope in spades with Snape--he's very much like Rodney, what with being all prickly outside, sweet and gooey inside. Like a marshmallow porcupine!

(no subject)

20/3/14 07:34 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] debris_k.livejournal.com

But in the HP fics that I've been stumbling over it's always mainly Harry (?!) who is the poor abused and misunderstood one; Snape might get some second hand abuse, but nothing compared to The Boy Who Lived to Be a BHC. ;)

(no subject)

29/3/14 03:18 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Harry! Oh, goodness! I never would've thought, considering he's already so abused by his foster family in canon.

Then again, I can see how he'd have BHC all over him, what with the cruel foster family and dead parents and everyone being so mean. ;)

(no subject)

19/3/14 19:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] darkmoore.livejournal.com
OMG; I read that and after the first few sentences I started thinking "Post -trinity" This is all "Post-trinity". I'm not ashamed to say, some of the less offending stories actually worked quite fine for me. (because I really REALLY was pissed off at John's "that may take some time, but I'm sure you can do it if you really wanna" speech.)

Some of them ARE really out there, though. And I totally get what you mean. Sad thing is? Some of that (but not to that extend) may even be inc character.

(no subject)

20/3/14 02:36 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Oh, I'm pretty sure I got just as much enjoyment out of a hell of a lot of the post-Trinity fics as you did, and for the same reasons. It felt like almost every episode after "Trinity" had John treating Rodney like crap, and his hostility felt really incongruous and unfair. Many of the fics felt like fix-its for that reason.

I've read (and, er, possibly written) P-A U fics about Rodney that were pre-Trinity, though. There's just something about his prickly vulnerability that makes it easy to imagine him suffering like that, and then being vindicated.

(no subject)

19/3/14 20:37 (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] sholio
*helpless giggling* This is SO TRUE. :D SGA was probably the worst of it, of the fandoms I've been in! (There are definitely elements of it in White Collar, but you don't tend to get the true, straight-up lemon chicken fics very often ...)

I like the term Passive-Aggressive Utopia for it! I think that's better than any of the other names I've seen floating around for it. (I used to call it You'll All Be Sorry fic around the time I was in SGA, but that's kind of clumsy ...)

(no subject)

20/3/14 02:52 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
I'm chuffed that you like my terminology. ::bows:: I do think that YABS doesn't roll too badly off the tongue, however.

I can so very easily see P-A U fics in WC, what with Neal being a poster boy for the BHC (naturally ignoring his street smarts, natural charm and general acumen). I've also encountered many P-A U fics in The Magnificent Seven fandom as I mentioned, with Ezra Standish basically being the Old West version of Rodney.

SGA really cornered the P-A U after "Trinity", but I actually first encountered these type of fics in Star Trek: Enterprise back in the day. Malcolm Reed, the very stiff-upper-lip British security officer was rife for working himself quietly to death under the incessant demands of the neglectful senior officers (including his boyfriend, naturally). Later, the Chief Engineer (and the character most often shipped with Reed), got his own slew of P-A U fics after he had his own version of a "Trinity" episode, only one where his good intentions did the damage rather than arrogance. Oh, how he was ostracized for his naivete! It was awesome. :D

(no subject)

20/3/14 15:13 (UTC)
danceswithgary: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] danceswithgary
Lemon Chicken! *giggles*

I have my very own folder for those stories when I want to wallow - although I've also categorized more than a few as OOC. *hides head in shame*

(no subject)

29/3/14 03:20 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Oh hey, no shame! Fanfic is all about the love, right? I do love me some Woobie!Rodney fics too, even the occasionally OOC ones. ;)

(no subject)

20/3/14 16:26 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] blythechild.livejournal.com
If feel so virginal all of a sudden... I can't say that I've ever read one of these... o_O And yet you say that this happens a lot?!?


(no subject)

29/3/14 03:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
It's possible that you haven't hit upon the particular list of events I outlined above. But maybe you just have better taste? ::g::

(no subject)

21/3/14 09:12 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mcparrot.livejournal.com
Ianto Jones in Torchwood. This isn't just a trope it's fanfic canon. I didn't realise that until you pointed it out.

I can't say I've noticed it so much in SGA fic though.

Good post. Don't eat worms.

(no subject)

29/3/14 03:23 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
No worms! Promise. :D

Oh, poor, dear Ianto! Yeah, he's probably the biggest BHC that ever graced Cardiff with his woobieness.

You've probably managed to avoid the Post-Trinity phenomenon. Which makes you both lucky and smart. ;)

(no subject)

29/3/14 04:21 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mcparrot.livejournal.com
See when you come into a fandom (really) late you get to pick and choose.

er... what is the Trinity thing you speak of. (just for curiosity's sake)

(no subject)

30/3/14 03:06 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mcparrot.livejournal.com
Wow - okay. Thanks for the link to the explanation, but I think I'll pass on the fic (unless I'm really drunk, in which case I'll probably love it).

I had NO idea.

(no subject)

30/3/14 04:24 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Welcome to the woobie underbelly! ;)

(no subject)

30/3/14 11:40 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mcparrot.livejournal.com
I gotta say, the descriptions of the fics on that site are hilarious.

(no subject)

31/3/14 03:46 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] taste-is-sweet.livejournal.com
Many (most?) of the descriptions are better than the fic... ;)


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