You are my new society: Slash and subversion through #RP69FanFic

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The parties in some of the more popular "slash ships" in mainstream consciousness.

Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — A few days ago, following the elections and the frustratingly dramatic vote counting for the vice-presidential race, the writer and film critic Philbert Dy announced his new “writing project.” He then proceeded to write fairly tame slash fic involving Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, son of Davao City Mayor and presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, and Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos III, son of the vice-presidential hopeful Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Unsurprisingly, what seemed to be an excuse to make political puns and, at times, twisted commentary evolved into a truly senselessly raunchy affair.

It quickly trended, as more and more people joined in, but many people expressed discomfort at what came to be called #RP69FanFic. Some of them were concerned that it involved real people, a sort of invasion of their personhoods, and that it apparently fetishized and exploited homosexuality. Others just didn’t seem to have the stomach for graphic gay erotica. And while it was kind of a joy for this particular “slasher” to see people partake in something so overtly queer and irreverent, I understand what it was, at the root of it, trying to do.

Fan fiction, fan-made work that build on existing “canon,” has always been subversive, taking liberties with someone else’s creative work and making it one’s own, but slash fic is even more so. Slash fic particularly concerns interpersonal relations between two men, designated as M/M. (It can be used for F/F relations, but usually that is designated as femslash.) The common belief is that it originated from Kirk/Spock, a popular ship (as in relationship) in “Star Trek: The Original Series,” but it has gone a long way from there.

Fan fiction, fan-made work that builds on existing "canon," has always been subversive, taking liberties with someone else's creative work and making it one's own, but slash fic is even more so.

 

Slash fic has been mostly authored and consumed by female fans. Some have claimed it to be a way to neutralize both ends of the relationship, a way to eradicate masculinity from the equation — taking back preassigned power positions, if you will — and putting both parties on equal footing. Again, its popularity is believed by some to have subverted gender roles and the usual display of male dominance in “het” or heterosexual pairings both in fiction and in real life. Although there is still usually an obvious dominant party in these pairings, the difference is that since both involved are male, power isn’t immediately assigned.

#RP69FanFic takes subversion a step further. Born out of the frustration of the recent elections and the looming memory of Martial Law, this ultimately became a way to exercise the hard-won freedom that many felt was being threatened. Perhaps it caught on because of collective frustration; perhaps people just needed a good laugh. At its core, it was a way for many civilians to take back the narrative in the best way they know how — with playful kabastusan and a sense of humor — awakening in all of us an intense appreciation for the freedoms we often take for granted.

Here are more popular examples of slash ships in mainstream consciousness:

Louis Tomlinson/Harry Styles from One Direction

Recently, there’s been a resurgence of “Larry Stylinson,” the most popular ship of boy-banders, from One Direction. Fans have long speculated the romance between the two, writing thousands of words of discourse and theories, apart from the hundreds of thousands of RPF or real-person fiction between the two. Although the two are not visibly close anymore, many fans still believe that Harry Styles is always in Louis Tomlinson’s heart.

Larry Louis Tomlinson (left) and Harry Styles from One Direction.  

James T. Kirk/Spock from “Star Trek: The Original Series”

Credited as the ship that launched slash fic, Kirk/Spock displays the typical dynamic of opposite characteristics creating sexual tension that fans just love to run with. The cocky, self-assured Captain Kirk paired with the super serious, steadfast Spock? Sounds like a recipe for romantic chemistry to me.

Kirk Spock Leonard Nimoy as Spock (left) and William Shatner as James T. Kirk in "Star Trek: The Original Series."  

Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy from the “Harry Potter” series

One of the most popular ships of the series, Draco/Harry also capitalizes on a love-hate dynamic, minus the obvious camaraderie. Revolving around arch-nemeses from two different worlds, this ship is so wrought with unresolved tension, their obvious obsession with each other is almost embarrassing. “Drarry” is so popular that it gave rise to an offshoot pairing in a fictional-fictional universe in Rainbow Rowell’s “Fangirl.”

Drarry Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy (left) and Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets."  

Sherlock Holmes/Dr. John Watson from “Sherlock”

One can hardly blame this ship’s existence when the source material for the BBC miniseries is already so homoerotic. Sherlock/Watson is a strange pairing, given Sherlock's emotional detachment and Watson's dedicated exasperation, but it really, really works.

Sherlock Watson Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes (left) and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson in "Sherlock."  

Finn/Poe Dameron from “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”

The reformed Stormtrooper Finn finds himself at the mercy of the Resistance pilot Poe Dameron. They lose each other for most of the movie, but their chemistry (and the potentially tragic “from different worlds” backstory) is palpable. Does it help that the actors John Boyega and Oscar Isaac act like they’re in love in real life? No, it does not.

Finn Poe Dameron John Boyega as Finn (left) and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."  

Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes from “Captain America”

Childhood pals Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes were close before the former became Captain America. Despite two terrible accidents, overcoming momentary death and memory loss, both find each other — in the distant future — and manage to rehabilitate and take back what might have been lost forever. This is what true love looks like.

Steve Bucky Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes (left) and Chris Evans as Steve Rogers in "Captain America: The First Avenger."  

Achilles/Patroclus from Greek mythology

Interest in the Achilles/Patroclus pairing was reawakened by a novelization of their love story in the form of Madeline Miller’s “The Song of Achilles.” Although many have dismissed this pairing to be largely platonic, there exist scholarly texts that seem to suggest otherwise.

Troy Garrett Hedlund as Patroclus (left) and Brad Pitt as Achilles in "Troy."