We spent January looking at one of the many places male-male erotica/romance is fed by—slash. I don’t know that much about slash, personally. Compared to what I knew in December, I’m light years from where I started, but I’m still no afficianado. I have a pretty good bibliography to start with, now.
In spite of not knowing that much about slash, I had a few ideas about it and how it has informed the male-male romance genre. It’s hard not to have some ideas about it when you write in the genre. So far, after looking at slash in depth, I’m pretty sure my main idea has held up: a lot of tropes that we see in M/M (and sometimes nowhere else) have roots in slash.
One of those tropes is Gay-for-You/Out-for-You. That’s something we’ll be looking at more closely in April, when we spend a whole month posting about it. I think it’s one of the stronger tropes that has sprung mostly from slash rootstock.
|Photo credit: farconville|
Another thing that I think has been influenced by slash are the types of heroes we see in M/M original fiction. The slash influence on M/M heroes is more subtle than with the GFY/OFY trope. It’s not like you don’t see vampires and shape-shifters in lots of other media, or law enforcement professionals in romance. But when I look at the shows and other media that people tend to get slashy with, cop shows and the suprenatural are pretty well-represented. It’s impossible to discount the effect something like Brokeback Mountain had on slash and later on the proliferation of cowboy heroes in M/M. I bet, per capita, there are as many cowboys in M/M as there are red-heads in het romance (i.e., far more than the current world population supports).
It’s not a hard and fast rule that heroes that do well in slash will do well in M/M, since a lot of slash comes from sci-fi, most notably Star Trek. In M/M, sci-fi tends not to do as well as the cowboys and cops. Harry Potter created a huge influx in slash writers, but we don’t see that many heroes in M/M who are wizards—although I’ve read a few. I could spend some time arguing for Harry Potter’s influence on vampires/shape-shifters/elves/etc, but I’ll spare you.
My point is this: a lot of M/M writers began in slash, and a lot of current slash writers are interested in making the jump from fanfic to original. Once a writer has made that jump, they are in a new world, where some of the tropes and conventions from fanfic carry over, but others don’t. It can push people out of their comfort zone, and right into a whole new world to play with. A world of their own making. A world where their hero’s traits and life path are completely up to them.
So, if that’s true, what’s with the proliferation of M/M heroes who are in law enforcement, cow enforcement, blood-sucking and/or shape-shifting? Is it me, or does it seem like there’s a hell of a lot of those guys around popping up in gay romance? Where are the accountants and the investment bankers and the mid-level managers?
Okay, fine, so a hero in mid-level management isn’t particularly interesting unless he’s also a werewolf, or even just moonlights as a stripper, but still, there’s a whole lot of ground to be covered in the world of M/M erotica that hasn’t yet been explored. And all of it holds potential for interest. What about the hero who isn’t going to come out in some grand fashion to the world, like, ever? What about the hero who really is the stereotype people imagine when they think “gay guy”?
I could go on about what it is I wonder at night (when I’m not plotting out sex scenes or *ahem* researching) about the emerging M/M hero, but I won’t. ‘Cause guess what the month of February is themed here at Chicks & Dicks? You got it, hon, Non-traditional Heroes.
We’re beginning Non-traditional Heroes month with a post from Lou Harper, who has a new release, Academic Pursuits. I beta’ed Academic Pursuits, and it’s a story I highly recommend…if you aren’t expecting a traditional M/M hero. The story is told all from one hero’s perspective, and he’s a slut. Lou will help you get into Jamie’s head a little on Thursday the second.
On Saturday the fourth K.Z. Snow is explaining all the reasons we need more of the regular guys in M/M, and she explains it (and celebrates the regular guy) far better than I can. So mostly I’m going to let her do it. I’ll just say: what K.Z. said.
Later in the month (seriously, you must have noticed by now I don’t really schedule much in advance), we’ll have Thorny Sterling telling us what kinds of heroes he’d like to see in M/M, the Smexy Grammarian will be back, Marie Sexton will drop by, Dr. Porne is going to wax eloquent on the hairy male (get it? Hehe, “wax”), and, of course, we’ll have tons more.
So, drop on by Chicks & Dicks in February, it’s going to be an interesting one.