Slash, Fiction, and Rock 'n Roll:
an Excursion into Actor Slash
Some of you may have come across Aestheticism Fanfic Archive. It is a large multi-fandom slash archive, but of a type that is not familiar to most slash readers. It hosts yaoi fanfiction, which as some of you may know, is usually defined as the Japanese equivalent of slash based on anime or Japanamation instead of Western TV series. The actually meaning is more complex, but it is not really relevant to thecurrent topic.
If you do visit, try scrolling down the subject list to find a fandom that's called X-Japan. With the exception of unfamiliar-sounding Japanese names, the stories maynot seem too different from what you usually read. But there is one catch. X-Japan is not a television show, not a movie, and not even an anime series. It is a popularrock band in Japan that has a devoted female following. Slash readers may begin to squirm. This is beginning to come uncomfortably close to actor slash. But at this point the story takes on a strange twist.
It seems that the members of X-Japan, instead of trying to deny the speculation of homosexuality that so often dog all-male bands, decided to capitalize on its appeal for female fans. They have authorized mangaka (comic artists) to create several graphic novels featuring the members of the band, all of which contain more than hints of homoeroticism. The stories in the Aestheticism archive are simply the tip of theiceberg. In Japan, you can find a large number of doujinshi (fan-produced comics, similar to fanzines) based on X-Japan for sale at trade shows and bookstores. Nor isthis an isolated case. It is a marketing strategy that is gaining popularity in Japan. Another popular anime series, Weib Kruez (White Cross), also features an all-male band that has a real-life counter part.
What are we Western slash readers to make of this? Perhaps slash is acceptable in this case since the band gave tacit permission to the fans. Perhaps Japanese cultureallows for a more flexible interpretation of copyright and privacy than the US. Perhaps the artistic personae of band members can be considered fictional creations, and therefore stories based on X-Japan are technically not actor slash. Remember David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust? And perhaps actors are public figures, and thus fans are allowed to take certain liberties.
Certainly stories featuring actors in non-sexual situations are socially acceptable. The recent short film "George Lucas in Love" and other parodies featuring Bill Gate should have made that clear enough. But actor slash is a touchier issue; I for one am extremely squeamish about it. I'm so squeamish, in fact, that I won't even write slash about any show featuring real people. Thus the escape into anime, where the characters are simply color and ink. Alas for me.
The readers are welcome to draw their own conclusions. But I would like this story to serve as a reminder that often what seems to be a black and white case of morality andethics is not so clear-cut in when viewed from another culture. And when it comes to slash, where art and fiction and fantasy intersect, style and interpretation almost always win out over morality.
A few links for people interested in finding out more.
Aestheticism Fanfic Archive
For some interesting essays on yaoi, slash, and culture:http://www.aestheticism.net/visitors/editor/index.htm(Jeanne's Addiction is especially recommended)
For more information on yaoi and terminology http://www.aestheticism.net/visitors/reference/yaoiglossary.htm
For information on X-Japan