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Living Loz
And this is beyond issues of unreality, or latent homophobia... 
18th-Apr-2009 03:20 am
Life on Mars (Sam Outsider)
It's, like, a quarter past three in the morning so bear with me here, but I think I've finally figured out what my problem with realistic Sam/Gene is. And by 'problem', I mean 'general inability to see the struggle culminating in a happy ending'.

It's got to do with the evidence. Why would these two characters risk so much for that kind of connection when, you know, they don't have to?

Now, I can give a lot of reasons as to why I think these characters were made for each other. A lot of reasons! Two sides of the same coin. Checks and balances. They're hot. But I find it really, really hard to get to a point where they have a basic understanding of their motivations and reasons beyond a physical attraction (and the physical attraction thing gives me pause, too.) I am often falling back on the "I don't know" version of the answer to 'why?' (I do think that this can be true to life. I don't always know why I like someone. But. It helps.) And this doesn't satisfy me. It doesn't provide me with enough to sustain an ongoing narrative; not one that's mostly about their pure, pure love, at any rate.

Gene, strangely, I have less trouble with, because I think Gene knows himself very well --- a hell of a lot better than anyone else does. But Sam is my default point of view character. And Sam is also a moron. He's self-involved, but with little to no self-awareness. I end up with these fics where Gene's all assured; either in his misgivings of the relationship, or his willingness to take that leap of faith, but Sam's largely in the dark, and as a consequence, so is most of the audience.

So. When I write Sam/Gene, I either decide to ignore reality for a while; forget about the evidence, not bother with the struggle, and go straight for the loving (and hate myself in the process.) Or I try to show why they love each other in all types of ways (and this requires plot! oh so much plot that makes my brain hurt, so I get weirdly angsty because I'm still on A and B is really far away.) Or I become a miserable git (and wonder why this sworn romantic is such a miserable git.)

Huh. After three years I finally get it.
Comments 
17th-Apr-2009 06:32 pm (UTC)
Do you find it easier to plot when you write for other fandoms?
17th-Apr-2009 06:33 pm (UTC)
Also, I am amused that even though I have happily jumped into slashing Messrs Stewart and Colbert I still can't see the OTPness of Gene and Sam. Turns out my slash goggles are very specific.
17th-Apr-2009 06:37 pm (UTC)
Also also, hurray for finally getting it! Getting things is good. :)
18th-Apr-2009 12:01 am (UTC)
You may be amused, but I'm bemused. They save each other's lives, they trust each other, Gene is the one Sam called out for when the lights went out, Gene worked at being less corrupt for himself, but also, importantly, for Sam, they each find the other so frustrating they're driven to passion --- and at the end of all that, they make each other laugh, they share pieces of themselves, and each try to help the other become a better person, whilst enjoying and respecting that person for who they really are, flaws and all.
18th-Apr-2009 09:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, and all that says to me is that they could be really good friends. What I don't see is any sign of physical attraction. Mind you, I haven't looked at them as closely as you have...
19th-Apr-2009 02:21 am (UTC)
It's, um... Sam's expression when Gene punches him and he's kneeling on the steps of the station, 1.01. Gene's looming behind and growling in his ear, and, sure, it's a look of pain, but it's sort of... intensely sexual too.

Or the grin at the end of 1.02, when Sam's head's against the pipe and he's breathing heavily and looking somewhat lovingly at Gene because he just saved his life --- that ends in Gene grinning back at him, which is a total 'eeee!' moment anyway.

And then, after that, we have the infamous poker scene, where even Claire Parker, the show producer, mentioned a heated smouldering look that suggested more than merely acceptance.

Or Gene's double take in 1.04, and complete lack of looking away when Sam's naked on the cot --- is he just trying to humiliate him more, or is there a reason he's still looking? (And then he's an arsehole, and brings Annie in, but is that out of a form of jealousy?)

1.05, Gene's pretending to be drunk, Sam hauls him away, and then Gene comes alive, pinning him in place, hands under his arms. He holds him like that much longer than he needs to. Much, much longer. Mmm.

1.06, they're handcuffed to a radiator together, which necessitates bared necks, and Gene starts talking about how attractive he is ("she wants me"), which lends the suggestion that he thinks Sam should want him too. Later, Gene pretty much sacrifices his life for Sam. That he doesn't die is luck --- he'd made a calculated risk, and it paid off --- but it might not have.

1.07, they go on a date (No. Really. You remember, right? Gene asks Sam to dinner and they go to an out of the way Indian restaurant. I DIED.) And Gene protects Sam when he starts going nuts.

It is all subtextual, a way of infering things that can be, quite innocently, other things (and are often shows of alpha male dominance that don't quite work, because Sam is not your bitch, Gene), but there's a fairly large amount of touching, smouldering, physical connection between them. And, you know, Ash Pharoah, who writes the show, even mentioned he'd been writing homoerotic scenes in pubs --- the production team were aware that the chemistry between Sam and Gene was not only intense and powerful, but could be interpreted in certain ways.

And there. That's part of my "he hit me, and it felt like a kiss" manifesto of Sam and Gene. For further research, I suggest severa's Slasher's Guide, a hilarious and occasionally oh-so-true account of many slashy moments in the series.

ETA: And I just realised you didn't actually ask. Um. Sorry!

Edited at 2009-04-19 02:45 am (UTC)
19th-Apr-2009 11:48 pm (UTC)
Don't apologise! It was interesting reading.

I think, though, that I'm not ever going to see the slash in that relationship. I do not know why, because you make a compelling case for it.
20th-Apr-2009 12:41 am (UTC)
Some slash theorists make a case for being able to see slash when you, yourself find the people attractive. So maybe that's part of it? You don't think Simm and/or Glenister are hot stuff, so your mind doesn't interpret their smouldering eyes as sexual, merely the angry they're probably meant to be. (Phil, for instance, said he never intentionally projected 'I wanna get into your pants', he just has the uncanny knack of being able to generate chemistry with anything --- that bollard over there, or, oh look, a fern. And then to generate it with someone who's all, well, Simm --- there's a MASSIVE chemical reaction.)

I don't see the slash between hugely reknowned and loved slash couple McKay and Sheppard, but part of that might be because I don't think Sheppard's hot, at all (McKay is too awesome and I adore David Hewlett.)

Or maybe it really is just a case of sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can't. How much you're willing to infer and ignore.
20th-Apr-2009 09:23 am (UTC)
Some slash theorists make a case for being able to see slash when you, yourself find the people attractive.

Ah! Thank you! That makes a lot of sense.
20th-Apr-2009 09:57 am (UTC)
Ahah, have we hit the proverbial nail?

So now I simply have to wonder why you don't find either of them hot like burning.
17th-Apr-2009 11:53 pm (UTC)
Actually, no, but I also rarely have the inclincation.

It's like... I know, I know I build plot up to be this huge thing that's divergent from the characters, even when I know it's really not... but that doesn't stop me getting weird about it when suddenly things are happening and I have to shape scenes into suitable material for whatever story I'm trying to tell.

BUT, what I do have in other fandoms, is less anger with myself when I do handwave.
18th-Apr-2009 09:27 pm (UTC)
Does LoM slash lend itself to novel-length plots? I ask in all ignorance, because I have no idea if there are any long (90,000 words approx) LoM fics out there.

what I do have in other fandoms, is less anger with myself when I do handwave.

Because you're less invested in other fandoms?
19th-Apr-2009 02:24 am (UTC)
There are a few long LoM slashfics, but, er, I haven't read them. I know dorcas_gustine has written a couple of brilliant ones (other people have said they're brilliant and her short work is stunning, so I am guessing they really are awesome.)

17th-Apr-2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
I'm completely in agreement with this and think it is a very sharp bit of analysis. Gene is quite comfortable with himself and if he wants something that other people would find unacceptable that's their problem. Sam is a lot more difficult to get a handle on; in fact I'd go so far as to say I don't really like Sam, but the fact that Gene does is enough for me.

Sam is the 'Everyman' character, deliberate oblique so that viewers/readers can project themselves on to him. We're always seeing through his eyes, and every so often he reacts in a totally unexpected way. You're right that this means plot. The classic way out of it of course would be for Gene to be helping Sam to discover himself - whether consciously or un-. I think we have to take a lot on trust when it comes to Sam; we have to learn to see him the way Gene sees him.

The 'why', of course, comes down to the fact that risky as it is being together, it's better than anything else their lives have to offer. Putting them into the position where they understand that is the whole raison d'etre of slash, IMHO. Sometimes it can be terribly intimidating, but it's worth all the brain cudgelling and the heartache just to see the characters building some kind of a new reality together.

(In other words, IAWTC eleventy!!!)
18th-Apr-2009 12:08 am (UTC)
I love Sam, but, he can be such a prick. Really, a complete prick. I never really forget that. He is not a perfect hero by any stretch of the imagination.

I wish I didn't have such hang-ups with plot. I wish I could just think of one and keep going, never getting so strongly anxious that I stop and write vignette of the moment.
18th-Apr-2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
A series of vignettes would eventually become a plotted thing, though.

Diana Wynne Jones (prolific children's author) prefers to discover her stories by writing three random scenes. She decides which is near the beginning, near the end, and near the middle. Then she tries to work out how they're all connected. Essentially, it's starting with unrelated vignettes.
19th-Apr-2009 02:26 am (UTC)
And I am trying to do that - I am! My Sinatra and Zombies series is a series of short stories heading towards becoming one mid-length story.
19th-Apr-2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
Ace!
(Deleted comment)
18th-Apr-2009 12:02 am (UTC)
Basically, as with anything, it all comes down to Sam being a moron.
17th-Apr-2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
This is why, as with most of my slash pairings, I almost NEVER write fluff or schmoop. I think angst is really the only way it can go down. In fact, despite the lightness in the Christmas fic, I'm finding it very hard to get to the threesome sequel. The reality of the situation, especially from Gene's perspective, is refusing to let up on me at all.

17th-Apr-2009 11:49 pm (UTC)
In terms of how much fic I've written, I rarely write fluff or schmoop as well. (And whenever I do, shortly thereafter there's horrorfic, or rocks fall, everyone dies.)

And the thing is --- and certain people will point and laugh here --- I am not an angst writer by nature. And when I am, existential angst is a better fit for me.
20th-Apr-2009 04:58 pm (UTC)
Most of my fanfic is so angsty, I sometimes use an angst-o-meter when I do the boxed sets. Some people insist that I impose my personal biases on the characters and that they wouldn't be as angsty as I write them. I think this is utter bollocks. House/Wilson, Sam/Gene, Jack Harkness...schmoopy and fluffy (Jack with exceptions that do NOT include Ianto) I THINK NOT!
23rd-Apr-2009 02:18 am (UTC)
I'm new to the fandom, only watched LoM last month (and rewatched it, and reawatched it and .... um, ahem!), but I've been reading lots and lots of fanfic from you and others on Lifein1973, and I find this thread interesting so I'm going to be bold and speak up. :-)

Until I came here, I never saw Sam/Gene as a couple. Never ever. Sam 'appears' straight, for as much as we know about Maya and Annie, Gene appears fairly disparaging about homosexuals. When I first turned to fanfic I was really astonished at the amount of slash fiction I found in comparison to het. Really threw me. That said, didn't take long to convert me, but only cause I'm kind of a slashy ho and guy on guy (when the chemistry is right) totally pushes all my buttons. For me, Sam is a total hottie but Gene simply didn't have the looks for me to pair him up with Sam while watching the show. But what he does have is INSANE amounts of charisma and strength. It's that charisma and strength that, for me at least, make the pairing possible.

Sam and Gene in some ways remind me a bit of my theory about Mulder and Scully. They are soulmates from the Greek perspective - a being who has been split into two separate beings, who is only complete when reunited. It isn't/wasn't the sexual thing we've turned the term into today, and it so perfectly captures the chemistry of Sam/Gene. They are nearly complete opposites to extremes. Sam is too obsessed with the facts, with procedure, with doing things by the book. Gene is too assured of his instincts, on bashing his way to a dubious 'truth', of getting things done the rough and tumble. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, but when you unite them they balance each other out and make one another better as people. This is VERY sexy, no matter what the pairing, and I think it is in part totally what makes people slash them. They belong together.

I think that one can find slashy aspects if you want to in almost anything, but like I said, I never saw the things you listed as being 'slashy' until after I started reading the fanfic and got behind the idea. Even still I can look at those scenes and moments and see them as completely devoid of actual sexual attraction and find existing alternate reasons for each and every one of them.

I also know that people who make TV know about the slash agenda as you have pointed out. They are welllll aware of it and even play up to it on purpose, bless their little hearts.

That all said, I think it would take something pretty significant, or something specifically unknown about Gene, for 'realistic' Sam/Gene to ever happen because, like you said, the risk is simply too great, the gains slim in those times, and Gene's machoism seems too strong. Most likely they would keep on the way that they were and direct all that sexual tension toward unwitting female partners.

That all said, I so totally don't see Sam as a moron! >;-) I'll agree that he is not perfect, that he has his flaws and makes mistakes, but the same can be said for Gene.

Okay, okay, I'm a huge Sammy-boy lover, so sue me. ;-)

Edited at 2009-04-23 02:20 am (UTC)
4th-May-2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this comment :D

I started off writing a lot of buddy cop gen fic, but then I just bit the bullet and slashed them, since, despite the problems, I really do find them attractive as a sexual couple as well as just friends.

Do you really not think Sam's a prat? I always have. I love him, don't get me wrong. He's sort of my character in the show, the one I identify with (and wasn't I surprised when I realised that, since I was convinced I'd be Gene's girl through and through.) I just --- I'm not very forgiving, perhaps, but some of what he says and thinks are so silly. And then he doesn't even seem to know what his own motivations are, some of the time.
7th-May-2009 05:03 am (UTC)
Annnnnnnd I'm back! Yeah, I think they're two great tastes that go great together, whether you slash 'em or not! :-)

I actually don't think Sam is a prat. But maybe that's because I'm an American? >;-) Technically a prat is someone who is stupid or foolish, and I don't see Sam as being either of those two things. I thought prat meant more along the lines of being a jerk. If we go with that definition, I think if I was someone in the show, I would probably think he's a prat because he acts all hoity-toity at times and like a big know it all. But because I know that a) he really does have a distinctive edge and greater detective knowledge than most of his compatriots, b) I have huge amounts of empathy for him that the others don't because I know what he's really going through, c) he's used to being the DCI and in charge and d) he's a real boy scout who is trying his hardest to do the right thing - all of these factors make me cut him huge amounts of slack, which I wouldn't (and the rest of the characters don't) if I wasn't in the know.

The way I see it, he is totally freaking out and struggling just to survive which tends to make even the best person a bit of a control freak. I mean come on, everything is out of control for him, so of course he's going to go overboard trying to be on top of everything. I think he was more of a prat/jerk in 2006 because he wouldn't listen to anyone it seems and there was no good reason. In 1973 he has lots of good reasons for being a jerk at times. :-) I'm also a sucker for the wounded types and while Gene is wonderful because he's so blunt and charismatic, he is much more of a jerk to me than Tyler because he's actively awful to people who don't deserve it for no good reason other than it's who he is.
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