The term slash refers to fanfiction in which two characters of the same-sex are written in a sexual relationship. Slash generally refers to male characters; female characters together is usually called Fem Slash.
The term slash is believed to have originated in the original Star Trek fandom in the 1960s, with stories about Kirk and Spock. The slash refers to the symbol in abbreviation Kirk/Spock or K/S.
Possibly due to its emphasis in canon on emotions and relationships, Supernatural became one of the major slash TV or movie fandoms from 2006 onwards. It also has a very high proportion of Gen fic, although much less Het. Fem Slash is rare.
Based on an analysis of over 35,000 stories fanfiction listed in the LJ Supernatural newsletter up until August , approximately 58% of Supernatural fan fiction is Slash. Pairings between characters on the show make up 36% and RPF pairings 21% of all stories written.
As of August 2009, Supernatural fic coded on the newsletter was about 46% slash and 36% Gen fic (not including RPF). Compared to two years earlier, there is a slight (3%) rise in slash but as this is a cumulative analysis it masks the magnitude of the recent shift.
For fic written up to late 2007, over 90% of slash was Wincest. By August 2009, this had dropped to 82%. In the seven month snapshot shown below, Wincest made up around 46% of fic with Dean/Castiel stories now comprising 47% . The remaining 7% was other slash pairings. The increase in the number of new recurring characters, such as Gabriel, Lucifer and Crowley added to the growth of "other slash" pairings. Poor Bobby rarely gets any sex.
While the proportions of the genres have shifted, absolute numbers of fics have increased as well – the growing popularity of Dean/Castiel has been additive rather than substitutive. As the line graph above shows, the rate at which Wincest and Gen fics are written remains steady. The snapshot period here had nearly 30% more fic being written per month than in early 2008.
Occasionally one or both of the brothers will be slashed with minor and/or recurring male characters; original male characters or characters from other fandoms, including characters that have been portrayed by either Jensen Ackles or Jared Padalecki in another tv-series or movie (e.g., Sam/Jake from Devour, Sam/Alec from Dark Angel, Dean/Dean from Gilmore Girls). (See also: Crossover).
Although the pairing had been utilized from the beginning, after the airing of 1.22 Devil's Trap on May 4th 2006 significantly more John/Dean fanworks appeared (possibly due to the chemistry between Dean and the possessed John). John/Sam is rarer. Both pairings often explore issues of authority and consent.
Slash fiction can cover any genre of fiction. The slash relationship may not be the focus of the story, in fact because of the intense relationship between characters like Sam and Dean on the show, these stories may be indistinguishable from Gen fic. In other cases the story may be all about the relationship. Some stories may contain no sex, or may have allusions to it, others are purely porn and are known as PWPs or porn without plots.
Some fans seek support from canon (or real life) that the slash relationship portrayed in fiction exists, while most are happy to use their stories to provide what canon doesn't.
and you can search through the Pairings category for other slash pairings
Supernatural Slash escapes fandom
"Some of those fan fictions have some very, very crazy ideas. And sometimes very...disturbing ideas. One of my favorites is, uh, Wincest...I-I only hope that my grandmother never reads those. Jared and I had a good laugh about that one. It was only brought to our attention because Kim Manners posted it. So um...that's that." Video of quote
When asked about Wincest and fanfiction at EyeCon April 2008, Jared proved diplomatic - and eloquent: "with fan fiction and RPGs, it's like what I was talking about earlier, that everyone's taking a part and they're not just watching it.. ..and they're really passionate about the show, and especially the fans of Supernatural it's great learning tool, and exploring tool to explore this world. So I'm supportive." Video of quote
At the same Con Jim Beaver wore a t-shirt that said "I read Bobby/John"
Misha Collins has mentioned Slash at a number of conventions - eg: at the Salute to Supernatural Vancouver 2009 where he said he'd heard about "Dean/Castiel/Pie fic" and at Collectormania London 2009 he said he had read some slash fanfic but "stopped at the part where Cas choked... on someone's cock" Source. At Asylum Europe: No Rest for the Wicked 2010 , he tried to explain Slash to Mark Pellegrino and concluded "it's a great cultural asset...it unites the world!" Source The episode 4.18 The Monster At The End Of This Book aired in which specific mention was made of Sam/Dean fanfic.
Dean: There's Sam Girls and Dean Girls and...what's a slash fan?
Sam: As in Sam slash Dean, together
Dean: Like together, together? They do know we are brothers right?
Sam: Doesn't seem to matter.
Dean: Well that's just sick!
There followed much discussion in fandom whether this exchange indicated the Show's support or condemnation of Wincest. It is certainly the first time on a TV show that incestuous gay porn has been mentioned by the characters about whom it is written.
In Season Five, the character of Becky Rosen is introduced. 5.01 Sympathy For The Devil She is a fan of the "supernatural" novels and runs a website called morethanbrothers.net. She is first seen writing a Wincest fic which can be read here.
In 5.09 The Real Ghostbusters at the Supernatural Convention, the MC announces that there will be a session on "The homoerotic subtext of Supernatural". The two fanboys featured in the epsiode Demian and Barnes, who are role playing as Sam and Dean at the convention, are revealed at the end of the episode to be lovers.
Brief Overview of the History of Slash Fiction
In general, fandom scholars agree (Jenkins, Brooker, Bacon-Smith) that slash was introduced with Kirk/Spock homoerotic fan fiction in the early to mid-70s in Star Trek fandom. The name "slash" fiction comes from the / between the names of the pairing in fan fiction, and was also presumably coined in Star Trek fiction. Even though initially timidly introduced and confronted with ideas of masculinity and heroism, "slash" gained a wider audience over the years.
Much has been said about why fans (the majority of them women) write slash fiction, and it always stands in relation to the concept of slash fiction itself.
Camilla Bacon-Smith understood slash fiction as a way of helping women deal with traumatic love relationships by utilizing a non-threatening, non-aggressive form of male sexuality as means of comfort. The notion that fans write slash as means of therapy and to write about their own hurt and their need for tenderness seems quite antiquated today, and has been challenged by fans and acafans alike for decades.
In the mid-80s some scholars, most notably Henry Jenkins, introduced the idea of slash fiction as a possible reaction to traditional mainstream pornography; that it was a form of fiction liberating itself from gender hierarchy and genderized images. This form of transgression is also often cited as one of the joys of writing slash fiction.
Slash fiction is not widely considered to be conventional lesbian or gay fiction, as the characters portrayed rarely identify as homosexual or queer.
Jenkins was the first academic to define slash not as merely concerned with representations of sexuality: "Slash is not so much a genre about sex as it is a genre about the limitations of traditional masculinity and about reconfiguring male identity."Jenkins, Henry (1992), S. 191
Over the last 15 years, with the emerging and widespread use of the internet, increased visibility of and participation in fandom, as well as social changes, fans have become bolder in describing their enjoyment of slash. While older generations of slash writers prided themselves on belonging to a sub-culture, inventing a new form of pornography and transgressing gender lines (and being generally very conscious about all this), a new generation of writers has joined slash fandom. This new generation finds itself in a more slash-friendly environment, and seems understandably a bit more confident about writing erotic fiction, often claiming that they write slash mainly because it's a turn-on to see two men fuck.
Transgression and recontextualization (see Jenkins, 1992) still seem to play a part, but this new confidence (fueled by generally more acceptance of both female sexuality and lesbian, gay, bi, queer and transgendered people in Western society) often reduces the feelings of shame authors and readers of slash fanfiction may have experienced in the past. Nowadays, slash is a very public, very well-known chapter of fan involvement.
Small Bibliography and Suggested Further Reading (chronological)
- Bacon-Smith, Camile (1991). Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1379-3.
- Jenkins, Henry (1992). Textual Poachers. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-90572-9.
- Lewis, Lisa A., ed. 1992a. The adoring audience. London: Routledge.
- Penley, Constance (1997). NASA/Trek: Popular Science and Sex in America. New York: Verso. ISBN 0-86091-617-0.
- Cicioni, Mirna (1998). "Male Pair Bonds and Female Desire in Fan Slash Writing." In C. Harris & A. Alexander (Eds.) Theorizing Fandom: Fans, Subculture and Identity. Cresskil, New Jersey: Hampton.
- Harris, Cheryl, and Alison Alexander, ed. 1998. Theorizing fandom: Fans, subculture and identity. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press.
- Busse, Kristina/Hellekson Karen. Fan Fiction and Community in the Age of Internet: New Essays. North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN-13: 978-00-7864-2640-9
Links of Interest
- From canon to fanon and back again: The epic journey of Supernatural and its fans by Melissa Gray
- A box of mirrors, a unicorn, and a pony by Jules Wilkinson
- What we write: ana anlysis of Supernatural fic by missyjack
- Slash fiction entry on Wikipedia (focuses on recent years and new fandoms)
- Overview of Slash in fandom on Fanlore
- Confessions of an AkaFan: Henry Jenkins' Blog
- Henry Jenkins on "Supernatural"
- Bibliography collected by Karen Hellekson and Karen Busse
- Herzing, Melissa Jean. 2005. The Internet world of fan fiction. MA thesis, Virginia Commonwealth Univ.
- Henry Jenkins: Normal Female Interest in Men Bonking
- Henry Jenkins: The Poachers and the Stormtroopers: Popular culture in the digital age. Red Rock Eater Digest. Talk presented at the Univ. of Michigan, Spring 1998.
- Jung, Susanne. 2004. Queering popular culture: Female spectators and the appeal of writing slash fan fiction. Gender Forum Gender Queeries 8.