Welcome back to The Shipping News, erstwhile slash fans! This week, I, Aja, shall be leading you through the wonderful world of Night Vale fandom.
But first, a little news roundup!
After the frenzy of the Slash Tournament, it’s been a slow week in slash fandom, it seems, as many fans have been apparently recovering from the excitement. Still, a few things happened that are worth mentioning!
All you loyal Inception fans, heads up: Tom Hardy is on Twitter--for real this time after a series of possible fake accounts. His account is already verified even though it looks like he only showed up this morning. He’s already following a few charities and his Inception co-star #LeoDiCaprio. It’s only a matter of time before he follows @hitRECordjoe, a.k.a. the Arthur to his Eames. I feel this IN MY SOUL.
Here’s Tom in a promo shot for his new ITV series Poaching Wars. Please sir, we want some more!
Oh, and he’s also got a Facebook, where he’s posting hilariously awkward videos in terrible Jamaican accents. That’s the T-Hard we know and love.
Zach Quinto tells how he feels about Kirk/Spock slash, again
After his controversial recent statements on Kirk/Spock, it was only a matter of time before someone called Zachary Quinto out on his feelings towards fanfic. It happened this weekend at Fan Expo.
After he was literally asked for his thoughts on yaoi, Quinto stated, “I’m glad you asked,” and then not-quite apologized for statements which he said had been “misinterpreted as disrespectful.” Well, telling fans that writing slash is their business “if they don’t have anything better to do” can only be interpreted in a few ways; in his elaboration, Quinto asserted that “both Kirk and Spock and definitely me and Chris are just good friends,” and added that anyone who read into slash was essentially saying more about themselves than about the canon they were responding to.
It’s possible that Quinto is reacting not-quite-negatively to a slash fandom which many gay men feel fetishizes their identity. As has been discussed frequently here at TheBacklot, there are lots of layers to the phenomenon of slash, especially considering that the women who originally wrote Kirk/Spock during TOS (the original series) were responding to the show’s feminist overtures as well.
But surely Quinto, of all people, is aware of that, and would never denigrate fanfic solely on the assumption that it’s just people writing porn with no redeeming features.
Last night’s *NSYNC reunion on the VMAs should be all anyone can talk about right now. (Thanks, Miley.) But in fandom, it looks like popslashers are coming out of the woodwork to celebrate an old flame: NSYNC RPS.
Here’s an epic, 11-year-old 60,000 word *NSYNC fic to tide you guys over until the next big fic revival hits AO3.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS NIGHT VALE
During the Slash Tournament, this year’s most popular new fandom pairing was conspicuously missing. And no, we don’t mean Larry, although next year, who knows? Maybe the tournament will lift its rule on RPS (Real Person Slash).
But no, we mean the hottest thing to come out of the desert since the San Antonio Spurs: Cecil/Carlos, the canonical OTP (One True Pairing) from everyone’s favorite weird and wonderful podcast, Welcome to Night Vale.
Art by kinomatika
In case you’ve been living in Desert Bluffs under a rock, Night Vale is a podcast done in the form of a nightly broadcast narrated by Cecil Baldwin, an enigmatic but affable commentator named after the real-life Cecil Baldwin who voices him.
Night Vale itself is a sleepy small town, styled after any other small town in America--but with a few weird and creepy twists. Combining vintage Twilight Zone homages with moments of laugh-out-loud humor, Night Vale has exploded into the public eye since June, when Tumblr fandom, including lots of Homestuck artists, discovered its existence. It’s climbed the charts and landed at #1 on iTunes, dethroning other Americana staples like This American Life. You might say that Night Vale is the new American Life--at least for fans on Tumblr, who have fallen hard not only for the show’s quirky nostalgic element, but for its canonically queer OTP: Cecil and his perfect-haired scientist, Carlos.
Here’s the basic appeal of Night Vale in a nutshell, courtesy of cultofthepigeon:
*whispers into the night* someone needs to write a fic where Cecil gets all sexually flustered by Carlos’ badboy behavior like eating toast, believing in mountains, and using pens
Art by ofsparrows
When Cecil first meets Carlos, he states, “and I fell in love instantly.” This seems to be the immediate affect Carlos has on fans as well, even though we rarely hear from him.
Night Vale is a town where things are a little... different.
Art by lordbyronsbloomers
It rains actual cats and dogs.
Art by uzlolzu
The strange light hovering above the Arby’s is head of the PTA.
Art by thespacewitchjadeharley
A five-headed dragon is running for mayor.
Dogs are not allowed in the dog park.
Art by briiing-me-that-horizon
There are definitely not trees in the library--
Art by ladgerda
--just like there definitely aren’t angels living at Widow Josie’s house.
Art by larbesta
Your management is probably trying to kill you.
Art by savedchicken
And your narrator may or may not have a third eye and/or magical tattoos and/or tentacles.
Art by luxuryofconviction
Art by mayonaut
As you can see, the fanart is a HUGE part of what makes the Night Vale fandom so interesting and entertaining: it goes a long way towards visualizing the world--and the humor--of the podcast, and making it feel real--or as real as it can get.
Art by halorvic
There’s another important aspect to Night Vale fanart, and that’s representation. Because we don’t know what Cecil looks like, apart from giving him non-human quirks, many people have simply chosen to make him non-white. The result is that for the first time maybe EVER, a massive fandom has grown around a brown ship--and one that’s actually canon, no less.
Art by thaumivore
Art by wallibri
There’s even a Tumblr celebrating all the fanart devoted to portraying Cecil as not-another-white-dude: F Yeah Brown Cecil.
Art by striderrider
Last week, Welcome to Night Vale announced a live show in New York City in October. When tickets went on sale, they sold out in 11 minutes. Demand for tickets was so high that they added an additional show. In a recent interview with Wired, Night Vale’s creator, director, and writer Joseph Fink mentioned that a Night Vale comic book is “in the area of extremely likely.”
Art by glowly
Nothing says Bye, Bye, Bye like these guys doing their thing:
See you next week! Oh, and since we can’t possibly end this issue without it...
Art by wholockedhaley