For netweight: Bad B/A. What? You asked.
A Rant on the Horrors of Bad B/A, Or Stop Making My Side Look Bad
"You're a Bangel?"
A what exactly? This was my reaction upon hearing that question at WriterCon (almost immediately was this asked when I arrived at the hotel, while waiting at the check-in line). The person asked this because I said I wrote mainly B/A (which I did, which I'll probably be best known for in the BtVS/AtS fandom because my two biggest 'hits' were heavy with the B/A, even though in NEITHER story did they end up together, but it is one of many pairings I like to write).
The question was said in an amused tone, as though I had announced something akin to owning lots and lots of fluffy kittens and wore fluffy sweaters all the time and smiled all the time. While also wearing a "I <3 My Kitties, Ask Me How!" button.
Needless to say, I am Bangel in the way that I am a fluff writer. I am the antithesis of the standard perception of a B/A writer. (In fact, I suspect most B/A readers really dislike my work because I rarely dole out happy endings and I linger towards the more painful and raw side of B/A.)
So, back to the "Stop Making My Side Look Bad" part of this rambling rant. I hate all crappy fluff writers of B/A. So much that I just see flames at the side of my face and do my best Mrs. White impression.
Oh, there are bad angst writers too. But the problem is that Buffy/Angel fic is notorious for being overly sentimental, stupidly clichéd, and full of pat endings. And dear god, the disregarding of the fucking canon is rife in most B/A fanfic.
Dude, getting around the curse is one thing, but bad B/A writers will start a fic with:
"Buffy? My soul has been bound! We can
And then Buffy says, "Angel!" (because they always, always say their fuckin' names over and over again, which is why I almost always try to make a joke of it in my B/A fics) and they'll have the bad, formulaic sex, where Angel is always on top, Buffy comes several times, and through the making of this special lovemaking, they forgot other partners - even when they're technically still with said people at the time this awful fic is taking place.
And all the other characters around them are happy for them or provide easy roadblocks for their lurve to conquer all.
Fuck. That. Shite.
B/A is not about fluffy squishy love, and if it is, somebody stop this ride, I wanna get off. Which is probably why a lot of good B/A writers are always consumed this frustration: the parts of the pairing that should be highlighted are their flaws and how they manage to survive in light of it or how they don't, NOT that everything is going to be easy and sunny and laden with babies.
Dear god, the babies. Dude, Buffy has never really given an indication that she wants to have a million of Angel's babies. Plus she's the Slayer, so her priorities are more with the killing of demons and attempting to have a normal life, not with the domesticating.
And as seen on A:tS, even when Angel means well, he is the worst. father. ever.
But back to why good B/A writers twitch and sigh about BAD B/A fic:
Because not only is it consumed joyfully in most B/A-centric circles, it becomes the perception of nonshippers, shippers of other pairings, and those who just decided to read a B/A fic that ALL B/A sucks and will be crap.
Thank you, you've now rendered our writing (by 'our' I mean those that write decent to excellent Buffy and Angel stories) as crap because of the large traffic of crap in the B/A corner of the BtVS and AtS fandom. And it's frustrating, because look - my friends who continue to read B/A do so at the risk of their eyeballs. Because the badfic just doesn't stop a-coming with this pairing.
So now you ask well, if there's good stuff, why can't I find it? Well the really, really good stuff that makes me personally bow to the ground and worship those who write such amazing stuff about Buffy and Angel is hard to find because all of that, ALL of that gets dismissed and ignored in most circles. And with that comes discouragement and frankly, it's not fun to get 3 pieces of feedback for a story you worked your ass off to get just right and another Paint-By-Numbers "How Buffy and Angel Got Their Groove On While I Piss All Over Canon" gets thirty.
The good B/A writers are pretty much certain that their writing is considered toxic to non-B/A fans (or those who are just lukewarm on the pairing) because of the perception created by the proliferation of awful B/A fic.
For every chrisleeoctaves, there are approximately 100 horrible B/A writers just waiting to post their "The Truest Love Story Ever, By the Way Any Character That Gets in Their Way Is The DEVIL!!!"
And they're encouraged to keep on posting! The hell? B/A is one of the 'older' pairings, in that it's been around since S1 of BtVS. That's a long fucking time to try and write interesting tales about a couple like them - because it's all been done before. Or so, that's the usual line thrown about them - it's all been done.
But there's where I raise my hackles - it hasn't. Sure, there's tons of B/A fic on the internet (and even more on the internets), but so much of it contains a very noticeable sameness. A formula. I'm not just talking about Human AU - which is something that rarely read. But I digress in order to get geared up for this part:
BAD B/A drives me fucking insane because this is such a frikkin' complicated pairing to write. To write with the canon in your mind can produce staggering works and some fucking amazing fic. Bad B/A negates all the wonders of this pairing and discourages those who might be interested in reading it - we're not all about the oversimplification and the fluffy lurve of OTPness and the freakin' babies, I swear!
So that's it really - because of bad Buffy/Angel fic, there's a strike instantly against anyone who wants to write or explore the pairing. It forces fans of B/A (Version Complicated Love Affair not Version Snuggly Sex Bunnies) to have to apologize for loving/liking/enjoying/being tickled by Buffy/Angel AND say either, "But I'm not one of those crazy fans" or "And I'm not a fluff writer/a sappy writer."
Dammit, can't we just chill with that? Nope, I can't because look, another fic wherein Spike gets dissed, any female seeing Angel attractive is made into a slutbitchwhore, and Spike gets dissed more, mostly because Angel only wants to have sex with Buffy, and no, no attraction to Spike at all. Honestly.
And in the end, everything is sunny and great, or Buffy dies and Angel weeps at her grave and stakes himself, falling into a bazillion artful specks of dust, to stay with Buffy 4evah!!!1111 And cut to the final scene, where they're having perfect, virginal sex in heeeeeeevaaaaaan.
That story is then posted (with of course a 1/? to indicate that OMG if you like, review an stuff, there will totally be another chapter) and it gets praised to the bafflement of someone like me.
I post a B/A story and I get "this was depressing" or "are you going to write a sequel?"
(A bit of an editorializing point so to make sure I am not being overtly wanky - I almost always get a comment on the depressive quality of my writing, regardless of what I'm writing. I don't really mind because my work is dark and I'm just using this as a comment on my experience when actively posting fanfic on the famous B/A board. Heck, a 'this was depressing' comment tickles me because it means I might have hit the right nerve I was attempting to poke.)
While that kind of feedback/response isn't awful per se, it does indicate there is an indoctrinated expectation of what a Buffy/Angel fic is supposed to be.
It's supposed to be filled with pat answers and paint-by-the-numbers sex scenes, it's supposed to have awful clichés and it's encouraged to bash or punish any characters that get in the way of the union of that couple. And I'm sorry, but that is not what fiction as a whole should do.
Yes, fanfiction is oftentimes an escapist pursuit, but it's also an expansion of the universe we are so delighted by, it's a vehicle to explore the minutiae of a complicated relationship between two complicated and multi-faceted characters. Bad B/A fic dismisses these inherent details and fascinating aspects of Buffy and Angel in order to serve a fast-food version of quick fic.
Mostly, I'm tired of defending one of my favorite couplings. I shouldn't have to start off with how I am not like the mass perception of what a B/A fan is or what type of B/A fic I write or read. B/A fic shouldn't have a bad reputation but it does because the awful B/A fic is never-ending. And I don't think there's a solution to it - cheap and easy seems to be an incredibly popular way to write and it seems to continue unabated for Buffy and Angel. The idea of that couple, the actual relationship they had as depicted in canon, and all the potential shouldn't be ruined because of poor fanfiction starring that couple. But sadly, it does.
Buffy and Angel will ride off into the fucking sunset (perhaps Buffy is riding on Angel's ginormous thirteen inch cock), laugh at all those foolish people who dared to flirt wit them (I'm sure Riley's revealed to have a problem with keeping it up or he refuses to go down on Buffy, Spike is a monster, so he's staked or he's shown to be a pussy and then staked, Cordelia is a slut and a 'ho and is forced to run off stage in tears, and Kate, a character that never actually had a relationship with Angel besides some brief flirtation, is usually decked by Buffy - I know I'm missing more, but there's the gist), and it turns out that Angel has millions of dollars in the stock market because he's a genius investor, so they're going to ignore their demon hunting duties so they can have that lovely house with the white picket fence and many, many children, and lots and lots of incredibly boring sex. And Buffy never ever masturbates unless Angel's in the room, because that's hawt, but of course, a girl never pleases herself, unless she's a whore like Faith.
And that last one is just a slight exaggeration; I know I've read several stories where Buffy is sexually frustrated but she never thinks to take care of the problem herself. That's a special kind of repressed, y'all.
Oh, and they'll have teary confessions for how awful they feel for having any romantic and/or sexual feelings for anyone else. Because OMG they must be pure before they can be soulmates 4evah!!1111
Dude, I'm just going to write about the real Buffy and Angel, okay? Stop making B/A look bad.