When I first started to ask what is this thing the kids call ‘slash’? Oh not very long ago at all, many years after it emerged into the popular (sub)culture, I said I’d love to write some Karl Marx slash. I was trying to be clever, and suggest that I am no populist, no Potterist, no Dr Who or Clameron type slasher. If I was to slash my heroes, I’d go for the top dog. And I knew no-one else would have been so clever as me.
But they have. And here it is. Marx and Engels in a tortured, homoerotic dialectic:
But it is not only the great Communist philosophers who have been slashed up by the fic writers. Nazi slash is another popular genre: type ‘Nazi Slash’ into google or live journal and you will see just how popular it is.
In case Himmler and Goering getting a bit hot under their uniforms isn’t quite your cup of tea, I offer you this fictional version of Nazislash- a re-imagining of scenes between the characters of Inglorious Basterds. Hollywood Nazi Porn at its finest:
But what is going on here? Why have we taken to writing steamy scenarios for such nefarious characters from history and popular culture?
As if he had stepped into our rather surreal, slashed up postmodern world himself, Foucault had something to say that could well be applied to this contemporary phenomenon:
‘Power has an erotic charge. There’s an historical problem involved here. How is it that Nazism-which was represented by shabby, pathetic puritanical characters laughably Victorian old maids, or at best, smutty individuals-how has it now managed to become, in France, in Germany, in the United States, in all pornographic literature throughout the world, the ultimate symbol of eroticism? … But what’s going on at the moment? Aren’t we witnessing beginnings of a re-eroticization of power, taken to a pathetic, ridiculous extreme…?’
Michel Foucault (1996) ‘Film and Popular Memory’ in Foucault Live (Interviews, 1961-1984), New York: Semiotext(e), p. 127. French original 1974
I don’t have an answer to Foucault’s question. I am drawn to slashfic, partly because I think it has the potential to subvert dominant power structures and figureheads. But, from his vantage point in the past – he certainly makes an interesting observation about our present day fascination with eroticising powerful and famous figures.