The Seven Deadly Fanons of Characterization: a Spotter's Guide
by Dorothy Marley
Although this Guide was prepared by observing these interesting and prolific creatures in the Domain of Slash, they are to be found throughout Fandom, and inhabit almost all genres. Although some of them are more difficult to find in certain fandoms and genres, on the whole they are a hardy and fecund species, and are also prone to migrate and colonize new fandoms with astonishing swiftness.
The following Guide is intended to help identify these curious beasts, since they will almost always take the names of actual Canon characters and--sometimes, but not always--adopt their physical appearance as well. This checklist will hopefully enable the cautious Explorer to distinguish those characteristics most often demonstrated by a typical Fanon, and thus avoid being deceived into thinking that they are an actual Canon.
II. The Seven Deadly Fanons
1. The Wimp
Preferred Prey: Fox Mulder, Daniel Jackson, Blair Sandburg, Methos, Tom Paris, Julian Bashir, Ray Doyle, Ray Kowalski, Remus Lupin
The Wimp is vulnerable, weak, prone to illness and accident, and in general in constant need of being rescued by the "stronger" characters. The Wimp dissolves into tears at emotional moments, collapses into a useless ball of self-recrimination when he makes a mistake, takes the blame for everything that goes wrong, and in general needs his hand held and ass wiped through the entire story. The Wimp is the frequent star of the hurt/comfort story, and despite being weak, small, and physically--as well as emotionally--fragile, is capable of surviving repeated injuries that would be fatal to lesser mortals.
2. The Cretin
Preferred Prey: Jack O'Neill, Jim Ellison, Duncan MacLeod, Chakotay, Walter Skinner, Sirius Black
The Cretin is often The Wimp's counterpart, and it's no coincidence that some of the more common Cretins are often paired in slash with Wimps. The Cretin is often a stereotypical jock, used to solving problems with his muscles (or a sword or a big gun or a wand). Most Cretins are large men, hulking over their frailer companions and not averse to using physical or verbal intimidation to get their way. Cretins tend to get confused or impatient when confronted by complex issues, and often jump to conclusions before knowing the full story. The Cretin is insensitive, narrow-minded and often self-righteously moralistic. He rarely considers the feelings of others, is particularly mean to Wimps and Saints, and refuses to listen when someone tries to advise him. The Cretin often has a rigid moral/social/work code that he refuses to compromise, even when it might cause harm to a Wimp or Saint.
3. The Villain
Preferred Prey: Jim Ellison, Duncan MacLeod, Ray Vecchio, Ray Kowalski, Chakotay, Jack O'Neill, Sirius Black
The Villain is a "good" person shown as he "truly" is. The rest of the world is mistaken in believing that this person is heroic, upstanding, charming, and fair. Often The Villain is in love with a character who has already given his heart to someone else, and The Villain's jealousy makes him go to any lengths to destroy the relationship. The Villain is often a pathetic, needy figure, uncomprehending of why the object of his affections has rejected him and often resorting to drastic or unethical measures to force his love to return to him. He often ends up alone by the end of the story, abandoned by all his former friends who have now finally seen the light of his villainy.
4. The Dirty Angel
Preferred Prey: Alex Krycek, Severus Snape, Draco Malfoy
A Dirty Angel may appear to be a villainous or unlikable character, but in fact he is sadly misunderstood. No one seems to realize that his unsavory manner is merely a front, the means by which he pursues a lofty purpose for good. He accepts the hatred of his fellow beings as the price he must pay, the more so because he is often wracked with remorse over his past evil deeds. Enduring the contempt of those he is trying to save is no more than a just punishment for his former wicked ways.
5. The Saint
Preferred Prey: Daniel Jackson, Blair Sandburg, Methos, Julian Bashir, Remus Lupin
Characters who already have certain extraordinary capabilities are suddenly good at everything, and yet remain tolerantly amused and depreciatingly modest as their fellow characters fumble around them. Saints are often poor misunderstood geniuses struggling to make the Cretins and Villains understand them. The Saint is patient, charming, adorable, beautiful, and irrisistable. He's been everywhere and seen everything and makes MacGyver look like a fumble-fingered dunce. The Saint is often a good cook, an accomplished musician, has a beautiful singing voice, or is blessed with some other unexpected talent that he might shyly reveal. If confronted by the intolerant bluster of a Cretin, a Saint will often retreat in hurt puzzlement, withdrawing quietly to lick their wounds in silent matyrdom. Many Saints would likely score high on a Mary Sue Litmus Test.
6. The Slut
Preferred Prey: Almost anyone, but especially Wimps
The Slut is a coquette, constantly flaunting his tight little ass at the object of his desire. He preens in front of his mirror, trying on one sexy outfit after another and worrying that he won't be "hot" enough for his man. He has deep insecurities about his attractiveness to the object of his affection, and demands sex as proof of his worth. Sometimes The Slut is also a Dirty Angel, using sex to prove that he's worthy of trust. For The Slut, sex is everything. He thinks about little else other than how to get his man in bed, and once he's gotten him there he suffers agonies of insecurity wondering when he'll leave him.
7. The Lovebirds
Preferred Prey: Any couple that gets together
Ah, domestic bliss. Changes all kinds of people, and no one, it seems, more than fan fiction characters. Lovebirds are suddenly "out" to everyone at work and home. Their elderly neighbor thinks they're such a cute couple, and bigoted co-workers find themselves picking their jaws up off the floor as the pair share a lunchtime kiss and cuddle. The Lovebirds often vow eternal fidelity to one another, and rings are often exchanged in a touchingly detailed ceremony, with friends and family looking on with tearful joy.
Hopefully this Spotter's Guide has been helpful. Remember, always tell a friend where you've gone and when you're expected back when venturing out to track a Fanon. And should you find one of the rare and beautiful Canon Characterizations, be sure to mark its position so you can direct your friends to its location.