Last month I talked about how Deadpool was and is mishandled when it comes to queer representation.
This month, I’m going to talk about why his creators and writers, ultimately, don’t matter. Meaning, I’m going to take a long time to explain my title.
The author is dead, Wade.
“The death of the author” is a post-modern literary analysis device first developed and written about in 1967 by Roland Barthes (luckily none of my old lit professors read any of my stuff, so I don’t have to go into a ton of detail here. Be cool, Loz), which basically tells us, the reader, to take the author’s intentions, biography, emotional attachments and throw ’em away. Screw those guys, they’re dead to us.
A great deal of intention often goes into the canonical version of a creation. In this case, what often happens is the author either forcible removed themselves from their work in order to better edit/revise it (good thing, too, when it happens) or the author knows so much about what they’ve written, they’re answers and understanding of their own work comes off as glib. That’s how author’s notes work, as summaries of what’s in the author’s imagination. So, the readers are left to their own devices, often with the author’s god bless (see J.K. Rowling).
An equal amount of times, though, the author’s products are greater than their imagination. See Marvel Comics Presents: Civil War script edition or J.K. Rowling. So, the readers are left, again, to their own devices and are either ignored or told to cease and desist.
In any case, the author is dead. Drop a rose and move on.
Deadpool & Fandom
Applied to stories and characters, this theory paved the way to fandom. Fandom was once known as a gathering of fans–primarily boys and men–to talk about the comics, movies, television show, etc. and is canon-based.
These days, fandom has evolved into a new literacy, that of the fans–primarily girls and women–taking part in the creative process of their chosen fan-source by creating fan-works in the forms of art and writing.
Note: by “these days” I mean, “these days everyone is starting to pay attention to how women contribute to fan-culture”.
It’s not news that women are the bulk of fandom; creating fanart, fanfiction, and fan-theories (differing only from academic work in the lack of citation, but not in critical or textual examples). The usual interaction between men and women in fan-spaces are men quizzing the women in useless trivia.
With that in mind, let’s consider how Deadpool and fandom gel. As I discussed in part 1, DP’s creators fudged up royal when it comes to queer representation. What does this mean for the fandom? Simply: more fan-works, the kind driven by blood and vitriol.
Like all comic book characters, Deadpool doesn’t have just one or two creators. He is a product of multiple writers working for Marvel, his potential untapped or unwanted potential by many of the writers and comic book execs. (also the case with Batwoman and how she wasn’t allowed to get married in canon).
But, Deadpool isn’t like all comic book characters. That’s the point. He was created to interact with the audience.
The fact that Deadpool was written as a character that breaks the fourth wall pulls the character ever further into the realm of possibilities that is fandom and fan-works.
“But, Holly,” you query, “what do women, Deadpool, and queer representation have to do with each other?” Silly person, exactly what I’ve already explained: Transformative works.
The sexuality spectrum is best represented in fan-works, and who are the greatest (quantity and quality wise *wink*) contributors to fanart and fanfiction? Girls and women. Also, non-binary people and gay boys and men. Cis-gendered boys and men are there, but just barely.
Women make up the bulk of transformative fandom and take a look at the majority of those works on Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.net. More than half of them are made up of “slash” (gay/lesbian pairings), as well as rethinking characters to be pansexual (among a number of different gender and sexual identities).
This, of course, can get problematic. As with men fetishizing women and female relationships, you will get women fetishizing male relationships. However, fandom is self-policing, especially with the prevalence of fandom on social-media sites like tumblr.com and with a relatively new culture developing. We’re talking about it and we’re talking to each other about it.
Whereas the canon writers, producers, and creators have failed. So, fandom swoops in and makes things bearable and, ultimately, better for the new readers.
Next month: Deadpool and the Author is Dead, pt. 3