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Pornography As A Snack Cake.
Ficbitches
ficbitches
Final Fantasy 8 :: Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy?
Reviewed By: Lunar Love


SCORING:
CHARACTERIZATION: 3/5 (yes... and no.)
PLOT: 2/5 (the setup requires plotting; the rest requires merely porn)
WRITING: 4/5 (well-written. very well-written indeed. squirm.)
CALORIES IN A MASS-PRODUCED CREAM-FILLED GOLDEN SPONGE CAKE: 150/5

Extraordinarily belated greetings from our new Lair of Ultimate Evil on LiveJournal, O Gentle Reader! Or so some would have it, and certainly I have nothing better to do than wear black leather and cackle evilly with my compatriots while digging my long crimson talons into the quivering gelatinous souls of helpless teenaged girls. Gelatine makes nails strong and healthy, you understand.

Alas, however, today's review is not a simple outpouring of spleen (although both you and I do so enjoy such things). No, indeed, today I grant you a rare glimpse into what makes Lunar Love tick. Aren't you the lucky one?

There will, of course, be spoilers for Final Fantasy 8 contained herein. By this point, spoiling Final Fantasy 8 is akin to spoiling 'Little Red Riding Hood': if you actually find someone who is genuinely surprised that Red and her grandmother survive at the end, or that Squall and Rinoa find Twoo Wuv, capture them in a net and keep them under glass, for they're a rare creature indeed.

Now, then.

I first found this fanfic while making a wide sweep through our beloved fanfiction.net, back before they so metaphorically castrated themselves - for what else do you call it when someone removes all their genitalia? But I digress, as is my wont.

Amidst all that nauseous dreck masquerading as yaoi (Squall has had his buttocks cleft so very many times - by so very many people - that those tight leather pants must now contain the human equivalent of the Holland Tunnel, complete with flickering fluorescent lights and orange traffic cones), I found this story. And I was glad to find it, Gentle Reader. Very glad. So very glad, in fact, that when the castration was imminent I spent a good hour or so finding this story again, and locating its true home, so that I might have it to read again. And eventually to bitch about, of course, because love is a fickle, fickle thing, and so am I.

Allow me to sum up the plot of this fic for you: Irvine, that naughty and apparently sexually indiscriminate cowboy, has contrived to sleep with Zell, Squall, and Seifer without any of them suspecting that he is less than faithful. As the story opens, Selphie remonstrates with Irvine for his man-whorish ways and asks him how long he thinks he can keep this up.
Prophetic words, these, Gentle Reader. After blowing off Selphie's fears with a casual 'I can handle it' (and spending a good page or so rhapsodizing to himself about how he became involved with each man and how different they all were), Irvine returns to his room, only to find all three of his cuckolded 'spouses' waiting for him inside with various knowing expressions on their faces. The jig, as they say, is up.
Need I go on? Of course not. Let us just say that Irvine gets what is coming to him, many times, in many ways, and leave it there, shall we?

Let us first examine the many things that this story has done well.

The yaoi itself is well, well done, and I style myself a connoisseur of yaoi - not without some reason. So very much fanfic porn could not turn on so much as a lamp, Gentle Reader, and while I did not precisely read this story with one hand down my Lunar Panties, I did find myself squirming a bit. So: points for effective smut.

The author also overcomes that most basic of yaoi problems - the Pronoun Problem - with flair. Despite the fact that there are not two but four different 'hims' participating, I never once got confused over whom she was referring to, thanks to copious applications of such terms as 'the cowboy', 'the martial artist', and 'the asshole' - no, no, I lie about the last one. The author neither confuses the reader with indiscriminate himming nor names us to death. So: points for effective distinction.

Bodily terminology was neither excessively flowery and euphemistic nor excessively - I suppose 'gynecological' is a bit of a misnomer - clinical. So: points for effective genitalia.

The dialogue flowed well, and I could easily tell one character from another by their traits and habits. So: points for effective writing.

In fact, all in all, I would have to say that this story left me with only one major quibble (and its associated minor quibblets). Alas, it is a large one:

Why was this story deemed necessary at all?

No, no, there's no need to rush down to the comments section and tell me, Gentle Reader. I freely admit that the question is largely rhetorical - as a connoisseur, I know very well why people deem yaoi like this necessary. I sense that the author's mental processes must have run along these lines:

"Oh, these boys are all so hot! Which ones should I pair up for my next fic? Squall and Seifer? Squall and Zell? Irvine and Zell? Oh, wouldn't it be great if I could just write smut with all of them in it instead of having to choose? ... and why not? I think I will! It'll be so hot!"

Fair enough, as far as it goes. In the past my fellow bitches and I have seen smut that curls our hair, melts our makeup, cracks our pelvises, and bursts our eardrums; a mere foursome of toothsome male humans isn't likely to make us blink an eye. To the author I say: if it pleases you to write four erections in a bed - and apparently it did, and probably still does - more power to you, and may you continue to write whatever pleases you for as long as you wish, for you wrote it well, as far as it goes. And as long as you continue to write it, I shall be there to read it.

However, when one strips away distracting little details like orgasms, one is left with a situation that I find somewhere between unbelievable and ludicrous. The author has sufficient skill that, if she had chosen to write about a single pairing, any pairing, I would have believed her wholeheartedly. The tiny paragraphs she gives us telling us how each seduction began are quite well thought out. But all three pairings at once? Rendering a good half the cast not only bi-possibly-homo-sexual at a single stroke, but also more than willing to take part in a miniature gay orgy? It may certainly be titillating - goodness knows I found it so - but I cannot give it that much benefit of the doubt, Gentle Reader. Alas, a failing of mine, I admit it.

Gay and lesbian activists in our world tell us that ten percent of the population is gay, and while this is certainly a hotly-contested statistic, it's also one that I, personally, find reasonable. Let us assume, then, that the ten percent rule is true, and is true for the world of Final Fantasy 8, as well.

Let us consider the male characters available, shall we? In the party, we have Squall, Irvine, and Zell. In the other party, we have Laguna, Kiros, and Ward. We also have Seifer, and we have Headmaster Cid. And, just to make my numbers nice and round, let us add Raijin and Nida. There. Ten men. Now, according to the ten percent rule, one of them would be gay. Since Lunar Love is, in fact, a geek of the highest stripe, she has here a pearly red ten-sided die filched out of her own personal handmade dice bag; let us ask it which one is gay.

We roll a nine. (For those of you who wish to pick my Lunar Nits, I state for the record that I did, indeed, fetch and roll a ten-sided die. Indeed, I am an extraordinarily thorough geek.) So, therefore, the ten-sided die informs us that Raijin is gay. Now, I suppose one could write fic in which Raijin was masturbating and thinking about Seifer, but how many of those could one person read before going quite mad? So we make Seifer bisexual, and then many hijinks can be had - but look! by doing so we have changed the ten percent to fifteen percent! Were we to make him gay, twenty percent! Were we to throw them a juicy naked Squall, thirty percent!

Now, then, to my point, and I assure you that I had one. By piling four of our cast members into a SeeD bed and making them have sex, she has rendered forty percent of the male cast, and by perfectly ludicrous extension (do not try this at home, Gentle Reader) forty percent of the entire world, gay (or, yes, thank you, Lunar Nitpickers, bisexual). That I cannot accept. That I cannot buy.

Why am I making such a fuss over this, you might ask? It's only fanfiction, after all. It's only a titillating little fantasy written to please the author and perhaps a few of her closest friends, not a grand statement on homosexuality. And you would, in fact, be correct. But the discrepancy gnaws at me, Gentle Reader. As much as I may enjoy reading the story, five minutes after I put it down the assumptions therein make me roll my eyes. This fic - like so many others - is the yaoi version of a Twinkie. It's good while you're eating it, and it's oh so pleasant going down, but it leaves an odd chemical taste in one's mouth afterwards as the dubious ingredients make themselves known.

If not-so-simple homosexual pornography is what you're after, this fanfic is very close to perfect. If a realistic and believable look at the world of Final Fantasy 8 is your goal, look elsewhere. And here we come to the crux of my argument, and the main reason I take such issue with fics like this (tick!): I would like very much to believe that terrific smut and believable characterization are not mutually exclusive. I would like very much to read sizzling-hot yaoi fic that I can also believe in right down to the darkest corners of my shriveled little soul. Unfortunately, writing a yaoi foursome is a daunting task in and of itself, and there are very few fandoms - note I did not say none! - in which it can be reconciled with believable characterization. Final Fantasy 8 is most certainly not one of them.

Our author, when faced with this choice, sided with the yaoi instead of the characterization. I cannot blame her; in many ways I am happy that she did so; but in the end, it is just another anonymous fuckfic with four nameless men wearing Final Fantasy 8 character masks. It is a testament to her skill that the masks are as well-made as they are, but that is all they are. Masks.

That is her prerogative. And here, in our new home, bitching about it is mine.

I suppose it is also possible that our erstwhile author played a different version of Final Fantasy 8 than I did. Perhaps there was a Yaoi Fangirl Version available that I did not get. If so, Gentle Reader, I am off to eBay, for there is a slobbering little Lunar Pervert deep in my head who longs for this fic to be true.


I've found that the only time I can enjoy yaoi and yuri is when it makes SENSE. Certainly, Squall may seem excessively gay with his fur-lined short jacket. Irvine may scream pink in his cowboy hat. Seifer might seem a bit TOO obsessed with being better than Squall. Zell may be- ...no, I can't really come up with anything for him. He's such a Guy.

But I can say for sure, canonically, that Squall is straight. And one can make a very compelling argument for Irvine and Selphie.

Does this mean I don't like yaoi? No. In fact, I could happily point you towards one of my favorite fanfics, an extremely well-done CCS slashfic angst-o-rama. ("I don't even LIKE Card Captor Sakura," Kiva muttered, staring at what she'd written. "They're going to get the wrong idea from that, I just know it.")

Does this mean I don't like smut? Hah, NO. But once again, it has to make SENSE to me. Just some tiny shred of sense, and I'll be happy.

See, it was this line here that threw me off:

Irvine Kinneas, official Balamb Garden slut.

In some ways, I have to agree. Irvine does seem the type to think this. And he is, no question, an unstoppable flirt.

But after that line, any hope of me taking the fic seriously was just GONE. And I guess that's my problem. If I can't take it seriously, I can't seem to take it at all.

This is, of course, just a second opinion.

(Deleted comment)
Of course, the ten percent rule would only hold more or less true if you were looking at a reasonably large percentage of the population, only to hold as absolutely true as possible when that number got to be 100% of the population, becoming less and less applicable the smaller the selected group. Ten people is not even remotely close to an appceptable field of research.

Not that I enjoy the "whee, everyone is in a gay soap!" setups. Erk, no. But if we're playing nitpick statistician we're playing nitpick statistician, yes? ;)

Even if we're not playing nitpick statistician: way more than ten percent of the people I regularly interact with would not define themselves as straight. More than ten percent of the people on my lj friendslist isn't straight. It's perfectly concievable that, in real life, you'd have a group of friends/acquaintances wherein even the majority are not straight. You get to choose who you hang out with, yeah?

However (and I say this not having actually played the game), it's unlikely that you'd find that high a percentage in a game/movie/whatever without it being intended. For example: it's safe to assume that at least 75% of the reoccurring characters say, Queer as Folk are gay or at least not straight. That statistic would not be quite so safe for Star Trek and very dangerous for the nightly news.

(Deleted comment)
Let's see the math! (Anonymous) Expand
I love yaoi. I've rambled many times in my lj about how certain pairings make me squee and feel warm&fuzzy inside.

However, I'm also picky about fanfiction. Granted, I'm not into the FFVIII fandom (I think Laguna is gorgeous and Quistis is beautiful, but never write fics about them or anything or try to pair em off), but I've seen this kind of thing in anime fandoms with a big yaoi following. Gundam Wing is one of the worst, I think-we have Completely Emotionless!Heero, Bastard!Heero, Angst Whore!Duo, Suicidal!Duo, Hyperactive Idiot!Duo, Sullen!Trowa, Weepy!Quatre, Bastard!Zechs, Mysoginist!Wufei, and the list goes on. The girls are portrayed as raving psychopaths or annoying, whiny little bitches. I've seen enough of the anime to know that Duo CAN be serious and does NOT show any signs of being suicidal. Heero may be obsessed with his work and cold to people, but he isn't heartless. Quatre is NOT a weepy little wuss. Relena is NOT a whiny stalker bitch. Trowa does show some emotion. Zechs isn't a complete bastard.

It's scary, I almost got USED to the fanon GW chars for awhile. O_o

Do you frequent Indie Madnesse, by any chance?

Your name looks familiar.

heh torsui Expand
yup torsui Expand
(Deleted comment)
There's an abundance of Lord of the Rings fanfiction that is the exact same way. Squealing fangirls have a disgustingly unwarranted need to make the entire fellowship gay in the course of one fanfic. Everyone.

Aragorn has forgotten his relationship with Arwen, and decided that he has a thing for the blond, faerie-boy Legolas, while the elf suddenly melts for scruffy rangers. Sam thinks that Frodo is one hot chicka Hobbit, and Frodo is swooning over the dogged but gentle attitude of his faithful gardener. Merry and Pippin, just best friends? Oh no, they can't be buddies without having bashful daydreams of each other bathing. Gimli has always been awed by Boromir's broad chest and shoulders, and the Son-of-Gondor thinks that Gimli is *just* the right height. ::cough:: Oh, and you can't forget the way that Gandalf shudders lustfully at the sight of the badass Saruman.

Overkilled? Yeah, but it's often how these kinds of fics progress. Fangirls need to be kicked in the head and learn how proper relationships work. >_

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
It sucks... (Anonymous) Expand

Ow! My stomach lining!

With all the twinkie talk, I think it's safe to say that this fic has been

MSG'd!

Sorry, couldn't resist. XD

Yes, but if you have ten people lined up, while "statistically" the odds are that one out of those ten is gay, each one of those people is within themselves a new set of odds. So the odds that Squall is gay are one in ten, then you go down the line to Irvine and his odds are one in ten, then you step down to Zell and his odds are one in ten (though I give him a "zero" because I say he's straight) and so on.

Add the bisexuality factor into the mix and the odds change...

But the point is well-taken; the odds of four cast members having a gay orgy is vanishing toward zero.

'Bout that Zell thing...

I haven't read much FFVIII fanfiction, even fewer yaoi ones, but from the ones I've read, the authors always seem to pair up Zell... and Seifer.

I believe I speak for everyone when I say WHAT?

They completely hate each other! In the heads of fangirls, why is it always that enemies = lovers? Arggh. ::smacks head against desk::

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Well... actually... (Anonymous) Expand
But then again... (Anonymous) Expand
I don't think it's strange at all to want both believable smut and believable characterization. It would be one thing if every author labeled their fic- such as, "I just wrote this so that it would be hot, and these characters could be anybody!"- but alas, I've found very few that do so.

One of the things that made me stop reading X-Files fanfiction altogether was how much of the romance- either het or slash, it didn't matter- was very, very bad. People became obsessed with what neat little alien devices could do and forgot about what Mulder, Scully, Krycek, Skinner, and anyone else they dragged in acted like on the show.

Shame, really. But I suppose if someone started a campaign for good characterization in yaoi/yuri/just about anything really, people would start shouting them down with, "It's my story! I can do what I want!" and all the other arguments that are wearily familiar from Mary Sue stories.

(Deleted comment)
Pfft. Most of these ridiculous arguements stem from one post left by one person who is trying to be well-spoken and witty. Then it just snowballs because fifty other people who cannot write have to come in crying about canon. Fuck canon! FF8's plot totally sucked! It is our duty to rewrite it as we see fit and that, in my case, means all kindsa slashing, anyway I can make it happen.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, true, but I don't see any of these morons putting up their work for us to analyze into stuttering depression.

I loved that fic, honey, you know I did. I still have it in hard copy, in fact. And just so you know, all the rambling idiocy that preceded your post had nothing to do with intelligent, constructive criticism. It had everything to do with people trying to be cute.

It wasn't cute. It was pretentious and insulting. Go read some Salinger, or something, if you people have nothing better to do with your time.

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
(Deleted comment)
*Stands and applauds! Bravo!!!

(Deleted comment)
Quite right. Much nicer than I'd have been, though. I still think the entire lot of them are nothing more than a bunch of frustrated, finger-pointing cunts. And that includes any men involved, as well.

Can't speak for anyone else, but the only thing here that's frustrating me is you, sweetie. You've turned a moderately complimentary review, albeit one with the reviewer voicing an understandable WTF, into a diatribe against the lot of us and what you consider to be our obvious sexual dysfunction.

I'll admit that as a straight guy, I have next to no interest in yaoi, particularly PWP yaoi. That isn't why I posted. I posted to point out the flaws in your argument, little knowing that you didn't actually have an argument beyond mindless fangirl pro-yaoi raving. Whoops.

Please allow me to summarize the rest of your posts thusly, to save you the time: "FF8 sucks unless it's slashed; slash is the best thing ever; canon doesn't matter; even if the author isn't insulted, I am; you're all bastards." That appears to be all you have to say; it's been said. You can go now.

Incidentally: switch to decaf, willya?

-- Thomas Wilde

...<i>what</i>? (Anonymous) Expand

Percentage

(Anonymous)
You have a lot of problems with this.

1) There are people who refuse to admit to being gay
2) It's hard to survey the enitre world population
3) Some people would rather be called 'straight' than 'gay' when there is no 'bi' categoy.
4) usually people have to volunteer for surveys like these, screwing over all the data.

~Snake Eyes

Just relax...

(Anonymous)
Is it just me, or are people getting WAY too serious over a self-proclaimed PLOTLESS fic? I read the fic, and enjoyed it, and personally I'm very impressed with the author's writing style (AND her ability to write four men having sex without any confusion over who's doing what!). But really, there's no need for people to start getting up in arms over canon or statistics (I study population dynamics, so I could argue statistical tests and sample sizes all day if I wanted to) or the pros and cons of slash fiction. It's just a bit of fun - treat it as such.

Re: Just relax...

(Anonymous)
All I can say is: thank you. I was getting frightened by the storming argument when this fic clearly went out with the intent of being fantasy, not pure realism or canon.

Although considering the "statistics" musing in the review (nice work as always), I now wonder what the natural statistics are for FF8 (or indeed any other fictional world). It has to be questioned; in a world where you could die any day (how many SeeDs were there that looked over 20?), would people be more openminded to enjoy love whilst you can?

After all, the game was designed to be viewed by people of this universe with their biases... giving us a censored view of their universe. O_O Goodness. I need to spend some more time in Real LifeTM. I hope the above makes sense... I'm too tired to be more articulate. -.-

- Valentine Angel

Re: Just relax... (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Just relax... (Anonymous) Expand

English, "no climax<sup>2</sup>, no point, no meaning." Yaoi is, by proxy, porn. It may be written,

Funny review and all, but...

1) "Why was this story deemed necessary at all?"

YAOI=YAma-nashi, Owari-nashi, Ima-nashi. (I've also seen it "yama-nashi, ochi-nashi, imi-nashi.")1 Or, in English, "no climax2, no point, no meaning." Yaoi is, by proxy, porn. It may be written, and thus less potent than imagery, but its main purpose is still to arouse.

Reading yaoi is like watching porn movies. You don't do it for the artistic value. You do it to get the job done.

Re: English, "no climax<sup>2</sup>, no point, no meaning." Yaoi is, by proxy, porn. It may be writt

Well, I'm not sure where you got that info from, but even if that's the official translation, that's not how it's defined in the fanfiction community.

As far as I know, pretty much everyone considers yaoi to translate simply as gay. A yaoi fic would be a fanfic involving one or more gay couplings. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's pr0n-ish. I've read plenty of yaoi fics, and none of them have compelled me to shove my hand down my pants.

Afterall, gay couplings are just that, couplings. Just because it's with two men(or women, if it's yuri) instead of man x woman, it doesn't make it any less of a relationship. Why should yaoi be viewed as something dirty? That's not cool at all...

WTF?

(Anonymous)
It's mind-boggling to read all the comments on this one fic. The wrangling and bone-gnawing just go in circles and it makes me very tired. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but how about we all just shut up? That includes me. ^^ By the bye, have you banned Pixie Whatever-the-hell yet?



~Jackal

Re: WTF?

(Anonymous)
This *was* a decent debate until pixie hijacked it.

Re: WTF? (Anonymous) Expand

Stats

(Anonymous)

Of course, if just two of them were bi, then the stats would be fine. And you'd have a yaoi fic. Not a foursome yaoi fic, but a yaoi fic nonetheless.

XD XD

Re: Stats

(Anonymous)
^^ A person after my own heart. I always call bi, or "straight except for..." when I'm trying to write yaoi about someone like Youji.

~Jackal

Re: Stats (Anonymous) Expand