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02 August 2010 @ 09:04 am
Festibility  
[personal profile] merfilly introduced me to the "Festibility" event currently underway on [community profile] access_fandom, and I thought you might like to have it on your radar, too.  This multi-fandom festival is for all kinds of fanworks (fiction, art, vids, recommendations, etc.) about "canonically disabled characters or canonically able-bodied characters that you reimagine as disabled."  There are no length requirements and no commitments; the moderators do require labeling and warnings where applicable.  The timeline is 07/15 to 09/15, with prompting and posting both open for the full span.When I read through the prompts on Sunday, there were many fascinating and compelling prompts across a multitude of fandoms, but none yet for FK (and precious few for HL).  That makes sense for FK; in addition to being a small and sleepy fandom, we're short on canonically disabled characters (Nick's "allergy to the sun" isn't the target here, though it has its relevance), and we're also stuck with that "magical cure" canonical possibility in the way (so not the target).  Off the top of my head, the characters we do have with incontestable canonicity are: 
Tracy's Uncle Sonny ("Let No Man Tear Asunder"), Joey Ellis ("Fallen Idol"), Christie Black ("Strings") and Alexei ("Strings"); and Don Constantine ("Father Figure"), Jody Fraser ("Blind Faith") and Elizabeth ("I Will Repay") before they are brought across.

However, the fest allows for alternate realities:
What if Tracy had been the one hit by the train as a child ("Dead of Night") and had lived, with a resulting disability?  What if Tracy ("Last Knight"), or Natalie's brother Richard ("I Will Repay"), or Janette's lover Robert ("The Human Factor") had lived, with a disability resulting from their respective shootings?  What if Nick had not rescued Schanke from the bomb ("Hunted") in time but he had lived, or Schanke or Cohen had survived the plane crash ("Black Buddha"), with disability resulting?  What if Erica ("Last Act") is assigned a concrete mental illness behind her suicidal inclination?  What if Natalie has PTSD (from goodness knows how much in her past and present) or there are long-term consequences of the draining in "Last Knight"?  What if Jenny Schanke -- or one of the other Schanke, Stonetree, Cohen or Reese family members whom we never see on screen -- has a disability?  What if the lydovuterine ("The Fix") or one of the other possible cures had given Nick his mortality along with a disability, or a cured Nick (or one of the human characters) simply discovered one in the ordinary progress of living human (not embracing vampirism for a "magical cure," as that wouldn't serve this fest)?

If someone were willing to do the research, it could be fascinating to have a story with an accurate take on life with a disability in a historical period.  The only canonical ones are Elizabeth's leprosy ("I Will Repay") and Alexei Nikolaevich's hemophilia ("Strings").

(I'm not listing the many killer characters with mental illnesses; that's a wimpy pop culture shorthand that shortchanges us all by minimizing evil and demonizing illness.  It doesn't deserve support, especially not in the context of this fest.  But if someone would like to reimagine one of those characters as making better choices, that could be good, too.)

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Melissa: forever knight (nat) - broodinggnosticdiva on August 3rd, 2010 09:15 am (UTC)
I would totally do this, if it weren't for the fact that I'm currently tied up in my VBB-fic (and, just like a vampire, it's been consuming all my thoughts/energy for the time being). Nonetheless, I had to comment.

What if Natalie has PTSD (from goodness knows how much in her past and present) or there are long-term consequences of the draining in "Last Knight"?

She might very well be; it's just not mentioned straightforwardly. Based on Ms. Disher's portrayal, however, the notion seems to be played with a little. Natalie is a survivor of childhood trauma/abuse, and that brings with it its own myriad psychoses and/or neuroses.

Any sort of life-altering traumas can have a cascading effect over the years, especially when one after another occurs (like in Natalie's case). Further, adult survivors of childhood abuse tend to have poor coping mechanisms, essentially locking them in a developmental stasis and remaining ripe for further victimization in the future.

An interesting notion to explore is why she chose life as a coroner. It's a job where there's few living people to be involved with, and there's a low level of stimulation/interaction (a common career goal for those traumatized as children). It also, at times, serves as a reminder of just how cruel people can be to one another (...as if an abuse survivor would need one).

Did she choose this career to remind herself how important and fleeting life is... or is there something about the world of the living she's trying to run away from? Then too, why get emotionally involved with an emotionally unavailable vampire, when there's plenty of nice single -- and quite available -- human fellas out there?

As someone who's dealt with PTSD/depression myself due largely to childhood abuse -- panic attacks and all! -- I see some common threads between my own social behaviour and hers. I have little doubt that she's suffering more than she lets on (people with psychological issues never do).

I'm not listing the many killer characters with mental illnesses; that's a wimpy pop culture shorthand that shortchanges us all by minimizing evil and demonizing illness.

Thank you so much for saying this. This is something that needs to be marked, highlighted and underscored until TPTB finally get it. Because, apparently they've missed the repeated office memos.

Someone who's mentally ill is generally only a danger to themselves, and certainly not intentionally, at that. Mental illness and psychological pain deserve as much sympathy as any physical ailments -- yet rarely is it ever given. The dysfunction is partly in the brain chemistry itself, and partly social conditioning; which is certainly not the fault of those who suffer from such an ailment. (Strange how, in our "enlightened" society, such a seemingly simple origin is so poorly understood.)

And sometimes, a criminal is not merely crazy (and therefore "misunderstood" and redeemable) but truly evil, with a consummate inability to comprehend the pain of another being or the value of any life beyond their own.
Amy R.: Nataliebrightknightie on August 3rd, 2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you for reposting this. Again, my apologies for the accidental deletion!

From your pondering above, I suspect that you and amilyn might very much enjoy discussing Natalie's PTSD and related subjects with each other.  She agrees with you on the probability, and has many opinions about the canonical evidence for various causes and effects, from Natalie's past and from her relationship with Nick.  I tend to use that interpretation more covertly in my fanfiction, if only because my attention is often elsewhere in canon, but I've also written stories about Natalie's grandmother's abuse having continuing effects throughout her life, especially "A Delicate Balance" -- which was written specifically for a prompt by Amilyn, thus the point of bringing it up. :-)
Melissagnosticdiva on August 7th, 2010 03:34 pm (UTC)
I can't believe I forgot to respond. *facepalms*

No worries on the accidental deletion thing. It happens. I've done it once or twice before, too.

Amilyn and I have talked about Nat's history of abuse in my LJ. I'd love to talk with her more about it, as it's a deep part of Nat's characterization that most fanfic writers seem afraid to touch... unless it's with kid gloves. Almost as if that part of her adult personality is radioactive.

"Delicate Balance" is now effectively on my list of stuff to read. :D
Amy R.: Natalie Againbrightknightie on August 7th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
>"Almost as if that part of her adult personality is radioactive."

I think that there are many canonical elements distinct to Natalie (not just her grandmother's abuse, established in "Dead of Night") that frequently get overlooked because Natalie is the "entry character." That is, Natalie, the human who knows about vampires, is the character with whom the audience is expected to share perspective, whose place the audience is expected to stand in, and in fact a majority of fans do seem to interact with the series from that position, whatever their faction.

This often seems to lead to peculiarities being smoothed off (or added to) Natalie's character to make her more like whomever is writing about her at the moment. For example, people who have an investment in domestic abuse as a story element see it in the scene in the back of the Raven in "Feeding the Beast," while those whose story needs are not served by that element do not see it there, or see it in a much dimmer and more muted way. Another example is the absence of Natalie's parents, or the presence of her brother.

In fanfiction, Natalie is perhaps the most flexed of the main characters, so to speak. For all that depictions of Nick and Lacroix and the others do vary widely -- goodness knows, they vary widely! -- I submit that it is Natalie who is most frequently recrafted wholesale to fit a fan's vision, because she is that "entry point" to the story.
One Whose Honesty is Stronger Than Her Fear: ughamilyn on August 3rd, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC)
brightknightie pointed me here and I wish I had something to add other than WORD re: your comments about Natalie.
Melissagnosticdiva on August 7th, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you! *curtsies* We should definitely talk more about this stuff (ie. Natalie's -- and Nick's! -- personal baggage).