Previous links are in the previous post.
Fay has another essay, some of which I addressed in the comments, but not the question of my literary disinterest in slash.
First of all, for my purposes genres or subgenres are self-identifying subsets of fiction into which stories can be classified by any reasonably aware reader. When someone posts a slash story to a slash-only list, or otherwise marks a story with the classification “slash,” then it’s self-identified as slash. Most fanfiction readers will classify any story featuring a non-canonical homosexual relationship as slash. For the purpose of classification, it doesn’t matter that some stories are better than others, or that some are smuttier than others, or even that a few stories are more difficult to classify than the majority. People who want to read slash will look for fiction identified as slash in some way.
Consider, for example, the genre of science fiction. Sci-fi is a self-identifying genre, in that short stories are published in magazines that accept only science fiction, and that novels are published by sci-fi houses and/or marked “sci-fi” on the spine. Readers can identify sci-fi by content even without these clues. Most sci-fi readers will classify any story featuring futuristic science as science fiction. It doesn’t matter that certain stories fall in between sci-fi and fantasy, or in between sci-fi and thrillers - the classification is still useful for people who want to read sf, and equally useful for people who don’t.
Before the pulps, there was no genre of science fiction. If you wanted to talk about sci-fi, you would have to refer generally to, say, the works of Verne or Wells. Now we can look back and classify those pre-genre works into the genre; in fact, we can’t help classifying them. The days in which a sci-fi writer could pass for mainstream are over. Likewise, we can’t help classifying slash as slash. The genre will not go away anytime soon, and the label functions to tell people that this is a subgenre with certain known characteristics.
I have a literary reason for liking science fiction: I read sci-fi for the exploration of futures and the heroic plots. In general what I consider to have merit in fiction is the heroic and skill in the depiction of a world, whether a future world, a past one, a fantastic one, or a slightly altered version of our own (eg., in Ayn Rand). People might dismiss sci-fi for literary reasons as well: usually such critics feel that the antiheroic has more literary merit than the heroic, or they want more attention to character and less to plot and milieu. People also dislike sci-fi for non-literary reasons - they have a visceral dislike of the fantastic or of the heroic.
So, as I’ve said before, people can have a literary or a visceral disinterest in slash. I ruled out moral disapproval of non-smut slash because literary works (as opposed to erotica) are not usually judged on a moral basis. In any event, moral considerations are not literary ones, so for those who think they apply they can be lumped into the visceral dislikes.
Fanfic is about playing with canon or fanon. What you do with them is a matter or literary or visceral tastes. As with sf, my interest is in the universe and the heroic plot, and also in humor, especially at the expense of either canon or fanon. So I prefer AU stories (particularly numbers 3, 4, and 6 from the Borg AU Classification), adventures, parodies, and filk, all of which are closely based on canon characterizations, canon events, and/or the canon universe as a milieu. I don’t care for angst, fluff, or slash, all of which are based on altering canon characterizations. (In the case of Buffy, the show’s level of angst is tough to top so the real crimes against canon occur on the fluffy side.)
So I have a literary disinterest in slash, because I have a more general literary disinterest in non-canon characterizations. Someone else might have an opposite literary interest in tweaking canon characterizations - this might include slash but would not be restricted to it, there being so many other ways to alter the characters. That leaves the question, can someone have a literary interest in slash alone? I’m not going to say it isn’t possible, but the pro-slash factors people usually cite are not, on the face of them, literary in the sense I mean it. “Pretty boys” is clearly a visceral taste, and the interest in slashy subtext would have to be accompanied by comparable interest in other kinds of subtext to be a general literary interest. I don’t believe in subtext, myself, but I hear people go on at length about alleged J/C subtext in Voyager episodes, and it doesn’t seem to capture the attention of the C/P crowd.
So instead I attribute the interest in slash to modern sexual politics - the romanticization of friendship, a certain J/C author would, ironically, call it. (Ironically, because J/C is exactly the same phenomenon, right down to the alleged canon subtext - why can’t these two friends be just friends?) I would call it the homosexualization of romance - because the opposite gender is no longer “other” enough, and romance is no longer star-crossed enough, the way to recapture that old troubadour spirit is to complicate relationships by making them same-sex. This theory explains (to me) why one particular kind of alteration to canon characterizations, making them gay, is so much more popular than, say, making them Mormons, or gourmet chefs, or hermaphrodites.
None of the above is a comment on the quality of slash or on the right of slashers to slash. It’s just an explanation of what it means to have a literary disinterest in slash as a non-canonical genre, something that is frequently said to be impossible.