So I was reading Kris' blog again (http://krisngoodbooks.blogspot.com/), which I look at pretty much every day to see what Kris has thought of this time. A couple of days ago, it started out being about Beauty and the Beast stories, and quickly went to Kris wondering whether there's a lot of image consciousness in the gay community. In a word, yes. I think it's especially intense among younger men. But I was more interested in the Beauty and the Beast part of the post.
I read one m/m romance which I've been searching my e-book files for, because of course I can't remember the title, but it was set in New Zealand, with a Beast cursed by the old gods there. I keep thinking it was published by Torquere, but I could be totally wrong. The young man was Maori, and the Beast was of British descent.
I like parts of the myth, and some of the variations on it. I don't much care for the romances where the Beauty, male or female, is terrified by the Beast, especially if he or she remains so for months. I enjoy the ones where the Beauty has at least some common sense. As mentioned on Kris' blog, the Robin McKinley version was good, and I liked the Mercedes Lackey version, Fire Rose. The ones where the Beast is still a little damaged after it all move me more than the ones where he's as perfect as he ever was.
I generally don't care for stories in which damaged characters are completely healed like their damage never happened. Some things leave a mark. I like when characters learn to compensate around the disability, and aren't too self-pitying about it. Sure, you can recover from some problems more or less completely, but you'd still remember that time. Some damage just continues to affect the person physically or mentally whether they've found romance or not. It's fine if love and/or the lover helps them deal, but I don't think romance makes all problems go away.
The other blog I was reading was the Eskimo Kiss Project (http://awz.parakaproduction.com) blog: http://eskimokissproject.wordpress.com/. Yes, of course I focused in on the part about the sex scenes. The whole interview is well worth reading, though.
Dennis G. said: "The shower scene with Igor and me was received incredibly well by the viewers. Recently we shot another scene where Deniz and Roman slept together. Igor’s portrayal of the moment when I enter him was very intense. Sometimes we get a little overeager! We already knew while we were acting it that it would have to be cut."
Water Tower posted a clip of the shower scene on the m/m romance fans Yahoo group, and got me interested in Alles Was Zahlt, enough so I ended up watching all the way back to Deniz' introduction on the show, and all the way forward to watching full present-day episodes. The EKP clip of episode 751 has a ridiculous amount of hits. Some of us may have watched it more than once. It's the emotions the actors get across, in addition to that sizzling chemistry, that make it so fascinating to me. Roman is so deeply in love with Deniz, and has been wanting to be together with him for weeks at least. Deniz is in love with Roman, too, but he's too oblivious to realize it at this point.
Who do we have to bribe to get footage of cut scenes? Hopefully we'll get a tamer version on-screen that will convey what the writers and actors were trying to get across. I generally love scenes where Igor is intense, whether they're sexual or not. The scenes in the last couple of weeks before Deniz left for New York City had such tenderness from Deniz towards Roman -- the eye contact, the touches and cuddling, Deniz' actions. Even when Deniz and Roman are broken up, there's such emotion between them, and the chemistry really never goes away.
The more-than-implication that Roman tops at least some of the time reminded me of a conversation I had with S. a few weeks ago, when I was telling him about some stereotypes of m/m romance. I said that in a lot of the books, the taller, more butch, more physically aggressive character was always the top. That was when he asked me if the women who wrote those books had ever met a gay man. I love that those stereotypes are getting skewered on Alles Was Zahlt.
Verbotene Liebe doesn't have such a contrast of physical size and mannerisms with the guys. Christian is one of the most butch characters on the show, but that's just natural to him. It comes across as completely unforced. Aside from loving Olli, and showing tenderness towards him, he's pretty tough-minded. When Olli is acting in character, he's quite easygoing and even-tempered, and more emotionally expressive and nurturing than Christian is. New characters wouldn't realize Olli liked men except that Olli shows his feelings. And apparently those scarves are supposed to send a message. I think that sleeping with men sends a perfectly clear message, no scarves necessary.
The impression I get is that most fan fiction authors have decided that Christian tops, though it's never been made explicit on the show. In canon, sometimes one makes the advances, sometimes the other, sometimes it's both at the same time. Once Christian got used to being with a man, he wasn't shy about letting Olli know he wanted him. Olli was past shy by the time he let Tom know he liked him. He was quite self-confident by the time he met Christian.
Despite me writing about it frequently enough, I'm really not terribly preoccupied by who takes which physical role, not in the same sense that many female readers and viewers are. I know in fan fiction it's very important to writers and readers to have a consensus on this, and mark the story accordingly, so the reader knows what to expect. My take is more on trying to analyze the stereotypes, and rip them apart if I can. I think some of the stereotyping is from writers who are ill-informed, and some from those who might have more of a clue, but go along with the stereotypes to fit in. I just like to challenge that, and look for more diverse possibilities.