Lobelia the adverbial (lobelia321) wrote,

rps characters are empty signifiers

• Last night I had a dream about Cristiano Ronaldo. He canoodled up to me but I was reserved. (111) (Something has clearly gone wrong with my unconscious somewhere along the line there.) And the main thing I kept thinking in the dream was, hah, wait till I tell people on LJ that I've actually met him. (More proof that slashy fandom is all about the exchange of men among women, twisting Lévi-Strauss's theories about women being exchange tokens in the homosocial economy of men into something that the old unreconstructed 1950s structuralist did not anticipate, *g*.)

My god, this fandom is transporting me back to the days of lotrips -- I have never dreamed of any fps character; they are too unreal. Or, to formulate this differently: they are (paradoxically) too real. An fps character like, for example, Draco Malfoy or Dr Rodney McKay, is at the same time vague and ill-defined (what exactly does Draco look like? what precisely is McKay's family background, and is his cat white or black?) and fleshed-out and replete (Draco has a whole host of canonical characteristics and attributes that cannot be spirited away; McKay is embodied in the flesh, blood and bare upper arms of David Hewlett).

For this reason, I also find that an fps character is more resistant to my Mary Sueishness. They are too fictional, too real. (Because fiction is real. Words make things real.)

Rps characters, by contrast, are total chimaerae. They are wraiths (and not of the SGA variety). They are insubstantial; they are surface; they are the ultimate screens for our projections. As you know, I love Roland Barthes, and somewhere (I think, it's in his essay on myth at the end of Mythologies Today) he writes about the empty signifier. This is, for example, the black pebble. The black pebble means nothing by itself. It is completely empty. Only in the context of the ancient Athenian practice of pronouncing death sentence, does it come to mean something. The jurors (or whoever they were) put either a white pebble or a black pebble in a bag; these were then counted, and if there were more black pebbles, the sentence for the accused was death. So here, the empty signifier of the black pebble becomes linked to the signified of death, and is now a very full sign.

Fps characters come to us already full. They are replete signs. When we turn them into signifiers for purposes of slashy twisty-turning, we give them new signifieds. The already replete sign becomes the signifier for our new signifieds.

Rps characters come to us, I would argue, empty. Canon (as I've discussed elsewhere in these posts) is patchy and ultimately unknowable in rps. For me, anyway, an rps character is so much emptier as a signifier than an fps character that I might as well call him an empty signifier. An rps character is the black pebble. We then fill up this character with signifieds and turn him into a full and replete sign. So the lee-way we have is so much greater in rps. (Wasn't it lotrips that originated wingfic, for example? An instance of completey insane filling of the empty signifier. Wingfic in SGA and HP is different in kind from wingfic in lotrips, I think, because wingfic in fps needs to fit itself into the existing fps universe. So it loses some of its insanity and becomes, within the contexts of sci-fi-verse and magic-verse, almost plausible.) This is why, to me, rps after my long sojourn in fps, seems very liberating.

The sense of 'just make it all up' is (for me) much stronger in rps than in fps. Fps has already 'made it all up'. The universe and the character are human-made representations (which means, that they are by definition replete signs). Rps is made by nobody. The only people who do the making up are we.

The fact that rps is both real (it is always plausible that one might one day actually indeed meet one of these characters; in lotrips, many fans sought out this very possibility and hurled themselves at premieres and cons -- you can never, ever meet an fps character) and fictional (the characters exist only in the represented canon fragments of the media: pics chosen for us by Getty and Fifa [or, in the case of lotrips, the cameras of fevered fans, *g*, and the 'sneak pics' of dubious teenie mags], interviews, bits of words here and there, film footage -- but who knows what they really think? all of this can lead to the tinhat assumptions of media conspiracy -- we must hide our love in the code of T-shirts [remember the code of T-shirts??? *g*]) just never ceases to intrigue and delight me.

This is the meta-theorist semiotic post. Next followeth the absurd drool obsession post.

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