1/4 Hello! I'm sorry to bother you with this, but you're a really chill person from what I've seen and you love Steve, you're willing to listen and answer politely, and I don't know who else to turn to with this. I'm just so fucking sick of how Steve is used in fandom even by people who supposedly like him. Spoiler, they don't. They just want him as a trophy for [insert X]. Like, I read this hugely popular fic where Steve is essentially written as a selfish, incompetent idiot
2/4 who harangues Bcky and Sam into joining The Good Fight TM (post-CW) to the point where Bcky (lol) has to ~give him a lecture~ about how to treat Sam properly. It ends as OT3 (where Steve is treated as a sex-cessory, of course, lmao), it has hundreds of kudos, & yet no one seems to give a damn that Steve was basically character assassinated in it. Cherry on the cake is that when Steve mentions he went to Sharon for help getting Sam’s wings back, Sam is offended. Calls her “Carter”. Ok then.
¾ I get that fandom enjoys having Steve be pathetically codependent to their faves, as if he has no other friends who love him. I get that the angry!chihuahua Steve interpretation is popular to the point where that’s ALL he seems to fucking do in fic, as if there’s nothing else important to him. But to disregard his trauma, depression, suicidal tendencies, debilitating survivor’s guilt and the fact that he’s a damn veteran who has given up his life for his country and the rest of the world –
4/4 into “Steve doesn’t know how to live without war or violence! Ofc he’d keep dragging his (Fandom Approved) friends into this! He’s so selfish & boringly depressed, here we go again, Bcky/Nat/Sam/Chewbacca need to clean up his messes ~obvs~ since he’s so incompetent LOL can’t wait for him to die so someone else can be cap” is beyond galling. I’m tired of this. I’m sick of it being lauded. I can barely read halfway through a fic these days without back-buttoning in disgust and disappointment.
Oh my dearest Anon, you have vented to exactly the right place. I know! I share your pain. Trust me on this. I am very, very picky about what fanfic I read all the way through. Part of that is not just that I’m a huge Steve Rogers fan, which I am. He’s my main guy. I love him. But I also work full-time, I’m a wife and a mother. My spare time is precious. I have so, so many tabs open for stories from authors that I trust that I have yet to read just because my reading time is so sparse. If a writer wants to catch my attention, to be placed in front of the queue above the writers I already know are balanced and fair in their characterization, they had better be good about characterization, because characterization is the one aspect of writing I am most picky about. It is the writers responsibility to build a trust in their reader, and to build that trust they need to follow the basic rules for character construct in fiction writing, if the writers cannot follow those basic tenants, something just one creative writing class would show them in a heartbeat, or hell, even just a little research into the craft, then I’m out. And I’m not likely to return to read anything else they produce. Basically it’s a writers job to sell the characters, even the characters who aren’t their favorite, especially the characters who aren’t their favorite. If their biases manage to leak through their writing they are not doing it right.
Part of this might be the age of fandom. While there are those of us, like myself, who are over 30, who have schooling and/or experience, a large section of fandom is very young. Some still in high school. Some in college but they haven’t really learned yet or fine-tuned their craft. It is my hope that the more they write the better they’ll be at it. That one day they’ll realize that a) when you make one character the all-knowing, ‘right’ one, let’s use Bucky since that’s the example you gave me, you are actually not doing Bucky’s character any favors, it’s not just Steve’s characterization who suffers in this. Gone are the Ian Flemming days when readers gave a pass to a lack of realism when it comes to building a protagonist. Were Ian Flemming try to sell James Bond today - ingenious, undefeatable, sexually flawless James Bond - he would be turned down. As a society we’ve evolved past that. We look for realism. Identifiable characteristics. The biggest mistake a writer could make is to make their character, any character, a stereotype.
As for how the fandom treats Steve in particular? Using him as a whipping boy to prop up their favorite? Also, again, that’s immaturity. And also an act driven entirely by emotion with total absence of logic. Let’s say you, as a writer, or just a really big fan of a character, want to sell your favorite character so that others may come to appreciate him. Or, in the very least feel empathy towards this character and their situation. Let’s again use Bucky in this (just as an example, I’m not trying to pick on Bucky). But here is the thing, you don’t need to convince fellow Bucky fans. They are already convinced. They are on board. They get it. What you need to do is appeal to the people who don’t give Bucky a thought. And how do you convince them? It sure as hell isn’t by attacking another character, that’s for sure! If I, as a Steve fan, see a Bucky fan attack Steve to prop up Bucky, I am going to be closed off to anything that Bucky fan has to say. It’s a defensive mechanism. i.e. ‘You’re attacking my guy, you’ve just made yourself and your character the enemy, I’m not giving your words any credence’. Thus this person has not achieved their goal of convincing anyone of anything. In fact they made the situation worse because now the only thing I’m convinced of is that this characters’ fans are rabid.
With age comes wisdom and hopefully fandom will get past this. But yeah, they do it, and it’s awful and it makes no sense and uses no logic but we learn and grow and hopefully one day the people doing this will realize that they’re creating this either/or situation, creating sides, when there doesn’t have to be any. That Marvel fandom is actually big enough for everybody. And none of the leads are going anywhere. Disney owns these guys, they are going to milk them for every marketing and merchandizing penny they are worth, so if anyone honestly believes they are going to kill off a popular character whose likeness is sold on everything from lunchboxes to Kleenix the way Steve Rogers’ is, and this while they can have a Captain America, a Falcon and a Winter Soldier all at the same time thus three times the amount of potential product, a reality check is long past due. The people believing that need to get a clue. Disney is not the comics and they are not going to do anything that will affect the bottom line. Fandom needs to get over the mantel passing thing because it’s not going to happen in the MCU unless the actor requests it because they’re done. The only reason they killed Han Solo is because Harrison Ford asked them to, if he hand’t? They would have milked him, too. Also, another thing to remember, online fandom only makes up roughly 1% of a movie’s viewing audience, so even if a fic like this seems popular? It’s only popular amongst percentage of a percentage of 1%.
Until then I read pretty much every Steve-centric pairing there is and I have a list of really talented authors I trust with Steve, and trust me, I’m very picky about that, so if you’d like Anon, I can make a rec list for you. Just let me know. Also, you are most welcome to come vent to me about this at any time. I feel you. As a Steve fan who genuinely cares and identifies with the character I get exactly what you are saying. We can be pained by this together.