Myths and Facts About MSTs

Ah. MST. Is anything in the Sailor Moon fandom more controversial? Everyone's in love with their own work and the minute that someone asks to MST the fic, suddenly the author is oh so very hurt. Crushed and despondent! Horrified that their work could be viewed as a source of amusement for others.

And people wonder why Sailor Moon probably has the lowest MST quotient of any fandom online. Of the MSTs that DO exist, 90% of them are hentai.

Not that most hentai doesn't deserve them. Very few people can write a good sex scene. I'll have to introduce all of you to The Minotaur of yaoi-iffic slash, someday. But that's beside the point.

It's come to my attention that a large reason why there is such a devastating lack of MSTs in Mooniedom deals with a great misunderstanding of the genre. As the case is, I must dispel most of these rumors in an attempt to save the MST from a fate worse than being trampled on by an insane rhinocerous.

MYTH: People that MST fics are mean.

FACT: I'm mean. Most MST writers are not. In fact, they'll tell you to view it as a very blunt form of C&C. (NOTE: A sense of humor is essential.) That's not to say that all of them are all that polite. If, as a writer, someone asks to MST your fic, I would do the following to insure that you receive a polite MST.

1) Research the MST writer that contacted you. If they seem like they have a penchant for personally attacking the author and you feel you can't handle that, turn them down. Keeping that in mind, that won't necessarily stop the MSTer. Alternately, you could have them write it on a trial basis and then view the final product and if you don't like it, feel free to THEN turn them down.

2) Learn how to write.

MYTH: Most MSTs poke fun at the author.

FACT: Personally insulting the author is considered to be very bad form in the MST world. As such, there is a very fine line drawn between mocking the fic and mocking the author. Granted, some authors like to dance the Macarena around that line and come dangerously close to it, but I've yet to see anyone cross it.

MYTH: Only bad fics can be MSTed.

FACT: Good fics can be MSTed as well. In fact, in other fandoms, it's quite common for a good fic to be MSTed. Why that isn't the case in SM continues to elude me. It's been my personal experience that MSTs of good fics are usually much funnier than the average fic as it takes 10 times as much talent to MST a good fic than it does a bad fic. However, one must be truly talented to perform such a feat. After all, the good fic doesn't have the poor wording, bad ideas, and poor spelling that makes other fics easy targets.

I've also seen people MST their OWN fics. Now how's THAT for being a good sport about the deal?

MYTH: MST writers have too much spare time on their hands.

FACT: MST writers have FAR too much spare time on their hands. I have one friend who does it as a stress reliever. Frankly, I think it's a good method. Nothing like ripping a bad fic into pieces to make you feel better about your day. Having nasty problems with a professor? There's an alt reality fic that I am perfectly willing to point you in the direction of. I guarantee, you'll feel MUCH BETTER. I know I do. Besides, you're so much funnier if you write when you're still angry at the fic. Don't be afraid to yell at it a few times for good measure, while you're at it.

MYTH: There is a secret society of MST writers that conspire to humiliate all new writers.

FACT: There IS a society of MST writers, but it's hardly secret. They're quite open about what they do, thank you very much.

MYTH: All MSTs feature the cast of "Mystery Science Theater 3000."

FACT: While many MSTs feature Mike/Joel and the bots, the Lawgiver isn't quite as common. And neither is Brain Guy, so don't get your hearts set on them. I'm sure that you'll survive just fine without Pearl and the dude whose brain sits in a bowl.

MYTH: MSTing a fic without the original author's permission is illegal/plagiarism.

FACT: Excuse me while I laugh.

HA HA HA HA HA! That's *so* funny! Make it stop! Make it stop!

Oh, I feel *so* much better now. I hate to break this to you, but if someone else MSTs your fic without permission, what are you going to do about it? Sue them? You don't even own the rights over the characters you use. Yeah, that'll get you REAL far.

Sure, asking permission is the polite and proper thing to do, but you can't FORCE anyone to do it. Just because one SHOULD do something, doesn't mean that one WILL do it.

Sad fact of life: Intellectual property rights can get you only so far. There are a few things to consider.

First and foremost is the "Two Week Rule" which basically says that if someone were to contact an author about a fic for ANY reason and no response is given within a two-week period, the fic in question becomes fair game. You snooze, you lose, bucko.

Secondly, MSTing a fic without permission cannot be considered plagiarism as long as credit is given where credit is due. Now, if someone did this to your fic:

Hi! I'm going to MST a fic that I wrote myself! Don't mind the fact that there's a different name and email address on the author's notes and I rip myself into pieces. It's still me! Really! I promise!

THAT would be plagiarizing your fic. Every time I see someone using that excuse to vent their hatred for the genre, I laugh and get the mental urge to smack said person for being stupid.

Plagiarism is defined as taking credit for the words/thoughts/ideas of another person. MSTers do NOT plagiarize. THEY GIVE PROPER CREDIT.

Don't get me wrong; I perfectly understand that as an author, one would want control of where one's fic is distributed. However, what REALLY can one do about it? Crying and throwing a hissy fit will get the author NOWHERE except maybe laughed at. If you find this happening, feel free to email the author of the MST about your disappointment and ask for it to be removed. However, don't get your heart set on it. They don't have to do it if they don't want to. You can't make them do anything. You should probably just get over it.

Keep in mind that you're writing fanfic. What they are doing to your fic is NO DIFFERENT than what you're doing to the characters of Naoko Takeuchi (unless they belong to the very rare breed that likes to insult the authors). Getting on their case is incredibly hypocritical.

In other words, you have EVERY right to be upset. Other than that, there's nothing that you can really do. Most archives already have a permission policy in place, which means that these fics are located on PRIVATE WEBSITES and were most likely written for PRIVATE PURPOSES. Is that really worth your time and effort? If it is, I fear for your sanity. You obviously don't handle stress well. You should probably MST a fic. My offer still stands to point you in the direction of a REALLY BAD ONE... or two... or 1000....