Nuke the Tree! Stop the Happy Endings!

By Wreaker of Havoc

“Not if we promise to outlive each other, and I make that promise now.” Buttercup looked at him. “Oh my Westley, so do I.”

From behind them suddenly, closer than they imagined, they could hear the roar of Humperdinck: “Stop them! Cut them off!” They were, admittedly, startled, but there was no reason for worry: they were on the fastest horses in the kingdom, and the lead was already theirs.

However, this was before Inigo’s wound reopened; and Westley relapsed again; and Fezzik took the wrong turn; and Buttercup’s horse threw a shoe. And the night behind them was filled with the crescendoing sound of pursuit…

~William Goldman

The Princess Bride

Thus ends one of my favorite books in the world. Yes, I know the movie is much more romantic (although ending on the idea that a young (re: annoying) Fred Savage doesn’t mind kissing is a little much for my delicate digestion). Yes, according to today’s movie culture, the hero is supposed to kiss the heroine senseless (without even attempting to feel her up—how realistic is that??? And when does she get to do some pawing???) and ride off into the sunset to a glorious destiny. What crap.

But this is not a rant about movies and their relation to and impact on social conventions and beliefs…

A tiny, winged figure appears on Havoc’s shoulder. The mini-Havoc is wearing glasses and a t-shirt stating “I am Jack’s Havoc’s Sense of Moral Outrage.”

“But Havoc, you know that the movies are a major source of social…” The tiny, winged figure is suddenly wrapped in duct tape and tossed unceremoniously into a corner of Havoc’s room.

…No, this is a rant about fanfiction. This is a rant about fanfiction that employs that fluffy, sappy, deus ex machina, happily-ever-after, kissing-under-the-tree-by-the-light-of-the-setting-moon-(never-mind-that-it-was-blown-up-in-chapter-thirty), it-doesn’t-matter-that-you-lost-your-memory—again—and-broke-my-heart-for-the-nineteenth-time-and-killed-my-family-and-tossed-Luna-off-a-cliff-as-long-as-we’re-together BULLSHIT.

Ahem. Let’s try a different tactic, shall we? Sending my computer flying into a wall will most definitely not help the situation.

I would like to establish, first of all, that I am not against sap. Sap has its place (that place being a carefully labeled archive, which can be visited when necessary, while eating a gallon of Ben & Jerry’s, attempting to control your hormones and at any other convenient time, mocked all to hell). I have read some wonderfully written, beautiful, sappy stories. And even I, cynical, sarcastic, romantic-as-a-mud-brick Wreaker of Havoc occasionally get the urge to read a story in which Darien gives his Serena a perfect rose, makes her cry with joy at his poetic protestations of love, and then kisses her to a soundtrack of a suitably romantic songs.

Another tiny, winged figure appears on top of Havoc’s head. This mini-Havoc is wearing oversized sweat pants and a t-shirt reading “I am Jack’s Havoc’s Sense of Decency. Her face is green, and she looks decidedly queasy.

“Havoc, Havoc, STOP!!! Are you trying to KILL me you idiot??? What could possibly possess you to write such…mmph.” She joins her sister in the corner. They exchange long-suffering looks.

OK, so it’s roughly once a millennium, but it happens.

However, what makes me happy, what gives me that wonderfully vindicated feeling and reconfirms my belief in the innate justice and decency of the world is angst.

Hey, I never claimed to be normal.

I like nothing better than a well-written bit of Darien torture (go S.A.D.I.S.T.S!), a beautifully crafted image of Serena’s mental anguish…hell, I’m still waiting for someone to write the fic in which Amy fails an exam. Now THAT, my friends, would be angst. My favorite stories are those which start with angst, descend into a little more angst, employ a surprising plot twist and nosedive into a vat of angst, round a corner and—wait, is that…could it be…a resolution? NO! It’s more angst!—with a little angst sprinkled on top for texture.

What, you ask—that is if you’ve even bothered to read this far and didn’t just frantically and compulsively push the back button the moment my invisible friends appeared—does my inordinate interest in human suffering have to do with happy endings? What possible reason could I have for this major collection of digressions from what is presumably (you hope) is my point?

Imagine with me, a moment. You are enthralled in a beautifully written, elegantly crafted, dark, depressing fic worthy of the Mistress of Angst herself (you’ll note that I don’t identify the Mistress of Angst—there is more than one author out there who could qualify for that title). You’re up to the second to last chapter. So far, Darien has been corrupted by evil (yes, again!) and has totally crushed Serena’s spirit by first kidnapping her and then resisting all of her attempts to revive him; Amy has lost all confidence in her intellectual abilities; Lita has been thoroughly convinced that everyone she loves is doomed to die after several of her old boyfriends bite the dust in a freak youma attack; Rei is obsessing over the fact that the last thing she ever said to Serena was “I hope you die next time!” and Mina is beating herself up over the fact that she can’t hold the team together the way Serena does. They’re all wandering around some very imaginatively built hell, battling minion after minion until finally, they meet up in the throne room: a dank, shadowed pit, with a throne of skulls and swords and the hideous queen of hell standing with Darien beside her and Serena chained to a wall.

Hmmm. I just realized that I described a cross between Beryl and Satan, on heavy doses of steroids, evil pills, and bad crack. Ah well.

So, here you are…you open the second to last chapter and begin to read…

Well, go on…read.

Oh what, me? No I’ve read this one, thanks. You go on and finish it.

The two mini-Havocs have broken free and proceed to berate Havoc. With a glare she makes it perfectly clear that they can wait patiently and SILENTLY as her readers finish the story or they can go back to the chains and duct tape. After all, the true rant is coming…

Two sets of tiny eyes begin to gleam as Moral Outrage settles on Havoc’s shoulder and Decency settles on her head, both sharpening miraculously appearing weaponry.

Yes, my friends. You see what I mean, now? In two chapters, TWO CHAPTERS. TWO TWENTIETHS OF A FANFIC, the author has solved everyone’s mental problem, reconverted Darien, healed the evil Satan/Beryl/Queen of Hell villain, wiped out hell itself, brought back Lita’s boyfriends from being “mostly dead,” saved the whales, promoted world peace, stopped global warming, saved a child AND her kitty from a speeding bus, replanted all the trees they blew away in the last three battles—and of course, with a little “help” the trees grew spectacularly…overnight in fact—made and drank a nice cup of tea, and reflected on the meaning of life. AND DARIEN AND SERENA KISS AND MAKE UP UNDER THEIR (newly replanted) TREE AS THE MOON RISES IN THE BACKGROUND!!!

Ahem. HOW IN THE NAME OF ALL THE GODS IS ANY OF THIS EVEN REMOTELY BELIEVABLE?!?!?!?! Now I grant you, it’s a fic. Yes, I understand it’s not reality. I fully grasp the concept of “suspension of disbelief.” But, you know, five teenage girls running around in short skirts and high heels, muttering magical phrases, dusting (how stupid is that as a verb?) hideous monsters with the help of a (really atrociously awful…the poetry I mean) poetry-spouting masked (as if that hides anything), caped hero does not strain my imagination anywhere near as much as the idea of several deeply emotionally disturbed characters getting over severe trauma IN UNDER TWO HOURS!!!

Moral Outrage lets loose an unearthly howl and small (and not-so-small) explosions occur around the room. Decency jumps up and down repeatedly screaming shrill insults in every language known to man.

Havoc rubs her temples.

Please, people. If you’re going to emotionally damage, mercilessly taunt, and generally torture the characters, DON’T MAKE IT ALL BETTER IN THE LAST CHAPTER JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO WRITE A KISSING SCENE!

Really. I’m not asking for complete reality. That’s why I read fics: to see fictitious characters thrown into situations that are worse than even my life. But could we have a little authenticity? Just a bit? Please? I’ll clean my room and everything…

Decency beats Havoc on the head, returning her to her senses and gets tossed across the room for her troubles. Havoc sighs.

I think I’ll wrap this up; ranting and keeping your imaginary friends from killing you inadvertently is rather tiring.. If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you. You must be in desperate need of procrastination…

I’m sure you can now see why the ending of Princess Bride appeals to me: it’s real. Yes, it’s romantic, it’s beautiful, it’s even happy. But it’s real. The characters don’t just “live happily ever after,” their problems don’t just magically disappear, they don’t just kiss under their tree (and why the hell can’t they kiss anywhere else? At the mall, on the doorstep, IN the tree…really if the only place they ever kiss each other is under the tree…well it’s no wonder they only have one child).

“And while the prince and his princes did live happily ever after, the point, gentlemen, is that they lived.”

~Ever After

Yay, reality. Yay.

Email Wreaker of Havoc

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A note from The Bitch: Some of you may have noticed that this rant is also appearing on the S.A.D.I.S.T.S. page. Despite the fact that Jaina SWEARS that she didn’t swipe this from me just because her page got a mention, does not make it so. DON’T BELIEVE HER! She LIES! ^_~

On another side note, I think now would be a good time to mention that there *IS* such a thing as too much angst, but I’ll talk more about that, later.

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