First of all, I am not here to bas the concept of squicks. I, like everyone else, have my own squicks. I’m here to question the dark side of squicks.
What is a squick?
This is probably a dumb question to ask but I feel it’s important to answer. A squick is
“a story element that a reader finds uneasy or uncomfortable.”
Now, squicks tend to mean kinks like non-con, chan/underage sex, abuse of any sort, character death, scat, blood play and water play. However, it’s far more than that. Squicks are basically what, YOU, as a writer or a reader, finds uncomfortable. It could mean elements such as fluff, happy endings or angst. It could be certain character or pairings. It could mean you find heterosexual pairings squicky or femmeslash or maleslash or even any fics of a sexual nature or those that involve any sort of pairings. (I know some writers who prefer to read general fics rather than that involve pairings).
Okay, okay, we get the point. So if everyone has squicks, why are you questioning them?
I’m not questioning the concept of squicks at all. After all, everyone has squicks. For example, some mine include scat, necrophilia, blood play, water sports, most Snape-centric pairings. And yet, I am intrigued by non-con, bestiality, character death, torture and dark/sad endings.
This is what I’m questioning. Why is it that some of us are intrigued by the darker squicks? Things like fluff, angst, happy endings can be uncomfortable but they show a lighter side to fics. The darker kinks that I’m talking about include: incest, non-con, chan/underage sex, child abuse, mind torture, character death, necrophilia, scat to name a few. I know I’m not the only person who finds these darker kinks to be appealing to read and to write about. In real life, these kinks would be unacceptable in real life and yet, in fan fiction, they are very popular.
This is not just in Harry Potter. Every single fandom on the planet has writers dedicated to the darker squicks and readers who are prepared to read them and give them positive reviews.
That is my main question: Why are these sort of squicks that, if we were to practice in real life, would be considered illegal whilst in fan fiction, they have become a part of the “norm”?
I’m not too sure what the answer but I’ll tell you what I don’t think the reason is. I don’t believe it’s because we are sick puppies who really want to do these forbidden act in real life and yet because we are bounded by the law so we act out our fantasises in words or drawings. I mean that’s like saying everyone who writes gay or lesbian sex scenes in their fics are gay, lesbian or bisexual. I believe that we are good law-abiding people who want to write a story.
After much thought, I have come up with one single theory:
It’s because this sort of thing happens in real life
This is very true- we see about the sick crimes committed on innocent people every day. Mainstream writers, in particular that of adult and horror have written stories with squicks in them. Take Stephen King, the “Master of Horror” and there is the Scottish horror writer Graham Masterton who is far more graphic in sex and violence than King is and both of these authors have a fan base (even though King is far more popular than Masterton).
Let’s take King’s first horror novel, Carrie. The book (and the film respectively) opens with the main female character, Carrie experiencing her first menstrual period in the shower room and is under the impression that she is bleeding to death. She is then bullied by her peers while she is still traumatised and confused. This scene show blood play and body fluids and later on, there is the infamous scene when pig’s blood is poured onto Carrie in an act of humiliation. Blood play and body fluids are considered a squicks as some readers can become uncomfortable and yet, Carrie is one of King’s most popular pieces of work.
Some squicks have been recorded throughout history. When it comes to squicks, Greek and Roman mythology is full of them. For example, in Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus were in fact conceived after the God Mars raped their mother, Rhea Silva. The Greek God Zeus is married to the Goddess Hera but they are also blood brother and sister so they were practising incest (I kid you not! Look it up!) Of course that is the tip of the iceberg.
Even J K Rowling has written elements in her story in which can be considered as squicks, especially since the books were originally marketed as children’s books. The books contain elements of torture (Neville’s parents, for example), deaths, child neglect (Harry was neglected by his aunt and uncle) and of course, we see injustice in the character Sirius--twice. In Prisoner of Azkaban, we was still branded a criminal even thought we, the reader know he’s an innocent man and of course, more injustice comes to him in Order of the Phoenix.
These elements make the reader feel uncomfortable and yet, they work. Why? Because J. K. Rowling is showing us that life is not all roses and bad things happen to good people. The basic truth is that not everyone is going to have a happy ever after. We fan fic writers could be expressing this concept ourselves by writing squicks into our fic because they reflect real life.
So I don't think we write these squicks because we're twisted people. I mean just because we write this type of stuff, it doesn't mean we would go out and rape and murder everyone on sight. We're just expressing different situations that could happen in the fandom world.
However, I don’t know the answer to this question. All I can offer is a theory. So I am asking you lot out there who have no problem with the darker squicks, “What attracts to read and write about them?”
Remember, no answer is the wrong answer. After all, this discussion is for opinions.