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Torture in Fics (please read)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Gandalf the Grey, Sep 25, 2001.

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  1. Gandalf the Grey

    Gandalf the Grey Jedi Knight star 6

    May 14, 2000
    To the members of these forums in general: I understand that this is a delicate subject, that I?m going to be stepping on a lot of toes here, and that what I have to say might very well make me quite unpopular with a lot of people. I don?t mean to insult anyone personally, and I apologize in advance if I hurt anyone?s feelings or unintentionally offend anyone.
    To the admin?s: I?m not asking for an immediate ban on Torture in fics. I don?t intend to troll, merely to open up a discussion. I will understand completely if this thread gets locked or deleted, as the subject matter has great potential to be quite controversial.

    Obi Torture (and once upon a time, Luke Torture as well) is a major staple of the fan fiction forum. It has been for a long time, since even before the move to Snowboards. On a quick glance at the front page of the fan fiction forum shows four stories that have the word ?Obi Torture? in their titles. But should is this the way that things be? And if so, what is the justification for this? Now that I?ve thrown these questions out for discussion, I?ll explain the rational behind my actions, the two primary reasons I bring this up for debate.

    First of all, what do I consider torture? For the purposes of this discussion I consider torture to be the purposeful infliction of intense pain to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure, clearly detailed. (Definition is slightly adapted from Webster?s dictionary). As far as I?m concerned, it?s perfectly all right for characters to be stabbed, kicked, punched, hit over the head with a chair, shot, burnt, frozen, fall off cliffs, blow up, spontaneously combust, have limbs hacked off in lightsaber duels, be helpless to prevent family or friends from dying, suffer from extreme angst, suffer from emotional anguish due to whatever reasons, etc. Where I draw the line is treatment like being stripped down and whipped bloody, being manacled to a wall and beaten twice a day, being tortured in front of friends and family or having to watch as friends and family are tortured, being prodded with fiery brands or red-hot pokers, or something along those lines being written up ?on screen.?

    As far as I know, these forums are considered PG-13. This may have changed at some point without my noticing, and if I?m wrong I?d be obliged if someone could correct me. According to the Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) PG-13 means:

    ?Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. This signifies that the film rated may be inappropriate for pre-teens. Parents should be especially careful about letting their younger children attend. Rough or persistent violence is absent; sexually-oriented nudity is generally absent; some scenes of drug use may be seen; one use of the harsher sexually derived words may be heard.?
    Link: [link=][/link]

    Note the phrase ?Rough or persistent violence is absent.? Torture stories by definition are about rough and persistent violence. Please note that there is a difference between rough violence and action, as despite having many fight scenes The Phantom Menace was able to earn a PG rating. Torture, in my mind, is excessive violence, and the rating given to movies with excessive violence is NC-17.

    It can be argued that there was torture in the various Star Wars movies. However, this isn?t precisely true. We knew that Leia and Han were both tortured by Vader, but in neither case did we ever actually see anything. In Leia?s case, we saw the Vader enter that cell, the Interrogation droid float towards Leia, the camera does a close up on the needle, and then the door shuts, leaving her to her fate. And leaving us to imagine what is happening to her. By the same token, when Han is tortured we see him stretched out on the device, we see the device moving up towards him, and we hear him scream. Once again, we see and hear only enough to know that he is being tortured. We never actually see any torture happening. It
  2. the-Ewan-Pixie

    the-Ewan-Pixie Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 12, 2001
    Wow, Gandalf, that is an extremely well written point of view. I may not agree with it, but it's awesome that you shared it rather than just blatantly get people upset.

    While personally, I do not believe that quote un quote 'torture' fiction should be banned, I do agree that they should be either placed on A.) A seperate page or B.) Tf.N and the boards should perhaps create a Fan Fiction board that is pg-13 and up. I know this has been happening in the past to FF.N, but I understand how people would want it.

    I do torture characters in my stories, although never really to the point of death. I consider torture as a plot thing that helps me do other characters feelings, and I enjoy putting my characters in the worst position possible and watching them get out of it. (I think Lucas said something along the lines of that for ESB) And yes, there are people who write torture for sex and kinky reasons, but many of them put it on a website that is not accessible to children under 17. I don't judge or 'Dis' them, as I consider it kind of a fetish thing, and no different than like a foot kink. (Although that i find rather disgusting)

    Just my two cents, and again, bravo to you Gandalf for voicing your opinions in such an amazing way! :)

  3. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    I've wondered about this, because I also don't consider torture to be in the PG13 range.

    Honestly, when I saw those threads, it never occurred to me that they were talking about actual torture. I figured it was just a way of saying, "We're really putting him through the emotional paces." (I remember friends planning surprises talked about "torturing" the to-be-surprised with little hints about it that would drive him or her nuts with suspense.) Since I wasn't interested in that, I didn't open them. I only found out when we started the archive that torture fics are literally talking about physical torture.

    I'd like to invite the TFN admin staff to join this discussion, because they have a say in it.
  4. Pallas-Athena

    Pallas-Athena TFN Fan Fiction Archive Editor star 4 VIP

    Nov 29, 2000
    I have to agree with you, too, Gandolf, I never opened a torture fic for the same reasons I never open a PWP fic - there is just no point story-wise. On the same note Ish's Sadist group worries me, since the only defination of sadism I know is the sexual pervasion wherein someone inflicts harm on another to get off. doesn't allow us to write smut but they condone the use of "sadistic" to describe fics? It seems, like you were saying, that torture is a replacement for sex on these boards.
  5. the-Ewan-Pixie

    the-Ewan-Pixie Jedi Youngling star 1

    Jul 12, 2001
    I disagree, Pallas Athena. While many sadists do believe the whole torture thing is Kinky/Erotic, I don't think that Ish's group is there for that reason, while many are (i.e. Jedi Hurtaholics, TOTO, etc.)

  6. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    Yes... we do have to be aware of the idiomatic uses of these words as well as the technical meanings. Not everyone who says "sadistic" means anything related to the Marquis de Sade -- it's a word that's, for good or ill, worked its way into common use.
  7. Pallas-Athena

    Pallas-Athena TFN Fan Fiction Archive Editor star 4 VIP

    Nov 29, 2000
    Yes, suppose you're right, but I don't think I'm the only one that automaticly thinks of its orginal defination when I hear/see "sadistic."

    But maybe it's just me ;)
  8. chitwood

    chitwood TheForce.Net co-owner star 4 VIP

    May 12, 1999
    I'm not a regular of fan fiction, so I won't come sweeping in here with policy. However, we want the forums family-friendly, so that if a kid does stumble into something it won't be something his parents will be upset about.

    The torture stories, if they are sexual or excessive in nature should be removed and or dropped from the accepted submissions list in my opinion. We don't have plans for a separate or age distinctive message board at this time.

  9. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    Up -- please read and respond here; this could end up being a fairly major change.
  10. princess-sari

    princess-sari Jedi Padawan star 4

    Nov 20, 2000
    I don't generally speak up in threads like this one, but this issue has really caught my interest.

    Like Jedi Galadriel, I always thought "torture" fics put their characters through the emotional wringer?-not that they actually involved literal torture. After reading through this thread, I checked out a few of the "torture" fics on the boards currently and boy, was I surprised!

    I guess I'm a little disturbed (and always have been) to see writers and readers treating violence and torture as funny or desirable in a story. I've read quite a few fics where torture or violence are used, some of them more graphically than others, but it's always used as a serious point in the plot, generally done mostly off-camera, and always the message is that the treatment is something to be looked down on--not enjoyed or applauded.

    Violence happens in real life, torture happens, and both can be used in stories effectively, but the idea of torture just for the sake of torture?-honestly, that scares me.

    Gandolf, I give you a lot of credit for bringing this out into the open!
  11. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Oct 31, 1999
    Like JG, I'd also assumed that the term "torture" was just a code term for fics in which ill-fate plagues a character.

    As far as dealing with actual descriptive turture scenes in fics, that's one of those things that depends on the detail. Obviously anything too graphic breaks the PG-13 rule.

    the-Ewan-Pixie raised the question of whether TF.N would create a separate forum for more stories that deal with more adult oriented fare. Though I'm sure Josh or someone else on the staff could answer that suggestion better, I'd just say that all of TF.N is PG-13, not just FanFic, or any of the other forums.

    As long as that's the case, I wouldn't count on separate boards being created to deal with more provocative subject matter.
  12. Jedi Girl of Corellia

    Jedi Girl of Corellia Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jun 23, 2000
    You've raised some very clear points Gandolf. However I would like to ass that the term 'Obi Torture' in some situations is very loosley used and not to the extreme as you suggested. Yes there are some stories I've ready that will graphically torture poor Obi, then I just never continue reading it. There are also fics that label themselves as Obi tortures but are just a mild version of 'lets all pick on Obi-wan' kinda thing. These may just have Obi wan 'accidentaly' get in the way of blaster, or he may trip and fall. Unfortunatly these are also under the title Obi torture because the writer 'who is doing these things' considers them mean and a form of a writer tortureing their character. Where a character torturing another character is a quite different thing. Perhaps we can use another term to use for these milder forms of torture that are mostly harmless, but for the stricter kinds, which I would certainly not allow any child to read, we should impose certain rules to keep bad material out.

    I hope my sensless drivel has made sense to you guys :D
  13. Kitt327

    Kitt327 Jedi Master star 4

    Dec 23, 2000
    If the fic only contains mild emotional pain or physical pain, then I wish the authors would change the 'Obi Torture!!!!' in the title to 'Obi h/c' - standing for hurt/comfort. Torture is a horrible word.

    The graphic stuff should be edited out. That kind of stuff is better suited for, where just about anything goes.
  14. Gandalf the Grey

    Gandalf the Grey Jedi Knight star 6

    May 14, 2000
    The-Ewan-Pixie, princess-sari, Jedi Girl of Corellia: [face_blush]

    I opened this thread this morning with a slight fear of the possibility of open flames, and I?m greatly relived to discover otherwise. Thanks to everyone who?s weighed in so far for the maturity shown. :cool:

    First of all,
    Pronunciation: 'sA-"di-z&m, 'sa-
    Function: noun
    Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary, from Marquis de Sade
    Date: 1888
    1 : a sexual perversion in which gratification is obtained by the infliction of physical or mental pain on others (as on a love object) -- compare MASOCHISM
    2 a : delight in cruelty b : excessive cruelty
    - sa·dist /'sA-dist, 'sa-/ noun
    - sa·dis·tic /s&-'dis-tik also sA- or sa-/ adjective
    - sa·dis·ti·cal·ly /-ti-k(&-)lE/ adverb

    (Source: Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)
    This is the dictionary definition, and the definition of the word that I suggest we use when we use the word in this thread.

    the-Ewan-Pixie: My contention is that on one level or another, graphic torture is inseparable from sex. There doesn?t actually have to be any intercourse between the characters, but does it really matter whether it?s a woman dressed in head to toe leather or a droid chaining Obi up to a wall and whipping him? (This is simply a hypothetical example) By not actually having any ?real? sex take place and/or replacing the agent behind his pain with something or someone not that does not immediately seem sexual in nature, the issue is sidestepped.

    Jedi Girl of Corellia: Don?t worry; I think I understand you :) That is exactly why I started this thread, and I think you might have put it better than I did. That is the difference between writing action and writing erotica- in an action story the writer does the ?torturing? him/herself, while in an erotica story it?s another character doing the dirty work.
  15. jodiwent

    jodiwent Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 11, 2000
  16. Jane Jinn

    Jane Jinn Jedi Knight star 5

    Jan 12, 2000
    Actually, Jodiwent, when my story "Friends Like These" was first submitted to the TFN Fanfiction Archive, it was refused for the reason that the torture scene was too graphic and too prolonged and therefore actually rated R and not PG-13. After much soul-searching, I decided that the reviewers were correct, and I went back and changed it. The fic didn't suffer at all, as far as I could tell.

    I do not want these boards changed at all. I don't want TFN to become anything remotely similar to FFN, which I no longer visit after seeing something in "The Bible" section which I considered to be sheer blasphemy. I simply refuse to click on a site that allows everything, no matter how offensive. TFN is one of the few places I know where slash and pornography are not allowed, and bad words are frowned on, and I'd like to keep it that way. I feel very happy here with things the way they are. I would never support an "adult" fanfiction board and I'm glad to hear that there are no plans to institute one.

    I will be doing my part to keep the boards a family-friendly place. If I do write stories in the future where Obi-Wan gets hurt, I'll make sure that it's an integral part of the plot and I'll definitely tone down the violence to be absolutely sure it's rated PG-13 and under.

    Thanks for addressing your concern, Gandolf.

    Edit: I also would not object to the original version of "Friends Like These" being deleted from the back pages of the forum, if the mods decided that such graphic things had to go. But maybe I'm just saying that because it's been archived in a milder version, and because I have a copy of it at home, so it would be easy for me to abide by the rules. Other people might not be so happy about such an action.
  17. Kaylla_Norn_II

    Kaylla_Norn_II Jedi Youngling star 2

    Jun 4, 2001
    first, gandolf was wrong about not "seeing" han's torment, you did, you saw his face as it started, and a few little sparklies before it cut away to lando

    Also, in responce to Jane Jinn, It doesn't sound like they are just talking about gratuitous violence, violence not part of the plot, it sounds like they are talking all "torture" wethere intrigul to the plot or not and yes there is a "big" problem with that.

    I have heard some in the past who said that to keep a pg rating one must not let anything bad or tramatic happen to principle characters. uh and I kind of wondered how they ever managed to watch star wars with their sensitive constiturion.... Leia's torture, han's torture, Luke loosing his hand and getting the pattoie beat out of him... and ohther sceens.

    Also Lucas has said in interviews that he considers Brian Daily's radio adaption part of the cannon of starwars.... the only thing other then the movies to be so labled and leias torture sceen is complete and vivied there... we hear her anguished screaming going on for what seems like forever, I found that and hans screeming in Empire much more disconserting, because you heard it. It wasn't just words on a page.

    And really what was the purpose of Leia's torture in the story, nothing plot wise depended on it. It was there to show that the bad guys were bad guys and that she was brave despite it.

    And I don't think you sould make a poicy based on somthing posted here. If you are going to change the fan fiction section this thread better be in that section. I know lots of people that don't visit any other section. If you don't do that you will have one very angry mob of people that don't understand why the board is suddenly changing after 3 years.

    I also don't think it is wise to change policies after they have been in practice for 3 years.

    And my last note. Um most of the people who seem to torture for no reason or put torture in the title are the very kids you are afreaid of stumbling in here. Most of them are 14 and such and that's why it probablyo seems like it serves no purpose, they are just learning to right and don't tend to put the filler in. They just do the stories high points, and frequently the connections they have in their mind never make it to the page.

    The adults that include torture usually do fade sceenes or elude but not show, or do show the obveous ties. It's the very young writers or the newbies that are still stumbiling over it. It does look like there is an increase in torture making it into titles and stories in obvious ways, but if anyone were to look that's because we have had an infllux of alot of younger people.

    If you just start banning threads for this reason, it's going to be the younger or newwer writers that suffer for it. And it will destroy the "forgiving" and safe environment that you have created on that board. People on the whole feel they can post there because no one will come down hard on them and prove to be overcritical. There are lots and lots of stories there i don't like and don't read. But I'm not trying to change something that has been accepted for 3 years.

    Jane Jinn, I don't think that they have to change and let slash stories and swear words on. Just that they leave it alone. Because it will be the kids that suffer for it. It will be their stories that will be comming down. Not the grown ups, not mostly.

    And if we are going to go after pet peives, why don't we go after all the Obi-Wan and Amadala stories or Obi-Wan and Sabe stories. Lucas has yet to show us a forteen year old human female kid getting together with a 25 year old human adult male, romanticly. And here in the us such a thing would be called statutory rape. Anakin and Amadalla getting together once they are grown up isn't the same thing at all. (But again that is mostly the kids that are that age writing that stuff, so I forgive it. They are having fun safely.)

    I fear that you will destroy the atmosphere of this board if you start making new changes in this venue. What's to say you won't go after the Ami/Obi stories
  18. jodiwent

    jodiwent Jedi Master star 4

    Feb 11, 2000
  19. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    The problem here is that the subject was just opened up and brought to people's attention, and now we're opening it up for discussion.

    As to the place for discussion -- this board is for fanfic related discussions. Any discussion thread opened on the fanfic board would just be closed and referred over here anyway. If you'd like, I can post and lock a notice over there.
  20. Gandalf the Grey

    Gandalf the Grey Jedi Knight star 6

    May 14, 2000
    Kaylla_Norn_II: Can you say what Vader was doing to Han? Was it his head the machine was working, or his entire body? How long did it last? Does the machine leave any marks or damage anything? Can you say that it felt like fire or ice or acid or electricity or something else entirely? No. All we saw was a few sparkles, all we heard him was a few buzzes of electricity and a scream, and the scene was over. We have no idea what Vader did to him, only that it hurt.

    In the novelizations, the torture is minimal. I?ve never heard the radio drama, but if Leia?s interrogation scene is as you say, then I?ll probably never bother with it.

    Here?s an example of what I consider acceptable torture. From page 69 of my copy of the Star Wars novelization, by Alan Dean Foster:

    Darth Vader made a gesture to someone outside. Something that hummed like a huge bee moved close and slipped inside the doorway. Leia choked on her own breath at the sight of the dark metal globe. It hung suspended on independent repulsars, a farrago of metal arms protruding from its sides. The arms were tipped with a multitude of delicate instruments.
    Leia studied the machine fearfully. She had heard rumors of such machines, but had never really believed that Imperial technicians would create such a monstrosity. Incorporated into its soulless memory was every barbarity, every substantiated outrage known to mankind- and to several alien races as well.
    Vader and Tarkin stood there quietly, giving her plenty of time to study the hovering nightmare. The Governor in particular did not delude himself into thinking that the mere presence of the device would shock her into giving up the information he needed. Not, he reflected, that the ensuing session would be especially unpleasant. There was always enlightenment to be gained from such encounters, and the Senator promised to be a most interesting subject.
    After a suitable interval had passed, he motioned to the machine. ?Now, Senator Organa, Princess Organa, we will discuss the location of the rebel base.?
    The machine moved slowly toward her, traveling on a rising hum. Its indifferent spherical form blocked out Vader, the Governor, the rest of the cell? the light?

    Muffled sounds penetrated the cell walls and think door, drifting out into the hallway beyond. They barely intruded on the peace and quiet of the walkway running past the sealed chamber. Even so, the guards stationed immediately outside managed to find excuses to edge a sufficient distance away to where those oddly modulated sounds could no longer be heard at all.

    This is the sort of torture I have no problem with whatsoever. It?s chilling, to the point, and no actual acts of torture take place ?on screen.? We know that ?Bad Things? are happening, but it?s up to our own imagination to think exactly what is happening.

    Here?s an example of what I consider unacceptable torture. From page 652 of Wizards First Rule by Terry Goodkind. (my apologies if this seems hypocritical of me, and if anyone is offended/disgusted by this just ask and I?ll edit it out of the post)

    ?The magic will punish you for going against my wishes. When I place this chain somewhere, it is my wish for it to stay there until I remove it. I want you to learn that you are helpless to remove it.? She pointed at the door, which stood open. ?For the next hour, I want you to try your best to make it through that door-way. If you don?t try your hardest, this is what I wall do for the rest of the hour.? She put the Agiel to the side of his neck until he was on his knees, screaming in agony, and begging for her to stop. She took it away and told him to begin, then went to lean, arms folded, against a wall.
    The first thing he did was simply try to walk to the door. The pain buckled his legs before he was able to put even a little tension on the chain, and stopped only when he scooted backward toward the chair.
    Richard reached for the ring. The pain of the magic cramped his arms until he was shaking with the pain of reaching for it. Sweat ran off his face. He trie
  21. Jane Jinn

    Jane Jinn Jedi Knight star 5

    Jan 12, 2000
    Okay, I'll admit it. I don't understand. Either I've been away from America for much too long, or there's something seriously wrong with me, because I would have rated that second section PG-13 and therefore acceptable. Of course, I don't know how it develops, but that part didn't seem all that bad to me.

    If Gandolf is correct in stating that what he posted was unacceptable torture for this forum, I think I'm going to have problems with my resolution to keep the level of violence down in my stories.
  22. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 3, 1999
    Since this wasn't a matter of a lot of people sending outraged e-mails and PMs, just of people becoming aware of a practice that they had been previously unaware of, what I'd like to do is a "from now on" sort of thing (I asked admin about this, and it's all right with them). From now on, when people write torture, keep in mind the general level of a PG13 movie (I'd say the final confrontation in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a good example in a book -- it's only about ten pages out of 700, and it's pretty intense, including a an amputation, the drawing of blood from a bound kid, and other such elements). We're not talking milquetoast, but it's proportionally small in relation to the length of the story.

    The existing threads won't be locked or anything; they'll have whatever normal life span they would have as front page fics.

    Does that sound like a fair thing?
  23. Senni_Arava

    Senni_Arava Jedi Youngling star 3

    Sep 22, 2000
    I've also noticed that more stories have started having "Obi-Torture" in their titles. To me, this seems like a warning. It's tellling people that there is Obi-torture, so if they don't want to read it, they won't wind up stmbling onto it. If it's banned here, the same people you're worried about might have to go to other sites to find obi-torture. Every other site I've been to has slash, so I only go here, so that I don't accidentally read one of them. Most people figure out on their own whether or not they want to read obi-torture and avoid it themselves. Please don't ban it.

    Well, there was my ranting :D
  24. ThatJediGirl

    ThatJediGirl Jedi Padawan star 4

    Mar 11, 2001
    Umm, I think it's all a matter of detail. Gruesome torture most likely has lots of detail. Less torture is probably less detailed or detailed very good and not too long.

    I think that if the person is a good writer, and something bad happens to their character they will describe step by step, almost making it feel like you were there watching it. They want it intense, they want you squirming.

    Sure some of the torture is R, but that's only for the parts that are torure (hopefully)- and there may only be 1 parts like that.

    I'm glad you started this thread, I like to see everyone's opinions on this subject.

    May The Force Be With You,
    Anna [face_love]

  25. Mr. P

    Mr. P FanFic Archive Editor, Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Apr 1, 2000
    Bah! Double posts...
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