cupidsbow (cupidsbow) wrote,

Afflection Essay

I wrote this essay for rpf_shipping, and thought some of you might find it interesting, given my current WIP.

Fandom: Afflection
Pairing: Ben Affleck/Matt Damon
Title: The Cone of Silence
Author: cupidsbow
Personal Website: Cathy's Homepage
Thanks: To shoshannagold and vegetariansushi for beta-reading.

The Cone of Silence

There are many excellent reasons for finding stories about Ben Affleck and Matt Damon interesting. Ben and Matt are smart, articulate and talented men. They're both good-looking and successful. They've both been in a lot of movies, which means there's plenty of material available for meta-narratives, a particular favourite of mine when it comes to fanfiction. They both seem to be publicly aware and have well-developed opinions and ethics, but they also have character flaws. As a writer, that combination offers plenty of potential for well-rounded characters and interesting situations. However, none of these reasons, good though they are, explain why I want to read and write Afflection stories. If I'm totally honest, I have to admit that my fascination has little to do with academic analysis, and everything to do with the fact that Matt and Ben press my number one rps kink button.

I know what you're thinking right now: that my number one kink must be something hard-core, involving lots of nudity and sex. And you couldn’t be more wrong. My biggest slash kink is, in fact, friendship. You see, I have an insatiable appetite for stories in which deep friendship slowly turns into an even deeper love. This is one of the aspects I adore most in fandoms such as Smallville and Battlestar Galactica. I find the desperateness with which Lex wants to be a good friend to Clark utterly compelling, and the easy camaraderie between Starbuck and Apollo totally seductive. But when it comes to a friendship of legends, it is hard to find a more passionate one than that being played out between Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in real life. As though that isn't enough, because of Ben and Matt's celebrity, their real-life friendship is layered in ways the fictional friendships explored in fps aren't, and can't be. Ben and Matt's friendship isn't just lived in private life, it's "acted out" publicly in a hundred ways, and this gives a real-person-slasher a wealth of amazing material to work with.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects of their public friendship is the way in which both Matt and Ben protect each other. For example, in an interview on Andrew Denton's Enough Rope, Denton managed to get past Matt's "celebrity persona" with two very clever questions (one of them was "are you a good actor?"). Matt was utterly adorable as he tried to respond to questions he clearly hadn't been asked before--a real feat on Denton's part, as Matt must have been asked a million questions by interviewers over the years. In the same interview, Denton asked a question about Ben Affleck, and the response was extraordinary. The moment the words left Denton's mouth, it was as though a cone of silence dropped down over Matt's whole body. Even though he responded in a polite manner, it was absolutely clear from his body language that he was not going to let Denton anywhere near his private friendship with Ben: only the public version was open for discussion. Denton immediately backed off and changed the topic, and I don't blame him one bit. I have never seen such an instant and total block in an actor; the closest I've ever seen is when someone refuses to speak about their spouse or children.

Ben has a different approach, but it is no less silencing. He makes jokes. For example, on Saturday Night Live, after his break up with J.Lo, he went on with a box of T-shirts. He pulled out one which said "Bennifer," and he offered to give it away. The next said "Benyonce," and he said it was because he was living in hope. And the final one said "Ben-gay," for when "Matt finally came around." For all of the flash and dazzle, this too protects the friendship in a cone of silence: acknowledging it publicly but at the same time taking away any chance to ask serious questions about it.

At this point, I hasten to say that I'm not a tinhat claiming there is really a sexual relationship between Matt and Ben. However, it is clear that their friendship is the safe zone they depend on when the winds of celebrity are trying to tear them down. It is obvious that although they have a "public" version of their friendship, which they play out on chat shows and at awards ceremonies, underneath there is a deep and abiding love that is private and not for public consumption. And it is also becoming ever-more apparent that their friendship is going to outlast the women in their lives, no matter how passionate those love affairs might be.

This is the core of the attraction for me. As a reader and writer, I want to explore what would happen if the deep friendship between Matt and Ben crossed over into an even deeper love. I want to know how two people who already rely on each other for their emotional well-being make the transition from one state to another. I want to know how they live with their love while the focus of a thousand cameras is always on them; how they keep it safe; if they keep it secret. But most of all, I want to be there, falling in love with them both as they fall in love with each other. I want to feel the fractures in the friendship, the terror of what could be lost, the utter joy as the relationship reforms around the fault lines into something new, something beyond what either Ben or Matt ever dreamt of. The first touch of passion, the first acknowledgment of desire. The first pain of balancing a public career with a very private love.

At heart, I’m fascinated by what Matt and Ben might share inside their cone of silence. Not the actual inside, of course, because I would never dream of elbowing my way into their private lives like that. The fantasy version, based on their public personas and the little hints they let slip about the depths that lie beneath. I want Matt and Ben to be my ciphers as I explore the ways in which great friendship can become great love.

Unfortunately, and to my endless disappointment, not many other people seem to share my desire to peek beneath the surface of Matt and Ben's friendship. When I first thought to go looking for Afflection slash, I thought I'd find lots--Matt and Ben are such an obvious rps pairing. In reality, there isn't very much at all. Not compared to a fandom like lotrips. But I haven't been daunted by a little thing like a lack of crack to support my habit! I live in hope that others will become infected with a desire to hear the things Matt and Ben say to each other behind closed doors: the bullshit sessions, the discussions about philosophy, the arguments, make-ups, brainstorming for new scripts, and not to mention the gasps, moans, endearments and promises.

My dream is that instead of a cone of silence, there will soon be a cacophony of voices telling stories about the friendship and love between Matt and Ben.

Why don't you come and join me in the dream? There are still plenty of seats right in the front row.

Recommended Sites
There are currently only two major fiction archives for this fandom:

DASA (The Damon/Affleck Slash Archive)

Recommended Stories
Recommendations of my favourite stories can be found in the Memories at rec_room.
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