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The broccoli test

I thought about writing about the release of the original Star Wars movies on DVD today, because I was one of those folks who was at the premiere of the first movie and have often written about the way it completely changed filmgoing as we knew it then. But, yawn. I'm sure everyone else will talk about it this week at least from the historical perspective. I was fascinated by the fact that I knew I was watching a sea change in filmgoing even while I was at the theatre. And like many, I'm disappointed in the changes to the movies wrought by Lucas's annoying need to soften and crowd his visuals, especially because Han Solo shot first, goddammit, and I will never stop being peeved that the film has been changed so much that only those people with laserdisc versions and bad tapes will have that preserved in anything but memory.

But it got me thinking about how I've always wanted to vid Star Wars, especially Han. Yet, strangely, it's never been a huge fandom for me, despite the hundreds of viewings of the first movie and its even better sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. (Jedi I can seriously live without, though it does have some good moments.) There are two great fanfic writers that I know of who've written excellent H/L slash, Cara Loupe and Marie Blackpool, and I loved reading those stories. Yet I never have been tempted to write them, myself, which I couldn't really figure out.

I thought about the people I'm most drawn to writing and tend to vid the most, and it dawned on me when I was telling mlyn about the broccoli test, just what connects characters to me besides my interest in increasingly taciturn men: all of my favorite fannish pairings are characters who pass the broccoli test. Much as I love many others, if they're not broccoli test material, I don't feel as much of a desire to write about them.

I know I will get a lot of this wrong, since I'm telling it from memory over a decade old, but sherrold was the one who came up with the broccoli test idea when she was living in L.A. with a friend, C. As legend, and my mind filling in blanks, would tell it, Sandy and C were at the grocery store, on opposite ends of the produce section, and Sandy was trying to tell C to pick up some broccoli without shouting across the store at her. No amount of pantomiming and mouthing of the words could get the point across to C, and Sandy apparently told her (we were all in the midst of Professionals-mania then), "Doyle would have known Bodie wanted him to pick up some broccoli with just a raise of his eyebrow!" or something like that. Hence, Bodie and Doyle would have passed the broccoli test. (Sandy, please correct my wrongness here!)

And they do. The best pairings, for me, are ones who never have to explain what they want beyond a mere eyebrow-raise or a twitch of the head. Especially because I seem to be attracted to less and less talkative guys -- I've gone from the decidedly unchatty Lt. Castillo on Miami Vice to the churlish AD Skinner on X-Files to the nearly speechless Michael on La Femme Nikita to the taciturn pairing of Chris and Vin in Magnificent 7, culminating in the character who speaks 74 words through an entire two-hour movie, Sgt. Todd in Soldier. These days, I am liking the emotionally volatile but not especially loquacious Dominic Toretto. Spike is a freakish anomoly.

All of these guys pass the broccoli test with their (my) partner of choice. Dom merely looks at Brian after Jesse is killed in The Fast and the Furious, and Brian knows exactly what he wants him to do. After they finally get together and they know their true feelings, Michael can stare blankly at Nikita and she knows what he's telling her. In watching MV eps lately, it's amazing how much Castillo and Crockett say to each other without ever talking. And Chris and Vin... they were passing the broccoli test before they even met! The very first time they even see each other, they exchange a look across a wide street and nod their heads so slightly that if you're not watching carefully, you'd miss it, and then they go off to save a guy from being lynched! They've never even seen each other before. The uber-broccoli test masters, if you ask me.

Luke and Han, though, not so much. Nor Eddie and Monty, nor Angel and Buffy. For such a laconic guy, Angel with Buffy never had that broccoli test quality; though oddly, Spike and Buffy get very close frequently for reasons that mystify me, since Spike is so absurdly chatty and strange. Once he was on Buffy's side, they seemed to have a wierdly connected quality, especially in fighting. Maybe that's another reason why I hate the second half of season 6 so much -- they wrecked the broccoli test quality that Buffy and Spike had cultivated. Angel and Spike have no ability to pass the test at all, but it's charming because they try and we get great comic results. Angel and Wes, also, feint close to it, but never quite get there.

I'll often vid characters who can't pass the test, but I seem to have a tough time writing them -- the one thing that draws me most, a taciturn character paired with a chattier, more social one, is often just hated by most fans, who can't figure out how to write guys who don't talk. But for me that's a huge attraction -- I want that character to tilt his head slightly and the other character to go running off after bad guys. I want oceans of emotion to be conveyed with just a tiny quirk of the mouth. If they're on opposite ends of the produce aisle, I want one to know the other needs broccoli! Because that's the fun in writing in them, I suppose -- trying to convey that intangible quality yourself through words. So I guess there are many fannish loves, but only the most intense will pass the broccoli test, and only those who pass will drive me to write fanfic.

And now this is making me think of Dorinda's theory of clams, which I suppose I'll have to talk about in light of the broccoli test. Mmmmm. Clams and broccoli -- D, we should write an essay!

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Sep. 21st, 2004 10:55 am (UTC)
eating broccoli for lunch as i write this...

mulder/scully...definitely pass the broccoli test..
and XM movieverse wolverine/rogue...
(2 of my favorite fandoms)

xo, a/nyc
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 21st, 2004 05:10 pm (UTC)
I won't even get to check out these supposed new changes for weeks, because I found out that I accidentally ordered the full screen version, and my set will arive and I have to send it right back. I didn't even know there WAS a full screen version! Why on earth would you even bother? Sheesh. I didn't even looked, just clicked Buy and it wasn't till today, after they'd shipped that my new office mate mentioned it. Sure enough, I'd ordered the wrong thing! Durrrr.
Sep. 21st, 2004 11:34 am (UTC)
Now *this* could be rewritten and pitched to you-know-what. Starting mid-way through the fourth paragraph and concentrating on "movie pairings that are interesting to watch" with a tie-in to the Star Wars DVD release. Leaving out the slash and fan-fic mentions if you want--could be a nonmainstream take on a mainstream idea.

Incidentally, I think Spike and Buffy would pass the broccoli test. Spike may be chatty, but he's also essentially broody and uber-expressive with his minutest gestures. Especially when he's alone and longing after Buffy before the Scoobies will have anything to do with him. Lots of scenes where he goes in and we have total empathy with him just because we caught him mid-swig at the pub trying to get over his heartbreak.

Sep. 21st, 2004 05:12 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't even know how to rewrite this for a general audience, though -- if you don't know fandom and slash in particular, you'd never get this, would you?
Sep. 21st, 2004 11:42 am (UTC)
Loved reading this! Most fun and insightful. I thought about my pairings, and I think this must be a big draw for me, too:

Pass the broccoli test:
Kirk/Spock (I'm sick of your half-breed interference, Mr. Spock!)
Stuart/Vince (It's all true! Everything we've been told!)
Seth/Sol (suspenders!)
Buffy/Spike (I'm with you on this one)
Sonny/Vinnie (yes, in another lifetime)
Starsky/Hutch (but of course)
Jeremiah/Kurdy (post-apocalyptic S&H)
Horatio/Archie (as much as Horatio ever could manage broccoli with anyone)
Johnny/Bruce (absolutely! I present "Zion" as my proof)
Alexander/Hephaistion (say no more)
CJ/Toby (sign language)

I even have a couple of icons that I subtitled "No words necessary," with pictures of my BSOs just looking at each other. And yet, how do I then explain Duncan/Methos? Because, so not, and they are my all-time OTP. And yet, the potential for broccoli is there, big time. Maybe it's the potential that keeps me coming back. :D

I remembered the story about Sandy and Bodie and Doyle and the broccoli, but it was still great to hear it again. *g*
Sep. 21st, 2004 05:16 pm (UTC)
Seth and Sol would so totally pass the broccoli test -- he's packed Seth's bag before Seth even asks him to! Sigh. I'd actually like to see if Jeremiah and Kurdy could -- it would be funny if they couldn't. Kurdy would get all pissed off and want to know why the hell he couldn't just ask.

I think there's always an anomoly in the whole clam/broccoli thing. We have to have some pairing who violate our usual standards so that we can appreciate them more. ;-)
(no subject) - killabeez - Sep. 22nd, 2004 01:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - midnitemaraud_r - Jan. 31st, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Test - kimberlyfdr - Jan. 31st, 2006 05:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Test - killabeez - Jan. 31st, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Test - killabeez - Jan. 31st, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - keerawa - Jul. 4th, 2006 08:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - killabeez - Jul. 4th, 2006 08:10 am (UTC) - Expand
Soldier Fanfic - (Anonymous) - Jun. 13th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 21st, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)
the un-broccoli, or broccoflower, test
While the broccoli test is the test of a True, Obvious, Screaming to be Slashed pair on tv, some hot couples aren't always going to pass -- or, they're never going to pass, no matter how hard they try to or want to. The interesting thing about Han and Luke in Cara's stories is that even when they're sleeping together, they're not necessarily reading each other's mind about dinner vegetables. Or shopping together. Luke is off saving the universe, and Han is running from his feelings and pretending he likes meat more than veg.

I know you're not a fan, but Mulder/Krycek, too (obviously) -- and probably even Aeryn and John on Farscape. As I got bored with slash stories that ended in the perfect fuck, I got a bit more interested in the imperfect fuck, which usually means the broccoflower couples, not the broccoli couples.

I think Spike and Buffy would pass it on some days; maybe it would only be one directional, though (and I might go either direction on different days!) or they'd be an aisle off and all angry about that. But that's part of why they're interesting to contemplate, even in bed.

Sigh. I'm hungry now. Great post.
Sep. 21st, 2004 05:19 pm (UTC)
Re: the un-broccoli, or broccoflower, test
Well, it's not so much a test of hotness as a test of what makes me write. There are definitely outliers, but I just realized a while ago that it's almost always that broccoli test kind of relationship that will make me sit down and do a story.

What I really don't get, though, is why. I mean, most of the ones you mentioned (except ick, Krycek) are hot, yet never made me want to write! I don't know why, either. Luke and Han especially appeals to me, yet I can't put pen to paper.
Sep. 21st, 2004 03:54 pm (UTC)
I think one fun thing of Buffy/Spike is how the gender roles are switched. Spike basically has the female role of having to drag the more silent partner (aka Buffy) into conversation. Cause the older Buffy gets, the less talkative she gets.

It's one of a million reasons why Buffy/Angel just doesn't work, they both like it too much to keep silent on their troubles, so in the end, they'd just be building up all those frustrations and anger till it all explodes.
They're just too alike in all the bad ways, and too different in the good ways. If they ever got together again, I'd give them three weeks at most, they'd kill eachother after a month.
Sep. 21st, 2004 05:23 pm (UTC)
Yeah! One of the things I often loved about X-Files was that Mulder was the girl in the relationship. And Spike is way more on the female let's talk end of things.

Much as I adore Buffy and Angel together, they just could never pass the test. They're both clams, and that's dangerous. ;-)
Sep. 21st, 2004 05:48 pm (UTC)
Very interesting... makes sense too. That undercurrent of something deeper makes you go hmmm. I think Batman (Keaton) and Catwoman (Pfeiffer) had it in spades. Is there Batman/Catwoman fanfic?

Btw, we should catch up next week so that I can give you the copy of the BtVS pilot I made for you.
Sep. 21st, 2004 07:08 pm (UTC)
And like many, I'm disappointed in the changes to the movies wrought by Lucas's annoying need to soften and crowd his visuals, especially because Han Solo shot first, goddammit, and I will never stop being peeved that the film has been changed so much that only those people with laserdisc versions and bad tapes will have that preserved in anything but memory.

That's exactly why I can't bring myself to watch, let alone buy, the DVDs. Somehow, I need to get ahold of letterboxed tapes of the original versions (probably on eBay), but I'm boycotting Lucas and his stupid revisionist history. Gah.
Jan. 31st, 2006 05:34 pm (UTC)
Maybe that's another reason why I hate the second half of season 6 so much -- they wrecked the broccoli test quality that Buffy and Spike had cultivated.

And they never got it back, dammit. :P
Jan. 31st, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

They interacted as if they were telepathic ---and didn't need no stinkin' Vulcan mind meld :)
Jan. 31st, 2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Cyclops and Wolverine, to a note-perfect description. :)

Great concept!
Jan. 31st, 2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
I really like your theory. Now, I might just have to implement it.
Feb. 1st, 2006 08:08 am (UTC)
Jeeves/Wooster has to set some kind of record for broccoli tests -- at least on Jeeves' part.
Jan. 9th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
Jeeves knows that Wooster wants broccoli when Wooster was absolutely certain that he wanted meat and potatoes.

Wooster might realize, three months after the fact, that when Jeeves raised his eyebrow like that, he meant that he wanted broccoli. Or not.
(no subject) - pinglederry - Jan. 27th, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - plum177 - Apr. 15th, 2007 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 2nd, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)
You don't know me, but I very recently (as in, last week) got into M7 fandom. I'd seen this post before, linked from all over, but it's not until I finally watched Chris and Vin stare at each other across a wide street that I truly understood the meaning of the Broccoli Test ;)

*shows off icon* It took me forever to get the file size down to 40k.
Aug. 1st, 2008 03:56 am (UTC)
Hee, this post totally just came up in a discussion of Dreamwidth.org, about silly names for the watching-people list, including asparagus, salad, and broccoli.
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