Hurt/Comfort is such an interesting thing. It’s basically an entire genre of fanfiction. I’d argue it satisfies a very basic, vital need–the same way that horror satisfies the basic need to be scared in a safe, controllable space.
And yet it doesn’t really have an equivalent outside of fan culture. "Tearjerkers” can sometimes come close, they’re probably the closest thing to a mainstream hurt/comfort genre that there is. But those types of books and movies don’t usually focus on the “comfort” aspect in the same way, and don’t make use of tension and release.
I think every good hurt/comfort fic makes use of tension and release just as horror does,
whether the writer is consciously aware of it or not. Though of course the tension and release in h/c comes from different sources than in horror. Instead of anticipating something frightening, you anticipate the intimacy and/or validation that comes from the “comfort” part you know is eventually coming. That’s what provides release of the tension built up during the “hurt” scenes.
I could write a goddamned essay about this it’s so fascinating.
This is a great definition/analysis of it! I’ve been interested in this too. It’s always been my favorite fanfiction genre. It’s to the point where reading just angst is not enough, there is something left unfulfilled if the character does not have the ‘tension and release’ and just remains under whatever stressor at the end. I think part of the reason I like it so much, is often in mainstream media characters DO NOT have that ‘healing moment’, shall we say. Too often, there may be a sad/traumatic/stressful event and the character is shown to just pick themselves up from it and move on like nothing happened. Which is not realistic as we all know, so I think the hurt/comfort genre in fanfiction is a kind of a response to that. The “filling in the blanks” of when a character needs a moment of healing or validation to continue onward, because that in a sense is more relatable then the “super hero” character who can move through it like nothing damaged them.
– “Yeah, your mirror is a doorway
into my dimension and I’ve seen everything. Even that dance part for
– “Sure, I’m an alien but I don’t
know why you’d think I’d abduct people. But there’s a great eatery
across the galaxy if you want to check it out” au
– “Listen, I am genetically
modified and on the run and you will let me hide in your
– “I was just taking a walk
through the woods and I didn’t think Fae really existed, and I
really don’t think I’ll accept any food from you” au
– “My dragon is acting sick and
you specialize in dragon illnesses, please take a look at it. Wait,
why are you laughing” au
– “Buddy, we are in the middle of
a zombie apocalypse, I specialize in botany in unfavorable terrain
and I just saw you make a sword out of PVC pipe and string; we’re
definitely teaming up” au
– “As a wielder of dark magic I
definitely plan on taking over the world once I trick you into
releasing me from my prison, but crap, I think I might like you more
than I meant to” au
– “Ok, so you panicked and kissed
the human so he wouldn’t drown, but we can’t keep him and he can’t
leave if he knows about us merpeople, so what are we going to do”
– “Look, I honestly didn’t mean to
run into any awkward werewolves on my hike and why would I tell
anyone about it, what do you mean ‘take me to your leader’ are you
serious. How cliché can you be” au
– “I’m a superhero and you’re the
villain, but I saw you visiting kids at the children’s hospital and
letting them act like they defeated you and now it’s really hard to
punch you in the face” au
Ewan McGregor + loveliest shots in movies
Perhaps it’s my age speaking, but I’m starting to miss the way fandom used to be fifteen years ago. Mostly since back then the concepts of ‘darkfic’ and ‘don’t like, don’t read’ were properly understood and adhered to (usually). The situation with darkfics was interesting in particular, because the entire premise was that the author could write incredibly fucked-up things, with the understanding on their part that shit was indeed very messed-up and with no pretense to the contrary (what usually gets termed ‘romanticization’ these days).
Now? You’ve got to run an entire rigmarole of explaining the difference between romanticization and just straight-up exploring a horrible dynamic in writing as, you know, a writer. And even after that, you’ll probably have to deal with the whole invasive ‘explain every trauma you might’ve gone through, so strangers who otherwise don’t care if you exist can decide if they give you Permission to use writing as a coping mechanism’ mess. Fucking hell.
I’ve said it before. Learn to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Learn to tell the difference between what someone explores on the page as a writer and what that same person believes and advocates in their day-to-day life.
*cracks knuckles* I have 32 more tests to grade. LET’S DO THIS.
10 down… 22 more to go. I CAN DO THIS. AND STILL GET TO BED AT A REASONABLE HOUR. I CAN.
I AM FINISHED. I AM DONE. OMG, THOUGH, I CAN’T BREATHE AND MY THROAT IS ON FIRE AND I’M PROBABLY NOT GOING TO SLEEP TONIGHT.
(Yes, I still feel like crap. Why do you ask? :P)