It appears that I've been turned into the TWoP Traffic Court for being unduly snotty in the BtVS fanfic thread.
Ummmm, so snotty is bad now? Guess it's been awhile since I posted something snotty on TwOP, hunh?
I went over to pimp the Dark Xander Fic-A-Thon for people who might be interested and ended up poking my nose in an exchange.
There's a certain member there who makes a habit of recommending Spike-centric fics (perfectly and totally okay) that tend to bash male non-Spike characters (which kind of isn't). A few people have called her on recc'ing bash fics (including me) in the past, but she keeps going in that direction.
I think it's a case of it getting on my last nerve.
I admit this: Spike isn't my favorite character in the Buffy-verse. That said, he's not the one I dislike the most. He once held the number two spot (number one has always been reserved for Dawn since the first third of S6...please don't shoot me), but he's moved down the dislike ladder since then.
However, I get why Spike's the number one fave for people. I understand it. It all comes down to what character appeals to/speaks to you.
I read Spike-centric fanfic. I enjoy some of it. But I enjoy Spike-centric fanfic that doesn't turn Spike into St. Cheekbones of the Abs and acknowledges that Spike has Issues, like every other flipping character on Angel and Buffy. I enjoy Spike-centric fanfic that doesn't take a crudgel to the other characters, or plays down the legitimate feelings of and between other characters just so he can look better by comparison.
Look, I'm not sure how many times BtVS felt they had to harp on this, but Spike without a soul is substansively different that Spike with a soul. The failure was in the writing in that they kept telling us that Spike was different, but failed to actually show it. What's more, they knew they were failing to show it because otherwise Buffy wouldn't have been caterwauling about Spike having a soul every five minutes.
However, in stating the fact that Spike with soul is a different person than Spike without a soul, they most certainly weren't breaking canon on that front. They were being amazingly consistent, which is nothing short of a miracle in S7.
What's good for the Angel, is good for the Spike says I.
Also, upon watching some episodes from Angel and Buffy, I've also come to the solid conclusion that comparing Angel to Spike isn't entirely fair as far as resouling and how they acted thereafter goes. Nor do I think it says that Angel was "better" than Spike or that Spike was "better" than Angel.
For a start, before Angelus got slammed with a soul, no one knew it was possible to shove a soul into a vampire. So even if Angelus was inclined to go get one (and he wasn't), Angelus wouldn't even know where to go. The tripwire was incredibly vague as well. "Happiness" that was strong enough to allow Angel to forget that he was a vampire loses Angel the soul, but no one seemed to know what would give him that level of happiness.
Furthermore, once Angel becomes Angel, he had zero by way of support network. All he had really was Darla, Dru, and Spike, not exactly the most sympathetic creatures to his plight. He also stuck with what he knew, but picked his victims more carefully (criminals and scum, as Darla points out). In short, Angel had no one to rely on at all.
By the time Spike comes around, it's general knowledge that getting a soul is possible. (I'm leaving aside the chip out vs. get a soul argument in this debate...I say chip out and stand by it; other people argue on the other side). Not only that, Spike had a support network once he got it. Buffy — at least partially driven by her Angel issues — backed and supported Spike. The Scoobs, to varying degrees, fell in line for the most part.
But falling back into signature Spike-yness? Maybe understandable given my own re-watch of some Angel episodes. There needed, I think, to be more "clues" that Spike was substansively different with soul than without. The "not eating people" factor doesn't hold as much power here, mostly because we had spent the three years previous with Spike on a mostly human-free diet.
I suppose nothing short of substantial interactions with Scoobs not named Buffy or showing Spike more in isolation from Buffy after the initial episodes would have managed that trick. I think that's where the missed opportunity really was.
Having said all that, Spike without the soul (just like Angelus before him) was an utter bastard. Whitewashing him and making the Scoobs look bad by comparison in fanfic...that just rubs the wrong way.
How hard is this: If you don't like the character, do your readers a favor and metaphorically send them out of town on a bus. Please. While there's an audience for character-bashing fics, there's a bigger audience that hates them.
ETA: Watching the big NB and CC reunion movie. Heh. Is it me, or are none of the characters at all likeable. The only person I feel bad for thus far is CC's character, because she's about to be shit on by the "poor picked on good guy we're supposed to be sympathizing with."