[personal profile] k_puff
I've got to get something off my chest.
There has been something really, really bothering me for about a week now, both as a fan and as a fic-writer. Help me out, over here.

First, I should preface this by saying I consider acting and the theater to be a big part of my life. It's really how I approach all of my most beloved shows and characters; in some way, shape, or form, I have to connect with them, UNDERSTAND them on an actor's level. I need to know what makes them tick, what I call their "primary characteristic". Some characters I connect with completely -- like Rose from Doctor Who (one of my most favorite characters in all of pop culture, actually). Some are more of a stretch, like Donna's Mom.

So naturally, one of the first things I do upon venturing into Alice-dom (after squeeing my little brain out, that is) is think hard about what makes these characters tick. That's just something very important to me -- especially since I immediately wanted to start writing fic, and I wanted to do it right. ^_^

Alice I figured out almost immediately. I like Alice. I GET Alice. Alice makes sense to me on a very basic level.

Alice's primary characteristic is loyalty. You can trace almost everything she does in the show back to loyalty -- her search for her father, the way she stood up for Charlie when they first found him, her stubbornness to find Jack, her continued stubbornness to believe in Jack even after finding out he lied to her, and even her hesitancy to fully trust Hatter. When loyalty is your driving force, you become really careful who you grant it to -- then, when you do, you latch on and never let go. I get that. I GET Alice.

It took me the longest time to GET Hatter. Within hours of Part 2's airing, fandom had already run off and characterized him as slightly crazy, childish, spontaneous and charming. And, while I LOVED those fics, they didn't ring true to me, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out why.

About a week ago, I was in the shower, puzzling through Hatter's character and *why* it was that I had so much more difficulty writing him than Alice, when I had one of those in-the-shower epiphanies. Then I called [livejournal.com profile] abscondinabox* and we talked about it for ages, because she is my fandom sounding-board on all things and I wuv her. <3 We came to this conclusion:

Hatter is indeed charming and slightly crazy, but he is not in the least childish or spontaneous. Hatter is, in fact, one CALCULATING and SHREWD bastard! XD I mean, think about it: he lived as a double-agent for a good chunk of his life, in the kind of world where one wrong word would get you beheaded! It just doesn't make sense that that kind of character would be, well... silly and reckless. In fact, the only character in this whole series just recklessly running around without planning ahead is Alice. -_-;; (More on that later.)

Hatter thinks EVERYTHING through, from the very first time we meet him -- even if his plan isn't fully formed (setting himself up as bait for the Jabberwock, um whut?**) he at least HAS a plan. He places the value of his own skin (and, very quickly, Alice's) above everything. That kind of prioritizing is just routine in the Wonderland that Hatter lives in. The whole series is this exact give-and-take between the two of them:

Hatter: Okay, now do this!
Alice: No! I’m going to run off and do this! *gets into trouble*
Hatter: >.< (<-- no seriously, HE MAKES THIS EXACT GODDAMN FACE. Oh, Hatter, ILU.)

Alice is something Hatter's never seen before: someone who puts loyalty for others above their own well-being. Hatter is jealous of that loyalty for Jack, I believe, before he even realizes that he wants that loyalty for himself. Hatter's never known anyone who thought like that before, and it inspires him.

The only time Hatter ever does anything without planning, indeed, AGAINST his own plan, was jumping through the Glass after Alice at the end. Thus, completing his character arc. <3 (AND BEING ADORABLE)

Is he awkward? Yes. Is he charming and adorable? Endlessly. Is he spontaneous and recklessly either of these characteristics?


I LOVE fanon!Hatter. I do! His spontaneity, mixed with Alice’s down-to-earth skepticism but grudging acquiescence because he’s Hatter and adorablecharming, makes for a great fic-writing/reading pair that is wonderful and sweet and… completely out-of-character. Based only in fanon.

So here’s my dilemma. The two differences may seem subtle, but I’m really settling in to this fandom as a fic-writer, and to me it’s huge. I have to write Alice and Hatter in-character to the best of my ability. I HAVE to. It’s a compulsion, both as a fan and as an actor. On the other hand, I do recognize that once a series has aired, nay, ended even, the fans sort of rule the roost. I mean, majority rules, I suppose. So is it just me overthinking that it bothers me so much?

There’s room enough in fandom’s hearts to accommodate both fanon!Hatter and canon!Hatter, especially as subtle those differences may seem to people. But, whenever I get an idea for a fic that requires one or both of them to act out-of-character (at least, the way I perceive it), it really rankles me. It’s like… petting a cat backwards, or something. I have to qualify that stuff as crack or humor fic when I write it so that I don’t go crazy.

The best way I've found to reconcile the two is this: I do honestly believe that Alice's recklessness on behalf of those she loves left a deep impression on Hatter. He wants to be able to feel that kind of loyalty himself -- indeed, he does feel that for Alice. I can believe that, once out of Wonderland and away from the life he led there, he would start to loosen up and become a little more crazy. ^_^ But it would take awhile; Hatter's changing his whole way of THINKING, it's not just some epiphany that happens overnight. Hatter's conditioned to live life "playing both sides of the coin", and I think it would take him some time to learn to think differently. He's willing to do it for Alice, because he loves her and he loves that part of her. ♥♥♥

Thoughts? I really want a good discussion on this: I’ve got a war in my head to reconcile, and fandom sounding-boards are the best. >.<

*[livejournal.com profile] abscondinabox has this really amazing theory WHICH I LOVE and has become a part of my own personal canon and the subject of a future fic I’m planning: Hatter’s secretly always wanted to be a Knight. ^_^ Thus, the riding around on horseback with swords, and his constant drive to protect people *cough*Alice*cough*. I love this idea and I am totes going to fic it in the very near future, before anyone else can steal it from me. >.>

**Let's face it, we all know the only reason they had that whole "let's trap the March Hare" subplot in the first place was that so they could have a Jabberwock Chase Scene. HOW IN THE WORLD was Hatter going to trap Mad March with a JABBERWOCK!? Not exactly stealthy. Especially when March hadn't even hit SHORE yet. Was Hatter just going to run to the shore, Jabberwock on his tail, and then... what, wait for March to get there? -_-;; That whole thing was complete CGI fanservice. But it did end with Hatter PUNCHING THE JABBERWOCK IN THE FACE, which was awesome. (Actually, on second thought, this totally sums up the entirety of Alice: the occasional poor excuse for REALLY AWESOME FANSERVICE.)

Date: 2010-01-03 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randombattlecry.livejournal.com
What amuses me is when I see this, basically, occur in fanfic:

Hatter: Alice! Alice Alice Alice! *snudges with her for a minute. sexytiems* Oooooh what's that?
Alice: It's an aerosol can. We have those in my world.
Hatter: WE DON'T HAVE THEM IN MINE! *sprays it everywhere* Guess what this makes me think of?
Alice: Sex. Everything makes you think of sex.
Hatter: Nope! *pops the P* MICROWAVES. Because I always wanted to put an aerosol can in a microwave! *does so*
Alice: If you weren't so adorable I'd have you committed. Ha ha!
Hatter: Ha ha!
Sexytiems: *occur*
Hatter: *now naked* SHINY THING! Alice! Alice Alice Alice, lemme tell you, Alice, I have never been this fascinated by any one thing for any three seconds together, cor, blimey!
Alice: *confused* Are... are you turning into Fanon!Tenth Doctor?
Hatter: What are ye talkin' about, luv?
Alice: Or... Jack Sparrow?
Hatter: That's CAP'N Jack Sparrow.
Alice: I knew I never should have shown you how to work the remote.

(tl;dr version of my comment: I agree with you. It's a common problem in fandoms with charming men, especially when they have the occasional habit of throwing a non-sequitur into their conversations. Hatter is most definitely a calculating son of a gun; I personally don't see how he managed to keep playing both sides of the field for so long. Bright he might be, but he doesn't seem to have a real grasp on what consequences might come from his actions.)

I enjoyed this analysis. Good show!

Date: 2010-01-03 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-puff.livejournal.com
Your summary is HILARIOUS AND PERFECT. XD "Sex. Everything makes you think of sex." Oh, man. I'm so glad you agree with me on this -- I'm not just being nitpicky, the fics really are skewing his character toward the hyper side!

And, is it just me, or does this fandom base seem particularly *young* to you? >.> I'm around on the comms, and I'm like... man, I remember when I was *just* like this. But now I'm older, and wiser, and... yeah. -_-;;

Date: 2010-01-03 04:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randombattlecry.livejournal.com
It probably is a younger fanbase, simply because this is the Spawn of SciFi SyFy. My understanding is that the channel draws a younger audience, typically.

What's really kind of mind-boggling, to me, is the good amount of people who aren't even slightly familiar with the original books. This really gave me a problem when I had a few of my relatives sit down and watch it with me. I had to keep explaining who everyone was, why they were there, what they were doing. And all the nice little references went completely over their heads. They're 18 and 21, respectively, and I just. Wanted. To. Smack them.

Date: 2010-01-03 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-puff.livejournal.com
Oh man, those little references are my favorite part! They're like little rewards, or easter eggs, or something. ^_^ But hey, if you're into Carroll lore, you're really going to love the Alice epic I'm working on. I'm trying to bring in as much random little bits of Carroll trivia as I can, because... well, I can. Even if it goes over most peoples' heads. XP

And hey, if you wouldn't mind a little beta reading... ;)

Date: 2010-01-03 04:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randombattlecry.livejournal.com
Sure! I haven't been anyone's beta for quite a while, but I'm willing to give it a whirl.

Date: 2010-01-03 04:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madeelly.livejournal.com
Not to randomly show up in the conversation, but the miniseries took a lot of imagery from Disney's Alice in Wonderland as well (the scene with Mad March, Hatter and the chair was taken directly from the tea party scene). It's been a while since I've read the books, so I'm not sure how much trivia from that I'd be able to spot, but I did notice a lot of Disney references.

Date: 2010-01-03 05:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] randombattlecry.livejournal.com
I think it's a case of canon-bleed. Disney got the chair, the party, much of the dialogue and whatnot from the books, too. The originals ended up being so iconic and pervasive (and filmable, apparently) that there's echoes of them all over the place.

Date: 2010-01-03 04:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madeelly.livejournal.com
This. So much this. Hatter is, essentially, incredibly mature and smart. He's a clever bastard, and that's pretty evident from the first scene he's in - he's the head of the tea shop, for starters. And when he goes to see Dodo, he immediately talks about getting his cut.

Most of the time, he knows what he's doing (except for the awesome fanservice bits xD). He's Alice's guide, the person who shows her through Wonderland - he'd be a pretty awful guide if he kept getting distracted by the nearest shiny thing.

Plus, there's the whole double life aspect - it takes a lot of maturity and psychological control to deal with that. Because while he may be helping the resistance, he's still a vehicle for the Queen's manipulation of her people. And I bet some part of him, before Alice, was okay with that.

He was also able to withstand torture from Dee and Dum for probably a very long time - long enough for Alice to think that they'd killed him. Seeing as Dee and Dum were there, and not just March and his cattle prod, there was probably a large amount of mental fuckery going on. It's surprising that Hatter wasn't a total basketcase by the end.

And if you just rewatch Hatter's first scene, there's evidence that he's calculating. The look he gives Ratty before picking out the right tea, for instance.

I think in Alice's world, Hatter would adjust pretty well. It wouldn't be all, "Look, A CAR??? WHAT DOES IT DO??" because he'd figure it out pretty quickly. He's smart and able to adapt. Although I could imagine him just sitting in front of the TV for hours.

I find that people write him a lot more like Connor than like Hatter, you know? I don't know if it's because they've watched Primeval or whatever, but fanon!Hatter is often rather hyper and adorable and awesome, but not canon!Hatter. Canon!Hatter is smart and sexy and confident and badass. And he should stay that way. ♥

Date: 2010-01-03 04:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-puff.livejournal.com
Exactly. That's why I thought it was so funny that people thought my AU Hatter in "Foam" reminded them of Connor -- especially now that I've seen a few episodes of the show. Because really, if you took away Hatter's lifestyle of double-agentry and bulletproof vests and tea shops... I bet he would have ended up quite a bit like Connor. Maybe not quite as hopeless, but... ^_^ I think that says a lot about Andrew-Lee Potts as an actor, really.

Date: 2010-01-03 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] madeelly.livejournal.com
I'm not certain about that. I think Hatter would still be more clever and confident than Connor. Connor's main issue is that he's good at being smart, and not much else (although he does get more competent as the show goes on). I think Hatter, even without all the espionage, etc., would still be Hatter and not Connor (if that makes any sense at all...)

I do think Andrew-Lee Potts is often cast in the Connor-like role, but from what I've seen he can definitely act outside of that. But he does always carry around this awkward energy that shows up in most of his roles. So...I don't know. xD

Date: 2010-01-03 05:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zombres.livejournal.com

But then, my mind has been eaten by fluff. So. That's my excuse. X^D

Date: 2010-01-03 06:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-puff.livejournal.com
NO, I GET IT. It's just SO EASY, with that devil-may-care smile he's got going on. *gush* Fanon!Hatter is just SO TEMPTING. And I can enjoy a little well-written fanon!Hatter, in a cracky, humor sense... I just have a mental block about it, I suppose. >.> I don't mean to be a snob about it, or anything. Like I said, it's kind of a compulsion.

Date: 2010-01-04 04:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schmoo999.livejournal.com
*delurking* There is nothing wrong with when it is well written fluff but like you said it is not very in canon and when fanon isn't written well, ouch.

Reading through all of this, it is helping me realize why I am finding so much, not all, but a great deal, of the Alice/Hatter fic so unsatisfying.

*back to my cave*

Date: 2010-01-04 05:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-puff.livejournal.com
Oh, wow, hello! I'm glad you liked my ranting? ^_^;; Feel free to de-lurk anytime.

Date: 2010-01-04 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] schmoo999.livejournal.com
Hee, it was ranting with a dose of meta about the character and I love reading stuff like that. :)

Date: 2010-01-09 05:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amphetamine-47.livejournal.com
Hello, stalking you via comms!

THIS: Hatter is indeed charming and slightly crazy, but he is not in the least childish or spontaneous. Hatter is, in fact, one CALCULATING and SHREWD bastard! may be my favorite thing ever.

Because YES. He's been looking out for himself and playing all sides and no one trusts him & he doesn't trust anybody else, and then Alice shows up and blows his whole existence to hell--and suddenly he's the guy willing to ride in on horseback, swinging a sword, in hopes that she'll get away.

He makes me think of Han Solo, which is...a little confusing :)

Anyway, brilliant stuff. Loved the read!

Date: 2010-01-09 05:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] k-puff.livejournal.com
Actually, he does have a bit of the Han Solo about him, doesn't he? XD Ahh, Han/Leia... another one of my OTPs. I absolutely adore relationships between two strong, independent characters who happen to love each other more than anything. ♥ Call me a sucker.

Anyway, thanks for the... stalking? o_0 LAWL. I think you may have reviewed one of my fics over a [livejournal.com profile] alittleoddish, too. At least, I think I remember your username floating around? ^_^ Hope to see you around!

(PS, icon used because it's Star Wars, not because... you suck. Awkward... haha.)

Date: 2010-01-09 08:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adribetty394.livejournal.com
So sorry to completely barge into your conversation here, I swear I've only been in this fandom for about three hours.
I just wanted to pop in because your whole rant makes A LOT of sense to me. I was just reading a few fics and found a lot of authors did actually portray him like the Tenth Doctor with a thing for hats, which is good, you know for laughs. I don't know why I've gotten into this fandom at such an alarming speed, but I'm pretty sure it has a lot to do with Hatter being a character that I want to see explored (and eventually write myself when I feel more comfortable), so I'm glad there's a number of you who have read the books and see more to him than this hyper persona(which is really very fun, regardless.)
Wow, sorry again for jumping in here like this!



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