Anyway, she's been doing anthropological research on the "fake" geek girl debate, and I'm a little in love with her right now. She started with this call for help, and followed with these updates on her research. She's now doing a series on her findings, with a forward called As Always, It Started with Star Trek.
She begins this series by describing her methods, then goes on to describe the "rants" she'll analyze. She then goes on to explain why we should care. Her latest piece is about <"a href="http://thegeekanthropologist.com/2
Marie-Pierre also co-created a panel on nerd culture at the American Anthropological Association's conference, and one of the panelists discusses my boy de Certeau and his "tactics vs. strategies" argument.
I'm still not sure what I'm going to say about shippers. I know I want to touch on how examining the UST of Kirk/Spock is just as valid as knowing grammatically correct Klingon, how the skills shippers use in fan works have real-world value, and how shipping forces us to think critically to defend our ships ("I prefer Spike's somewhat queer masculinity over Angel's alpha male masculinity because it allows for Buffy to be the hero, not just the girlfriend.") Any new ideas?
Also, I haven't seen the Orphan Black premiere or last Sunday's Game of Thrones (though I know why we're all displeased with Jaime right now), so that's why I haven't commented on anyone's posts about said properties.
My presentation went pretty well! My advisor tweeted that I did a good ethnography of Community fandom, and people told me I did well, and didn't qualify it with "for an undergrad." I was in a really neat panel with people who presented on online fan practice. I went first, and the lady who went after me presented on a vid for Lord if the Rings set to set to a song by the Wu-Tang Clan to illustrate how the books and movies were racialized.
The next talk was about social media and teen audiences, focusing I the WB and CW. The girl presenting was a Dawson's fan, not a Buffy fan, but we were from the same generation (post-Gen X, pre-Millennial) so we could relate.
The last talk on my panel was about two scholars re-watching China Beach, which they claimed was a great feminist show in that it was about women in the Vietnam War. They tweeted back and forth about it, and convinced me it would be something fun to watch as a group.
I was up at 3:30 am to get to my flight in St. Louis, and I plan on crashing as soon as I get home. Tomorrow is the kickoff of Undergraduate Research Week at school, and I decided it would look good on my CV, so I'm on the committee. I go to Chicago for another conference Tuesday night, so don't expect replies for a few days. I have read every comment and message, though, so keep 'em coming.
I can't recall correctly, but is Becky considered to be a Sam/Dean shipper? Are the words "ship" or "shipper" used to describe Sam/Dean or Becky? Thanks guys!
Fandom is a tactic against the strategies of mass media. Star Trek is a very masculine narrative. Except for the awesome Uhura, guys get to do most of the fun stuff. However, fans say "thanks, Star Trek, for your masculinist narrative, but I'm going to ship Kirk/Spock and create my own narrative that isn't confined by your heteronormative story." Thus, slash shipping is a tactic meant to navigate the strategy of the masculinist narrative. Fans are deconstructing the message and creating a version that appeals to them. You see it done in fandoms based on very masculine narratives, from Sherlock to Supernatural.
Another tactic is in picking and choosing what we identify with. In Harry Potter, it can be what house you're in or what you ship. I am a troubled Ravenclaw shipping Tomione like it's nobody's business, you can be a Gryffindor shipping Cho Chang and Minerva McGonagall, Whatever revs your engine. Likewise with Buffy fandom. I am a late-season loving, Dawn adoring, Buffy-centric Spuffy shipper. I identify with the B-Team of Spike, Dawn, Anya and Tara more than Giles, Xander and Willow. When I say I am a Browncoat, I am making a statement not just about Firefly, but about myself. I use these identifiers as my tactic to make meaning of mass media - they become who I am and how I see myself.
So when someone insults Buffy, I want to get into their face about it, because I feel internally that insulting Buffy is like insulting me. People say shippers see the entire series through their shipper-shaped lenses. My answer? OF COURSE THEY DO! The thing they identify with most in the show is that particular relationship, so of course it's going to color the way they see the show. What bothers me is when people dismiss shippers as all being "problematic" or "troublesome" or "the reason why fandom is so terrible."
Let's say you're a Lost fan. You're in it to solve the mysteries and make sure all the questions are answered, not to see who Kate ends up banging back at the Dharma station. You're unhappy with the finale, because it wasn't about the mysteries--that finale was all about character relationships. Maybe you're into Buffy for Xander's wisecracks. You really don't have a horse in the race for Buffy's
Here's my line of thinking: I've been known to get up in people's grill about particular ships and characters. Disliking these ships and characters (I'll leave what these ships and who these characters are up to the reader) is also part of how I differentiate myself from other mass consumers - it's part of my identity as much as being a late-season loving, Dawn adoring, Buffy-centric Spuffy shipper is. So when I say something passionate against said ship or character, I'm saying it because something fundamental inside me objects to them. I don't need to be rude or mouthy about it--much fandom conflict is because people get rude and mouthy--but disliking something doesn't necessarily relegate me to the realm of "haters."
So this brings us to ship wars. You have people who over-identify with ship A, which goes counter to those who over-identify with ship B. "A" shippers object to ship B because we're all rapist lovers (was that too specific? Okay, we're all bad people who like problematic characters). When "A" shippers and "B" shippers meet in discourse, of course there's going to be conflict. I think it's extremely naive to believe that two groups of people who firmly believe and identify with two contrasting things won't have some conflict.
That doesn't mean we dismiss shippers completely, and some of the people dismissing shippers would be the first ones out of the gate with a chainsaw if their favorite character was disparaged or dismissed. WE ALL IDENTIFY WITH OUR FAVORITES. It's how we differentiate ourselves from every single other mass media consumer. When I write my list of fandoms and ships on my tumblr page, I'm making a declaration about who I am. So it really annoys me when people place all the blame about fandom conflict on shippers. If your favorite was threatened, wouldn't you rally to support them?
So yeah. I support the shippers because they have every right to identify with what they end up identifying with. That is their tactic to understand mass media. That doesn't give them (or me) the right to be a jackass about it, but shippers shouldn't be looked at as some lesser being because their distinguishing identifier is a romantic relationship, and when you say "shippers ruin fandom," you're privileging your own way of reading media. You're not some monolithic bastion of objective truth because you don't ship anyone in a show. EVERYTHING IS SUBJECTIVE. And the way fans operate is to take their subjective experiences and apply them to media, making their own meaning through whatever means they find appealing.
So don't hate the shippers.
*de Certeau, Michel. The Practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.
Note: This is an expanded version of this post, edited for coherency and content for Watercooler Journal, and to address some things that came up in the comments of the original post.
Also, if you know what the title of this post is referencing (not the Wollstonecraft part), you are my new favorite.
Remember all of the research I was doing in Community fandom? Well, when I went to write up what I learned, the thing people were the most passionate about were shippers and shipping. Love 'em, hate 'em, everyone wanted to talk about shipping. So my research ended up focusing on that, and I actually got into the California State University system-wide student research competition (woohoo!) with my paper on shippers.
I needed to go heavily in depth into theory on this paper, and I began reading de Certeau. De Certeau is the guy who originally said readers "poach" when they appropriate something from a media work, and Henry Jenkins used the term "poach" to describe what fans do with fan fiction and fan works. And I've been reading up on deconstruction and bricolage and humanistic literary theory and my brain will likely explode by the end of this semester, but it has really got me thinking about fandom and the way we see shippers and OTPs and favorite characters. So here's what I wrote on red_satin_doll's journal:
( Sparing your f-lists because I may get wordyCollapse )
- Current Mood: pensive
- Current Music:A Tomione fanmix I made that's filled with angry hate!sex songs
- Current Mood: ecstatic
So of course I was taken aback that in your recent AMA on Reddit you adamantly stated that you preferred Angel. My guess is you probably have no problem with Edward Cullen, either, but again that's another post. I know you and David are close. I've even heard rumors about some behind the scenes canoodling. So you obviously have an more intimate relationship with him than with James. That's fine. But I want to make a delineation for you: you are not Buffy. You are the actress that portrayed Buffy (and did a damn good job of it). Your opinions are not Buffy's opinions. If we want to revive the dead author and get Buffy's opinion, we'd probably go to Joss because of authorial intent, yada, yada, yada.
Now, Joss loves adversarial relationships. What Shakespeare play did he recently make into a movie rather than go on vacation? Yeah. It wasn't Romeo and Juliet. It was Much Ado About Nothing. Which featured Beatrice and Benedick. Who Joss associates with Spike and Buffy. So if we want to intimate authorial intent based on the producer's other preferences, one can surmise that he likes Buffy and Spike more.
So, in conclusion, thank you for portraying Buffy so well that your answer at the AMA's makes me (and Jezebel) scratch my head. I love you, but your opinions don't change the text. They're interesting to hear, but they don't really matter.
Anyway, your succinct answers make me think you don't really want to argue, but this makes a damn good counter argument based on sound logical thinking.
You like Angel more. That's cool. But the text shows that in spite of herself, Buffy liked Spike more in the end.
I have the CSU Pre-Doctoral Scholarship and the Junior League Scholarship due.
I present at two conferences. Only one paper is written.
I do an ethnographic study of media use among freshmen at a local high school.
I take the GRE.
I correspond with potential thesis advisors.
I work on the ethnographic study and begin grad school applications.
I apply to be a HASTAC Scholar and attend another conference where all the cool people in television studies will be.
I visit several graduate schools.
I attend another conference for networking purposes and finish graduate school applications.
I deal with my mother's oncoming empty nest syndrome as I celebrate my last Christmas living at home.
I take several medications because I can't handle the stress of waiting for graduate schools to make decisions.
I do campus visits for final graduate school interviews, implement a media literacy program that incorporates Romeo and Juliet and New Media Literacies, and do the CSU Research Competition again.
I continue on medication as acceptance and rejection letters start to come in.
I accept whatever school I'll be going to, but not before renegotiating with top three schools.
I finish my capstone project, graduate, and finally get to take a breath for the first time in fourteen months, unless I'm doing research over the summer. If I am, I'll probably be back on some medications.
red_satin_doll sent me some meta today, so maybe if I don't fall into bed exhausted I'll have something more worthwhile to share.