?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

I've been reading a bunch of French post-structuralists the past couple weeks, and I think I understand the problem with fandom: we over-identify with our favorites (be it ship, character, show, narrative device, whatevs), so when someone insults that ship/character/show/narrative device, we take it as a personal blow. De Certeau* (the guy I've been reading the most) has this thing about "strategies" and "tactics" - strategies are the ways "the system" or "the man" or hegemony makes us conform to the dominant narrative, and tactics are developed by individuals to navigate those strategies. We are given a media narrative and told the strategic meaning by the dominant culture. You can "buy in" to the message given, or you can deconstruct it and take what meaning you want from it.

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 vagina heart. In both these scenarios, you're a gen fan - someone who isn't in it for the shipping. Why should we privilege how you view the series over the shipper? You have your tactic to make sense of Lost or Buffy, and they have theirs, and neither is an invalid or incorrect way to approach mass media.

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.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
eilowyn
Mar. 25th, 2014 06:41 pm (UTC)
Yep! Thank you!
kwritten
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:05 am (UTC)
I'd really love to see this discussion extended into the tropes of shippers and what they are prioritizing in general. (Perhaps with the use of cetrumlumina's ao3 data?) Because I don't disagree with anything you are saying here.

I *do* think that there are interesting conversations happening in fandom that are breaking down the barriers of what it means to be a "shipper" and how much that is part of a dominant ideology. I don't find 'shipper' culture to be subversive in any way - and in fact, find the dominant ships (Sherlock/Watson, Sterek, Delena/Stelena, Bangel/Spuffy) to be hyper-focused on the masculine element and also on a prioritizing of the 'romantic' relationship as being the ideal and most important relationship a person can participate in.

With the rise of sexual minority vocalization - especially in tumblr's often-self-conflicting and over-zealous social justice - we have this really fascinating and confusing conversation about what a shipper culture prioritizes.

Let's take Sleepy Hollow (and Elementary because the fandoms overlap so much) for an example - because it is a fresh fandom and doesn't have the hang-up of several years of growth. I saw on tumblr (just on my teeny weeny dash) BOTH the asexual community that was so excited to have not one - but TWO - series that explored a M/F dynamic that was not relegated in canon to the space of romanticism (especially exciting as the women are both woc) (and woc have a strangled history in American media of becoming hyper-sexualized objects). There was much rejoicing and insistence from a large community about how important it was to have a M/F dynamic that was NOT romantic or sexual. On the other hand, those who found pleasure in 'shipping' one or both of these pairings (Abbie/Ichabod & Joan/Sherlock) felt frustrated that while they saw the potential for a great and multi-layered expression of a Romantic relationship with more power given to the female characters and all other lovely things - that they were being scolded by fandom-at-large for feeling so.

In this instance, both are correct.

It is important to have relationships in television that show that it is not necessary for Romanticism in order to have a powerful relationship that is deep and meaningful. A representation of relationships that were are in dire short supply of. Especially M/F relationships, which tend towards an underlying sexual relationship - or shy away from becoming too emotionally important.

It is also important for representations of woc/white men to become more progressive and let go of the gross sexual/racial stereotypes that still dictate 99.999% of exposure.

Both of these things are important.

But this debate calls attention - not just to hurt feeling on behalf of people taking a great need of representation of themselves on television - but of the problematics of a shipper community that places so much emphasis on the Romances between m/f and m/m and why those relationships are the ones we see the most of and are given so much stock in our process of subjectivity.

Your argument also doesn't take into account the way fans (such as the Sterek fandom) is rude and demanding - not just within fandom itself, but also to the actors (Tyler Posey is not treated well by fans) themselves. The petitions and the gripes to get the series changed to suit their "needs" (when m/m homosocial relationships make up the majority of media representation already) (and there are far more positive representations of gay men than gay women or any other LGBTQ group) - how is that any different from the bronies?

kwritten
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:05 am (UTC)
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.

I'm sorry... but I have to continue to disagree with you on this point. I think this prioritizing of romantic relationships in such a toxic manner is damaging on many levels. I daily have to log out of tumblr in disgust because the vile, gross behavior that occurs in anon when shippers feel as though someone doesn't like their fave. Overidentification happens. It's interesting and should be interrogated and not dismissed. But childish mud-slinging, slut-shaming, and my friends crying, and female-character assassination is not okay in my book.

Yes. Media is a huge factor in the process of gaining and understanding one's subjectivity.

So what? What are the stakes of this?

(I'm trying to push you into a deeper/stronger argument with this. I want you to look at what this does, what it means. because that's what I was trained to do in grad school and I know you are looking towards that. My grad advisor would read this and say: "So what?" why do I care? what does this mean? what are the stakes of this? So that's what I'm trying to do for you. Because that's the hardest part. You have a good point. Now push it to a conclusion that means something.)

Defend away - but not without acknowledging that this situation is becoming toxic in many places. BECAUSE IT IS. Shippers can ruin fandom spaces with their toxic behavior. Because they have become entitled. And what does this entitlement do?

Hell. What does it mean that romantic pairings on television shows/movies/books have become an identifier that helps people understand themselves?

You claim that it is true. I don't disagree.

TELL ME WHY I SHOULD CARE. Tell me why I shouldn't be frustrated with the negativity. Tell me why I should care.

Tell me why the Romantic Plot - a girl gets a guy - is STILL part of our subjectivity. Tell me why we haven't moved past this. Tell me why it is so prevalent that people don't prioritize other types of relationships. Tell me what it tells us about our culture that this is our emphasis. Tell me why there is more m/m slash than f/f slash.

Tell me why I should care.



Tell me something I don't know.

We over-identify with our favorites. How is a Delena stan different from a Damon fan or an Elena fan? Because they are different?

Tell me why Annie/Jeff shipping doesn't feel positive to me as an Annie fan - but feels positive to you as an Annie fan? What is the difference? Why is there that difference? What does that difference mean?
kwritten
Mar. 25th, 2014 10:11 am (UTC)
I think you should read the Duplessis article that I gave links to a few weeks ago in my large theory post. Here's the info and a bib entry I wrote about it a while back. She's talking about narrative subjectivity in 19thC literature and I just find it a bit interesting how similar your points are.
(and shouldn't we be past a 19thC paradigm of subjectivity by now???)


Duplessis, Rachel Blau. “Breaking the Sentence, Breaking the Sequence.” Essentials of the Theory of Fiction 3rd Edition. Ed. Michael J. Hoffman and Patrick D. Murphy. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005. Print. 221-238.

Duplessis looks in her argument at a feminist revisions of Freudian psychological development of women-particularly focusing on the oedipal conflict in women which results in the definition of femininity to be easily thrown off track, which results in a constant struggle between what is feminine and what is not. Within Duplessis’ argument is a detailed close reading of Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, to provide support to her larger argument. Duplessis’ argument goes on to link that the marginalization and liminal position that women face psychologically to have true sociological implications: as women are both a part of the dominant hegemony by shoring it up, and also marginalized by the dominant hegemony. Duplessis asserts that “the learning of the rules of gender may need a good deal of extrafamilial reinforcement, especialy where the girl is concerned” (228). In other words, the education of gender (for gender is a learned behavior) is derived from culture, “including literary products like narrative” (228). However, though gender can be learned, female identity according to Duplessis, “is a movement between deep identification with dominant values and deep alienation from them” (229). In this sense, women have a “double consciousness” not unlike other marginalized groups, in that they both participate in the dominant hegemony, but are not true parts of it. Since women are “constantly reaffirmed as outsiders” by their society, and also through an internalization of the system within and without which they operate, “women’s loyalties to dominance remain ambiguous” since they are not “in control of the processes by which” they gain subjectivity and definition (231). Duplessis argues that the romantic plot of the 19th century reinforces this liminal position by reestablishing women as both outside and inside the power structure, in which “the female hero becomes a heroine and in which the conclusion of a valid love plot is the loss of any momentum of quest” (225). In other words, in order to become feminine involves such an amount of repression and sacrifice that the quest is itself a dead end: marriage. Within marriage, the repression of self has reached its climax and the 19th century heroine becomes both difference and sameness.
gillo
Mar. 25th, 2014 01:14 pm (UTC)
That looks like a very useful article. Adding it to my list for when I write about Thackeray. (And, actually, it might be useful for the early modern witchcraft I'm working on at the moment.)
kwritten
Mar. 29th, 2014 05:31 pm (UTC)
Duplessis is always relevant. Glad to help!
eilowyn
Mar. 25th, 2014 06:41 pm (UTC)
First of all, thank you. The thing I get grilled on most by my advisors is the "so what?" factor, so your pushing me to think harder is appreciated.

That shipping behavior can become toxic is a fact, and I won't deny it. It's definitely something I overlooked when making my argument. However, I worry about painting all shippers as problematic - there's the situation I've catalogued where Community writer Andy Bobrow tweeted that Jeff/Annie shippers are pathological. Shippers don't want to be stigmatized as unwell. I will say that the particular tweeter who hounded Andy was taking shipping to a deeper, more internal level where his (it was, surprisingly, someone identifying as a male who was tweeting, which contradicts the idea that shippers are just crazed fangirls) vested interest in Jeff and Annie having some form of romantic engagement became personal.

I honestly am going to need more time to think about all of your comments - not only because I have two conference papers to write in the next three weeks, but because I want to read Duplessis and just allow my brain to think a little more about the "so what?" aspect.
wheatear
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:07 pm (UTC)
Shippers can ruin fandom spaces with their toxic behavior. Because they have become entitled.

My question is: Why only tar shippers with this brush? Yes, shippers can and do ruin fandom spaces. Why stop at shippers? Fans ruin fandom spaces.
eilowyn
Mar. 25th, 2014 09:46 pm (UTC)
Sad but aptly true. I think shipping is more visibly toxic, but other aspects of fandom could also be as bad.

One of the things I talked with one of my advisors about is how shipping is a predominantly female occupation (but, like everything, shippers are not a completely homogenous group), and how marginalized female fans are in general fandom. Romance is seen as feminine, therefore weaker, which is why romantic comedies are always disparaged. Is it because they're feminine? We can essentialize it and say "shippers are toxic because they're all entitled, bitchy women," but what about the dudes who get into shouting matches about whether or not the Star Wars tie-in novels are canon now that we're getting episodes VII-IX from J.J. Abrams. Are they any different?

Just playing devil's advocate here.
kwritten
Mar. 29th, 2014 06:07 pm (UTC)
Fine. You're right. Fans can be shitty.

But in my experience (especially in the current tvd and tw fandoms) there's a special sort of entitlement that I don't see in other fans. The fact that Sterek fans think that it is appropriate to interact with Tyler Posey and Crystal in negative and deprecating ways REALLY bothers me. I'm not seeing this kind of hostility from "regular fans" so I'm calling out the shippers.

Also several really lovely ladies on tumblr were CRYING this week because there were so many gross anons attacking them for their shipping habits.

So this is my reality.

This is what I'm seeing.

This is my daily fandom life: negativity from the shipper spaces.

If you are living in a different space where it is a FAN problem and not a SHIPPER problem, then that's fine.

I NEVER ONCE said that "all shippers" are negative.

I said that "shippers can ruin fandom spaces with their toxic behavior" because THEY CAN. THEY DO.

And I'm not going to sit back and say that there isn't negativity in the shipper spaces. Or that their behavior isn't causing problems.

Because I'm tired of feeling like I can't engage with the fandoms that I would normally like because of the negative shipping atmosphere.

I'm also tired of seeing really delightful people that I like and care about get hurt and maimed because of shippers thinking that they have the right to run around tumblr on anon throwing insults.

"Over-identification" is no excuse for that kind of behavior.
wheatear
Mar. 29th, 2014 08:37 pm (UTC)
It sounds like you've been badly burned by shippers. I get that. I'm not disagreeing that shippers can ruin fandom spaces with their toxic behaviour. I said that they did in my comment. I'm not trying to invalidate your experience because I do know what you're talking about and I have seen it.

If you're arguing that it's worse with shippers, I get that too and I won't disagree with you. My only contention was that it isn't necessarily only shippers who exhibit entitled and toxic behaviour. I think there could be a wider conversation about toxic behaviour in fandom, and shipping would obviously be a huge part of that.

I NEVER ONCE said that "all shippers" are negative.

I know. I didn't say that you said this.

Because I'm tired of feeling like I can't engage with the fandoms that I would normally like because of the negative shipping atmosphere.

That sucks, it really does. I think I must be living in a different fandom space from you because I've managed to avoid most of that. I'm in TVD fandom, but I stay away from Tumblr and I engage only with my f-list on LJ. I find that any public forum tends to be much more negative, because it allows anyone to comment.
eilowyn
Mar. 26th, 2014 06:47 am (UTC)
Again, you have nothing I disagree with - I didn't take into account gender and race, and this whole thing does need the lens of intersectionality. This became clear just now on Tumblr. I saw a "Reblog if you love Emma Swan" post, and right after it came the same post with the hashtag "#Can't love Emma without loving Hook." Luckily below the hashtag someone had called the post out that it immediately becoming a shipping issue says a lot about fandom.

To be honest, I don't know what to make of this. It's interesting that when Sleepy Hollow became a hit, Entertainment Weekly ran an article on Ichabod with a sidebar on Ichabbie shippers (is that the right term?), not something on Abbie. There's this post floating around about YA fiction, how Stephenie Meyer and novels aimed at girls are a punchline while John Green (who I do love) get his praises sung from the heavens. We're socialized to prioritize men over women, particularly white men. I just googled the top movie franchises of all time, and except for #10 with Twilight, #11 with Jaws, number #14 with Jurassic Park and #22 with Men in Black, all 32 of the top=grossing film franchises have white men as the main character (and two of those feature dinosaurs and sharks as the main character).

Anything centered on women or the feminine is lesser, and shippers, because they are more frequently women, are the lesser fans - just see simonf's comments on the other post about how "shippers ruined the BtVS fandom in 2004-2005." Shipping is a dominant force in fandom because it's popular, but it's still considered to be a lesser form of engagement. I'm not saying shipping isn't toxic, and I wonder the how of it - how did shipping become a toxic, dominating but lesser form of fan engagement? How did we get from Kirk and Spock and Mulder and Scully to bloody ship wars? I'll admit that if I scan fandom history, BtVS's infamous ship wars likely had something to do with it, but I wonder about the psychology behind it.

Don't mind me. I'm just word vomiting more questions than answers to your posts.

This comment makes me want to go work at The Geena Davis Institute. They deal with this kind of shit.
kwritten
Mar. 29th, 2014 05:52 pm (UTC)
I think the essential problem that I'm having with your argument is that it seems - because of where and who you are actively talking to - that shippers need to be defended within fandom - because you are in a fandom-centric space talking to fangirls. And yet, it seems as though you are actually addressing third-party outsiders who are not familiar with the inner workings of fangirls? From my experience within fandom, shippers and shipping does not have the same cultural connotations that are attributed to those spaces from outside of fandom.

Which means that - sure, if you are talking to an audience that doesn't understand or have the inner-knowledge, then "defending" shippers because they are seen as a feminine and therefore unworthy space is fine.

But you need to make clear who your audience is in your argument. Because at this point - with the negativity that I am seeing all the time (especially in the Vampire Diaries and Teen Wolf fandoms - that cross into HARASSING THE ACTORS and other fans) a defense of shippers seems displaced.

Anything centered on women or the feminine is lesser, and shippers, because they are more frequently women, are the lesser fans
THIS is a problem I see occurring more outside of fandom - or at least not within the small communities that pop up. You are right now talking and interacting with a female-centric fandom and so the conversation seemed really misplaced to me? Like I feel like within fandom spaces we are beyond this conversation and should be talking about deeper problems inherent in that thought-process?

But if you are addressing academia, or fandom on a wider scale, or another audience that is not interacting with this daily - then your argument is solid for that.

I just... idk... I feel like if that is your audience, then you need to make that clear at some point in your original argument. I guess I assumed that you were directing this conversation to your flist and it seemed highly misplaced?
gillo
Mar. 25th, 2014 01:12 pm (UTC)
Fascinating. This makes total sense to me.
eilowyn
Mar. 25th, 2014 06:46 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad I made sense! I really didn't know if my logic was circular or something (and Kelsey is helping me to dig deeper in her comments above, so I know I still have room for improvement).
treadingthedark
Mar. 25th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC)
Well done!
eilowyn
Mar. 25th, 2014 06:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
rahirah
Mar. 25th, 2014 04:20 pm (UTC)
I would agree that everyone's invested in their favorites. I don't think, however, that everyone is over-invested. Plenty of people are casual shippers, or multi-shippers (or casual gen fans, for that matter.) Why some people become over-invested and others are able to maintain a healthy distance between themselves and the characters they like is just as interesting a question as which characters people become (over-)invested in.

ETA: I think that the "shippers ruin fandom" argument is missing the point. Human beings WILL divide themselves up into groups and squabble, regardless of context. If no romantic relationships exist in a given context, people will find something else to argue about. Look at... well, mainstream sports, where actual physical violence between opposing factions of fans is sometimes involved.

Edited at 2014-03-25 04:28 pm (UTC)
shipperx
Mar. 25th, 2014 05:09 pm (UTC)
Try living in primary battleground of Auburn Vs. Alabama. That rivalry is every day of the year. It's out and out tribalism :D

Roll Tide/War Eagle

Edited at 2014-03-25 05:09 pm (UTC)
eilowyn
Mar. 25th, 2014 06:45 pm (UTC)
Why some people become over-invested and others are able to maintain a healthy distance between themselves and the characters they like is just as interesting a question as which characters people become (over-)invested in.

Yes, this is what fascinates me. Why do some people see some fan object as the be-all and end-all of their identity? I mean that in a hyperbolic way - other factors come into how we construct our identity - age, race, gender, sexuality, political leaning, religion, etc. - but the idea of the "stan" versus the "casual fan" is something I'd like to interrogate more.

And yeah. Because humans like to group themselves, there will be conflict.
shipperx
Mar. 25th, 2014 05:07 pm (UTC)
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.

Good point.

Now, personally, I was always happy with the LOST finale. I learned many years ago (hello, X-Files) that the chances of mytharc providing the type of closure one wants is unlikely. There will always be ginormous plot holes.

I hate to make it male narrative or female narrative, but I will say that any sort of fiction that doesn't have a very great deal to do with the emotional lives of characters is dry and uninteresting to me. Emotional arcs (be they hero's journey or romantic journey) are what resonates on a more universal level than the origin of Dharma or Black Oil or what's in Buffy's Vampyr book. I can understand people interested in world-building. I don't dismiss the necessity of world building, but a fictional world alone does not an affecting narrative make. For that it's going to take the emotional journey.

So, if one was approaching LOST from a "answer the mytharc" basis, I understand the disatisfaction. But personally, everyone finding their own 'redemption' and love worked like gangbusters for me... and that was what the writers were aiming for.

Heck not just LOST, that was what the writers of Farscape aime for as well. Yes, they were concerned with the overall context of the war, etc. But what was the pay-off and the tragedy were the relationships between the characters and the writers themselves categorized this Sci-Fi series as 'an epic love story'. It couldn't exist sans ship. And, in the end, the ONLY thing holding the X-Files together was the ship because (as often happens with mytharc) the mytharc went off the rails. Fringe was also a very satifying relationship journey, far less so with mytharc.

Yes, the interiour emotional lives of characters matter. And being concerned with those is an equally valid way to approach the text. And it's at least as likely to produce a positive pay-off.

Obsessing over the world building, the technology, the action is certain A valid way to approach these forms of narratives but they surely are not the only one, and worrying about the emotional arcs is JUST as valid an approach. So if I want to ship it, I ship it. I may or may not get a payoff and it may or may not have been in the writer's original plans, but that can be said for almost any aspect of a show.
eilowyn
Mar. 25th, 2014 06:51 pm (UTC)
I think you get my point!
teragramm
Mar. 26th, 2014 12:45 pm (UTC)
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. I'm not sure that is true 100% of the time. I know for myself, part of the reason I'm a B shipper and not an A shipper is because the two people who make up the B ship are my favorite characters of the whole show. So naturally I want to see them together. I think, I would still be a happy fan, if the couple I ship were happy apart but still friends.

Edited at 2014-03-26 12:46 pm (UTC)
red_satin_doll
Apr. 13th, 2014 01:40 am (UTC)
I think, I would still be a happy fan, if the couple I ship were happy apart but still friends.

And sadly this is something that I think gets terribly overlooked - the concept of men and women as friends. For my part, I do "ship" Buffy and Spike in S7, but prior to that I liked them best in their moments of friendship; I didn't need them to be "together"; and I don't "need" them to be together post-series. I can go either way.

Our culture prioritizes "romantic love" as the highest and best, but it's often friendships (both within and outside of romantic partnerships) that are most enduring and nourishing.

One fan writer ships to characters in their fics romantically only because "no one would read it otherwise" and if true, it's a sad commentary.
mistakency
Mar. 26th, 2014 03:52 pm (UTC)
Hi! I came across this post (the earlier version of it) through su_herald - hope you don't mind! I found this a really interesting read, but had a response similar to kwritten's—my first thought was that this needs to acknowledge the ways in which overzealous 'shippers can and do engage in and perpetuate some pretty toxic behaviors. That's definitely not the same thing as saying all 'shippers do these things (which would be a ridiculous generalization), but I think there's a particular set of values that 'shipping prioritizes that differs from that of fans who are watching the show for the mytharc or their favorite character, and it reflects a thesis's worth of cultural assumptions and attitudes—both good and bad. And those values also differ in many ways from those who stan a sports team or a band. It's often very personal and it says a lot about what we want to see in media and the "right" ways that a relationship should play out.

I do agree that people are often too quick to attribute all the problems in fandom to 'shipping and that that dismissal partly stems from considering romance inferior. But this attitude doesn't really obscure or take away from the fact that even among people who don't think this way, 'shipping can be a hotbed of capital-I Issues. Sorry, I hope this doesn't come across as dismissing your argument! I get frustrated because it's pretty easy to make the point that outsiders marginalize 'shippers because they're predominantly women and society at large thinks anything we do is frothy and stupid. In many cases, that's true and needs to be shut down. But among 'shippers...it can also get ugly for completely different reasons that it seems like we're less willing to examine, but they're important for a complete argument even if you ultimately conclude that 'shipping is still a totally valid (and in many ways positive) way to engage. I don't think these issues have necessarily gotten worse over time, although they've become more visible as more fans engage directly with showrunners. But my Buffy 'ship war badge of honor is probably, like, the equivalent of an infant to someone who was involved in "noromos vs. MSRs."

Anyway, critiques aside: again, this was super-enjoyable to read! I'll look out for the final piece if you end up expanding this.
red_satin_doll
Jul. 31st, 2014 01:25 pm (UTC)
I do agree that people are often too quick to attribute all the problems in fandom to 'shipping and that that dismissal partly stems from considering romance inferior. But this attitude doesn't really obscure or take away from the fact that even among people who don't think this way, 'shipping can be a hotbed of capital-I Issues.

Forgive the brief and late reply because I have nothing to really add except nodding in agreement and "Word". It's such a complex issue (and one I was completely unprepared for when I came into buffy fandom two years ago.) But it intertwines with all the ways that "feminine" things are dismissed by the larger culture (and who decides what is "feminine"?) as well as the way women damage themselves and one another by holding to conservative and regressive, narrow standards for personality and behavior in female characters.

in fixing fic to get the "right" romantic ending, we hold female (and less often male) characters to a standard or litmus test that none of us could hope to pass IRL.
velvetwhip
Mar. 26th, 2014 04:38 pm (UTC)
I have read this and the comments and am now very thoughtful. Because kwritten did raise some interesting points and now I am thinking about my own views and how they are/aren't problematic.

*wanders off in a thinky fog*


Gabrielle
eilowyn
Mar. 26th, 2014 05:35 pm (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean - it's difficult to comprehend because you do realize how your behavior can be problematic.
velvetwhip
Mar. 26th, 2014 05:37 pm (UTC)
I don't know if I am so concerned about my behaviour - I've always multi-shipped and eschewed the wars - but I am definitely concerned about my complicity in reinforcing what might be a damaging narrative. Hmmm...


Gabrielle
red_satin_doll
Apr. 13th, 2014 01:29 am (UTC)
but I am definitely concerned about my complicity in reinforcing what might be a damaging narrative.

Thoughtful self-reflection is always something to be encouraged and applauded.

I'd be very interested in hearing what conclusions you come to, Gabrielle, should you feel it appropriate to share (on your journal or elsewhere) because I don't think of you as participating in these sorts of damaging behaviors.

(I tend to see non-canon shipping as a "strategy" which allows the shippers in question to celebrate characters they actually like, rather than as a way of elevating or punishing specific characters for not noticing their favorites sufficiently, etc. I realize there are exceptions to that.)

We've talked about multi-shipping a little in the past but I do feel fandom/shipping tendencies have encouraged me to become a mult- or poly-shipper, as opposed to having an OTP per se.

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

December 2014
S M T W T F S
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Jamison Wieser