18 February 2014 @ 02:52 pm
In which I rant a little  


Dear “slash” fandom.

This article's opinion bothers me at many points. Because yes, I am one of those "slash" shippers (I really don't understand the author's issue with this word).

But this author is conflating two different things. They equate not writing letters to TPTB and dominating polls and running campaigns and literally demanding that TPTB make a SPECIFIC canon with "it’s okay to fantasize about queer relationships, but it’s not okay to ask for them to actually be represented."

And just, no. I will never tweet at a PTB that Destiel or Sterek needs to be canon. I will not be angry and rant against or quit a show because the ship I like isn't "canon".

Because as the author points out, shippers as a whole (not all, obviously, or we'd never have ship wars) treat each other's ships as equal. And while I'd never use the word entitled like the author suggests some do who would agree with my line of thinking, what "right" do the Sterek fans have to insist that their ship be canon over those who ship Scott/Stiles? (I use Teen Wolf here instead of Supernatural because Wincest has additional complications besides being a male/male relationship.) Both sets of shippers are just as enthusiastic and see their pairing having a basis in canon.

Me, not wanting to bombard a show's creators with demands for my specific slash pairing to be canon is not me "denying the fact that representation is an extremely important thing in media". I know that it is. I want bisexual characters, gay characters, lesbians, asexuals, non-binary characters, polyamorous characters...and so forth. I was very thrilled the other day when reading a book written in the 70's featuring a bisexual character, a (brief) polyamorous relationship, and gender and sex-fluid people. I know the psychology behind representation in the media and I understand the individual testimonies from people for the want/need for representation. I have felt the same myself.

I do fully agree with this statement:

And here’s the thing: the wink-wink, nudge-nudge sort of nods to slash ships aren’t okay on their own anymore. They’re not funny, either, because “HAHA, GAY!” is not a punchline.

But that is EXACTLY what you get when you *demand* your non-canon slash pairing become canon. (And yes, sadly, there is a difference between the imagined het non-canon pairings and the slash ones. TPTB never appeared to laugh at the idea of Sheppard/Weir or Sheppard/Teyla, while they all were exceedingly uncomfortable with McShep.) One easy example: SUPERNATURAL. Seriously. The original subtle winks/genuinely funny humor about Wincest in S1/S2 ("we accept tenants of all sexual orientation" "two queens yeah right") became the S4 episode with the gay couple cosplaying Sam and Dean that was meant to be heartfelt but has always felt scornful and mocking to me. We get the BS "nods" to Destiel combined with that sense of "NO WAY THEY'RE NOT GAY you stupid fangirls". We get various PTB on twitter mocking the very idea of Dean being bisexual. Another example: Michael Shanks' seeming disgust and outrage every time someone brought up Jack/Daniel at a con. From other things, I've never detected that Michael Shanks himself is particularly homophobic. But he sure as hell got more and more defensive anytime someone suggested Jack and Daniel were romantic instead of best friends. THAT is the result of shippers pushing for their specific pairing.

When the author states:

The people who run many of these shows have outright admitted to knowingly including parts that allude to the relationships so many slash shippers love. It’s not imagined. It’s purposefully being included. It’s a part of the show, and that means we can talk about it, dammit.

That's not them giving into queer representation of any kind. That's them playing the fangirls who keep them going. That's them queer-baiting - they have no intent on following through. It's blatant PANDERING. And damn right we can talk about it; how about we tell them how we don't appreciate that kind of behavior, particularly when it interferes with the writing of the show?

Now, while I'm not saying this right, imagine if you are an author who writes a novel. Say that the main character is bisexual and this is ether explicitly stated or very heavily implied by that character dating people of both/all genders (and never having it be deemed only a "phase"). Now, I, as an author, would feel honored if readers started shipping that character with various people that I don't match that character with because it means they've become invested. I've grown up too much with fanfic to be upset by this (the way many execs or people like Michael Shanks might be). However. I'd get pretty upset if a large portion of my readership suddenly began demanding that that character was either heterosexual or homosexual ONLY and should ONLY be in relationship with Character Y because Character X is gay/straight. And that I as the author was wrong that the character was bisexual. Now, biphobicness aside, there are some fundamental issues with my readers telling me I am incorrect about a character I created. Looked at this way, I understand why some PTB are so upset when people demand their ship become canon. While TV is made of a million compromises and actors and execs all have influence over the characterization that a writer created, nonetheless, thousands of people tweeting at you telling you your character should be in a relationship with x and everything else you're doing is wrong, I can understand the defensiveness (even if they shouldn't react that way).

My point is, it's not about pushing our specific slash ships. That only gets us pandering, annoyance, and assholes who demand in return that Dean will never be bisexual. You want representation? Let's demand REPRESENTATION. Tweet at TPTB that you want more homosexual characters. More polyamorous characters. More bisexual characters. Support the queer relationships and characters we DO get, like Danny on Teen Wolf or Sara Lance on Arrow. Let's critique a show when it uses biphobia as a characterization because while we can accept that yes, some bisexuals ARE slutty and that's totally okay, we don't want to see every single bisexual fitting that stereotype. Let's write to the studios themselves and ask "were are the shows with female leads? where are the shows with a gay lead or a racial minority lead?" to encourage them to start looking for pilots that show diversity initially.

"It’s okay to ask about raging homoerotic subtext. It’s okay to ask after a character’s questionable sexuality."

Indeed it is. But when given an answer (even if it's "Dean is not bisexual"), perhaps direct your energy elsewhere, such as suggesting the introduction of a character of a sexual minority. (What I wouldn't give to see a lesbian hunter who doesn't take the Winchesters crap, isn't charmed by them, AND doesn't die.) And asking about subtext is NOT the same as pushing YOUR ONE pairing. Again, if we care about representation in our media, then it's not about Destiel or Sterek being made canon. It's about asking for representation itself.
 
 
 
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mistress Kat: GEN - book heartkat_lair on February 18th, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
Well written post that neatly articulates some of what I've found troubling about fans demands for x slash pairing and the kind queer baiting shows occasionally slip into.
Siberian Skys: Jeremysiberian_skys on February 18th, 2014 09:35 pm (UTC)
You really made me miss QAF with this. I tried out the new gay themed series on HBO, don't ask me the title 'cause it seems to have left my brain after less than a single viewing. I really wanted it to be good and it sucked. I was crushed.

I don't understand why fandom seems to have lost their mind. What happened to when slash was exactly that. Yes, I love it when you get gay, bi, trans, ace, and poly characters in canon, obviously. That is not the same thing as trying to get TPTB on shows to starting writing fan fiction which is what slash is. Slash is how you get what you want when you don't see it on the tube or at the cinema. It was sort of the point.

BTW, what book did you read? Nothing in my reading pile is holding my interest at the moment.

Edited at 2014-02-18 09:58 pm (UTC)
MF Luder: SuperBatmf_luder_xf on February 19th, 2014 01:06 am (UTC)
I think I vaguely recall what show you're talking about. It seemed to be much more light-hearted and stereotypical that QAF and so it didn't really interest me.I think it was billed as comedy and I tend to prefer drama with comedy over comedy shows. Glad I didn't miss anything.

Yeah, it's interesting to see the evolution of fandom, isn't it? I feel like the border child, someone not quite a Baby Boomer, but not quite Gen X when it comes to fandom. I'm (just) young enough to fit with the new guard, but I'm firmly in the camp of the old guard. Fanfic is a correction on canon, a further exploration, a wish fulfillment. While there are many fanfics I'd love to see on a show or that are frankly written 1000x better than its show, there are TONS I don't want to see anywhere near canon. Including my own. While if one day Dean and Cas kissed and walked off into the sunset together, I'd be thrilled (well, hopefully done with less cheese), it's not what I need to keep to keep watching the show. And I'm certainly not going to demand it of someone else. Am I going to demand, as a consumer, to see representation? HELL YES. But they are separate. And I LIKE them separate! I don't like Michael Shanks (or literally just today, Tyler Posey) calling my ships weird and gross and acting dumbfounded that I could EVER have come to that conclusion.

The book is The Ophiuchi Line by John Varley. I'm not done with it yet, but it's really interesting. If you pick it up, give it a chapter or two, the beginning is a little slow out of sheer confusion of where you are and why (or maybe that was just me. I read the synopsis and the beginning didn't seem to fit that at all, but then it did).
Siberian Skyssiberian_skys on February 19th, 2014 01:26 am (UTC)
The first time I picked-up an entertainment magazine, I think it was EW, and there was an article on fan fiction and slash I just about spit nails. That was not for public consumption, imo. I sort of felt outed.

I was wondering if it was Titan, I think it was called, by John Varley. It was the first book I'd read that had gay characters. It's still a fairly rare thing in mainstream fiction. I'd love to re-read that series. I didn't know that he wrote other books with gay characters. He was ahead of his time. I'm going to have to scan Amazon and see which of Varley's books are still in print.
MF Luder: Arrow Black Canarymf_luder_xf on February 19th, 2014 02:03 am (UTC)
If I end up liking the rest of this book, I'll add that one to my list.
KRIM: lollerskatesbitter_crimson on February 19th, 2014 07:02 am (UTC)
i couldn't get through that tumblr post, but if their take-home message is "if u don't demand certain ships become canon then ur against queer representation" then my only response is lol
MF Luder: Black Widowmf_luder_xf on February 19th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC)
That's pretty much it. The author thinks we need to move beyond the old guard mentality of "every ship is equal and we should keep slash to ourselves" because it supports erasure and doesn't demand representation and some ships ARE better than others and we need to demand to see such ships because it demands representation. While they don't mention specific ships, it's very obviously a pro-Destiel and maybe Sterek kind of post. They are definitely not cheering on the Beckett/McKay's or Scott/Stiles of the world.

All to which I say: Pbbbbltttt.
KRIM: brains?bitter_crimson on February 20th, 2014 06:48 am (UTC)
i think some ships are better than others, but it's just that i think ~my~ ships are better than others. lol.

but of course that doesn't mean like, that i'd be an asshole and tell someone their ship is bad. even tho mine is obvsly better. ;D ;D
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )