Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fangirl 101: Queer Baiting

Ok so I’m hoping that by now you all get the general idea about slash. I guess the nicest way to put it would be looking at your fav TV show and not assuming that every character is straight, then if said character happens to have more urst with a member of the same sex you start to ship them (as in together together). That’s when the fun really begins – because in those early stages there is always the possibility that your ship might be the one that becomes (dare I say it) canon.

The battle between the creators of a TV show (whether it’s the writers, producers, actors or directors) and the fans about which characters should end up together is as old as fandom itself (and it’s awesomely fun). The problem is, that when the powers that be realize that a slash pairing is massively popular within the fandom then they can be temped to have a bit of fun. It’s far enough; we are playing with them they should be able to play back. It’s all about the give and take – they give us awesome TV shows and we take them and do with them as we please.

There is always going to be a certain amount of shipteasing when you’re watching TV, especially now with the growing popularity and awareness of shipping. It’s perfectly fine to have a bit of a wink at slash fans, both on and off the show, it’s saying hey we acknowledge you’re there and we appreciate you. But when these winks start to happen on a regular basis slash fans start getting their hopes up but when push comes to shove the powers at be never actually follow through… I mean it’s not that kind of show.

While I’m of the school that the writers don’t have any obligation to do what we want them to it‘s still a bit disheartening having your dreams dashed time and time again with the excuse – we’re not the kind of show that “deals” with queer relationships. Anyway it’s not like the fans actually expect the slash pairing to get together on the show… do they?

It’s not unheard of for a fan preferred het couple to get together even though the writers didn’t initially plan it, so I can’t understand why it is so shocking for fans to entertain the idea that a queer pairing could happen. And it’s not like fans expect the show to suddenly become all about said queer pairing. We like the show the way is, just because we picked up on some chemistry between two characters of the same sex doesn’t change that.

Anyway, if you’re so against being that kind of show, then why even bother with the fans that want to see it that way? I mean if you were so adamant on being the show with that doesn’t “deal” with queer characters, then why did the amount of hoyay increase when you discovered the massive slash fanbase? Because it almost always does. It’s stupid, either ignore the slash, sink the ship or give the couple a real go. Just stop teasing us and do something!

But instead of doing something the powers that be just decide to tease and hint and joke, raising the fandom’s hopes until they are eventually. They lock your favourite pairing in a closet for an entire episode only to have them hook up with someone else (of the opposite sex) at the end of the episode… that’s just cruel come on. The worst part is that the powers that be seem to think that they are doing something really out there and I just want to yell TALKING ABOUT QUEER SUBTEXT IS NOT THE SAME AS HAVING A QUEER COUPLE!

Look I don’t want everything I ship to become canon (that would be ridiculous because I ship everything), I just live for the day when a show finally has the guts to give that slash pairing a fighting chance. Although unfortunately I think the chances of that happening are pretty slim… for a while yet anyway.

That said, the problem goes both ways, shippers can feel and act like they entitled to have they’re favourite ship become cannon. We have no say in what the writers do, and we shouldn’t. I would hate it (and do hate it) if writers were to pander to fandom whims. Because as much as I ship things (especially slash) I know that it wouldn’t actually work for some of those couples to become cannon.

Sometimes I feel like all of these problems could be solved if everyone just explained what they wanted… in order to facilitate that I have taken the liberty of composing two letters one to queer-baiting-powers-that-be and one to the canon-wanting-slash-fans

Dear queer-baiting-powers-that-be,

I’m not saying you should be doing exactly what the fandom tells you to (please don’t), but it would be nice if my ship weren’t simply ignored because they’re both the same sex. Also please don’t assume that just because you think its super obvious that those two guys could never be a couple, that we do to. Basically if you’re not willing to take the plunge then stop being such a tease and sink that ship already. OK, so maybe I’m being a tad hasty with the whole ship-sinking thing, that was an exaggeration for dramatic purposes, but seriously please don’t sink my ship. All I’m saying is don’t be so quick to dismiss it.
Dear canon-wanting-slash-fans,

While I acknowledge the fact that queer characters (and couples) are severely under represented, the reason your ship is not canon might not be because the characters are both same sex. Maybe there is a legitimate narrative reason that these characters are not together (even if this reason isn't clear to you). Most of the time, the powers-that-be acknowledge your passion and love you for it, but that does not mean that they have to cater to your every whim (unless it's Glee).  Part of being in fandom is about trusting the people in charge to do right by the story and the characters and sometimes that means your OTP won't end up together.

Basically the point of this overly ranty and not very witty post is that show creators should have some balls, get out of their heteronormative bubble and give slash pairings a chance. On the other side, slash fans should try not to take the bait quite so easily… just because they acknowledge that you ship it doesn’t mean it could (or even should) become canon. 

Well I'm sure I offended pretty much everyone with that... feel free to yell at me the comments.

Follow up - Queer baiting vs. ship teasing.