Thursday, April 18, 2013

Shipping News: The First Time and High School Engagements

This week’s shipping news is dedicated to the turbulent teen years and all the crazy idealistic crap that comes along with it. Let’s talk the problem with teenage proposals and the magical powers of virginity. Also Sam Winchester gets a visit from the past, it’s my turn to pen The Backlot’s slash column and Mark Ruffalo thinks Science Bro’s is cute.

Spoiler Warning: Glee, New Girl, Supernatural and Teen Wolf.

Shipping Tid-Bits:

  • Supernatural sees a blast from Sam’s past. Sarah Blake (Taylor Cole), who shared a kiss with baby Sam way back in Season 1, is set to return in Episode 22. Shipper’s hearts have started tingling already but this is Supernatural guys, you know she’s probably going to end up dead, if she isn’t already.
  • Remember a little while ago when I talked about how bad I was shipping a Pitch Perfect femslash couple. Well good news, or bad depending on how you look at it, they’re getting a sequel. No word as to which cast members will return but original writer Kay Cannon is back and the film is set of release in 2015.
  • AfterElton is now TheBacklot! And it was my week to talk slash, so head over there to hear all about Destiel triumphant win, Merlin’s Perwaine and firefighter AU’s.
  • In Teen Wolf news: Tyler Posey told that Scott is getting zero loving this season (so far anyway): “[Scott hasn't] had sex this season yet. I got some last season. This season I got a motorcycle instead, which is pretty much like sex. It rumbles. It is between your legs. This season has death, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, bullet wounds, twins, [and] sex between a new character and an old character that isn’t me.” (x) 
  • According to a recent Vulture interview Mark Ruffalo ship’s Science Bro’s after he was allowed to browse the Tumblr tag. Seriously I can’t do this justice you should just read it for yourself here.  

This week’s discussion comes curtsey of two different sources. The first is the episode of New Girl titled “Virgins” which guest stars fan favourite (and soon to be movie star) Dylan O’Brien and is all about you guessed it, the dreaded “first time”. The second is a rather large Glee spoiler: that in the season finale, Blaine is considering proposing to on again, off again boyfriend Kurt (to the extent that he’s looking for a ring). It’s not the first high school couple to take this path, and it’s not surprising as it fits with Glee’s need to cash in on every popular “issue”.

While these stories aren’t directly related to each other they both made me think about the ridiculousness of teenage romance and why we all love to relive it.

A lot of the stories we love are about teenagers – part of this is because it’s something we can all relate to but it’s also because everything is so much more intense during adolescence. Everything is now or nothing, life or death – which is strange considering most teenagers think themselves invincible. Everything is new and that’s why all the firsts are so important, whether it’s first love or first sexual encounter.

Logically we know that teenage romances aren’t going to work out in the end. That people grow and change A LOT once they leave high school and as a result most couples drift apart (both physically and emotionally). We know it’s not forever but that doesn’t stop us from shipping it like it is.

When I was younger I had an excuse, I thought Pacey and Joey should be together forever because I was too inexperienced to know any different. You would think I’d know better now (after years of love and heartbreak), but I still treat these teen romances like there is some kind of forever endgame, which is kind of absurd when you think about it.

Yes, yes I know it’s all fiction but I can’t help but think that we are the ones perpetuating this myth that you must find your one and only at the age of sixteen. This mentality is exemplified in the two examples I gave above – the importance of losing your virginity to the right person and the trend of teenage marriage proposals (or promise rings).

The virginity one I get to a certain extent. I mean there is a great deal of trust involved in that moment, which lends itself to the idea of picking someone important. What I don’t like is the trend in fiction that whomever a female character (it’s different for male characters) loses their virginity to will be the one they end up with. 

No seriously think about your favourite stories about teenagers. Think about the emphasis placed on the “first time” and then think about who that girl was paired with at the end of the series. There are exceptions of course, Buffy is a good example of this (none of the main cast ended up with the person they lost their virginity to). But most of the time they stick to the assumption that whoever the lady gives the precious gift of virginity to is the only one worthy of her love in the long run. They might stray on the way but in the end they find their way back to each other.

Think about Glee – they made a big deal out of Kurt and Rachel’s first time and both those relationships headed the way of a teenage proposal. I mentioned a Dawson’s Creek above with Pacey and Joey and although I shudder to mention it Gossip Girl’s Blair and Chuck fit this profile as well. The OC’s Seth and Summer is another example.

What does this have to do with shipping you ask? Well apart from the fact that endgame is pretty much the ultimate goal of shippers (sex is the reward) there are also a bunch of shippers that have very adamant ideas about their OTP’s first time… especially who it should be with. I have witnessed a number of massive shipper arguments about the importance of virginity…  and unfortunately slash and femslash pairings often fall into the same trap as het couples in that one member of the pairing is given the title of virgin (aka the girl) and as a result is not allowed to touch or be touched by anyone else.

For those couples that have already done the deed – the taking of virginity is often used to argue the couple’s endgame credentials. This just perpetuates the idea that virginity is a precious gift that must only be given to the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with.

It is also shippers demand for some kind of reassurance of happily ever after that results in teenage proposals. If there is anything worse that feeding the myth of virginity it’s spreading the idea that proposing to someone at the age of eighteen is an excellent life choice. Even if that couple is meant to be, and they do actually make it, it’s probably better to hold off on the marriage thing until they have grown up a little more.

For me personally, I am happy to have my OTP kiss and ride off into the sunset together keeping things slightly ambiguous. It satisfies my shipping desires but leaves enough leeway for some excellent future fic. I want to reserve the right to believe they lived happily ever after but I don’t want it to be unrealistically easy. 

And so ends this week’s rant.

What do you guys think about the depiction of “the first time” in fiction? What about Glee’s trend of teenage proposals?