Monday, April 1, 2013

Shipping News: What the hell is a “Gay Payoff”?

Sorry guys, I am the slackest of slack but it’s been a big week/weekend of answering stupid questions so this weeks Shipping News has to make up for missing last weeks. Anyway this week: Colton and Barrowman on a plane, Doctor Who breathes life into a classic ship and slash fans cringe at their “Gay Payoff”.

Bits and Pieces:

  • Zimbio’s March Maddness Challenge to find the top TV Couples is still going strong: any one can win so get voting. (Unless you’re like me and totally over Internet couple’s polls, I feel like we need something new to show our love for our favourite ships).
  • VH1 has written a list of The Top Ten Steamiest Love Triangles. The list includes: The Notebook, Titanic and Gone With the Wind. Clearly VH1 hasn’t discovered that the shipping community has found the cure to a love triangle… OT3 anyone?
  • Sometimes shippers find porn stars that resemble their favourite characters… but for the first time a porn star as discovered their shipper fans. Dale Cooper, tweeted his porn partner Anthony Romero about the newly discovered Teen Wolf (specifically) Sterek fanbas
  • Speaking of Sterek: Dylan O’Brien and Jeff Davis were bombarded with Sterek questions at Wondercon this weekend but this time it wasn’t the fandom. Almost every interview to come out of the event asked Jeff, Dylan or both about the interactions between Stiles and Derek in Season 3 proving just how mainstream the pairing has become.
  • Also I wrote a recap of some of last week’s Sterek fandom drama here… and so this doesn’t happen again I wrote an idiots guide to talking about shipping (something that the media definitely needs).

Captain Jack Harkness and Jackson Whittmore join the mile high club… kind of.

Two of the biggest social networking sluts on the Internet have been taking to the skies together and tweeting every step of the way. Colton Haynes and John Barrowman, who are currently appearing on Arrow, have been flying to and from set together. If you’re thinking that this is possibly the greatest thing to happen ever, you would be right. Check out their individual twitters (x) (x) for the whole adventure and I posted some highlights on the Slash Column Tumblr.

They even held hands as they exited the airport (well John grabbed hold of Colton’s hand but he didn’t seemed bothered so we’re cool with it). Here’s hoping there are plenty more Twitter adventures for these two in the not to distant future. Also apparently I’m going to have to start watching Arrow. I gave up on if after the first couple of eps (Marvel girl till the end) is it worth another look?

Doctor Who is back!

Not only did the second half of series 7 premiere this weekend but we also got some seriously shippy news about the 50th Anniversary special. Not only will David Tennant be reprising his role as the Tenth Doctor but he’s bringing someone with him. That’s right Rose (Billie Piper) is back… again.

The relationship between Tennant’s Doctor and Rose was a dividing one amongst fans. A lot of older Who fans were upset by the new shipper fanbase that sprung up around the pairing. As this is hardly a new reaction to shippers – in fact the word ‘shipper’ is an insult from the X-Files fandom – I’m not really fussed by this. But as someone that ships the Doctor and Rose to the end of the universe this news excites me more than I can express via text. So here have a gif:

If that’s not enough for you the Official Doctor Who Twitter posted this pick of Tennant and Smith at the first read through:

Yes I am now shipping the Doctor with the Doctor, what of it? I’m already going to hell I may as well have fun on the way there.

All right it’s time for me to get on my soapbox… you might be aware that there has been some trouble with the way the media is discussing Sterek. While I’m still not over the fact that they are discussing it at all, this problem is definitely something worthy of a shipping news rant.

Last week I talked about the controversy after MTV Remote Control Blog published an article that was less than flattering about Sterek fans… turns out that was just the beginning because while the media has finally started to take notice of the phenomenon that is slash they apparently have no idea what it’s really about.

After the Remote Control controversy ETOnline published an article outlining 5 Teen Wolf Season Three Teases. Most of it was stuff we already knew but there was one section that had the fandom seriously pissed. The article refers to a “Gay Payoff” suggesting that the fans ‘shipping (yes they used the apostrophe) Sterek should be satisfied with the introduction of a canon gay romance between Danny and Alpha Twin Ethan… woops.

The articles author has taken a quote from Jeff Davis about his aim to present an idealized world and placed it under this heading, causing some fans to think that it was Jeff that said Danthan was the “Gay Payoff” for Sterek fans. That’s just not the case, it’s not Jeff talking here, this is ET trying to join the cool kids and talk about Sterek and completely missing the point.

It wouldn’t be so bad if that was the only occasion that Sterek was compared to Danthan (I mean it’s ETOnline – they are even worse than EW) but this is becoming increasingly common. During WonderCon a number of journalists suggested that Danthan was there to appease Sterek fans, the leading questions even got Dylan into trouble in this article. (That particular article is titled Tumblr Bait and places “slash shippers” and “Sterek” in quotation marks so I would try not to take it too seriously, they’re either idiots or trolls).

Personally I think it would be naïve to assume that Sterek’s popularity has had no affect on the increasing importance of Danny and the inclusion of a gay sex scene but that has more to do with inherent issues within the industry rather than slash fandom. If anything I think the Sterek phenomenon gave TPTB the confidence that a queer storyline would be well received by fans of the show.

Of course we want more gay couples! And we could always do with some more Danny in our lives (everybody likes Danny) but increasing Danny’s presence and giving him a lover has absolutely no affect on us shipping Sterek.

I can’t completely blame the media for this one – slash fans in their rush to defend shipping practices often cry representation when asked why they want a slash couple to be canon. I get it: the social and political impact of a slash pairing actually happening would be huge, I’m just saying that we shouldn’t jump to this defense quite so quickly. It’s no wonder that some media think that we could be satisfied by a kind of gay trade off.

Representation matters: that’s a fact and I will fight for the representation of minorities in popular culture until my dying breath but that’s not why I ship slash (or femslash). It would be a nice side effect of my OTP becoming canon but it’s really not the point… and personally I think it something that slash fans need to realize just as much as the media does.

Let’s face it guys we’re not that selfless – generally we want a slash ship to get together because we love them not because we think it would be good for queer representation. It’s about the couple not the politics. Although most of us are willing to fight for both queer representation and a slash pairing, they are by no means the same thing.

Because I am a cool dude I have written a list of handy tips for anyone that is thinking about discussing shipping or slash here. Let’s see if we can stop these misunderstandings from happening in the future shall we.

For those fans that are worried about how the Teen Wolf team sees Sterek this was what the Teen Wolf Tumblr said in a message to a fan:
“I hate to think that you think we don’t get what you’re saying, we really do. WE know it’s not about sex. WE know that it’s not about having A gay relationship, that it’s about having THE relationship that you want to see.” (x)

Also Jeff Davis said:

“Having heard it again, I’m very confused as to what a ‘gay payoff’ is, unless I’m going out on a weekend and hoping for one.” (x)

Look there’s no way that everyone that works for MTV or Teen Wolf understands where we are coming from (as the MTV Remote Control Blog is testament to) but in my experience they do seem to have a better grasp of the concept than most (better that ETOnline anyway). Slash fandom has come a long way in the last year but there is still a ways to go before slash (or shipping in general) is taken seriously. As always try to remember that we are pushing boundaries and breaking new ground – there is no proven path to deal with this so let’s cut everyone a little slack while we work out the teething problems.

And we’re done. I know I’m a bit late getting to this discussion but I am going to make it up to you by instigating a new column to talk all things Teen Wolf beyond the wonderful world of shipping. The first Talking Teen Wolf will be up tomorrow so get excited!

Later shippers!