Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Shipping News Special: Why is Sterek so Popular?

I have been asked, on several occasions, to explain why so many people like Sterek. There are a lot of other slash ships out there, most of which have more canonical evidence to back them up but there is something about Sterek that has taken it above and beyond. The problem is there are too many factors that contribute to Sterek’s popularity and I could probably go on about it for weeks but no one would read it so instead I have compiled a list of 10 things (and one more for luck) that I believe helped Sterek become such a phenomenal success.  

Side note: this is not why I personally ship Sterek, if you want to know that you can read it here.

Teen Wolf is made of hoyay: Seriously there is so much homoerotic subtext on this show that I would not be surprised to find it on Okay so maybe that’s an exaggeration but pretty much everyone will agree that this is show is filled to the brim with hoyay so you can find legitimate subtext for basically every pairing.

Dylan and Hoechlin are stupidly attractive: I know, there is more to slash that objectification but lets face it, a lot of girls (and guys) like the idea of two attractive (usually white) dudes rubbing up against each other. So chances are if you put two reasonably attractive white men in a room together (as happened in 104) they will be shipped.

Pair the spares: Of the core cast from season 1 and 2 (Scott, Allison, Stiles, Derek, Jackson and Lydia), Stiles and Derek are the only ones that are single. There is Scott/Allison and then there’s Jackson/Lydia leaving Stiles and Derek alone and unmatched. It’s like Noah’s Arc: everyone must part of a couple! The only thing left to do is pair the spares together.

Stiles is the favourite: Whether you like it or not Stiles is the most popular character on Teen Wolf (especially early on). He also has a large fanbase of young girls (totally understandable he’s very cute) but because he is a romantic fantasy any female character that is interested in him is deemed a threat and generally hated on site. Derek is not a lady and therefore not a threat.

Popularity is contagious: As ridiculous as it seems, the truth is the more popular something is the more popular it will become. When lots of people like something it means lots of people are talking about. As a result more people are exposed to the concept, which results in more shippers. 

Chemistry: On screen chemistry can’t be manufactured so when it happens it’s something special. When I say that someone has chemistry, I’m not saying the actors want to fuck. I’m just saying that they have a great report when they’re on screen together. It’s that certain je ne sais quoi that makes fictional relationships feel believable and Dylan and Hoechlin definitely have it.  

The possibility of canon: It may not be very likely but there is still a chance, however slim, that Stiles and Derek could get a relationship upgrade. Jeff Davis has said he’s not against the idea and he has indicated that he is trying to create a world where sexuality doesn’t matter. Then there’s the fact that Stiles sexuality is already slightly ambiguous and MTV is a fairly progressive network. This tiny flicker of hope is enough to ignite a fire within fandom that is hard to ignore.

Timing: The popularity of slash has grown exponentially in recent years, especially through fandoms migration to Tumblr. Slash has become increasingly visible with shows like Supernatural acknowledging it and mainstream entertainment websites talking about it. Sterek just happened to come along at the right time and it sort of became representative of slash as a thing.

MTV’s marketing and social networking: MTV prides itself on being the youth network and as a result it has been better at understanding online communities like slash fandom. The way they interact with us helps people feel less ashamed of shipping slash because MTV is joining in the fun. It makes Sterek (slightly) more acceptable and therefore more people are willing at admit they ship it.

Narrative possibilities: A lot of people, myself included, think that a romantic relationship between Stiles and Derek would make an incredibly interesting story. It’s purely speculative and totally subjective at this point but personally I think it would be really fun to watch Stiles and Derek negotiate a will-they-wont-they romance. The best part is that we think it could work on the show.

And one more for luck.

The ‘we’re on a ship’ video & the EW disaster: There are two events that were game changers in regards to Sterek’s popularity. The first was the ‘we’re on a ship’ video and the second was snubbing Sterek from a summer shipping poll.  While Sterek would be popular regardless (it was already well-loved within slash fandom before either of these things happened) without these two events the ship would not have achieved the same mainstream notoriety.

Well there you have it. Now that’s written down I am going to get the URL printed on business cards so I don’t have to answer this question every fricken day. But I’m not bitter or anything. No really, I’m not. The rise of Sterek is really bloody interesting and I can, and will, talk your ear off about it if you choose to engage me in conversation.

As usual feel free to disagree or add anything you think I have forgotten. Till next time shippers.