Thursday, May 28, 2015

Stop "Shipper" War!

I’m the first person to admit that when it comes to terms that fandom’s use to describe certain things, I don’t always grasp the meaning right away. Maybe it’s cause I’m not online all the time and don’t always live tweet when my shows are on. It could also be that I’m a more restrained fan in that I don’t buy a lot of show themed merchandise and I’m not a big convention-goer or cosplay. Not because I don’t enjoy my shows, but I don’t have the time to indulge as much as I would like to. In fact I owe my one attempt at cosplay and my two convention experiences to the show Once Upon a Time. I’m a big fairy tale/Disney nerd so this show appeals to me in a big way. However, it was this show that exposed me to the term ship war.

Now when it comes to OUAT, I love the whole cast and all the stories that have been told so far. As to the 4 main romantic couples, I love them all, but in order to keep from being accused of not being objective, I will not be stating which couple is my favorite. I’ve only been live tweeting when the show’s on since the second season and really didn’t become aware of the shipper wars going on until the 3rd season. The way I became aware of it was comments from fans that I follow showing up on my timeline relating the posting of hateful comments that were being directed at writers, cast members and fans of two ships, the ship of Emma and Captain Hook #CaptainSwan and the ship of Regina and Robin Hood #OutlawQueen.

When all this started coming to my attention, I tuned it out at first because I’m generally a positive person and if stuff gets heated online, I try to avoid it as I don’t need all that bother. However, as I read through the comments, I saw that much of the negativity that people were referring to was coming from a shipper group called #SwanQueen that I’d never heard of or would have thought existed given the fact that a romantic relationship between those characters doesn’t exist or has even been hinted at. Now before anyone starts getting ticked at me, I do want to say that I understand that not all #SwanQueen shippers are mean nor are they all hoping for a romantic pairing of the characters. Some support the term as a moniker for the alliance and friendship between Emma & Regina and the fact that they are both rising above their differences so that they can be good mother’s to Henry. In that sense, I’m supportive as I think it’s important to show friendships between strong, independent women as so many shows on TV depict cat fighting and backstabbing behavior between women.

However, the friendship faction of #SwanQueen has lately become overshadowed by the increasingly volatile and vitriolic filled posts of some SQ fans who want there to be a romantic relationship between Emma and Regina. The writers constantly get bitched at for not writing about this (non-existent) relationship even after Adam Horowitz and others have said that an Emma/Regina romance was never the intention nor are they planning to go that route with the characters. Anger has been directed at Lana Parilla & Jennifer Morrison for what SQ fans perceive as a lack of support from them for the SQ ship (even though as actors it is their job to promote that stories that the writers create). Both of them are very anti-bullying and always promote no hate online so it’s very sad to see some of these fans who claim to love and admire them ignore their message and attack them and others.

One thing that first upset me about all this was an article that appeared on HuffingtonPost.com that criticized Jennifer Morrison for posting about stuff related to CaptainSwan on her Twitter page even after she also thanked SwanQueen fans for their support. Even Colin O’Donoghue and Sean Maguire constantly receive hate for anything their characters do onscreen with Emma and Regina or if they tweet stuff that SQers think is a dig to their ship. Negativity even comes from online reviewers of the show who should be objectively relating the events in each episode instead of using it as a way to promote their own feelings. I’ve seen this constantly from a reviewer on TV.com who not only writes reviews that are completely skewed towards SwanQueen romance, but who also fills the reviews with memes of screen caps with dialog they believe Emma & Regina should say to each other. Seriously, it’s a wonder this person is even able to focus on anything else going on during the show.

Of course, I’m not going to claim that #OutlawQueen and #CaptainSwan fans have kept away from the drama. Negativity has come from both sides, but based on my observations, anytime an #OutlawQueen or #CaptainSwan fan has posted something negative towards SwanQueeners, it has been in response to something that the SQ fans have done. OQ and CS fans make the effort to either speak up to defend an actor or to defend themselves from bullying. I experienced hate from an SQ shipper after I spoke up in defense of Sean after he kept getting slammed when all he was doing was trying to raise money for a sick child. When I addressed a comment of encouragement to him and told him tune out the bull, I got called a goody-two shoes and a bitch and was told to “mind my own fucking business.” I didn’t dignify that with a response and blocked the person, but it still got under my skin.

From what I’ve heard, this negativity is not limited to online. I’ve heard that at conventions, Lana & Jen get put on the spot with SwanQueen questions that make it very awkward. A friend who attended a recent convention witnessed some SQ shippers yell “SwanQueen forever” at Sean while he was waiting for an elevator. A more recent kerfuffle occurred when Jennifer, in an effort to avoid drama & keep the peace after SQ fans began flooding twitter with demands as to why there wasn’t going to be a duo photo op with Lana, announced that she would not be doing any duo photo ops with Colin either at the Fairy Tales Xivents convention in Paris this summer despite an initial indication that there would be one. It just keeps escalating.

It’s getting to the point where I’m worried that because of this drama, one of two things could happen. Either the actors will get so fed up/scared over this volatility that they will stop attending conventions and maybe even want to leave the show as they certainly didn’t sign up for this stuff. Or some unstable SwanQueen fan will get all worked up from the conflict and start thinking that if the Hook or Robin characters are removed as an obstacle, Emma and Regina will be able to be together and so this hypothetical unstable fan then tries to hurt Sean or Colin. As much as I hate that my mind goes there, given the increasing levels of hostility that has been directed at them and how prevalent celeb stalking is, it’s unfortunately not outside the realm of possibility.

Frankly I don’t understand this brouhaha over a ship that does not exist nor do I understand why fans of this romance continue to watch the show when it’s not going to happen. It kind of goes into masochistic territory if you would willingly subject yourself to something that constantly upsets you. I can only speak for myself, but when a show ticks me off to the point when I can’t just sit and enjoy it, I just stop watching. For example, when they killed off Charlie on Lost, did I keep watching and let myself get worked up every week because he wasn’t with Claire and write to the writers that they were stupid? No, I changed the channel. And as for when they killed off Derek Sheppard on Grey’s Anatomy, I proclaimed that show as being dead to me one minute after they unplugged him and I haven’t looked back! I mean seriously why stress yourself for something that you have no control over.

Now I do understand that one reason for the drama is a perceived slight towards fans who would like to see more gay relationships on TV and that by the writers and actors denying that this relationship exists, they are called them homophobic. For me when the show first came on, I wasn’t looking for signs of romance between Regina and Emma because there was so much else going on with the characters. Since all this controversy started, I’ve made a point that whenever I rewatch older episodes, I look for any clues just to see if I missed something and I still don’t see anything of that nature. And before anyone accuses me of being homophobic and seeing what I want to see, I fully support the LGBT community. I have a cousin who is gay and when his home state of New York finally recognized Gay marriage, I was one of the first in my family to ask when the wedding was going to be. I also have many gay friends who I adore and when Mulan was revealed to be a lesbian on OUAT, I thought it was a great twist on the character and would love to see her brought back so that it could be played out. So yes, I agree that there should be more gay characters on TV, but that does not mean that I’m ok with SwanQueen fans using a television show to further their own agenda or them resorting to harassment and bullying of show creators to make established straight characters gay. I would say they would do better to use that passion to stand up for the rights of gay couples in the real world then for a fictional ship on a fantasy TV show.

There are two other issues that I want to address and those concern the reasons SQers use to justify their hate towards the Robin and Hook characters. For Robin, their reasoning is that he committed adultery when he fell for and then slept with Regina and then that he cheated on Regina with Zelena. Well, when he first met Regina, it was established that his wife was dead so no adultery there. Now once “Marian” appeared in Storybrooke and Robin and Regina slept together while she was frozen, yes it looked like he was very much in the wrong, but then hazzah, its revealed that Zelena killed Marian so wifey was dead the whole time. Boom! Adultery argument is invalid! As for cheating on Regina, he thought he was with his wife. Robin was just a noble guy trying to do the right thing, but was being manipulated by a jealous sister in such a way that no matter what he tried to do, it would turn out bad for someone. That is not Robin’s fault nor should Sean be getting hate for it as he is just playing a character.

In the case of Hook, SQ shippers justify their hate for him by saying that he’s obsessed with Emma and has stalked her. First off, I have to wonder if any of these people who put forth this theory have actually seen what stalking looks like and can recognize the signs. I did know someone who was stalked for a time by an abusive ex-boyfriend and I can say that Hook has done nothing like what my friend’s ex did. If the theory of Emma being stalked can be applied to anyone (SwanQueeners are probably going to really hate me for this) it’s Regina. The term stalking describes people who pester and harass others and can be defined as the willful and repeated following, watching and/or harassing of another person with a series of actions that occur over a period of time. These actions can include both subtle and outright threats towards their victim, persecution and harassment in a public forum to humiliate their victim and harassment of their target’s loved ones as well. Now let’s take a walk down memory lane for season one when Emma first arrived in Storybrooke and how Regina reacted. Regina repeatedly issues warnings/threats to Emma. She frames Emma for stealing Henry’s patient files and has her flunky Graham arrest Emma. Regina then gets her other flunky Sidney Glass to dig up dirt on Emma’s law troubles and then puts it in the paper to make Emma look bad. Then she went after Mary Margaret (Emma’s family although Emma and Mary didn’t know they were mom and daughter at the time) by framing her for murder to drive a wedge between her and David.

According to a study done in 2000, five types of stalkers were identified, one of which is called a “Resentful Stalker” who is described as pursuing a vendetta because of a sense of grievance against the victims and is motivated mainly by the desire to frighten and distress the victim. Now doesn’t that sound like Regina? Again, this will most likely get some drama thrown my way and I’m not trying to say that the writers were meaning to portray Regina as a stalker. I didn’t even look at her that way as I thought of her more as a hurt/damaged soul and the character has come a long way. The only reason I even brought this up is because I think it should give SwanQueeners something to chew on before they start tossing around the term stalker just to suit their needs.

In fact, SwanQueeners might benefit from studying the part in the description of stalking that says “harassment of another person with a series of actions that occur over a period of time and can include both subtle and outright threats towards their victim, persecution and harassment in a public forum to humiliate their victim.” They might want to take a good look in a mirror because it could be applied to them. Now maybe they didn’t intend in the beginning to be pushy in their requests for Emma & Regina to be together, but it has escalated and gotten so out of hand that it’s disturbing.

It used to be that when a couple that fans shipped either didn’t happen or happened but was then broken up, the fans were usually content to satisfy themselves with their fan fiction and converse with each other in online forums. However, with the anonymity of the internet and an inflated sense of entitlement that seems to pervade this generation, these fans have the arrogance to assume they have the right to throw hissy fits and demand and bully writers, actors and other fans to get what they want. I have to wonder if they even realize how much damage they do to their own cause as all the drama and hate they spread doesn’t exactly seem to endear them to the writers and actors. Maybe it’s that they don’t even care how bad they look. It may be that they’ve given so much energy to it because they have nothing else going on to engage their minds and that if they give up, they will realize how much of their time they wasted and that’s kind of sad. After all a negative mind will never give you a positive life.

Wow, that was a lot to get out. Now I know that some people will come after me for this, but that’s ok, because the ones who will be those who will be defensive because I hit a nerve and they are the people I avoid and ignore anyway. Some may wonder why I spoke up when I’ve admitted that I don’t really involve myself in online debates, but I feel that when you don’t use your voice to help stamp out wrongdoing, you become part of the problem. Plus, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both Lana and Sean and they are truly very nice and kind and having spent even a little bit of time with them has made me like, respect and admire them on a more personal level. As a result, I care a little bit more and find the drama they have been subjected to personally offensive and I’m not just going to sit quietly and not defend them. They and the rest of the cast do not deserve all this bad treatment and it needs to stop.

That’s why I wrote this. Because if my comments here can even make one person pause and take a minute to think before posting something hurtful or of a bullying nature, then I feel like I accomplished something worthwhile.

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