So today, I’d like to address one of danisnotonfire’s videos about shipping / fancfiction. In this video, he wonders how fandom has evolved into people yearning for the people they are idolizing to get together, referred to as their “One true pairing” aka OTP, and what they could get out of writing stories about the couple they are cheering for.
I’m going to preface this rant by saying I’m not innocent of this, which perhaps, gives me a fresh perspective on the topic. When I was an awkward teen, I used to be a fan of Yuyu Hakusho, and shipped two male characters despite the canon not having any indication that these two are romantically linked. I also became quite a popular fanfiction writer in the Harry Potterverse, primarily shipping Ginny Weasley with Draco Malfoy.
David Foster Wallace, in his essay, E unibus pluram: television and U.S. fiction,argues that the reason why people spend an average of 6 hours in front of the TV is that they are slowly forming imaginary relationships with the characters they see on TV – that watching TV provides us with stimulation without requiring much effort from us, that these relationships become parasitic precisely because they don’t require much effort which gives us the illusion that we are in an active relationship with the characters we see on TV simply because we are watching them live their lives. This deceptive relationships usually happen to people who are isolated, lonely and are otherwise not experiencing satisfaction from the relationships they currently have, thus jumping to the opportunity to participate in an imaginary one, that offers the minimal possibility of heartbreak and disappointment.
It is not surprising then that, as an audience, being involved in a one-sided relationship with the public figures we see on TV, suddenly get the illusion that we have the authority to decide with whom the figures are in love with, perhaps stemming from our need to experience a relationship through them. It’s part of our virtual reality culture – this instinct for voyeurism – because it is more distant, and thus safer – because it requires the least amount of effort from us, and doesn’t require us to be vulnerable and active, as a real relationship might sap from us.
The fact that most fan shipping are slash fiction, or stories that involve two heterosexual figures participating in homosexual activities, I think stems from our culture’s inability to see friendship, especially deep, intimate and personal friendships as platonic – I think our teen culture is so highly sexual, having been exposed to such a hypersexualized society, that teens (who compose a huge percentage of the fandom community) have a more difficult time differentiating platonic relationships from sexual ones. Thus, anything that is obviously illuminating love is automatically assumed to have sexual connotations.
And those are my two cents about the fandom community – from a verified fangirl, because I am a nerd. Enjoy your day!