Y’know, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the whole fandom tension/ship wars/lots people yelling at each other on the internets… thing… And one of the conclusions that I’ve come to is that at the end of the day, I think one of our biggest problems as a fandom, one of the leading contributors to this problems, is that we (not all of us, but some of us, and maybe more of us than we ourselves sometimes realize) have started to put ships above people in a way that dehumanizes real, living, breathing people on the other side of the computer screen.
You are no longer “Jane, who likes crossword puzzles, a cappella movies, double cheese pizza and political sciences, and all you want for Christmas is Emma and Regina in a romantic relationship,” you are now SWAN QUEEN, part of the SWEN HIVE MIND, you are RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL SWEN, you are ALL ALIKE, you must ALL PAY FOR THE CRIMES OF YOUR SHIPMATES.
You are not “Sara, who likes to bake really cute cake pops, but also does parkour, and was a competitive swimmer in college, and really likes Hook and Emma together, that shit’s the business, that’s where it’s at for you,” you are CAPTAIN SWAN, part of the CAPTAIN SWAN HIVE MIND, you are RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL CSers, you are ALL ALIKE, you must ALL PAY FOR THE CRIMES OF YOUR SHIPMATES.
You are not “Jenny, who likes to draw, and who spent a semester abroad in France during college, and who has a two year old little boy who is just the cutest damn thing, and who thinks Robin and Regina are the hottest hot thing to ever grace your screen, gimme more, gimme more,” you are now OUTLAW QUEEN, part of the OQ HIVE MIND, you are RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL OQ, you are ALL ALIKE, you must ALL PAY FOR THE CRIMES OF YOUR SHIPMATES.
Except… we all know that’s not true. (Or at least, I mean, we should.)
We are not our ships, we are ourselves, and we just happen to ship things. But, especially when we all stay in our lanes, when we make our dashes a glorious never-ending camp-out of our own shipmates and nothing else, sometimes it’s hard to see the people behind the ships. Because, frankly, we don’t know the people behind the ships. They’re in our fandom, they love our show, they love our actors, but somehow, they have become people I see referred to as “those people,” as some sort of other, likes there is zero, zilch, nothing we have in common.
Except, that’s not true. Because, like, Jane and I have both been listening to the Pitch Perfect soundtrack nonstop for the last three weeks, and Sara and I both read the Bakerella blog, and and all three of us fuckin’ LOVED Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Maybe we don’t ship the same thing, but that’s not really… all that important, y’know? It’s not more important than who we are as people.
And I think part of the problem I’ve seen in the OUAT fandom is that some folks seem to have started to lose sight of each others’ humanity, started to see other people as no more than the sum of the worst parts of their ships, and we’ve all let it fester and grow, and some of us have decided the best solution is to just… stay in our lanes. With our friends. Those other guys can… do whatever. And we’ll do whatever. And that’ll maintain the peace for the most part. And so the rifts widen…
But the thing is, that’s not the solution. The solution is the opposite. The solution is to get all up in each other’s lanes - politely.
I know this, because one of the defining moments for me in this fandom came last spring at SpookyCon, when I, fairly new in the fandom but not so new as to not have heard the rumors about “how Swan Queen behaves” and formed an opinion thusly, met this really awesome person. I don’t remember what we were talking about, but I thought she was just great. Smart, funny, we hit it off there for a moment. And then one of my friends said, ribbing me, “Y’know, she’s a swan queen fan.” And I looked at her, and I said, y’know, politely, “Oh. Man, I like you, but your people can be a little much.” And she said “So can yours.” And I said “Really, cuz I haven’t seen that,” and she said, “Oh yes,” and she told me things that she had seen happen between OQers and SQers on the internets, and I realized… I was wrong. My judgments had been wrong. And I was being an asshole, albeit a polite-ish asshole.
And I decided I wasn’t going to do that anymore – let ships inform how I felt about a person – because that person? She’s the tits. She’s the bees knees. I think she’s great. And we hung out more over that weekend, and I discovered that she was intelligent, and hilarious, and that we both really like good beer, and that we really, at the end of the day, had more things in common than our differences. She doesn’t like my ship - she doesn’t like Robin, she doesn’t like the storyline, she doesn’t like it, you guys, she just doesn’t. But that’s okay. She likes me. And I like her. And I would never have known that if I had stopped at “she ships SQ” and decided to back off and be polite but stay in my damn lane.
So I’ve tried, over the last year, to be open to people of other ships, which has mostly ended up meaning that I follow multishippers, and get an idea of the pulse of other ships through them. And let me tell you, it’s been eye-opening. I come across things, opinions, issues within the fandom that I never would have seen otherwise.
But I think at the end of the day… that’s not enough. My, like, ten non-OQ friends are not enough.
So. Guys. I wanna get outta my lane. I wanna make more friends who are awesome people who, as it turns out, just don’t ship what I do. But they’re not spiteful about that, they want to know other cool people, even if they differ in shippy preferences. That are pretty respectful of other folks and other shippers, even if it’s not necessarily their cup o’ tea.
And I know you guys know people like that - I know you do. So help me out here. Do you ship Swan Queen? Captain Swan? Snowing? Rumbelle? Whatever? Do you have some cool people you follow that you think folks should know about?
Reblog this post. Recommend them. And maybe we can all step out of our lane a little bit, and try to be one whole fandom instead of one fractured one. Maybe if we try to make this all about people for a while, and not just ships, we can start to walk ourselves back from the place we’ve somehow ended up in.
I mean, it’s worth a try, right?