Something I’ve been thinking about lately…
I don’t ship things often, but I do notice ship wars in fandoms (because they’re uh, kindof inescapable, even when you block tags), and it’s made me think, like…
You can say “I like the way the negative relationship between these two characters is portrayed because it’s realistic and fascinating and makes me think about how this sort of thing happens in real life” and a lot of people will agree. Uh, random example off the top of my head–the villain from Tangled and her relationship with Rapunzel–I’ve seen folks discuss their relationship and how it shows how complex and awful an abusive parent/child relationship can be. People generally agree that this is a good thing to show.
So why is it that when people say “I like this negative romantic relationship” that people go “WHAT??? NO, YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO LIKE THAT!! YOU’RE ROMANTICIZING BAD THINGS STOP IT.”
I mean, I get it, it’s totally possible to romanticize a terrible relationship. The Twilight series did that. A lot of incest shipping does that (incest is inherently unhealthy but in fandom it frequently gets portrayed as totally normal and A-OK).
But if you’re going to ship something while totally acknowledging that the relationship is not a healthy one, then… what’s the problem? Unhealthy relationships exist. Fiction is a healthy way of exploring and understanding how unhealthy relationships work. I would even go as far as to say that it’s important to explore that in fiction at times, so we can understand it more in real life–so that maybe someone can see an unhealthy relationship in fiction and be like, “oh, crap, this is what I’M going through” and maybe start to get themselves out of it.
I don’t think it’s wrong to be fascinated by something in fiction that would be terrible in real life. I find it fascinating to watch characters go through hardships (death of a loved one, abuse, injuries, harassment) and see how they respond to that. I obviously don’t think any of those things are great in real life. So why would it be bad to explore those things in a harmless way?
Why should it be bad to be fascinated by an unhealthy, fictional, romantic relationship?
I don’t know.