Friday, December 5, 2014

21st Century 'ships: Cartoons, not gay gay couples, and Kimye

Yesterday, EOnline wrote up a piece about the 20 most 'shipped couples on Tumblr in 2014. For those who aren't familiar with "'shipping" - and I'm not really either - it's:

Ship: (noun) Short for "relationship," an imagined romantic pairing of two people, fictional or otherwise.

Basically, from what I can tell because I don't read or write fan fiction or slash fiction, it's readers and viewers writing, video editing, gif making, and talking about real, fictional, or imagined couples from popular media. It seems to have exploded with the internet and particularly on sites like Tumblr which allow for the fast spread of any idea someone can come up with and make a .jpg or .gif file about.

I know I'm dating myself here, but we didn't do this sort of thing when I was young. Popular media was still somewhat universal, and there was little way for fans of esoteric fiction, written or filmed, to come together to obsess about their fandom. There were media events - like when Dave and Maddie hooked up on Moonlighting (epic writing/plotting mistake) - but we just watched them and then talked about them with our friends. Or we watched with our friends. We didn't buy Moonlighting-inspired Shakespearean costumes off of Etsy and go to conventions dressed as Katarina and take 1000 selfies with people dressed as werepuppets or some other absurdity.

Seriously, I don't get this trend. None of it. It's all too bizarre to me. What is going on with kids these days?

It's not just that I don't get fan fiction, although I don't. I've written fiction. I have no interest in writing other people's characters doing things I'd prefer them doing. That feels intrusive to me. I certainly would not want to write their characters doing or being something other than what the original writer wrote them doing. For instance, being gay or hooking up with villains.

I first became aware of slash fiction when people started writing Lord of the Rings characters Merry and Pippin as gay lovers instead of semi-intrepid hobbit friends in a war zone. I remember thinking, "Why would anyone ever want to read or write that? Why is this kind of character shift intriguing to them? What are they getting out of this?" Particularly because the people I knew who were doing this sort of thing - then on Livejournal - were young, heterosexual women. What was it about these women that made them want to see hobbits get it on?

I still don't get it, but as this trend exploded, I find it more and more distressing because fast forward 15 or so years and now out of the Top 20 Couples of 2014, only five of them are heterosexual. Five. And one of those five is Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. The rest of them are anime character couples, Youtube video makers, a couple of actually gay couples, and pairings made up of heterosexual characters who people think would be hotter if they were gay.


Look, Harry Potter isn't supposed to be with Malfoy. Romantic couples are supposed to be inspirational, aren't they? When girls read or watch Pride and Prejudice, they're supposed to want to be Elizabeth Bennet, right? When Colin Firth stares at Jennifer Ehle in P&P, a normal reaction is not to wonder what it would be like if Darcy and Bingley hooked up. Right? Right???  I just looked it up. There actually is Darcy/Bingley fiction out there. What? What a bizarro world we are living in.

Babies, people. Babies. It used to be, you wanted your characters to get together so that they would be all romantic and everything and then the natural would occur and they would have about twelve babies and be happy forever. Because gorgeous people - perfect couples - should reproduce themselves and populate the (imaginary) world with smarter, more athletic, better looking, more inspiring people with perfect teeth

When even women's fantasies don't involve family formation and reproduction - or even the involvement of female people - that's some kind of mass-induced insanity right there. What is going on here?



  1. I laughed out loud at "werepuppets".

    But your final paragraph: I ask myself that, often. It is a very large question. And thus far no simple answers have proven thoroughly satisfactory.

  2. Suppose that there are two types of women, those who have a reproductive instinct because of genetic factors, and those who don't. The latter won't reproduce that much, and so will become extinct rapidly, so there should only ever a very small minority of them. But plummeting birth rates and the rising number of childless women show that is not the case currently. So there must be something else.

    Following on from that I can give a tentative explanation of this (and some other trends...).

    Before feminism started destroying the matriarchy (older women, matrons, have dominated agrarian cultures for many thousand years), the matriarchs who ruled extended families pressured constantly younger women to have and raise children, because sons and grandsons in particular were the safest pension assets with the best profits for a woman, and a woman's power and comfort later in life as a matriarch were proportional to her success in raising profitable sons and grandsons.

    So because of the cultural pressure of older women for having and raising pension assets both women with a broody instinct and those without ended up having children and raising them as investments. But this meant that if there is (and most likely there is) a genetic push to have children among some women, the young women without it only reproduced because of the strong pressure from older women to invest in children.

    So now a significant percentage of women freed by feminism from the repression of the matriarchy won't have children because they don't have a broody instinct; they will instead choose a full time career with lots of sex and no children, and invest in a a pension account instead of sons to support her in old age.

    Those women will soon become extinct, as sexual selection is quick and unavoidable, but in the meantime they don't behave like women who have a broody instinct or women pressured by the matriarchy in having children: they will replace that with "whatever".

    What this blog entry is about is the "whatever" that emerges when women who don't have a broody instinct and consider sex a purely recreational activity get free from the pressures of the matriarchy to have sex for pension purposes.

    It is not so much insanity, as displacement activity.

    In that they are adopting the style of male homosexual culture, which is also about sex as recreation, and various ways of camp and entertaining acting out and pantomimes have been part of it always.

    As a joke goes, sterility is hereditary: if a woman's mother was sterile, she will be sterile and her daughters will be sterile too.

    They will all however enjoy slash fiction very much :-).

  3. As to the women that “don't have a broody instinct; they will instead choose a full time career with lots of sex and no children,” that's not always right as to the lots of sex.

    There are 3 types of women who have been pressured by the matriarchy into having children and that now the pressure is gone won't have them: those who have an instinct to have sex with men but lack a broody instinct, those who have an instinct to have sex but "identify" as male or at least only want it with other women, and those who don't have much of a sex instinct, never mind a broody instinct.

    Feminism has all been about smashing the matriarchy, because the 3 types of women above did not want to "lie back and think of England" anymore just to have pension assets, and the women who have an heterosexual sex instinct and a broody instinct typically want to have sex and babies only with "alpha" men for which they feel a desperately needy craving.

    Because free from matriarchal pressure what broody women's instinct pushes them to have is not sons as investment assets, but "alpha" sons who are hot and screw around a lot and give their mothers (and their genes) a lot of random grandchildren by pumping-and-dumping other women's daughters and cuckolding other women's sons.

  4. How many people actually do this? The top 20 of anything doesn't reflect much on society as a whole if only a small subset of the population is represented.

  5. Oddly, I became aware of 'shipping after reading a story about how outraged Harry Potter 'shippers were when it became clear Harry and Hermione weren't going to be together. Rowling has discussed the unhinged nature of many of the comments she read about this over the years.

  6. At its core, sexuality is supposed to be married to openness to new life, and expressed within a mutually monogamous bond.

    Our culture has changed that dynamic from centering around the couple to centering around the individual. What you're seeing is one symptom of a larger problem, where sexuality exists for pleasure. Under this model, any base human instinct is fair game. Slash fiction allows its viewer to vicariously experience a type of relationship stress for erotic pleasure.

  7. Oddly, I've read fanfiction ever since I was young, but more from an alternative universe (what would happen if) perspective. Comes from being a Trekkie I think. As for proper authors, Harry Turtledove is probably the most prolific and uses actual events (world wars etc.).

    I agree that the gay pairings make me squicky... just... no. I think the female desire for male/male pairings may come from the jealous competitive perspective that if they can't have them, no other girl (even fictional can). And as for pregnancy... male pregnancy is a thing. Gah.

  8. Great post. I found fanfiction interesting because of the "what if" factor.

    That said, teenage girls (14-17) comprise something like 70-85% of fanfiction authors overall. Of course, fandoms do differ, and some are heavily male based.

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