I was at #TVDChicago this past weekend. I was in the room when this was said:
Ian: “Shipping is the most dangerous thing that I’ve ever seen.”
Paul: “More dangerous that guns or crack?”
Ian: “No shipping questions.”
This little exchange got many in The Vampire Diaries fandom all fired up. Many took it personally, because it hit too close to home. I am invested in the relationship between Damon and Elena and ship them as a couple. They are my OTP, but I hope that I do it in a thoughtful and respectful way.
That being said, Ian has a point. Over time, this segment of the fandom has become more and more militant and mean spirited. I have felt that it has lost its sense of fun and is full of bad vibes. I’m often fearful of some fans jumping down my throat for making a simple tweet that isn’t inline with the mob mentality. I am past the point of caring and realize that I’m going to get hate for writing this. So here it goes.
I’ve shipped television couples in the past, present and probably will in future. I even mention that as part of my Twitter profile, “shipping television couples since the 1900s.” Come to think of it, I may have been shipping TV couples, like Mulder/Scully and Spike/Buffy, before many of my friends and foes in the Delena fandom were even born.
As someone who is a bit older and experienced, I’ve used this wisdom to come up with a list of shipping safety tips. If we are to believe Ian about the dangerous of this pursuit, we should use caution and do it safely and sanely.
- Never ship real people. Just ship characters. Some Delena folks, are still obsessed with Nian. It’s fine to advocate for Damon and Elena, it is not fine to advocate for Ian and Nina. Let the actors live their own lives. Why should he or anyone care about what you think of his love life? You have no business to make comments in real life relationships, especially because you don’t know the whole story. Don’t be your elderly aunt that tries to push you towards your ex. Wouldn’t you hate it if people kept harping on you about a past relationship? Ian is married to someone else, so let’ shut up about it. It isn’t respectful to anyone.
- Don’t let shipping get in the way of your enjoyment of the show. If you view everything with a shipping lens, especially on a show like TVD that is oriented toward romantic relationships, you’re going to have a bad time. To make things interesting people, and relationships must have ups and downs, obstacles and curve balls. Hate to break it to you, but narratively a functional, healthy relationship lacks conflict and drama. Happiness is a very boring story. I want a Delena endgame, but keeping them apart is good for the show. What made the relationship so awesome in seasons 1 through 3 is they were not together, although we desperately wanted them to be. That longing is what made the initial emotional connection. Once they got together, other tension was brought in with the sire bond, Damon’s bad behavior, and now the “sleeping beauty” curse. It keeps it dynamic and interesting.
- Don’t sabotage a show because you are not getting your own way. I found it crazy that many are trying to sabotage the show after Nina left. You know, not watching live to bring the ratings down or watching pirated feeds. I’ve also known of people not using the hashtag during the show intentionally to keep it from trending. Don’t be a dumbass and ruin it for everyone else. If you do this, you are a spoiled brat.
- Realize that people are much more than just a romantic partner. As a feminist, it is disturbing that so many people are obsessed with defining characters and people by his/her significant other. We are more than who we love. We are much more that who we go to bed with or want to go to bed with. There are so many aspects of a person than sex and love. People and characters, shouldn’t be reduced to that. It is a sad that some young women are so oriented in this direction. One of the “lemons out of lemonade” thing of Elena being in that coffin in we get to discover who Damon is without the interactions with her. Who he is as a friend to Bonnie, a drinking buddy to Alaric, a brother to Stefan and so on.
- Be respectful of other people’s opinions. It is okay to disagree with people and let others know how you feel. Learn how to be articulate in expressing yourself and your arguments on social media. State your case, use supporting facts, and maybe you’ll find people that agree with you and others might think that you’re crazy, but that’s okay. Most people just spew hate with an entitled sense of their own opinions. It makes you look dumb, superficial and reduces Delena fans into the stereotype that Ian (and frankly I) don’t like and find destructive.
- Don’t be a divider. Ship wars create factions. We all like the same show. Who cares if we like Delena or Bamon? We can watch it and love it for different reasons, but we are one group. Don’t hate on the actor if you don’t like the character. Don’t hate on the writers if you don’t get your way. It’s like Twitter is a junior high and some fandom groups are catty meangirl cliques. Let’s celebrate out similarities, not obsess about our differences. Don’t be a bitchy bully.
- Be along for the ride. A long term television series is a journey. Rememberer that you as a fan or you as part of a collective fandom have little say on the content or direction on the show. You might have a delusion of power, because of this social media culture. If you think that your thoughts and storylines are better than a show, you can write fan-fiction or get into television writing and production and make your own damn show and make it the way that you want it to go.
Keep your shipping safe, for mind, body and soul.