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20 December 2007 @ 07:49 pm
What It All Boils Down To...  
I'm talking about ships.

I've noticed that in multiple fandoms (Smallville, Stargate, X-Files, and Harry Potter for example) there may be discussions about plot, character, themes, and story, but in the end it all seems to boil down to ship. (Defining ship here in the broad sense - het or slash.) Sure, there are people in fandom that are there just for characters and plot. But those that are mainly focused on shipping is by far the majority. Once you weed through the hearty discussion of character arcs and plot, you'll see that people are arguing for "who ends up with who." Out of everything, this becomes the main focus and the most passionate for fans.

Take a look at any forum or discussion area. Doesn't matter which fandom. Most of them mirror each other.

So, I ask why? Why do we (in general) abandon everything else about the story, making it secondary to the ship? Why is it so vital to have the end goal be "so and so ends up with Clark" or "so and so ends up with Mulder" or "so and so ends up with Jack?" Why does that becoming the most defining attribute of the story or the characters? Why are we defining them by their romantic entanglements? Why are we defining them by their prize at the end of the day?

And is it the woman who is the prize in the end? Or the man? I've seen this go back and forth and it may depend on the fandom.

It happens across fandoms. I've noticed it a lot lately. As stargazercmc mentioned, is this something inate or does fandom perpetuate it? I wonder does this feed some basic human need or is something else going on here?
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AstroGirl: Doctor/TARDIS OTPastrogirl2 on December 22nd, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
Yeah, I think what kind of expectations the show (or the book, or whatever) sets up, and what kind of genre the viewer/reader goes in expecting to see has got to make a huge amount of difference. And expectations can vary between people, too.

In the case of Farscape, one of the things that I really liked about the show was that, while Crichton was sort of the glue that held the whole thing together, it really wasn't all about him, but also about the lives of all these other fascinating people that he met and teamed up with on his travels. In my mind, it was very much an ensemble show, so what I expected from it was that we'd get a balanced exploration of all the characters' story arcs. Which, to be fair, it did try to do, it's just that in some cases it was more successful than in others. On the other hand, someone who really does see the show as being primarily about Crichton -- which is perhaps an understandable impression to get from it -- might resent time spent on other characters that could be devoted to exploring the relationships of the greatest importance to John, even while I'm complaining that time is being spent on J/A that I'd rather see devoted to D'Argo or Stark or whoever. So maybe that's a case where your expectations depend a bit on your perspective?

Doctor Who is an interesting case, actually, because for someone who came into the show at the start of the new series, I can see how the expectation of romance as a major theme would be there; whereas old school Who fans come into the show with a very different perspective and a whole different set of expectations about what the Doctor/Companion relationship is and what it means.

Erm, all of which just leads me to think, basically: "people who go into something predisposed to see and latch onto a romantic theme are more likely to see a ship as primary and central." Which hardly seems terribly insightful or profound. :)