I've been thinking about shipping*.
I'm starting to think I'm not your typical shipper, or if I am, I belong to a group that isn't very vocal. Though, to be honest, I don't really like to be labeled that either. Maybe it's that I don't like labels.
I won't deny that I like romance. I do. I love romance. However, I'm the type of person that doesn't like romance as the lead story. I like romance as a subplot. Most of the time, anyway. There are always exceptions. Also, if it doesn't fit into the overall story, I don't want it at all. So I'm gen for some shows. I ship on others but don't want to see it realized, and I'm fine with other stories.
So, if a show feels like it's more of an ensemble/team show, I'm not likely to actively ship, aside from some fanfic in fandom. I'll be gen for this show. The perfect exmaple is SG-1. I love the team dynamic so much that I feel any pairing, even ones I may like, take away from that important aspect of the show. So while I may be able to happily ship or slash in the fandom, even in a contridictory way, it doesn't reflect what I want or feel suits the show best on screen.
Another example is Supernatural. I am gen for this show. The show was set up as a story about a family and their struggles. I find that romance does distract or take away from this show. It's possible that it could be done if done right, but so far most of the attempts have fallen flat. I wouldn't be adverse to it if done right. Yet, really at the end of the day this story was sold to me as a story about family, in particular about brothers, and that is what I expect to watch.
Lost is hit or miss. Some of the romances on Lost work well as subplots and others don't. This is a perfect exmaple where I find charcter comes first. If you bend the characters to suit the pairing or the romance, it's going to backfire. If you don't give a character much of a purpose aside from romance, that character is going to lack strength. Especially on a show like this.
If the show has an overall story where romance would suit it nicely - I feel that Pirates of the Carribean is a good example - then I favor the romance. In this case, I enjoyed Will/Elizabeth in all its classic and cliche goodness.
Farscape romance didn't bother me in the context of the show either.
Here's the catch: most of the time, I don't want to see this romance on screen. For the shows where I do have a pairing, but where I feel the pairing could hinder or change the show, I would rather see it stay at the UST level. X-Files Mulder/Scully is a good example. There is no denying I shipped them and shipped them hard. I squeed at the UST. I went nuts for the little hints and moments and always craved more. But I never wanted them to get together until the very end.
Smallville works in this fashion too, but for different reasons. I love Lois/Clark. I have shipped that pairing since I was little. It's such an important part of the Superman story. But for SV, the story of a pre-Superman, I do not feel that Clois is necessary. I squee when I see the UST. I am always craving more. But I don't want to see them get together. I don't need them to be a couple. For me, the hints and the forehsadowing, the flirting and the denial is enough. It fits into the ever-growing mythos for me and stays true to the central iconic core of the characters. So unlike many of my fellow shippers, I don't need to see it fully realized on screen. It's not the right time in terms of the story.
Again, that doesn't mean I am some prude or rigid. I do have all the porny thoughts going through my mind. I am human ;) And I do like to see on screen romance realized. It truly depends on what kind of story the writers are trying to tell.
This is what it boils down to for me: character and plot first, romance second. But really, it's all about context. Some stories are meant to have romance as the lead story. I'm not talking about those. However, I do believe that no matter what story you're trying to tell that everything will fall into place if you're true to the characters and the plot.
But that's my writing philosophy so who is to say it is right ;)
So I don't know what I am. What are you?
*Shipping in this case can be defined as het or slash because either one works in this context as far as I'm concerned despite that my examples are mainly het. I also was lazy and wanted to use a broad term instead of ship/slash or het/slash all the time.