liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Shipper Wars and Why They Suck

Every once in awhile I nip into Fandom_Wank, mostly because I’m easily amused, but also because I’m fascinated with the tinfoil hat end of fandom.

Needless to say, there’s a massive wank going on right now about BtVS/AtS and shipper warfare.

It starts with wardrums coming from the Buffy-Angel shippers.


Followed by chest beating among po’ widdle Buffy-Spike shippers.

*headdesk* *headdesk*

Now, seriously: The original post getting wanked (Buffy-Spike shippers suck the big one! And they’re crazy!) was posted on a private, members-only board.

Ill-advised? Yes. Mean spirited? Most certainly. Exhibiting an utter lack of diplomacy? You bet. A perfect example of someone who wears a tinfoil hat? Most definitely.

The point is: the original post was on a private, members-only board geared to Buffy-Angel fans, which means that there is absolutely no good reason for any other shipper group to get their nose out of joint.

Traditionally, members-only boards are supposed to be “safe havens” for people to bitch, moan, be bitter, and generally unload the shit from their brains. I say traditionally that’s the case because everyone knows that “safe havens” are not at all safe. You can pull up the drawbridge all you want, but people who disagree with you can still find an offending post if they really want to be offended.

And it seems to me that there a whole lotta people out there who not only want to be offended, but are easily offended to boot.

Well, as it turns out, this particular post got emailed to people the Spike-Buffy camp, who then publicly posted it and then bitched loud and long because the other guys were being soooooooo meeeeeaaaaaan.

Me: So let me get this straight…someone who wasn’t a Buffy-Angel fan lurks on a Buffy-Angel members-only board, finds a post that offends their delicate sensibilities, and then emails it to their buddies so it can be aired in public and everyone in the Buffy-Angel and Buffy-Spike camps get their panties in a twist?

What are you people? 12?

Why the hell do Buffy-Spike fans care if some Buffy-Angel fans spout off on a private message board that is clearly marked for Buffy-Angel fans? Why make a big drama over it? I’ve read some equally evil things about Buffy-Angel fans on Buffy-Spike fanboards that resulted in equally wanky outcomes. You need a damn scorecard to keep track of all the bombs that have been launched from one camp into the other camp.

BtVS has been off the air for more than a year. Pull your shit together, spank your inner fenboi or fengurl, and grow the hell up. Let it the hell go already.

In my humble opinion (and note, it is just my opinion), the best thing that could ever happen to BtVS/AtS fandom is if all the shipper groups locked their tinfoil hat contingents in a single room and let the extremists battle it out amongst themselves. That way, the rest of us could have an adult conversation about characters and relationships and agree to disagree.

All I want to know is this: Why is BtVS/AtS fandom so fucking mean? It’s to the level of what-the-fuck mean.

Is this normal? Or is it just this particular fandom?

I’ve been peripherally involved in online fandom for a long time and I have never seen anything like this.

Forever Knight fandom used to have light-hearted RP “shipper wars” in the form of round-robin fanfics. They were fun! They were funny! And no one got his or her feelings hurt just because you had a favorite character or a favorite relationship! In fact, back in the day I was in the Ravenette camp, which meant that Jeannette was my favorite character, but I enjoyed the Nick-Nat relationship as it played out on the show. What a concept!

Farscape, Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5…hell…there’s a list of shows I can rattle off that have a big Internet following and have shippers in them. None of them even approach the level of bile between groups that I’ve seen in BtVS/AtS fandom.

I mean, hell, not even AtS fandom is this insane about ships. Okay, one exception: the Cordelia-Angel fans and the Buffy-Angel fans are engaged in what seems to be a sustained screaming match, the roots of which are lost in fandom history. I mean, I liked Cordelia-Angel a hell of lot more than Buffy-Angel, but not enough to engage in a bizarre shipper war that ultimately meant zero.

The whole business leaves me scratching my head.

I consider myself a Kumbayah sort of gal. You know: live and let live, everyone has his or her own opinion, why can’t we all just get along already.

Now, maybe it’s because I’m one of the true minorities in BtVS fandom: a Xander fan.

Or maybe because I know that Xander doesn’t even appear on Joss Whedon’s now-famous “ten characters” list for the (probably never-to-be-filmed) BtVS telemovies.

Or maybe it’s because the chances of my own particular ship (Xander-Faith) happening in canon falls somewhere between hysterical, derisive laughter and “a snowball’s chance in hell.”

Or maybe it’s because I walked into Internet fandom rather late in the BtVS/AtS game at the beginning of sixth season BtVS.

The thing is, I don’t get it. I just don’t.

I suspect that it’s because I’m completely and totally the outsider when it comes to the politics of BtVS fandom and because I’ve never seen fandom for a show so fractured into so many armed camps that actively dislike so many of the others.

Speaking to the Fandom_Wank thread, the simple fact of the matter is this: there are nasty-ass people among both the Buffy-Angel and Buffy-Spike shippers. I’m not talking about people who verbally debate the issues. I’m talking about the “will you please make your tinfoil hat already and leave the rest of us in peace” people.

I’ve been chased off supposedly “neutral” boards by Buffy-Angel fans for daring to say that I liked the Cordelia-Angel relationship leagues more than the Buffy-Angel relationship and that I don’t understand the B/A4eva mindset.

I’ve also been chased off supposedly “neutral” boards by Buffy-Spike fans for daring to say that I had serious problems with this particular ship and that I just didn’t like Spike as a character. (For the record: I intensely disliked the Buffy-Spike ship because of what it did to both Buffy and Spike as characters. By the time the end of S7 BtVS rolled around, I wanted them both to die horrible deaths. And prior to ‘Crush’ in mid-S5, Spike was second on my list right after Xander on my fave character parade.)

Although I have to admit, my negative experiences with people in the Buffy-Spike group slightly edges out the negative experiences with people in the Buffy-Angel group only because I had a Buffy-Spike fan almost physically attack me in real life the day after Seeing Red aired.

[The story: When I was working at Borders, there was this woman who’d come in and buy the BtVS magazine. I had talked to this woman before and we had pleasant chats about the show. The relationship cooled before the incident in question when she found out that Xander was my favorite character, but it was still cordial. The day after Seeing Red airs, she came in to buy the BtVS magazine. I was chatting with her to make small talk. She called it “a desperate act of a desperate man” and I was shocked enough to blurt out “an attempted rape is a ‘desperate act?’” She actually pulled her hand back as if she was going to slap me, but a co-worker intervened (ironically enough, another Xander fan) by stepping forward and stood next to me. The woman huffed as she bought her magazine and left. After that, she’d glare at me non-stop whenever she came into the store when I was working.]

Now, here’s the thing: I know that the Borders customer is no more a representative of the sane contingent of Buffy-Spike fans any more than the post quoted in Fandom_Wank is a representative of the sane contingent of Buffy-Angel fans.

But really, it seems like the tinfoil hat brigade in these two groups are everywhere and they’re giving the rest of the people they hang with a bad name.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are tinfoil hat fans for all the characters and relationships. They’re all just as bad. You haven’t lived until you’ve had insane-o Giles fans taking you to task because they feel you’ve smeared their favorite character’s good name (some of that came from feedback for Revelations). Then there are Willow-obsessed fans who hate all the other characters because they didn’t see how perfect and put upon she was by everyone. There are people obsessed with Dawn who give me a stalkerish, creepy vibe.

And, in the interests of being fair, there are plenty of Xander fans that drive me to my knees and have me saying, “I beg you! Please don’t help me! Shut up or I’m going to break your fingers to prevent you from typing more of this crap!”

Really, from my corner of BtVS/AtS fandom, I think the Cordelia fans got kicked in the teeth the worst. Giles fans probably had it the second worst. You want people who have the right to be bitter? Those are the fans who’ve got every single right.

And while I bitch and moan about Xander’s lack of story line in S7 and the character’s treatment in S6, compared to bullets put into Buffy, Willow, and Spike collective brains he got off relatively lightly with an eye-gouging and a dead ex-fiance. Compare this to the AtS regular characters and Spike who at least got a chance to redeem themselves before the end of that series.

Plus, I can’t fault Xander’s fate (still fighting the good fight in Africa). In addition, as people watch the DVDs more of them are revising their opinion of Xander to the positive spectrum whereas before they’d argue the boy could do nothing right. At the end of the day, I think Xander came out of BtVS relatively intact and I can’t complain about that

Now, here’s the point: All of the above is just my opinion. You can take it. You can leave it. You can disagree. You can agree. Whatever the hell you want.

But someone, somewhere is going to take issue and start waving his or her tinfoil hat and will call down the wrath of the Great God Whedon on my head.

The thing is, I had serious problems with Buffy-Angel. I had serious problems with Buffy-Spike. I didn’t like either one of the ships and I didn’t like them for different reasons.

I personally don’t get the whole B/A4evaohtheirluvissodestined!!!11!!!! attitude.

I personally don’t get the whole B/S4evaohtheirluvissogr8!!!11!!!! attitude.

I don’t get why shipper groups would go out and actually buy ads in the industry trade papers and on industry Web sites pushing their ship on the unwashed masses in some bizarre War of the Roses. (My first question: Couldn’t you raise that money for charity instead?)

I don’t get why any any shipper group feels like Mutant Enemy promised them anything beyond one or two hours of television a week.

I don’t get why any shipper group might take it into their heads that getting their ship to “win” is a matter of life-and-death.

I don’t get it, but people have the right to do it and feel the way they do. I might roll my eyes, but hey! It’s your opinion, it’s your time, and it’s your money, so go crazy. What you do or don’t do doesn’t really affect me in my day-to-day life.

And just because I disagree doesn’t mean I’m attacking you personally. I don’t think you’re less of a person just because your favorite character isn’t Xander. I don’t think you’re any less of a person just because your favorite character is Spike. I don’t think you’re dumb because you’re a hardcore shipper. I don’t think you’re an idiot for liking your ship.

It’s when you start acting like people who have the temerity to disagree with you are the shit on the bottom of your shoe that it really grates.

I think I’m riled because here I am, I’m just back from writercon, and I’ve been all warm and fuzzy inside about BtVS/AtS fandom in general.

Furthermore, I’m in the middle of Kumbayah-type project for the ship_manifesto where I get to write something about Xander-Faith that reflects my (say it with me) opinion on why it’s an interesting ship to write if you’re so inclined to give it a try. If you want to deal with ships and characters, ship_manifesto strikes me as a fun, sane way to do it. Everyone has their say, everyone gets to share their opinion, and no one gets hurt.

Now, by and large, the people attending writercon were a sane group (just as the people running the ship_manifesto strike me as a sane group). Yes, you had some people who wore the tinfoil hat. And yes, I had some people (not even a handful, I might add, no more than a couple of people) who decided I had serious mental issues because I admitted that I didn’t like Spike or because I was a Xander fan.

But there were a whole lot more people (the majority, the vast majority) who were willing to discuss character and plot in a rational, reasonable manner. These people didn’t have a problem with the fact that Spike ranked really low of the list of characters I like, especially since it was abundantly clear I had no interest in bashing Spike as a character and was more interested in discussing his good and bad points.

For the record, I’m using Spike as an example simply because there was a majority of Spike fans attending writercon. I had equally good discussions about Xander, Faith, and Buffy as characters. Oddly enough, not too many people I spoke to discussed Dawn and Willow (even though Willow fans had their own after-hours gathering) as characters with me. *shrug*

But the point is, I’d hang with these people again, regardless of their favorite character or ship. Why? Because they were willing to discuss opposing opinions without acting like I killed kittens for shits and giggles.

Now, repeat after me:

People who like Buffy and Angel (and by extension, Willow-Oz and Cordelia-Xander) as a ship do not endlessly pine for their high school boyfriends or girlfriends.

People who like Buffy and Spike as a ship do not write mash letters to serial killers and rapists.

People who like Cordelia and Angel are not delusional assholes standing in the way of twu wuv 4eva.

People who ship Xander with anyone are not humorless moral absolutists who want to impose what they think is good, pure, and holy on “right-thinking” people.

People who think Willow should end up with a male character are not homophobes who go on gay-bashing sprees every Saturday night.

People who think Willow should be a gal-only kind of gal are not militant lesbians who want to chop the penises off all men.

People who think Willow is bi do not have questionable sexual morals (whatever the hell that means).

People who hook Dawn up with anyone are not pedophiles.

People who hook the Scoobs or the Fang Gang up with each other in any combination do not list incest as a pet kink.

People who write slash fanfiction are not pervs.

People who write het fanfiction are not narrow-minded.

When I don’t like your favorite character; support your favorite ship; think the sun shines out the ass of your favorite actor; worship any participant in the BtVS/AtS-verse as god, it is not a threat to your health and well-being, so stop acting like I pulled a gun on you while you were holding a knife.

If someone spouts off an opinion about a television show and fictional characters and fans of either that you don’t like--especially if that opinion hasn’t been posted on a public board--don’t act like it’s the end of the fucking world and start rallying your buddies so you can show the assholes who’s boss.

I like what I like. You like what you like. No one is making you like what I like. No one is making me like what you like. There’s no one forcing anyone to do anything here.

So all of you with your panties in twist or who are still carrying a virulent grudge against people you’ve never met on the basis of what characters and ships they like: go to your rooms and take a zillion deep breaths. Then, when you’ve calmed down enough to think straight, come out and play nice.

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