Friday, January 5, 2018

still alive - and in rant mode, so caution

Well.  three years going on four, since I posted in here.  Long time, no see.

Actually, I'm posting here because I came across a post on Tumblr that I wanted to reply to, and ended up writing War and Peace, so I thought I'd better post it over here instead of other there. 

Anyone who knows me will know some of the backstory behind my ramble, and if you don't, well, you can read or not.  It won't bother me if you don't.

Posted by isamukuro on Tumblr:
what floors me about the way this fanbase talks about platonic k/a is that keith and allura are still just friends where we are in the story, and yet… no one seems to care about what their dynamic actually looks like in canon? there are like, no posts about how even though they’re just friends allura still opens up to keith about her deepest concerns in a way she never does with any of the other paladins. no posts about how, despite just being friendskeith gets so bent out of shape over how allura sees him and yet never seems to care about how anyone else, save shiro, does. no posts about how, as just friends, they still share such similar backgrounds and their lives continue to parallel each other’sas the story goes. no posts about the way they defend each other, even though they’re just friends, when the other’s not around. no posts about how keith and allura have, since season one, always gravitated towards each other physically, despite being just friends, and almost always end up paired off alone together, in one way or another, at least once every season. no posts about how they deeply understand each other’s overall worldview. there are no posts about their actual friendship. and it’s just… so obvious what your actual intentions are when you go on and on about how you ‘looove platonic k/a oh so much’ but still shun and guilt anyone who pays attention to how close they are in canon. some of you legit cannot write a platonic k/a post without making it centered around the idea of these two being each other’s wing-man, adamantly reminding the world they aren’t dating, or talking about how they’re obviously 100% not-at-all sexually attracted to each other, and yet you insist you have no idea what anyone is talking about when they so much as mention that keith and allura would make a cute romantic couple… lol.

Ahem.  Ready?

I think a large part of this comes from the idea that 'the carefree blue boy needs to kiss the angry red boy.' I'm not sure where that came from, since in the 5 times (!!) that I've watched Voltron: Legendary Defender S1-2 and the 3 times I've watched S3-4, I haven't had any inkling of a romantic dynamic between Lance and Keith.  I do know that there has been a very strong push in that direction online (see: pairings for fanfic on FFN and AO3, and fan art on Pinterest), to the point that most of the other pairings for the show, canon or otherwise, are almost relegated to rare pairs with the exception of Hunk and Shay.

I understand that someone asked one of TPTB about an LGBTQ character at a con (ComicCon?), and was answered with basically a 'we'll see'.

I fussed about this to Neil Kaplan on twitter a few weeks ago, about why it seems that every show, every mainstream movie, everywhere, HAD to have a character that was LGBTQ, even if all of the characters were *not*.  His response was that people wanted to see themselves in the characters they were watching on the screen.  I *get* that, but why *every* show, *every* movie. It frustrates me to force orientation on a character.

It would be like having Monica from Friends suddenly announce that she was a lesbian, even  though on the show she obviously was not.

I have several friends who are gay. My BEST FRIEND is lesbian, and I am not. I have had coworkers who were totally shocked when I brought my boyfriend into work because they thought *I* was a lesbian (which thoroughly amused my BFF, who, after she stopped laughing, said I was the straightest straight person she's ever met).  We've even had long conversations about TV shows and movies where the fanbase has insisted that one or more of the characters are gay, and her response was a raised eyebrow and a stare.  The national demographic is 1 in 10-ish people are gay or bi (I think), but apparently in tv/movies, fanon-ly, it's 'supposed' to be 1 in 4, which is outlandish.

I have seen this played out in other series. Some I understand. Many I do not.

Some examples. Yes, I am going to ramble. I will not be upset if you, dear reader, skip to the end. These are just from my personal experience, and there are many, many others for shows that I didn't watch.

Let's start with the universe that actually gave us the term "slash":  Star Trek. (I have backup for this, see 'slash' on WIki) I became a fan of this series when I was about 8, a few years before ST:TMP came out, and about a year before Star Wars. (Does that place my age?  Good.) I was a canon fan, and because of my age, was not introduced to the ST fandom until the early 80's.  My first exposure to the fandom was via the pro novels, where my favorite characters had other adventures besides what I saw on the screen, and some rather ... shall we say interesting interactions.  My first real fandom intro was when I went to my first convention, and discovered FANFIC (zines).  Boy, howdy.  1991, and I was hooked.  Some of the stories were, er, not suitable for general release, and really opened my eyes to the slash side of the fandom. The thing about the ST slash was that, for the most part, I could see where it was coming from.  You have an ensemble, mostly men (and a couple leggy females tossed in for good measure, because hey, it was the 60's) who are out exploring the universe. You have a strong, freewheeling, space guy who appreciates females of any shape and color (even green).  You have the logical alien who is trying to discover who he is, and you have the guy who is the balance.

Let's talk about Spock for a minute. 

Remember that I said I was 8 when I started watching ST in reruns.  I was actually born during the run of the series, and totally didn't know that my own father was a fan of the show until I was nearly thirty! So I missed the whole 'free love' movement, and most of my thoughts about Spock are based on my late intro to the fandom. So no 'I grok Spock' here.

Spock was one of those 'identifiable' characters.  People could see things in him they could relate to:  an outsider, someone different, separate, searching, yet still wanting to be a part. He was the guy who, in an earlier time and as a human, would have gone off and joined the circus (in his parents' view). A child of two different cultures, he 'left home' and joined Starfleet against the wishes of his father. He interacted with the very people he wanted to understand, because they were part of who he was. It was tough, but over time (and several 5 year missions, and like 8 movies) he came to realize that he couldn't turn his back on one culture over the other - he was both.  Reconciliation. A LOT of people see themselves in Spock. What I saw was a man who came to understand that he could be close to someone else, even if that someone else was another man. It wasn't a romantic closeness, it was a platonic one, but they were tied together. They loved each other. He was accepted by Kirk in a way that took Spock years to really understand - he didn't have to be the perfect Vulcan, or the perfect Human, he just had to be Spock.

People still have a very VERY hard time with this concept. Two people/beings of the same apparent sex who are as close as brothers but not tied by blood HAVE to be gay, right?

Wrong! *insert image of me jumping up and down and waving my arms*

Now, having said that, I did read my share of slash. Because I DID get this. Here were two (and sometimes three, hello McCoy) men who loved each other. Would die for each other. (And did.) Protected each other at great cost. (And did. Remember David Marcus.) They were brothers. And, in some of the stories I read, lovers. I didn't agree with some of that, but I understood. Plus, it was FANON.  The movies/shows never gave me the impression that Kirk, Spock and McCoy were anything but brothers. Not lovers. Just very very close comrades. Even in the reboot, the 'lovers' vibe is not there.

There was a word used for it in the movies:  t'hy'la

From Fanlore WIki:  T'hy'la is an apocryphal term in Star Trek coined by Gene Roddenberry in an infamous footnote in his novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture; the footnote states that Spock thinks of Kirk as his t'hy'la, a Vulcan word that can mean "friend," "brother" or "lover." It's a soulbond.

Or, as I read somewhere a long, long time ago, a t'hy'la is someone you can call at 2 AM and wake up to squee about something that you just saw online. (and yes!  I've done that!)

Okay. That was as big example.  How about some smaller ones?

Babylon 5 is easy. Well, don't tell Joe (Strazynski) I said that, but he had a very large cast to play with and at least one of the characters (Susan Ivanova) was in love with another one of the same sex (Talia Winters).  That one I understood, too. Some of the other pairings tho (Sinclair/Sheridan? Bester/Garabaldi??) - um, nope. Even if there was a threesome fic out there that almost melted my computer monitor. Wowsers.

My BFF's fav show from those years was (and still is) Xena: Warrior Princess. Now, THAT show (and yes, Buffy too) was blatant about its subtext. They played on it as much as they could, to the point that you couldn't NOT see where the show was going with the characters. I read some of the fiction generated by that show too, and a true rare pair was one that was m/f, and not f/f.

All of the above examples seemed to have no problems at all with interaction between the facets of the fandom. You could 'stay in your lane', as it were, or drift from one aspect to another without being blasted by one side or another. Or at least, that was my perspective of it. The people who I spoke with didn't have issues with others believing or not believing what they thought about the show and the characters.

That perspective changed when I started watching Stargate: SG-1.

I came into this fandom during the series second season, and was still reading mostly B5 stuff (the series overlapped for a few years, from 1997-1998) and so drifted into SG-1 fanfic when B5 was wrapping up.  Here you had 4 main characters, 3 men and one woman, who worked out of a military base exploring the universe (sound familiar?). I kept seeing fic that paired two of the male characters together - one military, one civilian.  Remember this is three years after DADT was initiated, and if you were gay and in the military, you did NOT come out. That notwithstanding, the ...vibe I got off these two characters was not one you'd get from a romantic pair. At least, *I* didn't. Apparently there were plenty of other people who thought different. I was more leaning toward a 'ship between the two military officers - which, of course, you can't have, since he was her CO and that kind of relationship was and still is not allowed. UST, baby!

I found others that thought the same way, and we ended up really, well, bonding over this line of thought. The show has been off the air since 2007, and we still semi-regularly have meet-ups and reunions, and chat online.  I consider several of them to be good, close friends.

We did have quite a run-in with the slash side of the fandom, however, to the point where we Sam&Jack shippers were accused of physically influencing the show runners to 'get rid' of the civilian male character (the actor wanted off the show! And then came back when he couldn't get better work!) and 'pushing' our 'obviously wrong' agenda on everyone. It was UGLY. I've never been called a whore or a trollop before, or since. It was *frightening*, and this was BEFORE social media. I can't imagine what an attack like that would result in now. I don't want to imagine.  I've seen it, online, now, tho.  Bill Shatner (yes, KIRK) has been the target of Outlander fans that believe that the two main characters are together IRL, and when he tells those fans that they are wrong, he's is accused of 'attacking' them. Really? He's attacking you because he's telling you that your perception is wrong? Victim much?

I'm going to say it:  Real fans don't do this to other fans.

Where was I going with all of this?  Oh, yeah.

I'm starting to see some of the same strife in the VLD fandom.  Now, I haven't been in the online community very long - I've been a Voltron fan since 1984, but stayed away from VLD until the end of the October 2017, when I finally made myself sit down and watch the pilot (dear LORD, why did I wait so long??).  If any of you listen to the "Let's Voltron" podcast, I was actually in one of the early eps - I was the second "Letter to Ted Koplar" of the three that were read to him during his interview. (*faints*). My claim to fame.

Anyway. Just in the last 2 days, I've read two different posts about 'whiny' 'pushy' 'bratty' KA shippers who should 'stay in their lane'. One is pasted to this blog post (see above!), and the other is on the KalluraLove tumblr. It actually makes me laugh. Why is another pairing *threatening* to someone who ships other characters?  Why does this feel like the people who are opposed to gay marriage, and who are married with 4 kids?  How does ANOTHER BELIEF threaten YOUR OWN

I agree with the OP.  The characters of this show are young - I know the demographic is a LOT younger than I am, I had the same issue at 16 watching DotU, which was aimed at 7-12 year old boys - and so are dealing with adult issues at an age where they should have been more worried about grades and dates. 

I *do* believe that Keith and Allura gravitate toward each other.

I *do* think they have a lot in common, even though they are separated by experience, space, and time (literally).

I *do* believe he has feelings for her - he has walled himself off for so long (when his parents left him, when Shiro was lost, when he was expelled from the Academy), he has trouble expressing anything BUT a wall. He was so hurt when she cut him off after he discovered his Galra blood.

I *do* believe that when it was revealed that he was part Galra, it really devastated Allura. Here was a young man that she trusted with her life who turned out to be (in her mind) part of the enemy, even though he had as much control over that as he did of color of his eyes. I was so SO glad that she finally came to terms with his ancestry (and the hug didn't hurt my squeeing heart any either!).

I've written a couple of comments to some fanfic over on AO3 about how a relationship between these two isn't the focus of the show (hello, big robot warrior made of robotic lions! Name of the show!) and really, it isn't. It has been *hinted* at in nearly every adaptation of the show's concept with the exception of BeastKing GoLion - heck, they get married in VF! - and this version shouldn't be any different. The romantic aspect was never the center of attention, though (okay, maybe in a couple of the eps, but you know what I mean), and really, it's the icing on the cake.

That SG-1 ship group that I wrote about?  We were the Horsewomen of the Apocalypse, because that was what the Jack/Daniel shippers thought the show was headed for when they couldn't get the show runners to agree with them.  We even had a motto:  "We aren't projecting."  Did we tell others that they were wrong for what they thought about the show?  No.  Were we told WE were wrong for what we thought about the show?  YOU BET. Did it turn out that the male and female characters DID having romantic feelings for each other?  Oh, yeah.  "We aren't projecting...we were RIGHT."

Was I smug about it?  In the group, oh, hell yes.  Outside the group?  Not so much. Did it shield us from the abuse we got from the J/D shippers?  Nope. Did we abuse back?  Nope.

Don't go bashing other people's ship if it doesn't fit your own. And having someone post a word about a ship different from your own doesn't mean they are bratty, whining children. It means they see things from a different angle than you do.  I'm not going to say that Keith/Lance, Keith/Shiro, Keith/Anyone-but-Allura is horrible, no-good, and idiotic (AHEM) and I expect those shippers to respect MY Keith/Allura bent. Be an adult. Tolerate.

And those that don't? Stay in your own lane. Stop telling me that I'm wrong for what I watch for on this show. I'm as right as you are. I'm not going to tell you you're wrong for writing or drawing KL or KS or AS. Express yourself. Just don't tell *me*  how to express *myself*.

I've been there.  Done that.  Still have the scars from it.  Just...stop. Enjoy the series.  Don't stop others from enjoying it too.

Thanks for listening.


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