10 Sep 2013
Anti-shipping: when ignoring it just doesn't do it
I've already covered a lot of important things regarding "shipping" in a previous blog, but there is one aspect I didn't cover, because I think it just needs to have its own entry altogether, and that is the concept of "anti-shipping". Before I get into what that actually is, I want to clear up a very common misconception about shipping - and that is that shippers either hate on their competition, or they are supposed to. Now, I can certainly understand why some might think so, especially with all of the shipper wars that go on in various fandoms, but that simply isn't true.
I personally have a lot of pairings that I ship, in a very long list of fandoms. It's unavoidable when you have as many fandoms you care for as I do. And, for the most part, having a ship in a fandom usually means you favour it exclusively over its alternatives. However, the world simply isn't black and white, and neither are the fictional ones. It's possible to ship one thing while seeing the merit in the alternatives (like having a secondary ship that would conflict with your primary one, or simply understanding why some people might favour an alternative over yours), it's even possible to ship two conflicting ships equally (I've seen it happen). And even if you don't see the merits in the alternative pairings, even if you dislike one or all the alternatives, that doesn't automatically mean they are your anti-ship.
Because like it's possible to appreciate a pairing without actually shipping them, it's just as possible to dislike a pairing without actually anti-shipping them. It's only when you need two specific people to stay apart, when you have a long list of reasons why they simply do not make a good couple, when you grit your teeth (or growl like an angry dog) at the mere thought of these two people being together, that you become an anti-shipper. It's when you're willing to stop watching/reading the fandom you love because you can't stand the idea of witnessing these two together - or in some cases, you cannot go back and relive certain parts of a fandom for no other reason than that it contains this particular pairing.
Now, one could argue back and forth how healthy it is to obsess over things you thoroughly hate in a fandom, but I think it all depends on to what length you go when you express these views. I can agree that engaging in bashing, whether it's through fanfiction, fanvideos or whatever, is very non-productive and only serves to insult or alienate those that disagree with you. However, I personally am a fan of anti-threads on forums. It gives anti-shippers a positive outlet for their emotions, a safe place to vent and find support among those who shares your opinion. I've been part of anti-threads that have more or less built their own little community.
So, what are my personal anti-ships?
Some people might be surprised to learn that while I have dozens upon dozens of ships, I actually only have four proper anti-ships (I probably dislike or even hate more possibilities than these four, but unless they either are or pose the threat of being made canon, I just don't bother obsessing over them). Some of my anti-ships were even pairings I initially enjoyed, at least until I took a closer look, and realized just how unhealthy the relationship was or how bad an influence the characters had on each other. And after making such discoveries, their entire shared history just ended up being tainted for me.
So let's start with number one, my first, as well as my biggest anti-ship, which is Lorelai Gilmore and Christopher Hayden in Gilmore Girls. Now, I can understand people who are initiatively charmed by Christopher when he first visits Stars Hollow (even I was). He and Lorelai seemed to get along great, Rory was thrilled to see him. It really seemed like this genuine family moment. But even in that first episode there were some warning signs, the biggest being Christopher's spontaneous proposal at the end, and his lack of concern for the fact that he and Lorelai didn't even actually know each other as adults. His exact words were: "So let's get married, and get to know each other as adults..." Talk about a tell-tale sign of his complete lack of maturity.
Now, I have many issues when it comes to this character and this relationship. The biggest being this get-out-of-jail-free-card he seems to have concerning his (lack of) parenting. Time and time again he proves that unless there's a chance for a relationship with Lorelai, he can't be bothered with Rory. His idea of making up for sixteen years of absence is a weekly phone call. The girls are surprised whenever he actually shows up when promised, not only that - they act as though that's enough to make him father of the year. And let's not forget that brilliant moment when he decided more or less abandoning his oldest child in order to be there for a new one, was him making up for his mistakes.
It frustrates me to death that he's constantly being presented as though he's some good guy, when all I can see is this possessive deadbeat, who uses his daughter as an attempt to get into her mother's pants. Who does everything he can to sabotage Lorelai's relationship with another man, because he believes she should rather be with him. Who declared the night a broken Lorelai showed up at his door step was a "great night" and even used the words "booty call" when referring to it, showing no sensitivity to the fact that she had just ended an engagement. He's a character who puts himself first, concerns himself more with how people see him rather than how his actions affects others, and I simply cannot stand him or his relationship with Lorelai. I taped up the last disc of my season six box set, and I refuse to ever get the seventh. I could go on and on about how much this character and this relationship makes me want to bang my head against a wall.
My second anti-ship is unfortunately probably the most popular ship within its fandom, namely Rachel Green and Ross Geller in Friends. Now, will admit that I initially shipped these two when the show first aired. The idea that Ross had been in love with Rachel for so long, just came across as really sweet. However, as time passed, I came to realize that they just really aren't good for one another. Even if we ignore the whole, stupid "we were on a break" thing, they just aren't a good match.
Let's start with a mild reason why these two just don't mesh well; they don't really have all that much in common. Now, I'm all for the good old opposites attract angle, but when you're trying to force your interests on another human being, one can't help but wonder why they bother to be together. I'll give Rachel that she does seem to try to some degree, letting Ross go all crazy with his slides, his collections and work stories that clearly doesn't interest her one bit. But at the same time it is blatantly obvious that she's just waiting for him to be done. Ross is less generous towards her, in fact, he has a nagging tendency to just outright mock her interests to her face.
More severe is how Ross' insecurities and jealousy come to play. It's perfectly alright to feel insecure about yourself in a relationship, but it's a whole other thing to show distrust in your partner. He's suspicious of her when it comes to other men he feels inferior to, he's accusative, frankly he just blatantly shows her with everything he says and does that he just doesn't trust her around other men, doesn't trust her to be committed to their relationship. He claims to love her, but his actions just screams that he feels ownership over her rather than actual love.
What really hit the nail in the coffin for me was the last couple of seasons, where Rachel got pregnant from their one night stand. This was where Ross' hypocrisy truly came out to play. He completely freaked out at the mere suggestion that Rachel went on a date while being pregnant, yet at the same time he was dating Mona. Again, he was treating Rachel as though she was his possession, and not a person of her own merit. Then, there was the whole Joey and Charlie debacle, where he did the exact same thing. He completely freaked out and made a big scene about Joey and Rachel being together, yet at the same time he was dating Joey's ex (it was a wonder Charlie stayed with him for as long as she did).
And let's not even get started on everything surrounding the series finale. Ross was so upset with Rachel's choice to leave for Paris, tried to do everything he could to make her stay. Not once did it occur to him that instead of constantly expecting her to sacrifice for him, he could have offered to sacrifice for her. If you truly love someone, you don't constantly put yourself and your own needs in front of them. And her choosing to stay behind touches on one of my biggest pet peeves - that while women in movies have to choose between either love or their career, men seemingly always get to have both.
Third anti-ship that completely makes me grit my teeth in frustration and actually was the one thing that drove me to stop watching Stargate Atlantis mid-season (I actually haven't seen a single episode in the second half of season five), is Jennifer Keller and Rodney McKay. Now, I'm not saying that McKay can't be amusing from time to time, but the guy is a jerk. That's pretty much the purpose of the character. He's good at what he does, but he considers himself more or less the king of Atlantis, and he takes every opportunity to let people know.
He pretty much never gives other people credit whatsoever, has a tendency to put down every field that isn't his own, even belittles people within his own given field because he doesn't consider them as good as himself. I still think he should have been charged with sexual harassment with the way he treated Carter in both shows (especially in SG-1, holy crap). In general, he's not an easy man to love, yet the show writers are very keen on giving him love interests, more so they love the idea of female characters pursuing him.
One of the characters who unfortunately became victim of this was Jennifer Keller, the doctor who took over the position of Chief Medical Officer when Carson died. Now, I have many reasons why this is not only a pairing that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but also downright offends me as a woman. Let's start with the large age gap between the characters. Now, I want to point out that I don't think all May-December romances are bad (in fact, I think Kevin and Tess' relationship in The 4400 was one such that was really well done and believable), but such relationships only work in spite of the age gap, not because of it, and having Jennifer be the instigator of the relationship makes absolutely no sense.
Then we have the very obvious fact that McKay is probably one of the bigger hypochondriacs out there. Jennifer is a doctor for goodness sake. What doctor finds a long string of imagined symptoms and ailments even remotely attractive in a partner? It would drive her bonkers having to constantly reassure the guy that he does not have this or that disease. It certainly wouldn't endear him to her in any way, shape or form.
And, then we have the already mentioned fact that McKay has a tendency to put down pretty much any person in his proximity. Now, maybe he doesn't do that to Jennifer specifically, but she has to have witnessed him doing it to others, constantly, like every single day. Why would she want to be with someone who has so little respect for other people? And let's not forget his annoying habit of whining about anything and everything, pretty much all the time. This relationship just doesn't make sense, and worse than that, it's unbearable to watch. I stopped watching the show because of it. That's how much I hate it.
My last anti-ship breaks the mould a bit. Because I don't hate either of the characters involved in the relationship, I just hate the relationship itself - with passion. The relationship in question is the one between Addison Montgomery and Pete Wilder in Private Practice. I actually love both the characters individually, Addison was actually my favourite character back when she was on Grey's Anatomy (during the run of Private Practice, I liked her less, but never hated her). And when they were initially flirting with one another back in the first season of Private Practice, it was cute, it had potential - even if I didn't exactly ship it.
The problem I have with the relationship is when and in what way they chose to go for the relationship. They had the chance to try and make something out of it when they were both available and somewhat interested in each other, but they had different opinions on what kind of relationship they were interested in pursuing. Addison was looking for a serious relationship, one that could potentially culminate in marriage and a family. Pete viewed himself done with serious relationships and just wanted a casual, non-committed relationship. Because they were looking for different things, they let it go - which was a mature decision.
Jump ahead about a season and a half, and things have changed. Pete fell in love with Violet and is raising their son on his own while waiting for her to sort herself out. Addison fell in love with Sam, but struggles with it because he's the ex-husband of her best friend, Naomi. Neither can have the person they want, so they decide to settle for each other instead. Right of the bat, I had little issues with it, because it seemed like a physical, casual thing. They sought comfort in each other, nothing more, because they were both aware that the other was in love with someone else.
The problems started when they decided to try and build something on that very shaky foundation. Addison got too involved with Pete's son, too quickly, taking on a motherly role in his life, while the whole time being uncertain about her and Pete's feelings for one another. The two of them acted jealous whenever the other gave any indicator of having feelings for someone else (despite knowing from the get go that the other loved someone else). The worst had to be everything that went down when Violet finally felt ready to be a mother to her son, and both Pete and Addison fought her on it. It was a fight that should have been between Pete and Violet, only, but Addison chose to involve herself, chose to fight, because she felt her own role in Lucas' life was threatened.
Thankfully the relationship ended with the two of them realizing they couldn't keep on fooling themselves into thinking they could change how they felt about Sam and Violet. But I still really, really hated that they even went there. That they allowed themselves to engage in this unhealthy charade of a relationship, knowing fully well that it could never end well.