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Shipper Wars Rant

by Melusina




Why do people play 'shipper wars? What is it about someone liking Spike/Xander or Harry/Snape that threatens your deep and abiding love for Spike/Buffy or Harry/Draco?

We all bring ourselves to our reading and, like everything else, our tastes in fannish writing are flavored by our personalities, our histories, what we took from the source material, etc. It's unique as hell and often very difficult to explain. And it's incredibly personal.  To be a fan means to feel this stuff deeply - it's not just mildly interesting, it's life or death.  It should come as no surprise that people get offended when you criticize their favorite pairings.

I tend to be a bit of a slut about my reading - my first criteria for determining whether I'll read something is whether I've liked the author's stuff in the past, not if it's a pairing I like. I certainly have pairings I favor, but I'll follow my favorite authors into some pretty weird places. So it's hard for me to understand why someone would feel the need to criticize someone else's taste. Does it really help promote your favorite pairing if you ridicule other pairings and the people who read and write them? Trust me when I say that you telling me that all fans of x pairing are idiots and poor writers is not the way to make me see the light.

By the same token, other people simply preferring a different pairing to the one you like doesn't mean that there's something wrong with you or you shouldn't bother writing. There's always going to be a mainstream, but what flows down that stream changes with time. My experience is that there's a saturation point with every popular pairing - most of the obvious scenarios have been run through several hundred times with varying degrees of skill and even the most devoted fans of that pairing go looking for something different. And often a formerly ignored 'ship suddenly becomes incredibly popular, and lots of overlooked gems come to light (watch me mix metaphors with complete and total disregard for what constitutes good writing!). Keep writing and eventually the world may beat a path to your door.

 Instead of attacking people who like other pairings, give your favorite authors lots of thoughtful feedback. Be honest with them about what you like and dislike about their stories. Pimp them on your journal. This will make them ridiculously happy and it will probably make them more productive as well. I can't guarantee that your favorite writer won't abandon your favorite 'ship and go write one that personally offends you, but at least it won't be because she (or he) thought that nobody appreciated that particular pairing.

(Oh yes, that last paragraph is self-serving as hell. Sue me.)


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