Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Biggest Shipping Mistakes

Some of the biggest mistakes fans make during shipping.

For those of you who don’t know, shipping is a term meaning the pairing of two characters together. It comes from the word relationship. Some pairings are canon, i.e., what the writers intended, like Ryu and Kaori in Jetman, and others are paired by fans, like Masumi and Natsuki from Boukenger. Some people have preferences. Some do slash pairings (same sex pairings), some only stick with hetero, some only pair red with pink and green with yellow, and some pair siblings.

However, there are big mistakes that shippers often make. These mistakes apply to fan pairings, not official ones. And some of these mistakes can affect a shipper’s own romantic life. Here are some of the most common mistakes.

They are opposites, that means they belong together.

For those of you guys outside the US, there was a horrible sitcom called Dharma and Greg that managed to run for more than two seasons. The premise was that Dharma and Greg are complete opposites, met on their first date, and then got married immediately afterwards. Dharma was a “free spirit” while Greg was straight-laced. 

Anyway, the premise sounds cute, but it gets boring after a while. And in real life, opposites attract has been disproven (not with magnets, with relationships). Relationship sites like eharmony match people based on similarities—and they aren’t scams, the relationships usually work out. Even in real life, matchmakers (they still exist) pair people off of similarities. If you go out of your way to date someone based off of the fact that he’s the yin to your yang, you’re going to get hurt. It won’t be a productive relationship, because you can’t relate to each other. You both want different things, and have different ways of dealing with life.

I’ll use the fan pairing (not canon) of Marvelous and Ahim in Gokaiger. The MarvexAhim pairing can be traced back to the dime-store romance novels that housewives read while they eat bonbons, in which a pirate and princess fall in love.

Marvelous and Ahim is not a canon pairing, but a few fans treat it like it is, and I think part of their evidence is the whole opposites attract thing. Other than being a pirate and a princess, Marvelous is impulsive and extroverted, while Ahim is polite and introverted. Marvelous and Ahim both have different morals. Marvelous and Ahim both have different goals in life. They both have different interests. If this relationship happened in real life, it would be over in a month. Because they would realize that they have nothing in common.

Some people think you need to find an opposite because they would balance you out, create synergy, and make you a better person. But do you really want to change for someone?

One of the best things about Sentai and Kamen Rider is that they usually don’t use this as a reason to pair people together.

Take a canon pairing: Kouichirou and Chisato from Megaranger. They both are extremely studious, intelligent, and are over-achievers. Chisato is a bit more down to Earth and less serious than Kouichirou, but you don’t have to be twins with your partner. It helps, though, to have a lot in common, which they do. And together, they kind of hold the team down to Earth. So their relationship not only benefits each other, but also benefits the team.

One of my pairings, Takeru and Kotoha, is based on this. Both are only comfortable on the battlefield, both have been withdrawn from the rest of the world, both have confidence issues (Takeru doesn’t reveal it, though, till later), both don’t like to let out their feelings, and they are comfortable with living an abnormal lifestyle (being Samurai instead of modern teenagers). That’s a lot in common if you ask me.

When you look at Mako, she has different goals than Takeru. She wants a normal life, she’s lived in the real world, she wants to start a family, and she’s more extroverted. This difference of goals would cause a relationship to fail in real life.

They hate each other, that means they belong together.

This goes all the way back to a Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalytical psychology (keep in mind, I know all this because if I wasn’t going to be a dramatic writer, I wanted to be a criminal psychologist).

Freud believed that unconscious thoughts and impulses controlled are day-to-day life, emotions, actions, and decisions. When deep inside ourselves, we secretly want something that our conscious is afraid of, and become anxious, we use defense mechanisms. Such as repression, when we repress feelings or a bad memory.

One of Freud’s defense mechanisms that are constantly used in pop culture is reaction formation. Reaction formation is when you want something, but believe it’s wrong, and then focus and display the opposite. I’ll use an example from Akibaranger. Mitsuki/Akibablue acts as if she is above anime/otaku culture, but she secretly likes it, and is afraid it will ruin her image.

This seeps into the romantic aspects in fictional works. Sometimes, people also use this as sexual tension, i.e., just hook up already! In Japan, they even have a term tsundere, which applies to reaction formation.

A contemporary example of this can be Helga from Hey Arnold! For those of you who don’t know, Hey Arnold! was part of the Golden Age of Nickelodeon in the 90s. I grew up with this. Like a lot of the Golden Age Nickelodeon shows, there was substance that made it watchable for people of any age. Helga is the female protagonist, an extremely creative and intelligent 9-year-old girl, who has the writing abilities of Lord Byron.

Now, this part is extremely deep for a kids’ show. Helga has a horrible home life. Her father (voiced by the versatile Maurice LaMarche) is hinted to be a former Vietnam vet, who is a successful, and possibly corrupt businessman. He owns a successful Beeper store, Big Bob’s Beepers (remember Beepers? If they did a sequel to Hey Arnold! taking place now, Helga’s father would be out a job), and is extremely devoted to it. Her mother, Miriam, voiced by the lovely Kath Soucie (is it just me, or did Hey Arnold! have the best castmembers who played the adults?) was hinted to be an alcoholic, walked around in a drowsy daze, and was extremely irresponsible, and withdrawn from Helga’s life. Not only does Helga get no attention from her parents, but she has an older sister in her 20s, Olga, who is just as intelligent and creative as her, and who gets all her parents’ attention. Also, she doesn’t have a unibrow. It was shown in a flashback, that her parents were too occupied listening to Olga play the piano, that they forgot to walk Helga to preschool, leaving Helga to walk herself. So Helga’s homelife sucks. And so she has to put on a tough front, making her kind of a bully, and an unpleasant person to be around.

And she has a huge, obsessive crush on the title character, Arnold. But Helga is afraid to show love to Arnold, because the people who are supposed to give her involuntary love in her life don’t love her. Therefore, she’s mean to him. She bullies him. And she can’t control it. And it makes for a great case, but here’s the thing:

This is television. This isn’t real life. People don’t do this in real life. And Hey Arnold’s! approach to love, might have influenced my generation, and the writers that followed.

I used to like Freud back in high school. And people knew it. But then in college, on my first day of my Modern Theatre class which focused on theatre past 1860 (it was an English class, and it was before I officially declared my major. It was my first day of college too), my professor talked about how Freud went to the theatre. A lot. And this was before theatre started using realism. It was still melodramatic. And Freud took a lot of his theory from theatre. Now, I love theatre. I’m a theatre studies major. And certain shows (specifically ones written past 1860) you can take a lot of important lessons from that will help you in the long run. Other shows can actually give you some bad ideas.

So Freud saw these shows, where people were behaving like caricatures, with a woman always in distress and hysteric. He also saw some old Greek plays, like Oedipus Rex, a play when a young man, Oedipus is fated to kill his father and sleep with his mother. Guess what happens? And guess which Freudian theory it influenced? Gross, right?

So Freud was kind of misogynist, who believed that women were hysteric, and who based his theory off of some really old plays.

So some of Freud’s stuff is true, but some of it isn’t.

Reaction formation isn’t true. If it was, you’d be dating the girl who gives you swirlies. When a girl is mean to you, it doesn’t mean she secretly likes you. It means that she just doesn’t like you. And that’s true for guys, too.

So, and this is one of the ways shipping can actually ruin someone’s romantic life, if you like a guy or a girl, don’t give them wet willies, because they will assume you hate them, and think you’re weird if you tell them you like them, and don’t assume that the girl who’s giving you wet willies likes you, because she doesn’t. FYI, I fortunately never applied this to my life, but I can imagine what would happen if someone did.

Unfortunately some novice fan fic writers, and even professional writers still use this.

In Icarly (and I was pissed that they caved into this common cliché) Sam was mean to Freddie. Guess what happened later in the series? I was like “Aw, crap!” and my little sister was like “They hate each other, so they belong together” and my mom then sided with me and corrected her, and my sister got pissed, it was hilarious.

We like seeing characters argue with each other. And when they hook up, it kind of ruins it, and destroys a part of a show.

Now let’s take some fan shippings. Marvelous and Ahim shippers will usually ship Luka and Don together. These fans can be younger, so they are more influenced by some of the fictional stuff they see on tv or in the movies.

Luka doesn’t like being touched, or shaken. And Don frequently touches her, and shakes her, because he’s afraid of a lot of thing that are going on in the world of the Gokaigers. Or, and no one would like it if someone did this, he’ll hide behind Luka, making her kind of a human shield for him. Don gets on Luka’s nerves, and Luka will hit him or punch him. You can make a drinking game on how many times Luka punches Don. I wouldn’t say she hates him, but she gets pissed at him. Don’s the only person who Luka hits and treats the harshest, and sometimes for no reason. And fans assume that when she hits him, she wants to kiss him. Which is not true. There isn’t really anything other than friendship and Luka’s wrath between Luka and Don. In real life, this relationship wouldn’t work either. Other than not having a lot in common, he gets on Luka’s nerves. That’s why she hits him. Because he pisses her off.

Now, I’m not going to ignore the fact that there have been several tension-ridden relationships in both Sentai and Kamen Rider. But these usually have reasoning behind this, a non-romantic, non-Freudian reasoning.

In Kamen Rider Kiva, Megumi works for the Wonderful Blue Sky Organization, an organization that seeks to kill Fangires. An organization that her mother worked for, before dying. Megumi has been working her ass off so that she can have the honor of using the Ixa system, and to become Kamen Rider Ixa. She’s strong enough. However, her boss, Shima, gives the Ixa System to the over-righteous Nago, because he’s stronger than her (code for, this series is targeted towards boys, so the second Kamen Rider should be a boy). Can you imagine what would happen if it happened to you? You’d be pissed at Nago alright! But at the end of the series, Megumi gets over it (she even gets to use the Ixa system a few times), realizes that she does have feelings for Nago and vice versa, and they get married.

Another example is the slash fan pairing of Kakeru and Gaku in Gaoranger. This has quite a few shippers, and the show is a goldmine for evidence. I’m not sure if the writers intended this or not. So Gaku has been fighting the Orgs as Gaoyellow for a year by himself, sacrificing his career in the military and going AWOL, in order to do so. Then Sae, Kai, and Sotaro join, and Gaku, having the most experience in both fighting orgs, and as a soldier, is kind of their leader. Imagine what happens when a new guy comes, who has had no experience, but has something that you don’t have: he can communicate with animals. And now, he’s the leader, after all the hard work you did, and after what you sacrificed, considering you could be court martialed for going AWOL. You’d be kind of pissed at this guy, wouldn’t you? That’s what exactly happened to Gaku. But then they gradually warmed up to each other, Kakeru usually trusting Gaku, and Gaku retaining some leadership as second-in-command. And they become friends. But then the series progresses, and you can see that there is something that is evolving beyond friendship, whether intentional or not.

This goes to show that not all hate-based shippings are wrong, as long as they don’t simply hate the person or are annoyed by them, but if they have a reason consciously to hate them, and if they have chemistry.

They are standing next to each other, they belong together!

Look at this picture. This is what fans will actually do. Fans will grasp at straws sometimes. Sometimes, this is towards an ambiguous gesture, such as touching someone’s head, or a glance, or sometimes, it’s as banal as sitting next to each other.

Shippings such as Takeru and Momoko from Maskman are built on this. Shippings where nothing really happened.

We all will get a little desperate, however, building a shipping on trifles is ridiculous.

The double standard

This goes along with ambiguous gestures. It’s friendship if a character does it to another character, but its romance if the same character, or type of character does it to a different character.

I’ll use an example from Shinkenger. It’s the ambiguous forehead touch. So, in the “Lord Butler” episode, the episode where some of us believe that Kotoha realizes she has feelings for Takeru that are more than just loyalty and admiration.

So, Takeru’s pretending to be Kotoha’s butler, and she’s uncomfortable with it, because she feels that she needs to be the one serving him. These feelings come to surface, when Takeru is dining with Genta’s rich friend, who has become smitten with her.  Kotoha gets uncomfortable with Takeru serving her, and she leaves the room. Takeru catches up to her, and she tells him what’s wrong, and he tells her that just because she’s a vassal doesn’t mean she doesn’t have to question him once in a while. Kotoha says one of her “catchphrases” “Tono-sama is tono-sama,” and Takeru touches her forehead, and smiles.

So a few years later, we have episode 41 of Gokaiger, the episode which is like the bible for MarvexAhim shippers. So, Ahim is about to leave the ship, and possibly die fighting the man who destroyed her planet. So Marvelous, and the rest of the crew confront her, and say that they’re joining her too, and give her one of many pep talks that are in this episode alone. Marvelous touches Ahim’s forehead.

So, when Takeru touched Kotoha’s forehead, it was dismissed as he was being her “big brother,” by several fans. When Marvelous did the same thing to Ahim, it was considered romantic. So it’s a brother and sister relationship when a red does it to a yellow, but it’s a romantic relationship when a red does it to a pink. This double standard is extremely unfair.

Not only that, but a lot of fans say how awesome Luka is. But then they say that Ahim, not Luka, deserves Marvelous. So it’s okay to be tomboyish and kick butt, but you still aren’t good enough for the hero.

Assume that the ship that has the most fans, the most art, the most fanfics is the OTP (one true pairing) and canon.

I’m going to quote your parents. If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do that? Come on, don’t be a lemming.

And don’t assume that a shipping is a fan-preferred shipping. And don’t assume that the fan-preferred shipping is the canon ship. Some fans don’t express themselves on the internet as much as other fans, or feel that they don’t need to. Some fans, however, are overbearing, and produce several videos, fanfics, and fanart. And sometimes people who are new to the media will assume that this is the dominant ship. And some of these videos focus on trifles from a few episodes.

Don’t let other people who interpret actions their own way decide the ship for you. Watch for yourself.

And a lot of the works you see are usually made by one person, two people, or a very small group of like-minded individuals.

I’m going to use an example regarding a group of shippers on To the writers from this group who I am cordial with, please don’t get upset with me.

Starting around December/January, there was a sudden burst of MarvexAhim and DonxLuka fics on You’d think they’d be by a bunch of fans, but they were by two writers. These writers say they are in their teens, but from what I can tell from their writing, grammar, and interactions, they are probably in their tweens. They also use a lot of gratuitous Japanese, which isn’t spelled or used right, which has been corrected by writers who are fluent in Japanese. Within the past few months, this clique has grown to a bunch of writers who are probably within the same age range. They have changed their usernames to reflect that they are members of this ring of writers. And they refer to themselves as a family, and as “oneechans.” Even though some of them don’t know each other in real life.

They will usually say how great a fic is, and give it positive comments, even if it is an extremely horrible fic, if it has their favorite shipping.

And if someone gives a negative review, or a constructive review to a member of their “family,” they can go on the offensive.

This clique has also built up their egos. By getting constant positive reviews, and ignoring negative ones, as people attacking them, they don’t grow as writers.

The fics also reduce the characters to Marvelous’s girlfriend, or Ahim’s boyfriend, and nothing more.

Some members of the “family” I have encountered have been extremely nice. Others have been rude, to some other writers. These writers are older, and more mature, and they have pretty much become annoyed with the “family” being rude to writers who don’t write the ships that the approve of.

So there’s a war a-brewing.

So this “family” is comprised of tweens, who probably hadn’t have real world experience with romance, and who watch Sentai with blinders.

Do you want to take their word for it?

IRL Ship

Even if an actor is playing the love interest of a character, that doesn’t mean that they are going out in real life, or that they should be going out.

Some actors will hook up if they have been in a play, movie, or television show together, in which they play love interests.

For example, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie hooked up after playing husband and wife in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And they finally got engaged.

However, if an actor and actress do hook up, a lot of their feelings can be artificial. If they dive too much into a character, or are constantly together because of their filming schedule, they might develop artificial feelings for each other. Take Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. Both were in that deplorable High School Musical movie that effectively destroyed both the institutions of theatre, and the high school experience. And they were constantly together during filming, as they were the two romantic leads. And they hooked up. And they finally broke up last year.

So if an actor and actress are dating because they played a couple, it’s highly likely that the relationship will fizzle.

It’s one thing to ship actors IRL if they are playing a couple. It’s another thing, however, if they aren’t playing a couple, but are shipped by fans in real life. So you have these fans who are essentially demanding you get together.

You have no right to say that two real-life people deserve to be with each other. It’s their choice.

An example would be two facebook accounts that someone set up for both Ryota Ozawa and Yui Koike. This person was obviously (I’m guessing, but it’s likely that it’s true) a MarvexAhim shipper. The person who set up these accounts then made them “engaged.” Not only is that libel, but it’s a horrible thing to do. You can’t choose a real-life person’s destiny. They aren’t characters.

So a few of the MarvexAhim shippers want them to get together in real life, and I think a few believe they are a real couple.

Believe it or not, though, one of the more prominent TakeruxMako shippers has said that she doesn’t ship them in real life. It’s nice to hear that.

Apply these mistakes to real life.

Please don’t date someone because they are your opposite, or assume that someone likes you because they are mean to you, or that if someone is sitting next to you, or offers you a stick of gum, that they are in love with him.

Because that’s extremely delusional. You don’t live in a TV series. You live in the real world.