Sunday, January 18, 2015

On "Shipping"

I have limited experience with the "shipping" community. I have to think that interest in non-heteronormative relationships will eventually result in better representation.

Unfortunately, there does seem to be a degree of exoticization of the non-heteronormative other on the part of certain audiences. It is perhaps not quite objectification -- it is understandable that such audiences would value those things on the level of mere aesthetics. Problems arise when the authorial process bends under audience expectations in order to perpetuate heteronormative essentializations of non-heteronormative character and behaviour.

This is why I appreciate fictions that undermine audience expectations with regards to relationships. I was perversely thrilled at how many people could not see Korasami as "a thing" because both characters had previously dated men. It was a teachable moment: a time to open their eyes to bisexuality and/or the fluidity of orientation. Sadly, I feel as though it will be some time before male homosexuality receives the same treatment, largely because the hetero-males who run culture feel much more threatened by gay men than by bi-women or lesbian characters whom they somehow still manage to objectify.


  1. There was a fleeting moment between Bolin and one of the Bei Fong twins. When the Bei Fongs were captured and held in that hanging jailcell, one of the twins was caught by Bolin. The twin lingered in Bolin's arms for more than a moment and gave a loving tap to Bolin's cheek. Bolin gave his usual clue-less confused look, but the twin didn't get down. There may have been more to that second than was on the surface. Re-watch it and tell me what you think...

    1. (I already replied to this, but something went wonky. Apologies if redundant replies show up.)

      Fun fact: While googling for a clip of the scene to which you called my attention, I had to try a few different queries before I found one that returned more than just pages upon pages of slash-fic. On a related note: I have to wonder why the fan community has seen fit to generate such a substantial body of works on Bolin and Wei and/or Wing, whereas I could not find nearly as many texts featuring Bolin and Varrick. In fairness: I did not look very hard, but it does seem as though the Internets are more interested in sexy twins than mustachioed entrepreneurs.

      I did not think twice upon first seeing the moment you mentioned, which is not to say that a gay interpretation is not intended/possible. As to whether or not such a connection would be "desirable" in the sense of "contributing something of significance to the narrative," I truly cannot say.