Rainbow Fandoms Ship Passion – And Win
Posted by VersusTheFans
I have a theory; a highly unscientific, observational and unabashedly biased theory. It has to do with why fandoms of TV lesbian couples have a tendency to dominate in the world of online shipping. (I guess the same goes for gay couples, but sorry, not really my focus here.) I have an example for you…
So, E! is having their annual shipping tournament across all TV couples. The initial round started with 64 of the most nominated TV couples. (These had to be well established canon couples at some point.) Couples are pitted against each other in pairs and then voted on by fans. The couple with the highest percentage of votes in each bracket advances to the next round. The tournament is currently on the 3rd round, which closes this Sunday, and is down to only 16 couples.
First cool part of this; there were 3 lesbian couples included in the tournament (and at least 3 gay couples too.) The second really cool thing? All 3 of those lesbian couples have made it into the final 16. 6 out of the 8 brackets in the 3rd round have lesbian or gay couples included, and the 3 lesbian couples are currently ahead in their brackets. There is still quite a bit of time left, but it’s pretty amazing that 3 lesbian couples could beat out all those straight couples to get this far.
Here are the current stats for the three lesbian couples as of today:
Now, according to the widely publicized, but admittedly flawed survey, “they” estimate about 10% of the population identifies as some shade of gay. All obvious flaws considered, the assumption that there is a larger population of “straight” people still seems accurate. And yet, here we are with this poll, these lesbian couples (and their diverse fandoms) beating out all things heterosexual. Statistically, that shouldn’t make sense or happen, but it does. Repeatedly.
Here is my theory. Straight people take the world for granted because it’s easy to find great heterosexual representation on TV (and in real life too, for that matter), so fans of those couples aren’t as driven to vote so consistently or passionately. The entire spectrum of the LGBT community doesn’t have a world to take for granted; it’s a fight every step of the way, just for the right to live openly, let alone find some decent representation on TV.
Fans voting for their lesbian ships in a seemingly unimportant TV shipping tournament carry more meaning away from winning than straight shippers. It’s a way for queer women to gain much needed visibility and understanding from the general population. That’s important, and a much deeper need that drives their success in these shipping wars. And so here we are with E!’s poll, from the top 64 TV couples, to the top 16, with all 3 lesbian couples still in the running.
To sum up, the “rainbow fandom” passion trumps large numbers of other people. My theory as to why: Fans of lesbian (and all LGBT) characters can’t and don’t take their representation on TV for granted. There will always be more straight couples, but this isn’t yet the case for the LGBT characters. Winning shipping tournaments for fans of the lesbian couples is a way to gain better visibility and continue pushing for equal representation on TV.
Winning says in a big way, “Hey, we’re here, and there are enough of us to win this little tournament, and therefore we are worthy of having more queer characters written into your TV shows.” And that is a reason to fight (or vote) with an unbridled passion that won’t be beat.
You can vote in E!’s poll here. But, only if you vote for Callie & Arizona (Grey’s Anatomy), Brittany & Santana (Glee) and Lauren & Bo (Lost Girl). (Just kidding about the required voting. Well not really, but, you know…)
*Disclaimer: By using terms, “lesbian”, “gay” and “straight” I do so with no intention of excluding those who identify in any way as queer or heterosexual and prefer to avoid those labels.*