Stop Sexualizing Friendships Between Fictional Characters

Stop Sexualizing Friendships Between Fictional Characters

Sherlock and John from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.

Kirk and Spock from Star Trek.

Dean and Castiel from Supernatural.

Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes from the Marvel comics and movies.

Crowley and Aziraphale from Neil Gaiman’s book and new Amazon Prime show Good Omens.

What ties these pairs of characters together? They’re all characters from popular media who have close relationships with each other and are often found or thought of together within their stories.

They’re also some of the most popular characters in slash fiction, a highly erotic branch of fanfiction that focuses specifically on homosexual relationships between male characters.

They’re not the only ones. Many pairs of characters, in all genres ranging from anime to Shakespeare, have been featured heavily in fans’ imaginations to have more than just a close relationship.

These fans scour the source material for clues or references that they can use to build an argument for their fantasy, and then tell everyone that it’s “obvious” that they are in love with each other.

This soon spreads to any two characters with any relationship, so much so that people will even pair characters who are antagonistic towards each other, like Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, claiming their enmity is secret love.

Social media sites like Tumblr and Pinterest are full of text posts and minifics about these characters, and the characters have become icons for the LGBTQ+ movement.

Even the actors and writers have been having trouble changing people’s minds. Most just good-naturedly agree with the romantic accusations towards their characters to make the fans happy, regardless of whether or not that was their actual intent. But some actors try and clarify, but then dig a deeper hole for themselves trying to explain what that relationship is outside the defining characteristics of sexual tension:

s://winchester-cas.tumblr.com/post/156972190595/benedict-and-i-do-have-this-chemistry-on-set-you

And now even big-name creators like J. K. Rowling has been trying to cater to fans’ demands by amending her own canon material to include what she thinks they want.

Now this article is not meant to stomp on anyone’s dreams or put down anyone’s viewpoints, but I am going to say it now: this needs to stop.

This trend needs to be put to an end, because it’s killing something that used to be one of the most common and precious things in the world: friendship.

No two characters in a story, regardless of gender or any other qualification, are able to have a good solid friendship anymore without people adding a sexual spin. Characters cannot admire each other, share intimate life events, or grieve each others’ deaths anymore without someone taking it as a sign that there is sexual tension somewhere.

People forget that romantic love isn’t the only kind of love in existence — that there are other kinds of bonds between people that would lead them to sacrifice themselves for each other.

https://girlsf0rgirls.tumblr.com/post/145763349480/stucky-is-one-of-those-ships-where-i-forget-it

And this really bugs me. Maybe because I grew up believing that friendship was common and love was special, or maybe because not too long ago, they were just that.

I think the main source of confusion is the oversexualization of society in general. The word “love” used to apply to many different kinds of relationships, from family to friends to lovers, and the word was understood in the context of that specific relationship.

In fact, ancient Greek had at least seven different words for different types of love, which have all been boiled down to one word in modern day English.

Now, the word love is taken to mean sexual, erotic love in almost every case— even to the point where friends, who used to be able to tell each other “I love you” and mean it completely platonically, cannot even hint at it anymore without the meaning being twisted into something that was not intended.

https://kairenn-n.tumblr.com/post/186102766158/so-crowley-just-enters-a-burning-bookshop-looking

This is especially damaging to men — women who are friends can still sometimes get away with telling each other, “Love you, girl!”, but for a man to say that to any friend — male or female — would be taken the wrong way almost immediately.

But it also damages actual sexual/romantic relationships as well. It turns sexual attraction into something commonplace and over-hyped, which makes it lose the meaningful, desirable quality it used to have.

Most, if not all, of these characters, were written to be close friends. There is nothing canon in the source material to confirm anything more. Most of the “proof” people use comes from moments in the canon when a character speaks fondly of another or praises them in some way, or when any character sacrifices themself for another.

https://thetimetostrikeislater.tumblr.com/post/184171834899/someone-what-should-i-know-if-im-gonna-start

But (and most of this is specifically directed at the Sherlock fandom, which I am a part of and this side of the fandom drives me crazy) the way books were written a long time ago is very different from today because of the social constructs of their time.

https://love-in-mind-palace.tumblr.com/post/158109502706/i-love-how-in-acd-canon-watson-is-like-my

Keep in mind that in these time periods, female characters were much harder to come by and there were very few important female characters, especially in books written by men. Heck, The Hobbit doesn’t have a single female character in the whole book besides Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.

John spending more time with Sherlock than his wife both makes sense for the writing style and the time period, both in and out of universe. It makes sense for male main characters to spend a lot of time together having adventures in those types of stories, without the need to add in a sexual element.

The problem is, once people have decided that there is one, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: they will find proof in everything even when there isn’t any, like this post:

ttps://mishezza.tumblr.com/post/158429513966/taking-a-totally-platonic-walk-with-my-absolutely

They’re freaking taking a walk, people. Watson is literally saying, He wasn’t doing so well emotionally because of his crazy habits, so I took him under my wing and helped him do something normal for a change. But nooo, the word ‘intimate’ must mean there’s sex involved.

Fans turning normal relationships into sexual ones has become so popular that there are memes about it:

https://serafemmes.tumblr.com/post/186254214610/reading-with-my-one-remaining-brain-cell

And the kicker? All the posts I’ve put in this article so far were from a simple search using the fandom or the character’s names. I didn’t have to type in a single ship name to find them because at least 7 in 10 posts, if not more, will display the same point — it’s that pervasive. And there are some people who have noticed the damage it’s causing, and have posted about this on Tumblr with the same points I’ve been making — these people are just fewer and further between.

https://istariadragon.tumblr.com/post/118237730313/say-it-with-me-love-isnt-always-romantic-the

Interestingly, the only friendship I’ve found so far that has actually managed to stay a friendship for the most part is Claudia Donovan and Steve Jinks in the show Warehouse 13. And that’s only possible because Steve is gay. Interestingly enough, fans tend to twist the sexuality of straight characters to fit their own interpretations, but almost never do it to canon LGBT+ ones.

https://garr9988.tumblr.com/post/180908169142/dont-get-me-wrong-i-love-romantic-ships-and

Otherwise, like this Tumblr user says, watching the show, every cue that these sex-driven fans look for is present in their relationship, right down to Claudia’s grief when Steve is killed and her single-minded determination to bring him back from the dead. Sound familiar? These two characters are proof that a non-sexualized friendship can happen — it just needs to happen a lot more.

https://toedameron.tumblr.com/post/90895297859

And before I get any nasty comments on this (please don’t post anything nasty, I’m really sensitive), look. I get that queerbaiting is a thing, and I understand why it happens. And I don’t actually know if the creators of some of these characters meant to depict them in a way that hints at romance or not. But I do think that there’s a point when it’s gone too far, and that time in my opinion is now.

It’s affecting more than just fandoms. It’s bleeding over into our everyday lives, pushing people away from each other because normal, friendly, human contact is becoming taboo. (I apologize for the language in this next post)

Let’s stop letting it happen.

I want to bring back friendships. Friendships so close that both parties care for each other as if they were family. Love doesn’t have to be sexual. Love, at its deepest, purest form, means putting someone else above yourself. Honestly, I wish everyone loved each other like that.

“My friend’s wiry arms were around me and he was leading me to the chair.
“You’re not hurt, Watson? For God’s sake say that you’re not hurt!”
It was worth a wound -it was worth many wounds- to know the depth of loyalty and love which lay beyond that cold mask. The clear, hard eyes were dimmed for a moment, and the firm lips were shaking. For the one and only time I caught a glimpse of a great heart as well as of a great brain.”
― Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Three Garridebs

I don’t see sexual attraction in that. I just see two men whose friendship knows no bounds. I see the kind of friend I would love to have, and the kind of friend I strive to be.

As should all of us.

Thanks for reading! If you want to keep updated on my latest posts, subscribe to my email list! Also, this article is on Medium, which I have started writing for recently, so feel free to check that out, too!

A First-Time Experience Attending ACE Comic-Con Seattle

I had the fantastic opportunity this past weekend to visit ACE Comic-Con in Seattle, and since I was approved for a press pass (amazing, right?) I got to bring in a camera with me! You know what that means – bring on the pictures!

I confess that I am not a photographer, and borrowed the camera from a friend. So don’t expect anything artsy. But you know what they say, no pics = it didn’t happen.

A lot of this trip was a first for me – first time on a Greyhound, first time in a hostel, first time in Seattle – and first time at an actual comic-con! I was excited about the list of celebrity guests for this particular con as well – Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Don Cheadle, Lee Pace, Zoe Saldana, Josh Brolin, and Taron Egerton. I know those aren’t all the guests who arrived, but they were the ones I was familiar with beforehand and whose panels I attended.

This trip was completely unexpected and yet a complete blessing and joy. I thank God that He gave me the opportunity to be there and that the trip went as smoothly as it did!

Attending

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting for my first time at a comic-con, but I just want to shout out ACE for exceeding everything I had been imagining. It was incredible! I traveled to the con alone, because I found out I could go at the very last minute (literally the day before). However, I made some wonderful friends at the hostel I stayed at, and ended up attending the con with them.

The view from the window of my hostel room

These friends both had photo ops and autographs with a couple of the celebrities, namely Chris Evans and Lee Pace, so even though I was unable to purchase any ops myself I stood in line with them as emotional support. This led to the lucky chance that I was able to go into Chris Evans’ autograph booth and I got to see him in person!

There have been a few trolls online complaining about the lines and the security, to which I say: please, just don’t. Security was thorough, but quick. The lines were orderly and well managed, and even though they got a little behind on the first day and some people didn’t get their autographs for Chris, they worked very hard to make up for it and got them all in on the second day. Even when I left my phone in the bin at the security checkpoint and had to go back for it, the staff were extraordinarily helpful and pleasant.

The line for one of the photo op sessions

So again, I want to affirm to everyone that ACE is amazing – 10/10 would recommend, and I would go back. Problems are unavoidable, but it’s the way they’re handled that shows whether they do a good job or not. And they do. You go, ACE!

Panels

In between standing in line for ops and enjoying the vendors, I was able to attend three panels – Avengers Assemble, featuring Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, and Don Cheadle, The Galaxy is Calling, featuring Josh Brolin, Zoe Saldana, and Lee Pace, and Taron Egerton’s panel. All were extremely fascinating, and the live streams can be found here if you want to see them for yourself.

A couple highlights from each panel:

Avengers Assemble

Chris Evans accidentally swore during the panel, and, though I personally don’t like swearing, it was incredibly amusing to hear the entire audience immediately react, almost with one breath: “Language!” The poor guy was mortified because there were children in the audience, and Jeremy and Don jokingly got up and left the stage, only to come back around the other side, surprising the moderator.

One of the first fans in line to ask a question had a support dog with her dressed as Iron Man, and as soon as Chris saw it, he jumped off the stage and beelined for it. Since I was pretty far back, I was unable to get any good pictures of this, but here’s proof it happened.

Jeremy had this moment where Chris whispered something in his ear and he cracked up and couldn’t stop laughing for like a full minute. I have no idea what it was but just watching him doubled over in silent laughter with Don rubbing his back was so much fun to watch.

And my favorite moment in this panel was when one of the fans asked Don Cheadle to do the “baby Thanos” (the hand motion that his character Rhodey does in Endgame when they’re talking about ways to stop Thanos from getting the Infinity Stones:

The Galaxy is Calling

This panel was just as much fun – it included Lee Pace not knowing that Endgame had been re-released with more footage and Zoe Saldana talking about being in the top two highest-grossing movies of all time (and saying she can’t pick which one she wants to win in that current battle). All three of them talked a little about what it’s like to act wearing tons of prosthetics and makeup.

I have decided that Josh Brolin is a teddy bear – no, literally – he has these smile wrinkles that reminds me of the kind of guy who flips burgers and makes horrible dad jokes. Seeing him on stage (and not having really seen much of his other roles), it’s a credit to his acting that I found it hard to believe that he’s played such intense villains.

He was asked, “If Cable was a rapper, and if he had a rap battle with Deadpool, what would his rapper name be?” And somebody in the audience shouted, “Cable One!” (which I personally like), and he said he’d like to be C-Steely, and that he would definitely win. And he caused an uproar by pretending to snap on stage.

Lee Pace got asked a fascinating question involving a show he did, called Pushing Daisies, which I hadn’t heard of so I had to look it up and watch it when I got home. The premise of that show is that he played a character called Ned, who has the power to raise people from the dead by touching them. However, if he touches them again, they die instantly, and if he doesn’t touch them again within a minute, someone else dies in their place. Makes for a really interesting story – I recommend the show, it’s pretty funny – but the question that he was asked was also interesting.

Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies

The question the fan asked was, If you were Ned in Infinity War, and you watched Loki die, is he really dead, and if he was would you touch him and bring him back to life? And he said that if the person who would die instead was Thanos, then yes, he definitely would, but he didn’t want to presume too much about the situation. It was a fun concept, though, and really set my imagination on fire for a bit, though.

And Zoe Saldana gave an amazing answer to a question about actors and other artists who are just starting out – know the history of your craft and learn to be passionate about what you do. And her encouragement in that moment really connected with me and I think that’s one of the best answers I’ve ever heard to that question.

Taron Egerton

To be honest, the only one of Taron Egerton’s movies I’ve seen was Robin Hood last fall, which was really good. And I decided to attend the panel, and I’m glad I did, even though I did feel called out a little when he said he’d be surprised if anyone there that night hadn’t seen Rocketman yet (*sheepishly raising my hand*).

But it was really fascinating when he was talking about filming that movie, including details of a scene where he is singing underwater, and the diving and unique experiences involved in getting that scene made. I always love hearing background information on how movies were made, especially straight from the actors or directors themselves.

But the number one thing that impressed me most about Taron was his incredible memory. All the fans who came up to ask him questions, he remembered – their names, what they’d asked for in their photo ops, even that one girl ran a fan page for him (which she seemed mortified that he knew about). The only other celebrity I know of who does that is everybody’s favorite Tom Hiddleston, and the amount of attention and respect that kind of memory implies is amazing!

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That synopsis wasn’t nearly all that happened during these panels, just some things that made an impact on me. I was so incredibly blessed to have been there and gotten to experience these panels live!

Vendors

So when my friends and I were walking around between panels, there were a lot of things to look at. One friend and I got caricatures of ourselves (as Avengers Loki and Ragnarok Loki) at a caricature booth, and both my friends and I tried out a VR game which was completely awesome – I see VR getting big in the future, ladies and gentlemen!

My friend Momo trying out VR for the first time

And there was even a booth where some people had recreated Baby, Dean’s Impala from Supernatural, in all detail from the show, down to the carved initials, the toy soldier stuck in the door handle, and the concealed weapons in the trunk.

There were so many great artists selling their art. I wanted to buy the entire con and decorate my house with their art because it was all so good. There were two vendors in particular that I want to give a shout-out to:

Tony Santiago

His art is incredibly lifelike. I came back to his booth probably six or seven times just to look at the art, and every time, I saw a character or several I hadn’t seen on my previous trip around. If I’d had the money, I would have bought several of his prints to hang on the wall because they’re so realistic they look like photos. He is really able to capture the essence of a person’s face and posture in a way I only wish I could – definitely check out his site if this is something you are interested in!

Hannah McGill

The other vendor I want to promote is Hannah McGill, an independent author and illustrator in the middle of her first graphic novel, Warlock’d. It’s not finished yet, but the plot she described sounded amazing! Additionally, she’s done all the art for her book herself! I especially loved all the images of birds she had scattered through her collection of art. I love small, independent artists and I want to give her kudos for making it to ACE to promote her book! Check out her website here!

Finishing Up

I know this has been a really long post, so for the last element that I loved about ACE Seattle, I’m going to publish as a new post in its own right. It will feature pics of only some of the awesome cosplayers who allowed me to photograph them while I was there.

Thanks for reading! I had a great time, I definitely recommend ACE, and I plan to attend and cover more cons in the future!

My Top 10 Fandom Christmas Posts 2018

My Top 10 Fandom Christmas Posts 2018

My Top 10 Fandom Christmas Posts 2018

Merry Christmas, everyone! For this post I decided to pick my top 10 favorite Christmas posts off Pinterest and Tumblr to share with you guys. Most are fandom-related, some aren’t. I’ll try to be fair – one post per fandom. I won’t let Doctor Who hog all the glory, even though it has so many of the best Christmas memes. Let me know in the comments what you think of my picks, and if you have any other memes you’d like to share!

Let’s get started!

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This meme is from the Christmas episode Voyage of the Damned, and my brain was doing the same thing as the Doctor’s face while hearing Mr. Copper’s wildly extravagant rendition of our Christmas escapades.

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Most of the time, I don’t get the fascination with text posts involving the young versions of characters, but this one is so stinking cute I had to make an exception. And the fact that it doesn’t involve Johnlock (which I do not ship and which there are a bajillion posts about) is a definite plus.

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Woo! Way to go, Loki! Just the idea of Loki in a Santa hat is hilarious, though. I want one of those cardboard cutouts….

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I’m a fairly new SPN fan and I haven’t made it all the way through the show yet, but I’ve seen enough that I understand this one just fine. You get that grandma-killer, Sam and Dean!

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That’s a lot of cookies, for sure. My family used to do something like this every year, though I was little so I don’t know for sure if we really had that many cookies.

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Whoa. Cool it, Peeta. What’s Katniss supposed to say to that?

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I’ve always wondered about that myself….

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Ruuuude! That’s just rude. Dumbledore, you leave my baby Severus alone! I will admit, it is kinda funny though.

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Not many Jingle Bells parodies are this well done. I have seen this one a lot and it has made me laugh every single time.

What did you think of my list? Please comment and let me know! Christmas posts are fun – I wish I could have picked more than 10 for this post. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful week!