We all know that 'shipping' couples that we totally relate to is a huge part of Vampire Diaries fan culture, but has this obsession gone too far in some corners of the community.
I have been following the recent 'Ask the Fans' feature with Julie Plec by Yahoo, and I was quite shocked by the things ordinary fans has to say about their experiences online.
An overwhelming amount of the responses praised the Vampire Diaries fandom for being a reasonable and understanding group when it came to shouting from the rooftops for their favorite couples, but some had much darker experiences.
For example, a fan who wanted to be identified as 'Tracy Lynn' said that she was shocked to see death threats and urges for members of forums with opposing view to kill themselves. She told Yahoo that:
It's not things like 'you suck.' It's 'Kill yourself' and death threats, and it shocks me. I love the show as much as anyone else, but these things are being said because of fictional characters to REAL PEOPLE and it's ridiculous in my eyes. BUT, that being said... most of the people that I've met that are shippers are really happy... stubborn, but sweet
Other fans casually refer to conversations about their favorite couples as "shipping wars", and Julie Plec herself also appears to have pretty strong views on the subject of shipping.
[The Vampire Diaries](series:200853) big boss explained to Yahoo that she understands how she can become a figure of hate when she doesn't write a relationship in the way that some hardline fans would like to see it, but that she worries about the actors and fans getting caught in the same whirlwind of emotion. She explained:
Obviously there's kind of a hate directed towards me, which goes with the job, and that's just something I have to deal with... Yeah, I've gotten some [death threats]. That happens in fits of emotional rage that I attribute to people who are young, and angry, and upset about a break-up on the show. People who I actually am concerned about their behavior and if they saw me on the street what they might do — that's one in a million. I actually reported one person, or tried to — I couldn't figure out how to report, but I made Twitter report them. The language was so hostile, and so disgusting, and very vivid. It was like getting a letter from a serial killer. Like, "You're going to die tonight."
There's a lot of nasty stuff directed towards the actors which, you know, hopefully they've built tough enough skins that they get past it for the first couple of seasons. But when you watch people attack each other not knowing if they're 13 or 15 or 40, you understand, If this hurts me this badly, and this is my job to deal with it, it's got to be hurting these kids or grown-ups, whatever they are. Malicious bullying is essentially what it is.
Although I write about [The Vampire Diaries](series:200853) on a daily basis, I was quite shocked to hear about these experiences.
Sure, I receive a lot of comments from people who don't agree with what I'm saying, and a lot of passionate shippers supporting their favorite couples on articles that have nothing to do with the topic, but I have never felt threatened.
But why is The Vampire Diaries community becoming such a place of pent up emotion in some corners of the internet? A fan named Gee from Australia suggested that maybe some people where a little bit too invested in the relationships they see on screen. She suggested that:
People generally 'ship' because they see the relationship before them and subconsciously project their own desire for such a romance onto the dynamic building and manifesting before them. Hence, people perhaps take all things concerning their ship startlingly personally; the mentality is almost, 'you insult my ship, you're insulting me (and what I stand for).' And when people begin to blur the lines between fiction and reality too much, and the 'fervour' becomes aggressive and irrational - that's when it does ruin the fandom experience
Largely I agree with what Gee is saying, but I often think the problem is the way different ships are pitted against each other leads to certain segments of the fandom feeling left out of the loop. Or, as a fan named Stephanie Perez eloquently put it:
When everything is #DELENARAINKISS (even on completely unrelated social media posts from actors or writers) or when shippers attack writers or Julie because they don't like that their favorite couple is fighting, it does make it hard to interact on any meaningful level. If you ever wanted to have a real conversation about a relationship on the show it usually devolves pretty quickly into shipper wars
Personally, I think shipping can be fun, interesting and even a bit tongue-in-cheek, but just like Julie Plec said, I believe:
Fandom is a better experience when I get involved in theorizing, analyzing events, and discussing character motivation [rather] than shipping
Have you ever felt victimised or threatened by a certain group as a result of shipping? Tell us about it below!
How do you view shipping in The Vampire Diaries community?