YOUR SHIP WARS ARE DUMB
Okay, so here’s the thing, internet: ship wars are gross.
For those of you not in the know (lucky you!), ship wars are when people online get really goddamn defensive about their ships (relationships, a pairing from some kind of media they love) and say super gross things to each other, about the characters, about the actors, and generally act like they’ve never been taught how to be decent human beings. Which, if you’re online saying crude things about an actor’s body just because you don’t like the relationship the character they play might end up in, I guess you’re not.
I like fiction. I’m a reader and I’m a TV watcher. I love movies and comics and video games. I like fiction. I get super invested and yeah, I have my ships, too. The one that’s spawned this rant is Beth Greene/Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead. THAT SHIT IS ADORABLE, OKAY, DON’T TELL ME OTHERWISE. Or, actually, it’s okay if you do, because I’m not going to get into a ship war over it. I AM super invested in the idea of them getting together this season and I’m looking forward to it every week. I can’t lie and say I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen, but the difference between disappointment and getting involved in a ship war is pretty vast.
Disappointment: Aw, that sucks. I really liked the idea of them together, but the writers had a different idea. Stupid writers. At least the internet will supply me with a huge amount of shippy gifsets and pictures that will keep me happy for the rest of my life. (At which point I’ll go back to trolling through tumblr tags and crying like an idiot over how adorable they are. Or I’ll try anyway, because the tumblr tags are actually usually filled with the gross stuff I’m talking about.)
Ship war: BETHYL IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO. FUCK CAROL. FUCK MELISSA MCBRIDE. FUCK CARYL SHIPPERS, YOU GUYS ARE STUPID IDIOTS AND CAROL IS OLD AND SHE’S TERRIBLE AND AND AND AND I don’t know, I honestly don’t have it in me to even try to think of half of the awful things I’ve read online.
See how one is pretty restrained and the other is just… eesh?
Ship wars are gross for a lot of reasons, but in this case, here’s why: they ignore the female characters. In ship wars, Carol and Beth both become pawns in a relationship they have with Daryl. They become less than Daryl. They become secondary to Daryl, they become the women who only exist to tell his story, to further his angst, they are not there to be characters in their own right and that is what makes me so furious. I love the idea of Beth and Daryl getting together (I won’t refer to it as Bethyl, I just… ship names creep me out, too. Why are we combining their names? No one combines my name with my husband’s and if they did, they’d get kicked. Are they not still individuals outside of their imagined, fictional relationship? Okay, sidetracked.) and I want it to happen, but the reason I want it to happen isn’t because I think Daryl is so awesome and Beth is just something for him to hang on his arm, it’s because I love Beth Greene as a character and I love their interactions. Which rely on her just as much as they do him. Daryl is not the only person in these scenes!
And I love Carol, too. Ignore who she is to Daryl for just a second. Ignore what she does for him. Think of how far this woman has come, think of her arc, think of her journey. Think of everything she’s done and then tell me she’s not a goddamn amazing character without the constraints of who she is to Daryl. And do the same for Beth. Think of the way she’s grown, how she’s gone from the girl who tried to kill herself to the woman who burned down that shack. The girl who was scared and uncertain to the woman who is probably going to pull some super awesome Sarah Connor type shit this season. These great journeys, these incredible characters, they have NOTHING AT ALL to do with Daryl Dixon.
Most of the time, ship wars reduce female characters to nothing more than something to push the big, strong man along. Don’t read into this as negativity, I love Daryl Dixon along with the rest of the world. He’s a great character. But so are Carol and Beth and that gets lost in these arguments of who’s better suited to Daryl. Who cares? (I know, I know, the entire internet cares, but come on.) So long as Robert Kirkman isn’t writing them (haha, sorry, but it’s true) then these women are actually interesting, three dimensional characters with stories and motivations of their own that extend beyond the limitations of their romantic and potentially sexual relationships. Carol started off the series defined by her abusive husband and she has grown beyond it in such a fascinating and beautiful way and can we just recognize her for the awesome lady she is without trying to knock her down because she’s not Beth?
And on the flip side, who are these people appalling enough to make Emily Kinney hate sites because they want Daryl to end up with Carol? Emily Kinney is an actress. She is not Beth Greene. The Beth hate is abhorrent enough to begin with, mostly because it all focuses on her looks, but to then transition this onto the actress? There is not enough NO in the world for this sort of behaviour. IT’S NOT OKAY, GUYS. OKAY? IT’S NOT COOL. I’ve stumbled upon sites that have disgusting things to say about her body and I’m just SO TIRED OF THIS BULLSHIT.
Why are we pitting actresses and fictional characters against each other for the affection of a fictional man? Why is there a niche for calling Emily Kinney awful names? Why does anyone go online to discuss the contours of her body and whether or not Daryl would like them? If the relationship does happen, HERE’S THE REALITY: IT WON’T HAVE MUCH TO DO WITH HER BODY. If that’s what you think Daryl is looking for then AH, GOD, HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED THE SHOW? But even regardless of that, regardless of what he may or may not like, it’s just really upsetting to see this show up over and over again online.
I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. In a world where Gamergate exists, the fact that there’s a collection of people on the internet who can only focus on Emily Kinney’s body or Melissa McBride’s age in relation to the fictional relationships they’re paid to portray shouldn’t surprise me at all. I guess, more than anything, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed in fandom when this is what it comes to. When we so desperately need to crush someone else’s enjoyment of a thing by becoming rude, vulgar and childish.
Female characters are not and SHOULD NOT be written with the sole purpose of furthering the angsty lead man’s storyline. When we, as fans, reduce them to such it continues to tell those who create the media that its consumers are okay with it. WE ARE NOT. WE SHOULDN’T BE. We should be demanding more interesting female characters instead of going online and acting as if they had it right all along. We’re being given wonderful characters. DO NOT REDUCE THEM TO BEING PAWNS IN A MALE CHARACTER’S STORY.
And here’s a secret that I promise will make you happier: Just because someone enjoys one thing doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy another thing. Someone else’s enjoyment doesn’t destroy your own. You can enjoy something and someone else can enjoy another thing and you can still be friends.
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