Tuesday, January 22, 2019

My Review for "Ship It" by Britta Lundin (and all that entails) PART 1

My Review of Ship It 
Why I’m officially done with Publishing Companies

This is the story of how it’s apparently okay to attack a specific fandom and person (in not a very veiled way) in a published novel in the glorious age we live in.

Let me preface this by saying that I have nothing against books about fans. While I may not like the type of book Rainbow Rowell writes and Fangirljust isn’t my cup of tea, I am happy that there are books out there that portray fans as not insane psychos because 98% of us really aren’t. Even the majority of fans who ship ships I personally don’t agree with aren’t insane, petty stalkers.

In 2017 two amazing books about fans came out. One of which was Geekerellaby Ashley Posten, which was almost a love letter to fans everywhere. It captured the “True Fan” the ones who love their fandoms despite its possible faults, who cosplay and go to conventions and are supportive of other people in their fandom because you’re supposed to be on the same team. Plus the romance between the heroine and the star of the movie adaption of her favorite show was actually really adorable and actually pretty realistic. I mean, it *could* happen within the bounds of reality. Unlike the situations in Ship It. But we’ll get to that later.

There was also Eliza and her Monsterswhich features the introverted creator of a popular web comic meeting a fan “in the wild” who shares with her that he writes fan-fiction of her comic (fan-fiction that is actually good!) and this book kind of shows both the side of the fandom and the side of the creator; something that, as both a fan and a writer myself, I particularly appreciated.

Both of these books were well written, had likable characters who the reader could relate to, and, especially in the case of Geekerella, illustratedthe best, and really, the most normally seen side of Fandom as a whole. I am one of those fans who gets excited to talk about stuff with other people in my fandoms. I chat online with friends, I cosplay and go to cons and do photo ops and autographs with authors and actors I love. I saved extra money for weeks to get photo ops with Jensen, Jared and Misha, I stood in line for three hours to get Elijah Wood’s autograph—I’m a fan, I get it.

But this is not the kind of fans that Ship It is portraying. In fact if anyone read this book and had little to no idea of what fandoms were typically like, they would probably never want to join one at all because this portrays everyone as whiny, petty, a-holes. 

A little crash course in fan-fiction for people who don’t know:

So, fan-fiction can be divided into several basic categories.

First off you have Canon and Gen Canon is based off the book/show/movie directly, either deleted scenes, and such that would be found in the normal universe of the original work. It only has canon ships (or maybe an original character, here and there, if it works). Gen is pretty much the same but essentially has no ships at all or can also cover AUs (alternate universes) or other things that may not happen in canon, but are generally not offensive to anyone.

Then you move into Slash. Slash is fan-fics where characters of the same gender are paired. These are not canon pairings, or at least the term never seems to be used to refer to canon pairings.

Then even further into that you go to RPF or ‘real person fiction’. RPF is essentially fan-fics about actors, singers or other celebrities. Some fan-fiction sites don’t even allow RPF to be posted. Now, I’m not saying all RPF is like this, I’m sure at least some of it is actually Gen, I don’t look for it because it’s not my cup of tea. But the majority of it takes actors who are in real life happily married to their wives and have children and everything, and the writers pretend they are in love, instead, with their co-stars, sometimes even behind their wives backs if their actual wives exist at all in these fics. This to me is just disrespectful. Fictional characters are one thing, but when you make up stuff about real people, it’s just disgusting to me.

And we all thought Mary-Sues were bad. And speaking of Mary-Sues Claire in this book was a serious Mary-Sue alert.

Look, so yes, I don’t like it when shippers pop out of the woodwork and ruin things for me with their fanart of my favorite boys snogging. But as long as they don’t get in my face, they’re not my problem. They can stay on their side of the internet, I’ll stay on mine. I’m willing to ignore them. The problem is they don’t always do that and there are fans who are ADAMANT that ships are canon even though writers, authors, and even actors have denied that they are canon. This is approaching the disrespectful level and what you don’t realize is that you make all of us fans look bad for doing this. Some actors *are* jerks, but the ones who aren’t, like the cast of Supernatural and Merlin and a lot of the cast of Avengers and all that are super nice people and they don’t deserve the heckling some fans resort to. And not only in the shipping quarter (I could bring up a certain panel with Seb Stan, Tom Holland, and Anthony Mackie as an example of this) (Also, as an aside, this is a textbook reason of why you have question moderators at panels, which this book sneers at, and also a textbook example of HOW NOT TO MODERATE A PANEL when the guest actor has to be the one to move it along instead of whoever is modding.)

And then you have the fans like Claire in Ship Itwho take it even farther and literally demand (in this book, while holding the showrunner freaking hostage with promise of blackmail) that the writers and producers/authors change the story to fit theirimage of it. Like literally, I have seen petitions and campaigns to make ships go canon. What the actual heck, people? Ever think that maybe you should turn that passion into actually helping people?

Ladies (and maybe a few gents) do you remember how everyone hated the Star Wars prequels so much they said George Lucas (who legit came up with the story, so I find their arguments invalid—like, don’t like it, don’t watch) did a terrible job with his own movies? And then he sold the rights to Disney and, welp, you guys got your wish, and look at the absolute tripefest that ensued. (Besides Rogue Onethat was beautiful and canon and like a WWII spy story in space—see, we all have our opinions.) This is what happens when you ask people to go off canon. We could have had cool villains, Luke Skywalker with a kick-butt bounty hunter wife and Jacen and Jaina Solo, and would have been spared the emo little boy pain of Kylo Ren, but nooooo. 

But I digress…

So a little backstory on Where This Book Got Its Storyline From:

It’s no secret Jensen Ackles who plays Dean Winchester on Supernatural is no fan of the Dean/Cas ship. So when questions were asked about it, he responded like a normal human, and not even meanly, but he was obviously annoyed and done with the question and no one can blame him for sounding a bit grumpy about it. Well, some people took offence to that, probably tears were shed, and obviously it made it onto the internet.

(I couldn’t find the original video, but here is another one where essentially the same thing happens)

I don’t know why this author decided it was her personal crusade to accuse Jensen, not to his face, but in this really backhanded and frankly disgusting way, but it’s pretty obvious that that’s literally what this book is. I mean, come on “Demon Heart”? A show about a demon hunter and a freaking conflicted demon ally with—get this—a distinctive coat and husky voice? Sure they cut out the brother thing, but just wait until you read the lovely selections I have for you from this book and you’ll see just how many parallels it had with Supernatural. (And on the note of actors hating ships, I’m going to mention in passing Bradley James’ obvious hatred for the Merlin/Arthur ship. You go, Bradley.)

So a little about Claire, the main character is not a good person. She is rude to her mother all the time for no reason, especially since her mom supports her passions and even drives her to the first convention and then proceeds to leave her home and job for weeks to travel with Claire on the con circuit. And she’s also pretty terrible to her friend, and pretty much blackmails her in front of her other friends. So Claire, not a likable person, but what else were we to expect when this was the kind of fan this author was trying to portray.

So, let’s jump into the fray finally. I realized while reading this book that the best way to condemn it was to let it speak for itself, and, frankly, I couldn’t even come up with this crap if I tried.

(Warning: there may be some sensitivities hurt by reading these things, and also some unkind language from me. However, I did you the courtesy of blanking out the cussing in the text so there’s that)

Let’s start off this section with the definition of “Delusional”-- “Characterized by or holding idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder.” Keep that in mind while you read these selections.

(I'm also going to do a Cinema Sins style rating on this one so every + you see if the counter of sins this book gains)

Also, if it wasn't already obvious...spoiler warning 

So, let's just take a moment to appreciate that we're first introduced to our heroine literally googling gay porn in her school library to "see how it works" for her fanfic. Do I need to say more? If the author was trying to go for something funny here, it missed the mark by approximately a universe (+100)

I'm adding sins here because this is SO BLATANTLY stolen from the SPN family. Fans call Misha Collins 'Dad' on Twitter too (+10)

Again, sins added here for the similarity to Supernatural. Rico, (or Discount Misha, as I like to call him) plays the demon character and has an 'unnaturally gravelly voice' in character. >_> (+10)

Bless Claire's mom here for asking if the characters are actually bisexual. This whole conversation is one I have seen on Tumblr so many times. Let me just say this. If the writers wanted you to know something about a character on a show after 14 seasons, they are going to let you know. If it hasn't been said by then, then it's not true and you're delusional. (+20)

Again, a perfect example of how these types of fans perceive things. Sure, the character might have just been possessed and beaten his best friend into the ground, or maybe this is pre-friendship and they kinda hate each other so they're doing an alpha male thing. Does this make any sense to them? No, all they see is sexual tension. (+50)

Ah yes, the female characters getting killed off--another huge contention in the Supernatural fandom. While I agree some of them were totally killed off too quickly, others (the ones people actually get angry about like Charlie) actually *did* serve a purpose to the storyline by dying. It's not because they were female, it's because they furthered important plot points. (+5)

Girl, just because it wasn't your interpretation of the scene doesn't mean you are the only one who is right. You didn't write or act the bloody thing, you do not have the monopoly on deciding what it meant. (+10)

See comment above, but I'm still adding an additional 10 sins (+10)

Despite all the work this author did to demonize the creator/showrunner Jamie, he's actually one of the few characters I sympathized with in this book. And I seriously hope she didn't think she was basing him off Eric Kripke because I have never seen Kripke act like she tries to portray this poor guy at a panel or in an interview. None of the SPN writers do.

Okay, number one, there's no way the whole audience would be with her. Whenever anyone mentions slash at a con, there is always a collective groan from at least some audience members. And frankly, I refuse to call Forest the jerk here, seeing as the questions should have been vetted and actors are human too. You can't expect them to be happy with every question a fan asks. (+10)

Again with the delusions. Also, this is after Claire oh-so-gracefully runs off to her room crying because no one agreed with her theory. Insert joking truism about millennials and participation trophies (+10)

And here's why I feel sorry for Jamie. He's such a victim of the network that he can't even write his own bloody show without being demonized by not only his fans but his PR woman -- who he totally should have fired for everything she does later. I don't know a lot about that side of the business, but I do know that you shouldn't berate your clients this much and them proceed to essentially blackmail them later by siding with the fans. 

In this scene, even Claire's friend, who is another die hard shipper admits that they don't need it on the show if they have their fanfics. This is one of the many scenes where I actually had to wonder whether we were actually supposed to like Claire or not? (+10)

I love how she demonizes panel moderation and question vetting here. Because seriously, if they *didn't* do this at conventions (well, see the Avengers panel in the link I mentioned earlier) and you'd have so many uncomfortable questions. Some questions still slip through, yeah, but that's on the fans for saying something else to the mods before they actually ask the question. Some actors just don't want to answer questions about certain topics. And if they know it's something that's going to piss them off, then why would the fans want to do that to someone they *supposedly* respect? Oh yeah, because respect goes both ways.

Also, let me take a moment to catch you up on a little of the story here. Because Claire's feelings were kind of upset by Forest, the absolutely brilliant PR lady came up with the plan to invite her as a special guest to the rest of the convention circuit. Traveling WITH THE ACTORS and UNSUPERVISED on, get this, a tour bus, of all things. As if the situation wasn't ridiculous enough already the image of show and movie casts, especially big ones like the cast for Avengers traveling from con to con on a tour bus like some 90s pop band is freaking hilarious. Unfortunately, it also traps the actors with this chick who is obviously off her rocker, and ends up being where she somehow gains Forest's trust enough for him to tell her things he never should have because it's going to come back to bite him later when she blows stuff out of proportion and writes fake truths about him in RPF fanfics. And then PR lady proceeds to let her live tweet or whatever the panel and essentially trash talk everyone and yet this person who is supposed to be making sure the show stays in a good light so they can make another season, is totally okay with this? What the actual heck? As if the blatant attacks this books makes weren't bad enough the story itself has the sense of something written by a wishful tween.

All of this gets +100 sins

Poor, poor Forest. Apparently he's not allowed to say anything to this girl (+10 for toxic feminism)

This is so true here. Forest perceives the scene like a normal actor--he was cold. Which means he was obviously not thinking of any relationship between his character and the other one while shooting the scene, he was probably trying not to shiver. This just goes to show that these fans can't actually pull a scene up and prove anything with it. I love how everything this book does get right is just twisted to make actors and show writers look like idiots and uncaring jerks. And by the way, Claire, who the devil cares if you disagree? (+10)

Wow, Claire, how do YOU think it feels? HMMM????? You bloody hypocrite (+50)

And despite the fact that Claire has already probably completely ruined the chance for this show to get picked up for another season because of the bad press she alone has created, they are letting her actually physically moderate a panel. That means, having free rein to ask the actors anything she wants without being vetted because the mod is only supposed to go off a certain list, and then letting any fans ask any questions they want. (+50)

And then before the panel starts she sends out a message online to everyone there not to ask a question in protest. And EVERYONE somehow goes along with this. I don't care who you are, there is no fandom in this universe that would agree fully on one thing like this. There would be people against this shipping who would just say 'screw you' and stand up to make the actors feel less uncomfortable because they are GOOD DECENT people. And yes, Jamie here has every right to be done with the BS. If I were him, I'd never do another convention again. (+100)

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