It's certainly not for *your* amusement.
This week Brett White at Comic Book reader seemed baffled by the shipper's response to the Captain America: Civil War trailer. And while he and I are forever going to disagree on a few fundamental things ("the friendship between Steve Rogers and James "Bucky" Barnes is vastly more interesting than a romance between them" yeah okay Jan), he did ask a question that almost merits an answer: "What's the point of it if that ship will never be explored canonically?" He goes on to ask "where's the pleasure in consuming media through numerous layers of purposeful self-deception" which tells me he has a fundamental misunderstanding of what shipping really is, but let's play along here. Why do we ship who we ship?
It's not in spite of canon, it's because of it.
Let's be realistic. The "canon" is failing us. And I'm not talking about the limited representation that the LGBT+ or POC community gets from mainstream media today, though that's a part of it. Right now the dominant stories of our culture are owned by corporations. Disney. Warner Bros. Fox. It's such a mundane fact that it doesn't seem like a huge deal BUT IT IS. Stories are our mythology. They're how we self-identify our culture. They're our heritage. They are who we are. So what are we supposed to do when our stories- our identities- are owned by a company whose only interest is sales? Either our culture dies, or we find other ways to preserve our heritage.
The studio has zero interest in queer representation.
That's not speculation, that's fact. They care about their bottom line and with movies as big (and expensive) as everything in the Marvel cinematic universe, the studio will never do something as "risky" as pairing two leading male characters together romantically. And you know what? The story they're telling isn't just selfish, it's boring. How many giant blockbusters do we have about male friendship? SO MANY. How many giant blockbusters do we have about the intricacies of desire and the pain of loss? We've heard it all and decided that the stories being told by the dominant media are incomplete. We're not going to sit here and wait. We're going to take back our ownership of storytelling.
Shipping isn't about deluding ourselves. It's about revising.
We see the potential in stories that mainstream media is too cowardly to realize.
Still don't get it?
Far be it from me to tell people how to interact with media. Some people are born to be media critics- and they're important too. They start important conversations about representation and story that need to be addressed. But shippers aren't going anywhere, and if you don't "get it", it's probably because it isn't *for* you. That's the other important thing about shipping. That side of fandom has always been a heavily female and heavily queer space. Which means that we're not writing for men (in the same way 90% of tv and film isn't being written for us). We're used to being excluded from the cultural conversation because we always have been. So we've created our own spaces. And anyone is welcome there- anyone. But the price of entry is forgetting what you think you know about culture and "canon" and who owns the media. Because shippers are living proof that the media belongs to the audience, not the other way around.