It’s the black sheep of the fandom family. The distant, embarrassing cousin we don’t talk about at parties. Its name is slash shipping and guess what, it’s time to let it out of the closet and acknowledge its existence.

Something is happening in the Supernatural fandom right now. I won’t fault you for not having heard about it, because except for within select circles (read: Tumblr), no one is talking about it. Because it has to do with slash shipping.

I bet a lot of you just winced when you read those words.

Look, sometimes being a fan is hard. As I have explored in a previous column, society at large has decided that spending all your time watching episodes of Buffy and Star Trek ranks you lower in the social hierarchy than watching college basketball playoffs.

But we prevail and we persist, because we have it on good authority that being a geek is just about to get cool. (Right? That’s still happening? I’ll never give up hope.)

Sadly, fandom isn’t always the big happy family we pretend it is, and like any other subculture, there’s plenty of hating and trolling and flaming and shaming to go around for everyone, both online and off.

Shipping 101

Slash ship Kirk Spock Star Trek

For those not initiated, shipping is the shorthand term used to describe the act of wanting two (usually fictional) characters to get together romantically.

Contrary to popular belief, shipping did not start with Harry Potter and Twilight, but has been around practically since the beginning of literature itself.

Shipping is essentially the reason for the enduring popularity of classic love triangles like Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot (Arthurian legends), Darcy/Elizabeth/Wickham (Pride and Prejudice), Linton/Catherine/Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights), and Rhett/Scarlett/Ashley (Gone With the Wind).

These stories would not work if the readers didn’t care about the romantic outcomes, and as we tend to identify with the main characters of the stories we read, their romantic choices in some cases come to equivocate whether or not we see their ending as a happy one. And we want them to have a happy ending, of course, because they’re us.

Nevertheless, being a shipper is still a tough label to carry, even in fandom circles where your general geekiness has already been accepted. Shippers are often viewed as sex-obsessed, immature, simpering girls who are unable to look past the pretty boys and girls to the “really important” subtext underneath.

It’s all subjective though, and ultimately, “mythology fans” are just as obsessive and geeky as shippers, only in a different way – and who’s to say you can’t be both? Kate’s choice turned out to be as important as the origin of the Smoke Monster, Lost fans, so let’s move on.

The “other” kind of shipping

Slash ship Xena Gabrielle

In this article, I want to talk about slash shipping, and the problematic assumption that it is somehow more shameful than “normal” shipping.

Note the problematic use of the word normal in this context.

“Slash shipping” is a label used to differentiate (for whatever reason it needs to be differentiated) the supporters of male/male or female/female relationships from those whose ships are of the male/female variety.

While of course used to describe the supporters of actual gay fictional relationships – like Kurt/Blaine (Glee) – most of the time, slash shippers read homosexual subtext into the interactions between supposedly straight characters.

See Kirk/Spock (Star Trek), Draco/Harry (Harry Potter), Xena/Gabrielle (Xena), Stiles/Derek (Teen Wolf), Emma/Regina (Once Upon a Time), and Merlin/Arthur (Merlin). Or the millions of other examples that spring to mind.

A common misconception is that the discomfort surrounding slash shipping has to do with homophobia. Sure, this is sometimes the case, but in my experience, the dislike of slash shippers by fandom at large has more to do with the perceived notion that slash shippers equate to 13-year-old girls writing smut fanfiction about what a man and a man (or woman and woman) do when they love each other.

And hey, I’m sure that happens. But no one likes a sweeping generalization. Especially when it causes a group of people to feel bullied, marginalized, and shamed.

Fandom’s dirty little secret

Slash ship Dean Castiel Destiel

What happened this weekend at the Supernatural convention in New Jersey brings up the question of where to draw the line – if a line needs to be drawn at all – between where it is acceptable to talk about slash shipping, and where it isn’t.

There is a wonderful in-depth article by Aja Romano at The Daily Dot which examines the events in great detail, and I highly recommend that you read it for intelligent analysis (but note that, like this on, it is a column article which will express the personal views of the writer).

To summarize what happened: a convention-goer went to the panel with the main stars (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) and began her question: “I love your character becoming more comfortable with himself this season. I’m bisexual and I’ve noticed some possible subtext–”

That was as far as she got before she was cut off, both by the audience groaning and booing, and by the stars’ bodyguard, who stepped in to remove her from the microphone stand. Supposedly because they were assuming she was about to ask a question about “Destiel,” the relationship between Ackles’ character Dean and the angel Castiel (although it later turned out that she actually wasn’t).

A lot of the discussion (to put it nicely) happening on Tumblr right now is talking about whether or not Ackles’ reaction (saying, “Don’t ruin it for everybody now,” though we can’t conclude whether he said it to the girl or the crowd, and therefore shouldn’t make assumptions) was homophobic, but in an article about slash shipping, that is neither here nor there. Ackles’ opinion is irrelevant – or, at least, it should be. Right?

After all, romantic subtext is just one area – and arguably a prevalent one – of Supernatural canon, and while some fans seem to believe that the banning of all shipping questions at conventions (a rumour which later proved false) makes sense, I want to take a moment and ask: why?

Don’t ask, don’t tell

Slash ship Emma Regina Once

What is so horrible about slash shipping, and asking the actors about it? Why should asking Ackles about whether Dean might possibly have feelings for Castiel be more taboo than asking him about Dean/Lisa, or whether he thinks Dean should die at the end of the series, or what his favourite moment filming season 8 was?

For those who claim that they’ve been asked about slash shipping a million times and that it just makes everyone uncomfortable: this might be the case, sure, but these guys do like 20 conventions a year. Do you really think that there is one single question which you could possibly ask them which they haven’t had to answer at least a dozen times before?

The difference seems to be that some fans believe it is harassment to force the actors to confront the possibility that their characters might be homosexual.

I’ll just leave that statement right there.

Of course, no one wants to see the actors harassed. No one wants to see hysterical fans desperately throwing themselves at the cast, demanding that they acknowledge the deep love between X and Y character and/or themselves, because actors are people too and should be treated with respect.

But in this writer’s personal opinion, there’s a difference between harassing, and asking the creators of these characters you love and identify with to acknowledge you and your interpretation – whether that interpretation is about a character’s love of a brother, a friend, or a potential lover of either gender.

Do the actors have to agree with it? No, of course not. They’re actors, they are there to act. They go to conventions to feed the fandom, to make fans feel like they have a personal connection with the show, to give loyal viewers a chance to get up close with the stars and go home with happy memories and memorabilia (for a price).

I’m sure each actor has to deal with a number of questions that make them internally roll their eyes and think, Not this crap again. These fans are crazy! I’m sure a lot of topics make them embarrassed or uncomfortable.

So singling out slash shipping (or shipping in general), when there is so much more that might be awkward for the actors to be confronted with? That is problematic. Whether you’re an actor, a creator, or a fan, I have to question the logic that “slash shipping is cool as long as we don’t talk about it.” Don’t ask, don’t tell? Really, fandom?

Bringing slash shipping out of the closet

Slash ship Merlin Arthur Merthur

This is a debate we should be having. This is something we should be talking about. Especially now, today, when fandom is beginning to become more mainstream and fans are taking their online obsessions out into this elusive place called “the real world” we’ve heard so much about.

Whether or not you believe that slash shipping should be acknowledged or kept hidden like a dirty little secret, that’s your prerogative, but I personally would like to know why.

In my experience, people shout the loudest and they fight the hardest when they have something to fight for. Before jumping to the conclusion that slashers are delusional and militant, think about why they lash out so strongly.

Sometimes, yes, it’s all about the smut and NC-17 fanfiction. But sometimes, it’s not about the ship at all, but about what that relationship stands for. Acceptance by the writers that homosexual relationships are worth writing about and exploring. Acknowledgment that the love the shippers see is real, that the type of love they see is real.

We all know that shipping can get crazy, but can’t fandom in general get crazy? Can’t the world get crazy? Hell, football fans have riots, people die. This doesn’t happen in online fan communities.

But sometimes, people get hurt. Sometimes, a girl is booed off the stage for announcing that she is bisexual – for daring to bring the topic of Dean’s sexuality up in front of the stars.

And whether or not the audience members were booing her or the question, the conclusion we can draw from this is clear: slash shipping isn’t something we’re supposed to be talking about. But maybe we should be.

Quiz: Which ‘Mean Girls’ character are you?

9:02 am EDT, September 29, 2016

Ever wondered if you’re more of a Cady or a Regina? Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate Mean Girls Day (October 3rd), Episode, the world’s largest mobile network for interactive stories and creators of Mean Girls: Senior Year, has made a quiz to determine which Mean Girls character you are.

Once you’ve found your Mean Girls spirit animal, continue the fun by downloading both seasons of the Mean Girls story on Episode for iOS and Android. Rejoin all of your favorite characters as you navigate everything from new crushes to sorority pledging. You choose how the story plays out.

Read full article

Ever wondered if you’re more of a Cady or a Regina? Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate Mean Girls Day (October 3rd), Episode, the world’s largest mobile network for interactive stories and creators of Mean Girls: Senior Year, has made a quiz to determine which Mean Girls character you are.

Once you’ve found your Mean Girls spirit animal, continue the fun by downloading both seasons of the Mean Girls story on Episode for iOS and Android. Rejoin all of your favorite characters as you navigate everything from new crushes to sorority pledging. You choose how the story plays out.

You go, Glen Coco!

Let’s play! Which ‘Mean Girls’ character are you?

Play Mean Girls in the Episode app today!

Note: This quiz was sponsored by the advertiser.

WB has revealed that it will take the threat of an alien race, The Dominators, to unite the heroes of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

With Supergirl entering the Arrow-verse, she will be bringing aliens along — though it remains unclear how her Earth will integrate with Earth-1, where the casts of the other three series reside; Barry visited Kara’s Earth on Supergirl last season when he ran fast enough to open a portal.

“This year, for our mega ‘Arrowverse’ crossover, we’re taking inspiration from a DC crossover from the late 1980s known as Invasion!, which featured an alien race called the Dominators, who’d previously vexed the Legion of Superheroes,” Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow EP Marc Guggenheim says in a press release.

Read full article

WB has revealed that it will take the threat of an alien race, The Dominators, to unite the heroes of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

With Supergirl entering the Arrow-verse, she will be bringing aliens along — though it remains unclear how her Earth will integrate with Earth-1, where the casts of the other three series reside; Barry visited Kara’s Earth on Supergirl last season when he ran fast enough to open a portal.

“This year, for our mega ‘Arrowverse’ crossover, we’re taking inspiration from a DC crossover from the late 1980s known as Invasion!, which featured an alien race called the Dominators, who’d previously vexed the Legion of Superheroes,” Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow EP Marc Guggenheim says in a press release.

“We’re using cutting edge prosthetics and computer effects to achieve a feature film-quality look which is faithful to Invasion! artist Todd McFarlane’s interpretation of the characters.”

The Dominators

The Dominators, collectively known as the Dominion, are an alien race from the farthest reaches of the universe. A technologically-advanced species who specialize in genetics, their society is extremely hierarchical, with status depending on the size of a red circle that appears on their foreheads.

Invasion! was a major, three-issue crossover event in 1989 that featured the Dominators joining an Alien Alliance to wipe out humanity due to the threat the meta-gene that allows for humans to develop superpowers presents.

When they traveled to Earth, heroes and villains alike teamed up to fight to protect the world. The Dominators were also an enemy of the Legion of Superheroes in the 30th century.

It’s also worth noting that Arrow‘s 100th’s episode will air during the crossover, so we should definitely expect something special.

Are you looking forward to the crossover between ‘Arrow,’ ‘The Flash,’ ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ and ‘Supergirl’?

Need a little extra dose of Gilmore Girls music in your daily life? Then you’re going to want to put this Gilmore Girls playlist on repeat!

When it came to music, Gilmore Girls really had its finger on the pulse of amazing music, both modern and otherwise. From The Bangles to The Shins to Elvis Costello, the show incorporated an eclectic yet fun mix of music into every episode of every season.

To celebrate the show’s impeccable choices (in addition to our undying love for the show itself), we’ve carefully crafted a Gilmore Girls music playlist. Relive all of the ups and downs in each of the seasons and perhaps throw an impromptu dance party with these tunes. With our Gilmore Girls playlist, you can now indulge in Gilmore Girls 24/7.

Read full article

Need a little extra dose of Gilmore Girls music in your daily life? Then you’re going to want to put this Gilmore Girls playlist on repeat!

When it came to music, Gilmore Girls really had its finger on the pulse of amazing music, both modern and otherwise. From The Bangles to The Shins to Elvis Costello, the show incorporated an eclectic yet fun mix of music into every episode of every season.

To celebrate the show’s impeccable choices (in addition to our undying love for the show itself), we’ve carefully crafted a Gilmore Girls music playlist. Relive all of the ups and downs in each of the seasons and perhaps throw an impromptu dance party with these tunes. With our Gilmore Girls playlist, you can now indulge in Gilmore Girls 24/7.

Hypable’s ‘Gilmore Girls’ music playlist

‘Where You Lead I Will Follow’ by Carole King and Louise Goffin

What better way to kick off a Gilmore Girls playlist than with the show’s famous theme song? It’s the perfect opening song. (And if you choose to play it on repeat, that’s completely acceptable.)
 

‘This is Hell’ by Elvis Costello

It makes perfect sense that Jess’ first impression of Stars Hollow would be narrated by this song. After all, the starry-eyed small town life can be kind of overwhelming at first.
 

‘There She Goes’ by The La’s

Fact: This was the very first song played on Gilmore Girls! It accompanied an introductory look around Stars Hollow before introducing our favorite gals. Oh, the memories!
 

‘Then She Appeared’ by XTC

What a perfect song to mark Rory and Jess’ first kiss. It’s perfectly sweet and tender and just oh-so-totally them. It’s hard not to imagine the scene when listening to this song.
 

‘Fell in Love With a Girl’ by The White Stripes

This was one of the songs that Hep Alien played at their very first gig! Sure, it wasn’t really a great night for Jess/Rory or the band, but it started out well enough!
 

‘Reflecting Light’ by Sam Phillips

As if Luke and Lorelai weren’t cute enough together at Luke’s sister’s wedding, they had to go and dance beautifully to this tender song.
 

‘Human Behaviour’ by Björk

What would a Gilmore Girls playlist be without including a song from one of the girls’ biggest inspirations? Just take a listen and think of their famous snow creation.
 

‘Eternal Flame’ by The Bangles

Make one of Lorelai’s favorite bands one of your favorite bands by listening to this track on our Gilmore Girls playlist on repeat!
 

‘One Line’ by PJ Harvey

“I love you, you idiot” is probably one of the most quotable lines on the show. This song just set the mood and really made it that much more memorable. It’s nothing less than perfect.
 

‘So Says I’ by the Shins

Who could ever forget the spring break scene where Paris tries to make out with Rory on the dance floor? The fact that The Shins were playing this song live during the scene just made it so much better.
 

‘Time Bomb’ by Rancid

Not only did Lane dance to this catchy tune in Rory’s room toward the beginning of the first season, but Hep Alien eventually covers it during a performance later in the series!
 

‘When You and I Were Young Maggie Blues’ by Bing Crosby and Gary Crosby

Watching Rory and Richard bond over this song in the hospital room is still one of the most memorable scenes of the series. Pour one out for the wonderful Richard Gilmore. We miss you, friend.
 

‘Inside Out’ by The Mighty Lemon Drops

The Gilmore Girls series finale was such a bittersweet episode, but this song definitely made for one of the most memorable moments: Luke and Lorelai kissing!
 

‘If I Could Write’ by Sam Phillips

This emotional song sums up the Gilmore girls’ love for each other perfectly, especially in times of sadness. Who could ever forget this song playing as Rory packs for a grip to Europe with Emily after fighting with Lorelai?
 

‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper

Lorelai and Emily Gilmore walking a catwalk to Cyndi Lauper’s greatest hit? Classic. Though they may not have gotten along often, at least they could bond over this song.
 

‘O’Oh’ by Yoko Ono

Remember that time when Rory skipped school to walk through New York with Jess, stopping for food and record shopping? This song was the perfect accompaniment for their adventure.
 

The La La Tunes by Sam Phillips

Okay, so these aren’t really actual songs per say, but Gilmore Girls wouldn’t be Gilmore Girls without them (and so neither would the Gilmore Girls playlist)! They’re so iconic!
 

‘My Little Corner of the World’ by Yo La Tengo

We decided to end our Gilmore Girls playlist on a cute note with this sweet song. The mental image of Rory and Lorelai runing at each other from across town during the season 1 finale is enough to make anyone smile.

 

What song(s) would you add to our ‘Gilmore Girls’ music playlist?

 
Related: Everything I know about Gilmore Girls I learned from pop culture (and my crazy friends)