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.

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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.

Legion M president Jeff Annison introduces the first fan-owned entertainment company

"Opening the gates to Hollywood" with fandom-powered entertainment production.

2:12 pm EDT, August 24, 2016

Hypable speaks to co-founder Jeff Annison about Legion M’s goals, fan engagement, and potential impact on the entertainment industry.

An exciting new project launched over the summer: Legion M, the world’s first fan-owned entertainment company.

At San Diego Comic-Con, Hype Podcast sat down with co-founder and company president Jeff Annison, in order to learn more about the ambitious startup that promises to give fans more creative control of entertainment production.

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Hypable speaks to co-founder Jeff Annison about Legion M’s goals, fan engagement, and potential impact on the entertainment industry.

An exciting new project launched over the summer: Legion M, the world’s first fan-owned entertainment company.

At San Diego Comic-Con, Hype Podcast sat down with co-founder and company president Jeff Annison, in order to learn more about the ambitious startup that promises to give fans more creative control of entertainment production.

The full interview is available to download here or via iTunes, or you can stream it below:

In the interview, Annison explains the mission of Legion M, which is to bring fans directly into the production process. Says Annison, “For the first time in history, we are architected to be built from the ground up to be owned by fans.”

With a ‘Legion’ of fan investors behind them, Annison believes that Legion M’s approach to selecting and developing projects will be very different from anything else we’ve seen in Hollywood.

Where usually creators will struggle to make their content stand out from the crowd, “bringing the audience into the process [of creating entertainment], we’ve already got a built-in audience,” Annison explains. “If you can have the audience of content be invested in content, it gives that content a competitive advantage.”

One of the key ways in which Legion M hopes to influence the creative industry is by opening the door for more diverse projects.

As Hollywood is so revenue-driven, oftentimes the ‘risk’ of letting a movie’s lead character be a woman, a person of color and/or a member of the LGBT community is simply considered too great. But Legion M, being owned by fans, has the opportunity to tip the scales. Because if the investors want more diversity and new kinds of stories, that’s exactly what they’re going to get.

“The reason that there are so many superhero movies and reboots and remakes… Hollywood’s figured out the formula. You pick something with an established fanbase, and if you make the movie you know it’s less risky because you know those people are gonna come see the next Superman movie,” says Annison. “Whereas if it’s an unknown story, you just don’t know. So we believe when you make the audience part of the process, these fans that are part of our studio … if you’ve got an audience that’s baked into it, that gives you so much more creative leeway.”

In practice, this means that Legion M, “could come up with a completely new and novel story that’s never been tried before, and know that it’s gonna have some success” — which means that it’d actually get produced, unlike many original ideas that come to Hollywood to die.

Further, fan owners of Legion M can experience unprecedented involvement with the creative process. Not only are they involved with selecting and developing projects, but, “our promise to our investors is that we’re gonna take you along for the ride. When we film a movie, we wanna live-stream from the set. When we have project opportunities, we wanna put them in front of you. We give the Legion a voice.”

To start with, Legion M is partnering with Seth Green and Matthew Senreich’s Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, which created Robot Chicken. Annison explains that they still have “dozens” of projects that networks have rejected, and Legion M is working on bringing some of them to life.

In terms of representation, Legion M doesn’t necessarily want to commit to a quota of diversity. Instead, where they expect to be able to influence Hollywood is at the “table” where these decisions are made — and, “because we’re owned by such a broad, diverse group of people, we’ve got a better shot than anybody else at being able to affect that change.”

As Annison explains: “Fans have the ultimate power. Our money is what makes this whole thing spin around. When we combine and come together, we’ve got all the power.”

Read more about Legion M and how to get involved on their website.

As we approach the Captain America: Civil War Blu-Ray release date, a new deleted scene from the film has been released.

And it’s a Civil War deleted scene that is sure to please Stucky fans.

In the clip, Bucky quickly comes to the defense of bae (a.k.a. Cap) when War Machine briefly takes him down. Bucky gets back at Rhodey by throwing Cap’s iconic shield at him, and as the shield boomerangs back, Steve Rogers catches it. Take THAT, War Machine! #TeamCap

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As we approach the Captain America: Civil War Blu-Ray release date, a new deleted scene from the film has been released.

And it’s a Civil War deleted scene that is sure to please Stucky fans.

In the clip, Bucky quickly comes to the defense of bae (a.k.a. Cap) when War Machine briefly takes him down. Bucky gets back at Rhodey by throwing Cap’s iconic shield at him, and as the shield boomerangs back, Steve Rogers catches it. Take THAT, War Machine! #TeamCap

Watch below:

The movie’s airport scene was easily one of the most delightful moments of the film, so we’re loving this extra dose of Stucky brilliance.

Need more? The Captain America Blu-ray, with a release date set for September 13, includes the following special features:

  1. United We Stand, Divided We Fall – The Making of Captain America: Civil War Part 1 & Part 2 – As the tension mounts, sides are chosen and lines drawn. Learn more about the characters on each side—from Captain America and Iron Man to the latest recruits. In this complete behind-the-scenes look at a landmark in the Marvel saga, we’ll examine their stories through exclusive footage and interviews and discover just what went into selecting the Super Hero teams, filming the epic action sequences and introducing Black Panther and Spider-Man to the MCU.
  2. Captain America: The Road to Civil War – Explore the First Avenger’s fascinating evolution from loyal soldier to seasoned, conflicted hero who questions authority.
  3. Iron Man: The Road to Civil War – From Gulmira to Sokovia, delve into the development and evolution of one of the most iconic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  4. Gag Reel – Break the tension of this high-stakes conflict with some hilarious outtakes featuring the lighter side of your favorite Super Heroes.
  5. Deleted & Extended Scenes – Check out never-before-seen footage that didn’t make the final cut of Captain America: Civil War.
  6. Audio Commentary – Directors Anthony and Joe Russo and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely deliver scene-by-scene insight and explain the storytelling challenges they faced creating the third installment of the Captain America franchise.
  7. Open Your Mind: Marvel’s Doctor Strange – Exclusive Sneak Peek – Go behind and beyond the scenes as Doctor Strange makes his journey to the big screen.

The Digital HD version of Civil War will be released on September 2.

Director James Gunn confirms the name of a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 creature with the release of some concept art from the film.

The Guardians of the Galaxy have been pretty busy lately while they gear up for Vol. 2. On Friday we learned that they’ll be showing up in Avengers: Infinity War, and tonight we got a sneak peek of a creature the team will be taking on in the GotG sequel.

Taking to Twitter, Gunn showed off a piece of concept art created by Andy Park.

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Director James Gunn confirms the name of a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 creature with the release of some concept art from the film.

The Guardians of the Galaxy have been pretty busy lately while they gear up for Vol. 2. On Friday we learned that they’ll be showing up in Avengers: Infinity War, and tonight we got a sneak peek of a creature the team will be taking on in the GotG sequel.

Taking to Twitter, Gunn showed off a piece of concept art created by Andy Park.

guardians-of-the-galaxy-2-concept-art

In his replies, he names the creature and states that, no, they aren’t fighting in space.

Then taking to Facebook, Gunn replied to fans who had questions about the image.

An updated synopsis for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 reads:

“Set to the backdrop of ‘Awesome Mixtape #2,’ Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mysteries of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel cinematic universe continues to expand.”

So it looks like for those who were lucky enough to see GotG 2 footage at San Diego Comic-Con this year, you’ve already seen this guy in action.

‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ lands in theatres on May 5, 2017