I have a confession to make: I’ve never been a shipper. If you know fandoms, you’ll know what I mean by shipper. If not, this column will make an attempt to explain the concept of shipping and its importance to fandoms.
Ship is short for relationship. The practice in fandoms refers to the fan preference for a certain relationship within the source material. This might be relationships that play out in the material— Hermione and Ron, for instance—or it might be a relationship that doesn’t exist within the material, but is hinted at (or just hoped for)—Hermione and Harry, for example (to keep the HP examples rolling). In fact, these two opposing pairings are probably the most fought about ship in the Potter fandom.
These relationships are often explored in fan fiction, fan art, or lengthy explanations on Tumblr. From ship, we can leap to another term: OTP. OTP stands for a fan’s preferred pairing or “own true pairing,” which could be anything from Delphine and Cosima on Orphan Black (an established relationship within the show’s universe) to Ross and Chandler on Friends (not an established relationship within the show’s universe). While mostly romantic relationships are explored, there is also the shipping of friendships, which leads to one of my favorite terms: BrOTP. My current favorite BrOTP is probably Ravi and Liv on iZombie, for example.
The ships often than have mash-up names (a practice that I’m curious to know the history of. It seems a more recent phenomena, but I’d love to see a history of this). In shows, themselves, Glee might be an example of a space where they made these ship names seemingly part of the show from Finchel to Klaine. This was also brought up (in yet another of their wonderful hat tips to fans) in an episode of Supernatural, in which Dean and Sam learn of fans’ shipping of Castiel and Dean—Destiel.
One of the shows I always think of when I think of shipping is The X-Files, although I strongly did not like this pairing, where fans ardently supported the idea of a romantic relationship between Mulder and Scully. However, I don’t remember ever hearing of Sculder or Mully (please tell me Sculder was the preferred term, someone!).
As I said in the beginning, though, I’ve never been a shipper. I don’t pick Angel over Spike or Harry over Ron. I usually enjoy whatever a creator has chosen to do with their characters. While I might like some fandom relationships over others (Cophine, yes! Veronica and Piz, no!), I still enjoy the way these relationships shape and change a created universe. However, I’m curious to know what ships are your favorites? Are you a Spock/ Kirk shipper? Is your OTP Brittana? Do you have an all-time favorite BrOTP? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter @lunaquarterly or @pintsncupcakes! And until next month, keep fannin’ on!