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I just started watching Sports Night a few weeks ago. Like most shows I’ve been watching since entering fandom a year ago, it came highly recommended to me by multiple people on my flist for their favorite relationship, in most cases Dan/Casey. And while watching, I came to the most bizarre realization that while I saw Dan/Casey, I could also see and understand nearly every ship I could think of. This took me aback because, well, this didn’t seem quite right! Surely there HAD to be some pairing that I couldn’t justify via extenuating circumstances. Then I thought back to the last few shows I started watching – Heroes, The Black Donnelleys, and The West Wing, and I realized that the very same things could be said about those shows too. What had happened to me?!

After thinking about it, and talking with various people on my flist, some of whom have very strong OTPs and others who are just as fanwhorish as I am, I came to see that the reason why I see pairings everywhere is because I have fallen deeply in love with an intertextual approach to fandom. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the sense that I am using it in this essay simply refers to the fact that we here in fandom draw from a common pool of fannish knowledge, and knowledge of one fandom bleeds over into another fandom. Intertextuality is just a fancy way of saying that we as fans can take the conversations that we have about one show and the conclusions that we’ve drawn about them, and use those discussions to help us understand and draw new conclusions about other shows.

All of our initial shipping in a show is informed by how we watched that show the first time. How was it pimped to you? What were you looking for? When I was first introduced to due South, it was from a Kowalski/Fraser standpoint. And I approached the fandom in the same way, because the show was pitched to me as “Well, the first two seasons are pretty slashy, but WAIT UNTIL YOU GET TO SEASONS 3/4!!” I valued Fraser/Kowalski over Fraser/Vecchio, because that wasn't really what I was looking for. So it took me a very long time to get over the blockage that I had for Fraser/Vecchio, simply because that was how I watched it the first time through.

However, from the time that we enter fandom, as SOON as we start reading fic and interacting with other people, then our focus begins to shift, and our opinions will change along with it. Or they will be reinforced, depending upon who we hang around with. So when I started to hang out with some of the Fraser/Vecchio people (who seemed like pretty awesome people!) I decided to re-watch the show, see if I could see what they saw. And since I was looking for it, the signs suddenly seemed SO very obvious!

But at this point, I could still watch television and not see the rare pairings. Most of the 'ships that I followed in fiction were the major ones, because I was still not really thinking about fandom and my shipping in a multi-fannish setting. And then came the wonderful world of intertextuality! :o)

I first fell in love with intertextuality via crossovers. I just couldn't get past the ingenuity involved in coming up with these pairings. I was enamored with the outside of the box thinking and creativity of those who wrote crossovers. So I started to lurk around in the journals of those who wrote my favorite crossovers. And when they talked about their crossover ideas, and the rationale behind them, I began to get very excited. It was in reading about the rationale behind these pairings that I began to realize that I could use the dynamics of pairings that I liked to explore pairings that I had never previously thought about before. For example, I had always been a fan of Xavier/Magneto in the X-Men movieverse fandom, but I had previously been baffled by Kowalski/Vecchio in the due South fandom. So I decided to read a Kowalski/Vecchio story, keeping in mind all of the dynamics that the two parings had in common. And you know? I LOVED it. I’d tried reading a few other stories before, but I don’t know if it was this story, or my new approach to reading it, or what, but something just clicked.

This realization that crossovers caused me realize that some models of relationships that I loved kind of made my MONTH. And it just caused this floodgate to open in how I viewed what pairings I could see in what I watched. I watch so many different shows with so many different types of relationships on them I think it might have been inevitable that I opened my eyes to pairings in fandoms that I might not have considered. And the ensuing discussion of these fics, reading meta about those relationships, and talking with other fen about my views on those relationships has not only helped me increase my love for these pairings, but caused me to see new ones. It was almost as though I needed a bit of a push to begin to expand the relationships that I could understand, but once I had that push, I GOT it.

And now we reach the point in my narrative where I out myself as a bit of a pairings WHORE. Because once I started to get the less popular, but still most accepted pairings, I started understanding all of the rare parings. And once I reached that point … well, let’s just say that VERY FEW characters were safe from my speculative eyes. (And it is also at this point in the narrative that most of you will probably be thanking your deity of choice that I don’t really write all that much. Because I WOULD be writing that epic Fake/due South crossover of JJ/Turnbull love if I had any ambition at all. WHICH NO ONE BUT LIPSTICKCAT AND I WOULD READ. But I digress … : ) )

It is not so much that intertextuality really did a lot for me in terms of having me make great large meta connections between shows. I have left those analyses for others much smarter than me. But what it did do for me is reshape my thinking on pairings. It opened up my eyes to other possibilities that were not just the popular ones, and for that, I will be forever happy.

Date: 2007-04-01 12:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think of every standalone fic as a new circumstance. In fiction, and even in RL, sometimes people are drawn to a partner because of the similarities between them. Sometimes because of novelty or complementarity they're looking for someone completely *different.* Even a cliched fictional character has at least a few attributes, and a well-written one has many attributes.

So, Fraser is someone who puts the highest possible value on loyalty, and he and both Rays immediately form relationships of loyalty and trust. (Also, RayV talks to his dead father, which not everybody does.) Lots of people I know think that CKR is really hot, so why shouldn't Fraser feel that way too? OTOH Fraser is someone almost completely devoid of conventional career ambition--maybe he'd think Thatcher was fascinating because she *is* ambitious. Maybe he'd bond with Turnbull because of a mutual love for chilly rural towns.

Date: 2007-05-27 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heh. I missed this when it was posted. I just ran my name through lj seek and what turns up but "Because I WOULD be writing that epic Fake/due South crossover of JJ/Turnbull love if I had any ambition at all. WHICH NO ONE BUT LIPSTICKCAT AND I WOULD READ"? So naturally, I'm here now. Should I get out the pompoms?
*\o/* *cheerleads*

I cannot tell you how much I live for rare pairings, though. I turned up in the DS fandom looking for Fraser/Kowalski stuff, and within months of being in it I'd latched on to Turnbull. Anything I write with him gets to be a rare pairing. And through my RP group, I'm just starting to get interested in Duck Boys slash. The RP group can be blamed for a lot of things, including Turnbull/Vecchio, (Coming soon to a computer near you!).

There's something wonderful about rare pairings and crossovers because its limitless. People don't have to keep rehashing the same plot ideas, they can say something new and exciting. I love it!

*uses her Welsh/Turnbull icon*

...... Seriously. Turnbull/JJ. I'll give you a portion of my soul........


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