(And I'm sorry to be so North America-centric with this, my international Flisties, but this is one of the most popular magazines in North America, which is one of the reasons I'm so mad.)
I'm not talking about the Vampire Diaries, though if that floats your boat that's cool. I'm talking about the wee little article title down at the bottom: "Meet the Shippers: TV's Weirdest Fans".
As you can imagine I read the article with a certain amount of trepidation, being that it was essentially about me and pretty much everyone I know online. (Though naturally they had the nomenclature a little incorrect, since Slashers aren't "Slash Shippers" as in the article, we're just Slashers, thanks.) But surprisingly, given the title, it was pretty good. I could've done with more acknowledgement of slashers, especially given how the article mostly discussed how the (het) shippers influenced plots of television shows (albeit grudgingly on the part of some producers, apparently) and it would've been nice to see that slashers have had influence beyond Gabrielle and Xena. After all, I'm pretty sure the leads of The Sentinel played the 'bromance' up for the slash fans, and I know for sure that before TPTB decided to bite the hands that fed them with Stargate: Universe, they actually gave a nod to the Jack/Daniel fans once.
But overall, not a bad article. Which made the title that much more maddening and, not to put too fine a point on it, mean. So I decided to write them a letter about it. I'm sure it won't get printed, so I figured I'd put it here, too.
Dear Mr. Jensen and Ms. Murphy:
I wanted to thank you for your article on 'Shippers' in the Feb. 17 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Given the dismissal in the title ('TV's weirdest fans') I was sure it would be nothing but a joky article encouraging all the 'normal' viewers to point fingers and laugh at the weirdos on the fringes. It was a pleasant surprise, therefore, to see that Mr. Jensen had actually put thought and research into what he wrote, and ably and fairly introduced an aspect of fan experience that I'm sure most of your readers didn't know existed.
I was especially impressed with the mini-interviews of actual fanfiction writers, vidders and awards site hosts by Ms. Murphy. Thank you for choosing such a representative group of fans without the sniggering adherence to images of antisocial spinsters huddled in their parents' basements. In my personal experience most women who choose to immerse themselves in fandom (as we call it) are students, professionals, mothers and spouses just like anyone else.
(I should point out, however, that we slashers don't call ourselves "slash shippers"; we're just slashers. We are also a far larger group than you might have imagined. If you'd care to look on such fan archives as AO3, I'm sure you'll find that the slashers, if not in the majority, are an extremely large and prolific group. You'll also see that any given television show, movie or popular book will have inspired slash fiction.)
I was saddened, however, by the choice of title for the article. I'm sure you can appreciate how hurtful it would be to be called 'weird' simply because of how you choose to engage with media and other fans. Given how your article states that the majority of shippers (and slashers) are women, I'm sure you can also appreciate how it would appear that our gender influenced your description as well. We are certainly used to the assumption that anything women particularly enjoy is frivolous--Or 'weird'. But that doesn't make it acceptable.