domingo, 21 de septiembre de 2014

Some thoughts on SwanQueen phenomena

* Note: English is not my first language. Sorry for any mistakes, which will undoubtedly pop up like funny-shaped mushrooms.

I've been thinking about my SwanQuen-ness for quite a while now, and I've come up with the idea that I could differentiate two main aspects that define my devotion for the fandom: the artistic and the sociopolitical aspect.

The reason why I ship SwanQueen is purely emotional. I'm in love with the narrative that it proposes. Thus, this falls completely in the artistic aspect sphere. As so, I am not really bothered by the fact that SwanQueen is not (and, as it has been recently pointed out, will most likely never be) canon. Of course, it saddens me that the potential that I see in this story is overlooked in favor of other (in my opinion much less valid) developments. But as all art is a matter of tastes (and emotions), there's hardly anything I could complain about in this regard. Besides, I firmly believe in the benefits of the democratization and the appropriation of art, and, as it comes, this fandom has made a truly impressive demonstration of this trend.

However, while understanding and accepting the obvious fact that not everyone is inclined to feel as I do (and that anyone is therefore entitled to like what they like), I cannot approve of certain attitudes that are very representative of how the sociopolitical aspect of this phenomena is being ignored. 

As a way to try to explain this idea, I will share some insight on my initial reaction to this fandom. When I first started watching Once Upon a Time, it was because I am very interested in anything that has to do with tales. I fell for it thanks to a slightly embarrassing crush on Mr. Gold, which led me to fall for Rumbelle fandom. Some time before season 3 was aired, I came up with a fan made video about SwanQueen. I remember my utter shock at it. I couldn't but think: "Wait a moment, this two characters hate each other. How could anyone come up with such an idea? There is nothing that can be romanticized about this in a sensible way. This is just done for the sake of shipping a lesbian pair." And I forgot about it. I wasn't until the end of season 3 when I started wondering about it again, realizing that the Emma-Regina dynamic was one of the aspects that most appealed me. One day, I just run into my first SwanQueen fanfiction (I think it was one written by TnDani). It was all it took. I was heart and mind-blown by the possibilities of the story. To the day, I still am. SwanQueen is deeply interesting, twisted, compelling, challenging, emotional, thrilling… And it is coherent. As I got invested in the fandom, I started laughing at the radical change I had experienced regarding my opinion on the matter, at that first reaction and my inability to see the power of a story that later got such a grip on me. And then I stopped laughing. Because I realized why I had that first reaction.

The sad, sad true is that I wouldn't have reacted the same way had one of the characters of the ship been male. The thing is, I wasn't purposefully condemning lesbianism, but I cannot deny that I was obviously taken aback by the possibility of its existence in that particular situation. I wasn't seeing it as "natural" as I would have seen a heterosexual ship of similar characteristics. There is a word to name that kind of attitudes. And I should not hesitate to use it. That, as much as it hurts me, was me being homophobic.

There is an obvious reason why that could happen to anyone (and why it will be likely still happen): the lack of representation of diversity in mainstream entertainment is notorious and it contributes to build metal schemes that favor homogeneity in mental processes and that promote certain trends, such as heteronormativity.

Once that I've been able to understand how invisibility affects me, supposedly an open-minded, modern woman (who likes to challenge the system and was already invested in the problematic of how art represents homosexuality), I am more convinced than ever that the fight to promote representation of diversity in mass-media products is a very important one. And that is why I think that the SwanQueen phenomena has a sociopolitical aspect that is very meaningful and that should not be overlooked.

All along this fascinating journey through the SwanQueen experience, I have sensed attitudes of awkwardness and discomfort that disturbed me, both from the fandom and from the cast and crew of the show. I am more concerned with the latter. I think it is safe to state that Once Upon a Time is not an inclusive narrative, and that the show and its representatives have repeatedly refused to address the issue of LGTB representation, which is specially sad given that they have had a golden chance to do it.  My guess is that these attitudes occur not because of a lack of knowledge or conviction regarding the importance of representativeness, but because of a very specific policy to which creators must obey in order to carry on with the show

I cannot help but hope that voices arising awareness would break through that barrier and that Once Upon a Time would take the opportunity to open new fields of visibility. The inclusion of the SwanQueen narrative would be epic, both artistic and sociopolitical wise. It would be a milestone.

It's not that I need validation in order to enjoy shipping SwanQueen. SwanQueen is lovely as it is and the potential that it holds can be wonderfully developed without it becoming canon. But I worry. I worry that the insistence in refusing to consider its relevance is a sign an unhealthy entertainment system, still so very rooted in homophobia.

It doesn't seem that Once Upon a Time is going to make the difference, though. But it's ok. If  this show doesn't make it, the next one will. What matters is that voices keep raising. That we keep fighting. Because this is important, and SlashShipReallyReallyMatters.

Lovely fanart by erandil

3 comentarios:

  1. " SwanQueen is deeply interesting, twisted, compelling, challenging, emotional, thrilling… And it is coherent"
    Ditto, my friend, ditto. It's a great article and it would have been a great idea to make it real, but the show writers are not brave enough to give voice to that magic between them that so many people can actually see. Their loss ;)

    1. Me hace muchísima ilusión tu visita y tu comentario. Y saber que también compartimos esto... ¿otra serendepia? ;P

    2. afinidad espiritual ;)
      ilusión me hace a mí leerte :D