For the most part, television is a medium that is enjoyed by all. We get invested into the characters, stories and worlds on our screens each week for several months of the year.
The evolution of the Internet in the past fifteen years has allowed fans to be more vocal than ever before.
Of course, this has positive outcomes – the writers and producers get visceral responses to their work and have an idea of what is working and not working in the show.
Sadly, it can also impact people’s lives in a very negative way.
‘Shipping’, as explained above, is the idea of pairing characters people want to see romantically but are not in the established canon. As well as television shows, this can also be applied to movies, books and other forms of entertainment.
A big example of shipping that comes to mind exists on CW’s The Flash, which began in 2014.
In the show’s storyline, main character Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) pined for, dated and married Iris West. These characters have been romantically involved for decades in the source material (comic books) and are given the ‘ship’ name WestAllen – derived from their surnames.
However, there are some fans who believe Barry is better suited for the other regular female character on the show – Caitlin Snow, thus forming SnowBarry.
While this might seem innocent enough, people take these fictional relationships too seriously. Since they cannot vent at Iris or Caitlin, they target the actresses online and leave negative comments, which from what I have seen, are extremely harsh and damaging to an individual’s self-esteem.
On one occasion, I came across what can be best described as a ‘hate blog’ for a character on a television show. I will not name who or the name of the blog, but some might know who I am referring to.
Remember, if you are insulting how a character looks, sounds, their physique, you are in the process also offending the actor, a real life human being.
Don’t criticise an actor for decisions their character made. Yes, they may be the person on-screen, but they did not write the material.
Of course, not just shipping can have negative effects.
In recent news, 13 Reasons Why actress Grace Saif left social media due to an overwhelmingly negative reaction . Her character, Ani, a newcomer, was involved in storylines which involved events from previous seasons.
Bear in mind – not even particularly targeted towards Saif, or her performance, but decisions and actions attached to her character which, once again, the actress is not responsible for.
Not that I am advocating insulting the writers either, but people take their opinions too far and it can cause serious damage.
In a nutshell, what I am trying to say is this.
Everyone is perfectly entitled to have an opinion. No one is denying you that right. However, it is unfortunate that some choose to display their opinion in sometimes disrespectful and hurtful ways which can seriously impact others.
In a world full of precarious situations, being a little kinder is not too much to ask, surely?