The Shipping News: Exploring Roleplay and “The Social Network” Slash

Hey folks, Catherine here. In this week’s installment of The Shipping News: addressing the allegations that slash is a “white boys club”, travels to the wonderful land of slash roleplay, and taking a closer look at the Mark/Eduardo fandom (no chicken was harmed in the process.)

Fandom News Roundup:

  • The Thorin/Bilbo (The Hobbit) fandom keeps growing and, dare I say, has already reached epic proportions on Tumblr–especially for a pairing that emerged a little over seventy-five years after Tolkien’s novel was published.
  • Supernatural finally returns this week! We can expect a Dean/Castiel team-up and appearances by Crowley and Samandriel Alfie. We’ve also been told that Wednesday’s episode might involve torture. If the strangely sexually charged Dean/Alistair interrogation scene from season 4 is any indication of how this will go, it could get…interesting.

  • Hey, did you know that Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien (Stiles Stilinski) is going to be in a movie with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson called The Internship? A few on-set pictures came out last week, including a rather great shot of Dylan sporting the token college hipster look. (The sound you just heard was a hundred of fanfic authors simultaneous throwing themselves at their keyboards to write Sterek college AUs.)
  • Speaking of Teen Wolf, rumors that Gage Golightly (Erica Reyes) is leaving the show next season have been circulating online. If there’s any truth to it, not only will the audience miss her great character, but slash fans will also be mourning a crucial link in the Isaac/Erica/Boyd puppy pile.

Teen Wolf’s Isaac (Daniel Sharman) and Erica (Gage Golightly)

(source: Freinne)

Slash Dictionary: Roleplay

No, I’m not talking about the reason you have a sexy fireman costume hidden at the back of your closet. I don’t mean the classic Dungeons & Dragons type of game, either. On the World Wide Web, the term “roleplay” usually refers to fiction or fanfiction written in turns by several authors–or rather, roleplayers. Each person plays as one or more character(s), generally following a particular plot decided in advance. Some roleplays strictly allow canonical characters of one particular fandom, others are a fandom free-for-all crossover, and some even permit (or demand) the use of original characters.

Slash roleplays, just like any other type of roleplay, can take place on different mediums, notably message boards, Livejournal communities, multiple Tumblr blogs, Omegle, and of course private email or instant messenger conversations. They all seem to follow different syntax, grammar and length requirements; while the use of asterisks is still fairly popular, most roleplays take place on public platforms and usually adhere to standard literary conventions, thus allowing uninvolved lurkers to easily follow the story.

Since many roleplay communities are interest-based and allow membership based on an application process, it’s difficult to recommend one in particular. If you think roleplaying might be your thing, search engines are your friend; rest assured that whether you’re looking for a Marvel/DC crossover or a zombie apocalypse at Glee’s McKinley High School, someone is probably already recruiting roleplay partners for it. Not only is it a fun way to meet new people with similar interests and fandoms, but it’s also an excellent writing exercise if you’re reluctant commit to a bigger project, like a fanfic…or your last dissertation of the semester.

M/M Pairing of the Week: Mark Zuckerberg/Eduardo Saverin (The Social Network)

Nobody in this fandom woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll start shipping the guy who created Facebook with the guy who sued him.” Nobody. And yet, what happened upon viewing The Social Network, the critically-acclaimed movie about Mark Zuckerberg’s rise to fame? Mark/Eduardo happened. And it was great.

RPS (real person slash) is fairly common and not exactly frowned upon within the slash fandom, but Mark/Eduardo doesn’t really fall into this category despite the fact that they are, of course, very real people. The fandom for this pairing actually focuses on the portrayal of these two men by Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield, respectively; it takes into account the so-called “inaccuracies” of the film and, perhaps more importantly, the fact that movie!Zuckerberg inspires at least ten times more sympathy than the real guy. (Sorry, Mark.) College life, snarky remarks and awkward fumbling sex tend to be a winning recipe for any slash story; with Mark/Eduardo, it comes naturally.

The Mark/Eduardo-specific blog are no longer as active as they once were, but if you look hard enough, you’ll soon find out that most aesthetically skilled Tumblr users tend to post Social Network graphics from time to time. Until you find them, bask in the glory that is AO3’s Eduardo Saverin/Mark Zuckerberg fanfiction tag.

“The fanfic got twenty-two hundred hits within two hours?” –“Thousand.”
“I’m sorry?” –“Twenty-two *thousand*.”


That Thing We Need to Talk About: People of Color (POC) in Slash Pairings

Two months ago, fellow slash columnists Yvonne and Hannah blogged about the very real issue that is racism in fandom and slash culture. It can unfortunately go unnoticed since entertainment media is dominated by white males, meaning that in most cases, non-Caucasian characters rarely get significant screen time and are therefore more difficult to pair up. I’ve therefore decided to compile a quick list of a few popular pairings (that is, pairings for which there is significant canon material and fandom involvement) as a remedy.


Sci-fi and superhero media are particularly racially diverse; finding good slash pairings that involve more than just the token white protagonists is actually fairly easy. Star Trek alone has several, including but not limited to Chekov/Sulu (TOS), Geordi/Data (TNG) and Garak/Bashir (DS9). The latter was even featured in the official Star Trek magazine’s issue on the “galaxy’s greatest romances”. As for comic books and their movie/television adaptations, Marvel has (again, most notably but not exclusively) Tony/Rhodey (heavily featured in the Iron Man films), Captain America/Falcon, and of course the first married gay couple in the history of superhero comic books, Northstar/Kyle. On a rather disappointing note, X-Men: First Class’ ultra-shippable pairing Darwin/Havok didn’t go very far since Darwin was killed halfway through the movie…for no reason at all.


For comedy, drama or simply TV series aimed at young adults, the profusion of white male characters means the pairings aren’t all that diverse. Fortunately, we still have Troy/Abed (Community), Scott/Stiles or Scott/Isaac (Teen Wolf), Morgan/Reid (Criminal Minds), and Gus/Shawn (Psych), as previously mentioned. There’s also the canon couple Tariq/King on L.A. Complex, which shared what is probably one of my favorite same-sex kisses on television.

Here’s the thing with slash pairings: their individual popularity relies almost exclusively on fandom activity. There is a need for more racially diverse pairings, and only the fans can make it happen by promoting the pairings they love. Let us know your suggestions in the comments!

Featured Fanfic


I can’t think of a way to introduce swordofmymouth’s fanfic, How A Righteous Man Raises A Rose“, and do it justice. Let me put it this way: I have the emotional range of a plywood panel, and this story made me cry for thirty minutes.

You might know the author for their participation in Redemption Road, the fan-created Supernatural season. “How A Righteous Man Raises A Rose” is a Dean/Castiel story told from Sam’s point of view in an alternate universe. It’s technically set after the events of season 6. The story has less than 6,000 words, so it’s a relatively quick read–and definitely worth your time.

Artist to Watch: Astro

Astro makes amazing fanart of DC, Marvel, Homestuck and Motorcity characters, sometimes slashy and sometimes not. What really sets them apart is the fact that they created the Teacup League, what they describe as a “superhero league [they] made up that somehow expanded and grew beyond [their] imagination”. Judging by the amount of posts in Tumblr’s “teacup league” tag, that’s a bit of an understatement.


Closing Words

I’ve been doing my homework and, after suggesting a few Marvel slash pairings last time, dove head-first into the DC fandom at the readers’ recommendation. To celebrate my newfound DC enlightenment (read: Young Justice marathon), I leave you with this classic Terry Richardson photograph. Until next time!

“Batman and Robin” (1999), Terry Richardson