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why the Lie is not a shipping-related issue

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I think I've finally realised why I disagree with Xander-shippers.


Intro-ish dissertation on the subject of shippers

There are, in my opinion, two main varieties of shippers. These are the Buffy/Angel shippers, and the Buffy/Spike shippers. Otherwise known as the "Soulmates are True Love Forever! Romeo/Juliet!" shippers, and the "Snarky Bickering is So Cute! Beatrice/Benedick!" shippers.

The first group is, broadly speaking, likely to ship Joey/Dawson, House/Cameron, Doctor/Rose, Bella/Edward, and Harry/Hermione. (To generalise wildly.) They are very into "true love", roses, sunbeams, and sighing "so romantic!" at the television.

The second group, on the other hand, comprises those who ship Joey/Pacey, House/Cuddy, Doctor/Master, Bella/Jacob, and Ron/Hermione. They are into fun, quippy scenes, prank wars, long and ludicrous arguments, and shrieking "just KISS already!" at the television.

It's a nice, logical, fifty-fifty split.

Then there's the Xander-shippers, who are something else entirely.


The genus Xandus Shipperus

The Xander-shippers don't necessarily ship Xander/Buffy, Xander/Faith, Xander/Spike, Xander/Dawn, or so forth, so much as they ship ♥♥ XANDER!!! ♥♥/random-person. Most of the Xander-shippers I've encountered will have written fics for multiple Xander-centric pairings - without much discernable difference between them.

The general formula goes something like this:
Xander has been a loyal, upstanding friend for years. After long disregarding this fact, Buffy (...or Faith, or Dawn, or Willow) finally realises how wondrous Xander has always been, and declares her love for him. Xander protests that he's only ever wanted to be a good friend... before realising that he is finally being offered the love he has always deserved, and sweeping his new soulmate into a kiss.


This same scene is repeated, with little variation, in every single fic that the Xander-shipper writes. It is, in fact, the whole point of shipping, from their point of view.

It is a style of shipping which is mainly concerned with the Good Old Friend, and them at last getting recognition for being the Best Friend Ever.


The point

The thing is, fic by Xander-shippers has always made me slightly irritated - but I could never figure out why. It's not that I dislike Xander-centric pairings. Heck, I've written fic pairing Xander with all sorts of people. But something about this particular kind of fic always struck me the wrong way.

And, today, I finally figured out what it is.

You see, if Xander is finally going to get recognition for being the Best Friend Ever, then he must, logically, having been the Best Friend Ever. Which means the Xander-shippers have to deal with... the Lie.

(You know the one. The one that gets called "The Lie" by the whole of Buffy fandom. The Lie that made me yell "you bastard!" at my television. That Lie.)

Fic by Xander-shippers tends to bring up the Lie out of nowhere. Purely so they can point out that, actually, Xander only told the Lie so that he could protect Buffy. And had nothing whatsoever to do with him disliking Angel. No - he was just helping Buffy. Like the Great Friend that he was, is, and always shall be. So, you see, it's perfectly okay that he told the Lie - and he's still just as wonderful as ever.

This... is incomprehensible to me.

The thing is, I ship Spike - who tends to horribly murder people. And Willow - who flays people alive. And Kennedy - who's a brat. And Darla - who kills unhelpful salespeople. And Andrew - who killed his best friend. And Lilah - who works for Evil Incorporated. And, as it happens, Xander - who has issues with jealousy.

Characters being occasionally horrible really isn't something that stops me liking them. Discussions of their past faults is pretty irrelevant to my shipping them with people. And, to some extent, explaining away their faults tends to come across to me as removing part of what makes them who they are. Bringing up the Lie in an unrelated fic looks, from my perspective, like a cross between "Xander loves the colour purple! So he's perfect for Buffy!" and "Xander isn't actually from Sunnydale! And he's not a geek! And his family aren't the Harrises! And his name isn't Xander at all!"

Why would I care if a character had done something ages ago? And why would I want to ship someone with a totally different personality from the character I watched on TV?

Xander-shippers get very caught up in defending Xander - which I really don't see the need for. And that defence is the reason I disagree with Xander-shippers.


Glad I've finally worked that out. It's been bugging me for months now.

The conversation's happening over at Dreamwidth. Feel free to comment there using OpenID. (comment count unavailable comments so far)

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