What is the most famous ship you can think of?
If your answer is “The Titanic,” that may be because it actually is one of the most famous marine vessels.
If your answer is your favorite romantic couple, you’re thinking about the topic of this article.
Fanfiction and shipping have both been subjects of passionate debate for years. The first, because of its place within the literary world, and the second because of its cultural and sociological implications.
With this article, I would like to invite you to forget your argument stance for a moment, regardless of your position about any of these topics. The reason I’m asking is that this is because, for Pride Month 2021, there is an art festival happening on Twitter.
One person who dared to dream managed to engage 17 ship fandoms into teaming up for an original kind of artistic expression. Writers and graphic designers will create new fanfiction alternate universes (AUs) for Thai BL actors’ ships, combining writing with photo and video editing. We had the chance to ask the creator and organizer of this project, Twitter user Hopiá / @wantuthree_ some questions to promote this venture.
How did you come up with the idea of a multi-fandom festival, and why on Twitter?
Actually, the thought came up in my head that it would be nice to see other writers from different BL ships showcase their talents through writing. I hesitated at first because I’m just a small account. However, I was shocked when people started liking my tweet giving their insights on making it possible. The real intention of this fest is to celebrate “Pride Month.” Many BL fans use this platform to show support for their ships; that’s why I decided to do it here.
With its method of promoting Boys Love TV series, Thailand is also marketing dreams. If you were watching Hollywood movies in the 2000s, you saw that kind of a dream come true in the story of Brangelina (ship name for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), even if it wasn’t yours. The same story is repeated nowadays with BL actors in Thailand. Those stories may not be like that, but it’s the same thrill of the “what if?” that makes people turn to them over and over again (are they a couple in real life, or are they not?)
Why have an actors’ AU story and not a characters’ AU story?
For me, the characters they’ve portrayed already have a story, and as a writer, I want to give another flavor into it and answer my own ‘what-ifs.’
To promote a BL TV series, the actors participate in promotional events paired together, bringing some of the magic of their characters into their public interactions with each other and the viewing audience. Although the pairs may change in time and the same actors can play in different movies with different partners, the enthusiasm for this type of story is always there.
Shipping for Thai actors as a marketing strategy isn’t viewed too popularly by the LGBTQ+ community, and neither are some of the tropes used in BL series. So what’s your personal view of the issue?
For me, shipping them is not a sin and supporting the LGBTQ+ community is something for which you can be proud. However, for others having that kind of support is just an illusion – they see this as breaking stereotypical kinds of love. Love is for everyone. No one should ever face discrimination because of the gender of whom they love.
When the “what ifs?” keep nagging at a fan’s consciousness, fan-fiction writers are there to fill in the gaps. They can take one moment or one photograph and turn it into a story in a parallel world in which dreams come true. The best part of these alternate universes is their variety.
AU fanfics keep being written for every fandom – the fanfiction websites are full of them. So what was your reason for asking fanfic writers and content creators to work in teams? Or how did the idea come about?
Uhm, it’s so typical to see an AU story written by only one author. I mean, he/she does all the work (Article Author’s note: writing plus images/video editing). It results in a very promising AU story. I thought, “What if those talents of theirs would just be put into one AU story?” It’s not only that I want to promote and read; I really want to see how they will work as a team. It’s like a package deal for me.
As a writer with a passion for storytelling techniques, I can see how this kind of fanfiction (text + graphics + on Twitter + AU) is pioneering a new way of telling stories. For me, this type of shipping fanservice represents an extra story layer to the narratives of the movies in which the actors are playing. Regardless of the line between what is real and what is a marketing strategy, these stories are good enough to inspire fans and fanfiction writers alike. However, most fans don’t see shipping the way I do.
When I played devil’s advocate and asked Hopiá about the line between what is real and what is fanservice, her answer reflected my own view as a fan:
Yes, I mean it’s the only thing possible… making an alternate universe for us.
I allowed myself to get excited about the idea of promoting actors and TV series between fandoms, so my last question for her was close to what I asked you at the beginning of this article:
Do you hope that by gathering multiple fandoms, people will read each other’s AU fanfics and make more people interested in more series, or did you launch this idea just for variety?
I hope all of them will take time to read all the participating fandoms’ works.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
I hope everyone will enjoy the fest.
Hopiá’s favorite AU is:
As for myself, there can be no “favorite” AU or other kinds of fanfiction or transformative work, just like there can be no single “favorite” book. That is because what fascinates me here is the passion of these writers and the way these actors can inspire so many people from all over the world.
If you read so far and if I made you curious enough to join the festival as a reader, follow @BLShipsAUfest on Twitter to get all the news about each fandom’s AU. The month of June is reserved for teasers and spoilers about the stories and for presenting the artists.
On July 5th, 2021, all the producing teams will publish their AU story prompts, following a predetermined schedule. Keep an eye out sooner on the festival’s main account (and don’t forget to turn on notifications), as video trailers may be dropped in advance.
If you’re interested in specific AUs, follow the official production accounts participating in the festival:
Twitter Acct Name – Twitter Handle – Fandom Name
BW Production – @BWProductism – BrightWin fandom
Broccoli Productions – @broccprods – BounPrem fandom
MG Productions – @MGproduction_ – MewGulf fandom
EM Productions – @_EMPRODUCTIONS – EarthMix fandom
Taynew production – @TNProductionsns – TayNew fandom
KaoUp Productions – @kaoupprod – KaoUp fandom
MyBlue Production – @MBOFProduction – OhmFluke fandom
KC Productions – @monterprods – KimCop fandom
OffGun Productions – @offgunprod – OffGun fandom
Phinong Productions – @Phinongprod – KristSingto fandom
JoongNine Productions – @J9PRODS – JoongNine fandom
Pondphu Prod. – @pondphuprod – PondPhuwin fandom
Le Sausage Inc. – @clowningsausage – YinWar fandom
MaxTul Royal Productions – #BLShipsAUFest – @MaxTulRoyalProd – MaxTul fandom
Mii2 Productions – @Mii2Productions – Yahom fandom (Mii2)
ProducerZS – @ProducerZS – CactuZS fandom (ZaintSee)
Penguin Productions – @pingusprodd – BKPP fandom