Some of the issues with Teen Wolf’s Sterek problem come from people conflating slash shipping with social activism. Many fans want Sterek to happen purely because they want Stiles and Derek to fall in love, while others are hoping for better representation of LGBT characters on TV in general. Writer and creator Jeff Davis originally planned for Teen Wolf to be a diverse show with a strong LGBT presence, but many fans felt that the show’s third season failed to live up to those promises. Unfortunately, Teen Wolf’s changing social media message isn’t helping.
Last week, Teen Wolf released a video of actor Dylan O’Brien asking for fans to vote for Teen Wolf in a TV Guide poll, a similar situation to the Teen Choice Awards campaign that produced the “ship” video last year. But this time round, they went for threats rather than bribery. Instead of teasing with more Sterek footage, O’Brien joked that if people didn’t vote, they’d kill off the show’s lone surviving gay character, Danny.
The joke didn’t seem very funny, particularly when the survival rate for side characters in Teen Wolf is notoriously low for anyone who isn’t a straight, white man. To make matters worse, MTV released an “In Memoriam” video of all the characters who have died on the show. It was meant to advertise a fan contest to appear (and then die) in a future episode, but it ended up highlighting just how many women and people of color have been killed off so far. For a show that was originally touted as diverse and forward-thinking, things did not look good. [READ MORE]
"The biggest mistake creators can make is to try to dictate to fan communities how they should be interacting or expressing their fannishness. You have to respect these people who love your work."
There is a huge chasm between fanservice and servicing fans. One is about pandering to your audience. The other is about enabling them to be better fans.
As the official show presence, you have to be sensitive to the meaning of particular ships to different sections of a fandom. You also have be aware that once a show starts exploiting a fanship, you build the expectation that the ship will become actual canon in the show. And — last I checked — most show brand managers don’t have the authority to tell the show creators and writers how they should write their characters. So if that ship isn’t fulfilled, fans can (and will) become angry.
Similarly, if you acknowledge a ship too early in the run of a series you risk stunting further development of the entire fan community.