Going Down with the SHIP ~ Valentine’s Day special by Brandilyn

What do you do on Valentine’s day when society, family, and other obligations keep you from the one you love?  The following is a special(late) Valentine’s Day editorial on one such scenario.  Do I know if it is real?  Nope.  But we live in the world of fiction, so sometimes our imaginations can take us on some interesting journeys.

Unlike many readers and writers in the M/M genre, I didn’t find this genre through fanfiction.  I don’t read or follow fanfiction.  It’s a personal choice.

Another thing, I don’t do, is follow the lives of celebrities closely, if at all.  There was a time that I was a not-so-secret casual observer of many things “entertainment”, but as I aged, I decided the intrusive nature of the hobby made me uncomfortable.  It’s also quite an inefficient use of my time.  I made a decision not to support the invasion into the personal lives of the men and women who choose to entertain for a living.   I choose instead to focus on the product of their talent and appreciate it for the gift it is.

However, I seem to be in a minority on this, if the proliferation of “entertainment” news sources is anything to go by.  I can’t even name them all.  However, even living in my bubble, I can’t escape many of the “bigger” names in tabloid media.

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

– William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

Oh, how the media takes that to the extreme…  They play with the hearts and minds of the general public while playing with the lives and relationships of the subject of their “reports.”  All in pursuit of the mighty dollar (yen, pound, Euro, pick your chosen currency).  If you have the talent or the “it” factor to become “A-list”… the “ultimate” celebrity, your life is no longer your own… or at least that is how the media treats it/you.

Feeding this machine are the artists themselves, to an extent, but more often than not, it’s those AROUND the artists that pressure them to play to the crowd.   The management.  The agents.  The labels.  The studios.  You are no longer a person; you are a product.

In short the whole media machine sickens me… but mostly, my heart hurts for their subjects.

I was recently introduced to the world of Ships.  Hell, I don’t even know if I am using the term correctly.  Specifically, I was introduced to the Ship that is affectionately known as Larry Stylinson.  If you are unfamiliar with the term ship, here is the definition from Urban Dictionary:

N: Short for romantic relationship, popularized in fanfiction circles.

V: To endorse a romantic relationship.

Now this term can be applied to both fictional and non-fictional “characters”.  In the case of Larry Stylinson, they are real people.  Specifically they are two of the five singers if the Boy Band of the hour, One Direction.

There are, of course, opposing ships.   I am not, however, here to talk about Larry, Elounor, Ziam, Haylor, or any of the other copious number of choices.  I’m not here to endorse any particular One Direction-based ship.  I’m here to talk about the thoughts and feelings brought forth by my tumble down the rabbit hole.

larry-ship

Don’t worry, I will bring this around to MM shortly.

Forty-eight hours ago, I’d barely heard of One Direction.  I had a single One Direction song in my digital library that I’d purchased on a recommendation of a Facebook friend after an open call for “new music.” (The song is You & I, in case you’re wondering… excellent song… gives me chills, but I digress.)  I loved the song (hey, I will listen to almost anything… not too into Rap or R&B).  I didn’t know who Harry Styles or Louis Tomlinson were.  I had a vague knowledge that a group by the name of One Direction existed.  In short, these two weren’t on my radar.

larry 4

Thanks to a good friend, I now know, or suspect, more about them and their “world” than I ever cared to know.  Along the way I have gained respect for their talent and have been enchanted by their personalities. However, what sucked me in and wouldn’t let go, is the injustice that I see imposed on the members of the band by “the man” and “the media”. Specifically, the perceived closeting of one or more of the members.

In a way, the whole ship is one big conspiracy theory.  Basically, the theory is this: Harry and Louis met in 2010 during their run on X-Factor (a competition show on which they came in third).  During this time, they were pretty openly “together.”  They talked to each other on social media and about each other to regular media.  They were constantly touching.  They lived together in a flat in London.  There are those out there that called it a “Very close bromance.”  There are those who called it love.  They never overtly confirmed or denied, but there was plenty of innuendo and speculation.  Then, suddenly they went into a meeting with management.  Upon leaving that meeting, Harry was in tears, and Louis was on the arm of his “girlfriend” Eleanor (who he is still “with” to this day… when it is necessary to remind the world that Louis “is, in fact, straight.”).

Elounor

From the moment of that meeting – until this past November when something obviously changed – Harry and Louis were rarely, if ever, photographed together unless they were with the entire band.  They were not “allowed” to sit or stand next to each other during interviews or anytime a camera was around.  Watching footage from that time period, you hear the men talk about girls and say all the right things, but if the other is in the camera shot, they look pretty damn pissed, or hurt, or…  The “evidence” as the Larry shippers like to call it is pretty compelling.  However, if you don’t open your eyes and your mind you would miss most of it.  Which is exactly the point of a PR machine.

There comes a time when the blind man takes your hand and says, ‘Can’t you see?’ – Grateful Dead as Tweeted by Harry Styles

Tweet

The PR machine is certainly at work.

I’m not here to convert you.  I’m here to talk about the motivations behind this, and what has me sucked in.  Do I think “Larry” is real?  Well, I’ll leave that out of the discussion.  What I do believe, with all my heart, is whatever relationship these men had – be it bromance or romance – it was obviously special and was obviously squashed by ‘someone’ in a position to do so.  It’s pretty clear that management didn’t want their relationship construed by conservative “tween” parents as a gasp gay relationship.  Of course, being “gay” is wrong, and their image would be forever tarnished by love! (They sing love songs for cripes’ sake)…  Or that’s the message sent to the members of One Direction and their fans… By management.  That’s the message being upheld by the media machine who acquiesce to requests by management to crop photos.  Or who show up at “X restaurant at Y time to take a picture of … some 1D member with a girl.”

Is some of the onus on the men themselves?  Yes and no.  Let’s face it. If someone was dangling your livelihood, the livelyhood of your bandmates, and everyone that is part of the “team” (and the adoration of millions) in your face and telling you “play it straight or else,” most teenagers and young adults are going to fall in line.   They are a “boy” band.  Boy bands are expected to have a certain image.   Being seen as gay (whether true or not) is certainly not part of that image.

That’s the part that hurts my heart.  I don’t know for a fact if “Larry” is real.  I’m a natural skeptic. Conspiracy theories and I are not generally friends.  However, it is pretty clear from a study of this ship (yep, it was all for science, you will not convince me otherwise) that, bromance or romance, it was contained and neutralized by management… at least in the public eye.

Even with all the media icons leaving closet, people are still running scared from an image.  The powers that be still think that the public will see a gay relationship as wrong and will do everything in their power to ensure the couple gets cozy Mr. Tumnus.

Queue the tugging heartstrings.

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Here is the thing, though. Most of those prejudices are ingrained in the PARENTS and the older generation… not the target audience. Their fans (and yes I mean the tween and teens ones) are smart. They can tell that these men aren’t being true to themselves. Watch any interview with them, and you can see the reactions that they can’t hide when the subject of their “love lives” comes up. You know they are being forced to be portrayed as something in contradiction to what they are. It doesn’t matter if they are gay or straight. They obviously are not being allowed to be themselves.

In the case of One Direction, they have an entire LGBTQAI fanbase known as Rainbow Direction. “Security” at the shows has been reported (repeatedly) by members to confiscate their signs for having the rainbow logo. The theory is that this is done so the rainbow logo doesn’t accidentally appear on camera.

Rainbow Direction

It is a case of the old man in his Ivory Tower deciding what is right and wrong for the rest of the world, instead of realizing that the world has moved on without them.

Whether economics or discrimination, it has to change.

This paradigm is what has to change.  Yes, marriage equality is a buzzword right now and as of this writing 38 states are on board, as well as a number of countries.  Countries on board include the UK, home of four of the five One Direction members.  Ireland, the home country of the fifth member, is set to move forward on ME later this year.

Over the last decade, I’ve adopted a live and let live attitude.  I may have grown up in a conservative Texas town, but as I’ve grown, met people, seen the world, and learned more about said world, I came to realize how narrow my views were.

As a mom, I don’t know what, or who, my kids will grow up to be, but I want them to have the freedom to be themselves – without fear and without being told everything they thought about themselves is wrong.

So how does this relate to M/M books?  My entire trip down the rabbit hole brought to mind a few titles, of course.  If you don’t want to think about puppet masters playing with the lives of real men (and women), or you just need to know that your guys WILL get their happily ever after, I have a few titles for you.

Catch my Breath by MJ O’Shea. Two men in love in the public eye, forced to closet themselves… sound familiar?

Conquest by SJ Frost.  Yes, this one is closeted rockers, but they manage to take control of their relationship in the media.

Replacement Guitarist by Lori Toland.  A guitarist and his manager. The closet is a huge part of this one.

Moonlight Becomes You by Piper Vaughn and MJ O’Shea.  This one is kind of an ideal.  Two rockers who don’t know the inside of a closet finding love.

Tigers & Devils and Tigerland by Sean Kennedy is a favorite series of mine.  This one isn’t rockers, it is an Aussie footballer, but the same closeted theme.  In this one, they are outed by unscrupulous pap… which brings up a whole other issue I have with the media circus.

On the Right Track by Sam Kadence – Boy band member closeted by management… need I say more?

For those of you interested, if the Larry shippers are to be trusted, Harry might just be ready to bust out of the closet. Over the last few months his personality has taken another turn to being more open and free with his words and actions. He has already been making strides in the media. Just recently during an interview he answered “Not That important” when discussing the importance of a “girlfriend” being female. How huge is that? I actually have a ton of respect for Harry for his strides to buck the image his management has been creating for him for the last four years.

One thing One Direction is known for is that despite all the fame, they’ve stayed true to their roots. They’ve stayed kind and compassionate and are loyal to each other to a fault. Shouldn’t management be more concerned about THAT part of their image than whether they have a girl or a guy on their arm? Parents don’t mind if their teen and pre-teens idolize these ‘perfect’ young men.

If you want Larry Stylinson 101 crash course check out Freddyismyqueen on You tube.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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13 thoughts on “Going Down with the SHIP ~ Valentine’s Day special by Brandilyn

  1. Well, you know I’ve gotta’ chime in on this, right? Seriously, though… You nailed it. I had no clue who 1D was until I saw a FB meme everyone but me seemed to understand and I googled. Within moments, I was intrigued, then infuriated at the injustice of two human beings so obviously in “fond” with each other being kept apart for monetary reasons. Romantic or bromance – it’s a crime to put a kabosh on it. Falling in love with each boy for his own sweet personality (it’s humanly impossible to not love Harry – the word ‘adorkable’ was invented just for him) and finding out that their latest music is REALLY, REALLY good – that all came later. The thing is… yes, millions of “us” ship Larry, but, in the end, all any true fan wants is for these boys to be happy and free to be themselves, whoever that is, and we refuse to believe management’s spin that Harry sleeps with a different woman every night and Louis is happy with Eleanor when every single thing points to that being a PR stunt. And then there’s the tattoos, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post. Heh.

  2. My first response to this is, “Who is Louis Tomlinson?” Ok, so I’m a pop culture failure. I agree with your points about forcing stars into the closet. That just has to stop.

  3. I don’t do pop – so I barely know who 1D is, much less the players. That’s not important. What I despise about our celebrity-crazed culture is that we’re convinced that the “celebrity” (pop, film, reality, whatever) belongs to the public. That we have a “right” to know about them, about their lives.

    Wrong. We do not.

    Their WORK is part of the public domain. Their WORK is what people should concentrate on, criticize, idolize, pick apart, defend to the pain, whatever. Their LIVES are NOT our business. I hate it, All of it. And that this is what causes young men and women, not just now but for decades, to hide who they are? To try to change who they are? It’s revolting.

  4. Excellent post Boss and I agree with the criticism of a culture that a) looks to celebrities as common property, but sadly, it has always been so. In the ‘loving’ of their star and endless desire for info it is the fans themselves that drive the media frenzy. b) As long as 1D and the like are making the big money they will not be allowed to be themselves. No one will allow them to be anything that is not proven to be popular.

    However, it has always been the case that young girls, who make up the largest fan base, are completely tolerant even supportive of gay young men. It doesn’t change their pre/pubescent fantasies one bit and makes them seem even less threatening as male sexual objects.

    The real shame is the adult world who have developed the harsh intolerances and prejudices. They slowly drip feed homophobia to the tolerant young by presenting gay relationships as something wrong. So whenever you see young people in the spotlight being hailed as in a gay relationship, whether it be true or not, praise it because then we can show young people that a gay relationship is as wonderful as any straight relationship and by supporting the ‘love is love’ mantra we can try to counteract that drip fed homophobia.

  5. Absolutely agree 100% with you! But look what the Sony RCA bosses did to Adam Lambert who has never been in the closet! American Idol forbid him to say anything about his orientation until after the contest! When he never shied away from who he is … the refused to support him in America … no media behind his executive produced 13 of 15 songs written by him album Trespassing. There was a reason he had no American concerts … his bosses because he would not hide who he was! Look how the World embraced him in those years until he could walk away from the American Idol contract they are FORCED to sign! Best revenge … he fronts for Queen worldwide & his ex bosses can’t shut him up anymore! He took a huge risk walking away … it hurt him financially … but he could be true to himself. Every entertainer has to make that decision for themselves and if in a group … for the group’s sake. Adam was solo so he had a different perspective. Fame … that thing everybody thinks they want is so insidious & vile & flat out soul sucking. It takes unbelievable guts to wade in the deep pools. Until the actual guys in the group decide how they want to support or not their fellow group mates … nothing will change. The purse string holders RULE until the group decides for an insurrection! Don’t see that happening any time too soon … too much money involved & out numbered 3 to 2.

  6. Thanks for the post. I don’t really ship 1D (and don’t know much about them) but you did make some really great points. I keep to jrock and stuff since the action between guys aren’t censored. The mentality about it feels less of an issues in certain parts of the world…just saying.

  7. Excellent post!

    When it comes to shipping, I’m a Sterek fan. I ship the hell out of Stiles and Derek, two characters from Teen Wolf. I’ve even written some fan fic using those characters. But I personally don’t enjoy fanfic based on real people, either actors or singers. It starts to feel like an invasion of privacy to me when it’s about real people, which is one reason I’ve never read any 1D fan fiction.

    And whether Larry is real or not–and the entertainment industry has a history of forcing their stars into the closet–I think we can all agree that bands like 1D are so micromanaged by entire armies of PR people that it must be like living under a microscope. Absolutely hellish.

    • I’d protect you Jaycee, but I wouldn’t know where to find fan fiction if I wanted to…however a few years ago I accidentally found fan fiction about Dr Who (David Tennant’s and Rose) some of it was quite well written, but it just seemed to be an excuse for the characters to have sex…bit boring after a couple of scans.

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