The Art of “Shipping”

Shipping_RachelJohannes1If you are unaware of the internet phenomenon called “Shipping”,  you are not alone.

“Isn’t that just when there’s two people you want to be together, then you just create a name for them?” asks sophomore biology major Casey Fagan.

Fagan is one of many people we stopped on the streets to ask about their knowledge of “shipping”. She, like nearly all others, is not entirely sure. Most people have never even heard the term, while others recognize it but have no further knowledge.

Sophomore psychology major Devan Geary is perhaps the most accurate with her definition.

“From what I know, it’s when you think two different people would work well together so then you ‘ship’ them? I think it’s British,” Geary says. “Like if you think this person from this movie and this person from this movie would work well together, you ship them.”

She is right, mostly. But, there’s a bit more to shipping than that.

A quick internet search shows the actual definition of “shipping,” which is essentially the pairing of fictional couples (either from a book, movie, television show etc.) by a fandom. There are two types of “shipping couples,” canon and non-canon. Canon couples are couples that are already together in the piece of work from which they came. For example, Chuck and Blair of Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill’s Nathan and Haley would be categorized as “canon.” Non-canon couples are just other couples that fans put together themselves and wish with all their hearts become a reality.

Shipping has become a worldwide trend, namely on Tumblr. Fans create entire blogs devoted to shipping couples. True fans even know the terminology. The term “OTP”, which has been used on Tumblr as well as Urban Dictionary and LiveJournal, stands for “one true pairing.” This means that a fan has one specific couple on whom they focus most of their efforts. Other terms, as described by Know Your Meme (a website which tracks internet phenomena), include “slash,” which is a same-sex pairing, and “crack pairings,” which are couples that are considered particularly unusual.

There are endless blogs dedicated to shipping and its countless couple pairings. So whether you root for the classics like Edward and Bella, or wish for something as crazy as Spongebob marrying Cinderella, shipping could be the hobby for you.

Photo by Rachel Johannes