Fandom Spotlight: Scooby-Doo

Hello, everyone. Today’s post is a Fandom Spotlight, where I basically ramble about different franchises I have loved in the past or present, and what my experiences were. For the earlier ones, my experiences were mostly personal and without the influence of an outside fandom. As we move forward more, you’ll see how I became more and more invested in fandom communities over time. Enjoy!

If I was to pinpoint my first ever fandom, I would have to point to the Scooby-Doo cartoons. I started watching them when I was a toddler, and have had an ongoing love for the series ever since. I adored the goofy antics of Mystery Inc. I loved the retro music. I got a kick out of the traps. Most of all, I loved the hilarious situations that Scooby and Shaggy got themselves into, especially when they involved food.

I still remember the first episode I ever watched: “A Halloween Hassle at Dracula’s Castle.” It was from The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, which involved Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, and Scrappy traveling together, though this episode also had Fred and Velma. In this episode, the gang goes to a Halloween party at a castle of real monsters, who want them to help scare away a ghost. It was a simple, fun story, like most of the episodes were back in the day.

Fun fact: Most of the early episodes I saw had Scrappy in them. Since I didn’t use the internet as a small child, I was entirely unaware of the hate that Scooby’s nephew was subjected to. I honestly loved the little guy, and still do. He always struck me as a plucky, excitable puppy who was always ready to fight the bad guys and protect his uncle Scooby. This led to a deep feeling of betrayal when I saw the live-action movie in theaters, and had to see one of my childhood icons become the villain. (Seriously, stay away from the live-action movies. They are trash.)

Scooby-Doo is important to me in a lot of ways. Not only was it the first multi-episode show that I really got invested in, but it contained my first ever OTP: Fred/Daphne. I always enjoyed the relationship between the two, especially since they never got mushy with each other or kissed. (Young me wasn’t a fan of kissing.)

As I grew up, I became exposed to other, more modern series in the Scooby-Doo universe, including A Pup Named Scooby-Doo and What’s New, Scooby-Doo? The latter series was, in my opinion, the last good series featuring Mystery Inc.

And now I’m entering Unpopular Opinion Territory… Here it is: I did not enjoy Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated.

Now, before anyone jumps down my throat about how I’m a “Scooby-Doo purist,” I was honestly excited about the series when it first came out. I loved the idea of a darker, ongoing plotline involving the characters I knew and loved.

The problem was that these weren’t the characters I knew and loved! Fred was a trap-obsessed moron instead of the level-headed leader I grew to know. I mean, he was dumbed down a bit in What’s New, Scooby-Doo?, but not this much. Daphne was a Fred-obsessed fangirl, effectively ruining what had once been my biggest OTP. Velma…oh lord, what did they do to Velma? She was a crazy, manipulative bitch who constantly tried to get in-between Shaggy and Scooby due to being in a relationship with the former. Hell, even Scooby didn’t resemble the cowardly, lighthearted dog I knew. I specifically remember one episode when he found out about Shaggy’s relationship with Velma, and refused to talk to him, insisting that his best friend choose between him and Velma.

Seriously, what the hell? The Scooby I know would never put Shaggy on the spot like that! In every situation where Shaggy had a girlfriend in the past, Scooby was nothing but supportive. (Except for the live-action movie, but that was trash, as I have already stated.) There’s also the fact that Scooby Snax don’t exist in this universe, and the fact that Scooby doesn’t even talk the way he’s supposed to. He talks normally, instead of using r’s in most of his words. Did these people even watch the old series?

Honestly, the only character who acted like himself was Shaggy, and that only caused me to hate the series more, since it seemed like the poor guy was always being caught in the middle of a bunch of teenage angst and drama.

Sorry. Getting into ranty territory. My point is that this series didn’t feel like a Scooby-Doo series. If you want a dark Scooby-Doo story where the characters actually act the way they’re supposed to, check out the movies, especially Zombie Island and The Witch’s Ghost.

At the moment, my favorite characters are being represented in the cruddy Stay Cool, Scooby-Doo, and it honestly feels like my first fandom is on the verge of dying. It had a good run, though. And I’ll always have the memories, and the DVDs, from my childhood years.

I’ll always look to Scooby-Doo as my initiation into loving a franchise, growing up with a set of characters who felt like my friends, having an OTP, and eventually writing one of my first fanfictions. It’s an incredibly embarrassing, horribly-written fanfiction, but we all had to start somewhere, right?

Peace out, and Scooby-Dooby-Doo!

Personal Story: How Shipping Helped Me Discover My Sexuality

There is an unfortunate number of people who believe that fiction is unimportant, that being invested in worlds that someone else dreamed up is a waste of time. These people couldn’t be more wrong. A work of fiction is a culmination of thought, imagination, and passion from one person or a group of people, and is meant to be shared with countless more. A person can find solace in a work of fiction when they’re sad, when they have no one else to talk to, or when they simply feel the need to escape reality for a while. Sometimes, fiction can lead to self-discovery.

Since it’s Pride Month, I think this is a good time to share the story of how shipping fictional characters helped me figure out more about who I am.

I grew up in a small, white, Catholic town. Though I was lucky enough to be born to two tolerant parents, I was still in a very homophobic environment. Children’s shows made jokes out of being gay. The word lesbian was flung at me like an insult by bullies. In middle school, when I developed my first crush on a girl, I desperately quashed it down. Even though I was determined to be tolerant of things like homosexuality in other people, I refused to believe that there was any possibility that I was anything but a straight young woman.

Then, I started watching the BBC series Merlin.

I remember watching that series and being amazed by the relationship between Merlin and Arthur, who are the same age in that setting. Their friendship was so perfect, so effortless. Yet, I also found myself wanting something else. Against my better judgment, I looked up a “Merthur” AMV on Youtube. Then, I looked up another. Then, I read a few fanfictions.

Just like that, I found myself actively shipping a gay couple, and the idea of gay people didn’t seem so weird or foreign anymore. Merlin and Arthur weren’t the strange, alien beings I usually thought of when homosexuality was brought up. They were regular, relatable characters who I genuinely liked. That was my first step toward actual understanding.

When I was introduced to Axis Powers: Hetalia, I was shocked by how quickly I started shipping gay pairing after gay pairing. I mean, what else can you do when you watch that series? I adored the relationship between Germany and Italy. I gushed over America and Japan. I laughed at France and England. The more I watched, the more fanfictions I read, the more involved I got, and the more normal it felt.

When one of my friends came out to me as bisexual in high school, I found that I had no problem with it. By this point, the idea of a gay relationship was not only normal to me; it was freaking adorable! I began to wonder about whether I was as straight as I had always claimed to be.

The true realization that I didn’t care about gender came quietly one day. I was on the bus coming home from a field trip. I was half-asleep and sitting with two of my friends, one male and one female. In that moment, I realized that I had found both of them attractive at some point in my life. In that moment, I was completely okay with that fact. I came to terms with the crush I had back in middle school, realizing for the first time that it hadn’t been a fluke.

I’m pansexual, and I knew that was okay, largely thanks to all of the fanfictions that told me so.

I’ve discovered several things about myself over the years: that I’m pan, that I’m genderqueer, and that I’m poly. Coming to terms with being poly, or able to be in a relationship with multiple people, didn’t happen until recently.

We live in a very monogamous culture. Throughout most of my life, I was convinced that you could only love one person. The only time I ever thought differently, besides now, was when I was a little kid. Again, it was shipping that caused me to think this way.

I was watching the Dinotopia miniseries, which is about two brothers being stranded on an island with a utopian society of humans and sentient dinosaurs. (As a side note, I would recommend getting your hands on anything you can find having to do with Dinotopia. Except the animated movie. That doesn’t exist.) Anyway, both of the brothers had romantic interactions with a woman named Marion. At no point did it occur to me that she would have to choose. And she didn’t. She tells them that she loves them both, and I accepted that immediately. Marion was the first polyamorous character I ever knew.

Of course, there were several years when I was convinced that it was impossible to love more than one person. I even went so far as to hate reading about characters who fell in love again after their significant other died.

Monogamy tainted my non-existent love life, as I didn’t want to get involved with anyone. The idea of getting tied down and not being allowed to even look at someone else freaked me out. Through this fear, I began to realize that I would not be a jealous person in a relationship. That was the first step.

This was around the time I became very involved with RWBY. I adored the show, the characters, and the fanfictions that I found. I found myself loving multiple pairings at once, and really came into my own as a multishipper. Then, I started reading the poly fics.

I was skeptical at first, but I eventually started checking a few out. I was shocked at how much I loved the relationships portrayed between three, four, or even more people. It seemed so open, friendly, and healthy for everyone involved. The more I read, the more the idea of not being bound by monogamy really appealed to me. There was no sudden realization. I just knew that I was poly.

By this point, I’m more comfortable with myself than many people my age probably are. I’m unashamed of my identity and sexuality, and I know that there’s nothing wrong with being the way I am. I owe that to many factors, especially the fictional characters who guided me through childhood, high school, and even college.

I hope that you, my dear readers, are also comfortable with yourselves. Whether you’re gay, straight, bi, pan, or ace, you’re amazing. Whether you’re cis, trans, genderqueer, or agender, you do you. There are as many personalities, ways to see yourself, and ways to love as there are people in this world. Try to remember that, even when things get difficult.

Peace out!

Toxic People: Don’t Be One!

Toxic. Synonymous with terms such as hazardous or poisonous. My mom always used to warn me about what she called toxic people: individuals who make your life worse consistently without ever doing anything positive in your relationship. I’ve had to cut my share of toxic people out of my life over the years.

You’ve probably heard the term frequently if you have even a passing knowledge of fandoms. You hear about the toxic side of fandoms, the toxic opinions, and the toxic people behind them. They’re the ones who leave long, flaming reviews on your fanfictions. They’re the ones who harass you over what ships you have or don’t have. They’re the ones who are so quick to tell you to kill yourself because of one opinion dares to oppose theirs.

Why do such people exist? Fandoms are supposed to be safe havens for those who want to obsess over characters, plots, theories, and ships. Why do some people feel that it’s their ultimate goal to ruin a fellow fan’s day?

The first answer is simple: Cowardice. It’s the same thing that fuels all internet trolls. They have the freedom to hide behind a veil of usernames and avatars, and use that freedom to get into fights and harass people in a way they know they can get away with.

The second answer is a little more complicated: Ignorance. Yes, it’s possible for a person to be toxic without realizing it. With the anonymity granted by the internet, one can forget that it is all too easy to hurt someone or start an argument just by typing the wrong thing.

Here are a few of the common toxic people you’ll find in a fandom, and how to avoid becoming one.

-The Harasser: This is probably the most common toxic person you will run into. This is the person who will target anyone and anything that they don’t agree with. This is the person who will send multiple messages to someone with the sole purpose of making them feel bad. In other words, a Harasser is a basic bully who will put special effort into putting an individual or idea down.

I remember an incident not too long ago when a member of the Steven Universe fandom attempted suicide due to people on Tumblr ganging up on her for simply drawing a few plus-sized characters in a skinnier style. They sent her angry messages and told her to kill herself and said how horrible of a person she was. You get the idea. Thankfully, her attempt was not successful.

Not becoming a Harasser is easy. Okay, let’s imagine that you see a post by someone that says something you disagree with. Here’s what you do: Read the post and, if you feel the need, leave a reply that calmly and concisely states your opinion and why you feel that way. Respectfully disagree. If the person responds in a similarly-cordial manner, congrats! You are now engaged in a conversation with someone of a differing opinion. One or both of you may learn something! If the person doesn’t respond, that’s the end of your encounter with the post in question. Don’t keep coming back and leaving more comments. Don’t send angry messages.

To put it simply: Don’t be a dick!

-The Idiot: This is a stupider version of the Harasser. You know those people who leave angry, nonsensical comments that have little to no correct grammar or spelling? You know those comments that make you feel as if your brain is melting as you read them? Hell, some of them seem to have been written in a strange, foreign tongue that no sane person on the planet has ever heard of.

A good example I can give is a personal experience I had with some anti-furries. For those who don’t know, furries are people who like anthropomorphic animals. We get frequently bashed by other fandoms, largely because of a false belief that the furry fandom is overrun by perverts. Anyway, I left a positive comment on a furry music video and mentioned that I’m a dragon furry. Within a day, I was flooded with comments calling for me to get shot and telling me to kill myself. None of them had proper spelling or grammar. Youtube moderators deleted these comments since then, which is encouraging.

Another case involved an Animal AU RWBY fic I wrote. I mentioned being a furry in the Authors Notes, and the first review I got read: “Another fandom sullied by furry filth. UGH I hate your kind more than ISIS. Put warning to description so we could avoid your perversity. Seriously I’ve never been this disgusted in years.”

Okay, first of all, the fact that this was called an Animal AU in the description should have been enough “warning to description” for this moron. Also, we see another key sign of an Idiot: comparing people to terrorist groups or Hitler. Did you feel your brain melt a little reading that review? I know I did when I first got it.

Not being an Idiot is also incredibly easy. Follow the rules that apply for not becoming a Harasser. Also, CHECK YOUR FREAKING GRAMMAR AND SPELLING! Seriously, it takes a minute at most to make your post at least somewhat resemble a coherent thought written in an actual language.

-The Ship War General: Ugh… Ship wars… These are the bane of any fandom. There is no escape. One group of people thinks Character A should be romantically involved with Character B. Another group thinks that Character A should be with Character C. Cue the anarchy! There will be bodies!

A Ship War General is someone who instigates such battles. This is the person who makes forum posts that are meant to draw in angry people to yell at them, which draws in more angry people on the opposing side. Before long, the web page is rapidly filling with neatly-typed carnage in the form of one-sided interpretations of canon events, declarations that Character B is a whore and Character C is the devil incarnate, and personal attacks on anyone who dares wield an alternate viewpoint.

If you don’t want to become a Ship War General (and you’d better have no wish to become one, unless you want to be a black stain on whatever fandom you claim to be a part of), all you need to do is take a chill pill.

Remember, you’re a fan of a work of fiction written by someone who likely doesn’t give a damn what your OTP is. Canon events are going to unfold in the way the author wants them to, whether or not you waste hours of your life verbally lynching a poor, innocent Zutarra fan.

The solution? Make works featuring your favorite ships. Write fanfics. That’s what they’re for. Draw fanarts. If you’re not good at writing or drawing, come up with headcanons and commission someone to write or draw them. Or practice becoming a better writer/artist. No one starts out perfect, after all.

Most importantly, respect that other people have different opinions. Respect those opinions. Enjoy your ships while letting other people enjoy theirs. And don’t ship-bash. Ship-bashing is for jerks.

-The Ship-Basher: Coming off of that point, let’s talk about a lesser version of the Ship War General. A Ship-Basher is anyone who feels the need to make it known at every possible opportunity that they don’t like a certain ship. They comment on fan works, complaining because the ships featured were not their ships.

Here’s a fun fact: It’s possible to be a Ship-Basher without realizing it. One of my favorite RWBY artists, who temporarily had to leave the fandom due to Ship-Bashers, is constantly dealing with people saying things along the lines of “Your art is so good, but why aren’t you drawing Bumblebee?” or “Too bad you don’t draw this and that pairing.”

Yes, that counts as bashing! If you see a piece of work you like that is of a ship you don’t normally like, don’t make a big deal out of it! Tell the person how much you enjoy their piece. Instead of talking about how you don’t ship the pairing shown in their work, tell them how their piece made you like the ship in question in a way you normally wouldn’t. There are positive ways to word things.

Instead of saying “I love your art. I wish you drew this and that pairing,” say “I love your work! You drew this pairing so well. Are you planning on drawing anything for that pairing?” See the difference?

-The Flamer: If you’ve read my glossary, you know that a flame is an overly-negative review that doesn’t offer any constructive criticism, and is just there to insult the creator of a work. A Flamer is someone who relishes in leaving such comments, whether they are insults toward a person’s ship, overblown complaints about a few minor grammar errors, or an overall statement that a person’s AU is stupid.

To keep from being a Flamer, be kind when you comment on people’s works. Tell them what you like. If you have a criticism, state it in a concise way and offer suggestions on ways for them to improve. Don’t just leave a page-long review talking about how a certain plot-point ruined the entire story. I’ve gotten a few of those on my stories in the past. It sucks.

-The Bigot: This is what would happen if the Harasser and the Idiot had a lovechild who was then subjected to a Westboro Baptist Church upbringing. These toxic people love commenting on works featuring characters of different races, different sexualities, different gender identities… You get the idea.

A good example of a bigoted review came to me recently. In honor of Pride Month, I decided to put out an LGBT-related RWBY fanfic a week. The first one I wrote was a fic featuring one of the characters, Jaune, as a transman. Besides a page-long review preaching about Jesus, I got this little beauty that I have since deleted: “Wow you’re brainwashed by liberals. I honestly pity you. Trans faggots have done nothing for the world other than lawsuits and ruin lives. Besides Canada has the c-16 Bill passed, which basically confirms that gender is a social construct and you retards and it’s supporters just love genital mutilation. You disgust me because of your naive mind.”

As you can see, this carries hints of both the Harasser, through the pointless attack on me personally, and the Idiot, through the horrible grammar and nonsensical statements.

Now, let me tell you something very important: Bigots aren’t limited to cisgender, hetero, white people. Being active on Tumblr has taught me that bigotry can go in any direction. People are hated for being white, straight, cis, skinny, or male, and that is every bit as wrong as people being hated for being black, gay, trans, plus-sized, or female. Think about that before you rant about someone’s hetero ship, okay?
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In conclusion, everyone should remember that, at the end of the day, it is just a fandom. No matter how all-encompassing your love for a work of fiction can seem, a work of fiction is all it is. It was made by a writer or group of writers who wanted their stories to be heard by others. It was made to inspire creativity and emotions in the minds of those who enjoy it. Try to keep that in mind, and don’t ruin it for people who simply want to have fun. On the other hand, avoid toxic people when possible, report them if you can, and don’t let them mess with your good time.

Peace out!