Thursday, February 27, 2014

Teen Wolf - The Slash Debate

Warning: This article might specify one show but it's a commentary on the nature of slash in general. It's just that this show in particular has fired up my need to write an article.

The show of course being Teen Wolf. The MTV supernatural series, loosely based on that Michael J. Fox movie by the same name which has been running for three seasons so far since it's debut in June 2011 might not be a show I've ever really covered here (I've seen the odd episode, but never got round to watching it all properly) but it's certainly a show I am aware of. More to the point I am also aware that it has something of an intense fanbase and one of their key components seems to be the favouring of a slash pairing named Sterek - aka the characters of Stiles Stilinski and Derek Hale, as played by Dylan O'Brien and Tyler Hoechlin. Recently, lead actor Tyler Posey, who plays werewolf Scott McCall on the series made some less than flattering comments about the popular slash pairing and needless to say, some of the internet wasn't best pleased with him - putting it mildly of course.

The thing is though that while Posey's choice of words ("bizarre", "twisted") were pretty poor, I can't help but think that perhaps he raised something of a point though. 'Sterek' from what I've seen are two heterosexual male characters who seem to have more of an antagonistic rapport with each other rather than something that has become far more romanticized and exaggerated with great effect within the Teen Wolf fandom. This is hardly the only show to have this type of situation as fans of Once Upon A Time, Supernatural, Glee and Sherlock can attest to similar slash (and it's female equivalent) pairings almost being obsessively favoured over the more established relationships on the actual shows themselves.

To be honest - Posey seemed more frustrated than bigoted with his remarks and I have to admit, I do find it a tad bizarre myself (as a gay man) that there seems to be more of a fixation on two straight male characters being shipped than the actual gay couple that we have on the show at the moment. A couple that comprises of the rather sweet but slightly clueless, Danny Mahealani (Keahu Kahuanui) and Alpha twin Ethan (Charlie Carver). Granted, it's a relationship that hasn't been given as much screen time compared to the other couples on the show but surely, it's also a relationship that's more deserving of attention from these type of fans than the one they seem to have imagined with Stiles and Derek.

I'm not against slash pairings at all though - it can be rather amusing and harmless but I do find it somewhat annoying when fans try and project it onto the creators and cast of a show and then virtually lose the plot when either cast or crew member doesn't share their enthusiasm. Going from past interviews, it seems that Posey himself has mentioned liking the idea of Scott being either bisexual or paired up with fellow character Isaac Lahey (Daniel Sharman) and perhaps his dislike of Sterek stems from the actual onscreen relationship with the characters in question. If fans are free to slash and ship whoever they want, then I think cast members are certainly free to have their own opinion on the matter too. I definitely Tyler could've worded his comments better but I do think he was onto something though. While there are better written gay characters on other shows, Teen Wolf at least actually has some interesting enough gay characters (and they're adding another one soon with Mason) and personally, I'd rather focus my energy on them rather than a pairing that is largely fan imagined and not so literal.

Slash Fans Vs. Tyler Posey:

Teen Wolf's third season continues to air on MTV, Mondays at 10pm. A UK broadcaster has yet to be confirmed.

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