The U-Bend #17: The (Relation)shipping News

by Andrew Lee and Robert Lanto

“Are you that bad at kissing?”
– Ron Weasley (Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix)

The U-Bend has been around for a while now and we’ve been asked to tackle more complex topics. That means today we’re going to try discussing one of the most perplexing issues in the Harry Potter fan community today: Is Dumbledore really Ron from the future?

Unfortunately, we found that topic too difficult to talk about. Luckily we can still pull a rabbit out of the hat (most of the time) and with Valentine’s Day being in February it only seemed natural to discuss this topic. This one is for all those write-in requests, that’s right, the one you’ve all been asking for: SHIPPING!

Shipping (short for worshipping of certain character pairings) is a very popular past time for many individuals in the fan community (look at Madam Puddifoot’s). It promotes healthy discussions over Harry’s (potential) future love life. The general feeling is that Harry will love again, but just whom he will love remains just as mysterious as whom J.K. will knock-off next.

A word to the wise though. Shipping is (and will remain) the most dangerous topic that anyone could talk about. One wrong word, one step out of queue or one slip of the tongue and HermioneRon4evar4279 is sending you a 400kb .exe attachment in their next email to you. Luckily this is the U-bend so we’re used to it.

Shipping mostly refers to romantic character pairings that people would like to see occur. After all, who wouldn’t love it if Harry and Hermione got together (besides Robert, who firmly believes she belongs with Ron)? Well, if you’re a Harry/Ron shipper you would. Then again a Harry/Malfoy shipper would probably feel differently. And, what about poor Moaning Myrtle? Surely the Harry/Myrtle shippers deserve their say. This cycle goes on and on, until eventually you end up with some of the strangest pairings ever (Whomping Willow/Ford Anglia anyone?).

Now many of you have heard that shipping is a very divisive issue in the fan community and you are right. One major problem with shipping stems from the arguments people get into defending their pairing. We’re sure the part where Hermione prevents Harry from diving face first into the Quidditch World Cup field (to join the Veela) was a nice gesture, but does it really mean this is a sign that we’re looking at the future Mrs. Hermione Potter? The answer is yes, of course.

All kidding aside, how do you know when shipping has gone too far? When does it cross the line of being healthy discussion and turn into an icky-gooey mess at the bottom of Neville’s cauldron? Take the part where we realize that Harry and Cho are over. How many people out there let out a sigh of relief? After all, Cho was taking away Harry’s time from your chosen guy/girl/half-giant. Or how many of you simply turned the page to get to the conclusion where Sirius was killed by a curtain?

Now let’s take the preceding example of Harry about to become a stain on the Astroturf. Some will simply say that Hermione grabbed Harry because she was sitting closer to him, whereas a Hermione/Harry shipper could turn that into an elegant 30 page essay about why that proves Hermione is going to have a very sensual visit with Harry in the Room of Requirement at the end of Book 7. It’s this twisting of the facts to fit one’s own insane theories and ideas that makes shipping such a fun topic (not that we would know anyone who would do such a thing…).

For us, shipping goes too far when a “shipping wars” situation occurs. A shipping war is where groups of shippers (on a message board, for example) post their arguments as to why their pairing is right and all others are wrong (this usually degenerates into childish name calling and mass banning by the third page). Chill out everyone! People need to realize that there are other theories out there and while they may not match your own, it doesn’t make them any less important. After all, it’s one thing to express an opinion, it’s another to try and force someone to agree with you. Not everyone sees the same thing as you. A simple “I disagree, but I respect your opinion” will suffice and not, “You teh suxors! Pls die k thx bye.”

So what should be done to prevent shipping wars? Don’t let extreme opinions ruin your ideas. As long as conversation does not get out of control, shipping is a perfectly fine way to analyze why Malfoy and Harry should be riding off into the sunset together. Sure, some people see the bonds with certain characters as being more than “just friends” and that’s fine. No need to freak out and tell that person off. After all, time spent shipping is time spent meeting others and talking about things you share in common. Why be negative, when you can focus on the positive? No matter how crazy your pairing may seem, there is bound to be at least one other person who agrees with you.

In the end, shipping is nothing more than the study of the possibilities if two Potterverse characters get together. The heart of shipping is exploring the relationships between these two characters and to carefully look and analyze what makes your chosen pairing work, whether it is an action in the past or something done in the future. One of underlying themes of the Potter series is the power of love and friendship. If there is one thing that can be learned from shipping it is that the bonds of friendship are very powerful.

So go out there and enjoy some shipping! Make friends and create relationships that are as strong and inseparable as the pairing of Ron and Harry (except for that brief part in GoF)! Even though you may disagree at some points, in the end you’ll look back and say, “those were some truly great times.”

And that is exactly why Dumbledore is Ron from the future.