What do the letters OTP mean to you? Does a cute couple pop into your head? How about memorable fanfiction and fanart? Maybe a little bit of both? Not all that surprising. Those of us that frequent fandom communities have a strong awareness of its meaning. We hold a special place in our heart for these letters.
One true pairing. Nothing better. Nothing less. That’s our inner motto. We breathe our OTP. It consumes our life. It’s not our own relationship, but it certainly feels close enough.
A person’s OTP is a personal liking—a preference. It has the potential to branch off and expand. Whether the pairing is canon or not, there’s promise of continuation. By relating to the characters we love so much, we build upon their world one piece at a time. Things non-canon suddenly seem pretty darn canon. You’ve got your fanart, your fanfiction, and by God, if your OTP managed to become official, you can say your life is complete. R.I.P.
With such a seemingly happy and passive hobby, what in the world could go wrong? OTP is personal. OTP is love! It’s not harmful.
Or is it?
Generally speaking, no. Having an OTP is about as harmless as a bag of cotton balls. However, arguing for your OTP is entirety different. Let’s face it. We all know about dreaded shipping wars. They can become downright brutal. Fortunately, for those of us who can think and act with maturity, these wars are nothing more than a pesky annoyance—almost like an unwelcome person at a party. Nobody likes them, but they linger anyway.
Arguments over OTP’s can become vicious, and there are many ways our zealousness can turn hurtful. Examples that come to mind are:
We all agree that fanart is a common way to enjoy and appreciate your OTP, but seeing someone’s work edited by a third party? Thievery. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across this problem. A quick palette change, new signature, and boom! The artwork has changed, including the OTP.
Not only does this editing do a disservice to the original artist, but it may also weaken the argument for the editor’s OTP as well. They may come across as desperate or lazy. With edited fanart as their sole means of persuasion, what chance does a person really have of getting anyone to appreciate their prized pairing? If anything, the editor risks alienating others from ever liking that OTP due to the behavior of the fans that follow it.
“My OTP makes more sense, so it’s okay,” is alarmingly the type of thinking we’re getting from these people. But sadly, it’s not okay. It’s stealing. Fanart, although not original at its core, is still put together with care by a passionate fan. Altering any portion of it without permission is inexcusable and highly frowned upon.
Fanfiction Character Bashing
Although I’ve dabbled in art here and there, my passion lies with my writing. I’ve seen plenty of good fanfiction, but I’ve also seen some bad ones. To clarify, I’ve seen what very well could have turned out to be a promising fic, but found it ruined with insane amounts of character bashing.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with disliking a character in a series, but mindless bashing doesn’t prove your point. “They suck” doesn’t cut it. If you dislike a character or particular OTP, try using your own favorite pairing as a means to persuade someone to see your point of view. Does the opposed pairing lack development? Chemistry? And if so, why?
I find that too many of us are quick to become helicopter parents for our precious OTP. We feel the need to defend both the relationship and characters, no matter the cost. It becomes a dating game. We test out multiple characters and determine who is and isn’t approved. If someone doesn’t fit the mold of what we consider to be perfect, they’re out. Game over. No questions asked. No room for argument.
Is this really a fair way to handle something we appreciate so much?
“ur OTP sucks. Go kill urself.”
Any self-respecting fan from Tumblr know these messages. Some may not get them as much as others, but the harassment still exists. The question is why?
Where do we draw the line between our love for a series and pure obsession? How do we stop the violent cycle of shipping wars that break out with each hit series? If we insist on acting like proud parents to all our OTP babies, then shouldn’t we be expected to possess a certain level of parental maturity as well? No successful parent I know crashes their child’s dating life/marriage for the sake of their own happiness.
It may seem extreme to relate OTP love to parenting, but with how dedicated fandoms can be, I don’t find it that odd of a comparison. We love our pairings, and we love the characters. We simply have to learn how to accept and appreciate the opinions of others.
A fandom is supposed to unite people. We’re fans. We love the same thing. There is no in between, and I believe it’s time we start accepting that.
If you have an OTP, share it with the world and blog about it till you’re blue in the face. If you dislike someone else’s OTP, agree to disagree. We’re not part of a gang. We’re a community. And as a community of dedicated fans, I truly believe we’re supposed to find comfort in one another—not hatred.