Hi Ryu X Chun-Li Project fans and followers,
As we’ve written before, one of the goals of this project, along with producing a Ryu/Chun-Li graphic novel, is to figure out why we love the idea of Ryu and Chun-Li as a couple in the first place. Well, today we get a step closer to this secondary goal.
Near the beginning of this project we talked about shipping as an affliction and consequence of human nature, something outside sources seemed to confirm…
Of all the obsessions that universally afflict fandom, Shipping is by far the most persistent, widespread and prone to be serious business. It knows no boundaries of age, demographic and gender.* This might raise an eyebrow or two on first inspection, but honestly, shipping is just a consequence of plain old human nature: we are wired to seek a romantic partner in such a powerful, fundamental way that we even get a considerable kick out of doing it by proxy — and fictional characters are plenty, easy to relate to, often in want of someone to make out with, usually get their happy ending and hardly ever fall out of love. We wish we were them. We are drawn to reimagining ourselves in their place like moths to the flame.
But now thanks to the wonderful people at Extra Credits, we would argue a different reason for why we ship our favourite fictional characters. We do it because we want our favourite characters to grow up with us.
We don’t want to abandon the fictional characters we loved as children just because we’ve aged, but for the most part that’s what society demands we do. And when society doesn’t ask us to give up the fictional characters of our youth, we often find we do really just grow out of them and leave them behind. As our world view expands with experience and time, the things that our favourite fictional characters touched on start to seem a little trivial, a little silly, in light of our new lives which may include work, raising children, or school, with our new ideas about morality and politics, and society. And so we abandon our childhood fictional characters, leaving them behind like mile markers on the road of life, shedding them as we go.
But secretly, often in a way not countenanced by our society, we’d rather not let these fictional characters go, we’d rather not put away the joys of our youth. Secretly, or hopefully not so secretly, we still hold a fondness for these characters we loved when life was simpler, smaller. And so we wish they could come with us, grow with us, be something relevant to us even as we change.
And that’s where shipping comes in. As our generation that continues to love its fictional characters from its childhood ages and matures, the shippers among us want to update these characters, make them more relevant to who we are now, and examine love, sex, and marriage through them. Shippers want to keep imagining in their favourite characters’ universes, but not as they did when they were younger. Shippers want to imagine in these universes as the young or full adults the shippers have become. We start to deal with love, sex, and marriage and we want our favourite characters to deal with these things too. And, as shippers age even more, gain skills, make money, etc., they get to a point in their lives where they can take some creative control and you end up seeing shipping stories and art on the internet and, every so often, a project like ours. Shippers finally have the means and resources to start experimenting with their favourite characters’ universes in their own way.
Although not in the form of shipping, a lot of movies we’ve seen in these last few years are a product of this desire to mature our favourite characters as well. We’ve taken our heroes like Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Spider-Man, etc. into “dark” movies because this is the fastest easiest way to remove the trivial, silly, childish elements that keep the things we loved as children from being taken seriously by society today.
The idea of Ryu and Chun-Li as a couple is the same thing, but with a difference. Street Fighter was always dark. Street Fighter, and even more so its darker cousin Mortal Kombat, are always taking hits from society for being too violent and lacking gentleness. And maybe we Ryu/Chun-Li fans appreciate this on some level. So perhaps it makes even more sense that we want to see some love, sex, and marriage between the Street Fighter characters not only to have the characters grow up with us and deal with these things as we are, but also to bring some balance to the darkness and violence we love in Street Fighter as well.
What people who dislike shipping need to understand, and perhaps shippers who don’t hold their heads up high in public (or share our posts despite liking our page…lol), is that shipping doesn’t come from a place of shame. It comes from a place of love, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of it. Shipping comes from a desire to take these characters we love and use them as a lens to examine our current lives, the changed reality that we face with time and experience. And if shippers can do this bravely, professionally, and tastefully, perhaps shippers will produce some amazing love stories that will not only make the companies that own the rights to their favourite characters sit up, take notice, and welcome them, but also help a generation of fans to better understand who they are.