The hatred for toxic ships goes farther than skin-deep. On the surface, it’s something to be angry about because you’re unhappy characters are together despite various toxic situations like gaslighting, jealousy, or abuse. Digging deeper, however, you begin to realize it might influence real life or even seep into your own. That’s the problem with toxic ships–people will glorify them and strive to be like them, when in reality, they are an example some folks take and integrate into their lives.
Toxic ships, however, should be written in certain circumstances. To condemn them. A skilled author can take a toxic ship and emphasize that it’s bad through the negative effect it has on people. This article is putting down toxic ships that are glorified and supposed to be strove for. Or people who glorify obviously toxic ships that aren’t meant to be. I’m not sure the Joker x Harley Quinn situation, for example, whether the writers intended for it to be glorified or not (I don’t follow the franchise, I just hear about it, that’s why I’m mentioning it as opposed to going into detail). I just know that fans took it and ran, glorifying a toxic ship in a bad way. “I want my relationship to be that way!” No! Bad!
For many writers, I believe it’s very hard to actually write a toxic ship correctly. A lot of franchises will miss the mark, spotlighting things that are okay when they really shouldn’t be. Great examples of this are a ship breaking up and getting together again constantly despite abuse. I hate the ‘second chance’ trope because there are very few circumstances where a ‘second chance’ would even be warranted. So when you add three, four, or more chances, you’re at this point drawing out something that shouldn’t be.
That is NOT to say it doesn’t happen like that in real life. Again, depicting things realistically and negatively in those situations is a good thing, because it should be commented on. Putting a positive light on that stuff isn’t good. I think jealousy falls into this as well. Flat out, jealousy isn’t cute. Invasion of privacy or restricting who your significant other(s) see is disgusting.
There should be open communication between partners…and you know what? It’s OKAY TO FALL OUT OF LOVE. But be open and honest. If you’re the recipient, it’s okay to be sad about it and just crushed. But why would you want to restrict or trap someone you love if they are no longer in love with you? Clean breakups should be seen more in fiction, at this point. I’m not sure why we can’t act like adults and talk things out, but it gets tiresome reading about the drama in fiction.
This is where ships come in. If they keep being depicted as toxic in a POSITIVE light, we see more and more people thinking it’s okay to act out in horrible ways, not talking to their partner, and exhibiting toxic behavior.
I have two specific examples, but there’s plenty more out in the world.
Twilight – Edward x Bella
Don’t even get me started on how much I hate Twilight. I read the books and saw the movies as a kid, so I can definitely freely criticize. It’s fine if you like the series, I am not putting down the fans. Me, personally, I think it’s a terrible series, and so is the glorification of its ship. Edward is the king of gaslighting and confusing Bella. While yeah, keeping his secret is important, it’d be great if he stopped leading her on and either stopped egging it all together or just was open with her.
Then, Bella’s absolute obsession with Edward was really eyeroll-inducing. Especially when he broke her heart and left. She began to actually hurt herself to see him, which is alarming. This was glorified and they eventually got back together. There were no consequences for this behavior, and it just wasn’t good writing, in my personal opinion. Putting aside the fact that ‘It’s too dangerous for you, I need to leave’ is a trope I can’t stand anyway.
There’s so much more I could say, but you get the gist. Twilight led to 50 Shades, which depicts the BDSM community in a negative light and glorifies toxicity in that. I refuse to read it, and there’s plenty of sources that have read the books and break them down who can do it better than me, so I’ll just shout it out here as something I can’t stand.
How to Train Your Dragon – Lightfury x Toothless
This might be a surprising entry, but I feel strongly about it. Even this BLOODY IMAGE is anger inducing, because it’s the perfect reason why I hate this ship from How to Train Your Dragon 3 so much. Putting aside the horrible plotline where the dragons left their best friends because of a FAR LOWER STAKES ENEMY than ever before… which made no sense…. this SHIP is horrible.
Yes, I’m bitching about cartoon dragons, but I can’t help it. How to Train Your Dragon is my favorite franchise, but not this stupid movie. The Light Fury has to be the most obnoxious character in the franchise and has no charm. Not only is she the ‘pretty pure white’ stereotype, soft, boring, and forgettable, BUT she’s a bitch. Why does she constantly want Toothless to choose her over him? She went through horrible stuff in the past but…the fact that Toothless actually FOLLOWS THIS and goes to abandon his friend for some stupid chick pisses me off. The friendship between Hiccup and Toothless was flawless, and this introduced the ‘choose a lover or your best friend’ trope.
Which he did. Toothless abandoned Hiccup in the end for this dumb dragon. Sure, they showed up again at the end after so many years, but that doesn’t negate the fact that they left for so long and the ending was terrible. Jealousy and ‘needing to choose’ are tools of a toxic ship, and unfortunately it was glorified in this franchise.
Lucifer – Mazikeen x Eve
Before you kill me, I want to remind you that this is my personal opinion. This ship pretty much ruined the end of the show for me. It’s a shame, because it could have been a great representation of a wlw relationship in mainstream. Instead, it’s a heap of toxic waste. In earlier seasons of Lucifer, Eve was introduced and incredibly fucking toxic to Mazikeen for so many times. She let Maze down in more ways than I can count, played with her emotions, broke her heart, and just…it was terrible. Given Mazikeen is my favorite character in the franchise, it hurt all the more.
All of that happened only for them to end up together in the end through some really quick arcs that left me very unsatisfied. Eve wasn’t held accountable and got away with it. I hate that ship so much. Maybe it could have been better if her toxicity was actually addressed and she earned Maze’s love back. But it was extremely forced in the show and left me incredibly disappointed.
As you can see, I feel strongly about toxic ships. We need more positive representation in media, I feel, and I like reading about relationships that finally don’t drip in jealousy, betrayal, too many chances, or ridiculous love-triangle-conflict. I hate the ‘who will they choose’ narrative quite a bit. That sounds like a topic to get bitchy at for another time, though!
More positive ships, communication shown in relationships, and non-world-ending breakups in fiction please!
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