Tyler Hoechlin, Sterek, Conventions and The Fourth Wall

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A lot has happened in the Teen Wolf fandom over the last few days, some of it good, some of it bad and some of it depends on where you’re standing. It began with a single fan’s experience which ballooned in a fandom-wide issue that caused all kinds of trouble – particularly in regards to a certain Australian convention company that kept putting its foot in its mouth. This article is not to place blame or cause more drama. It is simply an attempt to clarify what went down and start a conversation about it. Stuff like this happens in fandom all the time; this is not exclusive to the Teen Wolf fandom or a particular ship so try to take it with a grain of salt.

A couples of days ago, Tumblr user evolmymind made a post saying that at the recent Days of The Wolf Convention in Chicago, Tyler Hoechlin politely declined to sign a Sterek (Stiles/Derek) related artwork. The artwork in question was The Sterek Book, which was recently used by The Sterek Campaign to raise money for charity. This book is incredibly respectful, does not include any explicit or offensive artwork and has been given to Tyler Hoechlin and other MTV staff on previous occasions without any problem. Here’s what happened in evolmymind‘s own words:

“When it came time for the end of the con on sunday and we got in line to get our autographs i was ecstatic and nervous for him to sign my Sterek book. I had some other art for him to sign before i gave him the copy and as soon as i took it out and put it on the table he looked happy and sad all at once. As soon as i told him that i would love for him to sign my copy he said “I’m so sorry but I’m not allowed to sign anything sterek related” as soon as he said those words i completely shut down.”

Fandom’s responses varied. Many wanted to spread the word to fellow fans so that they would not be caught in a similar situation. Some used the event as a called to arms, suggesting fans take only Sterek related material to future cons in order to test the extent of the ban. Others used the information to validate their negative opinions of Sterek shippers. And of course there were those longing for the return of the imaginary fourth wall. Most were simply genuinely confused as to how and why this had happened. Whatever the response, there were a lot of un answered questions.

“So, is it the cons then? Is that what they’re saying? Then why not come out and say it EXPLICITLY?” – natasha-stark-rogers

“Did anyone ever stop and think that maybe asking Tyler to sign something that has to do with Sterek might possibly make him a little uncomfortable?” – dapperangel

“Does it occur to no one that their agents/PR team/handlers/etc could ban them from saying certain things?” asagi-s-garden

“i don’t understand why? seriously where is the harm (unless its explicit)” sometimeredhead

“So the real question is… if they’re not allowed to sign Sterek items, are the other ships banned too??” – @terinay21

It’s understandable why so many fans were upset. evolmymind‘s original post is distressing because most fans can identify with the fear meeting someone you admire only to have that moment tainted by rejection. It was also a huge disappointment for those that were hoping to get their copy of The Sterek Book and/or other ship related artworks signed at future conventions. Fans reached out to convention organisers, actors, fellow fans, and official sources in the hopes of clarifying the situation.

Those that blamed the artwork in question – The Sterek Book – received this response from one of the books creators: “MTV knew about us giving the book to Hoechlin and we got green light to do it. And to whoever has seen or read the book, its content has nothing to make anyone uncomfortable.” They later released the audio recording of Tyler Hoechlin receiving the gift as prove that he was not uncomfortable.

Both fan run conventions Howler Con and Bite Con indicated that they will not ban any fan works unless it is explicitly stated in the guests contract. But Rouge Events, which is running the upcoming convention Wolf’s Bane 2, said: “Only official items can be signed at the events, This is DVDs, Books, Con Guide, 10 by 8s purchased from event & stuff from dealers room.” Apparently this is not a new policy but previously it has not been strictly enforced.

Even the Official Teen Wolf Tumblr got in on the action. “all tw fans are our number one priority. jeff davis, mtv, viacom, mgm, fox home entertainment, or any other person or company who owns or distributes teen wolf has never banned anything from a convention. the only conventions with an official authorized presence from mtv are sdcc and nycc, and we have not (and will not) ban anything from there. sterek is even nominated for ship of the year, and its shippers are nominated for fandom feat of the year at the mtvu fandom awards, which will be held from sdcc.” To anyone that has been involved in fandom for sometime, this response is almost unfathomable. They did not have to respond to this and it’s kind of amazing that they did.

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Actress Eaddy Mays (Victoria Argent), who is akin to the Orlando Jones of the Teen Wolf fandom, reached out to both evolmymind and The Sterek Campaign. In a Tumblr post she expressed her sympathy, concern and confusion: “Let me say this much now, with the little info I currently have, IF this is a policy of a particular Convention, that is their Right as business in what is (for the most part) a Market Economy.  BUT, at the table in front of the talent is not the place to be told of such rules.  I’m sorry this happened to you and/or anyone else.” She linked to the Creation Entertainment (the company responsible for Days of The Wolf) web-site, which states: “Please note that if you have autographs as part of your ticket package benefits you will need to have something for the celebrities to sign. They will sign anything you bring from home and there is a wide assortment of photos and other collectibles on sale at the convention.” Creation has yet to officially comment on the situation.

Unsurprisingly there is no definitive answer as to who or what caused Tyler Hoechlin to decline this particular artwork and chances are fans will never receive one. These things happen at conventions and Creation has had shipping related issues before in the Supernatural fandom. If this discussion had continued to focus solely on evolmymind’s experience it might have died rather quickly after these responses, unfortunately that is not where it ends.

The conversation continued as reports from Team Wolf Con in Paris began to appear confirming that evolmymind’s experience was not an isolated event. Apparently Tyler Hoechlin declined to sign a Sterek t-shirt. Other fan art was signed at the conventions suggesting that it was not a blanket ban like Rouge Events “official items only” policy. This caused a lot of discomfort and outrage within certain circles of the fandom and re-ignited the well worn fandom argument about whether or not fan practices (like shipping – particularly slash) should be kept behind closed doors.

“teen wolf fans who are being whiny babies about their ship getting “banned” from conventions, maybe it’s because questions about the stereks massively derail panels and take up huge amounts of time and ignore the other actors on the show?” – soufex

“I was at the con in Chicago last weekend and spent the entire time praying no one would mention Sterek. Not because I dislike it (b/c let me tell you, I fucking love Sterek, okay?) but b/c it very obviously makes the actors uncomfortable at times… I miss the times when talking about your ship in public was a no-no.” – dapperangel

“Separation of ship and show. That’s my personal position.” deanplease

“Shipping questions and art/objects for signing often makes the actors uncomfortable. And they are allowed to be uncomfortable. It also makes the FANS uncomfortable. Many people don’t ship anything. Most people in the audience don’t want to have that stuff brought up” – deanplease

“I’m a fan that keeps to myself and twitter about sterek, I don’t flaunt it in peoples faces and ask about it at cons and stuff” – @howlstiel

“but why would people think that they can take sterek fanart considering how risky that can be #idiots #Wolfsbane2” – @bottomvich

For those that are not aware, this is not a new debate. While fan practices have received an increasing amount of mainstream coverage in recent years (thanks 50 Shades of Grey) much of fandom still happens in the shadows of “the fourth wall”. According to Aja Romano: “The fourth wall is what insulates us, protecting us from their [actors, creators, etc.] often harsh judgment, and sometimes even from real-life repercussions. A mix of Fight Club-like codes of silence (the first rule of fandom: do not talk about fandom) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell-level feigned ignorance, this imaginary wall is what creates an impregnable barrier between fandom and everybody else.” It is for this reason that many believe that fan practices, like shipping, have no place in fan/creator interactive spaces like conventions.

Fandom has been known to rigidly self-police this code of silence. At a Supernatural convention last year (Salute to Supernatural 2013), a fan was booed when she began to ask Jensen Ackles a question about Dean Winchester’s sexuality. The fan “started her question with “I’ve loved seeing Dean’s character become more comfortable with himself this season. I’m bisexual and I’ve noticed some possible subtext…” She was immediately drowned out by a chorus of booo’s. While a bodyguard confronted her, Jensen said that he couldn’t hear the question, and that he planned to move on. “I meant no disrespect,” said the girl, and that was the end of that story.” Most reasonable fans obviously prefer to avoid this kind of embarrassment so they do not often ask questions about non-canon ships and/or fan practices.

On the flip side there are many fans that have fought incredibly hard to make it clear that fan practices are not something to be ashamed of. Fans don’t want to have to hide something that they see as a harmless and creative expression of love.

“I am beyond words, I am not someone who is close minded and I believe all ships should be allowed to be supported.” – sterekvibes

“I can’t really voice it precisely but I’m just really pissed that some people think slash shipping is such a poisonous thing that it goes far to getting banned. That they suppress the fans, the actors, and everyone around them in something they positively love.” – derphale

“I think if actors and writers are willing to accept thousands of dollars in appearance fees, then they should be willing to listen to why the fans are there. I also think fans need to always be respectful of each other’s ships, even when they conflict, so as to keep shipping a wholly positive issue at cons, and while they have a right to bring up discussion of their ship, they shouldn’t expect endorsement of it.” – wordsonapage2

“Is shipping an issue? It shouldn’t be. We’re living in the 21st century where we celebrate holidays that represent the end of censorship and liberty.” –  sinyhale

While fandom’s self censorship is usually tolerated as differing opinions, when an outsider tries to regulate fan practices they often become understandably defensive. This defensive stance was seen after Australian convention company Culture Shock Events, who are running the Creatures of the Night Convention in Sydney, stated that fan art would be allowed but “not depicting any sex act including kissing if it’s not depicted on screen”. They further clarified that romantic fan art featuring canon couples – like Stiles/Lydia – would be allowed because they are shown kissing on screen. Many fans thought this was offensive to those that ship non-canon parings, particularly Sterek fans who felt like they were being singled out.

In response to complaints Culture Shock Events altered their stance: “To avoid offense to our guests and to avoid confusion NO FAN ART at all will be allowed to be signed at Creatures of the Night. Only official items can be signed at the event. That is DVDs Books, Magazines, Calenders, and 8×10 photos available at the event. If it is an official item it can be signed, fan art is not official and therefore cannot be signed.” This is pretty disappointing for fans attending this convention considering fan art is such an important part of the fandom experience. To make matters worse Culture Shock Events again further clarified their policy by saying “professional ‘fan art’ where the characters are treated with the respect” will probably be allowed on the day but “Fan art like Sterek art however does not depict the characters, or actors, as they are on screen” so it will not be permitted.

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This is a fairly elitist and limiting perspective on fan art and the idea that non-canon pairings are disrespectful is rather upsetting. It certainly doesn’t present Culture Shock Events as a fan friendly environment. There is every reason to make sure no one brings pornographic or offensive material but there is no reason to ban all non-canon fan works unless it has been explicitly stated by the talent involved. It’s utterly ridiculous that all ship-based fan art is now banned from a convention in Australia just because an actor politely declined to sign something on the other side of the world. It’s also a clear indication that this is part of a bigger problem and an important reminder that what happened with Tyler Hoechlin at Days of The Wolf was not the cause of this meltdown but rather a symptom.

Due to the growing ease of communication between fans and producers there seems to be an assumption within some groups that actors and creators and even official social media have a more comprehensive understanding of fandom than is likely considering their relatively limited exposure. This is particularly apparent in the Teen Wolf fandom.

Teen Wolf is definitely what I would consider a fandom friendly show. Despite some criticism, the people involved in the production and promotion of Teen Wolf have generally been very welcoming, supportive and non-judgmental of fan practices (at least in comparison to others). They held a fan fiction contest, the post production department has a fan art gallery and the Season 3B DVD came with a book filled with fan works. Often the actors would happily play along with fans, revealing their own shipping preferences and head canons. Although not without its problems (they took it too far at times), this attitude is definitely something different.

That said, this attitude also creates the illusion of understanding between fans and producers. Some fans assume that because they know the definition of the word “slash” that they understand the practice on a fandom level, which is just not realistic. They really only have limited access to fan practices and the majority of their knowledge still comes from non-fandom sources that are not known for being particularly flattering.

This is where fandom’s insistence on maintaining the illusion of the fourth wall becomes particularly problematic. Fandom’s blanket self-censorship doesn’t work because there are always those willing to talk about shipping anyway. Besides, it’s not like it’s actually hidden. Most fan practices take place in public forums that are accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Those involved in production, including actors, are often only exposed to the stuff their friends send as a joke or the things journalists use to make them uncomfortable and of course their interactions with the few shameless people that are willing to face the wrath of the fandom (usually because they don’t care what fandom thinks).

It is perfectly reasonable to speculate that someone who does not have an accurate understanding of fan communities could have enough negative experiences with a particular fan group that they no longer feel safe engaging with them. As fans, we know that the actions of a few do not reflect the community as a whole but that doesn’t really matter if no one ever sees the good aspects of fandom.

Blanket bans from outside authorities don’t work and neither does fandom’s code of silence. All it does is prevent healthy conversation. While that conversation might not always go the way you want it to, it’s better than closing your eyes and pretending it’s not happening.

For example look at what happened during a panel featuring Tyler Hoechlin at Team Wolf Con this weekend. When faced with one of fandom’s ultimate taboo questions: “Do you ship Sterek?” Tyler Hoechlin responded in probably the most respectful way we can expect from someone that doesn’t really ‘get’ slash. (Quotes taken from not-the-alpha‘s transcript, partial footage can be found here).

“I know that’s like a big, like, a fan fic thing, I know that everybody, kind of, kind of, everybody talks about that,” said Hoechlin. “But for me, personally, just because I have so much respect for Derek as the character and for Stiles as the character that… for me, it’s like, to live in that, or to really think about that… I… just for me, personally, as the actor playing the character… I feel like I would be disrespecting the character, so I don’t really entertain it, or even think about it, just because for me, it’s such a separate thing, it has… it doesn’t really have anything to do with what happens on the show.”

He’s clearly nervous (considering how the fandom responded to Tyler Posey‘s negative comments about Sterek it’s understandable) and he doesn’t quite know how to respond to the question truthfully without offending anyone – which is a skill that actors/writers/producers really need to learn – but he does a reasonable job. He did suggest that Sterek was disrespectful to his character, which is not great – I completely understand why people might be offended by that – but he does kind of clarify that later when he says: “it’s not a, it’s not disrespect, it’s not anything like that. I understand, I don’t personally understand… It… Completely. Um, I appreciate it.” Really what makes this response so wonderful is that he takes it seriously. He doesn’t brush it off with a joke or try to vilify the people that like it (that was Posey’s mistake). It’s exactly the kind of respect that slash fans – and fans in general should be hoping for.

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Unfortunately sometimes opening a genuine and respectful conversation means that fans might not get the answers they were hoping for, which sucks. There is no way to sugar coat it. It’s not fun to hear that something you’re invested in is not on the cards. It doesn’t matter how many times it happens, it still hurts (don’t anyone tell you that it’s unreasonable to have hope – anything is possible; anyway just because Tyler Hoechlin apparently doesn’t ship it doesn’t mean you can’t). But it is possible to be upset by Hoechlin’s words and still respect them. This is not the only response of course, but it’s the one worth encouraging.

@TylerL_Hoechlin is an extremity kind and respectful man. You may not agree with or like what he has to say, but he isn’t rude or hateful.” – @THoechlinNet

“Bless Hoechlin for being amazing once again, he may not ship Sterek…but he’s respectful for the people that do and that’s all I need” – @lizponce

“I totally respect Hoechlin’s opinion even if I don’t share it. I’m trying to chill out. And I’ll surely focus on other shows since I’ve lost my main reason to watch Teen Wolf” –  wolveshowls

“what Hoechlin did today is nothing but classy and amazing, he stated his opinion but was completely considerate of the his fans, respectful of opinion and in awe of the amazing talent that takes part on the Sterek fandom” – blaineswolf

“I think Hoechlin feels deeply about Derek and doesn’t think he could be in a good relationship at this point, let alone one with someone he obviously thinks very highly of, without messing things up. He is so earnest and thoughtful about these things—how can you hate on him for it?” – fauvistfly

“Thank you Tyler Hoechlin for being amazing once again. You are always so thoughtful, respectful and also classy as fuck.” – thewolfwhostolemyheart

This is has been an eventful couple of days and the Teen Wolf fandom has no doubt experienced the whole range of human emotion. While much of what was said were purely in-the-moment, emotional responses, there is quite a bit that is worth taking away from what happened this weekend.

For starters, take note that it seems Tyler Hoechlin has indicated he will not be signing Sterek related fan art for whatever reason. Fans have every right to be disappointed by this news and further information would be welcome but it’s important to be respectful. As Eaddy Mays said: “if you already know there is an issue with someone, then give that person some space about it.”

There have also been blanket fan art bans at other conventions including Wolf’s Bane 2 and Creatures of the Night, which is very off-putting. Fans might choose not to support these companies in the future (maybe we will see an increase in fan run cons like BiteCon and HowlerCon) but those who already have tickets need to know about these limitations.

EDIT: Culture Shock Events has lifted the blanket ban on fan art – although it is subject to approval on the day so bare that in mind.

An official source gave an unprecedented response to a situation they were not directly involved in: “jeff davis, mtv, viacom, mgm, fox home entertainment, or any other person or company who owns or distributes teen wolf has never banned anything from a convention. the only conventions with an official authorized presence from mtv are sdcc and nycc, and we have not (and will not) ban anything from there.” That is something.

Finally it’s important to remember that this is not the beginning of this conversation, nor is it the end. And both sides still have a lot to learn. We need to talk about these issues, but there is no point in blaming or focusing on an individual event with very specific circumstances a larger issue. This is not Tyler Hoechlin’s fault, this is not the Sterek fandom’s fault, it’s not even Teen Wolf‘s fault. No one is blameless but there it’s a waste of time to point fingers at each other when we could be working together to avoid these problems in the future.

On a personal note: I really want everyone everyone involve in making the things we love to see what fandom can be when it’s at its best and we can only do that if we stop thinking of it as a dirty little secret. 

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.


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About the author

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.

Comments

  1. I love your article but I think something really important should be added.
    I’m REALLY mad not because of Tyler’s words, but simply because Teen Wolf (and I mean ALL of them, from Jeff to the PR Team to the actors themself) had used Sterek for self promotion in the past.
    An example? The famous ship video asking for VOTES in an award competition (they won): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeYBGm2En5I
    But it’s not the only example. Sterek had been used multiple time (reach 2.000.000 likes on facebook, conventions and interview, actor bringing it up themself without being asked until last month at Alpha Con)
    Various quotes: http://colethewolf.tumblr.com/post/77281923890/i-knew-that-derek-and-stiles-were-just (side note: this one had been reblogged even by Official Teen Wolf Tumblr.
    That’s MY whole problem. I didn’t expect it to be canon, I never did, but I really think we should address the fact that it’s been a Teen Wolf FREE CHOICE to USE the fandom the way they did, but I’m really tired of seeing this thing dismissed and not discussed at all, both form Sterek fandom and antis. Because honestly to me this is the starting point of the problem with the show AND the actors.

  2. Not going to say anything about MTV and the PR team..it’s evident they use Sterek for all the promotion they can get…the Sterek ship video, a lot of other things, and then the recent nomination for best ship…we want to win something…call the Sterek shippers, cos those fans keep clicking/voting like mad

    the thing that bugged me about what Hoechlin said was this: “it doesn’t really have anything to do with what happens on the show”

    i mean, like really? i personally know Sterek shippers, who would be happy even if it doesn’t become canon, but such fans ship Sterek cos of what ‘happened’ in the show…if there is no explanation about Stiles placing his hand on Derek’s shoulder when Boyd died, or brushing his arm when he left an unconscious Cora…or the biggest thing in the show: Derek’s dream about Stiles in 3B finale….and Tyler doesn’t think they are important or didn’t happen in the show..then all these things will go down as queerbaiting…so i can’t understand that even after all these scenes (they don’t have to be romantic or anything) why Tyler would say Sterek is different from what the characters are going through in the show….i would love to hear Jeff’s explanation regarding these scenes and what he told the actors about why he put them in there, if they weren’t supposed to relate to Sterek

    1. Yes Stiles and Derek interact on the show here and there but none of the examples you provided have any romantic context to them. Sterek, as a romantic pairing, has nothing to do with what’s going on in the show. Never has. This is why the actors don’t understand the ship or why it has such a devoted following.

      1. The problem, here is that you don’t say the same thing about any other ship that is canon. Every single one of those ships has no basis. Scott gives Allison a pen. It’s love. Allison almost kills Isaac. next time they see each other, it’s love. Malia encounters Stiles in a mental istitution (and let’s npt talk about how inapropriate this whole episode and especially some scenes were), punches him in the face, has sex with him in the basement of said building. Oh, it’s love. Do I need to go on? If the sterek scenes happened with one of the two parties as a female, I can assure you that they would’ve been canon seasons ago, yet you come here and say that those can’t be the basis for a romantic relationship. I wholeheartedly disagree with that because those scenes would make sterek one of the few logical pairings, who actually had developement before arriving to the sack and to the love songs.
        So, yeah, I find it homophobic, even if maybe intentionally so, for people to actually believe what you wrote in this comment.

        1. I am a sterek fan. I would love for them to be canon.

          You might not agree to what I have to say.

          But seriously, they are not, not because they are both males but because the writers didn’t make them canon, that’s their stories and we should respect that even if in our eyes someone may fit better for another person, that’s not how the creators want it, that’s not how the story goes. And we should be ok with that, we can’t demand them to do something they don’t want to do.

          If we go by your example, everyone could have a relationship with everyone. Like for example, we could say that scott and derek should be together, because derek wanted to talk to the alpha and NOT to Stiles or that he left Kate to go help Scott. We can say that lydia and derek should be together because she stayed with him, when he was de aged. Everyone has the capability to be with everyone. What makes the difference is what the writers want.
          And evidently Sterek is not what they want.

          I am sorry if you don’t agree or if I made mistakes (english is not my first language)

          1. The FACT that you used Lydia and Derek as an example as “according to sterek shippers ANY pairing can get together” and it was the NON sterek shippers were all excited about the “de-aged Lydia and Derek scene” and it was “hinted” that Derek would make a “connection” to a character (of course FEMALE because it couldn’t be ANYTHING ELSE RIGHT??), and that he would have a crush, just proves that ANY HETEROSEXUAL PAIRING IS ALLOWED TO BE CONSIDERED CANON IN TEEN WOLF BUT STEREK IS NOT, STRICTLY BECAUSE IT ISN’T BETWEEN ONE MALE AND ONE FEMALE CHARACTER! And taking into account that Jeff had promoted Teen Wolf as a Gay-Friendly verse/show where “anything can happen” PAIRING-WISE, I think that ALL NON STEREK SHIPPERS COMPLETELY MISSED THE FULL AND OUT-RIGHT PROMISED POTENTIAL OF TEEN WOLF AS A SHOW.
            Lets take a look at the comparison shall we? HETEROSEXUAL PAIRINGS CONSIDERED CANON BY EVERYONE EVERYWHERE:
            Alison/Scott; Lydia/Jackson; Alison/Jackson; Lydia/Scott; Alison/Jackson; Lydia/Stiles; Erica/Stiles; Erica/Isaac; Erica/Boyd; Derek/Kate; Alison/Matt; Sheriff/Melissa; Lydia/Aiden; Stiles/Heather; Derek/Jennifer; Isaac/Cora; Cora/Boyd; Kali/Ennis; Cora/Stiles; Alison/Isaac; Sheriff/Jennifer; Scott/Kira; Stiles/Malia; NOW: Derek/Breaden? Lydia/Parrish? (If you agree with HALF of these which you will because you watch TEEN WOLF, then you MUST SEE THE DIFFERENCE).
            HOMOSEXUAL PAIRINGS CONSIDERED CANON ON TEEN WOLF IN AN APPARENTLY GAY-FRIENDLY VERSE:
            Danny/Infamous EX; Danny/Ethan; Caitlin/Emily…
            Yeah. THAT. is. it. But no, you’re probably right. Teen Wolf wasn’t feeding us lies about Sterek to gain veiws without giving anything back. There are absolutely NO heterosexual pairing that has NO REASON TO BE A PAIRING OTHER THAN THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE SCREENS TOGETHER. And I could go on and on about how Sterek has been made out IN THE SHOW AND IN THE MEDIA (meaning interviews with cast and castvideos for fans) TO BE CANON, but you won’t listen because there are countless, COUNTLESS bogs and posts explaining it but you’ll just continue to roll your eyes and call us liars and pathetic because we believed even for a moment that two male characters could have great chemistry and it MEAN SOMETHING, because one of them is not female. (And I think you know, like everyone else if you bothered to ever imagine it without judgement and with a open mind that IF one of those characters was female, ANY WHICH ONE, sterek would not be such a impossible pairing for you too).

  3. I love your article but I think something really important should be added.
    I’m REALLY mad not because of Tyler’s words, but simply because Teen Wolf (and I mean ALL of them, from Jeff to the PR Team to the actors themself) had used Sterek for self promotion in the past.
    An example? The famous ship video asking for VOTES in an award competition (they won): www(.)youtube(.)com/watch?v=aeYBGm2En5I
    But it’s not the only example. Sterek had been used multiple time (reach 2.000.000 likes on facebook, conventions and interview, actor bringing it up themself without being asked until last month at Alpha Con)
    Various quotes: colethewolf(.)tumblr(.)com/post/77281923890/i-knew-that-derek-and-stiles-were-just (side note: this one had been reblogged even by Official Teen Wolf Tumblr.
    That’s MY whole problem. I didn’t expect it to be canon, I never did, but I really think we should address the fact that it’s been a Teen Wolf FREE CHOICE to USE the fandom the way they did, but I’m really tired of seeing this thing dismissed and not discussed at all, both form Sterek fandom and antis. Because honestly to me this is the starting point of the problem with the show AND the actors.

  4. I’m not thrilled with TH’s word choice but he did attempt to clarify the problematic part, which I appreciate. I still don’t understand why they couldn’t have had the actors say this YEARS ago. Why string us along and entertain discussions of it as a legitimate pairing for FOUR YEARS before trying to shut it down?

    This is a great article. My only quibble is… I don’t think Stydia is actually a canon pairing? Stiles and Lydia have never been in a relationship. He’s expressed interest in her, but she’s never said she has feelings for him. It’s accepted as kosher to ship it but I don’t see how it’s “canon” if they aren’t and have never been an actual couple.

    1. I think, from the point of view of the con, even though Stiles/Lydia aren’t canonically in a romantic relationship, because they kissed on screen (non-romantically) they wouldn’t be able to ban depictions of them kissing in fanart because it would be hypocritical if someone had fanart of a scene that happened in canon. So even though Stiles/Lydia hasn’t happened, and might never happen, it gets lumped in as a “canon” pairing in a way something like Sterek (which has no canonical kiss or expression of interest) might not.

      Personally I think they made a mistake to ban any fanart at all! But I assume that’s why Stydia got a pass.

  5. Just to clarify, Tyler skillfully avoided answering much at all, he brought up fanfiction and went from there, he as a professional has to ignore everything outside what he is given by the writers and the director, he doesn’t even say Sterek won’t happen, he literally has no clue what happens beyond what he has performed during filming, also he can’t know which takes are used or how editing has done cut things together.
    All he really said is, I don’t entertain any notions concerning Derek besides my own, which is only good practice as any creative person should know, be they actor, writer or artist. He respects the characters and it would be wrong to ship them and he doesn’t understand fanfiction that much.
    Concerning it doesn’t have anything to do with what happens on the show, lets take a look where the guy is coming from, what he does as an actor is really very far away from what happens with fans.
    Also disrespectful to Derek’s character may mean so many other things, which have nothing to do with the possibility of it happening in canon, it could just be as he sees it Derek as a character isn’t suitable for a romantic relationship with Stiles, which fair, he actually isn’t in canon, yet.

  6. Personally I love Tyler’s response he was not only respectful to his character but to the fans feelings both Sterek shippers and non sterek shippers but also to the writers.
    might be me reading to much into it but personally I feel like he didn’t answer whether or not he ship them. Like I said I may have read to much into it or none at all but I just feel like he didn’t answer whether or not he shipped Sterek. I have seen tweets and a few tumblr posts that claim that TH shipped them and he along wit Dylan had no problem wit them being together.

    However one thing that bugs me is how MTV and Jeff use Sterek on us.

    They use Sterek to promote their show. They basically place Sterek on polls, videos, and of course the whole ship of the year thing.

    They use Sterek for us fans to keep watching or voting but then they pull something like banding it from us at conventions. Not only that but the way Teen Wolf uses their fandom is also disrespectful to the entire fan base.

    Sterek is my first slash pairing and I will always love it however, as I stated the entire Teen wolf (Jeff, the PR team, etc) use Sterek for us fans to keep promoting them but then they basically throw it back in our faces telling us

    “Thanks for everything we know Sterek is important to you but we don’t care cause they’re never gonna be canon but hey we’ll keep using them as a way to keep watching and supporting us,”

    Its disrespectful to ALL the fans that have come to care and love this ship and honestly people who ship them are hanging by the thread and I wonder how long Teen Wolf will be able to get away with using this ship for self promoting before the fans get tired of it and leave

  7. I understand if a convention only allows signing of official materials for practical reasons. I prefer if they allow signing of fanart at the actor’s discretion. But if a convention is going to have a rule allowing “some” fanart, then they better be clear what their rules are. Changing them on the fly isn’t fair, and it isn’t smart. And changing them to accommodate some fans while denying others is also not fair, or smart.

    Or maybe it would just be better to be sure that the convention’s rep with the public knows the show – because Stydia, in spite of the kiss and Stiles’ feelings, is not canon any more than Sterek is. But allowing a not-really-canon het relationship while denying the main slash ship for being non-canon smacks of something distasteful.

    I don’t fault TH for not signing (assuming there was a rule against it) or for his comments about Sterek. I think an actor has the right to limit his own knowledge of outside perceptions of his character, in order to make sure those outside perceptions don’t influence the actor’s own interpretation of his character or those that the writers/directors want him to bring to the show. I also think TH has consistently been respectful and appreciative of his fans.

    I do think that if events allow interaction between fans and actors/showrunners/etc., it would make sense for the actors to be prepared for certain questions. When a show has teased Sterek fans (i.e. the ship video) for over a year, it’s unfathomable to me that the actors don’t know how to answer, “Do you ship Sterek?” at an event. Just have a canned response ready by now, for pete’s sake. Or don’t allow any ship-related questions at all for any ship.

    Regarding fans themselves: I wish that fans who interact with the actors would see themselves as representing the fandom and try to be respectful, and I believe most do. There are always an obnoxious few in any fandom that taint the rest, unfortunately. But most are respectful and just enthusiastic about their ships.

    But I wonder if the line between respectful/obnoxious falls in a different place for fans of slash ships than for het. If I ask, “Should Kira be with Stiles instead of Scott?” is there less eye-rolling (from non ship fans) than if I ask, “Should Stiles be with Derek instead of Malia?” In both cases, there’s a canon vs. non-canon ship, but only one question is likely to be viewed by some as a disruptive or obnoxious question.

    Heck, if I ask, “Is Dean Winchester a drunk?” or “Would Dean kill Sam if he had to?” would I get less eye-rolling than if I ask, “Is Dean bi?” Question anything else freely, but don’t question the heteronormative view or you’re considered disrespectful or out of line. (And never mind that half the time the answer is, “oh, he’s not gay,” as if gay and straight are the only options and those of us who identify as bi or other don’t really exist.)

    I realize that Sterek (and Destiel) fans are probably more vocal than some other shippers. But does that make them more embarrassing? Putting aside the actual obnoxious few fans, is Sterek itself more embarrassing to the greater TW fandom than, say, Stalia?

    In reasonably controlled situations, such as an internet poll in which fans can just tick boxes, some shows have learned how to use their fans. They know enough about what their fans like in order to get those votes/views/clicks. We’re not embarrassing then. And they’re savvy enough to toss their fans a bone once in a while in the form of a line or scene in the show. They just don’t seem to realize that sometimes fans don’t like being baited and treated as if we’re a joke. With TW, this is especially frustrating, because I came into the fandom expecting more from Jeff Davis based on a couple of earlier interview comments from him. So my disappointment is that much greater. And it’s not as if I ever really believed Sterek would become canon, but I didn’t think we’d be baited and disregarded by turns. In general, this show is one that makes the fans feel welcome, so when things go south it stings more than it would if it were a show in which I was inured to the second-class status.

    The thing is, we’re not a joke, we’re an audience. And, possibly unfortunately, we’re not invisible anymore. I’m not sure anyone knows what we are, because we’re not all the same. We don’t ship the same way or for the same reasons. If we’re going to interact with showrunners and actors, we need to be respectful – but so do they. And that means no baiting or denigrating, among other things. If they’re not comfortable with their fanbases, then they should probably put that fourth wall back up.

    Apologies for the long post. It’s a very good article and it touched on a couple of sore points for me.

    1. THIS, all of this.
      And then some more for this one: “we need to be respectful – but so do they”

  8. I adore Tyler Hoechlin and although I’m not 100% happy with the wording of his reply, I admire how much effort he put into answering the question honestly but also with kindness, trying his best not to offend anyone. As to be expected that was impossible to achieve but answering a question about a potentially controversial topic in front of a large crowd is tricky and hopefully people will cut him some slack for not coming up with a textbook answer.

    ~*~

    “I really want everyone everyone involve in making the things we love to see what fandom can be when it’s at its best and we can only do that if we stop thinking of it as a dirty little secret.”
    AGREED!

    What I find astounding is that whenever Melissa Ponzio and Linden Ashby are questioned about a possible Mrs McCall/Sheriff Stilinski romance, it’s no big deal.

    So far both characters shared a few scenes over the course of 4 seasons and none of their encounters were romantic in nature or hinted at either of them being interested in the other as a romantic partner. The Sheriff’s still wearing his wedding ring and it’s been strongly implied even after all these years he’s still grieving the death of his wife. Meanwhile Mrs. McCall apparently invited her alcoholic ex-husband to move in with her and her son again (why, Melissa???).

    So really, up to this point they sure shared scenes and even emotional moments like the joy about Stiles scoring the winning point in the lacrosse match or the worry during Stiles’ brain scan, but nothing in show canon ever hinted at romance between these two characters.

    Melissa/Sheriff – although 100% non-canonical – is a perfectly acceptable ship that can be talked about in public. It’s perfectly acceptable for fans to hope for them to become canon or to ask Jeff and the actors (or other cast members) about them or their opinion about them as a potentially romantic pairing. No one’s facepalming or calling for the Fourth Wall to be rebuilt asap when Melissa/Sheriff questions are asked, no one thinking they’d be cute together is supposed to feel ashamed, no one who ships them is called delusional.

    The moment Sterek fans do any of the above (probably even pointing out some of the non-romantic but still emotional moments Derek and Stiles shared in an attempt to explain the connection between the characters)? A fandom outrage of epic proportions will be the consequence, there’ll be name calling and ship shaming, people will be yelled at for embarrassing the actors/creators, and for being an embarrassment to fandom at large. There’ll be accusations of Sterek shippers ‘seeing things that aren’t there’ and being delusional.

    Tbh, I find this perfectly UNacceptable.

    1. You make a good point!

      Though I think it can be argued that often Melissa Ponzio and Linden Ashby start the dialogue about Melissa/Sheriff, and encourage shipping it because they also ship it and want to talk about it.

      Meanwhile Tyler and Dylan don’t seem to encourage those questions or get enthused about Sterek, and often seem awkward and give non-answers if asked because they don’t really understand the ship.

      For this reason, it can be more embarrassing to see fans bringing up Sterek to the actors and making them uncomfortable, than Melissa/Sheriff.

      (Disclaimer, I’m a Sterek shipper! And I don’t promote shaming anyone. I’m just kinda feeling out possible other reasons for this discrepancy.)

      1. Well, Hoechlin and Dylan DO get excited about Sterek, it’s just that they don’t get excited about it in the same way that shippers do. They’re okay with being asked what their favorite Sterek scene is because, I think, they’re slowly coming to understand that “sterek scene” doesn’t have any romantic implications, it just means a scene with Stiles and Derek. I see a lot of people saying that Hoechlin dislikes Sterek and is made uncomfortable by it, but I would strongly disagree with him disliking it, and to a certain extent I would disagree that he’s made uncomfortable by it.

        Hoechlin and Dylan both view Sterek more as friendship, and they love the scenes and the dynamic between them. I’m not surprised that they don’t ship it (I actually thought it was common knowledge that Hoechlin didn’t ship it, so learning that a fan had asked him the question surprised me).

      2. I do not agree with you on Dylan and Tyler. They behaved BEFORE like Melissa and Linden are doung now. Just, go on youtube and watch som videos. Like when they held hands saying that sterek had 50% chances of becomig canon, when they made the boat video, when Tyler talks about Stiles and then when the interviewer asks about his love interest he says something on the lines of “didn’t I just do that?” etc.Do I need to bring more?
        So yeah, they are not uncomfortable about it, they never were, they often talk about their interpretation of sterek scenes and such, which obviously are not always how I see them or how anyone else sees them. which is alright,. So, yeah, not ucomfortable. Now there is discomfort, though, because of the ban.
        So the person above you was right: those are simptoms of internalized homophobia. No one minds the imaginary hetero couple, but talk about a queer one and people are ashamed to be in your presence. This is so wrong and makes me so sad!

  9. Note that in the very fist sentence, Tyler Hoechlin changes the question into being about the fan fic interpretations of the characters, not about whether Sterek will or will not happen. He specifically brings up his job as an actor in relation to this, so this appears to be more about not letting interpretations from other authors to interfere with the official interpretations he is given episode by episode. This changes the meaning of “disrespecting the characters” to not being about the ship specifically, but about unintentionally allowing his acting to be swayed by fandom instead of sticking to what he is given by official sources. This isn’t saying he doesn’t like Stiles and Derek together (we know these are some of his favorite scenes) or that he would be opposed to playing them as romantic IF it was given to him by an official source (scripts, directing). All in all, it’s a very carefully worded non-answer that takes a little examination to pick out what he meant. I put the quote below with annotations that tease out this meaning.

    “I know that’s like a big, like, a fan fic thing [here he establishes that he is talking about interpretations of the characters by authors other than Jeff Davis], I know that everybody, kind of, kind of, everybody talks about that [fandom interpretations of the characters], but for me, personally, just because I have so much respect for Derek as the character and for Stiles as the character [as in the official scripts and direction he is given] that… for me, it’s like, to live in that, or to really think about that [fandom interpretations]… I… just for me, personally, as the actor playing the character [as his job to portray what he is given in scripts and direction]… I feel like I would be disrespecting the character [letting fandom interpretations change how I portray the character], so I don’t really entertain it, or even think about it [fandom interpretations], just because for me, it’s such a separate thing, it has… it [fandom interpretations] doesn’t really have anything to do with what happens on the show [official scripts and directing].”

  10. Dress it up however you like it, the fact is that heterosexual ships be they canon or non-canon are accepted. Slash ships are not. That is an inherently homophobic decision.

    Stydia is NOT a canon romantic relationship. That kiss was in no way romantic nor indicative of a romance ship. Stiles’ only canon romance is with Malia. However they will allow Stydia ship art? That’s a homophobic decision.

    In the 21st century we have to stop accepting this kind of micro-aggressive homophobia. It’s time for slash to come out of the closet and stop being treated as shameful. It’s also time to stop coddling TPTB and over-sensitive actors who have difficulty separating themselves from the roles they play. It’s also time to stop belitting fans by accusing them of being “teenage cishet white fangirls”. First, there’s nothing shameful in being that. Second, that’s not the primary demographic of fandom.

    The objection with both Posey & Hoechlin wasn’t that they don’t ship or ‘see’ Sterek. Ship and let ship is a bylaw of fandom. You don’t ship it or see it, that’s fine. But you don’t get to disparage someone else who does. It’s the word choice they used to deny it. “Weird twisted bizarre” and “disrespectful to the character”. That sort of thing can’t be acceptable anymore.

    And too, this doesn’t come in a vacuum. It comes after 3 years of things like the ‘on a ship’ video, and social media pimping Sterek to get ratings, publicity, and win polls. You don’t get to use fandom like that then turn around and stab them in the back. Not without some fall out. After 3 years of Hoechlin and O’Brien indicating nothing but public support for Sterek and Sterek fans, this is a sudden slap in the face.

    The solution isn’t to slink back into our “den of inequity” and be ashamed of slash shipping again. It’s to bring it even more out into the open. Refuse to be marginalized. Any ship artwork or questions that are non-explicit and not NSFW, should be allowed. Any ship. Regardless of the gender of the characters involved.

    1. Stydia isn’t canon the way Scott/Allison is, but it is canon that Stiles has been in love/infatuated/romantically interested in Lydia ever since he was a child. This has been stated quite clearly since season 1 and has been a plot point multiple times (i.e. Allison making Lydia date Stiles and then let him take her to prom), and a (non-romantic) kiss has been seen on screen.

      This is most likely why Stydia fans get a free pass, and Sterek fans don’t. If Stiles had canonically stated that he was romantically interested in Derek and they kissed on screen, it would be a different story, but it really isn’t. Stiles may be canonically bisexual/bi-curious, but he has not canonically said anything re: liking Derek romantically.

      Stydia isn’t canon per se, but it toes the line enough that the powers that be can justify their definition of appropriateness. If fans REALLY want to test the heterosexual vs. homosexual waters, they should bring a piece of Stiles/Allison romantic (but not explicit, obviously) fanart to be signed and see if they get turned away.

  11. interesting is that on the MTV website Sterek is on a poll about shipping and not so long ago they used Sterek to promote the show on sdcc…
    Pimp Sterek to promote the show when needed, bash and ban it after. Teen wolf became a show I had to watch live (season 2) to show where, IF i have nothing else to do I may sit down to watch the episodes. Not just because of Sterek, but part of it is.

  12. We wrote “Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls” to challenge fan shame, especially shaming of women for shipping or slash or just plain expressing themselves genuinely even when that goes against the heteronormative status quo. We questioned the breaking of the fourth wall in the book, and that long-standing “First Rule of Fandom: Tell nobody about fandom” (especially the fragile actors) and what that silence and hiding does to us, and how it perpetuates shame. We broke the First Rule ourselves repeatedly, and dealt with the consequences from TPTB and sometimes from fandom too, which made for a good story but alot of sleepless nights and nail biting. I keep thinking things are going to change, but so far, not so much.

    Thanks for a balanced, articulate article on a subject that we thought was important enough to write a book about – and still do.

  13. I have been told the Tyler was asked about and clarified his comments from the Team Wolf Con at the WolfsBane con that was on last weekend (i will add a link when i find it) his comments in regard to his previous comments are worth reading

  14. I as a Sterek fan and major supporter of Teen Wolf do take this posting with a grain of salt, so I am hoping that my comment is taken in the same context. I believe that the incident that involved the fan with the Sterek Book and Tyler refusing to give his autograph was just Tyler Hoechlin’s way of dismissing the issue at hand by taking “easy way out” so to speak, by putting it off as if the imaginary forces that be are what’s preventing him to sign said item. Basically like stealing a cookie and blaming it on your imaginary friend , but also I honestly believe he didn’t want to sign the book and just didn’t want to hurt the fans feelings so maybe he fibbed a little hoping that the fan would take his answer at face value and let it be.

    I mean in the end he has all right to decline to do anything that he is uncomfortable with and judging by his answers to questions about Sterek it would seem a much, giving round about answers to his feelings/opinion towards Sterek while also trying not to hurt his feelings in the process. I respect his opinion but even still we as fans need to know when to draw a line because when you look at it just for what it is , this is his JOB. His livelihood and being an outsider looking in on our fandom it would seem a bit overwhelming to anyone, then to be constantly bombarded with question you don’t understand and have no real answers to them would put anyone off to the idea.
    So, maybe he is just “over” Sterek in speculation and just wants nothing to do with the thing we love and enjoy, that is TOTALLY fine because that’s HIS right and in turn we as fans need to be more respectful of this sensitive subject at these events and so to speak “ STICK TO THE SCRIPT”.
    Sterek is something made by the fans AND for the for fans so , maybe we should probably leave it that way until some form of bridge is created to whereas all parties are comfortable enough to speak on the subject.

    1. Yes it is his job. However he was comfortable with sterek in the beginning. Signing sterek material, and the vignette of him and Dylan on the boat. So perhaps it was scripted for the two actors to look at one another adoringly but the fans certainly did not make anything up.

      1. I’m not saying that we as fans have made up Sterek out of nowhere I’m saying it in the context of we make it we’ve made it and it’s our thing the producers and cast of Teen Wolf may have played it up a bit just for ratings but if you really look at it its just the for fans

  15. Just imagine Stiles (or Derek) is a girl… Would Sterek be plausible, then? Do you think their shared scenes would have a different meaning? That they would justify fans shipping the pair?

    I still think there’s a lot of latent and also not so hidden homophobic thinking under this whole discussion.

  16. I never heard of Sterek until I saw this video (another friend of mine had sent me this link)
    and it was so funny because it has paired with the song “I’m Not In Love” (by 10cc)
    The Youtube Video is under “Sterek Views” by the Walters Judson Group (if its still there).

  17. I really adore both Hoechlin and O’Brien. I’m just confused that why wasn’t Hoechlin uncomfortable with shipping Sterek in the beginning. I
    an referring to the video of both actors on the boat. Also both actors seemed quite comfortable in the beginning being quite affectionate towards one another. And Sterek fan art was
    autographed in the beginning. What happened to that? Is it the show became too big
    and though the network is on cable it was unforgettable with a gay couple and squashed all the gay relationships. Was the show just “queer bating”? Were the actors asked to? And complied. Which sucks if true. I doubt it. What is fueling this hate of Sterek? People who are homophobic and back Posey’s homophobic statements. People who ship stydia or Stalia?

  18. I think that it is very difficult for the fans to admit despite how much we like Hoechlin and Dylan as people but we have to realize that they are not their characters and they may have been asked and gone along work queer baiting the fans. And it was their job to do so. And that hurts so very much.

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