Entertainment Weekly got bitten hard by Teen Wolf fans when it rejected their favorite pairing, Derek/Stiles (commonly known as “Sterek”), from its Summer Awards poll.
After fans rampaged against the inexplicable exclusion, EW explained that it was seeking only canonical pairings, i.e. ships with an “acknowledged will-they-or-won’t-they storyline”—despite the fact that that definition is the exact opposite of what shipping means. Moreover, some of its allowed heterosexual pairings, like Suits’ Harvey/Donna, weren’t plot points on the shows they were in.
“They were using our jargon to draw fans in,” Twitter user cthonical told the Daily Dot. “They wanted the hype & engagement of shippers and fandom, but they wanted to dictate the rules.”
EW informed slash fans that they would “acknowledge your passion with a special award” once winners were announced. But backlash against that consolation prize was so strong that it now appears EW has deleted the polls and scrapped the enterprise altogether.
Teen Wolf fans, however, were still steaming over the lack of recognition for a pairing that had racked up “(hundreds and hundreds of) comments.”
Enter After Elton. Perhaps realizing how easily it could score from the influx of all those invading Sterek fans, the queer-centric pop culture website welcomed the slash contingency with open arms, seizing the opportunity to host its own slash-centric poll.
Fans flooded in, nominating, of course, Derek/Stiles as well as tried and true slash fandom “staple” pairings of media fandoms, like Kirk/Spock, Harry/Draco, Spike/Xander, Wincest (Supernatural’s Winchester brothers), and more. Taking its cue from criticisms of EW, After Elton specified that only slash pairings—specifically, non-canonical pairings—were eligible for nomination.
But even After Elton’s attempt to embrace fandom had its pitfalls. The nearly all-white-male banner for the tourney led to criticism that the tournament was inviting only the ubiquitous “white men fucking” side of slash fandom. After complaints that the poll had excluded femslash pairings, After Elton’s sister site, After Ellen, opened up its own poll celebrating the female counterpart to male slash pairings. Its banner includes an undeniably diverse array of pairing of examples, though it must be noted that so far nominations on both sites have been absent of any kind of anime, Asian pop, or other international fandom presences, as well as Real People Fandom (RPF), despite the huge popularity of slash pairings in fandoms like Naruto, K-pop/C-pop group Exo, and others.
With over 11 pages of comments, it doesn’t appear that more diverse slash pairings are making much headway in the nominations; but then again, with thousands of nominations at this point, it’s difficult to know which ships—apart from Sterek, of course—will take the lead.
But no matter what the outcome, Teen Wolf fans will have the satisfaction of having their voices acknowledged, and indirectly leading to some positive recognition and fun for many slash fans in many pairings—not just the one that howled loudest.
Photo via AfterElton