In news this week, my biggest ship has sort of become canon while also it being illegal.
The kind of shipping I mean isn’t the one with massive cargo freighters bringing goods across the ocean for low fees. No, the kind I’m talking about is the internet phenomenon. For those of you who are experienced with this side of the internet, you can skip ahead a few paragraphs. For those of you who don’t know, “shipping” in this case refers to wanting two characters (normally fictional but not limited to this) to be in a relationship – relation”ship”, hence “shipping”. An example of this for the inexperienced could be the classic TV sitcom Friends (which I assume most people are familiar with). Most people shipped the characters Ross and Rachel together.
A step forwards from shipping is when a “ship” becomes “canon”. This means that in the show the two characters are actually in a relationship – this is also known as the ship setting sail. Continuing the example of Friends, the Ross and Rachel ship would have become canon multiple times, essentially each time they hooked up or dated.
So, back to the story in question. A mere few days ago, my favourite ship (also known as an OTP) finally set sail – sort of. The couple in question here are characters of the animated series Adventure Time, and many refer to this ship as “Bubbline”; an amalgamation of the names of the two characters in question. Now for those unfamiliar with the show, you may be wondering by now why I’m making this such a big deal, and why I’m referring to it as “illegal”. I’ll get onto the illegal part in a sec, but the reason that it’s a big deal can be explained with a simple picture of the cutsie patooties:
Yes, now you know: both characters happen to be female. One also happens to be a vampire demon, while the other is made purely of bubblegum, but those technicalities don’t seem to bother anyone much.
The two characters, Marceline (the black haired vampire on the left) and Princess Bubblegum (the girl on the right made of bubblegum; also usually referred to as PB or Bonnie, so if I use those instead don’t be surprised) were sort of officially made canon in this statement by Olivia Olson, who voices Marcie.
In the video she refers to a conversation that she had with Pen Ward; Ward is the creator of the show, so this statement is not something to be sniffed at.
This isn’t the first time that Marcie and Bonnie have been alluded to by a team from Frederator. Three years ago, just after people began to suspect the two were involved, an official recap show called Mathematical!, which was made by a separate team to that which makes Adventure Time, specifically mentioned the subtext of a relationship between the two. Admittedly the subtext was plain and obvious in the episode, but by pointing it officially made the subtext… text. Which meant that people freaked out since this is 2011 we’re talking about, so Mathematical! was cancelled, the recap in question (which had only ever been online anyway, never broadcast or anything) was destroyed and the person in charge fired.
While that story in itself is a blight on Bubbline’s record, the episode “What Was Missing” remains a highly popular episode, and one that any shipper of the pairing has seen multiple times. It’s probably important to mention at this point that most people believe that there was something between them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything still ongoing. That feeling also came through from the episode: Bonnie and Marcie are very obviously slightly at odds with one another, but it’s never mentioned what’s happened between them.
And now for a short music break (if you want. You can move along otherwise). This song, which is incredibly catchy, is the song that sparked off this first wave of shipping. The context of the episode makes the song make more sense, but essentially all that’s needed to know is this: those glowy balls on the door? They glow stronger the more truthful the song is.
(also quick note: I’m Just Your Problem’s lyrics could lead to their relationship being interpreted as simply an ex-friendship, not an ex-relationship. I could argue against this, but in reality its an accumulation of other factors dotted around in many episodes with much context needed that explains why its always been more likely that they were more than friends…)
Good song eh?
Anyway, onto the real important stuff: what does this all mean?
Well, as I’ve pointed out several times, and as Olson pointed out, Bubbline becoming canon can never happen on the show; unless a whole ton of laws change and suddenly the whole world becomes a whole load more accepting of LGBT representation. So thats a shame. However, the fact that they are actually in theory meant to be canon is a big step forwards. That would make both Marcie and PB bisexual, which improves representation for that hugely misunderstood group. On top of that it means there’s actually a genuine shift in cartoon makers mentalities if they can actively work towards putting this subtext in constantly; which they do.
This kind of thing could only really ever have happened with Adventure Time, and it’s one of the reasons that its such a good show. While it remains a very child friendly show, there are some plotlines that you would never expect to find in a normal children’s show. The most obvious of these that I can think of off the top of my head is that AT takes place in the future, but in a dystopic future: the land of Ooo where this takes place is a nuclear wasteland. All humans are dead (well, except Finn the main character), which explains why most of the characters could never exist in our world: they’re mutants. Finn himself is an orphaned child, who was raised by dogs and who’s father, who we recently met, was actually a heartless criminal who abandoned and forgot about him. Marceline is a vampire demon who’s father keeps trying to push her to rule the underworld (which she doesn’t want to do since she wants to pave her own path) and grew up in the wastelands after this war, which leaves her with some incredibly bizarre memories. Heck, even Ice King, one of the supposed villains, only acts as he does because he was made crazy by the crown that grants him his powers (Lord of the Rings anyone?). He actually used to be a kind hearted soul.
Anyway, this, to me, is a huge step forwards. I’m glad somebody finally came clean because I’ve been trying to forget about the Mathematical! thing for years now, and that statement sort of makes up for that fiasco.
It’s a good step forwards for humanity, and it’s a logical step for the show.
Happy shipping everybody!
BONUS: These two are the cutest things in the world in the comics.