Friday, February 25, 2011

Shipping and Androgyny in Tokusatsu Fandom

I am NOT saying I am a large expert on these things, nor I want to appear as if I am an expert.

Two Definitions:
Shipping is a term use in the fandoms taken from the word 'Relationship' and 'to ship' is to create a relationship out of two fictional characters. Shipping means to group two characters (from Television, Films, Books, etc.) into a relationship, if implied or not. Many times fans 'ship' two characters together that seem to have no romantic connections at all (you may not agree).
Androgyny is a word derived from the Greek words άνδρoς (andros, meaning man) and γυνή (gyné, meaning woman). Andros, funny, eh? Androgyny usually refers to a person that looks like a mix of both genders: feminine and masculine and aren't so easy to identify. Androgynous people are usually common in fashion. In Japanese pop culture including Tokusatsu (more specifically Super Sentai and Kamen Rider), there are many androgynous-looking characters or cast members.

Ryosuke [Miura Ankh/Shingo Izumi on Kamen Rider OOO]

And this topic has to do with those terms. This topic started in my head while reading comments American fans write on boards about certain actors. For years, many fans have called androgynous-looking men on Sentai and Kamen Rider women. It is a cultural thing. Even in Japan, androgynous is not an accepted thing. Mostly the younger generation finds it stylish. I want to make it clear that this is not about sex but it is about GENDER. There is a distinct version between sexual orientation, sex and gender, many people confuse it all together. The main problem is because majority of the world doesn't have the education about it. Many people may scoff at the notion of needing education on quote-end-quote 'gay stuff' but come on, in reality, most people just hear about it on 'the streets.'

Hirofumi Araki (Rio) from Gekiranger

Gender basically is split into the binary. The binary refers to two sides, there is just two categories. These two categories being masculine and feminine. They are societal norms established by a consensus in culture on what is masculine and what is feminine. For example, if a man or woman likes shopping, fashion, wearing long hair and cooking, it is usually lumped into feminine. These gender norms that were established change from time to time. Because look at England and the United States back in the 1700's, the norm for men were to dress in powdered wigs and pantaloons. Now that is considered feminine. And young men dressing as women on the stage was common, as women weren't allowed to be stage actors. There is also Rule 63, a urban meme that says for every male character, there is a female equivalent or version of him.

The picture above was made fun of by English-speaking fans, especially Hirofumi Araki (Rio), because he looks like a woman. I hate the taunting of men that may look 'feminine.' I personally believe that the social norms or what is expected of men in America (including South and North) is very very narrow. If a man bends his wrist, he's gay. If a man shakes his hips when he is walking, he's gay. If he has long hair and looks similar to a woman, then he's gay. Remember when only women could wear earrings? Now plenty of men wear earrings. And don't get me started on Pink once again, as I believe the color has nothing to do with gender but many cultures (including Japan's and ours) have united pink and femininity together and it has only been done for the past 60 years, compared to the said million years of human existence.

Shō Tomita (Yukito from Abaranger)

So if I got to say it, I'll say it. If a man dresses as a woman, it doesn't mean they are gay. Transgender people are not gay. For example, a 'transgendered' individual is like a person born as a man and feels like they were born in the wrong body and dresses in the opposite gender in order to have society see them as they feel inside. They could be attract to the opposite sex, say a man to woman transgender would be attracted to a man, or they could be bisexual. And a crossderesser is a man who likes to dress in dresses, and can be either gay or straight. And there are gay men that are Drag Queens, who dress as women from time to time for a show, but consider themselves men not women. Same thing for Drag Kings, women (either straight or lesbian) that dress as men. For me, sexuality is fluid, it is ever changing. And gender, in a way, also is. Fluidity meaning it changes all the time, it depends on a person and not everything stays the same. Okay I digress.

This shipping discussion about the actors who play Captain Marvelous and Doc from Gokaiger, started because of various pictures of them together. Some people joked that they were gay and some other people wanted to 'ship' or group these two characters together. I am doing this to fan the flames, I am not thinking I will 'fix' anything or 'save' anything. Some loyal fans on my blog say I, myself, am good at calming down the fandoms and creating peace. I don't know about that, nor do I claim any large responsibilities like that. I am NOT saying I am a large expert on these things, nor I want to appear as if I am an expert. I will handle this two ways. NUMBER ONE: To those who honestly believe these two actors are gay and in love. Who are we to speculate on the sexual orientation of two actors? There is nothing confirmed. In the Toku fandom, only ONE actor has come out as gay and that is David Yost. And no Japanese actor has ever come out of the closet or said they are gay. In Japan, they rarely talk about it. There is openly gay people, but not actors. There is stigma over openly gay actors in the US and there is way more taboo in Japan.

NUMBER TWO: For those fans that have no problem with gay people but would still like to 'ship' these two guys (either the actors or characters), it is fun to speculate and you can ship all you want (I am not a law man) but saying they ARE indeed in a relationship is a little too much. Because on the internet, it quickly becomes true and law. That is how gossip starts. It is a double standard that when women pose in a picture and appear close, it is normal but when two men do it, then they are pinned as gay.

On the subject of 'shipping', the 'shipping' by fans about Dillon and Ziggy comes to mind. Actor Daniel Ewing has said in an interview with No Pink Spandex that he didn't like the pairing, and not because he is homophobic but because he would quote 'crush him' physically. Saying that he was too big for Ziggy, that he is too skinny and small. He found a pairing with Scott or Flynn more feasible physically. That is just funny. By the way, being homophobic means you don't like gay people, not that one is 'scared' of gay people. Also, you can be homophobic if you are discriminatory in a vicious manner towards a person not fitting in societal gender norms (for example making fun of a male actor for looking 'fem' or 'queer').

By the way, the poll on sexual orientation is to prove to my mother that Toku DOES NOT have gay subliminal messages, she thinks it does. She also thinks Sailor Moon has gay subliminal messages.


ThatChick said...

Thank you! I subscribe to Ryota Ozawa's blog on ameblo, and so I get updates whenever he updates, to see if there are any spoilers. Whenever I see a picture of him with Kazuki Shimazu, I think it's really sweet that they are friends outside of the show. Just because two guys hang out together doesn't mean they're gay. I'm surprised you didn't put any pictures of androgynous female actresses, though.

Luca said...

Androgynous guys (including me) are the BEST!!!! This is why the only toku I like is 21st century toku! There keeps on being more and more androgynous guys in tokusatsu as the years go by! I hope for one day all of the characters to be androgynous! This is also probably why I hate Date so much.

Lavender Ranger said...

Oh ThatChick, if you can find the pics of androgynous actresses, send them to me.

Anonymous said...

Rule 63 doesn't state that if there are no female characters, that one male character should be feminine.

It states that for every male character, there is a female version of him.

Zach said...

Actually Alan Palmer, Corcus The Black Aquatian Ranger, was the first out ranger.

Lavender Ranger said...

Zach, I didn't know Alan Palmer was out. He is so hot! He has to call me.

Zach said...

LOL. Yeah, he's been married to a guy since 1990.

transformationscene said...

As one who identifies as MtF, it is a very pleasant surprise you did a post like this.

Admittedly, the androgynous guys in spandex are actually one of the reasons I like toku as an adult.

Rodrick ambiguous orientation in your Mythical Destiny video does kind of make more sense.

Lavender Ranger said...

transformaitonscene, I thought the name Lavender Ranger was obvious.

transformationscene said...

No, I've come acorss people with usernames like Beige Ranger or Grey Ranger, just picking some random color and rangefying themselves. I thought the queer connotations were just coincidental until I noticed the GLBT issues section. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed. I just discovered this blog....

Unknown said...

I spent most of this post thinking "He's cute. It IS a he, right?"

I'm a guy and was mistaken for a women once. But then I do have long hair and she was probably near-sighted. XD

Lavender Ranger said...

All of those guys are guys.