I don't love you, but I always will - a Damon/Elena shipper manifesto (part 2)

Jun 11, 2012 01:45

Here goes part two! Part three will probably take me a good while to write. tvdbloodstream has a Top Ten challenge, and the ship part ends on Thursday, so it appears that first I have to work on something with actual deadline. But for now, part two is alive and kicking. Without further ado:

I don't love you, but I always will - a Damon/Elena shipper manifesto
Why would anyone want to ship something like that?

Warnings: This post contains Damon and Elena.

This isn't a typical meta. I'm not trying to make claims or prove points. This post is purely subjective; it's about what I like, what makes D/E attractive for me, why I spend hours writing yet another post, why I have feelings and all the ugly stuff. It's not an analytical post -- or, at least, analysis is not my main goal. Basically, it's emotional vomit. Only, you know, with fancy words. And pictures.

Part One

4. Fuck you, epic romance

(aka the section where everyone stops reading and comes at me with a knife...)

Basically, everything that promises to be a “big, epic D/E moment” turns out to be an great disappointment.

I think the dances are the best examples, because fandom seems to go wild every time there is to be a dance, and when it finally comes... it's a bummer. 1x19, 2x18, 3x14 (yes, I know, everyone and their dog loves the Miss Mystic Falls dance... bear with me). The thing is, D/E totally fail at doing conventionally romantic things. Let's take the Miss Mystic Falls dance. First of all, it's oddly stiff and a bit clumsy (is it just me, or does anyone else also have a feeling that they're about to bump into another couple any second?). The hands part really is aesthetically pleasing, but when they actually dance, they keep their distance, which, as far as I remember, is NOT what you're supposed to do when waltzing, because it makes spinning real hard. Secondly, let's think about the circumstances: both Damon and Elena are worried sick about who Stefan might be eating at the moment. Kind of sucks in terms of romantic setting.

I'm not trying to say that it's a badly written or badly played scene. It's not. I enjoy it for my own twisted reasons. I'm just totally incapable of viewing it as a love scene. It's a friendship scene (Damon is helping Elena out of an embarrassing situation). It's a team scene (they're covering up for Stefan's fuck up). It's a slightly uncomfortable scene (Damon is stepping in for Stefan, and I bet the irony is not lost to him). But, despite of the imagery, it's not a romantic scene for me, and in a conventional story, it would be. According to all the narrative rules, this scene should be romantically significant, and it isn't. Because Damon/Elena are NOT the epic love in this story. The romantic setup comes to nothing. Instead, they get a significant scene later. Elena decides to stay in the cellar, and Damon is about to leave... but then he doesn't. He stays with her, and the episode ends with them sitting silently in the dark. Guys, 1x19 is an excellent D/E episode, but NOT because the dance is so epic and romantic. 1x19 shows what D/E is about. Gives us an epic, romantic moment that feels ultimately fake, and then shows those two life-ruiners finding each other in the dark, communicating without words, sticking together, doing something wrong for the right reasons.

The only D/E dance that actually works is the 2x18 decade dance. A silly, little school dance, in the dark, in a crowded room where no one even looks at them. Damon behaves like an idiot just to make Elena laugh, Elena flirts with Damon a bit, and just for one second, they can both forget about all the Klaus horrors. This dance works, because it's not a romantic dance. It's funny, playful, and a little bit sexy. It shows Elena and Damon as they truly are - two people who can have fun, even if they know that things are going to hell. But a romantic couple? Never.

It keeps happening, all the time. Disappointing dances (Maybe that's the problem?), kisses with no follow-up, insignificant confessions. And, in the end, (as ever-neutral likes to say) she calls his dying ass and still refuses to sugar-coat things for him. This 3x22 phone call could've made a great romantic moment, a last-minute confession, an epic goodbye. It doesn't, because for this ship, truth is more important than romance.

Also, how could they be romantic? Stefan is (was?) Elena's Epic Love, Katherine was Damon's. They both have scars to show for that. They both grew up believing in love that would conquer it all, and they found people they were supposed to love forever. They both died because of Epic Love, they were crushed, abused, destroyed. Why would they want to get into something similar with each other? To risk even more pitchforks - I think even Damon wouldn't try that. Fandom seems to assume that he would want a relationship similar to the one he wanted with Katherine, and I don't see that at all. Damon's stopped courting Elena a long time ago, and, despite his own words, he didn't try to win her "fair and square" when Stefan was gone. In 3x19, there were two people quite enjoying themselves while almost boning against a pillar, not one happy person and one martyr. Compare it to what he did in 2x01, when he could've had Katherine against a bookshelf, but he stopped, because he needed to talk. He needed to know she loved him, because in an epic romance, the declaration of love happens before sex. With Elena, he just takes what he can get, and not because he's so whipped (not that he isn't whipped ;) ) and he'd take any crumbs from her table. No. He takes anything, because they make this up as they go, and he doesn't have the eternity with her outlined in his head. The rules have changed. S3 Damon is over epic romance, and Elena is struggling with it. If I'm correct, she's going to get over it quite soon in s4. So how will s4 Elena and Damon shape their relationship if they're both disappointed with the most popular pattern?

I will never not be fascinated by this. Because, you know what? I fail at romance too. I've never had an epic romantic dance with a love of my life. I've never had a significant kiss that would be a breakthrough in a relationship. And if I tried to have one, I'd probably sneeze in the middle of it. Epic romance doesn't happen to people like me, and it's cool, because I don't trust epic romance. I think that many people are prone to talking themselves into Epic Love just because they're charmed by romantic details, and I think I might be one of those people. So I don't trust dances, and I don't trust kisses. What I do trust is finding each other in the dark.

5. You're my friend

All right, let's move to a less controversial topic, shall we?

I am deeply in love with how Damon and Elena work as friends. They click instantly, they see right through each other, and they create this amazing bullshit-free zone. No sugar-coating. No easy smiles. No pretending to be a better person. Just Damon, Elena, ugly truths and teamwork.

What I love about their friendship is that it's the exact opposite of idealizing and romanticizing. Elena lets Damon see her when she's furious, she calls for him when she stabs Rebekah in the back, she has him compel Jeremy. If they weren't friends, 3x19 would never happen: Elena was able to do what she did, because she's always honest with Damon. So she could show him that she desires him, and then she could admit that she doesn't know what she feels, all this without fear of being judged. Guys, it's Elena who we're talking about. Keeping up appearances is the way she deals with the world. And yet, she can't do that with Damon.

From what I've seen in fandom, many people insist that Elena is delusional, that she lies to herself and stubbornly refuses to address her feelings for Damon. This is not how I see it. Sure, Elena keeps up appearances. She actively chooses the version of herself (love is a choice, see: section one). She decides not to act on certain feelings. But her confusion about her feelings for Damon is genuine: their conversation in Scary Mary's house proves it. Elena is The Good Girl. She wants to be good, she wants to stop having moral problems, she wants to get back to simpler times. She does all she can in order to achieve that. And you know what Good Girls don't do? They don't jump guys they're not in love with. After what she did, it's so much harder for her to admit that she doesn't know if she has feelings for him. It would be easier to tell Damon she loves him, she loves them both. She could still be The Good Girl if she showed that she jumped him out of love. And it would be so much easier if she told him he would get the goodbye in 3x22 if it wasn't for Caroline. But this is not what Elena does. She says that she doesn't know what she feels. She says she would go to Stefan anyway. Because Damon is her friend, and he deserves the truth from her. She's never The Good Girl for him (although she still thinks she has to be The Good Girl for Caroline and Bonnie - and I kind of hope she'll give it up with Bonnie in s4, I want them to be stop hiding the ugly parts). They don't live up to each other's expectations.

I've said that too many times already, but I will say it again: they have an understanding, and they have it, because they overidentify with each other. There's no hyper compassion or anything of a sort. They're just so alike. Both are ready to violate someone's free will if they think it's in their loved ones' best interest. Both feel too much. Both have a suicidal streak. They understand each other, because each of them keeps projecting their own feelings and thoughts on the other person, and they just happen to get it right, because they have so much in common.

The other thing I love is the teamwork, and, again, I love it for very personal reasons. When Elena and Damon work together, they divide work, then they meet at the end of a day and “compare notes”. When they work as a team, each of them is an independent player; there's no leader, just two people and a lot of room for individual choices. 3x08 is my favorite example, because they both make their own decisions, and yet it's still teamwork. They just get things done, be it digging up information about Originals or compelling Jeremy. They have each other's back.

I know (I'm looking at you, Emma! I think it's very clever of me, reply to your counterarguments before you even made them!) that as soon as the whole manifesto is posted, I'll have to deal with a huge pile of arguments about how most of D/E is just Damon projecting his feelings for Katherine on Elena. And, weirdly enough, I agree. I mean, hello, they have the same face, and Damon's been pining for Katherine for 145 years! But I think that the friendship is what makes those two ships different (the other thing is that I tend to disregard the transference completely, because I keep looking at D/E from Elena's point of view, and, from that perspective, Damon's transference issues don't really matter that much...), and it's also what makes D/E so interesting. If you take away the “love story”, they still have complex, interesting dynamics. I could easily write an AU in which nothing romantic or sexual never happens (not even UST!), everything is purely platonic, and it would still look pretty much like current D/E. The overidentification, the honesty, the challenge, the moral issues, the humor - it all happens outside of the love story. In the beginning s3 we can see how Damon and Elena grew to be a team, and there's so much more to them than this overadvertized “consuming passion”. I started shipping them in early s2, for completely different reasons, but now the fact that it's friendship, not love, that defines them, is one of my favorite things about them.

And, last but not least, I love how they can be at ease with each other. Which actually deserves a separate section.

6. They're both twelve

Enough with the analysis. Let's get to the fun part.

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of comedies. I like them, but I have a very short attention span for them. So I'm much more likely to enjoy a short Tim Minchin song than a movie (although I watch them sometimes), and I just can't get into comedy shows. What works best for me is a drama with short comic reliefs. Hence my love for The 12yo Idiot Ship.

Damon is the clown of this show (I know, Klaus is also an epic troll, but Damon's been doing this for three seasons, so let's give him credit for that. And let's not forget that it takes two to play fence dodgeball!). He keeps saying inappropriate things totally on purpose, he has no sense of decorum. Damon is... Damon.

And this is so much needed. With the amount of drama that surrounds The Triangle of Doom, a comic relief really is a great relief. Like during the aforementioned decade dance: everyone is about to explode because of all the fear and tension, and this is when Damon chooses to have a totally idiotic pantomime in which vampires go “aaghr!”. This is who Damon is for Elena: the person who makes her step out of her life just for five minutes. When Elena has a problem, she deals by doing stuff: she looks for distractions, because if she starts thinking about what's going on, she will fall apart. She needs a task, so she washes blood off her porch, or clears Alaric's locker. Damon understands that, because he's restless himself. So when they can't deal by finding tasks, they deal by laughing. You laugh so you don't cry.

They're so casual with each other. Surprisingly comfortable, given the amount of sexual tension that is there almost all the time. Despite all the terrible things that happened to them, they can still just enjoy their lives. It really works for me, because, hey, what's the point of surviving all the threats if you don't bother living the life you've won?

I'm not going to pretend that I have deep thoughts about how Elena and Damon are twelve ;). I don't. I just love it. Because it's funny, because it shows yet another side of their friendship, because it makes them more realistic, because I can relate to their glorious idiocy. How boring it would be if we just had the serious stuff?

note to self: less talk, meta, ostateczne upodlenie, fictional vampires ruin my life, straszna straszna miazga, yes i'm always like that, elena gilbert is amazing, damon omg damon, fandom: the vampire diaries, i'm twelve just like my ship, how unfortunate, too many emotions, i hate everybody

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