Fearful Symmetry

Those fans who prefer — or “ship,” as the verb goes; derived from “relationship,” obviously — Cloud with Aerith or Cloud with Tifa have named the pairings portmanteaus of the names of the two characters in their favored ship (it can be a noun too, you see). The Cloud & Aerith pairing is known variously as Clerith (most frequently), Cleris, Clorith, Cloris, Clourith and Clouris, while the Cloud & Tifa pairing is usually called Cloti.

Other common titles for these pairings include: CloudxAerith, Cloud/Aerith, CloudxAeris, Cloud/Aeris, CxA, C/A, CloudxTifa, Cloud/Tifa, CxT and C/T.

The fans of these pairings are usually referred to by the portmanteau names belonging to the pairings themselves (e.g. Cleriths and Clotis). All this being said, obviously a Clerith may still argue that Cloti is canon, and a Cloti might argue otherwise if that’s what they believe.

If any explanation is needed for the word “canon,” by the way, see the TheLifestream.net’s guide to FFVII canon.

While I have gone to battle in the deepest hills of LTD dung for years and have had my ship preference since the beginning (seriously, I played FFVII the day of its release in North America), it was initially based on my own preferences in women. More to the point, I couldn’t stand Aerith and adored Tifa. If you fear that this declared preference for Tifa may bias my views in this analysis, that’s not an unreasonable concern. I hope that I may alleviate it, however.

Whether I can or not, though, in any public address, it is necessary to state one’s personal views upfront. Otherwise, it becomes a question of honesty.

While I like Aerith much more today than I did back then, I’ll admit that I still prefer Tifa. Somewhat ironically, I have had a long-term relationship with a woman who reminded me of Tifa and have been married to another who is far more like Aerith in both personality and appearance. Makes one wonder how I would feel about Aerith and Tifa if today I were playing FFVII for the first time.

I do believe this, though: You won’t find someone with no opinion on the LTD actually discussing the matter at length. Not only because it takes a vested interest in the first place, but because it’s impossible.

Anyone analyzing data and drawing conclusions from it, even if they began as neutral, no longer is by the end of the process. This is as true of researchers making employ of the scientific method as it is of scholars conducting media analysis.

They must, of course, attempt to distance themselves as much as possible while drawing their conclusions, though. You are free to determine otherwise if not convinced, but I believe the three-and-a-half-year absence I took from this fandom between January 2006 and September 2009 gave me that distance. I will tell you outright that I could not have discussed this matter with an adequate degree of distance in 2005.

Whether I am credible I leave to each of you to decide.

<—Previous part | Index page | Next part—>