[Stitch Talks ish] Episode 9: Stitch Wraps Up One Hell of A Year


Welcome to episode nine of Stitch Talks Ish: Stitch Wraps Up One Hell of a Year.

For this end of the year wrap up, we’ll be going over questions that I received from friends, and followers on social media. Some of them are from anonymous contributors; others are from people who I know because I- they attach their name. And across this, you’ll get a better understanding of what I’ve been up to in 2020, and what my vibes are at the end of the year. So stick around— lots of good questions coming up.

[Musical Interlude]

Our first question is from an anon: because of the very nature of Kpop a bunch of stuff about it isn’t an English. How do you handle that? Who do you go to for trustworthy translation? And is there stuff academic fan official, you would like access to that you can’t get?

So first, I do panic a bit, sometimes, when I’m looking for something time sensitive and I can’t find any reliable translator; because usually things like academic papers, or maybe critical articles, don’t get translations from the fan translators. But when it comes to, like, BTS, as a really good example, I utilize fan translators like Wisha. Her account is really good.

If it’s something small, I do have friends who I don’t mind asking. And, you know, they’ve been like, “I don’t want to see you post something that’s absolutely incorrect. So if you need help, like, reach out.” So I have friends who, who read Korean or who can understand it, like, listening to it possible— You know, some of them are Korean, and so I’ll ask them for help.

I also look to see, if possible, if the author of the post would be able to provide anything, because sometimes, with academic papers, there may be other versions. So, like, I look to see what they have going on.

And then, haha, when it comes to the stuff I would like access to that I can’t get: So if you’ve been paying attention across— well since 2019, really— but largely across 2020 I’ve been really just in love with Myoung-Sun Song’s Hanguk Hip Hop. She wrote a two volume book (like two books… that’s how that works) about hip hop in Korean, and I want it desperately— desperately. And there is no English translation. I don’t know if it’s something she intends to translate, or have translated, in the future.

I also want- I also wish that a lot of the articles about Korean rappers had translation accounts, Like, there are some for videos for, like, AOMG. Their- their artists have a translation account, unofficial of course, same for things like Mnet. So Mnet is the… is a station in Korea. They do Show Me the Money. They did Good Girl. Some of the hip hop competition, or battle, shows are from them.

The thing is that even though Mnet ostensibly recognizes that there are international hip hop fans who do watch their Korean shows, which are oriented towards a Korean audience, they still don’t do anything to make these shows accessible. I had to use… I had to use the K— the subreddit for Korean variety shows to watch Good Girl. And then, the translator for the current season of Show Me the Money is not making the episodes available to download. And that’s how I was— I don’t really want to use a shady streaming site to do that, so I have not been watching that season, after the first episode or two, where they made the episodes available for upload. Because I would really like official translations, so that I could guarantee the best understanding of what these artists are going through, and what they’re saying. Until then I’ll rely on fan translations when I can get them, and bothering my friends when I can’t.

All right, so this question is from @JRpotential, on Twitter, who asked: So when you see anti blackness pop up in Kpop, what’s your process for analyzing this exactly? Do you gather as much details on intent and artists slash label PR before discussing that online? And is this after how much facepalming?

So to start— there’s always a ton of facepalming. I’m always like, “Are you kidding me?”

There was one situation last year, last September, when J-Hope, from BTS, did his Chicken Noodle Soup remake with Becky G, and they posted, you know, relatively cute selfies. And he had his hair in these little twists. And he’s clearly like trying to mimic black hairstyles, or at least get, like, that hip hop kind of attitude going on. And when I saw the pictures I was on the bus, and I started laughing at the, kind of, absurdity of it all. Because at that point, I was like, “Oh, yes, I’ve been assured by everyone in this fandom, that BTS does not do this stuff anymore. You not going to see cultural appropriation from BTS. They understand.” And there’s Hobi, with his hair like that dressed, like, in hip hop aesthetic, and I was like, “why did I listen to fans? I never listen to fans.” And, like, I was, I ended up being, more offended at the fandom response then I was at him. Overall, like looking back at how I’ve thought and talked about it over the past year and change, definitely with him it’s been like, “wow, the fans really, really had me out here angry. What the heck?”

With… with the research aspect (right?), so, what I do is, I start- I have an outline that I’ve had put together since, maybe, beginning of April 2019. And so, I keep adding to it, or I take stuff off of it. Like, I have a segment on ARMY’s reaction to CupcakKe and other black female artists, and maybe some male artists, when put into conversation with BTS. I’ve put that on pause, like, three or four times already, because I don’t actually know where I want to start from. Right? And I don’t know how helpful it’ll be, you know? So like, if I- if a situation happens, where it becomes relevant again, then I’ll be like, “Okay, how do I unpack this? How do I talk about this?”

So I start with the outline, and I look to see what I need, right? So if I’m doing a post on black women as video vixens in Korean hip hop videos (which doesn’t happen that often, but let’s say I was going to do something like that) I would look up dancers. I would see who I could find. I look at dance companies, I’d look at Instagram posts. And I look at what the fans are saying. And, like, if sites like Soompi, or Koreaboo had good starting points, because usually Soompi has the Korean sources for some of their articles at the bottom. So I can then go to the Korean source and, like, get somebody to translate it for me, or hopefully there’s like, an auto translate that isn’t terrible, right?

And so, when I think of anti blackness, like so, during the summer, there was an artist, I don’t remember which artists it was, I think he got booted off of Show Me the Money, or he didn’t make it onto the season. But he got on Instagram Live and was basically, like, super dismissive of Black Lives Matter, and that idea of like caring for black people—because a lot of people still really miss that there are black people everywhere. So it was very much like “well, why do I have to care?” And it’s like, you are a Korean rapper. You are using a genre of music that was built by black people, both for partying and, like, occasionally, a good protest bop. Right? And it was just so dismissive. And so, for him, I don’t think I wrote about what he did. I think I mentioned it, but I don’t think I wrote about it. [But] when I saw the video was going to, so I set up everything. I looked into his company; I looked into what his labelmates, if he had any, had said. and I have notes taken, like “how do I talk about this? How do I express — well, that you should care about black people” and stuff like that.

There have been times where I’ve missed, or initially missed, something. So last year, maybe last June, maybe, there was an episode of MONSTA X’s, little mini variety show (I think MONSTA X-Ray) where Wonho, had a really curly wig on and I didn’t see— I don’t think there were subtitles at the time. And I was like, “wow, this wig makes me feel uncomfortable. It looks like it’s an Afro wig.” And at the time someone was like, “Oh, it’s an Ahjumma wig.” He’s just- like, it’s an aunty wig. And I watched it, maybe, at the beginning of the year (right?) because I was like, “oh okay, I’d missed the cultural context when I watched it the first time. Now I’ll watch it with the subtitles and this will be great I’ll understand why he’s dressed like an auntie.” Right? Rewatching the video in 2020, right before like the the part that I’d seen without subtitles, the rest of MONSTA X said that that Wonho look like Michol, who is a racist, anti black caricature on Korean’s- Korean television. And it’s really annoying because Michael isn’t actually Korean— isn’t actually black. He is Korean, just brown, possibly dirty. And I was like, “Well, I second guessed myself, deleted a tweet that I had made, but in the end, I was actually right.” My- my anti blackness senses were right.

Like, the thing is, when writing about media from another part of the world— So like, if I’m doing this with Japanese hip hop, or anime or, a Chinese series, or Show Me the Money, I think had a Thai- Thai spin off, kind of— I would want to double check like, what has anybody written about anti blackness, or blackness, in these spaces? Who’s talking about it actively? How can I cite them? How can I use them as a source so they get a ping back and people go check out their stuff? And because there’s- you have cultures in conversation, there’s chances where I second guess myself, like with the wig. There’s something else, I don’t remember what but, it was something I saw on a Netizen thing. And I was like, “Oh my god, this is bad.” And it was not actually that bad. But overall, I just triple-quadruple check. If I’m super unsure, I have friends who have lived in Korea, while black, and so, so they can go “No, this is a bad thing. I experienced this. Or No, no, no, this was fine. I experienced this and it was whatever.” And that’s how I kind of go about it if I’m really confused, or if I’m stalled on a research element.

Alright, so next question: What is your process for trying to keep all of your thoughts and writings organized and separate from each other as you plan them out and work on them? And how do you balance your writing day job and family and friends.

So I have a lot of notebooks. I have so many notebooks! Right now for my- for my day to day writing, I keep a Piccadilly notebook from Barnes and Noble. I’ve had it for maybe two years, because I go back and forth between two of them. And that’s where I take down initial notes on what I want to write, [and] when I want to write it. I used to do scheduling in it, and I decided that’s not a great idea because I have a planner.

I also have a planner. my main planner right now is a Happy Planner from The Happy Planner. I’m holding out for one of two planner types that I really want. I don’t know how much they’re gonna cost, so I’m gonna wait and see before I try getting them. And I use the planners to keep track of what I’m doing on a given day— what I need to work on, what I need to get posted. So for December, I scheduled pretty much half of the content from the jump. I think [by] like the 30th, I had all the big, pre written, things ready to go. And so, all I’m doing now is like recording stuff, or editing and scheduling those things. I try to front load the month with as much work as I can so that at the end of the month, I can just be preparing December— sorry, the next month’s— content. So the last two weekends of this month are Christmas weekend, And New Year’s, [and] I will be focusing on kind of setting up January 2021 content.

And I do that with the help of my friend, Ang. They help me put everything together. Like, we’ll sit there and go back and forth on, like, what content I should be doing, and maybe what I don’t need to work on is hard— stuff like that. Like, they’re very, very, like, super friggin helpful because I have ADHD just not a diagnosis. So I’m very scatterbrained and if it’s not like repeatedly, like, “Oh, you have to do this, you have to do this now. This is due,” I probably won’t remember to do it. Usually communication is the big thing that suffers, but like everything else suffers, too.

And then how do I balance writing and my day job? Well, I don’t write anything between nine and five. So that’s one thing. So if I’m doing Day Job, I’m not doing anything for my website, or Patreon, aside from maybe scheduling tweets, or for an hour, for my lunchtime. Everything else— I usually wake up just in time for work. So I’m not writing before work but I’ll work after. So, like from five to midnight, I’m doing site stuff, Patreon, any interviews, any pitches, anything that is for “not my day job.” I do that and then I usually sleep from, between, midnight and two to like 8:45.

And then when it comes to family and friends, I’m not super social. So that’s— that’s a problem. Pre pandemic, I would go out with my friends. And so my friends know about my website, they know about my work, so we, you know, we talk about stuff. But now because I’m home all the time, and everybody is at different places, physically, I don’t really get to do direct interaction a lot. I think I’ve scheduled some, some, phone calls, for the end of the year. And hopefully I’ll do them.

With family it’s a little harder. I don’t talk to my dad that much, across all of this, and he does not really like know what I do. I don’t think he would understand it. My mom sort of understands. And she knows what I do. And, in terms of, like, interacting with them in between working: I live with my mom right now, so I’m here all the time. I don’t really get to talk to the nieces that much, but we’re setting up an Animal Crossing date. So I will be playing that with them at some point. And I run ideas by them. The the two little ones are in Kpop fandom, so I talk to them about their groups. And I just, kind of, try to find out what they’re interested in as younger Kpop fans, especially like young black girls who are into Kpop. What do they care about? What do they wish other people care about? And I try to have that inform my Kpop writing specifically? Yeah.

All right. So we have a question from DJ, whose message reads: Hi, stitch. I hope you’re doing well. My question is, how do you cope when your fav disappoints you? Because for me personally, I find it really hard to move on from because I just get so emotionally attached. So it feels heartbreaking when the person I cared about ended up being not so great. rationally. I know it’s all just parasocial interactions. But emotionally I’m still hurt. And it feels a bit embarrassing to be depressed over a person who doesn’t know you. You know you’re very smart and I lowkey look up to you. So I was wondering how you handle it.

You’re very sweet! Oh my gosh.

Okay, so I actually can talk about this very well, because prior to becoming very, very invested in BTS, I was a casual Kpop fan, in that I knew artists. I wasn’t like deeply invested, except, I really liked Big Bang. Prior to everything I’m going through with BTS (super positively, yay!) I was mildly invested in Big Bang, specifically in T.O.P. and Seungri. So I’ve had a lot to, kind of, pull apart from with that because Seungri let me, and let everybody, down in a way that— like how do you, how do you deal with the fact that your fave is a monster, right? Or monstrous? And I… I really- I stopped listening to his music. I think I took every Big Bang song off of my Spotify playlist— for work and stuff. Or I think at that time, I wasn’t at work so it was just my very long Spotify playlist. I sat my niece down, Meems, she’s my-my Big Bang nieceling. We, like, talked it through. I, you know, told her what I could tell a small teenager, because like he was our fav— we used to watch the videos together. And I resolved to do what I could to support, you know, people who were also struggling to deal with this; to boost Korean points of view on what was going on.

And that’s- that’s like the farthest scale, right? So for many idol group fans, or fans of just any celebrity, you’re not going to end up with a horrible, horrifying scandal like that, like, criminal behavior. It’s like cultural appropriation— which is still upsetting. Like, I know that there are WayV fans who are upset that Hendery decided that putting on a Rastafari cap, with the attached locks. And that’s painful to them. And the thing is, that, you have to give yourself thresholds, kind of like, like, a level where you’re like, “I can’t get upset about this, or I have gotten as upset as I’m going to be.” And you kind of like, push it aside, because there have been times where I’m just like, “Oh, I’m just gonna hold on to this.” Because you’re not likely to get closure, you’re not likely to get an apology, so you’re like, “yeah, I’m just gonna— this is just gonna fester.” And the thing is that all you can do is take care of yourself. Right?

So, in the case of Seungri, I don’t look up his name, I don’t look at, usually, I don’t look at news for him. I’ve only tweeted about him in the context of, like, “you guys need to stop trying to trend the hashtag, ironically, because it just looks like he has support when he really doesn’t.” Like, on a given day he trends like 3000, where like, like, Yoongi, from BTS. trends like 150,000 (right?) just not doing anything. He’s at home and he’s trending. So I basically cut him out. Like, it’s hard to, like, have happy memories of time I spent with my nieces, watching Big Bang music videos, but it’s important to kind of like go “No, no, no, this is this is not someone who’s worth the time. This is not somebody who’s worth the energy”— and, like, redirect. I didn’t redirect to BTS from Seungri, but I definitely did, kind of, look at other, kind of, similar active hip hop groups at the time, like, hip hop/r&b artists. And I kind of got more attached to, or more interested in listening to, like, indie Korean hip hop. Like, going “I’m not going into anything from the big three right now because I’m burned.”

What else? When it comes to the parasocial relationship— like, oh, I get it! I absolutely get like, “wow, I feel so sad about this person that doesn’t know me.” I get that. Oh, do I get it. I’ve cried. I cried over Wonho yes— not yesterday— last year, when he was cut from Monsta X, I cried. I was like, “I’m gonna go to Korea, and I’m gonna support him.” I don’t even have a passport, all right. I didn’t even realize that Wonho meant that much to me until I’m like weeping, in my friend’s car, at my job. Like, I didn’t realize that, like, I cared about him like that. And that’s just, like, that’s not, like, depressed because he did something, but depressed because something happened to him, right? He’s fine. He’s fine.

But, the thing is that we’re told that we can’t have these attachments, and I feel that that’s wrong. The parasocial relationship, and the nature of the idol and fan, kind of, contract makes it so that you do feel, a sort of, kind of, sort of, deep intimacy even though you know objectively that these people are not there for you. Like you can’t reach out and boop ’em, right? But they are there for you in some meaningful ways: music carrying you through your your hardest time, a really well timed message on- on V LIVE. Sometimes if you comment on their social media, they might see it, or if you’re on Weverse, for BTS, they might see it, or Bubble for one of the SM or Starship groups. So you do have access to these artists in a way that, like, my mom didn’t necessarily have for, like, the Rolling Stones. Right? And, and I think that it’s okay to feel things because of these artists. And it’s okay if it’s a really deep emotion.

Like, I plan on weeping whenever, or every time, a member of BTS goes into the military. Like, please understand, I will be inconsolable. Y’all will be like, “Why can I hear crying coming from South Florida?” And it’s me. It will be me— unless I’m in New York and then you’ll hear it from New York.

Yes, so, the whole thing is don’t worry, and when you move on, take it slowly. Kind of unbraid the ties, piece by piece. Find somebody, find another artist, that appeals to you in similar ways. Find another fandom space that you can be welcome in. If you want to still be in the fandom, because it’s only one part of the artists, or one part of the group, that’s disappointed you, stick with people who understand what you’re going through, and not people who will defend the artists in the face of something that they’ve done that hurt you. Right?

Another question! This is from Anon: How has the pandemic changed how you interact with fandom spaces behind the obvious we’re all trapped at home and can’t physically see each other slash go to concerts or movies? Has it changed how you evaluate things or what you have patience for?

So primarily, my fandom engagement is online. I live in Florida, and while I know that there are other nerdy people around, I work nine to five and then— sleepy all the time. So even before the pandemic, I was just seeing my offline friends that I’ve known for, like, my whole life, right? We had just started doing brunch regularly— can I just say that I’m really upset that that can no longer happen? Ugh.

Anyway. But 2020 was going to be my traveling year, in that I was planning to go to Orlando for the BTS concert, in May, and then I was going to travel to New York. I was going to save up money, like, I was going to move to New York, actually, that was my big plan. And that obviously didn’t happen. And going to New York would have been really great for me fandom wise, because a lot of my fandom friends are up north, many of them live in New York. And so now I don’t have that. That part sucks.

In terms of like, fandom media consumption, I do miss going to the movies. Because what I would do is I’d sit there in the dark with a tape recorder, for a movie that I’m going to review, and record it. And, like, I can’t do that now, but now I can sit here and, and pause Amazon movies. Like I watched Monsoon, with Harry [Henry] Golding, I believe, from Crazy Rich Asians. That was fantastic. And I could pause it; I could unpack it in my head. I didn’t end up reviewing it because, I was just, “this movie exists in a really good space for me,” that I don’t want to pick out it. But it was great having that opportunity to just sit through, and pause, and fast forward, and rewind. I also did that with Promare. (I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it right.) But I finally saw that— after it was out in theaters forever, and on DVD. So that experience of watching it in my room, as opposed to in a theater with a bunch of other weebs, that was pretty great.

And then “how has the pandemic changed how you evaluate things or what you have patience for?” Well, I don’t have a lot of patience. That’s a whole thing. I don’t have a lot of patience, and I shouldn’t be expected to have some— to have any— at this point in 2020. Not with racism, not with bad media. One of the things that I’ve, kind of, felt across 2020 is that life is too short to be kind of digging into things I don’t like. So even when I was running low on content, and it would have been so easy to just dive back into the Anita Blake series, and tear her just to shreds, I decided not to. Why should I do that? The world is on fire physically, metaphorically, whatever. I don’t have time to go through her shit. That’s not good for me.

And then with other, like, anti blackness in fandom— I’ve never had patience for it. But seeing the- the year start off with Rey/Kylo shippers, like, attacking and lying on John Boyega, to like in June where they’re like, “we loved him the whole time.” And actually, Black Lives Matter including his, like— I consistently just constantly see red. You know? the other day I saw someone, who I don’t have any, like, actual beef with them, but it’s someone who would, like three years ago was, like, casually like, “Oh yeah, black people shouldn’t be able to do this thing in fandom, that protects them,” and I saw them basically being that kind of way again. And even though I am a “big” account, I’m supposed to be better than that, I was like, “No, no, no, no, let me let me just say something,” and I said something.

And I’m slowly moving on. I don’t care if that person responds to me because that’s not the point. You know, the point was: Three years ago you were casually anti-black, and stuck your nose in someplace that didn’t belong, to school black people, and here you are, at a really bad year to do that, and you’re just fucking doing it again. And so I said something and you know, that feels good. So I don’t really have patience, period. If I don’t like something, you’re gonna know; if I like something, you’re gonna know. I’m not gonna waste my time trying to talk anybody to anti racism.

If you don’t like my tone, you may cover your ears, but leave me out of it. If I don’t like something, I’m not gonna engage with it. Like, there are media that came out this year, that I’ve watched, and I’m just like, “yikes, this was bad,” and I moved on. Like, unless I’m doing it for critique purposes, I’m not fixating. In 2020— no, no.

All right, so this next comment is from Hope, who asked: How did you know what you wanted to study and pursue? And when? And how did fandom behaviors and pattern shift to become one of your focuses? Oh, and then Hope said: Thank you for all your amazing writing and making me feel seen.

I’m glad!

Okay, so, fun fact, I do not have a fan studies degree. I don’t know that people offer fan studies degrees. I also don’t want one. But I have a bachelor in history, with a minor in religious studies. I focused on kind of like the history of culture, like popular culture in its times, so comic books, romance novels, I even, like, wriggled my way into some mythology (even though that doesn’t really count.) And then for my master’s degree— my master’s is in literature. And the thing is, that, in between degrees, basically, I was realizing that fandom’s response to criticism was really bad. Like, I saw the first Avengers movie with friends, and I got out of the movie theater in 2011— which is the tail end of my bachelor degree— and I went on Tumblr, and I was like, “Wow, it’s kind of wild that there are basically no black people in the crowd scenes in New York, and that there are no black superheroes, aside from Nick Fury, who isn’t really a superhero, he’s kind of like crotchety” and I got all of these anons on Tumblr, like, yelling at me. And it was just like, “Oh, this is, this is what you’re doing. This is where we’re going with that.”

And I, I’ve had my website, Stitche’s Media Mix, since 2015. So I had it for almost a year before I started grad school. So— and before that, I had a Tumblr account where I talked about this stuff, since 2012. (Or 2011, I guess, counting the Avengers thing, which I usually don’t.) But um, I was just really fascinated by how badly people engaged, and continue to engage, with criticism that I went, “well, I’m gonna just keep writing about it.” And I love media analysis. That’s why I got my literature degree, so I could unpack what we were looking, at what we were reading, and then thinking about the fandom reaction to it. Like, why is it that if I go “this thing is racist,” you can’t go “Oh, shoot it is,” and move on, you know, or unpack why it’s racist. Right? Like, rather than yelling at me for- for talking about why this thing is racist, why aren’t you going, “Okay, here’s how I can make this better. Here’s how I can fix it in my fan works.” And so, just, kind of, tracking that has, kind of, consumed me. I think it’s really fascinating.

And then I looked at what fan studies that large has been doing, and I kind of found it wanting, because, in 2020, this is a field that is way more behind than it should be. In terms of published content— because I track several Google Scholar Searches related to fan studies, and race and racism— and, overwhelmingly people aren’t really writing about this. Like, next year will be the first time that, like, fan studies, maybe, negotiates with, like, what Rey/Kylo fans have been doing for like, like, half of the year, at least— or really for, since 2015. Next year, we will see a lot of people engage with the narrative of Kpop fans saving democracy, but also fan studies rejects like the parasocial model of interaction, or whatever. So we’re going to get a lot of Kpop oriented work that is functionally behind every single actual Kpop scholar’s work, because it’s still trying to navigate the parasocial relationships that idols and fans have with each other. It’s still asking the question of “are these even real fan spaces? Are these even real fandoms?”

So fan studies is like a thing I do, but not necessarily a thing I feel welcome in, or claim, because it’s so slow. How is it that we are having the same conversations about race and racism that- that people were having at like, the birth of the genre— of the field? How is it that the response to talking about racism in fan studies is the same? Like, “Oh, well, everybody’s really nice here.” We just had an article posted in Bitch Magazine, which is not a fan studies publication, but it is about fandom, and the article is really great, but it is so supremely celebratory, in that it focuses on, like, kind of saying that fix-it fic is something that happens to characters of color, when it definitely does not happen to black characters. Right?

So I- I saw this, like, lack, in the space. Like there are scholars of color, like Rukmini Pande, joan miller, Kristen Warner— so many people— André Carrington, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, these are people who are kind of going interdisciplinary, blending fan studies, Media Studies, and they’re talking about race and racism in media and media fandoms. And they are in the minority, because the overwhelming people in the field, just kind of pretend none of this is happening until, like, well— June. In June, all these people suddenly woke up to the fact that like black people are in your fandoms, caring about stuff, because they then realized that they could probably get a journal article out of it. And I view my site as, kind of, like, disrupting established patterns, calling them out and estab- and disrupting them, because what fan studies overwhelmingly is offering me, and offering fans of color, and scholars of color, dodges what our actual lived experiences are, positively and negatively, in fandom.

Up next is Juice, who said, Would love to hear you talk about your brand, or deliberate decisions you’ve made brand wise slash aesthetics wise across your work?

Okay, so, you’ve probably seen me be all like “graphic design is my passion” as a way to signal that I suck at it. I am a very firm believer in Canva templates. I love purples, and pinks, and blues, and I just stick those in everything I can. I don’t make a lot of graphics for my website. Usually, I go with like a rotating thing for series. Technically, the Kpop project has a couple where I’ve sat there and I’ve gone through, like, what do I want to use. But I, kind of, just sit there sometimes like, “Oh, this is very pretty, I’m gonna go with it.” So honestly, I guess, I’m kind of, like, visually, I don’t really make deliberate decisions for, what is essentially, my brand, because I can’t pick a thing and stick with it. I don’t have a logo, a new logo, yet. But once I do, I’ll probably update the other Twitter account (the one for Stitch Media Mix) so that it is more cohesive. with my main Twitter account, I’m just kind of like Bangtanin’ it on main. Like, that’s what I want to do at this point. Like, I’m not changing my Lunella Lafayette header, because she’s adorable, and she looks like Meems, but, like, my goal for everything else will be like minimalist, purples, pinks. But, except for [that], like, when I’d sit there and I’d do the graphics for my site, where it’s just like, “What colors am i into right now? Do they match any other colors on my website? No? Okay.” I hope that helps.

Um, but in terms of kind of like a text style for my brand, I tend to write the way that I talk, because [when] I go and record audio posts for Patreon, or sometimes when I do the Patreon backlog posts, I have to read them. So if I’m reading something and it sounds a dry, like an academic paper,— that I would not have written because my academic papers are not dry— I struggle. I have some issues reading loud, so I need my my writing to be accessible for myself, as well. So I’ll- that’s why there’s cursing, that’s why there’s a lot of likes and the em-dashes, where that serves as a pause for me to go, like, “mmm” or “eh” to- to incorporate pause words or accounting for like a stutter. And I also, so I curse a lot, in general, like I curse in front of my boss, I curse in front of my mom, I curse in front of Meems. I freakin love profanity. And so that features heavily in my work. It’s part of, I guess— it is part of my brand, because you’re not gonna expect to read something from me without cursing in it. (Unless like an editor goes, “No, we can’t have you cursing.” And then there won’t be any cursing, because I like being paid.) I also try to minimize how not safe for work I can be, just because I’ve noticed that there are a lot of under eighteens that have started following me. And while I don’t engage with anyone under the age of 18— just because you are a baby, and I am not responsible, no, no, no—I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable following me, because they’re a baby, and I’m, really, not a baby. So aside from those weird omegaverse tweets that I do every so often, where I just have to tell you guys my thoughts, I try to keep it PG-13. Yeah, PG-13. Hopefully that answered your branding questions. Thanks.

Alright, so this is our last question from Anon: How do you handle the stress of writing about anti blackness? What do you do when it gets to be too much?

So that’s a really good question for 2020. In case you missed it, if you haven’t listened to Episode Six, (which was about people who basically pretended to care about Black Lives Matter showing that they really didn’t) and if you don’t follow me on social media, 2020 has been really rough. I haven’t just been writing about anti blackness and fandom, I’ve been experiencing it, so directly, like harassment campaigns, like people trying to essentially cost me what they think is my job, with my website and stuff, people slandering me, lying, taking my tweets out of context, telling people not to interact with me. I’m assuming if they knew that I was like writing for Teen Vogue regularly, they— not regularly but whatever— that they would go, and try and get Teen Vogue to not have me write for them, because they’ve successfully, kind of, snatched my bag at previous points. And it’s hard dealing with the fact that people who think they’re not racist, or who will say they’re not racist, are super fucking racist.

There are people in fandom with Black Lives Matter who have devoted— like there in their bio— who have devoted days, and weeks, and months specifically to making sure people know that I am, somehow, toxic, and abusive, and harmful. People I’ve never spoken to, people I have, maybe, spoken about once or twice across the past couple of months, have- have made me the enemy in their narrative. You know? They, they view me as an obstacle that needs to be removed— permanently. And it has been stressful.

What I’ve been doing is: I redirect my focus. In October it happened, some complete weirdo was trying to deplatform me somehow. And, and I did give them like a week of my time, because I was just like, “how do you guys not see that this is like constant harassment, that these people are the ones harassing me.”

And then I realized that the people who need to stop do not care, and my friends, and people who read my blog, and who can look at my Twitter, know that I’m not sitting around bothering anyone. So I redirected. I decided I was going to dive really headfirst into my work; I was going to think more about BTS. (And I know that for some of you, you’re like, “Oh really? Great.” But just fucking deal with it.) It brings me joy to be a fan of BTS.

And I’ve been, kind of, ignoring things that I know will do me harm. Like, I don’t search my Twitter handle. I’ve never searched my website name. I don’t— I can’t search for stitch anyway, so— but I’ve never done that, because I know that there are people in fandom who, basically, will be like “I’m anti-harassment, and I believe that criticism is valid in fandom,” but they will sit there forever insulting me, calling me out of my name, and just showing that they are actually racist.

And, like, generally I don’t know that I handle stress very well.

I’ve called friends crying, especially in June. And in October, somebody called me a terf, and I’m non binary, And I’m black, and I am super, super, not a fucking terf. And I remember just losing it crying ’cause I was like, “how, how evil do you have to be to misrepresent me, so fiercely, knowing that I can’t defend myself?” Right? And I’ve called people crying across 2020, honestly; it’s happened like three or four times.

I’ve had to take breaks. I haven’t locked my Twitter accounts since January, with the Rey/Kylo shippers, and then also the Fandom Menace tried to come for me, because it doesn’t really make sense at this point, to lock my Twitter account. So when things get tough I just do not use that account, like I’ll schedule tweets and I’ll go do something else. I— What else do I do? I— I try to like talk to people who get it; other black fans usually, but I do have some white friends who are, like, understanding of the different situations, because they’re coming to it from a position of seeing the shit that’s been in fandom for years. And I’ll talk to them. Sometimes I just like, turn on my very long BTS playlists, and I just zone out.

What I do when it gets to be too much? Every time it’s too much. As in, every single time I have to deal with someone lying on me to other people, and nobody corrects it, every time I see a hint of a rumor, from someone I’ve never spoken to, floating about, every time one of my mutual’s retweets what is an obvious subtweet about me or my work, Like that is too much. It is always too much. And so, it’s like a constant needle to this- to the friggin skin.

Like, endlessly, people are reminding me that they love racism more than they love making fandom accessible to black and brown people, who care about racism. And the thing is that, their goal, of these various fans, is to make me not do this anymore, right? But I’m gonna keep doing it. Because the only thing that could stop me is that they stop being racist, and that’s clearly not going to happen. So I will use my awesome, healthy, coping mechanisms, and then my single, unhealthy coping mechanism, and I will keep going. Yeah.

All right, up next is a question from Juliet, a.k.a. @anxiousgoober. Who says: Hello stitch? What would you say are some of your favorite movies as in the films that helped define you get you through hard times inspire you to write etc. Hope you’re having a good day night.

(I am!)

Okay, so I have spent a lot of 2020 watching movies; like, when I’m not rewatching BTS’s entire videography, on repeat, I watch movies. My big thing across 2020 has actually been the John Wick trilogy. I don’t know, them, that trilogy, really does kind of get my energy up. If I watch all three, that’s the whole work day for me. It’s a series that I find really inspiring, even though I don’t write that genre.

I also, I rewatched Hannibal Rising, thanks to my friend, Jhonni. I love Hannibal, you may have noticed that. Hannibal Rising is, kind of, a formative film for me, because, because of that film, I got really invested in Hannibal. And it’s really funny, because I read the book first, and I was like, “Oh, this is okay.” And then I saw the movie and I was like, “eating people seems like a thing that should be in fiction more often. Okay.” And here I am— a very long time later. Rewatching Hannibal rising, kind of, throws me back to my early, like, erotic horror stuff, that I used to write, offline mostly; and it was just a really good time. Like, when I rewatch it, I’m like, “Oh, this is fantastic! I could do more of this.”

What else? Fast and the Furious— my favorite superhero franchise: Fast and The Furious. I finally watched Hobbs and Shaw from beginning to end. I keep forgetting what any of it was, but I definitely did finish it this time.

Charlie’s Angels: This year Charlie’s Angels came out of left field for me. I had HBO Max for a few months (before I realized that I was paying a lot, and I couldn’t figure out how to stop that.) And I was like, “Oh, this is the best movie ever!” It’s— I loved the original Charlie’s Angel films. Lucy Lu, my goddess,— love her. I wish that I could rewatch all of the movies, Even Full Throttle, which was bad. It was very bad. But, yeah, Charlie’s Angels, the new version was really good. I rewatched it

Skyfall: James Bond that was 2012. That was the first James Bond film I ever saw in a theatrical release. I saw it with my friend, Robert. So whenever I rewatch it, I kind of like think fondly about all of that— about us hanging out— and, less fondly, about the immediate backlash that I got when I talked about what it felt like, as a black person, to see fandom erase, and write off, Moneypenny. Because, like— really wild seeing people call me homophobic, in 2012, for going “Perhaps don’t give these two white dudes Eve Moneypenny’s scenes and their sexual tension.” That’s apparently homophobic— annoying.

What else? I— this is not a movie, but— I have been rewatching Love O2O, it’s a Chinese drama. It’s about, like, gamers and it’s really cute. And I have seen that maybe 20 times in 2020. I love it. It is so fun and peaceful. Even the high stress moments are like, “Okay, this is fine. I know how this ends because I’ve seen you like 10 times this month.” And Love [Romance] is a Bonus Book, on Netflix; that actually, kind of, rekindled my love of romance. I watched it last year, I think (either last year, or the beginning of this year) for the first time. And it’s just a really good, comforting, just, warming series. And it does kind of make me believe in love— for me, or for them. So yes. Thank you so much for your question. All right, bye!

And we’re wrapping this up with questions from Caps, who asks: Is there an artist you were particularly impressed by this year? Any that surprised you in a good way? And another one, if you want one, what was your favorite new song or release from this year?

Okay, so I think, once again, while I know that people are probably expecting me to say BTS— who I am always impressed by and I love them— A.C.E. I saw them live last year, last December— um, a whole year ago when we had concerts— and I was kind of stunned by like how energetic they were and how talented they were. This year, with how, kind of, interactions with fans and how musical output has changed, I’ve really gotten to see a really good, really interesting, aspect to them that I didn’t really understand last year.

Like, those boys can sing. I can’t get over that. They’ve done covers of Blackpink’s “How You Like That,” and they did a TWICE medley, and they sound so good. I, honestly— like I saw them live; I know they can perform— but I didn’t realize that they can sing it to the point of, like, I would allow them to do covers of ’90s black, boy bands (like, like, boy groups or young men groups from the ’90s, like r&b groups.) Do you understand how good they are? And, and, I didn’t realize it, I don’t even know how, because like, I love their cover of that Lewis Capaldi song, the name of which escapes me. (Of course, because that’s how inconvenient brains work.) But i knew that I like, I liked that song, and then seeing them do their— so, because they had Favorite Boys, Goblin, I think. That came out, they had just gorgeous concepts for that really good song. And then to supplement that with their covers, and showing that they really have really good vocal, well everything, I really loved that. So I guess that’s both of that: they both impressed me and surprised me, because I wasn’t expecting that.

And okay, I can’t pick— it’s BTS. So that’s, that’s my favorite release from this year, like, overall, Be is, like, the CD for me. Of that album. I love [the] title track, of course, “Life Goes On,” but I also really love “Disease,” which is so good. I love the tone. I just love everything about it. I’m working on my review, very slowly, but that is going to be later on, in December. I also cannot get enough of “Dynamite.” I say it constantly. If it’s playing on the on the radio, or on TV, I have to get up and dance. It’s my favorite, just bouncy, bop, and I love it. I hate that I couldn’t play it out loud, like, I couldn’t have this playing at my job, because I’m not in the office. But yeah, “Dynamite” got me pretty far the, like last, what, half (ish?) of 2020. And I’m thankful for that, BTS. Yeah.

[Musical Interlude]

All right, so, this has been my end of the year wrap up. I mean, 2020 sucked! It sucked for all of us. It sucked for you, sucked for me, sucked for everyone. (Except for billionaires, they’re apparently doing fine— but like… for now.) I don’t have any resolutions for 2021, just yet, but I do hope that what the rest of the year, the next two weeks, or so, bring, I hope it’s good. And I hope that 2021 is so much better than 2020. I hope that I don’t have to live through the bad parts of history books. And I hope that I can hug my nieces and my friends. So thank you all for listening to my podcasts across 2020; thanks for reading the transcripts; thanks for sharing it with people who maybe like this stuff. And have a good year. Yeah.

About Zeenah

Zina writes about comics, nerd history, and ridiculous romance novels when not working frantically on her first collection of short stories and complaining about stuff. One day, she'll settle down and write that novel.
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