I already made the Amy Cooper comparison back in June in Why Write About Fandom Racism At A Time Like This? where I talked about what the racism in the supposedly progressive queer/women run fandom spaces looks like:
It looks a lot like… Amy Cooper calling the cops on Christian Cooper and pretending that her life was in danger when all he wanted her to do was leash her damn dog, actually.
(And before you accuse me of “trivializing real racism” or whatever the actual fake woke set is calling it these days, understand that what Amy did and what the nice white women of fandom do are the same kind of behavior and they all weaponize their white womanhood for the same end: a permanent silencing of Black voices that they don’t like or agree with. I get to make comparisons like that considering that I’m subject to Amy Coopers in and out of fandom.)
I was right then and I am right now: there are white women and queer people in fandom who utilize their marginalization (womanhood or queerness, sometimes a blend of both with a splash of mental health issues and claims of trauma inspiring totes valid lashing out thrown in) in fandom.
They use their ability to inspire ATTACK-PROTECT urges in folks in the same way that Amy Cooper tried to utilize her white womanhood to get the cops to come in guns ablaze to protect her from… Christian Cooper’s nerdy ass asking her to put her dog on a leash.
The goal in fandom, as with Amy Cooper and various other cop-calling, hysteria weaponizing Karens, is to control who gets to speak, who is listened to, who is taken as an inherent threatening presence trying to control or harm others… and who should be.
I made the following two-tweet comment before I made this meme at the start of the month, writing that:
What’s wild about fandom in 2020 is that the same folks watching videos of white women full on losing their shit in a store or at a Black neighbor, crying on cue despite instigating shit, & be like “lol a Karen” but zoom right on by their peers doing it to Black people here
They will even share those videos, proud af that they’re not like those Karens, but then can’t recognize Karen-ness when a Fan-Karen’s tantrum throwing or so[b] fest is over Kylo Ren or some fucked up fucky fic or Black people trying to express their own concerns about racism?
I was compelled to remake my comment in meme format early after I realized that the Karens in fandom – the women who do their best to enact power over Black and brown people in fandom who are talking about racism in fandom at any level – really do move like Amy Cooper. (I also just like making memes…)
When met with a reasonable response from a Black person – that they leash their dogs or that they consider doing something about racism in fandom (like, bare minimum, learning how to recognize and push back at it gently in themselves) – they choose to pretend that they are under attack. They choose to pretend that they’re in danger.
Like Amy Cooper, they basically do the digital equivalent of pitching their voice up into the fearful register that makes you think they’re literally about to be harmed, clutching their pearls as they insist that this random bespectacled Black stranger who is no threat to them… has actually threatened them. That they’re now in imminent danger of assault… That the Black person needs to be handled
All for making a reasonable request.
And handle them people do because folks in fandom – as offline – have not actually figured out how to tell the difference between an actual threat and a Black person expressing any emotions whatsoever.
Anyway, what’s wild is that both times I’ve made this comparison I’ve had to write in a way that would possibly pre-empt claims that I – person who actively experiences and writes about antiblackness on and offline and who copes through a light but snarky tone – was somehow removing or coopting the power of conversations about “real racism“. I have to remind people that I get to make this meme and joke, this very sharp comparison… because I have literally experienced both versions of this.
For the tweet linked to the meme I wrote in part that I can make this meme/comparison because:
The fact that I feel compelled to say this both times so far, speaks to what fandom is like.
Where random people can miss and do ignore the very real, very harmful behavior of people marginalized outside of fandom coming in and performing victimhood specifically to turn Black people into monsters stealing their squee… but they never miss a chance to actually try and censor those same Black people dealing with fragile femininity turned against them.
And even with me making this connection – the way I did back when Rey/Kylo fans were performing fragile white womanhood under fire in a specific way that has gotten and continues to get Black people killed – people managed to miss the point. After all, if Black people can be made monstrous by putting white women – the bearers of whiteness – in danger… well, we know how monsters are handled, don’t we?
As Jamie over at Jolt Studios pointed out in his article “John Boyega & The Case of No More Damns To Give” back at the start of the year:
Labeling John, however vaguely, as a brute that Daisy was afraid of is a tactic that the KKK famously relied upon, especially in their movie, Birth of a Nation, that was screened at the White House in 1915. It lead to a resurgence of the KKK until the Superman radio drama exposed and mocked their initiation ceremonies, and it’s the kind of thing that, as I said earlier, leads to black men being killed.
It’s an old tactic dressed poorly in new clothing, and it’s still as disgusting as before.
Folks love to pretend that fandom and its fictions exist in a vacuum, on an island in the middle of nowhere. They pretend that things like Birth of a Nation – which literally utilizes the “fear of a Black brute defiling white women” plot to instill fear in its audience – have zero impact on future audiences. They pretend that what they create in fandom doesn’t influence people in fandom – that their meta posts about how Finn is a beta male or their fan fiction about how [Black character] is actually a brute and sex pest that needs to be kept away from a white character…
Don’t then go on to further reinforce what folks in fandom already believe.
It’s wild how folks can talk about how watching some sports anime helped them come to terms with their own queerness or how a Girl Power TM film taught them how to unlearn internalized misogyny or fan fic helped them realize that kink is their thing-
But then they not only can’t understand that there are negative aspects to the influence fiction and fandom have on us… but they also actively refuse to engage with it to the point that they’re willing and ready to Fan-Karen and flail in order to make sure that no one else does?
Please think about how, for two weeks straight women in the Star Wars fandom pretended they were under direct and violent attack from John Boyega and his (largely) Black fans because he dissed their ship. They pretended that they (via Daisy Ridley, serving as a self insert even now) were under attack by both John as a scary Black man and… unintelligent Black fans manipulated into clashes by… the alt right. Somehow.
They pulled pages from decades old playbooks for antiblackness and what was basically propaganda and… no one clocked it or cared. I think that beyond Princess Weekes and myself, no one in fandom studies or fandom journalism actually covered what was happening beyond “let women like things” and “antis are ruining fandom” when it was actually…
Fan-Karens hoping that weaponized white womanhood would let them get away with the antiblackness and well…
Considering how few people know the lengths that some fans were willing to go through to try and tear John down from December 10th, 2019 but a lot of nerds know about the poor defenseless Rey/Kylo shippers under attack by mean and nasty men?
Unfortunately, it worked.
And it will keep working because too few people can clock a fannish Amy Cooper in their presence… or care to pay attention to the people who can.