I’m “cheating” this month by using a meme I didn’t create! I can’t remember who the OP is, but if you know or are that person, thanks for that, link me to the original and I’ll boost it because it rocks. One of my friends tagged me in this meme, which uses Dr. Manhattan blasting someone into stardust from Watchmen and it’s perfect because this is… my experience.
There are so many people in different fandoms who think I need to take their wild and absolutely incorrect interpretation of my work seriously and… I don’t think I will.
If reading what I write is so difficult that someone struggles to get the basic “racism in fandom happens, is bad, and needs to be stopped” message – a thing my teenage nieces can navigate in my work – but then they’re so pig-headed and racist that they can’t imagine asking me to clarify before they run up on me like “well you actually meant that [something not even remotely present in the text]”…
They can just stay off my website and twitter account, I feel? Since it’s so difficult for them to understand that at this point, I am actively working to make fan studies, anti racism, and media studies accessible.
I cannot lower the level of difficulty in order to appeal to their selectively illiterate asses any further.
If I lowered it more, they would get a bootleg Sesame Street style puppet show version of my work. And since my nieces have never needed that and neither have most of the teenagers I worked with… That’s not happening.
Fandom is all about reading things well, on reading things to a deeper extent than the author themselves. People pride themselves on being so good at reading between the lines and pinpointing information the author maybe didn’t explicitly confirm before. Collectively, fandom is a reading and information space…
And yet, collectively, when people read my work they just… stop being able to read if they don’t see something that they like.
They fully become illiterate even though they otherwise lord it over everyone that they all have English degrees and took a media criticism class once (and that’s why they know that stereotypes in fiction don’t affect real people).
And I’m supposed to pretend that this isn’t happening? Like this is normal and these people aren’t having absolutely bananapants responses to me and my work? I’m supposed to nod my head sagely as some rabid racist in fandom screeches that I actually hate white women and that I hate whatever ship they’ve decided I am anti… Whether or not that’s even the point of the post or tweet they’re vomiting all over?
Nah. I don’t think I will.
Social media in 2021 demands that we engage kindly with people engaging in bad faith. People who are “just asking questions” or who reply to you misrepresenting the thing you just said. And it’s a whole thing where existing while Black is seen as aggressive and violent by default even when we don’t do anything.
We’re expected to be nice, to bare our throats to racists who’d happily cut them… because otherwise, being “mean” is a bigger crime than being a racist or being into overtly racist shit or being racist to fans of color.
(And please think about how people can call/have called me a “unhinged”, “whore”, “a cunt”, and wish harm on me or try to get me fired. That’s fine because I’m apparently an “anti” and deserve it. But then if I suggest that white women in fandom can be and often are racist… that is a hate crime. Apparently.)
What I’ve been dealing with from Day One has been people making absolutely ridiculous interpretations of my posts and other people getting mad when I’m like “look at this fucking dork ass racist shit”.
I’m not going to take you seriously when you’re throwing a tantrum over things I didn’t say, write, or do. Because at best, you’re publicly admitting that reading is difficult for you but you don’t care to rectify that issue… and at the worst you’re a racist liar on main because we all know I didn’t write what I’m accused of.
Anyway, here’s an example of my usual experience with the current state of fandom discourse:
What I Wrote: This thing in fandom is kinda racist. Here are sources that show the history of the thing and explanations for why it is racist. I will explain the resource since it can be sort of dense academic language and I want everyone to understand it. But always read the resources for yourself because you might come to different conclusions! Reach out if you need me even if it’s about something I may seem emotional about, because I would love to help clarify!
How Normal People Respond: Oh cool, a new article from Stitch. I may not agree entirely but they always provide reasoning for their work and ways for me to read their sources so I can come to my own conclusions. I am not an unhinged freak on the internet invested in racism so when Stitch says something I dislike or don’t get, I ask them about the thing so I can understand better.
What Selectively Illiterate People In Fandom Read: I, Stitch, hate white people and biracial people and Asian people and light skinned Black people (even though I am one) and I hate queer people and fun and kink and omegaverse and I desperately want you to misread my posts on purpose and then spend months or even years harassing me because I love suffering. Thank you so much for calling me, a queer Black person actively writing about the racism they experience in fandom, a racist [against white people]. That’s all I’ve ever wanted from life.
How PickMe POC Respond: Stitch is saying that I a PEE-OH-SEE am actually racist against myself… for liking something that I don’t think is racist. Even though they were not talking to or about me in any way. Let me use my identity as a PEE-OH-SEE-TOO as a bludgeon against Stitch while accusing them of doing that to me and other people – even though I’m someone valued more than Stitch in the racial hierarchy of fandom and beyond . If they respond to me or subtweet, I will tell racists she called me a “PickMe” and that it’s a slur so it’s clear they know that Stitch is actually a racist against me… someone who is hanging out with racists.
How Unhinged Racists Respond: Stitch is actually the real racist in fandom. They hate me personally and they’re actually trying to take YOUR porn. Despite no one in our circles having proof of harm beyond tweets taken out of context, lies from people who’ve never spoken to them, and their work (mis)interpreted in bad faith by noted bad actors, just… take our word for it that Stitch is racist against uh… someone. Not white people because that’d be reverse racism but also isn’t stitch just a little bit racist against white people.The State of Fandom Discourse Fandom 2021
Fandom is now a space where people actively and willfully make up stories about other people… and the things they write or tweet. They’re VERY post-truth and there’s no fixing it because post-truth fandom “discourse” is how people get engagement and followers.
People making shit up in order to dismiss my work is how Mx. Amber Whatstheirface got “Stitch thinks all Reylo shippers are racist” from… pieces that definitely do not say that and that include examples of the shippers that were. (Like this one hyping up a video a friend did!) It’s how people somehow get “Stitch hates NSFW fandom tropes like Omegaverse” despite the fact that I am… so into Omegaverse that Ana Valens used me as a source for her article last year. (And I’m actively writing Omegaverse right now! I talk about it OFTEN! I will put it on AO3 when it’s done). It’s how that one absolutely unhinged racist expat bitch from the Voltron fandom can falsely claim that I condoned death threats and doxing.
People can just say what they want to hurt others… but no one can actually defend themselves because that is taken as The Real Harassment/Violence. I’m expected to seriously engage with people insulting me, insulting my work… but I genuinely don’t think I’ll be doing that anymore?
2 thoughts on “Meme-Ing For A Reason #11 – Yeah, I’m Not Playing Ball”
This was a great article! I wonder when these people will understand that a lot of the harassment that happens online is racially motivated, and being anti-racist is anti-harassment by default, since a lot of the victims of long term harassment are people of color, and complete annihilation of the “other”- as harassers aim to do – is a mindset that upholds white supremacy. You don’t conditionally support people of color based on what we like to ship, and what we don’t like to ship, hobbies, and other arbitrary factors, but you advocate for a better fandom experience without racism for everyone. Anybody who sees that as a problem… Well. It’s somewhat telling. But some people would rather keep fighting fandom wars about ships and make this into anti/pro than look at who exactly is being hurt by the people who cannot understand that racism is an issue. Besides, even if as they claim, let’s say you really hated Reylo as a ship, or even hated fandom as a whole, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong about racism. Unfortunately racism doesn’t go away based on what an individual person of color likes or dislikes in fanfiction, which I suppose, for people who have not experienced it, is a difficult concept to grasp.
When it comes to the issue of who I think can be reasonably engaged with on issues such as racism, I have a lot of EXTREMELY complicated thoughts. But at the end of the day, my number one belief is that unless someone is willing to have a conversation in good faith, there’s no point. None. You’re just wasting you’re own time, energy, and emotional wherewithal, and all of those are extremely limited. I’m glad you’re done engaging with people who aren’t open to productive engagement.