Meme-ing For A Reason #15: What If We Improved Fandom Somewhat?

Matt Bors’ “We should improve society somewhat” comic panel turned into a meme where the person on the left says “We should improve fandom somewhat” and the person on the right popping out of the well saying, “Yet you are in fandom yourself & have ships. Curious! I am very intelligent.”

People critical of the institution of fandom in any capacity and with any heat whatsoever are seen as outsiders to fandom. No matter how we deliver a critique, or how gently we suggest that fandom could be a little better, it is received as aggression and violence.

It’s seen as well… anti fandom.

Even when the people speaking are long-time fans, people who’ve lived online and moved through tons of different fandoms, we’re always seen as outsiders, especially when it comes to us talking about ways that fandom can be made more accessible for all of us – instead of just white women and queer people.

Whenever I talk about racism in fandom, people show up to be like “okay but you can’t expect us to fix racism in fandom” or the newer version of this: “we can’t fix racism in fandom until we fix racism outside of fandom” and both of those things are bullshit.

At the end of the day, we are the only people who can make fandom live up to the expectations we have of it. We are the only people who can fix fandom because we are the only people invested in fandom.

But then, that makes the resistance to fighting racism in fandom kind of clear, huh? Because who would be interested in fighting and fixing racism in fandom? Not racists. Not silent “allies” who curate their spaces so they don’t see the “drama”. Not people of color who benefit, in fandom, from supporting the previous two groups even though they also experience racism in fandom (sometimes from the people they’re defending!).

Because racism in fandom only impacts what is assumed (incorrectly) to be a minority in fandom, the vocal majority of fandom – the aforementioned three groups – has decided that fandom can’t fix the problems it started and nurtured. However, they’ve decided that because they don’t want to fix racism in fandom, it simply can’t be done.

That’s why the excuses always look so weird.

That’s why they will bring real-world, offline issues like police brutality or invoke Godwin’s Law and Hitler on their way to saying there’s nothing the AO3 could ever do to minimize or mitigate racism on their platform. That’s why they’ve decided that they’re going to pretend to be worried about moderators of color on an anti-racism taskforce that doesn’t yet and probably won’t exist. That’s why you’ll see fans of color invested in the grift going “well as a person of color, the real racism that hurts me isn’t in fandom” and other people using that to speak over people of color going “wow a lot of racist people that have harmed and harassed me are in fandom”.

The thing is that unless a space is genuinely anti-racist, it’s going to be somewhat racist because there’s no active pushback against racist content or behavior. The level of the racism depends on who runs the space and how they view themselves.

Fandom being a space where white people and queer people claim progressive politics while pushing, at the very least, stereotypes about people of color in fiction and real life, doesn’t exactly lend itself to anti racism.

Fans can fix racism in fandom… if they want to. However, the people who are trying to talk about what we’re seeing and experiencing are increasingly being hobbled by people claiming just us talking about this stuff is oppressing them. They’re highlighting the “anti” before “anti racism” and lumping vastly different groups of people and their conversations in together as a way to protect what they seem to love more than community… racism in fandom.

But you don’t have to listen to or follow those people. Who cares if they may make content you like or you get a kick out of watching them curbstomp antis on their discourse account… if they’re not fighting racism in fandom – and worse, if they’re actually protecting it – they’re not someone you need to have in fandom spaces. These people aren’t making fandom better… they’re making fandom worse.

Fix that.


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