Fleeting Frustrations #13: Media Consumption As A Substitute For A Personality

This is so old. I don’t even remember when I finished the first draft. Anyway, it’s a rant and it reads like a rant. Sorry I can’t smooth down my edges this time.


One of the wildest aspects of White Feminism ™ in fandom, media/pop culture criticism, etc… is the way these White Feminists™ – who are not always white or women but are always in service of  feminism that privileges white women – refuse to acknowledge the difference between “I like this because it’s good” and “this is good because I like it”.

Too many people think that because they like something as a marginalized (usually white) person – an idol group, a movie, a pairing, a character – that that thing is automatically good, empowering, and feminist. They don’t engage with critical reviews of the work – in any sense – to get a sense of what they can bring to the table or what the thing does in general, not just for themselves as the consumer.

And if they dislike something? There’s nothing you can do to change their mind. It’s eternally Bad, Fucked Up, and the dreaded “Problematic” even if they’d only read a summary of the thing on Wikipedia or gotten their knowledge of a person secondhand from people who also hate the person. (Hello to my anti fandom!)

And then because these people have oriented their values of good/bad media, celebrities, or even other fans around “do I dis/like this”, when someone has an opinion opposite theirs for any reason – but especially when they can back it up with research and facts – these White Feminists ™ tend to lose their shit.

Why?

Because you’ve just had an opinion about their thing. You’ve had an opinion about the thing these people have chosen to make their entire online – and sometimes offline – identities revolved.

Not liking Rey/Kylo – a thing that is apparently very feminist and empowering – makes you a misogynist… even if what you don’t like about it is the fandom’s aggressive and unchecked antiblackness, not the ship itself. Are you upset because you’re over-attached to John Mulaney and his relatively recent life changes make it hard to move forward with him? Guess what… that’s apparently (somehow) connected to purity culture and you are bad. Do you like vore? Guess what, you’re a cannibal now and you’re going to jail. Sorry to you, babe.

(This is a joke. Laugh.)

Having an opinion on a thing someone likes/dislikes to the point of forging their personality around it is seen as just like having an opinion about who they are. It’s like misogyny or homophobia or even… racism. I’ve actually seen the comparison made that disliking ____ fandom is JUST like racism or that people from ____ fandom/who like a specific pairing are absolutely The Same As Terfs. No nuance, just… bad vibes on all counts.

Never mind that you can stop liking or disliking the thing at any minute. Never mind that you’re not actually oppressed by people on the internet who merely have different pop culture or fandom opinions from you.

There’s no water fountain specifically for people who ship a particular “problematic” ship and even if there was one, you can’t make them use it. There are no laws in place to punish people that don’t like age-gap ships in fiction and there never will be. Just because you’re queer and like super specific things in media… that doesn’t make other people disliking those things the same thing as them disliking you for your queerness.

You’re not oppressed in fandom for what you dis/like in fandom. Full stop. It doesn’t matter how progressive, feminist, etc the thing is or your stance, we’re not actually oppressed by these people at the base level? Certainly not by them liking what we don’t or disliking what we love?

That’s not how oppression works and the insistence, by White Feminists ™ across fandoms for decades, remains an embarrassing display of pig-headed privilege.

“Let people like things” is a fandom mantra used to beat criticism back into its box.

I hate it because the people shouting it aren’t just interested in liking their thing in peace. They want you to like it too. If you don’t like it – whatever it is – you’ve become the enemy and you will be treated in kind.

But it’s not even just about that?

When some of these people dislike something – usually an aspect of the thing they have made their personality revolve around or something in the way of it getting full attention – and you like it? It’s their job to make sure you know that you’re actually directly negatively impacting them despite you both being strangers.

And no matter what take you have, if it’s in opposition to their stance, actually you now hate women-and-queers-and-(some)-POC.

That statement is almost always delivered in this breathless rush of pixels, all in one word like neo-crytyping. You have to dis/like what they want you to… or else you hate them. You’re not allowed to disagree in fandom or have interests (or dislikes) that go against a norm in a given space or else you are accused of hating and harming people you literally don’t know.

In no world is that sustainable or sensible.

One thought on “Fleeting Frustrations #13: Media Consumption As A Substitute For A Personality

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