[Stitch Takes Notes] The cult structure of the American anti

Sometimes, I take notes on the academic work I’m studying or using for articles. Last time, I covered Slash/Drag. Today I’m tackling Samantha Aburime’s “The cult structure of the American anti”, a symposium piece published in a 2021 edition of Transformative Works and Cultures. Following editorial (not peer) review, Aburime’s work has become a dominant reference across fandoms and the “final word” on antis and anti fandom. As such, I feel as though I should analyze the piece and take notes about where it gets things right, where it gets things wrong, and what my reactions are to such a piece and its value to fan studies.

In the interest of full disclosure, Aburime has had me blocked on Twitter from before I knew of their existence and that has been a mutual block for at least a year. Despite that, I provide Aburime with the same amount of academic respect that they approach me/my work with.

Now, let’s start with the abstract:

The online-based group known as antis, which originated around 2016 in the United States, exhibit morality-based, cult-like behavior and perpetuate hate speech and censorship in online spaces.

First, there are multiple errors in the opening sentence. “Anti fandom” as we know it significantly predates 2016. On fandom wiki Fanlore, there’s documentation that refers to people labeling themselves as “antis” (or anti ____) in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom twenty years ago. Even in 2016, this would’ve been an incorrect statement to make if you were only using Tumblr fandoms because in 2012, the “anti Sterek” tag really kicked off alongside tags like “teen wolf fandom problems”, “anti scott mccall”, and “scott mccall defense squad” tags.

Which leads us to the second problem in the abstract… The way that Aburime positions antis or anti fandom as something that exists solely in United States fandoms or fandoms “infected” by “Western thinking”. (Which is in and of itself racist, I feel…)  

Anti fans have been a problem in Eastern media fandoms like Korean pop long before the Hallyu Wave. Fans would physically fight each other and harass (and even harm) celebrities they were “antis” of. This dates back to the early 2000s as well and at that time, cross fandom engagement between Korean or Japanese idol fans and international fans in Europe or North America were nonexistent.

I don’t have data, necessarily, on anime fandoms but I know that long before the final season of Sailor Moon got an English dub (or even a North American release), ship wars and anti fandom made itself known as there were people beefing in Japanese forums and fandoms because some people shipped Usagi with Mamoru (Tuxedo Mask) and others thought Mamoru wasn’t shit and shipped Usagi with Seiya.

Or how about the battles between folks who shipped Heero and Relena in Gundam Wing and folks who really didn’t ship that and were anti Relena? Those were antis, many named themselves that, and… they predated a lot of cross-fandom interaction between North American and Japanese fandoms.

I recognize that Aburime is obviously working from a terminally online understanding of anti fandom and antis, one fueled, perhaps, by their own experiences with those groups harassing them or their friends over ships, tropes, or NSFW content. While that level of bias makes the errors across the piece understandable, it does not make them acceptable and I can already tell that a bugbear across my note-taking will be the editor’s inability to guide Aburime across this piece in ways that don’t revolve around reaffirming their confirmation bias.

Anyway, in the abstract Aburime goes on to claim that:

Anti ideology has encouraged harmful, obsessive, and dangerous behaviors among its members, specifically minors and young adults.

I did a quick CTRL+F of “anti ideology” across Aburime’s piece and at no point do they actually clearly define what “anti ideology” is to say that it does the things they claim. There is no definition of “anti ideology”, not even one that aligns with what the expert on anti fandoms, Jonathan Gray, has said.

For example, Gray simply defines anti fandom as “those who hate or dislike a given text, personality, or genre” in “Antifandom and the Moral Text: Television Without Pity and Textual Dislike”.

From that, I can assume that “anti ideology” built from his work is… not so much an ideology as it is a position in fandom. Antis hate something at some level. That’s it. I don’t really see an ideology there.

But if I wanted to build out an explanation for what modern anti fandom is or does? I’d talk about the ways that anti fandoms for queer/feminist fandoms are built, why they work the way they do, and how they present multiple conservative-aligned ideologies in a progressive wrapper. (Like antiblackness as pro-women or pro-queerness? Because that sure is a thing people do… it’s just not called “anti fandom”. See the ways that queer/feminist fandom sees Black people talking about racism as a bigger threat to these fandoms than the racism itself.)

Instead of pulling from Gray’s work and building it out to talk about the modern incarnations of anti fandom in transformative fandom, Aburime insists that a bunch of these different, ill-defined things fall underneath an ideology they don’t clearly define.

The way they’re working this out means that therefore if you are, for example, anti DarkLina, you are also someone who sits there and accuses everyone who likes any level of age-gap in fictional relationships of being a paedo or paedo apologist. This is strawmanning in action as Aburime is already, from the start of their piece, “making up a guy” out of a composite of people and archetypal assholes both present and imagined in fandom.

Anyway, let’s dig into the meat of the piece.

Aburime begins with Emma Jane:

Emma A. Jane, in her discussion of the escalation in harm and frequency of antifan behaviors, asks whether we should “ditch the Anti-fan model entirely,” as much of antifandom has moved beyond separatist hate watching and culminated in violent and radicalized confrontations (2019, 58).

Like we’ve covered, this isn’t true? Anti fandom has always been prone to “violent and radicalized confrontations” because fandom is full of people who’d fall under this umbrella and who hate things passionately. It just wasn’t happening where Jane and Aburime were looking or they decided it didn’t count. (Think about how Candice Patton has been subject to hate on social media from her anti fans… but none of the experts on anti fandom in fandom talk about the incidents over the years).

Aburime then goes on to say that they will be analyzing “the anti” (which they again erroneously claim “came about around 2016 in American antifan spaces via social media platforms”) via sociological, psychological, ethical, and criminal related avenues. I’ll see how they do across that.

One thing where I actually agree with Aburime here is where they say that “being an anti is a social performance”. Because it… can be and has been. I also, however, adhere strongly to a stance that existence is performance in and of ourselves and we are ourselves for other people, but I don’t have time to get into that.

Aburime compares “being an anti” – which is not actually defined at this early point (and is rarely defined in fandom as I and others have pointed out) – to “hate watching”, but… I disagree. Hate watching can be personal and private. It’s an example of anti fandom in action but it doesn’t have to involve other people at any point.

Anyway –

“Antis have evolved to use an entire ideology of their own, with members self-identifying as antis by adhering to specific moral values within the realm of fictional media.”

Maybe this was true in the time of the Voltron fandom, but this seems very outdated? There are people who self-identify as “antis” to this day but they don’t have the power to inspire fear in fandom or the organized communities that they had during the Voltron era? There is no “membership” because what we’re seeing now are people who share a single commonality (“hating a thing”) being lumped together as part of this abusive violent hive mind in fandom… even if they’ve never talked to one another, don’t have the violent behaviors in common, or they don’t have anything else in common.

Additionally, Aburime specifies that members are “self identifying as antis by adhering to specific moral values” but… I’ve watched a lot of this play out over the past decade and many people deemed “antis” in fandom now… aren’t doing that. They’re not self-identifying as antis? Some of it is because there are people that do go “i’m not an anti, I’m normal” but also, people thrust “anti” upon random people for things like uh… disliking racism in fandom. Plenty of fans of color – especially Black fans – can speak to how we get “anti” thrust upon us for talking about racism in fandom at any level, especially when shipping is concerned.

“Antis’ foundation is the belief that fiction affects reality, in that any problematic behaviors or topics in media, fictitious or not, will cause people to normalize those behaviors, resulting in people (specifically minors) thinking that such actions are acceptable in real life. This is a common argument used by conservative groups to enact queer censorship, who argue that children who see LGBTQIA+ characters in television or books will “turn gay” (Bollinger 2019), so the sanitization of all adult fan spaces is therefore required to protect minors who could potentially encounter problematic sexual content (BrazyDay 2019). “

This is what you call… a reach.

Aburime makes a very large rhetorical leap here in order to make a very dangerous claim that has led to increased harassment in fandom. They don’t distinguish between the different forms of anti fandom – I’ve covered this in-depth before – and they essentially generalize thousands of people who only have “disliking something” in common. And it’s not always even the same thing to the same degree?

Beyond that, Aburime also makes the choice to connect “antis” in fandom with anti-queer people fighting to censor books/media by queer people to build a strawman that they can then urge fandom to set afire. The claim Aburime makes isn’t actually based in fact. Many of the people Aburime lumps together here are queer themselves and they have specific issues in mind when they speak on fandom. Are they always correct? No. Does their “think of the queer children” approach need serious rethinking? Sure.

But purposefully connecting other queer people with GOP book banners is foul. Especially because, hypocrisy is rife in these spaces. Imagine if a fan of color compared the existing and repeated “proshipper” attempts to deplatform (i.e., get fired)  myself or Dr. Rukmini Pande to anti-CRT bans and backlash. Even though it’s a more direct and accurate comparison, they would be accused of “weaponizing” “culture wars” for fandom fights.

And that is what Aburime is doing here. They are trying, without proof beyond a handful of social media posts and biased discourse accounts, to make people angry at the idea of antis because antis are now “just like” the GOP.

Sloppy scholarship.

“The term “problematic” has become a buzzword for moral debates in fan spaces. The accepted definition is “involving or presenting a problem that is difficult to deal with or solve” (“Problematic,” Dictionary.com, https://www.dictionary.com/), but it has evolved in online spaces to refer generally to something potentially offensive (Swenson 2016). The term’s vagueness makes it hard to be sure of each individual person’s specific standards.”

A) I cannot believe the editor let Aburime get away with a Dictionary.com definition of “problematic”. What kind of scholarship is this?

B) So, I have apparently been in and aware of fandom far longer than Aburime and the evolution into using “problematic” instead of saying specifically what the issue is (“That story is racist because ___” or “that trope replicates and rewards rape culture”) came about because saying that specific thing would lead to people harassing you. After all, you’ve just called a fan racist. You’ve just made a real world connection to The Bad Thing. “Problematic” was a softening device to protect us and hopefully get people to be willing to hear what we were saying.

“Antis attempt to glorify their ideology by rebranding it as antipedophilia and anti-incest, but it is actually a loose ideology of disinformation, virtue signaling, and legitimate abuse. Similar to the QAnon cult phenomena, which began in 2017, anti dogma is designed to promote paranoia and play off people’s fears and emotions to spread disinformation.”

Beyond the fact that “virtue signaling” is actually a white supremacist dogwhistle that gained increased prominence with the alt-right online in the time of Gamergate… What’s with the insistence that there’s a specific and uniform anti ideology that all the haters hold to? That doesn’t exist and Aburime doesn’t do a good job showing their work to get there? It’s basically just “antis do ___” without following up at any point to strengthen their position with work I know is out there.

I ask again “anti what?” because Aburime’s entire position is in and of itself US-focused on shipping and kinks. It doesn’t look at anti fandom for celebrity fandoms or non-American anti fandoms’ existing practices. Again there are different types of anti fans and anti fandoms. There’s no engagement with Chinese diaspora C-drama anti fandoms, no acknowledgement of US k-pop anti fandoms or even the “acceptable” anti fandoms of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Gray.

Also, I’ve talked about this before but the hypocrisy astounds. When someone like me talks about fandom sub-groups as a cult I’m generalizing right but Aburime, like Jess Mason before them, can connect a really broad swathe of (queer and/or non-white) people who aren’t even in the same grouping with QAnon?? Are you serious here? There’s nothing to actually back that up and so it goes to print purposefully linking “antis” (undefined) with QAnon, a group that has been responsible for horrific controversies and some level of harm across the United States and beyond.

I’ve spoken on the position and potential of cults in fandom and the erroneous, biased use of the BITE model in fandom discourse. Let’s be very clear here… I do think there are cults in fandom. I just don’t think “antis” are a cult [because there is no longer anything resembling a hierarchy or organization to say there’s an overarching anti fandom] and the people pushing that – including accusing people like Sarah Z and her co-writer Emily of being part of an abusive child harming cult in (anti) fandom – are coming from a murky position fueled by their past trauma..

But beyond that… there have been and likely still are cults in fandom because fandom is a place where highly charismatic, super talented people get audiences who become their fandom. We in fact do know what cults in fandom look like because there have been several and a core trait is organization with leaders who control and disseminate information across the group alongside rewards/punishments. (See the Snapists – or Snape Wives, unsure if they were the same – and the FF7 House.)

Singling out anti fans (ill-defined and mapped out, at that) when the opposite portion to them (“proshippers”) also do the same “cult stuff” – including promoting “approved” people to listen to and punishing anyone who doesn’t adhere to their own (im)moral standards… is hypocritical and purposefully occluding.

It’s as if Aburime only wants to tell part of the story, the part that positions fandom as under fire from puritans underneath the skin.

Aburime then uses the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of “cult”. This would be fine for an undergraduate paper but for something like this? I’m kind of dismayed at the editor that didn’t suggest Aburime do any kind of strenuous research for their sources? They quote Steven Hassan at points, but don’t think to see if he has a definition of cults that’s usable?

(I also think Steve Hassan’s BITE model is useful but Hassan also thinks that uh… being trans is a cult (SOURCE HERE, TW FOR TRANSPHOBIA). So we’re all working with flawed data here because the source for our understanding of cults and how they function is a guy who thinks our identities are a sign that we have been manipulated the way a cult manipulates its members.)

“However, what truly marks a cult is the control attempted over behavior and thought. Participants in anti circles perpetuate a climate of fear, shame, and trauma in fan spaces. The most common targets of such abuse are women, people of color, teens, abuse survivors, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

I know someone who had to apologize to “proshippers” for linking a piece on racism in fandom that cited Dr. Rukmini Pande, multiple people who have been ostracized for following me and supporting me/my work, and I’ve watched dogpiling happen towards all of the people that Aburime lists above… all in defense of fandom and maintaining the status quo on multiple levels.

As I write this, “proship” twitter is harassing a Black sixteen year old for a meme they made “dunking on” “problematic” shipping tropes. Fully a thing that they could ignore and yet… they have swarmed en masse to put this kid in their place over an ignorable meme.

I do think that Aburime, who is clearly someone who has dealt with harassment from any level of anti fan, is letting that color their approach and research methods. Again, I just wish that the piece was better about acknowledging what fandom inspires in us all.

The second segment in Aburime’s essay after the introduction is “how anti ideology exhibits cult behavior”

After putting forward a table with Hassan’s BITE model boiled down to base points, Aburime goes on to talk about how control is meted out in the cult over “morals”.

The core approach centers around the idea that those who do not share the same beliefs as the accusers are dangerous and should be stopped by any means necessary. “If it means hurting them, isolating them, or taking away their source of income, [they will] do it” (@freetofic 2020).

There are people who are identified as “antis” who have doxxed people, tried to get them fired, and caused them to isolate others from their social groups. There are also other people who aren’t “antis” and claim to be anti harassment, even, that have done those things over the direct opposite fandom instinct? Bad behavior on this scale isn’t limited to specific fandom interests?

It also probably doesn’t surprise anyone reading this to know that this is actually what was done to me at two points across 2021 by people (including Aburime and their source in the above, discourse account and my former Voltron fandom acquaintance, freetofic). These people actively continue to try and get me fired and they are intent on ruining my reputation in fandom and isolating me from other fans by spreading lies. (This also occurred to Dr. Pande with several people plotting publicly to try and get her fired from her job over her work on racism in fandom.)

If that is cult behavior to Aburime when it comes to “antis”… I can only hope they grow some self awareness and realize their faction of fandom is mighty culty.

Additionally, quoting discourse blogs would be appropriate when writing a paper about fandom perceptions of anti fandom or about discursive patterns in fandom fights. However, it is NOT appropriate to use them as some kind of objective authority in part because they are NOT OBJECTIVE.

For the most part, discourse blogs are run by anonymous strangers who fight for a living in fandom and have, repeatedly, demonstrated unethical engagement with and coverage of the people they’re framing as “antis” in fandom. Using them to supplement the argument as the expert opinion is irresponsible especially when Aburime doesn’t: acknowledge the bias at work or the fact that these are extremely online people who are invested in presenting a single narrative of who the “bad guys” in fandom are. (Similar to what Aburime notes about anti fans’ behavior, presenting specific single people as villains to excuse harassing them)

“People who leave the anti scene refer to themselves as ex-antis, or people who reversed their anti viewpoints and old behaviors. Some even run online support groups for others like themselves. One ex-anti explained: “I was young…angry…and in pain…[and] didn’t know how to properly cope, and being an anti…became my coping mechanism…[It] allowed me to blame it all on some bogeyman while ignoring the root causes of all my issues” (He-man-the-anti-anti 2020).” […] In May 2020, the hashtag #SupportExAntis was trending on Twitter. It was used by many other ex-antis, who shared similar sentiments about their experiences and the toxic environments they had helped create. Ex-antis’ responses indicated that antis compartmentalize media categorized as good versus sinful in order to feel powerful and in control.”

  1. I don’t disagree with any of this actually. I watched the Voltron fandom eat itself and then those people grew up. One of the teenagers directly responsible for the “ship wars” and harassment in the Voltron fandom  (as in I can trace this directly back to them) is now an adult BTS RPF stan and they don’t seem to have any intent on apologizing for their behavior or what they inspired in modern fandom.
  2. We know that many people harass others because of a lack of power in their lives. This isn’t actually new information. It’s being framed along a binary of “antis harass people because they don’t have power”/”proshippers and anti antis fight harassment” but… that’s not true at all considering the “anti harassment” in the fandom creed for the latter groups gets tossed aside when someone (like me or that sixteen year old who was being harassed) does something to deserve it… like exist in a way the “totally not-cult” fandom faction doesn’t approve of or call out racism
  3. I think the #SupportExAntis hashtag was… not the big “gotcha” that Aburime thinks it is. Namely because they don’t include any numbers to prove this was a widespread thing and that antis had been doing this? “Clark Kent” is trending for me right now on Twitter… it has 3800 tweets supposedly associated with it because of a man in the Jan 6th stream that looks like him. But also, comic fans are always tweeting about Clark. It’s impossible to make a serious claim about what the trend tells us unless you’ve got all the numbers.

Fandom comprises millions of people. Using microscopic data points about what is truly a niche fandom phenomenon to make definitive sweeping claims about fandom… is not good scholarship. Basically, how many tweets were associated with the #SupportExAntis hashtag and how many were in support of it? Do the math and show the math!

Now, I am intrigued by future work on teenagers specifically escaping the pockets of organized anti fandom that exist/ed? That could be valuable work but I’d need it to be broader than ship wars and look at things like Dream and the DSMP anti fandom, anti-BTS bullying groups, and what it took for people to realize they were in anti fandom for POC in media like are there any people who started hating Tyler Posey or Candice Patton who now love them?

Aburime also uses a grand total of two antis who invaded the SupportExAntis tag as proof of the BITE model in action with anti fans. One of the sources providing screenshots is locked on Twitter and the tweets weren’t archived so we cannot check the sources and reverse lookup the original tweets she ostensibly screencapped. The other source’s tweet is still up. It also has zero notes and no signs of engagement so I do not think it had the effect that Aburime is claiming it has. (But it is disturbing and a threat so it should also… have been reported from the second Aburime noticed it?)

What could’ve made this section stronger would have been to focus on a specific widespread anti-fandom clash and archive the tweets/social media posts. Aburime is basically not providing enough evidence here and the “Support Ex Antis” thing wasn’t really widespread to where I would say it mattered to fandom broadly? It’s inflating a minor (comparatively) fandom event to a massive data point about what fandom supposedly is.

Not only does this feel like a missed opportunity to make meaningful points… it also feels as though Aburime is masking a call-out post as an academic paper when there’s truly little academic rigor or value to be seen here.

Also, while Aburime does point out some american-centrism in antis in the next section (“how antis use cognitive dissonance to justify cruelty”), the two antis listed above in the examples are not identifiable as Americans – especially since we can’t even see the first example tweet. That’s one thing that jumps out: Aburime doesn’t actually prove that antis in fandom are:

a) Almost exclusively American or influenced by American fandom culture,

b) locked into cult hierarchies/structures or possessing any organized grouping,

c) more plentiful and powerful than any other kind of fan, therefore proving a threat to fandom

The third section is kind of…

Okay so here’s where Aburime isn’t wrong but also… isn’t right.

Again they open with a broad statement about what antis believe:

To antis, the fictional media that individuals consume takes precedence over how that individual behaves in real life; this reasoning is the basis of justification for how antis judge and target nonantis.”

Antis of what?

As proof of “cognitive dissonance” in antis, Aburime primarily utilizes screenshots and quotes from fandom discourse account and the “freaks of color” incident where an Asian (American?) fan labeled non-American shippers of underaged characters or incest “freaks of color” back in december 2019. On the surface, this makes sense. How are you fighting issues in fandom but are then an issue in fandom?

But this is still an example of how relatively minor posts get blown up into “and see, antis are ____” in a way no one else is able to do for other fans. I’ve never spoken with the “freaks of color” fan and yet, even I have been blamed for their tweets and accused of cosigning something I had to be told about after the fact.

I do think cognitive dissonance is key to controlling fandom subcultures which are not exclusive to “anti fandom” unless you’re finally going to acknowledge what fandom does to Black people and characters as anti fandom. The same people with BLM and “anti harassment” in their bios are antiblack on main and harass fans of color in fandom. This is the norm. And then they turn around and demand we make penance for a “freaks of color” tweet made by someone most of us don’t know because there is no overarching anti community.

Additionally, Aburime cites an unsubstantiated “death” in fandom with zellamelons in 3.3 as proof that antis have directly contributed to deaths.  

There is no proof that this person died by suicide. In 2021, I noted privately (after research following “proshippers” accusing multiple unrelated people that they deemed “antis” of  “murdering” this teenager) that the “proof” of suicide was a suspicious IG post from a “friend” that has since been edited to remove the original caption. If a teenager died by suicide as a result of fandom harassment – especially over something as sensationalized as “cyberbullying because they wrote queer gore-filled RPF of Minecraft YouTubers” – wouldn’t it be online? Wouldn’t there have been news coverage? An investigation?

If you’re going to say broadly that “antis” are responsible for this  – to the point where people outside of the specific RPF fandom the account was linked to are being harassed off the internet over it – you need to provide proof. Same goes for the other “death” linked to antis… which is, as far as I can tell from research in 2021, actually an adult who was afraid the SIMS official account would punish him for an extreme erotic mod he had bragged about to where fans of the game were like “we need to get in touch with the FBI”.

(Also the needle-in-cookies thing… which I was around for… probably not about shipping antis either? It for sure wasn’t about the Voltron fandom.)

Aburime’s fourth section “Assimilating minors” is a rather unnecessary segment  for this essay about cult structures. However, while I’ll note that a separate piece on aging in fandom and the fear of becoming inherently problematic due to the clash between your new age and old interests would be interesting to read, though not from Aburime, I won’t spend much time on it.

Aburime is like “these kids are being groomed to becoming antis” and for me, what I noticed was actually happening was that teenagers in the Voltron fandom self identified with the same-aged characters in the show and were deeply disturbed by the shipping practices involving them, even aging up (by adults, for adults) was off-limits.

I didn’t see many adults my age in the Voltron fandom or other fandoms really speaking with teenagers like that? Aburime is right that shipping-oriented anti fandom skews young (and it’s clearly because of identifying too hard with same-aged characters) but doesn’t source their claims and isn’t analyzing the teenagers properly to prove positionality on the hierarchy that they claim is existent in anti fandom in 2022.

I’d like to say “maybe Aburime saw things that I didn’t” but considering they think that antis as a concept began in 2016… Probably not.

I think the real reason section four exists is for the ending where Aburime talks about how some people I would define as antis were both a) flooding the DOJ/FBI with reports of fan art as CSEM and b) sharing real CSEM to use against other people…. Because they then use it to do an even more useless thing about paedophilia.

It would have been better to approach the issue of minors in adult spaces harassing adults from a position of children fueled by fear and radicalizing each other into harassment because that is what happens significantly more often. On top of that, I feel that the segments about child antis and padeophilia are unnecessary entirely because they do not relate back to the core thesis about the cult STRUCTURE.

Aburime is supposed to be showing an active American-centric cult structure of anti fans, proving that there is a hierarchical subculture within fandom that seeks to control fandom. They really do no such thing. Instead, Aburime kind of goes “trust me” about the whole thing and uses scaremongering as a tactic and their most prominent sources are tweets from “antis” and ridiculously biased discourse accounts – many of whom do  harass other people in fandom just for saying, on their own, “I don’t like this” – instead rely on scaremongering to push their agenda in fandom.

The editor that greenlit this without serious edits did Aburime a disservice. I cannot believe people are citing this mess of a piece as if it says anything clearly or even does what it was supposed to do. There is no “cult structure”. There is no organized anti fandom. There is no easily defined and accurate definition of “anti”. The definition changes on who the speaker is biased in favor of.

If you can be an anti for being annoyed with racism in fandom even while you draw Wincest but a racist harassing Candice Patton for years isn’t called an “anti”, consider that anti is a truly meaningless term overinflated by people who really are not capable of writing an insightful and unbiased paper on the subject.

Primarily, what I’ve learned from this is how not to write a symposium paper.

I do not think Aburime is particularly good at writing papers or even remotely self aware on top of that. They do not engage with fandom studies’ existing work on anti fandom/fans. They don’t try to check their own biases. They make these really stunning, scary claims – that there’s an American-centric QAnon-esque cult out to harm queer fandom over content – promise to analyze the cult structure and then… does no such thing? The one thing Aburime needed to do – prove the existence of a cult structure within “American antis” – is not present at any point in this paper. This reads like a Tumblr call-out post or a rebuttal to a callout post, almost… a fannish form of propaganda, rather than an academic paper. (That is for sure how it’s being used!)

It is, in a word, unserious.


2 thoughts on “[Stitch Takes Notes] The cult structure of the American anti

  1. “members self-identifying as antis by adhering to specific moral values…”

    My reading of this is a lot less charitable than yours. It’s along the lines of: If someone is adhering to specific moral values (not clarified what specifically but I assume ones the author disapproves of) in their fandom, they are self-identifying as an anti (which is not what self-identify means, but why would that stop anybody?).

    “There is no organized anti fandom.”

    Well, if there is it’s probably closer to the various Nerdgates and right-wing outrage youtuber “fans”, not whatever she is imagining. (I kinda sorta loosely belong to the Marvel comics fandom.)


  2. Ok, so this is a really well thought out and well written analysis, but my brain is mainly stuck on the fact that I too want to read an essay or article or something on aging in fandom.


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