Note: This piece references anti indigenous racism including the use of “savage” as a slur.
Spite-creation is normal in fandom. When people say “but you can’t ship that”, fans will ship the thing harder. When people see folks say that omegaverse is “gross”, they rush to double down with the slicky sticky content. I have written spite content, leaning in to things I like because someone said they hated it or that it was gross. I understand the urge to create to “own” someone.
But what happens when that urge to create content out of spite further infects fandom with bigotry?
Someone who writes or draws a racist fanwork because they’re mad a person of color – or even over-eager white allies – has spoken about racism in fandom… is a racist. I refuse to continue pulling punches and protecting these people by blurring the awfulness of their behavior.
If fans of color say “hey, making this Black character a big-dicked top with no interiority calls back to stereotypes about desire and threats inspired by Black male sexuality” and someone writes a massive story in the fandom doubling down… that creator is racist. They are doing this to hurt fans of color and to tell other racist and/or white fans “hey, do what you want because I’ve got your back”.
Take the fandom for MXTX’s GrandMaster of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi) this past week. A user, I’ll redact for the time being, made a twitter thread about a potential story where cultivator Lan Wangji is a “colonizer” and Wei Wuxian was essentially analogous to an Indigenous American… and then at the end wrote the following endnote:
“context: basically, this is inspired by the history of colonizers conquering via diseases. Like… they purposely spread that by giving blankets fresh from children who died from smallpox
Anyway, sally wanted darkji so i wrote colonizerji for tonight’s #DarkLanZhan”
The “Sally” in question – a fandom account with well over twenty thousand followers – then tweeted “No LAKSKDK I’M TRYNA SAY THAT IF WW CAUGHT THE THOUSAND FACES DISESASE, only lwj sperm is the cure”. Despite what Sally says in her apology thread , this was directly in response to the original tweet from the redacted user so I don’t understand why the thread tries to pretend she didn’t see what the original, redacted user was saying about linking it to the “smallpox blankets” narrative around colonization that absolutely came from the colonizers themselves.
If the initial racism wasn’t enough, what came next absolutely shattered my almost nonexistent faith in fandom.
First, people were rushing to insist that anyone critical of this initial thread and the context of taking a frankly bastardized take of anti indigenous racism to layer onto Chinese danmei characters were a)”antis” mad about “dark” content and b) racist themselves because supposedly they were all erasing that the OP wasn’t white – something which wasn’t true.
We’ve already covered the limits of “anti” in fandom and how, increasingly, racists are using the term to tar and feather fans of color rightfully speaking out against racism in fandom. A story where you take two Chinese characters and layer a colonizer/”savage” narrative onto them is racist. It has nothing to do with the ships or the “darkness” of the content.
People going “wow that’s fucked up and racist” don’t automatically hate the main pairing of the story or “dark fic”. Choosing to say that’s why fans of color are speaking about it… is really messed up.
But that’s normal for fandom. As we saw with Our Flag Means Death’s Migratory Racist Fandom saying we were only talking about whitewashing or racist stereotypes in fanart “because we needed something to get angry about”, fandom is a place where people meet conversations about racism with open racist aggression.
The racist fans and their defenders aren’t ever the problem… only the fans of color talking about their racism.
And that’s where racist spite-fic and art comes into play.
Even when racist fans create racist fanworks and tell fandom they’re creating the fanwork to hurt fans of color, their harmful impact and racist motivations get handwaved away. What they’re doing is for fun and even though it’s racist, their “freedom of speech” needs to be protected. Fans of color dismayed by open, gleeful racism in a supposed safe space of fandom? We are actively silenced, harassed, and mocked by people who otherwise claim that people should be allowed to say, do, and create whatever they want in fandom… except call out racism on any level, apparently.
In the case of this “colonizerji” story, after the original poster and the BNF locked down and/or deleted their initial racist tweets, a third account decided to take it upon themselves to write the racist fan fiction of their dreams. This twitter user, an anonymous weirdo obsessed with putting off a second strikethrough while gleefully wallowing in their very own racefail, wrote the full version of the story the redacted user up there didn’t write.
Imagine being so racist that your response to people calling out a racist alternate universe story thread on twitter is to… write five thousand words of fic in response to someone else’s thread being called out. Imagine being so racist that your response to someone else being called out for racism is to do more racism. To mock fans of color. To make it clear that everyone’s “fandom isn’t a safe space” is true for fans of color… but not for racists of any flavor who don’t think before they post.
The OP used a slur in the social media post of the story. “Savage” in the context of an indigenous person is a slur. The original poster was proud of themselves for “telling off” “antis” and protecting fandom from… any criticism. They insisted that they “had to” write the story they did, expressing shock that, essentially, sensitive “antis” made them write five thousand words of racist fanfiction.
But no one made them do it? The OP chose to be extra racist and waste their own time on some shitty racist spite-fic just so they could hurt fans of color.
The redacted user and Sally didn’t choose to be racist with their approach to the original idea – it’s clear they went ‘head empty’ into the racist concept, but the OP of the spite fic? Was absolutely working out of malicious racist sentiment and a desire to punish fans of color who were speaking about racism. Doesn’t matter that they may have distressed Indigenous fans of the pairing on AO3 who weren’t related to this situation… all that matters is that they hurt and dismayed the “antis” on twitter they’ve chosen to pretend are the biggest threat to fandom for committing the sin of speaking against racism in fandom.
The fic is gone now and so is the social media account. While I doubt the author felt any remorse about the racism, several of the people they pretended to care about (Dark!LWJ stans) turned on them and denounced the fic. Maybe they even reported it to the AO3 – which still has made zero tangible moves when it comes to doing anything about racist fan fiction – but at the end of the day it’s not the first racist spite fic out there and it’s not going to be the last as long as fandom responds to fans of color concerned about racism with… more racism.
Back at the dawn of Korra fandom, when the fandom spoke out about the way some artists were making her super light… one popular fan artist drew her as fat and Black (with exaggerated Black features but also coal-dark) to spite the Black people she assumed were calling her out. In the Dragon Age fandom, people who hated Vivienne and her fans would write stories where she was brutally tortured by people who clearly hated that she was a powerful Black woman. People write racist hate fic about celebrities and fans of color they dislike!
For decades, fans of color expressing a boundary and annoyance at racist fanworks are met with… people being racist about characters and celebrities we know and love. There’s a difference between making that super sexy Rey/Kylo TA and Student AU because someone said it was gross… and writing a story where Kylo graphically murders Finn after claiming Finn is an abuser in response to fans of color talking about racism.
I understand that for far too many people in queer/feminist fandom, racism is what turns the crank. That’s why I’m calling these people “Migratory Racism Fandom”. That’s what they bring to the table and why these people pop into fandoms they otherwise have no interest in.
It’s why they retaliate against Black fans when we talk about the stereotypes fandom does for Black characters. It’s why they hopped into OFMD fandom to accuse people talking about whitewashing of “reverse colorism”. It’s why this person argued for fandom’s right to write racist fic brutalizing Black characters at the height of the BLM conversations in 2020 . It’s why this person chose to write racist fan fiction that doesn’t even make a lick of sense…
The goal is to let fans of color know “escapism isn’t for you” and to make sure that we feel alienated in fandom spaces that are rife with racism.
And it’s working.
What turns these people’s crank is making fandom less safe for and openly hostile to fans of color who comment on any level of racism in fandom.
That should be something worth exploring and shutting down.