On Twitter I’ve been boosting what I can, when I see it. This means linking to articles about the hate crime shooting spree in Atlanta (and the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, violence, racism, etc) across the past year and change alone. I also shared donation links from foundations specifically to benefit and uplift Asian American communities and help the victims of the latest attacks to hit the news. I neglected to do that here as I was focused on using that bigger platform to boost and be helpful that way.
However, it’s important to make things clear here as well: I stand in solidarity with Atlanta’s Asian American community as well as with Asians and other people of color who are subject to the horrors and hatefulness of white supremacy everywhere. White supremacy is a rot that must be rooted out of society and solidarity is a community building/reinforcing tool that will help us do so.
Rather than center myself at any point, I’m sharing some of the links I shared on Twitter so that folks who read this site can see how they can help and what they may have been missing. This will include donation links to GoFundMes and foundations.
If you’re online and in fandom, you’ve probably heard of Goncharov, the faked/lost Scorese film from 1973 that folks on Tumblr dreamed up a few days ago. Gizmodo’s Linda Codega calls it “the greatest mafia movie never made”, describing the Goncharov “phenomenon” as “an exquisite corpse of collective unreality, all kicked off by a fake movie poster made by Tumblr user Beelzeebub, based on a photo of a knockoff merchandising boot.”
The idea of the collective unreality and fandom coming together to imagine parts of the same thing in a unit is pretty cool and it isn’t new. Fandom has always made things. We had all of the different “hot” versions of the little pyramid thing from Gravity Falls. We had “the solar system as hot people”. We have a uniform characterization of Eames from Inception that is solid despite being barely supported by anything in the film.
Fandom is all about creating something out of nothing – or very limited materials – and dreaming up new things at the same time. It speaks to how creative fans are when they choose to be… which is pretty darn creative most of the time. In some directions.
The issue, for me, is how that creativity works. How the collective (un) conscious of fandom cannot dream bigger, darlings. How fandom cannot ever stretch their imaginative muscles in ways that incorporate Black/brown people as the leads, the blorbos. The center. Who is capable of being imagined.
I liked to tell people that my dad was a month older than Batman. This is both true – Batman’s first appearance was in Detective Comics Number 27 in May 1939, a month after his birth – and relevant – one of my earliest and most formative memories of my dad was of watching reruns of the 1960s batman series with him after he got me from school. This help set me on a path to where I’ve interviewed multiple DC Comics actors and creators, and did my thesis on a core Batman character.
I bring up this Batman connection because it speaks to how blessed I have been. My dad made room for me to exist as myself. My dad always made time for me. We watched TV together, talked politics and baseball together, and of course got into cowboys.
Everything I am, that I love, and that I create can be traced back to my time with my dad. His support was endless. while his loss has me feeling a little lost on my own, I’m prepared to continue living a life he would be proud of. Rest well Daddy, you did a good job.
If you’re going into a piece of media determined to empathize with the villain above the heroes of the piece, you’re not getting the same story as everyone else. As a result, these fans take their own headcanons as fact and harshly punish or harass other fans that have a different point of view. Point out that Kylo Ren and Hux are purposeful fascist allegories with the rise of the First Order tying back to Nazis? Expect to have people repeat the manufactured sob story about Kylo’s childhood (which literally wasn’t even that bad) as an excuse to spend the rest of their lives on the internet harassing you. (I know this because it’s happened to me and many others.) Try talking about how Loki’s initial entry into the MCU has him try to do a genocide and later try to take over the world as Thanos’ messenger. When you do, expect people to bring up how he’s a transracial adoptee suffering from abandonment issues and child abuse. We are literally not allowed to talk negatively/critically about the bad things villains do — even when we say explicitly that we like the characters we’re talking about — because he’s their blorbo or little meow meow now and fandom has decided to make that position sacred.
I think the funniest thing about the response to this article is the number of people who didn’t read it or read it in bad faith insisting this is “fake journalism” out to oppress villain fuckers because I hate villains. I know I don’t really like Kylo Ren, Hux, or their fans who’ve been harassing me for most of a decade of this point with no sign of stoping (and every sign of escalating), but the last thing I am is a “villain anti” or whatever the Terminally Online are calling it these days.
I don’t know how to say this but fellow grown ass adults in fandom… you are not a marginalized person within fandom because you’re older than twenty-five. Being 25+ isn’t a marginalization in fandom – or many other places until you get up into the fifties and sixties – and it’s not at all comparable to being a fan of color.
I have been busy and tired about it, but I have gotten a bunch out so far for September over at Teen Vogue. All of it, so far, has been centered around Rings of Power. I’m also about to talk about the series on my newsletter – which I’m a little behind on as well because life keeps happening – so stay tuned for that and also my She-Hulk hate (because wow I do not like that show).
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”.
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…)
There are almost 150,000 stories on the AO3 tagged with Alpha/Beta/Omega Dynamics. I’d like to say that I have probably read between 5 and 10 percent of that. I find omegaverse incredibly entertaining. I’ve been writing my own across the years. Most recently I’ve posted my original series “alphas deserve bullying” and reposted my old DCU omegaverse series with updates.
This begins, as it often does, with a tumblr post.
Tumblr user allofthefeelings made a quick little post about power fantasies, framing them as the reason why fandom is the way it is with all these aggressive, fighty people. And I agree and disagree simultaneously. The entire post is so small that I am going to paste it below:
I think it’s really important to talk about how different people have different power fantasies.
For some people, the idea of someone redeeming a villain is a power fantasy.
For other people, the idea of a villain being defeated is a power fantasy.
And for other people, the idea of a character owning their villainy is a power fantasy.
I would argue a lot of fandom conflicts re: villains come from people being unable to see that their fantasies, which put them in control of a narrative (and all three of these are designed to give the author or reader control of the narrative in different ways) are someone else’s horror stories.
Let’s get into it!
Allofthefeelings is correct that different people’s power fantasies contribute to an environment of fandom that’s hostile to people who don’t have that specific fantasy. The thing is, I think that we should build this out broadly to look beyond villains (which I think isn’t an incorrect approach but very limited despite that) to the ways people have, want, and grab for power within fandom spaces.
When it comes to fandom, characters of color consistently receive less fan engagement in comparison to their white counterparts. There are many ways that fans engage with their favorite characters, not just in art and writing, but also through fancams, zines, playlists, or the humble shitpost.After all, someone has to do the hard work of editing Community dialogue onto screenshots of unrelated media. When it comes to fan engagement, it might not stick out in all fandoms, but there is almost always a bias shown in not only the amount of fan content created for characters of color but the type of content as well. Yes, a character may have a decent number of fanart and gifsets when scrolling through their tag on Tumblr. However, this love is often not reflected in the amount of fanfiction or meta within the same fandom.
This is a list blending queer media I like as a queer person or that my queer friends recommend. It’s all queer, pals. If you need warnings or want to know what I think about a specific thing, ask! Right now I just wanted to get this list out and anything else would’ve taken too much time!
Title: I Want To Be A Wall vol 1 (Honami Shirono)
Any love story aficionado will say that the key to a successful couple is intense desire for one another—but what if the characters in question are an asexual woman with a passion for Boys Love stories and a gay man whose heart forever belongs to his oblivious childhood friend? Although romance will never be in the cards for newlyweds Yuriko and Gakurouta, the bond blossoming between them promises to be a wonderful relationship—the likes of which neither has ever experienced before…
Fandom – understood as progressive, transformative, queer, generative, feminist, etc – is simultaneously a lawless space where anything goes or else nothing will… and a space where we have to have rigid rules to protect people from everything from actual harassment to mild complaining or criticism in someone else’s space. For the past four or five years, we’ve seen an increase in people longing for the “LiveJournal Era”, a time when people supposedly were nicer to each other and didn’t fight each other over ships.
That era they’re longing for? Never actually existed and it was moderated in ways that continue to be damaging to fans to this day.
On our latest episode, I caught up with Tabitha Carvan, author of the book this is not a book about benedict cumberbatch: the joy of loving something — anything– like your life depends on it
Tabitha’s book is a callback to everything that I loved about Sherlock fandom and what does make fandom so good and empowering even with its rough spots. We had a great chat about what we love, how we love it, and what are some of the best parts of being in a fandom!
this is not a book about benedict cumberbatch is out May 31st wherever you buy books! pre-order it today!
We briefly mentioned the unfortunate death of Miss Sherlock lead Yuko Takeuchi, who passed away in 2020. I have chosen not to link to any news about her passing, but our thoughts remain with her loved ones.
[More show notes to come! Ping me if you catch something that needs a ref!]