Revisionist fandom history is so annoying because:
– it’s always people in their 20s and/or who’ve been in fandom for like nowhere near as long as EYE have lecturing people about how shitty the youth these days are (like being awful in fandom is new or exclusive to The Youth)
– it’s always very white fandom history UNLESS it’s someone tagging in like Japanese creators and/or appropriating the term fujoshi for their own ends (my feeling on the term is simply that if you’re not Japanese, you probably can’t ACTUALLY reclaim it. The end.)
Another negative example is the way that parasocial relationships can develop for people who aren’t actually celebrities thanks to the increasingly blurred line between creator and consumer. Anyone with a platform is someone who other people may develop a parasocial relationship with. Even I have been the object of other people’s parasocial relationships. I have my own fans (and anti-fans) that think they know me and have developed their own relationships with other people online over their perceived relationships with me or based on the content I have created! It’s incredible… and also occasionally terrifying to realize that people have created connections between you and them that do not actually exist and are reacting to you (sometimes very negatively) because of that.
The four people on the cover image for this piece – comedian John Mulaney, BTS leader RM, actress Zendaya, and Japanese rockstar Miyavi – are all people I’ve had some level of parasocial engagement with. In Miyavi’s case, I’ve been parasocial-ly interested in him for 16 years, over half of my life. I follow him and his wife Melody (whose music I did love back in the day) on Instagram and when they announced that they had a son back in February, I think I crowed about that kid like he was one of my friends’ kids.
Parasocial relationships, at their base are pretty neutral. It’s the behavior that fans bring to the table – and, sometimes celebrities actually – that shapes it to be positive or negative.
I chose the quote I did, about how people who aren’t celebrities can be subject to parasocial relationships, because it’s something that affects me to this day. As I showed in my latest WFRLL piece, a lot of strangers on the internet are deeply attached to negative parasocial relationships with me and they do use that (and their racism, obviously) to excuse the frankly horrifying way they talk to and about me, heaping on racist abuse because… they think they know me and that I deserve their (mis) treatment.
But then, as someone primarily in a celebrity-oriented fandom (BTS’ ARMY), I’m seeing positive aspects of the parasocial relationship every time I sign onto my account. Every time one of “our” guys posts a selfie, updates us on Weverse, or does… pretty much anything… we all come together to shout in glee and unpack together. That part is pretty good.
I currently have almost three hundred thousand people blocked on my main (still locked) Twitter.
Half of them aren’t because of any specific fandom thing (once, I chainblocked a massive “Report for [SPECIFIC IDOL]” account to see if it’d work in early 2020 and… it did, but now I can never undo it).
However, a huge portion of my blocks are because I ran RedBlock or some other browser extension on accounts I didn’t like, that were harassing me, or that were harassing others. (The other account, for my website, has about 150k people blocked, maybe. Because I exported my blocklist from main to that account in 2018 in the middle of a harassment campaign from the most annoying Star Wars shippers.)
For PCA 2021 – an academic conference on pop culture – I’m doing a presentation on an under-represented and researched type of international Korean idol fans: Black women and other femme-identity aligned people within our community.
A lot of the coverage of English language idol fandoms rightfully focuses on Asian fans (diasporic Koreans primarily, but also South East Asian fans as an incredibly large fanbase). I love the work I’ve read in media/fan studies circles because it’s helped deepen my understanding of these fandoms and how I can be a better fan on my own..
However, the thing I don’t like is how much more of this work explicitly or implicitly focuses on white fans even at a point of talking about things like fandom activism in the wake of May/June 2020’s BLM-related activism that was fueled by Black fans in different idol fandoms. There is a serious lack of understanding and research in fan/media studies and in mainstream-ish journalism about:
English language k-pop fandom spaces as a whole
The roles Black fans play in these spaces and in furthering the popularity of these artists in their home countries/specific fandom spaces
I’ve said it at least twice and you’d think it’d stick by now since the past three books have been objectively poorly crafted and have contained content I know I don’t like as well as content that has been a trigger for me in the past. Despite the fact that I don’t read things I dislike – and tell y’all to do the same all the time – I couldn’t help myself. Rafael is the book I knew from Day One of its announcement that Laurell K Hamilton had no business writing because of its focus on Mexican-American wererat and titular character Rafael.
It’s not because Hamilton is a white woman, by the way. It’s because she has a habit of writing really racist-ly for her characters of color and not growing or engaging with it. Almost thirty years into the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series and Hamilton still trades on and writes stereotypes for the characters of color that populate her books.
So here we are with a book that really shouldn’t exist and a spork I shouldn’t be doing because I know I’m just gonna get mad by the end.
I did not get a lot done in April but also… wow did I get a lot done in April.
Yes, I got 16 different blog pieces out – including a stellar guest post about Alison from Doctor Who that I’m still pleased with – but for some reason it doesn’t feel like I did much of everything. Only like half of what I’d planned to put out actually made it out and I’m bummed because it was going to be great stuff… but I have to remember that I still had sixteen posts go out.
When people of color talk about racism in a given space, we are always met with a truly disproportionate amount of anger. We are harassed, made into harassers, and essentially “policed” into silence, often by people who are publicly progressive at some level.
Back when I was working on #StitchProcesses Blackface, one of the things that stood out to me was about the inciting event. Sam Okyere is a man known for gently and graciously being “Korea’s Black Friend”. He’s also been someone that spoke candidly about antiblackness he faced in Korea when he first moved to the country. In fact, one of the first times I was introduced to Okyere was because of a viral video clip of him explaining to a rapt audience of Korean people that he had experienced racism here and it was a thing that happened regularly.
That’s why the backlash to him calling out the racism of blackface from the high school students at Uijeongbu High was so shocking to me.
Here you have a Black man literally known for talking about racism and antiblackness in Korea and him doing so, offering gently to educate others on blackface so they know how harmful it is to do it, essentially triggered a bunch of antiblack assholes into harassing him and destroying his career in Korea.
At this point across fandoms, we largely recognize that framing fandom as only for “crazy fangirls” is harmful and incorrect. We push back at outside writers who insist upon the phrase, because it’s a narrative that is ableist and misogynistic, and on top of that, erases the presence of people who aren’t women in fandom. However, it’s important that we all work on looking critically about how we handle ableism within fandom as well.
I love growth. It’s super important to me regardless of what areas I’m growing in. Every year is a new version of my best self because I’m constantly growing and leveling up as a person so 2021!Stitch is going to be a better version of 2020!Stitch and both are just incredible when compared to me in 2009. One of the ways I’ve always struggled privately is with using ableist language. (I don’t do fanworks that often anymore, but I’ve always made sure to write responsibly as a content creator, utilizing some of the very resources I share in the piece.)
There are so many things that don’t ping as ableist even though, when you pull back and think about it… they’re pretty obvious. Trying to figure out the best ways to convey frustration with someone without hurting them or others who may see it – because you don’t know who will see your tweets and misfires hit the innocent often – is something I have been working on for a while. Sometimes I slip. But I always course correct and educate myself. Because that’s really all you can do.
In the first part of this essay, I explored the portrayal of Black women in Doctor Who, using the example of Alison Cheney. She appears in Scream of the Shalka, a 2003 web animation. Preceding the 2005 TV reboot by two years, she is the first broadcast non-white companion.
I wrote about Alison’s role as the Doctor’s beloved, a status unusual for Black characters, and how she could have challenged the New Who’s portrayal of Black women as largely disposable victims. At the same time, SotS’ refusal to give Alison the lived experience specific to a Black London woman in an all-white small town reduces her revolutionary potential.
Alison’s ability to change the Whoniverse is also limited by SotS’ — and Alison’s — unpopularity. In this part of my essay, I dig into fan characterizations of Alison, using the AO3 corpus as a representative sample. An examination of SotS fan content on AO3 reveals that Alison may be the Doctor’s beloved in SotS, but she’s largely unloved in fandom.
This is the first time I’ve ever been shortlisted for an award (despite my initial hopes considering the massive volume of my work in 2020… a Hugo Award nomination for Best Fan Writer clearly did not happen).
It means a ton to me because I just… haven’t felt like I was getting the respect and acknowledgement I know I’ve earned through my hard work on topics few other people are covering about fandoms and media. (Like one thing I included in my “hey nominate me for a Hugo” post was my coverage of what wasn’t covered in reviews of Docile.)
I’ve been at this for… a while. I started my site in 2015 but was talking about representation and issues with fandom approaching it from 2010/2011. And there’s always been just this overwhelming volume of pushback that was disproportionately massive when compared to the fact that people went out of their way to ignore that I existed or to misrepresent what I was saying. (Forever bitter about how June 2020 was the first time a lot of people realized that racism in fandom was a problem… and how they still made me into a bigger one.)
Anyway, yes, I was disheartened at the lack of recognition in the face of horrifying amounts of harassment I was getting at the same time BUT being on the shortlist means a lot to me. I do a ton of work covering fandom as fairly as I can manage and in engaging critically with media, being careful to acknowledge my own biases where they come into play.
It’s so overwhelming to see my hard work start to get recognized publicly by such an incredible magazine and I’m looking forward to the future and in celebrating all the really cool people who were nominated and who ultimately win!
If you want to vote for me (and you know… get your friends/interested nerds you know to also vote for me…
Voting for the IGNYTE Awards is open from now until May 21st @ 11:59PM EST.
Missed what I’ve been doing with Music Video Anatomy? For the most recent installments, I covered WA$$UP (와썹 and Bermuda Triangle! We’re back on our bullshit this time and talking about Zico and hip hop masculinity!
Title: Tough Cookie (Feat. Don Mills)
The most iconic setting of Tough Cookie really is Zico in the bathtub and I think it’s what everyone thinks of if they’ve seen the video before.
However, I can’t stop thinking about how this video is set in different working class settings (a warehouse, a garage and its parking lot) and luxe-ish nightclub and barber shop settings. Fadeaway, an 1LLIONAIRE collab video with a bunch of heavy hitters in Korean hip hop that we’ll tackle later, has a similar but more polished feel when it comes to the juxtaposition of scenarios/settings.
I don’t know that Zico or the MVs director ever talked about why they chose the settings that they did, but I think it really does work for the understanding/presentation of hip hop as something simultaneously linked with Being Poor but also having success and excess.
I found my own Trinidadian upbringing confusing. On one hand, I was made to believe that race mattered very little, echoing sentiments of postraciality that surfaced after President Barack Obama was elected. My schoolbooks emphasized that Trinidad and Tobago was a rainbow utopia, evident by the shoehorning of as many creeds and races as could possibly fit into small, grayscale pictorial representations. I’d look at my face in the mirror—my light but definitely brown skin, my broad nose—clocking my features against the fact that my last name was confusingly Chinese (my great-grandfather on my dad’s side came from there) and wondering what the hell I was.
In the Caribbean, there are so many complex relationships with our Blackness, what Blackness could look like and who got to be Black in the first dang place. In islands like Trinidad where you have a more visible history of non-Black people of color (primarily Indian and Chinese) marrying and loving Black people, Blackness is complicated. And so is your understanding of where white supremacy fits in to the conversation. Because the people in power in Trinidad, in the Virgin Islands, in Jamaica… aren’t actually or typically white people. And yet, white supremacy thrives in these places to the point of harming people of color who live there.
What I wrote: Black characters get a specific kind of racist fanwork where it’s clear that the author is using fandom and their fanworks to abuse and torture them into place. Those are clearly racist fanworks and exist to harm. This should be something we can do something about.
What someone conveniently ignoring what I’m literally and CLEARLY saying got out of it: Stitch wants all stories with violence against Black characters taken down because she is an ANTI
Struggling with selective reading comprehension issues and think I’ve said something I clearly haven’t? Use this resourceto brush up on your lackluster reading comprehension skills and consider leaving me out of your journey!