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.Read More »
The most interesting thing for me to realize was how many fandoms I’d been a part of since I was a child, without even noticing that I was doing so, without even knowing that this is how I was expressing my fandom. I grew up an only child, in a quiet household, and my Indian parents discouraged me from creating accounts online. Truthfully, I never found a need for that kind of Internet interaction. This is a trait that carried through my adolescence to the present-day in how I engage in fandom and express my fanning.
The first fandom I can really remember myself getting into came about from growing up in the late 2000s. This, of course, was loving the Disney Channel shows and Disney Channel Original Movies (salute to DCOMS!) of the late 2000s. I remember checking the channel guides waiting for new episodes of Hannah Montana, getting all the fun associated merch, and going to see Hannah Montana: The Movie in theaters in 2009. I listened to the official Radio Disney station for years, listening to all their playlists and am proud to say I’m still in possession of Radio Disney Jams 10, featuring a video performance of the evergreen Nobody’s Perfect. My early-day fanning was pretty much just me, with the sometime-resignation of my parents.Read More »
Spoiler note: this piece has spoilers for The Owl House through the parts of season 2 available on Disney+
The Owl House, two seasons in, has a well-earned reputation for inclusion. The show has made it clear from early on that its themes of not punishing divergence aren’t just glib platitudes intended to make normies feel saintly for letting the weird kid sit at their table. Instead, it treats all of us to a narrative that centers characters who navigate a strange world that doesn’t always suit them in the ways that make the best sense for them. There is a lot of good to be said about the show’s cast: the Latina main character, the queer and nonbinary rep, the older woman mentor, and a truly beloved fat character whose weight is never once remarked on, among others.
It is a breath of fresh air to see that, along with all the rest, there are some solid disability and chronic illness narratives and metaphors in the series as well.Read More »
I got my friend Odawel to talk about one of the big things they learned from the Fire Emblem fandom and how it speaks to the way that white people in fandom can miss big bad issues in plots on their way to stanning certain characters!
When I say I’m a diehard Fire Emblem fan, I mean it. I’ve played almost every single one, most of them upwards of twenty full playthroughs, and I could probably recite the entirety of Path of Radiance to someone line by line if I was pushed.
That’s why when I heard about the combat changes for Fire Emblem Three Houses, I held off. I wasn’t sure I wanted to play something that altered the core game mechanics, but then one of my white friends told me, “Hey, I played it, and it’s definitely different, but it’s still a Fire Emblem game. And let me tell you. You’re going to love Dimitri.”Read More »
Hello Stitch’s Media Mix readers! My name is Amanda-Rae Prescott (she/her/hers) and I’m a Black and multiracial fan of period dramas, Doctor Who and other UK TV from New York City.
Racism in period drama fandoms can take many forms, but one form that’s very easy to spot are complaints from racists after new productions announce Black actors in traditionally white fictional character roles. Due to the success of Hamilton, Bridgerton, and other diverse-casted series, more production companies in the UK are adapting racebent or color-conscious casting. (Many of these series still have white writers and/or few Black people or other POC behind the camera, however, the UK entertainment industry is much further behind the US on this conversation for structural and population reasons.).
It’s easy for Black fans to miss these discussions online because these fandoms, with a few exceptions for mainstream fame, are outside traditional geek/nerd/fandom culture. There’s also an age gap to consider.Read More »
Elizabeth A. Allen and Jonah Akos got together recently to geek out about one of their favorite additions to Doctor Who: Ruth Clayton, a.k.a. the Fugitive Doctor. Played by Jo Martin, “Ruth Doctor” became the first Black Doctor in the show’s history. She appeared in two episodes of Season 12, “Fugitive of the Judoon” and “The Timeless Children,” generating polarized responses from viewers. Elizabeth and Jonah talked about Ruth Doctor’s characterization, her significance to the show and fandom, and her possible future.
Elizabeth is a white, queer, nonbinary writer and editor. Jonah is a Black, nonbinary trans man. Their identities shape their experiences with Doctor Who and with Ruth Doctor in particular.
Jonah: Let’s start with what we enjoyed about her.
Elizabeth: Yeah, let’s! I really love how Ruth Doctor was so quickly and deftly characterized.
Jonah: I think that was a great way to start — focusing on her POV for quite a bit of time. It helps you feel like she truly exists in the world. Even before knowing who she was, I liked her because she felt empathetic, but also confident in herself.
Elizabeth: Her happiness with her husband and the people she said “hi” to really grounded her. They also gave a perfect illustration of one of the Doctor’s best traits
: At the best, the Doctor really CONNECTS with people. They CARE. They make friends.
Jonah: I also liked that she got to have a love interest. Allowing an older, dark-skinned Black woman to have love at all is rare. To show them as able and worthy of it.
Elizabeth: Yeah, I’m glad that she had some romance too! The snippets of domestic life and normalcy make Ruth a much more approachable Doctor than any other I’ve encountered.Read More »
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.Read More »
The Black companions in the rebooted iteration of Doctor Who have it rough, especially the women.
Think of Martha, who suffers Simm Master’s mockery and his enforced servitude of her family in Season 3’s Sound of Drums. Think of Bill, who endures a decade of medical abuse and slow Cyber conversion (i.e., being made into a cyborg) at the hands of Razor Master in Season 10’s World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. Think of Grace, who dies of electrocution and fall after defending the Thirteenth Doctor from a gathering coil in Season 11’s Woman Who Fell to Earth. The New Who’s Black companions are generally treated as more disposable and less important than the white characters.
But what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if New Who’s first companion had been a young Black woman — cherished, celebrated, integral to the narrative? How might the experiences of Black companions be different if Alison Cheney had been the first?Read More »
Note: This is the write-up of Robin Anne Reid’s segment in the roundup on race and racism in fandom that we had at PCA 2019 April 17, 2019.
The main point I want to make for this discussion is that Academia, in general, is having its own versions of Racefail ’09 in various disciplinary spaces and conferences. I am working on a book about Racefail ’09, and the more I work on describing and documenting the events of a decade ago, the more I see how current academic imbroglios follow a similar pattern, one that fits Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s definition of color-blind or unconscious, racism.
When academics of colors who, in the same way that Avalon’s Willow pointed out racist tropes in fantasy and sf during Racefail ‘09, point out systemic racism in academic disciplines, specifically, Medieval Studies, Classical Studies, and Anglo-Saxon Studies, they are met with claims from white liberals whose dominant response is “I’m not racist.”
The problems include programming at the major conferences, statements made, and actions taken by tenured white scholars in positions of relative privilege, against tenure-track scholars. The academic Racefail I am most familiar with involved doxing, death threats, and attempts to drive scholars of color out of the profession and was recently covered in the New York Times.Read More »
In April 2019, I was invited by Zina Hutton, Cait Coker, and Robin Reid to be part of a Roundtable on Race and Racism in Fandom and Fan Studies at the PCA/ACA 2019 conference held in Washington DC, USA. The intention was to discuss Fandom and Fan Studies 10 years after the events of RaceFail ’09 to see if things had changed and, if so, how. While I didn’t speak to the events of RaceFail ’09 itself, it did inflect my critique of institutional responses that followed in the wake of a more recent event.
What follows here is a rough estimate of the things I said at the conference, much of which was unscripted. I should note that these are my views alone and that I do not speak for Rukmini Pande, who was also involved in the series of events I plan to discuss.
At the same time, I should also be clear that many of the points that follow are points that fans of colour (hereafter FOC) and acafans of colour (as well as acafans working on critical race theory in fandom) have already noted. In a multiplicity of ways, I am echoing their work, restating it, forcibly reinscribing it as best as I can, and ascribing it as best as I can (and Rukmini is part of this, though again she is not the first).
As previously noted, these conversations have been around for far longer than us, and to assume that we are the first to voice this discomfort, this anger, this complaint (per Sara Ahmed) is to be complicit in this erasure and our own eventual erasure. These are not just my words, this is not just my voice.
Earlier this week, I read Zina’s post on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the character of Miles Morales, and the idea of authenticity. While agreeing wholeheartedly with the post itself, I found myself struggling to articulate my current position, which is that while these films construct nationalistic racial and cultural narratives in ways that allow for reclamation and representation, the process of these claims seem to hinge on specific connections between fatherhood, masculinity, and nationality.
While women are present, and while mothers are present, they’re somehow not part of that narrative. This is a complex and confounding thing because these films aren’t being positioned as inherently patriarchal or lacking in female characters, yet the underlying implications of its narrative suggest extremely traditional patriarchal ideology.
My hope is that I can briefly trace this out here, and maybe that we can consider the ways in which films like Into the Spider-Verse and Black Panther centre Blackness, authenticity, heritage, a coming into oneself, and national identity, while also seeing how this amazing intergenerational space is somehow all about Black fathers and isn’t necessarily leaving a whole lot of room for Black mothers.Read More »
Note: Previously posted on the website Fandoms Hate People of Color (click the link to reblog it), I received permission to host this essay about the experiences one fan of color (who has requested to remain anonymous) had and witnessed within the Dragon Age fandom before exiting due to stress from everything that the fandom kept doing and perpetuated with regard to racism, harassment, and constant antiblackness directed towards fans and characters in the series. While this post has received minor edits for clarity and consistency as well as clarifying comments from me in endnotes, it remains largely the same as the post published on tumblr.
Content Warnings for: racism, antiblackness, ableism and ableist terms, mentions of abuse and trauma, and a brief mention of sexual assault in fan fiction in one of my clarifying comments
I had to leave the Dragon Age fandom a while ago because of all the racism (the last straw was right after that terrible Vivienne fic, not even the fic itself but white fandom’s reaction, the pointblank refusal to acknowledge that it was part of the same bigger problem that they contributed to every day) and ever since I’ve been thinking a lot about what the patterns actually are. I know for a fact that these patterns aren’t unique to the Dragon Age fandom, but it’s where I personally saw them most blatantly and was hurt by them the most. Specifically, I was most involved in the DA2 fandom, so my examples are from there.Read More »