Link Lineup – November 2021

In November, I did a lot of content consumption. It was all incredibly interesting stuff! Any errors on my commentary under the pieces are because I did this via a dictation software across the month! 😀


Confronting the Questionable Legacy of ‘The Lord of the Rings’

Peter Jackson’s trilogy, while spectacular and ground-breaking in many ways, is glaringly white. Worse, the human villains are all coded as non-white; “bad men” from the East and the South, complete with either veils and kohl, or bearing tribal tattooing and scarification and riding mythical elephants. Worst of all, the inhuman Uruk Hai – muscled and merciless – have black skin and dreadlocks. While some of this British colonial racism and eugenicist thought are a reflection of the source material itself, Jackson made a – possibly thoughtless – choice to remain “faithful” to those parts of the text and even to exacerbate them. As a result, racist fans were not alienated by the films but accommodated, allowed to believe that their extremely racist interpretation of Tolkein’s work was the correct one. The film trilogy benefited from their racist support and everyone involved in it is therefore complicit in the abuse now raining down on series’ cast of colour (particularly the black cast, and more particularly the black women cast). The comments directed at Nomvete and Cruz Cordóva are not generic racism: they are rooted in the racist lore and imagery that Jackson’s films perpetuated. One of most frequent comments on Nomvete’s picture is “better be an Uruk Hai”.

I grew up on Lord of the rings and so growing up in the fandom, I realized very quickly that the negative aspect of Lord of the rings where people of color were absent from the narrative was a bonus for a large majority of the fandom. Unlike the Harry Potter fandom which would go on to racebend characters like Harry and Hermione, the Lord Of The Rings fandom never really took to racebending as a thing they could or even wanted to do. Instead, they seemed really happy to be faced with a version of Middle Earth where all the elves were white, and all of the men were too. The films, that I grew up with, were integral to building a fandom identity as an extremely online tween for many people in English language fandom who are my age at this point.

The problem is that when faced with updates to the franchise where characters might be of color who aren’t background characters or silent extras, the fandom doesn’t have a good reaction. Even before we see who all have been cast within the upcoming series that Amazon is doing, there is a history of Lord Of The Rings fans being upset at the concept of racebending even within their own communities. People who are fan artists or fanfic writers that choose to portray these characters using ethnic groups in our world, can expect to get really rude messages from diehard fans of the franchise. They’re subject to racism, even if they are not of color themselves, because they have chosen to “deviate” from Tolkien’s vision. And we’re told that these are all white men. We’re told that the Lord Of The Rings fans, like the Star Wars fans who raged at The Force Awakens and the sequel trilogy having people of color in relatively prominent roles, are all white men.

But that is not true and honestly, that’s why transformative fandom has a white supremacy problem that I don’t see any way to fix. Because people assume it’s all white men, so white women have nothing to do with any of it. Which leaves them to wallow in the mire of white supremacy in fandom and get worse. Anyway, I don’t know what Amazon will do with their Lord of the rings show or the fandom that builds from it, but I am frustrated that 20 years after the original massive trilogy came out from Peter Jackson, fandom still maintains that they don’t have a race problem even while being publicly and actively racist.

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Link Lineup: October 2021

So I didn’t read a lot or consume content outside of pure relaxation or research purposes this month. I have been busy as hell. I keep looking at my emails and guiltily slinking away because I have so much to do and limited time to do it because it’s also birthmonth, the one month where I’m basically absolutely allowed to do nothing at all. (Or so I’m telling myself.) Which means that I basically read fan fiction, watched horror movies with BTS Nieceling… and restarted My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic from the beginning. That’s largely it.


Why Young Thug Is an Icon

Fans had begun to notice him calling his male friends “hubby,” “bae,” and “lover” on Twitter and Instagram, which rang off alarms with swathes of rap’s homophobic fans. Straight men of all ages still use “pause,” so his terms of affection caught a side-eye from many, as did a photo of him and a hospital-bed-bound male friend feeding each other from double cups, as well as a video of him doing a bumbling, twerk-adjace dance to his “Perk” song. A YouTube commenter on the dancing video noted, “For those who say he isn’t gay… explain this, don’t worry, I have time,” capturing the sentiment of many rap listeners at the time.

When asked about his “bae” comments, he clarified, “It’s the language. It’s nothing stupid and fruity going on. It’s the way we talk, it’s the way we live. Those are my baes, those are my lovers, my hubbies, whatever you want to call them.”

First of all, I love the concept of a “Young Thug Week” anywhere.

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New Cool Fan Studies Stuff!

Over on Henry Jenkins’ site, he’s using his platform to host what he’s calling a “Global Fandom Jamboree” that focuses on scholars speaking on their work on their own and with the other scholars in their field, more or less.

Here’s what’s up so far.

I won’t be linking to everything in roundups like this again, but I’ll be tweeting infrequently about the parts of this project that really stand out to me. And of course, if they move me extra hard, they’ll probably wind up in my end of the month link post!

Happy reading!

Link Lineup – September 2021

September has been… a lot. I’m putting this together at the halfway point of the month and I just… want to take a nap. I want to rest. But I already got a bunch of content consumption down for the month so I felt I could pop this in the schedule and keep it moving. Cool? Cool.


How Do We Criticize Our Own? (Also, Stop Calling Lizzo a Mammy)

I love Princess Weekes. I adore her insight, the nuance and brightness she brings to tough topics, and her really great POV on fandom. This is no exception.

Criticism is something I feel very strongly about. I cut my teeth on cultural and social criticism (which overlaps often) by Said, Baldwin, and hooks to say nothing of critics in the present. Criticism is like… opinion backed up by facts and explanation. You don’t have to agree all the time – and I know the joy of going full Mariah “Sorry I Don’t Know Her” Carey when I see criticism I dislike or disagree with. It’s valid. You’re valid.

But people can’t quite understand how you criticize media made by your community – or that we can. Criticizing Wynonna Earp or Lost Girls for their very beige queer representation (and fridged Black male characters) doesn’t mean the shows are bad. It just means that they can’t be 100% what I need as a fan. Talking about what a show like Killjoys – which Princess mentions and has queer characters of color in main, supporting, and villainous roles, as a show you wish people liked more… isn’t hating on either Emily Andras production (she was creator of WE and producer/showrunner of LG at one point).

We get to critique things on our own time and on our own dime. What’s important is making sure we’re creating and consuming criticism in good faith and for the right reasons. If I got into a show for spite just to write about it and piss off the fandom… that’s not a good reason. My critique would be bad and biased in a way that’s not helpful. If you engage with criticism, knowing you can’t stand having your worldview challenged or your interests criticized, whatever response you have in a heated media fan moment? It’s unlikely to be good… or in good faith.

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Link Lineup – August 2021

It’s always so hard to pare down my links to a manageable amount rather than pouring out the entirety of my bookmarks for the month. But between last time and now, I have read some incredible things! Here’s a sampling with the usual added commentary.


Ignoring A Problem Doesn’t Make It Go Away: On Lindsay Ellis and Anti-Native Racism

She finishes her brief segment on her Twilight Apologia grievance by doing a classic “see I’m a liberal ally to the brown folks” move straight out of a JK Rowling’s tweet: adding the link to the Quileute tribe’s fundraiser to prove that she’s not racist, she cares about ACTUAL problems that the Quileute folks face. Not something as trivial as representation in Twilight but REAL problems. Clearly she cares more about indigenous issues than the indigenous people she’s arguing with. 

In any case, you don’t need to be native to know there isn’t much sincerity to someone who dedicates two hours to taking shots of whiskey for every “apology” they have to make. Quite frankly it would’ve saved her time to just upload a five second Youtube video of her telling us to eat shit. The same message would’ve been delivered expeditiously. 

A lot of people think that ignoring a problem like racism in media – here anti-Native racism in Twilight and Pocahontas… and Ellis’ coverage of both after the fact – will just make it go away. Add in a heaping helping of Ellis weaponizing her white womanhood and lumping in real Natives trying to educate her in with the very legitimate harassment she does get… And you’ve got a disastrous approach in one.

I thought this piece by Ali Nahdee was brilliant, insightful, and is a must-read for people who genuinely care about representation in media, fighting anti-Native racism, and holding ourselves and our favorite content creators accountable. In this country, Indigenous communities are mistreated and misrepresented as the norm. Media is one of the biggest ways that their cultures are repackaged – often being boiled down to a single experience set up to serve for the whole – and it’s important to recognize when we and our favorite/popular cultural critics drop the ball on recognizing that.

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Link Lineup July 2021

So many links this July (it’s like 12)


White Woman Hospitalized After Being Called White

Laura, whose recent 23andme revealed that she is of Nordic, German, and British ancestry and nothing else, explained the tragic circumstances that landed her in the emergency room.

“A stranger, a literal stranger, called me white within my earshot,” said Laura, who is Caucasian. “My heart started beating so fast, I broke out into a cold sweat, my face drained of all color. I knew I had to call 911. She said to her friend, and I quote, ‘that white woman walked right into me.” And yeah, maybe I did, but does that give her the right to use a slur against me?”

“People don’t realize that their hateful, racist actions can have consequences for their victims’ health,” Laura added, with a lack of self-awareness that only a woman this white could achieve.

This is so fandom, for me. Do you know how many comments, messages, subtweets, etc that exist solely because calling white women (and queer people and AFABs who aren’t women) “white” or calling white characters white sets people off? Like they fully go into “h-how dare you mention whiteness as a factor in what characters are loved and what people are harassed… this is worse than racism” fits. Oh and this is while they trot out the 23andme test results to prove they’re actually not even “Really White” but are Vaguely Brown and may actually have a Black and/or Native ancestor they can’t prove but sure will use against me.

It remains wild that some of the loudest voices of people harassing me and hating on me/my work have publicly said that I must hate them because they’re white or that I… don’t believe white people have a culture (I… did not even imply that but this defense of a nebulous white culture is a very loud racist dogwhistle) or that I am actually racist against them (white women/AFABs) because I pointed out that aside from PickMe POC being shitty for clout, white women are the ones who have the most consistently racist reactions to me/my work.

They have these reactions publicly where they moan about disliking white women(‘s racism) being racist/hate speech, accuse me of reverse racism, and other incredibly racist nonsense… and people just… accept the tantrum at face value and uplift these people who aren’t just my anti fans but who are racist from the jump.

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Link Lineup – April 2021

I Grew Up in a Majority-Minority Country. We Still Have a Problem with Anti-Blackness

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.

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Link Lineup – February 2021

Some of the great things I read between last time… and this time! Feel free to pop what you’ve been reading into the comments so I can catch up with your cool thing too – especially if you literally wrote them!


How MF DOOM Saved a Generation of Lost Hip-Hop Fans

DOOM was a worldbuilder, and he was committed to that practice as much as anyone else in music. For me, Mm..Food? was the gateway to an entire universe. His flawless collaborative album with producer Madlib, 2004’s Madvillainy, is an endless array of non sequiturs, multilayered lyrics with hidden meanings, and more of the villain persona, all spat over jazz-inspired production. “Fancy Clown” is the embodiment of the DOOM experience: a narrative about DOOM stealing the girlfriend of a guy named Viktor Vaughn. The catch: He rhymes from Vaughn’s POV. DOOM even released two albums under the alias Viktor Vaughn, a more down-to-earth version of the comic supervillian’s character. (Dr. Doom’s real name was Victor Von Doom.)

This article is just… so good. I didn’t know that much about DOOM before he passed away and my life is poorer for it. DOOM seems to have been the sort of hip hop nerd that I would’ve done well to know as a kid. He was brilliant, skilled, and nerdy on main with a bit that did not quit. I loved this piece so so much because he was someone my older siblings probably grew up listening to and now I do feel like I can understand part of their own journeys through hip hop a bit better.

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Link Lineup – January 2021

Friends it’s the first Link Lineup of 2021! Exciting! There’s so much going on and all of it is cool so let me share what’s been on my mind since the start of this stressful new year!


How “let people enjoy things” became a fight against criticism

Critics have been around for as long as we’ve had artists, and they’ve been the objects of disdain for just as long. Which makes sense, because no one enjoys getting criticized, and no one enjoys having someone tell them that the thing they love is bad. But it’s hard for me to remember any cultural moment quite like this one, with giant high-profile celebrities shouting down critics every week and fans accusing critics of stopping their fun just by writing reviews.

Has criticism suddenly gotten more harsh than it ever used to be? It doesn’t seem to have: Old-school critics are complaining that criticism has gotten more insipid than it ever was before. “Editors and critics belong to a profession with a duty of skepticism,” Christian Lorentzen wrote at Harpers in April. “Instead, we find a class of journalists drunk on the gush.” And Lorentzen’s complaint in and of itself is an old argument, because with criticism has always come people complaining that it isn’t critical enough.

Judging from the in-fighting among critics, criticism is neither especially meaner or especially nicer right now than it was 10 years ago. It’s not criticism that has changed. Instead, it’s the reception to criticism that has changed. And as far as I can tell, that’s because of a major shift in the way we talk about popular things.

I remember seeing a Taylor Swift review get 7 out of 10 in the review (a solid C, a passing grade where I’m from) and trigger waves of harassment towards the reviewer. When Wonder Woman 1984 came out and Black women reviewers talked about how bad the film was, they were harassed endlessly over a movie many of the people freaking out about… hadn’t seen at that point. People treat criticism of fandom – and more specifically, behaviors and bigotry in fandom like uh… racism– as an attack on fandom.

At this point, people hate criticism. They just want to enjoy things, but then they never stop to think that perhaps… critics enjoy crafting criticism. Like I don’t enjoy writing about racism specifically – especially as it’s increasingly racism against me that I get to unpack – but I do enjoy writing and thinking critically. I like looking at a problem and going “okay so this is like this because -“.

And yet, in fandom, everything but criticism falls under the umbrella of “let people like things”? I just think that there’s a difference between pushing back against genuinely poor and too harsh criticism and not wanting anyone to do any criticism because… people enjoy the thing being criticized.

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Link Lineup – End of 2020

Yes, this is a bit BTS heavy. Deal with it, darlings.


Welcome to the ‘omegaverse,’ the kinky erotica genre reimagining bodies

Speculative fiction around human mating cycles and otherworldly physiology date as far back as the mid-20th century, but in recent years, the omegaverse has spawned from writers in the Supernatural fandom. It’s since spread across the fannish world, appearing everywhere from the Overwatch fandom to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What makes A/B/O so interesting isn’t just its out-of-the-box premise but how it challenges our understanding of human bodies and physiology in order to create deep, lore-rich erotica narratives. Just as the sci-fi writers of the 20th and 19th century encouraged us to rethink the present by looking to the future, A/B/O reshapes our grasp on sexuality in everyday life.

Ana Valens’ insightful writing on sex, kink, gender, and different internet sub/cultures has been a true highlight of 2020 for me. I have learned so much from her work! Ana is also a delight to speak with and so when I saw her talking about Omegaverse and looking for people to talk to, y’all know I was there. I’ve spoken about it a ton, but Omegaverse has actually become one of my favorite tropes/settings in fandom – as a writer and reader – and so I was happy to be one of the sources tapped for this incredible primer! 

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Link Lineup – December

Winding down 2020 with a HEFTY list of links to stuff that I found interesting between November’s second collection and now! Enjoy!


Edward Said on Orientalism

I first read Edward Said’s Orientalism in a class I took for my history degree on British cultural artefacts and colonialism. Edward Said’s views on the ways that culture was used as a tool of imperialism have helped me understand the ways in which literature – and later, fandom – is used to shape a dominant cultural narrative (that does shift depending on where the culture is coming from). I’m fascinated by Said’s work and I think it continues to have stellar applications across a wide range of fields because he’s still right!

The Boundless Optimism of BTS

Even as the number-one pop group in the world, even with their hard work day in and day out, even with tens of millions of adoring fans redefining the concept of “adoring fans” by literally healing the planet in their name, these guys still suffer from impostor syndrome. RM explains, “I’ve heard that there’s this mask complex. Seventy percent of so-called successful people have this, mentally. It’s basically this: There’s this mask on my face. And these people are afraid that someone is going to take off this mask. We have those fears as well. But I said 70 percent, so I think it’s very natural. Sometimes it’s a condition to be successful. Humans are imperfect, and we have these flaws and defects. And one way to deal with all this pressure and weight is to admit the shadows.”

I really freaking love BTS. You may have missed that… somehow. In case you have, this fascinating and well put together Esquire feature serves as a stunning first look at the group – but also works if it’s your fortieth. I chose this segment of the feature because RM’s words about the “mask complex” and while they have the fear that someone will unmask them… They’re going to keep going and admit to their shadows/flaws. Unless you’ve spent the past 2-ish years living under a very large rock (or you don’t follow me on social media, which is… plausible) while I love BTS a unit, I have extra adoration for RM because of how he carries himself and the way he expresses his hopes and fears. This was, overall, an incredible feature that gave us tons of brilliant moments that will either spark your interest in BTS or rekindle the embers of your interest!

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Link Lineup – October 2020

Hey friends and assorted nerds, I come bearing some links to things that have held my attention since last time we did this! Go read, watch, or listen to them right away!


John Boyega: ‘I’m the only cast member whose experience of Star Wars was based on their race’

“I’m the only cast member who had their own unique experience of that franchise based on their race,” he says, holding my gaze. “Let’s just leave it like that. It makes you angry with a process like that. It makes you much more militant; it changes you. Because you realise, ‘I got given this opportunity but I’m in an industry that wasn’t even ready for me.’ Nobody else in the cast had people saying they were going to boycott the movie because [they were in it]. Nobody else had the uproar and death threats sent to their Instagram DMs and social media, saying, ‘Black this and black that and you shouldn’t be a Stormtrooper.’ Nobody else had that experience. But yet people are surprised that I’m this way. That’s my frustration.”

2020 has been a year where I have consistently been proven correct about things. Case in point? I knew that the Star Wars fandom’s unending racism absolutely was impacting how John moved throughout the world. I knew it was taking a toll on him across his time as Finn. And I mean, he confirmed it. He also talked about how antiblackness in the industry – from the people working around him and from casual oversights – left him essentially wounded. Star Wars should’ve been a positive and affirming nerd experience for John, but it really was not.

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Links I Liked – May

I don’t want to say that this will be a regular feature since I’m shit at regular features, but here are some links to cool and interesting things I’ve read or seen online this month!


Links I Liked

Brown bodies in white spaces: On meeting Riz Ahmed

The funny thing about writing about race is that my instinct is to always start off with an apology. Sorry, I’ll think, imagining readers clicking on the piece, sorry I’m going to make you uncomfortable.

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

As I’ve said before in my review of Empire of Shadows, I have a complicated relationship with SJM’s books. Some of her worldbuilding interests me, as do one or two of her characters, but her worlds and stories are so problematic and so white, cis, allo and straight that now I’m just waiting to read the last books of her series to say good bye to her writing completely.

A Response to Zetta Elliott’s “Minstrelsy is the New Black”

While I certainly can’t speak for every black writer and their intentions, but based on my own work and experiences in understanding and loving blackness in all its complexities, nothing about my work speaks to the Mantans of the American entertainment world. Truth-telling, providing context within the story, and humanizing black children is my main focus. A far cry from minstrelsy.

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