Fleeting Frustrations #13: Media Consumption As A Substitute For A Personality

This is so old. I don’t even remember when I finished the first draft. Anyway, it’s a rant and it reads like a rant. Sorry I can’t smooth down my edges this time.

One of the wildest aspects of White Feminism ™ in fandom, media/pop culture criticism, etc… is the way these White Feminists™ – who are not always white or women but are always in service of  feminism that privileges white women – refuse to acknowledge the difference between “I like this because it’s good” and “this is good because I like it”.

Too many people think that because they like something as a marginalized (usually white) person – an idol group, a movie, a pairing, a character – that that thing is automatically good, empowering, and feminist. They don’t engage with critical reviews of the work – in any sense – to get a sense of what they can bring to the table or what the thing does in general, not just for themselves as the consumer.

And if they dislike something? There’s nothing you can do to change their mind. It’s eternally Bad, Fucked Up, and the dreaded “Problematic” even if they’d only read a summary of the thing on Wikipedia or gotten their knowledge of a person secondhand from people who also hate the person. (Hello to my anti fandom!)

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Fleeting Frustrations #10 – But You’re From L.A., Amber

This morning I woke up to see that Amber Liu (formerly a part of SM’s f(x), a popular South Korean girl group) was trending on Twitter due to her apology for something that she’d said. The apology in question was for well… antiblackness. Turns out, that when Amber went on Just Kidding News – a satirical news show on YouTube – last week, she brought some internalized antiblackness along with her for the ride.

On the show, Amber was one of several people reacting to a video of a man in California, Steve Foster, responding with anger after being accosted by police officers because he was eating a sandwich on a train station’s platform. In the now private JKN video, Amber said that guy being accosted “just fucking deserved it” because police officers (automatically or inherently) deserved respect.

You can see the clip of her saying this below:

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Short and Salty #1: They’re All About The Whiteness

Normally, I keep my saltiest thoughts to twitter or my Dreamwidth account. It’s better for all of us.

However, this salty thought is part of a currently shelved follow-up to my What Fandom Racism Looks Like article on Beige Blank Slates and I figured… “Why Not”.

So, have at it, friends and folks:

Attraction is supposed to be subjective.

This subjectiveness, in fandom, is used to say that attraction and desire can’t be connected to or criticized for on the grounds of morals or politics as if Black people weren’t legally prohibited from marrying outside of our race until the 60s and as if people of color aren’t seen as inviable partners to most white people.

Sometimes, when I look at the fandom darlings that fandom loves – the dark/light haired go-to duos like Aziraphale/Crowley (Good Omens), Merlin/Arthur (Merlin), and Hux/Kylo (Star Wars) – I genuinely question what I’m seeing and how subjective attraction is.

Across multiple Western slash fandoms, when you look at what gets popular and what characters just get the fans a-thirsting one thing stands out to me about their attractiveness –

The most attractive/appealing thing about these guys – or the thing fandom actually finds integral to their adoration – really is their whiteness.

Even if they won’t say that.

Fleeting Frustrations 6.5: “We Can’t Have Anything, Can We?”

Fleeting Frustrations 6.5_ “We Can’t Have Anything, Can We_”.png

Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is the focus for the cover story for Vanity Fair’s Summer 2019 issue and readers were “blessed” with dual covers – one with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren and the other with Daisy Ridley’s Rey. Written by The Magicians’ author Lev Grossman and interspersed with photos from Annie Leibovitz, this massive article was the talk of the Twittersphere for days after its release.

Grossman’s Vanity Fair article is… alright. It doesn’t really focus on Finn, but I gave up on folks remembering that Finn was supposed to be the male hero of the franchise – and just as heroic as Rey – back when The Last Jedi came out.

In the article, there’s a particularly stunning photograph of John Boyega’s Finn and newcomer Naomi Ackie’s Jannah sitting astride a pair of orbaks – an equine adjacent species new to audiences. It’s an iconic photo as well because Jannah is only the third Black female character with dialogue in the franchise – and the first to be in a main trilogy – and this is the first time that the Star Wars franchise has had two Black characters interacting like this.

It’s something that clearly belongs to Finn and to Jannah –

So, of course, someone had to make it about Kylo Ren Ben Solo.

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Fleeting Frustrations #6: “At Least Kylo Never Lied To Rey”

Fleeting Frustrations #6_ _At Least Kylo Never Lied To Rey_.png

“I’m not a hero. I’m not Resistance. I’m a stormtrooper.”

That silenced her. He might as well have hit her across the face with the business end of a blaster.

“Like all of them, I was taken from a family I’ll never know,” he continued rapidly. “I was raised to do one thing. Trained to do one thing. To kill my enemy.” He felt something that should not have been there, that was not part of his training, well up in him. “But my first battle, I made a choice. I wasn’t going to kill for them. So I ran. As it happens, right into you. And you asked me if I was Resistance, and looked at me like no one ever had. So I said the first thing that came to mind that I thought would please you. I was ashamed of what I was. But I’m done with the First Order. I’m never going back.” Suddenly he found it hard to swallow, much less to speak. “Rey, come with me.”

– Foster, Alan Dean. The Force Awakens (Star Wars) (p. 222). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I know that this is a “Fleeting Frustrations” post which means that I should be able to get over the grievance I’m airing once it’s been aired, but let’s be real here: when have I ever let go of a single grievance in my life?

I haven’t yet and I won’t with this one.

In this rantypants installment of my grouchiest series, we’ll be talking about one of the Star Wars fandom’s most obvious signs of fandom racism: the idea that Finn’s biggest flaw to some folks in fandom is that he’s a liar… for not telling Rey that he was a Stormtrooper on the run mere moments after she’d beaten the crap out of him for thinking he was a thief.Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations #5: K-Pop Groups’ Hood Phases

fleeting frustrations #5 - hood phases from folks who've never been to the hood

I’m gonna be honest here: If the first thing I’d seen from BTS had been their super cringey, wannabe hood phase back when they’d first debuted, I probably wouldn’t be able to give a shit about the group now.

To this day, I still can’t make it through the group’s videos for their early singles “No More Dream” “We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2” and “N.O” without cracking up until I start wheezing.

And that’s before we get into group leader RM’s cringe-worthy and super appropriative hairstyles during the early days (like his pseudo-fro in the first two videos or the 3B/4A curls and dreads he appeared to be rocking pre-debut thanks to what I’m told was a perm). (Here’s a timeline of some of RM’s hair hits misfires EXCLUDING the curls – which are apparently the first image at this link.)

BTS hit the ground running as a faux-hood group. Their whole thing was like… setting them up as this socially conscious street gang. Everything about their look in 2013 was this manufactured look that showed what K-pop stylists and folks in the industry viewed as a path to proper hip hop.

Their look, their style, and their sound was pretty much what happens when you take an approach to hip-hop that sees Blackness and Black people as commodities to be transplanted onto and consumed by non-Black people.Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations #4: What’s the Deal With Reverse Harem Romances?

fleeting frustrations 4

There are only about three thousand books that come up when I search for “reverse harem” so let me start out by letting y’all know that I do get that it’s a small part of the overall genre and makes up a teeny tiny percentage of the books published.

But the point of my Fleeting Frustrations pieces is to air a grievance, and on this site: no grievance is too small, too petty, or too focused on a niche within a specific genre for me to air it like laundry on a line.Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations #3: When White Queer Icons Like Ezra Miller Fail Us

Seeing Ezra Miller’s face everywhere makes me feel some kind of way.

On one hand, I’m constantly charmed by Miller and I like that they’re a queer icon (who just apparently came out as non-binary). Their Playboy photos are pretty (so pretty) and I really do like knowing that one more performer in a superhero film is queer.

On the other hand, I’m always painfully aware of the fact thatnot only did Miller co-direct TheTruth According to Darren Wilson (a film intending to sympathize withand see the other side of events that led to Mike Brown’s senseless murder),but that it’s not a hard limit for many of the queer non-Black people that findout about it.

At the end of the day, it stings to realize that to many people, Miller’s queerness is seen as more important to talk about than the casual racism behind Miller working on a film that exists to humanize a racist murderer.

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Fleeting Frustrations # 2: Fan Studies, Like Fandom, Isn’t the Best About Race

Most, but not all, of these books were a product of my attending PCA 2017 and sweeping the book dealer’s room right before closing… This isn’t even all of my collection.

I am grateful to fan studies scholars for giving me a name for what I’d been doing before I ever knew that fan studies was a thing. I love fan studies as an academic discipline and I wish that it wasn’t seen as that slight a niche. Fandom is huge and fans are everywhere, so the fact that fan studies as we know it isn’t a bigger and more popular discipline – and that’s the fault of the general academic powers that be crawling slowly towards recognizing it as a wide-reaching discipline that can mesh with other academic avenues, I’d say – is ridiculous.

I could literally go on for ages talking about my favorite aspects of fan studies or the fan scholars that inspire my own work because there’s a lot to love about this discipline. However, this is the second installment of Fleeting Frustrations so let’s save the love-in for a later post. Right now, it’s time to air my biggest grievance with fan studies as a whole – but specifically the parts of fan studies that focus on the identity of fans and their favorite characters or ships.

Fan studies, despite frequently focusing on or having texts written by marginalized people, isn’t exactly great at intersectionality or recognizing that intersectional feminism is a must especially when your fan studies focus lands on gender and sexuality.

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Fleeting Frustrations #1: Heteronormativity in Urban Fantasy Revisited

Content warnings for cis- and hetero- centric worldbuilding.

Back in June 2016, I wrote a whole Urban Fantasy 101 piece on the heteronormativity present in much of the genre (and I am including contemporary paranormal romance in this wide umbrella). While I know way more queer urban fantasy writers – and stories – than I did back then, one thing that still stands out to me is the way that so many of the big ticket urban fantasy writers still don’t bother to include any meaningful forms of queer representation in their massive series.Read More »

Where Are Y’all Getting Your Characterization From? Finn Isn’t A Coward, Or Selfish, And He Doesn’t Need A Damn Redemption Arc.


I’m not Resistance. I’m not a hero. I’m a Stormtrooper. Like all of them, I was taken
from my family I’ll never know. And raised to do one thing.  In my first battle, I made a choice. I wasn’t going to kill for them. So I ran, right into you. You looked at me like no one ever had. I was ashamed of what I was. But, I’m done with the First Order. I’m never going back.

— Finn to Rey in Maz’s cantina in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I know that the Star Wars fandom – both the dudebro hubs and the supposedly feminist and progressive parts on Tumblr and Twitter – is racist as shit, but I still can’t believe the audacity of people calling Finn a coward and demanding he be killed off as like… a form of progressive protest on his or Rey’s behalf.

In her article “Star Wars: The Last Jedi Could Have Been Better If This Character Had Died” author Alessia Santoro goes above and beyond in order to “prove” that The Last Jedi would have been a better movie if only for one death – that of John Boyega’s Finn. She does so, of course, by completely crapping all over his character, problematizing his behavior and, wishing for his death because that’s the only possible way for him to matter to her.

Despite the fact that she – and many other members of the Star Wars fandom – claim that they really do like the character, there’s no bigger sign of disliking a character than by wanting them dead.Read More »

A Quick Quibble: Supposedly “Straightwashing” Okoye in Black Panther

A Quick Quibble_ Supposedly “Straightwashing” Okoye in Black Panther

In a (now deleted) tweet thread from April of this year, writer and artist Kate Leth went in on superhero media for the lack of queer representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The thread was fine and absolutely valid right up until the last tweet where she wrote that:

There were queer characters in Ragnarok and Black Panther whose scenes were cut. Okoye was awkwardly made straight with a plot that went nowhere. Loki exists in subtext. It’s bullshit, pardon my french, that we’re just supposed to go “oh yeah of course, because of money”

You know what this tweet shows me?

It shows me that Leth might not be able to tell Black women apart from one another and that she doesn’t see the value in a character who chooses love of country and her faith in justice over the love of her life (after he sets himself against their country).

It shows me that while Leth knows the basics about the characters and the film (the cut scene with Ayo flirting with Okoye and the Ayo/Aneka relationship in the World of Wakanda comics), she doesn’t know enough to recognize that Okoye and Ayo (or Aneka) aren’t the same characters.

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When White Villains Get Woobiefied: Kylo Ren Is Just A Monster In A Mask

Notes: The following post will mention childhood abuse (and who gets to have that kind of trauma respected/made up for them to give them weight and validate their actions) and spoilers from the film and novelization versions of The Last Jedi as well as mild spoilers for Last Shot. Images come from StarWarsScreenCaps.Com.

More care has gone into fabricating a sobbing wreck of a backstory for Kylo Ren where he’s been dealing with childhood abuse (that is supposed to explain why he’s somehow the most interesting/compelling character of the sequel trilogy) than has gone into showing any empathy or interest in analyzing the one character in the sequel trilogy who does have that backstory, but gets none of the empathy: Finn.

Today in “that’s literally not canon”, I’m going to be picking apart an article from The Mary Sue about how Kylo Ren’s story is about childhood abuse; one that says things like:

“Rey and Kylo relate to one another about their childhoods, which included parental abandonment and neglect, and abuse, as well as their Force abilities.”

First off:

As far as I know, there’s nothing that shows that Ben’s childhood included parental abandonment and neglect. Nothing. Nothing across two movies. Leia sending her Force Sensitive son (who was in late teens/early adulthood) to train with her Force Sensitive brother is not neglect.

We currently have ZERO canon that shows what his childhood was like, but we know that the whole point of the Ben-to-Kylo Ren transformation was that it came out of nowhere and that nothing in Leia’s relationship with her son prepared her for his full leap not just to the dark side, but to full on fascism.

The most we can say with confidence about Ben before he was Kylo, is that he was radicalized by Snoke who preyed on his insecurities at some point most likely when he was a teenager.

But we don’t know anything about what Snoke did – that presence probing Leia’s uterus back in that Chuck Wendig book does not count — but I suspect we never will considering his abrupt death in The Last Jedi.Read More »

Queer Coded Villains Aren’t That Awesome

Queer Coded Villains Aren’t That Awesome.png
AKA “Hux and Kylo aren’t the queer coded villains you’re looking for”

I woke up  on MLK Day swearing that I’d dreamt up a tumblr post where someone quoted Martin Luther King Jr. in order to defend Hux, Kylo Ren, and the First Order. When I went through my archives, not only did I find out that the post was real, but I then stumbled back over a post I made in response to one arguing that Star Wars’ Hux was coded as queer and that said queer-coding was a good thing.

And I mean –

A fair amount of people not only read Kylo Ren and Hux as queer-coded within their canon, but:

  1. Queer coded villains are actually kind of shitty and they definitely shouldn’t be something to aspire to or admire, and
  2. I don’t know how they leap to that conclusion of Hux and Kylo as queer coded in the first place.

For one thing, there’s a difference between a character – especially a villain – being coded as queer in their canon (typically via stereotypes about femininity/masculinity, style of dress, speech, interactions with other characters) and a queer fan deciding to read a character as queer because they see themselves in the character.

If they’re actually present in canon, queer coded villains typically come from a place of homophobia – conscious or otherwise. They come from a fear of supposedly non-normative genders and sexualities and from society straight up repurposing queerness (or stereotypes about queerness) as a go-to for “spooky and scary” because well –

Heterocentrism kind of needs to portray queerness as a dangerous avenue to stroll down.Read More »

When will it finally be an acceptable time to talk about gun violence?

Today, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida (the school I did my student teaching in back in the beginning of 2015), a young man with access to an AR-15 and a ton of ammo shot multiple people.

So far, seventeen people have died.

Children have died.

Children have fucking died.

And yet, it’s still somehow not the right time for the US Government to do something about the gun violence that plagues our country and kills children in the safest of spaces.

And the thing that gets me is that it’s somehow never the right time to talk about this violence or to how we can do something about it.Read More »