Rings of Power Coverage Round Up

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).


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Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On Queerbaiting, Betrayal, and the Quest for Better Representation

I know “betrayal” is a strong word, but there’s no other term that captures the full effect of what queer fans feel as a result of queerbaiting. For many queer fans, queerbaiting removes the confidence they had that the media they were watching was made with them fully in mind. It reinforces that to studios (and some celebrities), queer fans are walking rainbow wallets to be discarded once empty. Part of why queer fans have gravitated to shows like Taika Waititi’s Our Flag Means Death or The CW’s Batwoman is because these shows don’t hold back the “good stuff.” In these series, queerness – especially as seen from characters and people of color – isn’t something we get hints of before it’s snatched from us. It’s part of the narrative and made stronger for it.

On Queerbaiting, Betrayal, and the Quest for Better Representation

I know people don’t always agree on what queerbaiting is or looks like. I get yelled at once or twice a year for disagreeing when I see people talking about queerbaiting in a fandom — even when I use coded names and don’t specify the fandom. There are thing I think are queerbaiting that’d get me labeled as Terminally Online TM and “reaching”. It’s not super easy to say “this is queerbaiting” sometimes, but that’s something that I’ve since learned… doesn’t matter? Because it’s not about our feelings as we watch other queer fans be like “wait but we’ve been waiting for this fir six years and it didn’t happen??”

Queerbaiting is one of those fandom things I’ve realized is like… confusing to people who aren’t affected or don’t see it (for whatever reason) but is frequently devastating to the people who put their time and energy into it. And yes it took me ages, but I learn nothing when I’m being yelled at by random people on the internet, so in moments of peace I sat, researched, and learned.

Also, semi-related but when Ruby Rose was cast as Batwoman Kate Kane initially, one of the wildest things was watching people (other queer people) say that Ruby Rose was queerbaiting. Ruby Rose, mind you, is gay as hell and has been from before I knew she existed. How could Ruby Rose, a real out queer person, queerbait?

To this day I don’t know the answer for that one.

Anyway, go share on twitter if you want! Please read the piece for sure!

Link Catch Up

Here are four things I did that went up in the past month (including today!). Thanks for reading and sorry for not having separate posts for each one!


On Tom Hiddleston & Zawe Ashton, Misogynoir, and Why Fandom Should Stop Punishing Black Women

Sure, if you press these “fans” on the reasons behind their bad behavior, few will say outright that jealousy fuels them. They won’t say that they believed they really had a shot with the celebrity or that they’re mad that the opportunity is no longer open to them. Instead, they claim that the potential partner isn’t good for the celebrity, that they’re using the celebrity, or that they’re ugly. They’re not willing to say that they think the celebrity should be with them or, in the case of a partner that’s a woman of color, a white woman they can layer themselves and their desires onto almost like a reader insert.

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Stitch @ Teen Vogue: Caleb McLaughlin Is a Perpetual Student

In exciting news, my biggest piece so far is out in Teen Vogue! I interviewed Stranger Things’ Caleb McLaughlin (he’s a delight, a dream to interview, a really cool guy) and did a profile on him for Teen Vogue’s New Hollywood package. It’s a COVER STORY!

You can also share this little round-up piece stemming from Caleb’s love of Euphoria and that was put together by my editor Claire and me!

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On the Lie of “Let People Like Things”

Back in 2014, webcomic creator and artist Adam Ellis posted an installment of a then-ongoing webcomic titled “Shhh” showing a guy fed up with his friend mocking his interest in sports. He pinches his friend’s mouth shut and says, “Shhh. Let people enjoy things.” Those two panels went on to become widely used as “reaction images” across the internet, shaping the way that we talk to people about what we like, especially when it comes to fandom. While the sentiment might make sense in a specific situation, the net effect isn’t great.

The context of Ellis’ comic gets lost when it’s divorced from the first panel. Instead of being about a guy tired of his friend putting down the thing he likes, it’s now about shutting down everyone who has a critical opinion. Because if you dislike something, no matter how or where you do it, that’s positioned as the same thing as pushing into someone else’s space to shut them down or make them feel bad about what they like. It’s positioned as an attack, which means that things like horrific backlash for speaking about things like… criticism of fandom being good for fandom? That’s not harassment. To them, it’s self defense.

On the Lie of “Let People Like Things”

There’s this great meme featuring a panel from The Simpsons where there’s a pamphlet that says “So you’ve decided to internalize any general critique of art you enjoy as a personal slight”. (You can see the meme below and please check out Sasha Devlin’s thread because it sure is relevant thread on what Romancelandia is going through on Twitter.)

I cannot stand “Let People Like Things” culture because of the way the people screeching that don’t offer respect to other people who like different things or who offer measured critique. They don’t let other people like things or critique them because everything is about their thing and them as people and so if they’re taking things personally, they’re gonna make sure you do too. Because they’re gonna go after you personally.

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Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling’s Transmisogyny, and What We Owe Each Other

This isn’t a new conversation, but Return to Hogwarts and responses from fans past and present on social media invite us to revisit the question: Is it possible to separate the art from the artist?

The answer, of course, is complicated and nuanced. Except for the moments when it’s pretty straightforward. The idea that we can separate the art from the artist hinges on a form of privilege and a misunderstanding of how creators can put themselves and their beliefs into their work. French philosopher Roland Barthes’ essay “Death of the Author” is used as a way to explain that it’s “just art” and can be consumed without any input from the creator, making the creator someone whose shouting doesn’t impact the narrative or your understanding of it. Unfortunately, when it comes to bigotry, that’s not necessarily an approach that works.

On Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling’s Transmisogyny, and What We Owe Each Other

In grad school, there were a lot of books I read for my degree that were by people I would disagree with deeply or who were open and avowed bigots. The Marquis de Sade, who featured heavily in my class on transgressive literature, was a sex pest and pervert (negative). Philosopher Heidegger, who we had to learn about in literary theory because he… is apparently influential to it and influenced so many others – he did the whole “notion of ‘being'” stuff, was a whole ass Nazi. Lovecraft was a racist weenie weirdo. Some of the comic writers I did my thesis work on… were really shitty.

Rowling is a TERF. She’s claimed that title. She acts like one. She breaks bread with many.

Awful people often make things that are so important to us as readers and fans. Harry Potter is one of the most important thing in many people’s lives. It got them through hell.

How do you break free from that? How do you leave that fandom behind you or try to make it better? What do we even owe each other as fans?

I try to answer those questions in the first Fan Service installment of 2022… It was TOUGH

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: Why Horror Fans Love Being Scared

However, the majority of horror media does not inspire violence. Fans of graphic violence and gore aren’t generally driven to commit harm on any level, much less the racist violence that The Birth of a Nation committed. Liking horror at any level doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a bad person or that you secretly want to make your own Human Centipede to see if it’ll work for you. It simply means that you probably just enjoy the thrill of being scared senseless and witnessing fictional extremes of human behavior.

Why else do horror fans enjoy paying to be frightened? Horror legend Junji Ito, creator of long lasting horror manga staples like Tomie and the recently released Sensor, explains that the phrase “forbidden fruit is the sweetest” comes to mind.

Why Horror Fans Love Being Scared

I love horror even though I am one of the biggest weenies out there. I love it so much that from day one I was like “okay so if Fan Service makes it to October, we’re doing a Halloween column”… and here we are.

Across October, BTS Nieceling and I were supposed to watch at least one horror movie a day. I think we did… six. While I’m a faithful livetweeter of AMC’s History of Horror and get that in every week so far, the niece and I quickly realized that we want vastly different things from horror… and that we really are too chicken to watch these movies together.

However, I really freaking love scary things. I love gore, I love mess, I love madness – especially when reclaimed and reinvented by people who have that thrust upon them because of mental illness. I love being scared by things that probably can’t hurt me.

I’ve talked regularly about my interests in horror. I’ve done rec lists, explored what it means to be a “monstrous” POC and talked about the impact Candyman had on me (short answer… it was thrilling and traumatizing), and I keep trying to get spooky in my own writing.

I studied romanticism and gothic horror in college (and for fun, as I am a nerd) and of course, if you remember my Crimson Peak thing… well I had a Crimson Peak thing. (I own literally every published piece of material for that film actually. I’m obsessed. It’s brilliant!)

Horror is so cool and has so much value. I also love (more hardcore) horror fans! They’re some of the coolest people out there and they seem to have nerves and stomachs of steel!! Shout out to my sister for absolutely traumatizing me that time we watched Dog Soldiers together when I was a tadpole!

Anyway, keep an eye out for a special bonus for this column going out later today… the full, unedited interview with legendary creator Junji Ito. It’s going to be amazing!

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On “Dark Fic,” Morality, and Why Critical Thinking Is Vital

As Popova points out, what “dark fic” is ultimately depends on individual reader and creator interpretations of the trope or pairing. This, along with the intensity of the dark content and what it’s used for in the story, leads to people forming personal catalogs of dark content on main, works they enjoy and ones they very much don’t. Across fandoms and age groups within fandoms, two people may have vastly different understandings of what dark fic looks like and what kind of dark fic they’re okay with consuming and creating.

One person might view Real Person Fiction itself as “dark fic,” because it crosses established personal boundaries for the relationships we have with celebrities and ones they have with each other. Another one might only count RPF that uses extreme elements: for example, an alternate universe that places characters from an idol group in the universe of The Purge and has them enact horrific violence against each other. Even Omegaverse, my favorite trope/genre in fandom ever, can be considered dark fic by some people, because it often serves up gender/bio essentialist worldbuilding wrapped around some werewolf-y characters getting intimate.

On “Dark Fic,” Morality, and Why Critical Thinking Is Vital

First of all, major thanks to Dr. Milena Popova, author of  Dubcon: Fanfiction, Power, and Sexual Consent, and the brilliant Arsenic Jade for speaking with me for this piece and broadening my horizons.

I’ve wanted to talk about the concept of “dark fic” – which my expert fans agree is one of those unhelpfully broad fandom terms that says everything but means… less than you’d think – for a hot minute now. For starters, y’all know I don’t actually like fandom terms that are hard to define because at the end of the day we’re all sitting here like “okay but what actually are you trying to say here” and “dark fic” is no different.

Especially when it comes to not uh… making liking or hating it your personality. Both things are extremely embarrassing for me to see because I don’t think that they’re healthy approaches to content because the positioning alone (interested/hating) isn’t enough to give you a good grasp of a person especially when you consider that one person’s dark and upsetting content is… someone else’s Tuesday afternoon.

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Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On Nicki Minaj, the Barbz, and When Stans Prepare for Battle

Fans can react in concerning ways when their celebrity favorites screw up or misspeak in ways that hurt fans. It’s as if the attachment to a particular celebrity unlocks a desire to do whatever possible to maintain that celeb’s power and positive press. Even if the celebrity has been accused of actual crimes, even if we have proof of them doing something inexcusable, their stans will rally in order to protect them from criticism and accountability.

Enter: Nicki Minaj and the hold she has on her fans, known as Barbz. Not only do a subset of fans feel personal responsibility to promote her, but she herself has actively mobilized them over the years against people that she is in conflict with, on scales both large and small.

On Nicki Minaj, the Barbz, and When Stans Prepare for Battle

Once again, I forgot to post this when it went up uh… two weeks ago.

Nicki Minaj is just… a really good example of what happens when celebs actively make the choice to hurt people. She has millions of dollars, a fanbase that loves her, and some level of talent. And what has she spent a lot of 2021 doing? Antagonizing critics, harassing the woman her husband harmed when she was a teenager, and beefing publicly with other celebrities and even just random social media users. Like what got into Nicki’s head to make her think defending former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson’s blackfishing and attacking actual Black woman Leigh Anne Pinnock for calling it out was in any way necessary?

If I ever reach some sort of financial success and you see me out here fighting with people on social media – especially if I’m dead wrong – understand that something has gone horribly wrong.

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: What Do You Do When Your Fave Screws Up?

There’s no such thing as an “unproblematic fave.” People — and the things that we create — are informed by the world around us, and we can be exposed to some pretty problematic environments that are hard to move away from. And if people, especially ones we admire, are going to continue making both positive and negative choices, then what actually matters in fandom isn’t finding some mythical angel celebrity who never does anything wrong. Rather, it’s unpacking our own responses. What do we do with the realization that someone responsible for our fandom happiness in some capacity has been careless, or made a mistake, or been intentionally cruel or predatory?


What Do You Do When Your Fave Screws Up?

A) I forgot to link to this article last week when it went up! My bad! Things have been very busy!

B) As with the majority of my work, this pulls from experiences I’ve had within fandom and how I had to fight off the knee-jerk response to go “no that person couldn’t have done that”. I mention it in the piece (and have mentioned it elsewhere, I’m sure) but I used to be a huge BIGBANG fan. My bias wrecker was the rapper TOP. My bias… was Seungri. My nieces and I listened to his solo stuff regularly and we thought he seemed cool… until I started seeing threads on Twitter about the Burning Sun nightclub scandal and the extent that he was… very much not cool.

Instantly, I cut him off. I took the BIGBANG songs out of my playlists, deleted his solo songs from my phone, and resolved to never say a nice thing about him again – a thing made that much easier by the knowledge of the things he’s rumored and confirmed to have done. We don’t speak his name in our house and he’s basically dead to us.

But that sort of merciless pruning isn’t the norm. We link so much of ourselves to the celebrities that we love that sometimes, when our favorite public figures are accused of something minor to majorly awful, we look for reasons to keep on moving. We look for excuses to explain away the minor-to-major bad thing our person did. Sometimes, as seen in multiple fandoms and especially in the case of Seungri and his still-active fanbase, we hurt others over the situation rather than acknowledging the harm done by this public figure.

But we don’t have to. We can see when our favorites do bad things – whatever they are – and decide on our own how we’re going to handle it without defending them or hurting someone else in their name.

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: Tim Drake Is the 1st Canonically Queer Robin & Fandom Got Us Here

Outside of richly, weirdly romantic superhero novels like Devin Grayson’s Inheritance, Weldon is right. The visual nature of superhero comics leads to queer readings in a way that prose often won’t. Prose, up front, often rejects the interpretations that fans have put together. There’s less wiggle room for fans to interpret a lingering gaze or the nearness of two characters or the oft-used Pieta pose as queer when the words on the page are explicitly saying otherwise. As a result, fans have largely had to make do with what they’re given and interpret these moments queerly, playing with characters in their fanworks that largely weren’t “confirmed” to be queer by the powers that be… until recently.

Tim Drake Is the 1st Canonically Queer Robin & Fandom Got Us Here

This is the nicest thing I have said about DC in my entire life and… they deserve it. I was a diehard DC fan from about 2009 to 2016 (my peak was 2012-13 in terms of content) and the whole time I was surrounded by other queer fans who just really loved these characters a lot and wanted the representation that came from seeing your favorite character be just like you. I am still friends with my core group of DC fandom friends and it’s been over a decade of growing, writing, and shipping together. I’m considering dusting off my old fics just for those babes. That’s how real it is.

Anyway; so when I saw “Sum of Our Parts” in Batman: Urban Legends and realized that Tim Drake, one of the Robins I queered (yes, I did that for them all, shush) was getting a queer canon? I just knew I had to write about not just him, but about the Big Two’s queer superhero game. This piece is heavy on DC because that was my main fandom for a huge portion of my life, but there are Marvel references and a quote from Danny Lore, a creator I adore. I think that it’s important to

And of course: there are indie comics with queer superheroes, like The Pride! And those comics exist too because queer fans didn’t see themselves in the mainstream superhero comics! I didn’t cover indie superhero comics for this because the focus was the fandoms, but that’s on me! I’m slowly returning to my roots as a comics fandom loudmouth though, so I will make up for it!

Please share the link to the article with anyone you think would be interested in it and share on Twitter if you can! Thanks!

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On RPF and Why People Love to Write Stories About Public Figures

The reasons for creating and consuming RPF vary from person to person, and they change over time. Why I read RPF as tweenager obsessed with the cast of Lord of the Rings and why I read (and occasionally write) it now are vastly different experiences. As with many other fandoms, content creators and consumers bring different aspects of themselves to the RPF table and there’s no “one size fits all” approach to RPF as a whole. Some people write and read stories about their favorite celebrities in situations that mimic their real lives, like the behind-the-scenes moments of a film or set during the afterparty of an awards show. Many others take these celebrities out of their world entirely, writing them in epic fantasy stories or dropping them into college campuses. Just as the reasons behind creating and consuming RPF differ depending on the needs and wants of the fan, so do the settings that fans and fan-creators gravitate towards.

On RPF and Why People Love to Write Stories About Public Figures

I’m nosy and easily attached to celebrities. As a result, the second I realized that people beyond tabloid writers made up stories about celebrities I saw on television or in movies, I was in. When I was a tadpole in fandom, I started with Lord of the Rings RPF. I wanted to brush Orlando Bloom’s hair and then I found people online with more… prurient interests in that beautiful man. In high school, I read literally everything realm_of_ylith wrote (and wow was she responsible for… so much of my early “so hip hop seems kinda queer” thoughts thanks to her one Eminem story).

I have a lot of thoughts about RPF. Honestly, you’re all lucky that it took me… seven and a half months before I whipped out the RPF column because the RPF stuff is… adjacent to my primary fandom. The thing that actually drives me a ton… It’s my actual passive ability, being super interested in celebrities. I don’t care too much for rumors, “tea”, and other forms of gossip these days because I don’t want to know too much, but hand me a meaty fic or a bunch of YouTube videos about the celeb’s interactions with their friends and I’m set for a good while.

What’s been interesting about writing this article is thinking about myself in relation to RPF – as a creator, not as an object (as I’m like… a non-celebrity so anyone writing RPF about me instead of just… asking me out, needs to fix that.) RPF is kind of like… this thing I’ve always been into but only people who’ve known me for a very long time seem to remember me talking about it? Or clock that I still do clearly talk about and follow creators/shippers in different fandoms. I’m aware of the complications behind RPF – especially as it comes to Stan Twitter now that I’m getting to speak with celebrities – and that’s definitely been fun to navigate. (But also stressful and I have scrapped work so I was doing for myself just so, if I ever got to interview the celeb, I didn’t have to feel Anxiety.)

But then on top of that, a lot of my friends in fandom now, are RPF writers who’ve taken great pains to get their best work out and show the celebrity Everything I’ve thought about RPF and my relationship to it, I’m able to do because of the generations of writers and artists who’ve come before me and whose work and tweets are right there. There are iffy things to be sure when it comes to RPF, but for me… I do take it on a case by case basis because the fandoms aren’t the same and neither are the fans.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the next column I do and I hope y’all are too!

Heart to Heart Premiere Event

It was such a delight to host the Q&A for this event and I loved speaking with Fern, IR, and Lilah about their amazing pilot for Heart to Heart and what the future for the shorts will (hopefully) bring.

Heart to Heart is genuinely one of the funniest things I’ve seen in my entire life and it’s made with love from people who truly get what it means to want to be seen. It’s incredibly charming, super witty, and has probably my favorite trope outside of Accidental Baby Acquisition.

I also, aside from one brief (and hopefully edited out moment) where I forgot my mic was muted, leveled up as a person who hosts things! Which is exciting! Let me host more things and interview more cool people please!

Head on over to Eventbrite to register for the FREE event for the weekend of August 20th!!

And of course, share widely! It’s a great pilot and David Tennant is used to FULL fantastic effect here. Everyone needs to check Heart to Heart out and then hype it up so we can get MORE OF IT!!