[Stitch Takes Notes] The cult structure of the American anti

Sometimes, I take notes on the academic work I’m studying or using for articles. Last time, I covered Slash/Drag. Today I’m tackling Samantha Aburime’s “The cult structure of the American anti”, a symposium piece published in a 2021 edition of Transformative Works and Cultures. Following editorial (not peer) review, Aburime’s work has become a dominant reference across fandoms and the “final word” on antis and anti fandom. As such, I feel as though I should analyze the piece and take notes about where it gets things right, where it gets things wrong, and what my reactions are to such a piece and its value to fan studies.

In the interest of full disclosure, Aburime has had me blocked on Twitter from before I knew of their existence and that has been a mutual block for at least a year. Despite that, I provide Aburime with the same amount of academic respect that they approach me/my work with.


Now, let’s start with the abstract:

The online-based group known as antis, which originated around 2016 in the United States, exhibit morality-based, cult-like behavior and perpetuate hate speech and censorship in online spaces.

First, there are multiple errors in the opening sentence. “Anti fandom” as we know it significantly predates 2016. On fandom wiki Fanlore, there’s documentation that refers to people labeling themselves as “antis” (or anti ____) in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom twenty years ago. Even in 2016, this would’ve been an incorrect statement to make if you were only using Tumblr fandoms because in 2012, the “anti Sterek” tag really kicked off alongside tags like “teen wolf fandom problems”, “anti scott mccall”, and “scott mccall defense squad” tags.

Which leads us to the second problem in the abstract… The way that Aburime positions antis or anti fandom as something that exists solely in United States fandoms or fandoms “infected” by “Western thinking”. (Which is in and of itself racist, I feel…)  

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[Stitch Takes Notes] Slash/Drag: Appropriation and Visibility in the Age of Hamilton

Today we’re doing some note-taking over Francesca Coppa’s “Slash/Drag: Appropriation and Visibility in the Age of Hamilton” in the 2018 book Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies.

when bucky barnes comes out with dark eyes and no memory, i think of myself. of how certain words make me fall back into the places i never want to return to. of how i can’t erase everything that’s been taught to me by the people who hurt me, but i’m trying. that love, above everything, helps me ground myself to the present so i’m not sent tumbling.

Coppa uses an opening quote from Tumblr user Inkskinned that really answers some unrelated thoughts and questions I’ve had about the violence people direct towards people who criticize fandom especially in the context of “comfort characters” – which tend to be white male presenting dudes in canon who are queered and, to an extent on top of that, “feminized”. Inkskinned clearly identifies with Bucky and his trauma is familiar and used to unpack and map their own trauma and responses to triggers left behind. So what happens when someone like Inkskinned – who is probably lovely, I do not know them and did not search them out at all as I did notes – sees someone talk critically (unpacking him or jabbing at him) about Bucky? Chances are… even if it’s privately, they’re not gonna have a great reaction because he has become their emotional support damaged white man.

Why slash? The question has been asked again and again, by journalists in sensation pieces, by scholars in academic articles, and by fans themselves in essays and convention panels and blog posts: why have women created this enormous archive of romantic and erotic stories between male characters from television and film? Why Kirk/Spock? Why Holmes/Watson (retroactively dubbed “Johnlock” in the age of portmanteau pairing names)? Why do we ship Dean/Castiel on Supernatural?

Anyway, moving on from that opening quote, Coppa starts by poking at the question/s asked of slash: Why? Immediately, the whiteness jumps out because in the “whys” are revealed some “why nots”.

Why not Sulu/Chekov? Why not Luke Cage/Danny Rand? Why not Scott McCall/Stiles (or another character if you don’t multi-ship your fandom bicycle)? Why is slash fandom preoccupied with white men for the most part? (This has shifted a bit in the years after Coppa’s chapter was published but a hefty amount of East Asian people – different diasporic communities whose homeland’s source media has become popular in fandom spaces – have spoken about how they feel about the way Western fandom understands masculinity/men outside of their narrow spaces.)

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Queer Baiting, Coding, Reading, and Representation: A Pint-Sized Primer

Queer4 Header 2.png

This is a pint-sized primer about the differences between queer representation, queer coding, queer reading, and queer baiting because I wanted to have something small to keep around and kind of… wave it at folks that want an easy way to know the difference.

This is literally the simplest I could make this (because I’ve got dense academic brain) and so it skims over a lot of crunchy academic writing to make its points and be as clear as possible.

If you want more in-depth texts or conversations about this, I personally love the late Alexander Doty’s work along with Harry Benshoff’s Monsters in the Closet, but there are a bunch more academics and whatnot writing about this in media fandom and related academic fields. I’d be happy to point y’all in the related directions.


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Stitch Takes Notes #1 – Kohnen Pages 19, 25-26

Stitch Takes Notes is an ongoing and flat out random feature now up on my website wherein I share the non-urban fantasy notes I take for various academic/academic-adjacent books I’m reading.


stitch takes notes

I’m a huge fan of Screening the Closet: Queer Representation, Visibility, and Race in American Film and Television, Melanie E. S. Kohnen’s book on whiteness and queer representation/visibility in Western media.

Everything about this books speaks to my own (more informal) work on race in fandom and I want to shake it at a bunch of people. I’m largely reading it for fun – as opposed to reading it because I need it immediately for a piece – and I’ve been taking notes on it and putting it into my context/the context of fan-studies in a totally sweet Batman notebook.

I’m not going to put all of my notes out there because then you’d probably wind up with half of the book quoted online because of how much of it I find valuable, but I wanted to put some of my notes up so that y’all can see the connections I’ve been making from the book.

So here are some notes and quotes from when I was going over pages 18-19 and page 25 of Kohnen’s brilliant book:Read More »