“A discipline overrun with whiteness”: #FSN2019 and Making a Statement – A Guest Post

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.

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Post PCA 2019 Analysis

Post PCA 2019 Analysis.png

Off-hand, I have a list of a few words that I think apply to my experience at PCA 2019

Community

Validation

Cannibalism

Expensive

First of all, while I was surprised that folks in fan-studies gave two shiny cents about me when I was at PCA back in 2017, that was nothing compared to this year.

Y’all. I had meetings (like two, but still). I have a mentor. People were happy to see me and wanted to see more of me as a person and as a fan-studies person. Hell, I went to a panel on k-pop (more on that in a minute) and when I was poking holes in the one panelist’s argument, there were several people in the audience who referred to me by name and like…I’m just gonna believe that they all knew me beforehand and didn’t read my nametag beforehand.

Then, the validation.

Generally, the reaction I get to my work on fandom racism and racism in media… isn’t great. If it’s not coming from my friends and followers, there’s a huge chance that it’ll be antagonistic and unkind. (Like I detail in this thread.)

Coming to PCA and having people not just excited for my work, but excited to see what else I’m planning on was amazing. People told me that they reference my work in their work or use it as an example of accessible academic writing (that was Kathy Larsen, in the Future of Fan Studies Publishing panel).

Multiple people told me that folks in their fandoms/fan spaces are like “oh, you’re into this thing? You should read what Stitch has said about it” in a positive way.

Like… it’s all very validating considering that outside of this space, folks… don’t like me very much because I talk about fandom and race.Read More »

Queer-Coding, Bad-Bat-Takes, And Why The Joker Isn’t That Important to Batman

Content Warning for stereotypes built from homophobia and transmisogyny that are present in the Joker’s portrayal across the years.


joker post header
The art in this header is Alex Ross’s 2015 piece “Mind if I Cut In

“In some ways, the Joker is a dark reflection of who Batman is. The loss of Bruce Wayne’s parents could’ve driven him to that edge, to where he could’ve become the Joker himself. But instead, he fought against that. Batman’s trying to bring order to the world. The Joker’s trying to bring chaos to the world.”

—–Dan Didio, Superheroes Decoded, Part One: “American Legends”

If the word “camp” is applied at all to the eighties Batman, it is a label for the Joker. This sly displacement is the cleverest method yet devised of preserving Bat-heterosexuality. The play that the texts regularly make with the concept of Batman and the Joker as mirror images now takes a new twist. The Joker is Batman’s “bad twin,” and part of that badness is, increasingly, an implied homosexuality.

—–Andy Medhurst, “Batman, Deviance, and Camp”

Despite what many comic book writers, editors, and some comic historians currently, the idea that the Joker serves as Batman’s darker “other half” is one that hinges on incredibly modern interpretations on the character that go hand in hand with ham-fisted attempts to squash them into these roles.

It’s also, not very accurate.

Didio’s comments in the first half of Superheroes Decoded are, at this point, the party line. They’re part of this attempt to reframe the Joker as necessary to the Batman’s mythos to the point where neither character can survive without the other, framing them as codependent and lost without one another. While I can see some validity in that statement where the Joker is concerned, I don’t see the point in making heroes that can’t exist without that one villain to torment them.

I especially don’t see the point in making Batman one of those heroes.Read More »

[Video] My Comic Book Girlfriend Has To Be a Redhead: Misogynoiristic Reactions to Racebending Iris West and Mary-Jane Watson

Abstract Recent adaptations of popular comic book series have taken the step of diversifying their original storylines by racebending (Gaston and Reid 2012) key characters – for example Iris West (played by Candice Patton) on DC Comics and The CW’s The Flash television series and Mary Jane Watson (rumored to be played by Zendaya) in […]

bib·li·o·file: Recent Work in Literary Studies

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Here’s everything we’re reading in my Monday night class from now until the end of the semester. Sadly, none of these books are available for free so all I can offer are (affiliate) links to the kindle version on Amazon which is what I’m using for class.

Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting  by Sianne Ngai

Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Posthumanities) by Timothy Morton

Forms: Whole, Rhythm, Hierarchy, Network by Caroline Levine

Slavery and the Culture of Taste by Simon Gikandi

The Limits of Critique by Rita Felski

Loving Literature: A Cultural History by Deidre Shauna Lynch

A bonus is the book I’m using for my second assignment and one that I never pass up the chance to make obnoxious noises about: Glen Weldon’s The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture.

Once I get my syllabi and books for my other two classes, I’ll put up posts for them. Right now though, I’m just really pleased with the reading list for this class!

“Holy Homosexual Batman”: A Reference List

Batman and Robin Boatride
Panel from Batman #13 (1942)

For my critical literary theory course during my first semester of grad school,  I did a final paper looking at applications of queer theory as it applies to textual and subtextual queer perceptions of Batman.

You know, because I just love a challenge and the fun of blending my fannish interests with my academic ones.

At the end of it all, I came up with “Holy Homosexual Batman”: Queering the Caped Crusader via Text and Subtext. It was almost thirty pages long and super in-depth to make up for the fact that my professor wasn’t a comic person and needed introduction to the genre’s history and culture.

It is, in a word, my baby.

I have so many plans for this paper that it’s ridiculous.

I mentioned from the start that I wanted to share my list of references for y’all to look at and purchase from if you’re interested in working out your own academic thoughts on queerness as related to Batman and Robin. So if you’re interested, continue on!

(Note that all of the links to Amazon are affiliate links so consider buying some books, y’all!)


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bib.li.o.file – 2/16/2016

This week we’re working on a ton of different stuff.

In my Hemispheric 1850s class, we’re looking at Nancy Prince and thinking about the creation of her own Archive as her narrative withholds more than it exposes.

Nancy Prince – A Narrative of the life and travels of Mrs. Nancy Prince

Carla Peterson – “Colored Tourists”: Nancy Prince, Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Ethnographic Writing, and the Question of Home

Sandra Gunning – Nancy Prince and the Politics of Mobility, Home, and Diasporic (Mis) Identification

In Transgressions, we’re technically done with the Marquis De Sade. We’re currently focused on theorists, many of whom talked about de Sade. This week we’re reading Georges Bataille and his thoughts on de Sade, eroticism, and boundaries. We’re also reading a little bit of Nick Mansfield’s Subjectivity and I’ve provided a bonus text in Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess because you can’t think about transgression without excess.

Bataille – The Use Value of de Sade

Bataille – Erotism: Death and Sensuality (We’re reading: – introduction, chapter 5, chapter 10, chapter 11, chapter two in part two)

Nick Mansfield – Subjectivity

Linda Williams – Film Bodies: Gender, Genre, and Excess

Lastly in Critical Literary Theory, we’re studying Deconstruction!

Jacques Derrida – Dissemination (Barbara Johnson’s 31 page introduction)

Derrida – Of Grammatology (we’re reading “That Dangerous Supplement”which is on page 141 of the book)

Terry Eagleton – Literary Theory: An Introduction (The chapter on Deconstruction.)