Revisiting Escapism: Fandom Is Far More Than Just A Head-Empty Hobby

When my editor Claire approached me to start putting together what is now Fan Service, my column on fandom for Teen Vogue early in January 2021, I already had an idea in mind for the first column.

Read More »

What Fandom Racism Looks Like: “Then Make Your Own and Stop Complaining”

A friend sent me a Reddit post in the r/FanFiction subreddit made by a Black fan venting (it’s literally tagged as such) about how it feels for her to read fan fiction while Black and essentially looking for support. Fandom being fandom – aka “racist as hell” – the most highly upvoted comments in the sub on her comment are from people insulting her, insisting that she’s an entitled “Black American” for venting, and complaining about “wokeness” in fandom (and some that even wind up getting in digs at people like myself apparently leading the charge).

A common thread across many of the comments? They’re not just telling the OP to “make your own” – especially in the case of Reader Inserts, but they’re also assuming she doesn’t contribute anything to fandom at all in the first place. If she’s “just” complaining without contributing – even though she says she’s a writer and has a clear history of engaging on the sub and other parts of reddit as a writer -, then it’s not her place to complain.

Read More »

(I Wish It Wasn’t) Applied To Fandom: Anti Racist Moderation as Trauma Work

Today in “yeah that’s not what that means in fandom” we have… “trauma work”.

I first saw this crop up either in 2019 or 2020 where the response to “perhaps eventually there should be some kind of anti racist policy for the AO3 that would lead to overtly racist works/creators being yeeted from the platform – even temporarily” from an increasing number of people was to claim that moderating racist work was actually “trauma work” and more harmful for fans of color than… the initial issue of unchecked racist work in these spaces. There was a tumblr post about it and everything that picked up steam back then, and then 2/3rds of the way through September, there were several threads spiraled off a tweet doing that again (you can find a roundup of all of that here at Naye’s Dreamwidth).

Here’s the thing… that’s not exactly what trauma work is.

Read More »

Meme-ing For a Reason #13: Racists in Fandom Shouldn’t Get To Run The Show

Captions:

Image A: The “Don’t make me tap the sign” meme with bottom text that reads: “Declaring that the real problem with how we talk about racism is “angry” POC and not racists harming and harassing them is… racist. Bitch.”

Image B: The “Don’t make me tap the sign” mtoeme with bottom text that reads: “If you’re angrier at POC in any fandom for being “mean” – cussing, snarking, etc. – when speaking about racism in fandom than you are at racists for BEING RACIST IN FANDOM… you’re a fucking racist.


Why do racists keep getting to define the rules of engagement? Why do they get to position themselves as neutral and unbiased, when they’re clearly biased in favor of white supremacy in a given space? Why is it that racists get to declare POC “too angry” to listen to and have people listen to them instead… As they angrily insult the “too mean” POC simply asking people to stop being less racist. Do people think this isn’t their entire goal? To make listening to anti racists/stopping racism in any space or capacity too hard or scary to do.

It’s wild that we have to be nice to racists… or else they won’t listen to us? Because kindness is so important to them.

Apparently.

Except… have you ever noticed that the people who insist that conversations about racism just have to be done at their tone and in a way that they’ve previously signed off… are some of the nastiest assholes on the internet?

Read More »

Fandom Misogynoir Bingo Card

It’s been a while since we had a fandom racism bingo card. Last time, it was my partially tongue-in-cheek one about the fandoms for Korean pop and hip hop with a heavy tilt towards cultural appropriation and antiblackness. This time, like it says on the label, it’s about misogynoir in fandom.

As always, I do look towards my fannish past with this, and I recommend people learn their fandom history about the nature of bingo cards to deliver understanding of/clown on tough topics… like this one about racism in the immediate aftermath of racefail 09. It’s not an inherently “anti” thing unless you’re one of the extremely fandom-minded individuals that believes criticism of fandom at any any level or with any sharpness is automatically “anti fandom” in action and if you think that… well.

Anyway, one statement that lives in my mind on the regular comes from a speech Malcolm X gave in 1962 at Ronald Stokes’ funeral where he said that

“The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.”

Fandom, especially when it comes to antiblackness, is not exempt from the issues that plague the wider world.

In fandom, misogynoir is accepted as a thing people do and it always has been acceptable in fandom at large regardless of how much people claim fandom as a space for women. Despite the perception that queer/women’s fandom is super progressive, it’s become increasingly clear to Black fans in particular that that’s far from the case. Misogynoir – aimed at Black fans, celebrities, and characters – is an acceptable norm in fandom and something that isn’t just defended, but that has become a bonding activity on a level that even sees other Black people partaking in it to build and maintain community bonds, not just non-Black people.

Hot on the heels of Candice Patton and other Black CW superhero actresses talking about the misogynoir they experience from fandom and behind the scenes of their respective shows is… me talking once again about misogynoir: a form of anti fandom that no one but Black women/femmes seems capable of clocking or interested in stopping.

NOW BEFORE WE GET INTO THE EXPLANATIONS, PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU’RE SENSITIVE AND NEED PEOPLE TO BE NICE WHEN COMPLAINING ABOUT RACISM THEY SEE AND EXPERIENCE, THIS IS NOT THE POST FOR YOU.

Read More »

What Fandom Racism Looks Like: “ACAB includes Fandom Police and Antis”

Content Notes: descriptions of police brutality and violence from law enforcement that includes sexual violence and violence against vulnerable people like children. Screenshots that mention harassment that include racism, threats, harassers urging people to self harm, and doxxing.

I also swear a lot and in a way that can be read as “at” the people who pull the nonsense I’m talking about.


Genuinely, I can hardly think of a clearer example of what fandom brain rot does to a person than the repeated insistence across multiple fandoms that ACAB – “All Cops Are Bastards” – somehow includes people on the internet who are critical of fandom at any level including just… being critical of racism in fandom and media in public.

The thing is that yes, ACAB as a term existed well before the horrific events of Summer 2020, the time period when lots of people on your social media feeds decided to put the acronym in their bios and display names for the first time… But it has never revolved around anything other than rejecting the violence that law enforcement/policing does as a system.

As Victoria Gagliardo-Silver wrote in her op-ed “What I mean when I say I want to abolish the police“:

Something is very, very wrong in American police culture. This is why the saying “ACAB” — or “All cops are b*ds” — has become a popular rallying cry. It doesn’t actually mean every single cop is a bad cop, just like saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t mean white lives don’t. “ACAB” means every single police officer is complicit in a system that actively devalues the lives of people of color. Bad cops are encouraged in their harm by the silence of the ones who see themselves as “good.”

Holding one police officer accountable every time a black person is killed by police is not enough. The issue isn’t “a few bad apples”; it’s a tree that is rotting from the inside out, spreading its poison.

ACAB serves as a punchy shorthand referring to the way that there can’t be such a thing as “good cops” in a field fueled by violence including fatal antiblackness, sexual violence, theft, bigotry beyond all of that, and just… an entitlement to other people’s lives in literal cases.

I understand that with this somewhat valid fear of random people harassing others over fandom – a thing that happens no matter what you’re into – it is tempting to not just accuse people of policing your fandom experience… but to compare them to the real police.

“Fandom police” as a term has been around for ages too… but it’s the way it’s being used now to refer to fans as actual cops that’s literally the problem.

Read More »

[Thread Collection] What Racist Fandom Discourse Accounts Are Doing (3/15/2021)

Originally posted here.


Guess what racist fandom discourse accounts (and of course, their tokens of color) do to conversations about racism in fandom~

(literally it’s the same thing. they even use the same language – like woke as a pejorative, panic about censorship, Black people as villains – wow)

I know folks won’t “get” it but there are several points from 2017 to now where people across “transformative” fandom have tilted the needle HARD towards alt right ideology and language in the name of defending fandom specifically from BIPOC and folks just write it off as drama

But it’s not drama.

It’s racists manipulating marginalized white people’s fear of being harmed/silenced for their marginalization (which HAS happened) in order to turn them against BIPOC in fandom who are anti-racism to the point of inspiring long-term harassment campaigns.

Over A Year After the OTW/AO3’s Statement of Solidarity: Where Are We With That Anti Racism?

It’s been over a year (this piece was originally supposed to go up in June 2021) since the Organization of Transformative Works’ Board of Directors, Chairs, and Leads released a statement of some solidarity with fans of color – particularly Black fans – in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the worldwide protests against antiblackness, police brutality, and white supremacy that shifted the world on its axis back in 2020.

The OTW – and its “child”, the Archive of Our Own – has yet to make any meaningful inroads into making their segment of fandom accessible, welcoming, and safe for fans of color. In fact, racism done in the name of the Archive of Our Own specifically has increased to some extent with fans of color being subject to increased attacks including shunning, slander, and direct attacks on their fandom and offline reputations for going “perhaps this space could be… less racist”.

Read More »

Meme-Ing For A Reason #12 – I Am Not The Roadblock You Think I Am…

As we’ve covered, there’s a specific class of fandom weenie that I cannot stand because of how willing they are to support racists and racism in fandom using their POC-ness as a shield. 

I use “PickMe POC” as a term for them – which remains not a slur despite what rabid racists in fandom insist – but they also define themselves as POC TOO. As in “I’m a POC TOO… and this isn’t racist/this other POC is actually the real problem in fandom and somehow racist against me for pointing out racism”.

In the… decade or so since I started actively speaking out against racism in fandom spaces and in media – primarily antiblackness, but I’ve talked about whitewashing, anti Native racism in fanworks, the weird way white fans can approach East Asian celebrities or characters in different fandoms , etc – who pushes back against me has shifted.

First, the loudest people were white people who prefaced everything with “I’m queer and” or “i’m a trauma survivor and”. But as people started to absorb a particular form of Tumblr social justice diss-course that hinged even more heavily on specific identity politics, it shifted to “I’m a POC and”. 

That wasn’t really a thing in fandom discourses when I was growing up in fandom. 

(Probably because for most of modern fandom, anytime you’d preface a conversation on racism by talking about how you were affected by racism here as a person of color, people would basically laugh you out of the room and/or gaslight you because you were “too close” to the issue and couldn’t be seeing things straight.)

Read More »

[Thread Collection & Expansion] Weaponized Specificity and DARVO (8/14/2021)

You can find the original thread here but I’ve expanded and edited my own thoughts to cover more of what’s happening with DARVO because it’s something I’m super interested in talking about because it’s happening constantly and people just… don’t see it or care.


Thinking about Elle’s thread on weaponized specificity and transmisogyny as well as May‘s thread riffing off of it. I don’t want to derail so here are thoughts on how I deal with weaponized specificity here.

It’s a goalpost moving form of derailing, obviously.

It’s something that excuses what people then do to you.

Read More »

What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Apolitical/Drama Free Fandom Spaces

Another (relatively) short-and-spicy one in the style of the Fandom Wank installment, I’m here to point out that racism in fandom looks like apolitical or “drama free” fandom spaces. In discord servers, twitter group chats and other forms of fannish socializing, denoting a space as apolitical or “drama free” primarily winds up punishing marginalized people who speak up against issues in the fandom space or with fans they encounter. 

For example, if a person you’re in a “drama free” fandom server with then goes off on an anti-BLM rant or suggests that George Floyd deserved to be murdered and you bring it up… Guess who’s more likely to get run out from the fandom space or seen as a “drama monger” or even… an anti? Guess who’s going to be seen as “needlessly” political and punished as a result. Not the antiblack person spreading hatred and victim blaming. You. The (likely Black) person going “this person makes this space unsafe for me”.

It’s wild because fandom prides itself on supposedly self-regulating, but then it… doesn’t. 

Read More »

White Fannish Entitlement Strikes Again

Near the end of June, I made the mistake of commenting on Star Wars fandom stuff when I saw screenshots of some members of that subfandom gloating about John Boyega briefly losing his blue check/verified status on Twitter as well as kind of assuming the worst about his exit from Rebel Ridge – especially once people started kind of claiming that he was “difficult“. (Like fully going “perhaps he will have his MeToo moment and people will know that he’s truly garbage… like we have all along” in some tweets I glimpsed.)

Aside from the comment calling me a bootlicker of color (for making a thread about fandom nonsense from their camp and not immediately writing a Teen Vogue article about John Boyega, who I have no access to and still cannot reach for clarification or an interview), one comment that stood out to me called me a coward because I didn’t like… leap into the way of actual non-fandom white supremacists in defense of Rey/Kylo fandom. Again, a fandom full of people that hate me for pointing out their co-fans’ racism.

Read More »

When Does Online Harassment From Fandom Stop?

If you’re a person of color… Never

If you’re marginalized in some way – queer, a person of color, not a cis dude – you can expect to be subject to months or even years of online harassment from people who insist that you deserved it. Mind you, you will deserve this unending harassment solely because your presence on social media, in a given fandom, writing for any platform at all, or your appearance in a show they like angers them so much that they need to punish you for it.

People will doctor screenshots, lie about their online behavior and yours, forge evidence, and just… make shit up to punish us for being in “their” spaces or in “their” way.

In September, Teen Wolf will have been off the air for four years. In December, it will have been two years since the premiere of The Rise of Skywalker. The first episode of The Flash aired in 2014. May of this year marked three years since I left Tumblr for good and three months since I permanently locked my main Twitter account after the latest escalations from a multi-fandom disinfo and harassment campaign.

Tyler Posey, John Boyega, Candice Patton, and myself.

Four people.

Years of harassment.

All for being inconvenient, for being in the way (of a ship), not playing ball, and speaking out about racism and other firms of harassment in the spaces they’re in.

Read More »

What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Revisiting “POC Coded” White Villains/Anti-Heroes

Recently, Shafira Jordan’s sharp and insightful article “How White Fandom is Colonizing “Character-Coding”” has been making the rounds around fanwork creating & consuming social media. It’s a piece that speaks to something that I also have talked about (a few years ago): the way that white fandom will code white male characters as POC while also hating the hell out of characters of color in the source media/dismissing them entirely. 

This ranges from deciding that a character oppressed racially in-universe like Loki being Jotun was directly paralleling an experience/existence of color to claiming they are “actually” of a marginalized identity like Kylo being Space Jewish because the actors playing Han and Leia are.

Read More »