The first time I used the hashtag #WhatFandomRacismLooksLike, it was March 2018 and the Marvel Cinematic Universe fandom post-Black Panther was hell. Despite everything that Black fans in the fandom had been trying to prepare ourselves for from the fandom, the fandom’s immediate focus was on either the minor white male characters who were in the film on any level or on diminishing the value of Wakanda.
As a result of what I kept seeing, I decided to write articles about what racism looks like in fanworks as well as in the behavior on display by fans towards performers and fans of color alike. I’d been doing it on Tumblr from 2012 and on my website since 2015, and I figured that as someone seeing all of this nonsense happening right in front of my salad, that I should just keep at it.
Riz Ahmed’s Bodhi Rook is a breakout star in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Without his character’s mission and his persistence, the resistance would be dead in outer space. He’s shown to be a capable pilot and a brave soul who decides to go against everything he’s known while working under the Empire in order to be a hero.
There’s a part of my brain that can’t believe that this all began because of an overused meme. There’s a part of my brain that’s almost embarrassed that I was able to build so much content as a result of scrolling through character tags on tumblr and taking in the way that some of my fellow fans were talking about characters of color via the “cinnamon roll” meme.
Pulled from the title of an Onion article turned meme, the “cinnamon roll” in fandom is a character who is literally seen as being too good and too pure for this world. While different people in different sub/fandoms can’t decide on a uniform meaning or usage of the meme, one thing that the meme has come to represent is that the different “cinnamon roll” characters tend not to get the same content as other characters.
Unless they’re designated as a “sinnamon roll” (who is often a problematic character, usually a villain), these characters get “softer” content and they’re typically coddled in the ships fandom does popularize for them.
It’s a meme-turned-trope that should be adorable and sweet because well…
Everyone loves a cinnamon roll.
However, when those characters are characters of color well… it can become a problem.Read More »