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.
These are my opening statements from earlier today on the FSN plenary. If you didn’t get a chance to see the plenary or you weren’t at FSN at all, here’s my opening comments. Please feel free to ask for clarifications and whatnot. Thanks.
My work primarily covers racism and race in fandom. It actively confronts whiteness and antiblackness – which, increasingly, becomes a multi-fandom bonding activity open to other people of color including Black fans.
Different from many fan studies scholars out and about, I’ve always been actively entangled with fandom on the ground, closer in real time to a reporter thanks to the speed with which I cover fandom practices or dustups. I screencap as second nature, download videos that I sense will be gone by the end of the day, and constantly archive webpages because of the way that modern day online fandom speeds on by.
Over on Henry Jenkins’ site, he’s using his platform to host what he’s calling a “Global Fandom Jamboree” that focuses on scholars speaking on their work on their own and with the other scholars in their field, more or less.
I won’t be linking to everything in roundups like this again, but I’ll be tweeting infrequently about the parts of this project that really stand out to me. And of course, if they move me extra hard, they’ll probably wind up in my end of the month link post!
Note: This is the write-up of Robin Anne Reid’s segment in the roundup on race and racism in fandom that we had at PCA 2019 April 17, 2019.
The main point I want to make for this discussion is that Academia, in general, is having its own versions of Racefail ’09 in various disciplinary spaces and conferences. I am working on a book about Racefail ’09, and the more I work on describing and documenting the events of a decade ago, the more I see how current academic imbroglios follow a similar pattern, one that fits Eduardo Bonilla-Silva’s definition of color-blind or unconscious, racism.
The problems include programming at the major conferences, statements made, and actions taken by tenured white scholars in positions of relative privilege, against tenure-track scholars. The academic Racefail I am most familiar with involved doxing, death threats, and attempts to drive scholars of color out of the profession and was recently covered in the New York Times.Read More »
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.
Off-hand, I have a list of a few words that I think apply to my experience at PCA 2019
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 »
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.
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 »
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 […]
I am grateful to fan studies scholars for giving me a name for what I’d been doing before I ever knew that fan studies was a thing. I love fan studies as an academic discipline and I wish that it wasn’t seen as that slight a niche. Fandom is huge and fans are everywhere, so the fact that fan studies as we know it isn’t a bigger and more popular discipline – and that’s the fault of the general academic powers that be crawling slowly towards recognizing it as a wide-reaching discipline that can mesh with other academic avenues, I’d say – is ridiculous.
I could literally go on for ages talking about my favorite aspects of fan studies or the fan scholars that inspire my own work because there’s a lot to love about this discipline. However, this is the second installment of Fleeting Frustrations so let’s save the love-in for a later post. Right now, it’s time to air my biggest grievance with fan studies as a whole – but specifically the parts of fan studies that focus on the identity of fans and their favorite characters or ships.
Fan studies, despite frequently focusing on or having texts written by marginalized people, isn’t exactly great at intersectionality or recognizing that intersectional feminism is a must especially when your fan studies focus lands on gender and sexuality.
So I got back from PCA this morning at the butt crack of dawn and between being sick all day and my usual anxiety, it took me a while to get this up. (This is still way faster than I’ve done anything else this semester so… I’m taking this as a win.) This wrap-up and […]