Stitch Talks Ish: Season 3/Episode 4: this is not a podcast about benedict cumberbatch

On our latest episode, I caught up with Tabitha Carvan, author of the book this is not a book about benedict cumberbatch:  the joy of loving something — anything– like your life depends on it

Tabitha’s book is a callback to everything that I loved about Sherlock fandom and what does make fandom so good and empowering even with its rough spots. We had a great chat about what we love, how we love it, and what are some of the best parts of being in a fandom!

this is not a book about benedict cumberbatch  is out May 31st wherever you buy books! pre-order it today!

Show Notes

[More show notes to come! Ping me if you catch something that needs a ref!]

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On Queerbaiting, Betrayal, and the Quest for Better Representation

I know “betrayal” is a strong word, but there’s no other term that captures the full effect of what queer fans feel as a result of queerbaiting. For many queer fans, queerbaiting removes the confidence they had that the media they were watching was made with them fully in mind. It reinforces that to studios (and some celebrities), queer fans are walking rainbow wallets to be discarded once empty. Part of why queer fans have gravitated to shows like Taika Waititi’s Our Flag Means Death or The CW’s Batwoman is because these shows don’t hold back the “good stuff.” In these series, queerness – especially as seen from characters and people of color – isn’t something we get hints of before it’s snatched from us. It’s part of the narrative and made stronger for it.

On Queerbaiting, Betrayal, and the Quest for Better Representation

I know people don’t always agree on what queerbaiting is or looks like. I get yelled at once or twice a year for disagreeing when I see people talking about queerbaiting in a fandom — even when I use coded names and don’t specify the fandom. There are thing I think are queerbaiting that’d get me labeled as Terminally Online TM and “reaching”. It’s not super easy to say “this is queerbaiting” sometimes, but that’s something that I’ve since learned… doesn’t matter? Because it’s not about our feelings as we watch other queer fans be like “wait but we’ve been waiting for this fir six years and it didn’t happen??”

Queerbaiting is one of those fandom things I’ve realized is like… confusing to people who aren’t affected or don’t see it (for whatever reason) but is frequently devastating to the people who put their time and energy into it. And yes it took me ages, but I learn nothing when I’m being yelled at by random people on the internet, so in moments of peace I sat, researched, and learned.

Also, semi-related but when Ruby Rose was cast as Batwoman Kate Kane initially, one of the wildest things was watching people (other queer people) say that Ruby Rose was queerbaiting. Ruby Rose, mind you, is gay as hell and has been from before I knew she existed. How could Ruby Rose, a real out queer person, queerbait?

To this day I don’t know the answer for that one.

Anyway, go share on twitter if you want! Please read the piece for sure!

Fleeting Frustrations #13: Media Consumption As A Substitute For A Personality

This is so old. I don’t even remember when I finished the first draft. Anyway, it’s a rant and it reads like a rant. Sorry I can’t smooth down my edges this time.


One of the wildest aspects of White Feminism ™ in fandom, media/pop culture criticism, etc… is the way these White Feminists™ – who are not always white or women but are always in service of  feminism that privileges white women – refuse to acknowledge the difference between “I like this because it’s good” and “this is good because I like it”.

Too many people think that because they like something as a marginalized (usually white) person – an idol group, a movie, a pairing, a character – that that thing is automatically good, empowering, and feminist. They don’t engage with critical reviews of the work – in any sense – to get a sense of what they can bring to the table or what the thing does in general, not just for themselves as the consumer.

And if they dislike something? There’s nothing you can do to change their mind. It’s eternally Bad, Fucked Up, and the dreaded “Problematic” even if they’d only read a summary of the thing on Wikipedia or gotten their knowledge of a person secondhand from people who also hate the person. (Hello to my anti fandom!)

Read More »

[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.)

Read More »

[Guest Post] My Gen-Z Journey Through Fandom

The most interesting thing for me to realize was how many fandoms I’d been a part of since I was a child, without even noticing that I was doing so, without even knowing that this is how I was expressing my fandom. I grew up an only child, in a quiet household, and my Indian parents discouraged me from creating accounts online. Truthfully, I never found a need for that kind of Internet interaction. This is a trait that carried through my adolescence to the present-day in how I engage in fandom and express my fanning.

The first fandom I can really remember myself getting into came about from growing up in the late 2000s. This, of course, was loving the Disney Channel shows and Disney Channel Original Movies (salute to DCOMS!) of the late 2000s. I remember checking the channel guides waiting for new episodes of Hannah Montana, getting all the fun associated merch, and going to see Hannah Montana: The Movie in theaters in 2009. I listened to the official Radio Disney station for years, listening to all their playlists and am proud to say I’m still in possession of Radio Disney Jams 10, featuring a video performance of the evergreen Nobody’s Perfect. My early-day fanning was pretty much just me, with the sometime-resignation of my parents.

Read More »

End of 2021: How Did This Year Compare?

Back at the end of 2020, I did a lengthy piece looking back at everything I’d done before looking forward to what I hoped 2021 would bring me. As we’re at the end of the year, I wanted to look back and think about:

  • how much of my 2021 trajectory matched the goals and desires I had for it in 2020
  • the stuff I did that wasn’t necessarily part of my Goals list

2021 was very busy. So busy that I’m still kind of trying to figure out everything I planned to do for December because there’s so much left undone and 2021 is just a little over a week from ending. I took most of December off and if you’re wondering how scary my backlog is… it’s a whole nightmare.

And I still have another video – this one on the state of racism in fandom in 2021 – left to plan, record, and upload next week on top of planning content on like four different fronts for the first quarter of 2022! Argh!

Below the cut is a version of my script for this, but it’s not a 1:1 ratio, some things I adlibbed in the process of recording and while I love talking, I also cannot stand the sound of my own voice so… I cannot go back through and add what’s missing. Sorry! Youtube has subtitles but they’re auto-subtitled so that might not work well… Hopefully in 2022 I’ll get a job that’ll allow me to afford to pay for subtitles and transcripts regularly but since I don’t have a job at all… lol

Read More »

New Cool Fan Studies Stuff!

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.

Here’s what’s up so far.

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!

Happy reading!

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: On Nicki Minaj, the Barbz, and When Stans Prepare for Battle

Fans can react in concerning ways when their celebrity favorites screw up or misspeak in ways that hurt fans. It’s as if the attachment to a particular celebrity unlocks a desire to do whatever possible to maintain that celeb’s power and positive press. Even if the celebrity has been accused of actual crimes, even if we have proof of them doing something inexcusable, their stans will rally in order to protect them from criticism and accountability.

Enter: Nicki Minaj and the hold she has on her fans, known as Barbz. Not only do a subset of fans feel personal responsibility to promote her, but she herself has actively mobilized them over the years against people that she is in conflict with, on scales both large and small.

On Nicki Minaj, the Barbz, and When Stans Prepare for Battle

Once again, I forgot to post this when it went up uh… two weeks ago.

Nicki Minaj is just… a really good example of what happens when celebs actively make the choice to hurt people. She has millions of dollars, a fanbase that loves her, and some level of talent. And what has she spent a lot of 2021 doing? Antagonizing critics, harassing the woman her husband harmed when she was a teenager, and beefing publicly with other celebrities and even just random social media users. Like what got into Nicki’s head to make her think defending former Little Mix member Jesy Nelson’s blackfishing and attacking actual Black woman Leigh Anne Pinnock for calling it out was in any way necessary?

If I ever reach some sort of financial success and you see me out here fighting with people on social media – especially if I’m dead wrong – understand that something has gone horribly wrong.

[Stitch Talks Ish] Season 2/Episode 7: Stitch Talks MORE Ish With Jeanne

Jeanne and I catch up and compare notes about the rest of Loki, how our expectations were met, exceeded, or underwhelmed , and the current state of fandom discourse (which has managed to shift so hard in just a matter of months).

Stitch @ Teen Vogue: What Do You Do When Your Fave Screws Up?

There’s no such thing as an “unproblematic fave.” People — and the things that we create — are informed by the world around us, and we can be exposed to some pretty problematic environments that are hard to move away from. And if people, especially ones we admire, are going to continue making both positive and negative choices, then what actually matters in fandom isn’t finding some mythical angel celebrity who never does anything wrong. Rather, it’s unpacking our own responses. What do we do with the realization that someone responsible for our fandom happiness in some capacity has been careless, or made a mistake, or been intentionally cruel or predatory?


What Do You Do When Your Fave Screws Up?

A) I forgot to link to this article last week when it went up! My bad! Things have been very busy!

B) As with the majority of my work, this pulls from experiences I’ve had within fandom and how I had to fight off the knee-jerk response to go “no that person couldn’t have done that”. I mention it in the piece (and have mentioned it elsewhere, I’m sure) but I used to be a huge BIGBANG fan. My bias wrecker was the rapper TOP. My bias… was Seungri. My nieces and I listened to his solo stuff regularly and we thought he seemed cool… until I started seeing threads on Twitter about the Burning Sun nightclub scandal and the extent that he was… very much not cool.

Instantly, I cut him off. I took the BIGBANG songs out of my playlists, deleted his solo songs from my phone, and resolved to never say a nice thing about him again – a thing made that much easier by the knowledge of the things he’s rumored and confirmed to have done. We don’t speak his name in our house and he’s basically dead to us.

But that sort of merciless pruning isn’t the norm. We link so much of ourselves to the celebrities that we love that sometimes, when our favorite public figures are accused of something minor to majorly awful, we look for reasons to keep on moving. We look for excuses to explain away the minor-to-major bad thing our person did. Sometimes, as seen in multiple fandoms and especially in the case of Seungri and his still-active fanbase, we hurt others over the situation rather than acknowledging the harm done by this public figure.

But we don’t have to. We can see when our favorites do bad things – whatever they are – and decide on our own how we’re going to handle it without defending them or hurting someone else in their name.

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 »

[Stitch Talks Ish] Season 2/Episode BONUS: Stitch Talks Ish About The BITE Model in Fandom

In this “Bonus” Episode, I talk about… how Steven Hassan’s BITE model of fandom can be applied in multiple fandom contexts because fandom is a space that’s kinda… rife for cults of personality, manipulation, etc at EVERY level. But also that there’s a difference between “culty” and “a cult” and people do need to get that too.

Unfortunately I still can’t AFFORD to get transcripts done but one day… ONE DAY.

A fandom discourse thing I’m reminded that I hate

I hate this thing people across fandom do where they need people to:

And if you don’t do the things they demand of you (for some reason… but you do not know these people and they do not know you or anything about you), they will then never listen to you about what you’re actually saying… because you are bad and wrong for not listening to them about this thing.

So they won’t listen to you talk about racism in fandom. They won’t listen to you when you say that no one should be harassed in or because of fandom. They won’t accept that you can think that and also want people to understand that bigotry doesn’t belong in fandom.

Read More »