[Guest Post] Finn as everyman? How about no?

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After the release of The Last Jedi, there was a noticeable shift in how members of the general audience discussed Finn – if they talked about him at all. People who resented his inclusion in The Force Awakens – viewing him as a sign of P­C culture run amok or as an extra whose sole purpose was to diversify the cast – had little to say this time around, likely because his marginalization in the series’ latest installment merely served to confirm their negative view of his place in the trilogy.

Instead, it was those viewers who claimed to like Finn whose tune changed.

As it became clearer that Force sensitivity would never be part of his arc, at least not in this segment, there arose a collective sigh of relief from certain quarters: “Good! He doesn’t need to be Force sensitive to be important. Let him just be Finn. Let him just have a blaster and kick ass that way. Let him be the everyman the audience can relate to.”

Except that – to paraphrase Luke Skywalker, as he faced off against Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi – “Amazing. Every word you just said is wrong.”Read More »

Finn – Looks Like A Cinnamon Roll…

In “Cinnamon Rolls, Sinnamon Rolls, and Capable Killers: How to Categorize Your Favthe author gives the following description for the “True Cinnamon Roll” (which falls under the “Looks like a Cinnamon Roll, Is Actually a Cinnamon Roll” part of the meme):

A true cinnamon roll really is as innocent and well-meaning as they appear. They can be completely naïve or somewhat sly, or may have the most common sense of the group, but most importantly they are more of a nurturer and healer than a fighter.

Throughout much of the Star Wars fandom in the wake of Star Wars: The Force Awakens male lead Finn (played by John Boyega) has been assigned the marker of the “True Cinnamon Roll”. Here’s the thing, I get where it comes from and as with Bodhi, I think that it comes from a well-meaning place but doesn’t bother to reckon with intersectionality or the reality of how Finn is treated by a significant portion of fandom both on and off of Tumblr.

Despite being the male lead of the film, Finn is not the most popular new male character in the fandom. He’s not the most respected. He’s not even the most written about. Right now on the AO3, Finn is the sixth most popular character represented in the fandom with 7150 appearances so far.

(Minor antagonist Armitage Hux (who only had about 3 minutes of screentime in The Force Awakens) has over 3000 more tagged appearances than that.  I’m never going to stop having a problem with that.)

Let’s look at that definition of the true cinnamon roll again.

At first glance, Finn being equated with a trope predicated on innocence seems pretty great because we live in a world where Black people are assumed guilty even in situations where they are the clear victims of violence. However, fandom doesn’t exist in a vacuum and what appears to come in good faith frequently… doesn’t.

Just because some people honestly view Finn as a cinnamon roll character while not forgetting his character from the film and related supplemental materials, that doesn’t mean the entire fandom does.

In viewing Finn as “a true cinnamon roll”, fandom ignores his actual characterization. Most frustrating, is that many members of fandom ignore that he is a complex character who is literally trying to find his place in the world. It’s a way to look like they care about Finn as an archetype (who is so pure, so perfect, and so put together, that the fandom simply must fall for “bad boy” characters like Hux or Kylo) without needing to care about Finn as a character.Read More »

Fear of Fucking Up: Not Actually A Good Excuse For Erasing Characters of Color

 

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Recently, there’s been a spate of fannish and original writers claiming that they’re so afraid of negative reception and responses from people of color, that they refrain from writing characters of color in their works.

We saw this during Amy Lane’s racist mess (where she wrote a book that had a black character refer to himself as a monkey) where dozens of M/M authors rushing to defend her claimed that POC were so scary and aggressive in defending themselves from racism that they were perpetuating (racial slurs as “cute” petnames and objectification in droves) that they’d never be writing characters of color again.

We also saw it a couple months ago in fandom where BNF Franzeska decided that the best response to Black fans pointing out racism towards Finn in Star Wars to write thousands of words of white washed fandom history that contained comments about how we (people of color willfully misidentified as white social justice warriors jonesing for ally cookies) were why they weren’t writing Finn.

Her post claimed that white writers were terrified of being accused of racism for… constantly imbuing their Finn-characterization with stereotypes of black masculinity and objectifying Finn’s body.

I still see my fellow fans of color dealing with that shit now, damn near three months after all of the work Black fans and anti-racist allies put into writing and talking about fandom’s racism. It’s still a thing that I see people claiming as if researching and respecting characters and people of color in fandom is so damn difficult!

These authors’ excuse for unbroken whiteness in their fiction appears to be that it’s downright terrifying to imagine people of color who’ve asked for characters like them to be written responsibly getting annoyed with racist portrayals of these characters of color.

You know, because it’s all about hurt white feelings in the end and it’s more upsetting to be confronted about their racism than to be confronted by racism.

Read More »