Fleeting Frustrations #12 – Fandom Coverage Fails

I’m no stranger to having deeply critical views on a fandom in a moment when said fandom is publicly Going Through It on Main.

After all, I made a point of poking hard at Rey/Kylo fandom’s embarrassing public death throes and how it poured tons of hatred in John Boyega as a result of not getting catered to with a happy ending for their Pasty Prince Charming.

However, there’s a difference between me roasting a racist fandom that continues to dismiss and harass Black people they think are “opposite” to its goals on my small website… and someone randomly using their platform on a massive site like The Mary Sue to launch a dismissive and condescending attack at a fandom trying to make sense of a Bad Ending.

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Fleeting Frustrations #11 – True Fans, Who Fans?

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There’s nothing about my Twitter account that clearly pings the mind and calls me out as an obvious fan of K-pop – or… pretty much any form of nerdery outside of a single comic.

My profile picture is a picture of my face, not a Korean artist or a superhero. My display name and @ aren’t a fandom in-joke. (Although the little leaf/tree emoji in my display name is a reference to Kim Namjoon of BTS. I did it for his birthday in September and then… just never changed it.)

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I do get that the only notably nerdy thing about my twitter account is, at first glance, my header image of Lunella Lafayette from Marvel Comics’ Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur. And if you don’t know anything about her comic, it’s easy to assume it’s not nerdy.

But between my apparently invisible fannishness and my very visible Blackness, no one ever assumes I know anything about K-pop. Or Star Wars. Or fandom.

The first thing is my thing, you know?

I’m into a ton of different fandoms and when faced with having to try and choose one to represent fully across my Twitter profile, I kind of froze and chose one thing. So that inability some fans have to recognize me based on my profile and whatnot? That’s on me.

But then there’s the thing where Black people aren’t necessarily read as fans across many different fandom spaces around the world.Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations #10 – But You’re From L.A., Amber

This morning I woke up to see that Amber Liu (formerly a part of SM’s f(x), a popular South Korean girl group) was trending on Twitter due to her apology for something that she’d said. The apology in question was for well… antiblackness. Turns out, that when Amber went on Just Kidding News – a satirical news show on YouTube – last week, she brought some internalized antiblackness along with her for the ride.

On the show, Amber was one of several people reacting to a video of a man in California, Steve Foster, responding with anger after being accosted by police officers because he was eating a sandwich on a train station’s platform. In the now private JKN video, Amber said that guy being accosted “just fucking deserved it” because police officers (automatically or inherently) deserved respect.

You can see the clip of her saying this below:

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Fleeting Frustrations #9: “Really? That’s What Y’all Got Out of Black Panther?”

I know what you’re thinking: this my third or fourth “Fleeting Frustrations” post in a row to talk critically about fandom or something a particular fandom does. I know it doesn’t seem all that fleeting and well… you’re right.

Because every single time I try to settle in the squee and have fun in my fandom(s), I’m reminded that Black people and characters aren’t respected in fandom.

This latest incident?

A Black Panther post-film story that pairs M’Baku up with a white female reader and portrays the Jabari as primitive and an author who apologizes to the person who requested the story – not the Black fans rightfully offended by the racist fanwork.

I don’t know about y’all, but I am tired.

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Fleeting Frustrations #8: Revisionist Fandom History Strikes Again

This morning, one of the fic writers I follow retweeted a condescending three-tweet thread about how folks in fandom that are critical of the AO3 and other fandom institutions (for things like the racism in fandom, the amount of explicit sexual content centering underage characters and performers, etc) were trying to “Make Fandom Great Again” and oppress queer (white) people who’d fought so hard to gain freedom in fandom.

However, that longing for fannish past comes primarily from white, cis, and het fans longing for the silence and bubbles they made in order to silence other marginalized and vulnerable voices in fandom.

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Fleeting Frustrations # 7: Archive Frenzy and Being (Un) Grateful To Our Fannish Foremothers (Stuck In 2002)

Note: This Fleeting Frustrations installment mentions racism as well as fanworks involving sexual violence and underage characters. It’s also not very nice. Obviously.

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There are things to love about the AO3. I won’t list them here because I don’t need to. Almost every single piece written about the big ole archive – especially in the wake of its 2019 Hugo Award nomination – has been positive. 

It’s been gushing. 

The AO3 is positioned as a site for queer and/or female exploration and empowerment.

It’s so amazing, these articles and adoring fans write, because it allows queer people and women the freedom to understand their identity and play around with sexual and gender roles as they figure themselves out.

We should be grateful to the grand ole archive because it gives us room to be queer, be women, and to explore kinks and identities that we can’t in real life.

Which is a cool story, let’s be real here.

If I wasn’t a queer Black fan who’s used the AO3 and been in fandom for most of my life, I’d even take those claims at face value. After all, a space for female and/or queer fans is pretty cool, right?

But what about the racism on the archive – in the form of fanworks or in how fans of color have talked about the response from archive staff volunteers have given when they talk about their experiences with racism on the platform?Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations 6.5: “We Can’t Have Anything, Can We?”

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is the focus for the cover story for Vanity Fair’s Summer 2019 issue and readers were “blessed” with dual covers – one with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren and the other with Daisy Ridley’s Rey. Written by The Magicians’ author Lev Grossman and interspersed with photos from Annie Leibovitz, this massive article was the talk of the Twittersphere for days after its release.

Grossman’s Vanity Fair article is… alright. It doesn’t really focus on Finn, but I gave up on folks remembering that Finn was supposed to be the male hero of the franchise – and just as heroic as Rey – back when The Last Jedi came out.

In the article, there’s a particularly stunning photograph of John Boyega’s Finn and newcomer Naomi Ackie’s Jannah sitting astride a pair of orbaks – an equine adjacent species new to audiences. It’s an iconic photo as well because Jannah is only the third Black female character with dialogue in the franchise – and the first to be in a main trilogy – and this is the first time that the Star Wars franchise has had two Black characters interacting like this.

It’s something that clearly belongs to Finn and to Jannah –

So, of course, someone had to make it about Kylo Ren Ben Solo.

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Fleeting Frustrations #6: “At Least Kylo Never Lied To Rey”

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“I’m not a hero. I’m not Resistance. I’m a stormtrooper.”

That silenced her. He might as well have hit her across the face with the business end of a blaster.

“Like all of them, I was taken from a family I’ll never know,” he continued rapidly. “I was raised to do one thing. Trained to do one thing. To kill my enemy.” He felt something that should not have been there, that was not part of his training, well up in him. “But my first battle, I made a choice. I wasn’t going to kill for them. So I ran. As it happens, right into you. And you asked me if I was Resistance, and looked at me like no one ever had. So I said the first thing that came to mind that I thought would please you. I was ashamed of what I was. But I’m done with the First Order. I’m never going back.” Suddenly he found it hard to swallow, much less to speak. “Rey, come with me.”

– Foster, Alan Dean. The Force Awakens (Star Wars) (p. 222). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

I know that this is a “Fleeting Frustrations” post which means that I should be able to get over the grievance I’m airing once it’s been aired, but let’s be real here: when have I ever let go of a single grievance in my life?

I haven’t yet and I won’t with this one.

In this rantypants installment of my grouchiest series, we’ll be talking about one of the Star Wars fandom’s most obvious signs of fandom racism: the idea that Finn’s biggest flaw to some folks in fandom is that he’s a liar… for not telling Rey that he was a Stormtrooper on the run mere moments after she’d beaten the crap out of him for thinking he was a thief.Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations #5: K-Pop Groups’ Hood Phases

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I’m gonna be honest here: If the first thing I’d seen from BTS had been their super cringey, wannabe hood phase back when they’d first debuted, I probably wouldn’t be able to give a shit about the group now.

To this day, I still can’t make it through the group’s videos for their early singles “No More Dream” “We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2” and “N.O” without cracking up until I start wheezing.

And that’s before we get into group leader RM’s cringe-worthy and super appropriative hairstyles during the early days (like his pseudo-fro in the first two videos or the 3B/4A curls and dreads he appeared to be rocking pre-debut thanks to what I’m told was a perm). (Here’s a timeline of some of RM’s hair hits misfires EXCLUDING the curls – which are apparently the first image at this link.)

BTS hit the ground running as a faux-hood group. Their whole thing was like… setting them up as this socially conscious street gang. Everything about their look in 2013 was this manufactured look that showed what K-pop stylists and folks in the industry viewed as a path to proper hip hop.

Their look, their style, and their sound was pretty much what happens when you take an approach to hip-hop that sees Blackness and Black people as commodities to be transplanted onto and consumed by non-Black people.Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations #4: What’s the Deal With Reverse Harem Romances?

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There are only about three thousand books that come up when I search for “reverse harem” so let me start out by letting y’all know that I do get that it’s a small part of the overall genre and makes up a teeny tiny percentage of the books published.

But the point of my Fleeting Frustrations pieces is to air a grievance, and on this site: no grievance is too small, too petty, or too focused on a niche within a specific genre for me to air it like laundry on a line.Read More »

Fleeting Frustrations #3: When White Queer Icons Like Ezra Miller Fail Us

Seeing Ezra Miller’s face everywhere makes me feel some kind of way.

On one hand, I’m constantly charmed by Miller and I like that they’re a queer icon (who just apparently came out as non-binary). Their Playboy photos are pretty (so pretty) and I really do like knowing that one more performer in a superhero film is queer.

On the other hand, I’m always painfully aware of the fact thatnot only did Miller co-direct TheTruth According to Darren Wilson (a film intending to sympathize withand see the other side of events that led to Mike Brown’s senseless murder),but that it’s not a hard limit for many of the queer non-Black people that findout about it.

At the end of the day, it stings to realize that to many people, Miller’s queerness is seen as more important to talk about than the casual racism behind Miller working on a film that exists to humanize a racist murderer.

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Fleeting Frustrations # 2: Fan Studies, Like Fandom, Isn’t the Best About Race

Most, but not all, of these books were a product of my attending PCA 2017 and sweeping the book dealer’s room right before closing… This isn’t even all of my collection.

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.

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Fleeting Frustrations #1: Heteronormativity in Urban Fantasy Revisited

Content warnings for cis- and hetero- centric worldbuilding.

Back in June 2016, I wrote a whole Urban Fantasy 101 piece on the heteronormativity present in much of the genre (and I am including contemporary paranormal romance in this wide umbrella). While I know way more queer urban fantasy writers – and stories – than I did back then, one thing that still stands out to me is the way that so many of the big ticket urban fantasy writers still don’t bother to include any meaningful forms of queer representation in their massive series.Read More »