This begins, as it often does, with a tumblr post.
Tumblr user allofthefeelings made a quick little post about power fantasies, framing them as the reason why fandom is the way it is with all these aggressive, fighty people. And I agree and disagree simultaneously. The entire post is so small that I am going to paste it below:
I think it’s really important to talk about how different people have different power fantasies.
For some people, the idea of someone redeeming a villain is a power fantasy.
For other people, the idea of a villain being defeated is a power fantasy.
And for other people, the idea of a character owning their villainy is a power fantasy.
I would argue a lot of fandom conflicts re: villains come from people being unable to see that their fantasies, which put them in control of a narrative (and all three of these are designed to give the author or reader control of the narrative in different ways) are someone else’s horror stories.
Let’s get into it!
Allofthefeelings is correct that different people’s power fantasies contribute to an environment of fandom that’s hostile to people who don’t have that specific fantasy. The thing is, I think that we should build this out broadly to look beyond villains (which I think isn’t an incorrect approach but very limited despite that) to the ways people have, want, and grab for power within fandom spaces.
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).
This episode obviously has spoilers for the first episode of Marvel and Disney+’s Loki. We also speculate about the future of the show and its arcs/plots in a way that may prove to become spoilers if we’re as accurate as we want to be. Additionally, we talk candidly and cheerfully about villains, what they do, and why we connect with them (in the specific and general sense). While we don’t talk about anything in specifics – I feel – we do brush over cannibalism, The Authority’s fascism, and all the dreadful things in the plot of the 1999 film Titus. We also talk about our experiences in fandom over the years. Use your own best judgment, babes.
So I’m watching Thor: Ragnarok, since I have to do something while I work now that Twitter is currently not an option for me and… I really love this film. It’s fun, it’s weird, and it’s something that does not actually require a lot of effort on my part to engage with.
Beyond that, however, I was reminded of how ridiculous the hate for this film was from die-hard Loki stans who missed that this was actually some of the best treatment Loki’d gotten since the first Thor film.
Let’s keep this short and salty: did y’all know that there are people – thankfully a minority in their respective fandoms – that will claim a white male character or actor isn’t white for some reason or another.
Well, if you didn’t know before reading that sentence, I’m willing to be that you’ve figured out what you’re gonna learn today in this installment of “What Fandom Racism Looks Like”.
One of the weirdest things I’ve ever come across in all of my years of fandom is this relatively recent thing where fans of a white male character – usually one half of a powerhouse ship involving two white characters – somehow get it into their heads that said white male character isn’t actually white after all.