Luke Cage – Looks Like A Cinnamon Roll…

Note: This piece largely revolves around sexual racism and the sexual objectification of Black male bodies. There are references to sexual assault, descriptions of objectified Black bodies, and a link to an article on the “Brute Caricature” that includes images of lynchings.

Looks Like a Cinnamon Roll - Luke Cage (1).png

Fandom seems to think that Luke Cage “Looks like he could kill you, but is actually a cinnamon roll”.

To them, Luke may read as a threat, “but is actually a cinnamon roll” because they see that he has tender and sweet moments throughout his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a result, fandom sanitizes his character so that it can fit this super narrow archetype about what he should be – all while assuming that he was a threat to begin with.

I’m assuming that most, if not all, of the nuance written into his characterization in Luke Cage just went right over their collective heads because a huge chunk of Luke’s arc in his solo series revolves around him trying to figure out how to effectively use his body (rather than having other people use it).

At several points, the series actually addresses Black masculinity and how Black men are inherently seen as violent threats just by existing. And yes, Luke is one of the heavy hitters of the MCU, but he doesn’t want to hurt people: he’s just constantly backed into positions where he has to use his strength to hurt people in order to protect the people in his life.

I’m also assuming that the people who look at Mike Colter and immediately go “wow, this guy looks like he can kill me” haven’t watched the news in a while to see what many killers these days look like. They also have zero common sense because Mike Colter hardly looks like he could hurt a fly.

Saying that physically powerful Black characters such as Luke Cage and American Gods‘ Shadow Moon (played by biracial Black actor Ricky Whittle) “look like they could kill you” prior to calling them cinnamon rolls seems harmless and endearing, but can be linked back to the fact that their bigness and their Blackness are what cause white audiences to view them as threats in the first place.

It’s only after these characters prove their value and their softness (usually in a way that appeals to whiteness), that they’re revered for cinnamon roll status.

But it’s rather clear why fandom does this.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 »

[Essay Series] Looks Like A Cinnamon Roll… – Opening Essay

Looks Like A Cinnamon Roll...

There’s a part of my brain that can’t believe that this all began because of an overused meme. There’s a part of my brain that’s almost embarrassed that I was able to  build so much content as a result of scrolling through character tags on tumblr and taking in the way that some of my fellow fans were talking about characters of color via the “cinnamon roll” meme.

Pulled from the title of an Onion article turned meme, the “cinnamon roll” in fandom is a character who is literally seen as being too good and too pure for this world. While different people in different sub/fandoms can’t decide on a uniform meaning or usage of the meme, one thing that the meme has come to represent is that the different “cinnamon roll” characters tend not to get the same content as other characters.

Unless they’re designated as a “sinnamon roll” (who is often a problematic character, usually a villain), these characters get “softer” content and they’re typically coddled in the ships fandom does popularize for them.

It’s a meme-turned-trope that should be adorable and sweet because well…

Everyone loves a cinnamon roll.

However, when those characters are characters of color well… it can become a problem.Read More »