People critical of the institution of fandom in any capacity and with any heat whatsoever are seen as outsiders to fandom. No matter how we deliver a critique, or how gently we suggest that fandom could be a little better, it is received as aggression and violence.
It’s seen as well… anti fandom.
Even when the people speaking are long-time fans, people who’ve lived online and moved through tons of different fandoms, we’re always seen as outsiders, especially when it comes to us talking about ways that fandom can be made more accessible for all of us – instead of just white women and queer people.
Image A: The “Don’t make me tap the sign” meme with bottom text that reads: “Declaring that the real problem with how we talk about racism is “angry” POC and not racists harming and harassing them is… racist. Bitch.”
Image B: The “Don’t make me tap the sign” mtoeme with bottom text that reads: “If you’re angrier at POC in any fandom for being “mean” – cussing, snarking, etc. – when speaking about racism in fandom than you are at racists for BEING RACIST IN FANDOM… you’re a fucking racist.
Why do racists keep getting to define the rules of engagement? Why do they get to position themselves as neutral and unbiased, when they’re clearly biased in favor of white supremacy in a given space? Why is it that racists get to declare POC “too angry” to listen to and have people listen to them instead… As they angrily insult the “too mean” POC simply asking people to stop being less racist. Do people think this isn’t their entire goal? To make listening to anti racists/stopping racism in any space or capacity too hard or scary to do.
It’s wild that we have to be nice to racists… or else they won’t listen to us? Because kindness is so important to them.
Except… have you ever noticed that the people who insist that conversations about racism just have to be done at their tone and in a way that they’ve previously signed off… are some of the nastiest assholes on the internet?
As we’ve covered, there’s a specific class of fandom weenie that I cannot stand because of how willing they are to support racists and racism in fandom using their POC-ness as a shield.
I use “PickMe POC” as a term for them – which remains not a slur despite what rabid racists in fandom insist – but they also define themselves as POC TOO. As in “I’m a POC TOO… and this isn’t racist/this other POC is actually the real problem in fandom and somehow racist against me for pointing out racism”.
In the… decade or so since I started actively speaking out against racism in fandom spaces and in media – primarily antiblackness, but I’ve talked about whitewashing, anti Native racism in fanworks, the weird way white fans can approach East Asian celebrities or characters in different fandoms , etc – who pushes back against me has shifted.
First, the loudest people were white people who prefaced everything with “I’m queer and” or “i’m a trauma survivor and”. But as people started to absorb a particular form of Tumblr social justice diss-course that hinged even more heavily on specific identity politics, it shifted to “I’m a POC and”.
That wasn’t really a thing in fandom discourses when I was growing up in fandom.
(Probably because for most of modern fandom, anytime you’d preface a conversation on racism by talking about how you were affected by racism here as a person of color, people would basically laugh you out of the room and/or gaslight you because you were “too close” to the issue and couldn’t be seeing things straight.)
I’m “cheating” this month by using a meme I didn’t create! I can’t remember who the OP is, but if you know or are that person, thanks for that, link me to the original and I’ll boost it because it rocks. One of my friends tagged me in this meme, which uses Dr. Manhattan blasting someone into stardust from Watchmen and it’s perfect because this is… my experience.
There are so many people in different fandoms who think I need to take their wild and absolutely incorrect interpretation of my work seriously and… I don’t think I will.
No one is more surprised than I am that I’ve been able to get to ten memes in this series. While I’m genuinely hilarious and my meme game is on point, there are only so many memes in the world that work with the concept of “hey fandom is super racist and more attached to that than anything else”. But hey, here’s one more.
I have talked on end about how absolutely irrational people are when faced with my work.
It is incredibly strange seeing people say things like “TERFs and queerphobes hate [a specific subset of shippers] the most” and frame themselves as oppressed minority any/everywhere because of what they enjoy writing, reading, and thinking about in fandom.
Not in the context of “consuming and creating queer content that shows nuanced, positive, and/or erotic relationships and dynamics triggers bigots” but just… because they are into consuming and defending supposedly problematic content that happens to be be queer and/or consumed by queer fans at all. (Like comparing the people against them or merely critical of the thing on their own time and at any level to TERFS, Nazis or the people behind the Comics Code, even when, in many cases… they’re actually talking about other queer people who aren’t even talking to/about them when talking about their issues with something in fandom.)
I am always very fascinated by how many of the people online who claim to be “radically anti censorship” and who appear to be very strong advocates for freedom of speech also… actively work to silence other people and censor them.
Most often, as we’ve seen lately, via constant and successful attempts at silencing Black and brown people who write and teach about anti-racism in any space they (these white anti-censorship advocates) consider their own.
I cannot get over how many people continue to be antiblack on main while having the nerve to have the Black Lives Matter hashtag in their Twitter (or another social media accounts) bio or in the header of their account.
Both because there are no fandoms that are actively anti racism by default and because the shape of fandom discourse in 2020 is that folks are actually super comfortable with being racist in defense of fandom. You can go back to transformative fandom at its birth and guess what’d be there… lots or racism.
It looks a lot like… Amy Cooper calling the cops on Christian Cooper and pretending that her life was in danger when all he wanted her to do was leash her damn dog, actually.
(And before you accuse me of “trivializing real racism” or whatever the actual fake woke set is calling it these days, understand that what Amy did and what the nice white women of fandom do are the same kind of behavior and they all weaponize their white womanhood for the same end: a permanent silencing of Black voices that they don’t like or agree with. I get to make comparisons like that considering that I’m subject to Amy Coopers in and out of fandom.)
I was right then and I am right now: there are white women and queer people in fandom who utilize their marginalization (womanhood or queerness, sometimes a blend of both with a splash of mental health issues and claims of trauma inspiring totes valid lashing out thrown in) in fandom.
They use their ability to inspire ATTACK-PROTECT urges in folks in the same way that Amy Cooper tried to utilize her white womanhood to get the cops to come in guns ablaze to protect her from… Christian Cooper’s nerdy ass asking her to put her dog on a leash.
The goal in fandom, as with Amy Cooper and various other cop-calling, hysteria weaponizing Karens, is to control who gets to speak, who is listened to, who is taken as an inherent threatening presence trying to control or harm others… and who should be.
Back in February, shortly after the big wave of Rey/Kylo fans pretending they were underogoing gender based oppression over shipping their ship because John Boyega roasted them, I saw an account that identified as anti-anti (fan/shipper) or “proshipper” make a tweet that was basically like:
“Sometimes, I wish that as an anti-anti I could call out bigoted works in fan and professionally released media, but then people will think I’m actually an anti out to censor fandom”
Recentlyl, I was making memes and I remember that I’d just (as in this half of 2020) seen the same set of people – way too invested in shipping for their own good – once again complaining that they couldn’t call out or speak about racism in their specific fandom spaces. This time it wasn’t because they feared being called an anti and accused of censorship… but because they were.
And rather than pause for a moment to think about how the actual problem remains racists in fandom, I once again saw people moaning about how “antis” (and again, anti what? In what fandom? When?) are the reason why anti-antis/proshippers can’t talk about racism in fandom in their own communities.
I love making memes about fandom and my experiences in fandom. Have a meme.
I think it’s really funny (but like in a morbid way) when I see someone using a twitter user as an example of how bad all “antis” are (where anti can mean anything from someone harassing someone over ships to someone that dislikes a character or trope to… someone writing about racism in fandom) and that “antis” need to handle this person because there’s apparently a hive mind afoot…
And I then click through to go block and report the person because it’s my thing and then the “anti” in question is like a thirteen year old weeb shouting about a ship from a show they shouldn’t be watching in the first damn place.