As I write this, there are Star Trek fans mad about Star Trek: The Animated Series character Admiral Robert April’s upcoming appearance in Strange New Worlds. April is now being played by Canadian actor Adrian Holmes, who currently plays Uncle Phil on Bel-Air, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reboot. Obviously, Holmes looks nothing like the original admiral… but is that such a bad thing? After all, as Jamie Lovett points out over at ComicBook: “Despite being one of Starfleet’s most highly-decorated captains, April has previously only appeared in canon in a single episode of Star Trek: The Animated Series.”
One episode in a show older than most of the people complaining.
And yet, there are people screaming and moaning about “the wokes” forcing “political correctness” on Star Trek, a show that has apparently never delved into progressive politics or had people of color in main roles. Except… Star Trek, while imperfect in execution, was a science fiction pioneer in how it portrayed a relatively progressive society with diverse people learning, loving, and living together. From day one it was a show that put people of color and women on-screen… and had detractors because of that.
Is this our first text-based meme for this series? I do believe it is!
Rather than me pulling from a photo meme, I jacked the “You kick Miette” meme for my own ridiculous ends. I’m very pleased with the result.
I know a lot of people have been watching the various conversations about what content is “allowed” to be in fandom spaces with bated breath and anxiety – especially as we know that conservatives in the United States and elsewhere trying to ban books about queerness and race/racism. It is documented that the people and stories most often affected and silenced by censorship – even non-governmental – are queer or “non-white”.
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?
Seeing people recently kind of… gank “lil meow meow” for their fandom sexyman – almost always a white man with a background including somewhat horrific violence – has been wild. It’s a meme format that has recently picked up steam across the past few weeks on Tumblr and Twitter and has been used to “jokingly” refer to how people basically woobify a certain class of villains the way we do our cats.
The thing is? It actually has its roots in my primary fandom, BTS.
But you wouldn’t know that from all the people that insist on applying the meme to various Tumblr Sexymen like Loki and Kylo.
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.