Revisiting Escapism: Fandom Is Far More Than Just A Head-Empty Hobby

When my editor Claire approached me to start putting together what is now Fan Service, my column on fandom for Teen Vogue early in January 2021, I already had an idea in mind for the first column.

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[Thread Collection] Goalpost Shifting With Sarah/Bucky

Original thread here from May 2021. Collection edited for clarity.


Some long thoughts on misogynoir in fandom:

A) this person won’t admit it but [the reason] they feel like they need to loudly criticize this ship (with the claim that “they should’ve met earlier” knowing full well they don’t mean it) is because of the admission that the flirtation is canon

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[Thread Collection] VERY Brief Thoughts On Jesy Nelson and Blackfishing

From my main, private twitter earlier today. I wanted it here too.


I am not going to waste too much energy on Jesy Nelson but I will point out that as hard as she’s blackfishing and trying to present herself as Extremely Biracial Black Woman, she’s also actively weaponizing white women tears and activating white/queer fandom (via stan twt)

Especially against Leigh-Anne, an actual Black woman. And because she’s got Nicki in her corner defending her blackfishing (hypocritical after the Miley Cyrus stuff), this means that her non-Black fans will feel extra empowered to be actively antiblack towards LA & her Black fans

She wants to be Black (visually) but also clings to her white womanhood, the thing that lets her get sympathy and causes people to defend her violently, something that actually no one does FOR Black women but is often aimed at them in different fandoms.

I’m fucking tired.

Fandom Misogynoir Bingo Card

It’s been a while since we had a fandom racism bingo card. Last time, it was my partially tongue-in-cheek one about the fandoms for Korean pop and hip hop with a heavy tilt towards cultural appropriation and antiblackness. This time, like it says on the label, it’s about misogynoir in fandom.

As always, I do look towards my fannish past with this, and I recommend people learn their fandom history about the nature of bingo cards to deliver understanding of/clown on tough topics… like this one about racism in the immediate aftermath of racefail 09. It’s not an inherently “anti” thing unless you’re one of the extremely fandom-minded individuals that believes criticism of fandom at any any level or with any sharpness is automatically “anti fandom” in action and if you think that… well.

Anyway, one statement that lives in my mind on the regular comes from a speech Malcolm X gave in 1962 at Ronald Stokes’ funeral where he said that

“The most disrespected woman in America, is the black woman. The most un-protected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America, is the black woman.”

Fandom, especially when it comes to antiblackness, is not exempt from the issues that plague the wider world.

In fandom, misogynoir is accepted as a thing people do and it always has been acceptable in fandom at large regardless of how much people claim fandom as a space for women. Despite the perception that queer/women’s fandom is super progressive, it’s become increasingly clear to Black fans in particular that that’s far from the case. Misogynoir – aimed at Black fans, celebrities, and characters – is an acceptable norm in fandom and something that isn’t just defended, but that has become a bonding activity on a level that even sees other Black people partaking in it to build and maintain community bonds, not just non-Black people.

Hot on the heels of Candice Patton and other Black CW superhero actresses talking about the misogynoir they experience from fandom and behind the scenes of their respective shows is… me talking once again about misogynoir: a form of anti fandom that no one but Black women/femmes seems capable of clocking or interested in stopping.

NOW BEFORE WE GET INTO THE EXPLANATIONS, PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU’RE SENSITIVE AND NEED PEOPLE TO BE NICE WHEN COMPLAINING ABOUT RACISM THEY SEE AND EXPERIENCE, THIS IS NOT THE POST FOR YOU.

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[Guest Post] Period Drama Karens

Hello Stitch’s Media Mix readers! My name is Amanda-Rae Prescott (she/her/hers) and I’m a Black and multiracial fan of  period dramas, Doctor Who and other UK TV from New York City.


Racism in period drama fandoms can take many forms, but one form that’s very easy to spot are complaints from racists after new productions announce Black actors in traditionally white fictional character roles. Due to the success of Hamilton, Bridgerton, and other diverse-casted series, more production companies in the UK are adapting racebent or color-conscious casting. (Many of these series still have white writers and/or few Black people or other POC behind the camera, however, the UK entertainment industry is much further behind the US on this conversation for structural and population reasons.).

It’s easy for Black fans to miss these discussions online because these fandoms, with a few exceptions for mainstream fame, are outside traditional geek/nerd/fandom culture. There’s also an age gap to consider.

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Link Lineup – August 2021

It’s always so hard to pare down my links to a manageable amount rather than pouring out the entirety of my bookmarks for the month. But between last time and now, I have read some incredible things! Here’s a sampling with the usual added commentary.


Ignoring A Problem Doesn’t Make It Go Away: On Lindsay Ellis and Anti-Native Racism

She finishes her brief segment on her Twilight Apologia grievance by doing a classic “see I’m a liberal ally to the brown folks” move straight out of a JK Rowling’s tweet: adding the link to the Quileute tribe’s fundraiser to prove that she’s not racist, she cares about ACTUAL problems that the Quileute folks face. Not something as trivial as representation in Twilight but REAL problems. Clearly she cares more about indigenous issues than the indigenous people she’s arguing with. 

In any case, you don’t need to be native to know there isn’t much sincerity to someone who dedicates two hours to taking shots of whiskey for every “apology” they have to make. Quite frankly it would’ve saved her time to just upload a five second Youtube video of her telling us to eat shit. The same message would’ve been delivered expeditiously. 

A lot of people think that ignoring a problem like racism in media – here anti-Native racism in Twilight and Pocahontas… and Ellis’ coverage of both after the fact – will just make it go away. Add in a heaping helping of Ellis weaponizing her white womanhood and lumping in real Natives trying to educate her in with the very legitimate harassment she does get… And you’ve got a disastrous approach in one.

I thought this piece by Ali Nahdee was brilliant, insightful, and is a must-read for people who genuinely care about representation in media, fighting anti-Native racism, and holding ourselves and our favorite content creators accountable. In this country, Indigenous communities are mistreated and misrepresented as the norm. Media is one of the biggest ways that their cultures are repackaged – often being boiled down to a single experience set up to serve for the whole – and it’s important to recognize when we and our favorite/popular cultural critics drop the ball on recognizing that.

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White Fannish Entitlement Strikes Again

Near the end of June, I made the mistake of commenting on Star Wars fandom stuff when I saw screenshots of some members of that subfandom gloating about John Boyega briefly losing his blue check/verified status on Twitter as well as kind of assuming the worst about his exit from Rebel Ridge – especially once people started kind of claiming that he was “difficult“. (Like fully going “perhaps he will have his MeToo moment and people will know that he’s truly garbage… like we have all along” in some tweets I glimpsed.)

Aside from the comment calling me a bootlicker of color (for making a thread about fandom nonsense from their camp and not immediately writing a Teen Vogue article about John Boyega, who I have no access to and still cannot reach for clarification or an interview), one comment that stood out to me called me a coward because I didn’t like… leap into the way of actual non-fandom white supremacists in defense of Rey/Kylo fandom. Again, a fandom full of people that hate me for pointing out their co-fans’ racism.

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Meme-Ing for a Reason #10: Blocked For Not Being Nice To Racists

A version of the “for the better” meme where the Anakin on the top left is saying that “racism in fandom is a huge problem and we need to listen to POC who talk about it”. The Padme on the top right then asks, “Even POC who aren’t “nice” when talking about this, right?”. Then the bottom left Anakin represents someone blocking the fan of color for not being “nice”, leaving the final Padme staring in stunned silence.

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.

The “i can tell from a post about white silence/violence and a link to an adult literacy resource that stitch is verbally abusive like my estranged father” weirdo from last month proves that. Fandom is not okay and racists in fandom are so sensitive that they publicly perform being triggered… by Black people expressing or creating boundaries and speaking about what hurts us.

This is not normal.

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[Guest Post] Perspectives on Ruth Doctor

Elizabeth A. Allen and Jonah Akos got together recently to geek out about one of their favorite additions to Doctor Who: Ruth Clayton, a.k.a. the Fugitive Doctor. Played by Jo Martin, “Ruth Doctor” became the first Black Doctor in the show’s history. She appeared in two episodes of Season 12, “Fugitive of the Judoon” and “The Timeless Children,” generating polarized responses from viewers. Elizabeth and Jonah talked about Ruth Doctor’s characterization, her significance to the show and fandom, and her possible future.

Elizabeth is a white, queer, nonbinary writer and editor. Jonah is a Black, nonbinary trans man. Their identities shape their experiences with Doctor Who and with Ruth Doctor in particular.


Jonah: Let’s start with what we enjoyed about her.

Elizabeth: Yeah, let’s! I really love how Ruth Doctor was so quickly and deftly characterized.

Jonah: I think that was a great way to start — focusing on her POV for quite a bit of time. It helps you feel like she truly exists in the world. Even before knowing who she was, I liked her because she felt empathetic, but also confident in herself.

Elizabeth: Her happiness with her husband and the people she said “hi” to really grounded her. They also gave a perfect illustration of one of the Doctor’s best traits: At the best, the Doctor really CONNECTS with people. They CARE. They make friends.

Jonah: I also liked that she got to have a love interest. Allowing an older, dark-skinned Black woman to have love at all is rare. To show them as able and worthy of it.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I’m glad that she had some romance too! The snippets of domestic life and normalcy make Ruth a much more approachable Doctor than any other I’ve encountered.

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Let’s Talk About Tone Policing and (A Lack of) Reading Comprehension In Conversations About Racism In Fandom

In the sidebar for my website, I have the following block of text and a link to a resource on Adult Literacy:

Struggling with selective reading comprehension issues and think I’ve said something I clearly haven’t? Use this resource to brush up on your lackluster reading comprehension skills and consider leaving me out of your journey!

It is a snarky note, for sure, but this response to that block of text (from a Dreamwidth user who was responding to someone else who’d shared What Fandom Racism Looks Like: White Silence/Violence is really fucking out of pocket and nonsensical:

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Stitch @ Teen Vogue: “iCarly” Fan Misogynoir is Part of a Larger Fandom Pattern

Mosley isn’t the first to be harassed because people in a given fandom assumed she was replacing a white actress (Javicia Leslie’s Ryan Wilder on Batwoman) or because she was playing a racebent version of a “historically white” character (Anna Diop’s Starfire on Titans). And she won’t be the last, because fandom is not a space that protects Black women from misogynoir. Misogynoir, a form of anti-Black misogyny present in the ways that Black women and femmes are rewritten and dehumanized in order to excuse the way we are treated (no matter how much power we have), is alive and well in fandom spaces across the internet.

I write a lot about misogynoir in fandom. It’s something i feel strongly about because of how much it affects a wide range of fans in fandom, Black women and femmes who aren’t seen as part of these spaces. Fan entitlement is huge and we know that aggressive fans truly don’t know an end to their nonsense… but there’s a very specific way that these fans will attack Black women (fans, celebs, and journalists) that needs to stop.

There’s nothing on this earth that can excuse how iCarly fans treated Laci Mosely or how different superhero fans have treated Candice Patton and Anna Diop over the past few years. Black women deserve better treatment in fandom and from fandom.

Full stop.

Head on over to Teen Vogue to read ““iCarly” Fan Misogynoir is Part of a Larger Fandom Pattern”! Don’t forget to share it with your different social media accounts!

Link Lineup – May 2021

Somehow this is both short (only like 5 links this month) and very long (because I had a lot to say about them), but I will return for a BTS + Butter focused one before the end of the month so there will be more links… and more thoughts on them!


Breaking the silence: Exploring the Austen family’s complex entanglements with slavery

If we are asked to determine whether the Austen family was pro-slavery or anti-slavery, then the best answer to that question is both. We can’t take up one half of the facts and ignore the other. We ought to continue to engage directly with these matters as they arise in her writings and to investigate them further in the cataclysmic times in which she wrote. To respond to today’s conversations about Austen and race with dead silence is to join the rest of the Bertram cousins. Scrutinizing the past in these ways ought to prompt a reckoning in fandoms and readerships, as well as better museum labels.

My friend Amanda-Rae Prescott wrote an article about Sanditon that was… not necessarily well received by the Totally Not Racist (But Actually Deeply Racist) Fandom Karens there.  I bring that up because the repeat complaints to her article claimed that she was playing the race card, trying to insert political correctness into everything, and that she was actually demanding historical inaccuracy from the future seasons of Sanditon. The thing about historical accuracy though, is that history is written first and foremost by the people who survived it.

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[Guest Post] Alison the Beloved (Part Two)

In the first part of this essay, I explored the portrayal of Black women in Doctor Who, using the example of Alison Cheney. She appears in Scream of the Shalka, a 2003 web animation. Preceding the 2005 TV reboot by two years, she is the first broadcast non-white companion. 

I wrote about Alison’s role as the Doctor’s beloved, a status unusual for Black characters, and how she could have challenged the New Who’s portrayal of Black women as largely disposable victims. At the same time, SotS’ refusal to give Alison the lived experience specific to a Black London woman in an all-white small town reduces her revolutionary potential.

Alison’s ability to change the Whoniverse is also limited by SotS’ — and Alison’s — unpopularity. In this part of my essay, I dig into fan characterizations of Alison, using the AO3 corpus as a representative sample. An examination of SotS fan content on AO3 reveals that Alison may be the Doctor’s beloved in SotS, but she’s largely unloved in fandom.

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Stitch @ Teen Vogue: What “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” Teaches Us About Fandom Misogynoir

Fans identifying with characters and applying their understanding of social justice-oriented issues to them isn’t inherently a bad thing. But there’s a catch: fandom’s activism and desire to push back against problematic portrayals (or endings) tends to work on behalf of white characters (like Lexa and Castiel, and now Bucky) at the direct expense of Black and brown characters.

If there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s talking about misogynoir in fandom. (I have an entire mini-series about it here actually!) Fandom has always been primed to believe the worst of Black women – be they characters, fans, or even the performers themselves. What we’ve been seeing since Friday when episode four dropped, is a solid example of misogynoir in fandom and how it’s often done in defense of a white male character.

I love me some Bucky, but the way his standom has been acting about Black characters and now, specifically about Ayo and somehow Shuri) since the start of the show has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Because this is the fandom pattern: come up with a valid complaint (in this case, the ableism they clocked in the one scene) and then use it to do something super invalid… dismiss and dump on a Black female character.

Ready to read more about this latest round of misogynoir in fandom? Go check out “What “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” Teaches Us About Fandom Misogynoir” now!