Lies Fandom Tells About Why Black Characters and Celebrities Don’t Get Shipped

A screenshot from Black Panther where T’challa and Nakia kissing at the end of the film. Over the image is a white overlay of lines in the top left and bottom right corner. The title “Lies Fandom Tells About Why Black Characters and Celebrities Don’t Get Shipped” is in a loopy script and then my twitter handle is underneath that.
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The Slash Ship Checklist

Source: Slash Shipping, Pseudo-Progressivism, and Reinforcing Patriarchal Standards in Fandom

Sometimes, when I see a white dude slash ship pick up steam across transformative fandom, all I can think about is how the ship seems like it exists just to check off boxes on an imaginary checklist that’s been shared across slash fandom spaces for the past forty plus years. 

Sure, sometimes the ships are populated by characters who have chemistry in some way. But often, it just kind of feels as if the fans are putting together elements to a formula in order to get the “perfect” ship. 

It doesn’t actually feel… organic

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What Fandom Racism Looks Like: Beige Blank Slates

What Fandom Racism Looks Like - Beige Blank Slates

“certain bodies could be read as blank slates not already overdetermined by race” – a partial quote from page 17 of Melanie E. S. Kohnen’s Screening the Closet: Queer Representation, Visibility, and Race in American Film and Television.

Some of fandom’s favorite characters are “blank slates”.

Beige blank slates, that is.

General Armitage Hux from the Star Wars sequel trilogy.

Arthur and Eames from Inception.

Q from Skyfall and Spectre.

Clint and Phil Coulson in the first Thor movie.

Various minor white male characters in a show or film that somehow became one of/the most popular characters in their source media or fandom.

In this installment of “What Fandom Racism Looks Like”, we’ll be looking at the idea of the “blank slate” primarily in Western media-focused slash fandom spaces.

We’ll be asking what a blank slate looks like, what these fans and fandoms get out of these characters, what characters will never be considered blank enough to be loved, and how, while the claim that fandom prefers “blank slate characters” might well be true and there are many instances where the Beige Blank Slate provides necessary representation within fandom, the preference that prioritizes white male characters above all others kind of messes up something that has the potential to be great.Read More »

Fandom Racism: Predictable AF

Fandom is nothing if not predictable.

I know I’m late, but I just saw the casting announcements for the upcoming Netflix/BBC series Troy: Fall of a City. One thing that immediately stood out to me was the way that the casting immediately flipped the script when it came to Achilles and Patroclus, casting two dark skinned Black actors in the roles.

I was (am still) excited by the choice to cast David Gyasi as Achilles and Lemogang Tsipa as Patroclus because it’s an inspired casting choice. Nothing about this story of gods and messy humans has whiteness inherent to the casting and I think it’s time that we got some dark-skinned people in these period pieces who weren’t slaves…

However, I know fandom.

I’m in fandom.

I know what the response will be from people who make a point of claiming objectivity and fighting against “blackwashing” with no sense of self-awareness even as they plaster #BlackLivesMatter and don a cloak of perfect progressivism. I can predict fandom racism and the forms it will take without even trying (and definitely without wanting to) because it’s a repeating pattern that fandom can’t let go of.Read More »

What It’s Like Being Fandom Critical While Black

What It's Like Being Fandom Critical While Black (1)

If we adopted Scientologist terms in fandom I’d probably be deemed as a negative influence or suppressive person because of the way I talk about the things I’ve seen and experienced in fandom spaces.

I’ve had my opinions invalidated, my analysis responded to with condescension, and my inbox invaded by assholes. I even wound up linked on Tumblr In Action once for my racebending post (and boy was that a bit terrifying because we all know how bad things can get on Reddit) and I frequently have people talk down to me about fandom history and culture.

People regularly write me condescending and long essay responses to my posts, letting me know just how inferior they think I am and my opinions are. I’ve been insulted to my face and behind my back (sometimes by people I thought I was friendly with).

I’ve been called a fascist for talking about Hux getting an unreasonably huge amount of attention despite only having three minutes of screentime in The Force Awakens.

I’ve been told to kill myself, called a homophobe for talking about the racism in slash fandom spaces, a misogynist out to police women’s sexuality for talking about intersections of kink, sex, and shipping in fandom, and constantly have my thoughts on antiblackness and racism in fandom dismissed because I’m black in the US and there’s apparently no “skin-tone based racism” anywhere else but here.

I get a lot of shit and it’s still not even a third of what some of my friends in the same position do despite having anon on because I believe in the preemptive block and embarrassing the hell out of racists that message me or reblog my posts.

It’s tiring, but I refuse to stop.Read More »

Internalized Misogyny and that Damned Slash Shipping Post: A Response

ScreenHunter_233 Feb. 11 20.30.jpg

(Wherein I answer the first part of @legendofzeldamajorass‘s question, sort of answer the second, and promise try to do a better job about fleshing out my comments at some point soonish when I’m not swamped with work.)

This is in response to Slash Shipping, Pseudo-Progressivism, and Reinforcing Patriarchal Standards in Fandom

First things first: Girls and people perceived to be girls are spoonfed some seriously toxic thoughts about what it means to be a girl and what femininity as a construct is from the moment that they’re born.

Think back to high school, if you weren’t a teenage girl, you were around them. How many of them were super nice to one another across the board? When you exist in a society that has made an industry out telling women they’re not good enough and never will be, you wind up with some pretty twisted views of what you’re supposed to be like.

One of the pushbacks I keep seeing to my post on slash shipping and pseudo-progressiveness is that people like you and like others assume that women aren’t capable of actively expressing internalized misogyny and that we shouldn’t confront the fact that it’s something that’s so very present in fandom spaces.

I was a teenage girl once. I was also a teenage slash shipper and have been a slash shipper for the past 13+ years. And I save everything. So I can go back and look at the slashfic I wrote and read back then and see very vividly the internalized misogyny that was present in my erasure of female characters or how I used them as villains more often than not. And I can also see the evolution of my writing as I turned my academic research towards queer history and gender studies.

And I’m still evolving! Because people talked to me, they called me out and they called fandom out. And I learned just as much from them as I did my textbooks.

So why should we you know… not talk about the fact that internalized misogyny (and internalized racism) is something that our fellow female fans need to grow out of because it definitely informs the way that a majority of them tend to gravitate towards the white dude ships when they ship slash.Read More »

Slash Shipping, Pseudo-Progressivism, and Reinforcing Patriarchal Standards in Fandom

disproportionateHere’s a newsflash for you my fellow slash shippers: Your male/male ships that focus almost exclusively on white men aren’t as progressive or as rebellious as you think they are.

Especially when (not ‘if’) they come at the expense of women and characters of color who have significant intimate relationships with one or both of the two white guys you’re shipping.
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A Thousand Masks (Harvey Dent/Bruce Wayne – DC Comics)

Title: A thousand masks
Fandom: Batman (Comics)
Pairing/Characters: Harvey Dent/Bruce Wayne, Gilda Chen, Silver St. Cloud
Rating: Mature/Low R
Length: 7600 words
After eight years abroad, Bruce Wayne comes back into Gotham just in time to celebrate the new year.

Apparently, being Gotham City’s hard-partying prodigal son is hard work, and Bruce seems to have no time for a lowly ADA. Even if said ADA is probably the only real friend that Bruce even has left in this godforsaken city.

Four weeks to the day after his arrival back in Gotham, Bruce waltzes into Harvey’s office on the third floor of the District Attorney’s office as though it hasn’t been a month of Harvey playing phone tag and dealing out assorted excuses.
Contains: Unhealthy relationship, mild sexual content, angst

Beta Credit:  My friends Meeya and Fleet who are amazing, patient, and insightful beta readers. Without them, I couldn’t have gotten this story to its full potential.

Notes: Originally written and posted for Birthmonth 2014, this is probably the one piece of fiction that I’m eternally proud of and super pissed over how fandom never quite registered my talents or the ship’s strength. Since it’s Birthmonth 2015 now, I decided to put it up here on my blog so that other people could read it because I think it’s just fabulous!

This story draws a bit heavily from Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One  and is technically canon compliant. It also makes subtle nods to numerous parts of canon aside from B:YO including a few bits I got from the Batman Files.

There’s also a bit of lowkey racebending going on. As always, my Harvey Dent is biracial and in this incarnation, is played by a young Mark Taylor. On top of that, I decided to play a bit with my Gilda headcanons since she’s so underused by canon and slipped some of that into the story as well. In my head, she’s played by Guo Xue Fu (thanks in part to a recent marathon session of one of her dramas).

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