So, what was the show that made you realize how racist fandom was? We all have that one show/movie/book that made us realize that this “geek haven” we thought was for everyone really wasn’t.
Mine was Young Justice. Now, I’d read a lot of fanfic before YJ (mostly white slash, and I never thought too much about it) I was still becoming comfortable with my sexuality, so slash was pretty comforting for me. I read a lot of Merlin/Arthur, but I noticed that there wasn’t that much fic for Gwen or her brother Elyan. I pushed it out of my mind.
Then Young Justice happened and with it, Kaldur’ahm. And he was EVERYTHING fic writers loved. He was strong and compassionate, had an interesting backstory, had a difficult love life, etc…
I was expecting TONS of fic for this guy, he was great! But Kaldur didn’t really get a lot (or any) appreciation compared to the rest of the cast. He was judged harshly. Fans would crap all over him due to the mole situation (Alpha) while giving other characters a pass for doing things that were worse (often times, those horrid things were done TO Kaldur) I’m still pissed abot Miss Martian leaving Kaldur in the desert to go coddle Superboy. Like really? And all people wanted to do after that episode was cream “OMG SUPERMRATIAN!!!!”
When Kaldur became a double agent, and pretty much led the charge in the fight against the light, most of the fandom responded with a resounding “Meh.“
And the more I looked into this instance, and others in ther fandoms, the more upsetting it became. Those same patterns were repeated in EVERY fandom regarding black characters.
That was my wake up call.
What was yours?
Okay so while I’d been in fandom spaces before and seen fandom racism from a sort of outsider POV in the years before YJ aired, that was also my first direct experience with fandom racism.
The erasure was everywhere. Either they were erasing Kaldur as a character, erasing his potential relationships with other characters (I’m so mad that SB/Kaldur never became a big ship), or straight up erasing his blackness.
I mean –
During season two when we saw Black Manta’s office area with the tribal masks, there were people going around and saying that he wasn’t Black, he was atlantean. And um… Black Manta’s history as one of the most terrifying Black villains in comics apparently means nothing.
There were people who kept writing him as the “team mom” and rendering him unshippable because they had desexualized him so much. Then there were the “I view Kaldur as ace/aro and that’s why I ship him with no one” people.
My first big fandom was Harry Potter, and by the time I moved to Glee fandom I was still a pretty uncritical fan –I was uncomfortable with people’s treatment of Santana and Mercedes but I don’t think I really realized why back then and they weren’t leading characters so I chalked it up to that.
Then I joined the Teen Wolf fandom and THAT was an eye opener. I was so excited to have a brown Latino lead in a YA fantasy show! He was a thorough deconstruction of most of the toxic stereotypes that brown and Latino characters are usually boxed in, his role models were a brown woman (working class single Latina mother who also stayed far from damaging tropes) and a black man (who, despite falling in the Magical Black Guide trope, was a successful vet, a great boss, a powerful supernatural figure and one of the moral edges of the show).
He was asthmatic, coded as mentally ill, a trauma survivor, hard-working, sweet and compassionate, hopeful and determined. His canon love story with Allison was excellent, his chemistry with his sidekick was amazing. He was everything fandom could have wanted in a lead. But he was brown, and the virulent racism in the Teen Wolf fandom was impossible to miss.
Scott was condemned and demonized for taking care of a wounded dog, for falling in love with a girl, for trying to get away from his abusers (Derek and Peter), for trying to do well in school despite trauma and Hero Duties, for being traumatized and terrified, for trying to stop other kids for going through the same trauma, for buying textured condoms for his girlfriend, for saving lives, for taking people’s pain at his own detriment, for being boring, for being too good, for being innocent, for being alive and a lead and brown.
He, a brown boy who was assaulted, threatened, persecuted, tortured and abused by white grown men and women, was called “A White Savior” and “Racist Against Werewolves”. The mentally ill brown Latino actor who plays him was called white, dumb, homophobic, talentless, told to kill himself, etc. etc. etc.
The murder of a Black boy to further a white man’s plot was used as shipping fodder for a white m/m ship, Deaton was accused of being evil from the get-go, people called for Scott to be killed and replaced with Derek and Stiles as leads, Danny’s existence as a an openly gay brown character and Posey’s honest support for Isaac/Scott to become canon was ignored as the fandom rallied for Sterek to become canon.
“Scott is a bad friend” became one of the most popular tags in TW fanfiction. Scott is, to this day, still described as portrayed as “a dog” in fanworks. Despite being a pacifist at heart, despite being a 16 y/o boy, despite being forgiving and compassionate and self-sacrificing at every turn, Scott was portrayed as selfish, abusive, misogynistic, homophobic, violent, predatory… Not to mention dumb: despite being in AP classes and shown to be exceptionally smart at ever moment, Scott was called stupid at every turn while Lydia and Stiles were hailed as “geniuses” (which might be canon for Lydia but wasn’t for Stiles at all).
People who don’t watch the show really believe that the white sidekick is the lead of TW instead of Scott, that’s how pervasive the erasure of his character has been.
I am so sorry you had to witness that bs. That sounds horrific. I’ve always been a huge stan for Scott, and wasn’t into the fandom enough to know any of this. I just wanted to say that Scott is indeed all the things you just described and you’d have to be a serious x-level bigot to think anything else.