Okay, this is going to be a long discussion about the intersection of misogyny and race in fandom, followed by other people’s rants about White fandom “acting a fool”. I stumbled across a Tumblr blog where the focus was entirely on misogyny in fandom. There wasn’t a lot of interesectionality in it, although it touched on the topic of racism from time to time. Most of the focus on these topics has been about its manifestation in fanfiction. I’m not really heavily involved in that part of fandom, but I pay attention and have noticed it everywhere else, in meta analysis, critiques of movies that haven’t been released, Twitter, in my various news-feeds, and on other websites.
What is happening in fandom is happening throughout all types of fandom, (even in books). The more PoC make a name for ourselves in media where we had been systematically denied, the louder and more strident becomes the backslash, from White people who feel we’re encroaching on something that’s theirs, making too many demands, forcing diversity, or critiquing how they perform fandom.
Calling out racism seems to galvanize those individuals who ,while reluctant to move or complain about anything else in the world, will respond to protect their bottom line. That bottom line seems to be feeling good about themselves as people, while trying to justify their complete inactivity on these issues. We’re not talking about the hardcore bigots. (Those people can’t hear anything through the swarm of wasps that live in their heads.) We’re talking about your average, everyday fan, the kind who thinks they’re liberal, progressive, good-hearted people who think they bear no one any malice because they haven’t burned any crosses on anyone’s lawn. These are the kind of people who are perfectly willing to sit and watch injustice and unfairness being done to others, and do and say nothing. I call such people ” The Peanut Gallery”. The only time they will speak up,when they feel a need to justify their inactivity, because feeling good about themselves is their primary goal, not speaking out against unfairness.
There is a certain type of person who, once they find a comfortable spot on the road of life, will simply sit there and do absolutely nothing. They don’t speak out, they don’t help the ones who trip and fall in front of them, they won’t move from their comfortable spot because “they got theirs”. That’s the closest metaphor I have to the racist pushback I’ve been seeing in fandom. There are White women who are complicit in upholding the status quo for a variety of reasons. Most of them view themselves as not participating in racist behavior because they have been victims of sexism. They fight to hold on to their sense of being feminsit and progressive, often throwing PoC, the differently abled, ,and transgender men and women under the bus to do so. They claim to support women, but not all women get their support, especially if she interferes with whatever they want for their favorite White characters.
It’s not just angry White men, whining about women, or racebending, in movies. There’s a significant contingent of white women engaging in racism and misogyny, mostly through their analysis and fictioning of shows and movies, and through their erasure of certain characters. In its most toxic form its “misogynoir”, the vilification of black women, which is unique and different from the treatment of men of color, and white women in the narrative. Its rare but not unheard of for White women to engage in racist Twitter and Tumblr rants, and harassment as well, when they feel their sense of ” being good people” has been attacked.
Many of these women consider themselves to be progressive and liberal. In all senses they consider themselves to be good people, and craft elaborately baroque reasons for why certain WoC within the narrative are villains, or should be disregarded. (This is often but not necessarily related to “shipping”.) In the words of finnorgana and artepen, these people are anything but progressive. They want to be seen as progressive, hence the elaborate, occasionally completely non-sensical reasons they create, for their dislike of certain characters. What it actually is, is these characters challenge their notions of the roles PoC, roles that have been informed by decades of Hollywood racism. Rather than confront this thinking head on, because to do so might admit they have racist ideas, they have to justify their dislike for a black hero, or black love interest and will go so far as to make up, out of whole cloth, moments in movies which never occurred, or concoct wild interpretations of the canon narrative.
*The Get Down, Black Panther, and Luke Cage
The Get Down is a show on Netflix, chronicling the lifestyles of some young and pretty twenty something black people in seventies NY, around the popularity of disco, and the start of rap music. It has some beautiful gender representation and even a little gay/queer representation, as well. But since it’s a mostly black cast, that doesn’t prominently feature a white narrative,(Luke Cage), it is being ignored by the same people, who claim to care so much about representation of women and gays. They can make the argument that white women’s representation is good for ALL women, but can’t seem to make that same leap when it comes to Black women. The message one derives from that is WoC can’t represent ALL women. The same people telling black gay people to wait their turn when the representation is white,(Agent Carter) seem uninterested in representation when it’s PoC.
In other words, these “good, progressive” people, who are deeply concerned with representation as long as all the characters are white, aren’t watching The Get Down, because it’s too Black. Rather than face that racist idea, they craft elaborate reasons for why it’s a bad show, while uplifting Stranger Things, which is something more familiar, with its 80s/Goonies pathos, and an all white cast. (There’s no female or queer representation in Stranger Things.)
what really kills me about the whole situation regarding the get down is that it’s the same annoying ass fake concerned white people who’s favorite pastime is harassing black and non black people of color to settle for fucking scraps on these terrible all white or predominantly white tv shows because it’ll either be better for white women or white queer representation, that are running up in my inbox telling me they’re not wasting their time on a show that’s a flop or they’re just flat-out ignoring it, like they didn’t read every black and nonblack person the same tired ass essay about waiting our turn because soon enough something for us is going to come and everyone will be happy and martin luther king jr’s dream about us all having sleepovers together is gonna come true!!!!! like it’s the same crusty ass white people who acted like they gave half a shit about diversity and actual positive representation that are completely ignoring the get down for the dumbest reasons, like the people who feel triggered by certain aspects of this show have an actual reason to not want to watch, like nobody’s gonna force you to watch a show that legitimately makes you uncomfortable but the people who just don’t fucking care??? the ones that are probably the same losers who tried to push black people into watching shit shows like agent carter or the 100 where we’d have to see ourselves being disrespected and ormurdered and violated on screen, y’all are trash