Its not just Star Wars fandoms, though. We spend a lot of time on Tumblr shaking our damn heads over how shitty some of these fandoms behave towards characters they claim to like, and explaining why its not a good idea for people to do and say racist shit about them.
“Do they even know how to Fan?”
The Star Wars Fandom is, on occasion, a complete shitstorm of every awful racist behavior seen in every fandom ever. This is not to condemn those legitimate fans who genuinely love the franchise, and are not engaging in any of these shenanigans, let me make that clear. Hell, I’m a Star Wars fan! Been one since the first movie. But what I do not want to do, is have anything do with the Star Wars fandom, in general, whose behavior, from the time of the announcement of Finn as a lead character, has been universally awful, racist, and thoroughly nasty, not just towards other fans, but towards the characters, the actors, and even the show’s creators.
As a general rule I do not engage in shipping of various characters. Not because I don’t think it’s a legitimate activity. It’s just that I almost never think about it, and when I do, I rarely ever go beyond whatever canon pairing is present. Its simply not my priority when consuming media. Some of the fans, however, have taken shipping Rey and Kylo to such a delusional level of behavior, you wouldn’t believe it. From death threats to the creators, to cropping characters out of cast photos and posting them online, and harassing the actors on Twitter.
I was in the Supernatural fandom when the Destiel shipping started to ramp up, (it has since died down somewhat, thanks to the show no longer queerbaiting the characters), and saw every one of these behaviors listed here, , within that fandom.
Star Wars fandom is not the only one engaging in harassment of the actors and other fans. This happens in all the largest fandoms. A lot of the problem seems to be a toxic combination of celebrity worship, racism, and entitlement to the stories being consumed, and people not knowing how to be fans, along with internet anonymity. Somewhere along the way, people forgot that fandom involves loving and respecting the characters, and actors, and that this is supposed to be fun.
This behavior tends to have the worst repercussions for fans of color. Fandom becomes a “safe space” for White fans, at our expense. Part of the problem is the use and writing of meta. You have a lot of people writing so-called, think-pieces about these shows. Unfortunately, a lot of these are written by people who have seen meta, think they know what it is, and how to do it, but have never had an analytical thought in their life.
This is not something exclusive to White male fans either. There are plenty of White women out there writing slavefic about Black Panther, cropping Finn out of photos with Rey, writing racist meta on why Michonne, and Uhura, and Iris West should die, or remain unloved and alone, and harassing Candice Patton with pornographic, and racist memes on Twitter.
1. Meta means about the thing itself. It’s seeing the thing from a higher perspective instead of from within the thing, like being self-aware.
The Reylo faction of the Star Wars fandom regularly engages in every single one of the behaviors listed in the above articles. How is this fandom? How does this show a person’s love for a show, or character, or even an actor? Fandom has become so toxic in some places that even the mainstream news media have gotten wind of it, and they’re usually oblivious to such things. (We won’t get into how mainstream media has aided and abetted the racist, sexist, and homophobic attitudes that make toxic fandom possible.)
The Reylo fandom are those people whose priority is shipping Rey and Kylo Ren from the Star Wars movies. Although many people are opposed to this relationship because it’s seen as romanticizing abuse, and as an erasure of Finn from his own narrative, its the behavior surrounding the ship, that seems to be causing the most consternation among fans of color. My general attitude is like whatever ships you like, but don’t delude yourself that it’s going to happen. Don’t delude yourself about what type of character you’re stanning for, and for fuck’s sake, stop make up bullshit excuses for what you’re doing because you feel some type of way about liking the villain.
JUST OWN IT!!!
Okay, this will be the last Reylo post I make today but since they want to act like they’re innocent, I’m just going to make a short list of the things they have done.
- Harassed Daisy Ridley for posting a picture of Finn and Rey holding hands
- Spammed unrelated Star Wars tags with Reylo content
- Sent racist messages to various Finn fans
- Erase Poe to make Kylo part of the new trio
- Cropped Dev Patel and John Boyega out of pictures only to replace them with Adam Driver
- Made racist Native American AUs and a racist Black Lives Matter story
- Made a really gross and disturbing mental patient AU
- Have tried time and time again to erase the relationship Finn has with Rey
- Have posted Reylo content in the Beauty and the Beast tags as well as the Dark Crystal tags
- Crosstag on a daily basis
- Made Rose’s line about the things we love about Rey and Kylo
- Made a Handmaid’s AU
This list will surely get longer.
Adding to this:
- Organized, promoted, and held a “Cousin Ben Week” dedicated to creating content where Rey and Kylo were cousins in a romantic relationship, purely for the fetishization of incestuous relationships.
- When some Reylos came forward with concerns about “Cousin Ben Week” they were silenced by other Reylos and told to get out of the fandom if they were bothered
- Harassed antis after antis posted stories about being bullied by shippers before becoming antis, called many antis “victim-blamers” for sharing such stories
- Bullied antis after antis posted selfies to spread positivity in the anti community
- Made up a fake Crepe story to shit on antis
- Harassed Pablo Hidalgo about if Kylo is a virgin or not
- Have called Finn/John Boyega racial slurs including “coal boy” and said he looks 40.
- Have sexually harassed a Kylo Ren actor at a Disney theme park.
- There are scattered incidents of Kylo Ren and Rey cosplayers being harassed bt Reylos as well.
Also adding made Orient Express about their ship when it came out with Daisy as one of the leads ( where character was half of a interracial couple )
And recently Made the song “Rewrite The Stars ” a song about interracial couple facing racist miscegenation in the 1800s sing how they can rewrite the stars so they don’t have to deal with the racism
Posted a story where Leia died and Han married Rey only to have Kylo steal his father’s bride from his own dad.
Used the Holocaust experience as a sob story to try and mine sympathy and got mad when actual Jewish people told to not do that because anti semetism.
Called myself and other black fans nazis, KKK equivalents and racists because I said they don’t experience racism and should STFU about anti blackness.
Sent some select black finnreys pictures of black people being hanged and/or lynched.
Claim to “call out racism” in their little circlejerk echo chamber and in the same breath turn around and say how us blackies are mean and racist when we tell them how nasty they are.
Shit talk on our posts all day while blocking us because they are too pussy to have us respond to them directly.
-Told other reylos to reblog an anti minors post because they expressed being triggered by reylo blogger interaction
-Weaponized cope shipping reylos against anti survivors
-Made a sexual assault reylo video
-Sent porn to underage antis simply for not liking the pairing
-Compared me, a Mexican, to Trump for not liking their pairing
-suicide baiting antis for calling Adam Driver ugly
-Said islamophobia wasn’t real and Muslims uncomfortable with Adam were the “real racists”
-Drawn Finn with wide lips and black skin
-Take FinnRey lines to promo their mayo pairing
-Called FinnRey shippers the “real racists” for not shipping FinnRose
-Reduce Poe to a sexy player and refuse to admit the racist undertones in that stereotype
-Demonize Finn as a black man for taking Rey’s hand “against her will” yet praise Kylo for kidnapping and torturing her simply because Kylo is white
-sexually harassed me in the comments of a fic I wrote and then claimed that I was the one doing the harrassing just for responding
-made an entire theory on how every instance of Kylo/the FO being violent and angry was ACTUALLY super romantic and about Rey losing her virginity
-compare Adam being called ugly to anti blackness and other forms of racism
- Harassed a minor for “””doxxing”” them when said minor hadn’t actually done anything wrong
- Continuously harassed various antis about their ship being canon starting in January 2016 when there was not even a hint of that being true
- Constantly call antis “scum” and insinuate that we’re all a hivemind and/or 12 years old and “just don’t know better”
- Instead of informing antis about a rapist in the community, turned it into an antis vs shippers situation, and spread misinfo about a popular blogger
- Continuously jump onto properly tagged posts to gang up on the op
- Insinuate that antis tell people to die and/or harass shippers without providing any proof
Gonna add to this too
- Wrote gross incest stories on anti posts
- Used that stupid “anne” insult and then used the “it’s a meme” line on trans/nb antis who said it made them uncomfortable/dysphoric (im one of those trans people)
- Compared black people to purple aliens when called out on a whitewashed finnrey edit
- Compared finnrey/finnrey shippers to hitler
- White shippers continue to speak over POC about what is and isn’t racist
- Said I have no right to speak on racism because I’m not fully black
- Refered to my race as a “half breed”
- Sent themselves racial slurs on anon and then tried to accuse me and a few other antis, wouldn’t provide proof that it was me or said antis
My question about this one is, what are White women in fandom supposed to do when The Becky Sue is the example they get from the source material? White racial resentment is a factor in how fans respond to the media they consume. In one episode of The Walking Dead, a White character named Enid dressed down a WoC on the show. (In a more recent episode, she tried to do this again to Michonne.) Some fans objected to this, seeing in this scene, the writers taking the opportunity to express their own real life racial resentment through a white character.
I didn’t see that particular scene, so I can’t say, but I have noticed a trend, in genre media, of White writers putting their own racially coded words into the mouths of Black characters, too many PoC characters being abused and/or mistreated in the narrative by White female characters, or writing Black characters (especially Black women) to be virulent (allegorical) racists, and xenophobes.
As far as what Tumblr thinks:
On White Prioritization
The dominant ideas in any culture will reflect the ideas of the most powerful, those who control the means of disseminating those ideas for if there is to be social order the less powerful must come to accept the ideas of the most powerful as the correct and right ideas. This is effected via a process of ideological indoctrination. The principal institutions responsible for the spread of the dominant ideology are the media, the educational system, the religious institutions and ordinary popular cultural fare such as movies, music, jokes and seemingly innocent play.
The dominant culture of the US was formed to give preference to and propagate the white supremacist cis-heteropatriarchy, a sociopolitical system in which cisgender, heterosexual white men hold social dominance at the expense of subordinating racial minorities, transgender individuals, non-heterosexual sexual orientations, and women.”
Part and parcel to these interconnected systems of oppression are racist cultural messages that present whites as whole human beings while pathologizing blackness and regarding non-whites as inferior. These ideas become entrenched in our subconscious and infiltrate our social attitudes developed through the socialization process.
White-centeredness is a deeply-rooted aspect of U.S. culture. White-centeredness denotes the centrality of white representation that permeates every facet of our dominant culture. It upholds as “normal” and “expected” the ubiquity of language, ideas, prejudices, preferences, values, social mores, and worldviews established by the white perspective.
The Becky Sue
This is a bit of a rant, sorry for any gratuitous swearing.
I know there’s the term ‘Mary Sue’, but I feel like there should be a ‘Becky Sue’, because both in fiction and life, white women are made out to always be the one who is right, the one who needs protecting, etc. There’s white privilege, and I feel that when a white woman against a PoC is involved, the privilege is taken to an even higher level because white women are always seen as the innocent ones.
I feel that the worst kind of Becky Sue in fandom and fiction are the ones that write stories where PoC only exist to fucking bow down to them and be there only to accomplish whatever goal they have. Like a PoC man sees a white woman at the beginning of a fic and is like–
‘Omg, it’s a white woman and she’s the prettiest most precious woman I’ve ever seen and I know absolutely nothing about her, but this is love at first sight and I’m going to marry her as soon as possible. Nothing else matters. Not my family or my identity, nothing. I’m just here to please/worship the ground of Becky Sue.’
It’s fucking nauseating. Then they have the Becky Sue writers who make their Becky Sue characters complete disgusting bitches to PoC, and when they get called out for it, they’ll be like: ‘Oh em gee, you’re misguided, you’re a drama queen. Like, just don’t read my story and let me have my fantasy of shitting all over PoC in peace.’
And then there’s the Becky Sue writers who write kind, intelligent PoC out-of-character (because if there’s a kind PoC character, white people have to knock them down a few pegs though shitty writing, jokes, or white-washing) then when this is pointed out they’ll be like, ‘Omg, not everyone sees everything the way you do. I don’t care about the source material, I just want to treat PoC like trash.’
Then, there’s the Becky Sues that will make up excuses for their racism and microaggressions with fake (or real) excuses like: ‘Oh em gee. I have depression let me write whatever I want.’ Or, ‘Oh em gee. I have Stigmata and a hang nail so you can’t criticize me.’ Or, when all else fails, just resort to name calling and flipping the situation around (white women’s favorite tactic) to where they say the big bad PoC is being a ‘troll’ or ‘mean’, or a dick, asshole, etc. And they’re the victim of harassment.
Or, another Becky Sue will come along and be like, ‘Omg, your Becky Sue character and her shitty treatment of PoC is the best thing I’ve ever read! This is better than any novel I’ve ever read! You’re the greatest writer ever! Like, your Becky Sue is SOOO down to earth!’
Or, they’ll be like: ‘Oh em gee, pointing out my racism is a personal attack. Becky Sues unite! Take down the big bad PoC!’
Just because you have depression or whatever, that doesn’t give you the right to be a fucking racist, and to treat PoC characters like trash. It doesn’t exempt you from being called out or criticized either. If you can’t write (or draw) PoC without being gross, racist garbage. STOP – FUCKING – WRITING – ABOUT THEM, if you’re that fragile to criticism. (I guess white women compare themselves to porcelain because they’re fragile and crack at the tiniest thing–I guess their evil ways is also one thing that makes their looks crack at an earlier age too. *pettyTM*)
I think that white people who are adamant about writing PoC like that are TRYING to antagonize PoC. And may karma just kick them in the fucking ass, please.
Plenty of PoC deal with both depression and OPPRESSION on a daily basis. And do most white people care? Here’s a tiny hint…HELL, FUCKING, NO.
Representation and the things you write do have an effect on others. Don’t try to make excuses or pretend that it doesn’t.
Can PoC writer’s/fanfic writers and artist start tagging their work as ‘PoC writer’, ‘PoC artist’? Or ‘Black writer,’ etc., etc.
I’m so drained of navigating through klandom’s filth, and having to handle white people (many who claim to be “progressive”) with kid gloves for every little thing because they can’t take discussions about anything that isn’t about glorifying everything they do, or anything that takes the focus off their white world.
submitted by anon on FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR
On White Feminism in Fandom Spaces
*(This is what happened in the Agent Carter and Wonder Woman fandoms.)
FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR
For me, nothing is worse than having to sift through content in video game fandoms and forums that have predominantly white women. Especially when those fandoms have PoC characters. At least when white men are racist they, most of the time, don’t try to hide it, so you can know what to avoid better.
It’s so easy for white women to get away with microaggressions, colorism, and covert racism because it is extremely rare, that another white woman will care enough to call them out. (Or, the white women that docare, will just get treated like shit by the white women that don’t.)
And it’s pretty pointless for PoC to call them out because on a forum controlled by white women, you’ll just easily get banned, topic will get locked, or they’ll gang up and gaslight the PoC player most likely saying: ‘such-and-such is just a fictional character or pixels’, ‘it’s just a video game’, etc.
They don’t care how PoC are treated in entertainment, or fictional worlds, nor the real world.
Only the comfort of the white woman matters, in fiction, or the real world.
These quotes from MLK Jr. and Malcolm X below could not be more TRUE. (And either though they’re talking about Black Americans, the same can be said of just about any PoC living in the USA):
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
The white liberal differs from the white conservative only in one way: the liberal is more deceitful than the conservative. The liberal is more hypocritical than the conservative. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of posing as the Negro’s friend and benefactor; and by winning the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal is able to use the Negro as a pawn or tool in this political “football game” that is constantly raging between the white liberals and white conservatives.
The white conservatives aren’t friends of the Negro either, but they at least don’t try to hide it. They are like wolves; they show their teeth in a snarl that keeps the Negro always aware of where he stands with them. But the white liberals are foxes, who also show their teeth to the Negro but pretend that they are smiling. The white liberals are more dangerous than the conservatives; they lure the Negro, and as the Negro runs from the growling wolf, he flees into the open jaws of the “smiling” fox.
From: FANDOMS HATE PEOPLE OF COLOR
I mainly wanted to rant about the white women that swear they love a PoC character, yet they do the following:
- They will not shut up about how they don’t think the PoC character is physically attractive. I’ve seen this a lot with dark brown-skinned PoC. Like they could be the most gorgeous PoC character, but because they don’t fit these white women’swhite supremacist beauty standards, they’re not “attractive”. (Definition of white supremacy: ‘the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races…’ that includes beauty standards.) Of course, they’ll hide their covert racism and colorism with vague statements like, ‘Oh, this [PoC] character has ‘less interesting looks’ than everyone else, or ‘isn’t flashy’. I think they’re just mad that brown and black people can still look like this when they are almost 60-years-old.
- Because they don’t like how a PoC has dark brown skin, they useany white-washed fan art they can find to use on the forums they frequent. And might make up some completely asinine excuse as to why they use it. Like, ‘I like how this art brings out their personality’. Why don’t you just use the OFFICIAL fucking artwork instead then? The OFFICIAL artwork doesn’t “bring out their personality” enough?
- They refuse to acknowledge the character’s existence and identity as a PoC. Because in white people land, ‘Everybody is treated equal.’
- When you call them out–as always…as fucking always–no matter how friendly… no matter how saccharinely kind, no matter how much you fucking bend over in politeness and sensitivity… They play the fucking victim. 9 times out of 10 this shit happens. Call them out even for the SIMPLEST of remedial things like NOT SUPPORTING white-washing, and suddenly they have every fucking physical and mental ailment in the world, and they can’t be held accountable for their words/actions. Then, they’ll virtue signal the fuck out of any PoC character saying ‘Oh, isn’t so-and-so beautiful, I mean, I DON’T LIKE THEM, but man! Isn’t that other PoC character that doesn’t have dark skin beautiful all of a sudden?’
Then, they go back to supporting white-washed art and doing and saying all the fucked up shit they’ve been doing. Because they do not give a single fuck about PoC. PoC are just an entertainment and distraction to them, both in the fictional world and real world.
Virtue-signalling white women that don’t like PoC, especially the dark brown-skinned ones. Just stop. Go find a white character to “obsess” and “fave” over and call it a day. Find a white character that fits your definition of what a ‘total package’ (great looks and personality) should be, and leave PoC characters the fuck alone.
Fuck your feigning innocence and ignorance. And fuck your superiority complex, microaggressions, and your shallow, vapid, privileged white mind. Dark-skinned PoC characters, and people, are out of this fucking universe, ethereal, and beyond gorgeous to the highest degree possible in this existence. Fuck you.
Furthermore, the white women that do the things mentioned above, you don’t “love” any PoC character if you do these things. You wouldn’t know what love, respect, and treating a dark-skinned PoC character with humanity and dignity was if it bit you in the ass. For you, these characters are your flavor of the month/year distraction and entertainment. *Where you can gleefully unload all your microaggressions and racism onto them that you wish you could do to PoC face-to-face in the real world.
(*Boldened by me.)
For PoC fans who experience this shit in real life–to have to put up with racism in the realms of books, video games, and other media too, where they’re just trying to get away from the world FOR A SECOND, but they can’t because of white supremacy, it’s PERSONAL.
Fuck you if you do these things. You’re utterly disgusting at how smug you are, knowing you won’t get criticized for your covert racism in your white dominated and controlled forums. And no one is impressed by your virtue-signalling. Doing that, and then continuing to do racist, disrespectful shit, is beyond nauseating. You’re only earning PoC’s contempt, not our respect. (Not that you care, because we’re below you, right?!) We’re not stupid, or less intelligent than white people, like you gaslight yourselves to believe.
White people know EXACTLY what they’re doing. The majority just don’t care. And will NEVER care. All PoC fans can do, I think: is love, support, and respect PoC characters (in anyway you wish through, art, writing, posts, etc.) and hope that in the future, that REAL love is what will override all the hatred, ignorance, and bigotry of a white supremacist society. I hope karma is real.
When it comes to fandom, or anything else, practically the entire world is white people’s ‘safe space’.
On Finn And Sacrifice
“I really like Finn, but I thought him sacrificing himself would be a really touching end to his character arc.”
A) You’re wrong. So wrong.
B) If you claim to like a character, but then you’re all for him making an absolutely pointless self sacrifice… You don’t like that character nearly as much as you think you do
Okay hang on, I’m all with you on A, but you *can* like a character and still think that them having a heartbreaking death scene would be awesome.
Perhaps I should have been clearer about the fact that this is really about how fandom treats Finn BECAUSE he’s a black character in my original post.
Because fandom has, historically, been full of people who swear they love black characters but can only see them getting an honorable death or making a sacrifice (primarily for white characters).
Fandom doesn’t look at white male characters and decide that they should totally have a sweet send off after sacrificing themselves. They don’t.
That dubious honor is largely only bestowed upon characters of color – predominantly Black characters when they’re present.
(I’m on my way out the door and on mobile so I can’t be handy dandy with links, but if you’re not getting where I’m coming from about Finn’s treatment and why wanting him to sacrifice himself is a negative sign, please go through my “fandom racism” and my “the star wars discourse” for how he’s been treated in fandom.)
^This entire phenomenon is examined at length in Toni Morrison’s Playing In the Dark. In which she pretty much states that in the American literary consciousness, Black people are used (while also denied agency) and once their usefulness has ended, they’re discarded with no forethought/consideration for the Black person/character.
According to Morrison, this is basically the building block of the American literary identity (which has strong parallels to slavery, and the modern prison industrial complex).
“These images of impenetrable whiteness need contextualizing to explain their extraordinary power, pattern, and consistency. Because they appear almost always in conjunction with representations of black or Africanist people who are dead, impotent, or under complete control, these images of blinding whiteness seem to function as both antidote for and meditation on the shadow that is companion to this whiteness –a dark and abiding presence that moves the hearts and texts if American literature with fear and longing. This haunting, a darkness from which our early literature seemed unable to extricate itself, suggests the complex and contradictory situation in which American writers found themselves during the formative years of the nation’s literature” (Morrison 33).
Basically Blackness is alright, as long as it serves whiteness. Anything outside of that is pushing the boundaries. Which is why so much of fandom’s treatment of Finn is him either making Rey and Kyle look better by comparison, or having Finn “die nobly” so Rey/Kyle/everyone else can save the galaxy.
And it doesn’t just stop at Star Wars, it’s pretty much present in all forms of media. I mean, there’s a reason we have a “Black guy dies first” trope.
Morrison also noted elsewhere in her book that the entire white literary identity (and by extension the cinematic identity) is dependent on Black subjugation. If Black people aren’t subordinate to the White identity, then where does that leave White people? There was a reason people were more pissed about John’s face being in the TFA trailer for five seconds, far more than anyone else’s, including Rey’s.
On Iris West and Fandom
Candice Patton, who has played the role of Iris West on The Flash for the past four seasons, has had to deal with racist idiots complaining that she has the audacity to not be a white, red-haired woman. Sorry Karen Gillan was busy.
On The Fandom Community
Carrying the fandom load
It does get tiring at times staying conscious of bigoted tropes in fandom, deciding not to support racist art, wondering if a quote is appropriative of Jewish experiences, discarding a homophobic fanwork idea, and more.
So as a Fandom Old I can see why some fans long for the “good old days.” Back then anything went! Total creative freedom! We were wild and unfettered! None of these long-winded discussions, we just went and did it and did not give a single fuck!
Except freedom wasn’t for everyone, was it? You only had that total freedom if you were unaffected by fandom’s racism, homophobia, transphobia, antisemitism, ableism, and a host of other bigotries that are a reflection of the world we live in.
Fandom was never the carefree, escapist enterprise some of us like to think it was. It’s just that minority fans were bearing the load of others’ freedom in silence. Too often, fans who were marginalized in real life could not escape to fandom because fandom would uncritically celebrate their oppression and trauma. And if they dared to speak about it they were bullied and shouted down into silence, into leaving.
I speak in the past tense but this is still ongoing, obviously. Fans of marginalized identities are a little more vocal now, but are facing a sustained and vicious backlash that accuses them of being “bullies” and starting “discourse” and “drama” and of “virtue signalling.”
It’s not about discourse or virtue, though. It’s about fans being told that they are not welcome unless they bite their tongues, grin, and go along with a thousand stings and slaps in the very spaces they go to have fun. It’s about fans having to watch characters who look like them be constantly erased and demonized. It’s about fans having to spend endless amounts of time and energy educating other fans about their oppression when all they’d like to do is unwind after a long day made longer by those very issues.
It’s not about virtue. It’s about people.
The thing is, fans who criticize minority fans and their allies for “discourse” aren’t angry about the fact that fandom puts these psychological burdens on minority fans. They’re mad about having to share a tiny little part of the burden minority fans, most visibly Black women, have been carrying for too long. In the minds of these “discourse”-critical fans the burden of considering the impact of fandom and fanworks is not theirs to bear. It is the lot of fans who are not them, “others,” to pay the cost for the majority’s creative freedom. The very suggestion that the load exists, and worse, that all of fandom should share in it so marginalized fans don’t carry it so disproportionately, is enough to make a lot of fans uncomfortable. I know, because I feel that discomfort at times, too.
The thing is, the load of thinking about marginalization in fandom spaces was always mine to bear. It’s every fan’s responsibility to be conscious of how they create and consume fanwork so that they don’t hurt other fans, so fandom can be inclusive and fun for everyone.
No, it’s not pleasant. It’s not fun to always watch yourself and second guess your choices, to fall short anyway and be called out and confront the fact that you have so many unconscious biases and have hurt others. I get it. I do. I want to think of myself as a good person. I don’t like admitting to wrongdoing. I hate challenging myself. I don’t want to think about this hard stuff. I just want to have fun!
But think about how much LESS fun it is when it’s your own humanity on the line. Many marginalized fans don’t have the luxury of just letting go and having fun, not when they always have to brace themselves for the next psychological assault.
These fans have been carrying this fandom burden and are punished for saying it’s too heavy. If you’re feeling a little less feather light in fannish activities than you used to, that’s a good sign! It means you’re starting to carry, in a very small measure, the fandom load of consciousness. It’s something you should be carrying as part of a community, and chances are it’s still not nearly as heavy a load as many marginalized fans are still made to bear.
A community joins together, watches out for its members, shares in the good and the bad. If some members are asked to bear the costs of others’ fun and either stay silent about it or leave, then the promise of community rings pretty hollow, doesn’t it? Sometimes discomfort is a good thing, and if my small discomfort means I am sharing in a tiny measure of my rightful load in fandom spaces, then it is a very good thing indeed.