I’ve been thinking about how toxic fandom can be.
I could write a dissertation on the various ways fan culture breeds the worst of the worst, but this particular rant is about the race thing. Because Tumblr culture thinks it’s so progressive and above other places like Twitter and Reddit and, idk, Yahoo comment sections when it comes to race. But actually it’s not any better. It just covers the bigotry up with flowery words and feminism!!! (yeah I’m still mad at how much this site can shit on female characters while praising white peen, all the while claiming they want better for women)
This has been on my mind for awhile, even more since I’ve totally fallen in love with The Flash and watched the fallout that happened the second that Candice Patton was cast to play Iris West.
And I started to really wonder why folks went off the rails. Why people latched on to Caitlin like a life line and insisted that she should be Barry’s love interest, even before the show aired. And once it did, posts in the Iris tag ran the gauntlet of excuses of why she wasn’t a well written character to how she should either be killed off or reduced to something other than a main.
The writers of the show have pretty much made her perfect. Happy, loved, a great friend. Pretty much always has a smile on her face. College student, working part-time to cover expenses at a coffee shop. Loves her some Barry. Loves her some Joe. Even loves her some Eddie once she realizes that her whole world wasn’t just her bff, school and her dad. Even still, she starts a freaking fanblog about that super fast dude that goes around saving people because she knows Barry and wants to help him find the truth/closure about his mom’s death. She literally hasn’t done anything to anyone to be dragged across the coals the way she has been. In fact, everyone else has been doing a disservice to her by being big fat liars about things that she should really know about. Which, somehow, people turned this into being her flaw.
(If you can’t tell, I’m a stan for Iris. I will defend her to the death. Carefree blk girl that has so many people in her corner. This is SO FUCKING RARE! I have NEVER seen this before on tv)
Then that wonder turned into an ‘oh yeah, fandom is racist as hell but they don’t want to admit it.’
Because I’ve seen various versions of CW’s Iris West in other shows, with almost the same personality and charisma and having everyone be in love with her cause she’s just so awesome… and fandom tripped over themselves to stan the hell out of them.
But all those characters where white.
And this is the problem. The second a characters can no longer jokingly be called snowbunny, too much of fandom can no longer relate to them.
That’s when those tired ass tropes come out:
- The bad actress thing
- The no chemistry thing
- The she’s better off without a love interest thing
- which feeds into The Independent, don’t need a man thing
- The she’s too aggressive thing
- The she’s too passive thing
- The they’re like brother and sister, so it’s incest thing
- The she’s an action girl, therefore why are you trying to bring in a
usually whitemale love interest to ruin it (even though that male character will have more fans than the said female character)
- The but she’s also a damsel in distress, why can’t she just save herself and carry that load and just be a general mule that cries I Don’t Need a Hero Baby and if you help me in any way it’s just gonna invalidate my Strong Independence thing
- The she’s too perfect thing (a.k.a the Mary Sue Syndrome)
- The she’s not perfect enough (a.k.a. the I don’t understand that characters can be flawed and I can still love them when they identify as a woman… But hey, let me flood your dashboard with Loki and Sherlock and Bucky Barnes, and Sam and freaking Dean Winchester b/c tragic male characters are just the fucking best or something… i
dk, I seriously don’t care anymore)
- The why can’t we have more strong male/female FRIENDSHIPSaremagic!!!!!11!, they don’t have to become romantic thing
- The I just don’t like her thing, even though I can’t articulate why I actually don’t like her. And if pressed for it an explanation, I’ll just throw out the most superficial reasons why she’s just the worst thing ever to hide my internalized misogyny and racism while tagging that shit but please don’t call me out on it because then you’re just being a bully and I was only stating my opinion even though nobody fucking asked for it and gosh can’t I just live? First Amendment!!!! I’ve
sent myselfgotten anon death threats okay, this is why we can’t have nice things
- The she didn’t look like that in the original source material thing. Why is everything become so PC? Those black/brown people are really getting out of hand with their want for representation. Why can’t they relate to a character if they don’t actually look like them? It shouldn’t be that hard. Who care’s if they didn’t cast Katnis or Khan or The Exodus right? They’re just characters. And their race shouldn’t play into how much you identify with them. But holly shit, Idris played a Viking god??!? Annie isn’t a pale, freckled faced red head. That’s just taking things too damn far. Let me shove the importance of European beauty standards down your throat some more, because obviously there aren’t enough of us in all your media.
Yo, this shit I just typed… this shit that I’ve seen in literally any fandom that has characters that weren’t melanin challenged… IT’S GOTTEN OLD
And the clap back that’s been happening… those people like me who are done with everyone thinking white is the status quo… it isn’t about shipping or us being sjw.
It’s about us being so fucking tired of defending characters that look like us, that speak like us, that go through the same bullshit like us, but are either ignored or vilified by fandom for reason that aren’t canon just because said fandom doesn’t want to admit it’s problematic as hell.
It’s about me being too old and too done with fandom pissing on my head and claiming it’s just rain… It’s about the fact that there is no apparent safe place for fans of color because #fandom is for white women.
This should no longer be a thing. There have been more articulate and sober folks saying this since AOL free trial disks were all the rage (trust, I was there) BUT IT’S STILL HAPPENING
This is why folks like me snark, and curse, and reply to your ‘am I the only one that doesn’t/cant’s stand [insert whatever non-white person of the week’s name here] lol?’ posts with side-eye gifs and general disdain. This is why we don’t care for your criticisms that divorce race from the narrative. This is why we have to have racebending prompts and create new tags just so that we can stan for those characters that apparently the world hates. And why we don’t give a flying fuck about your ‘can’t we all just get along? Solidarity guys. Listen to the only MLK quote I know’ posts when you aren’t trying to police the people that are causing the actual problem, but trying to guilt us into thinking you’re the victim. This is why we create our own message boards and forums and no you aren’t invited. This is why we don’t care to educate you. This is why your passive attitude towards the bs we have to go through as fans of color is worst then the actual assholes that perpetuate it.
THIS IS WHY TUMBLR AIN’T SHIT
But, despite all of this, I like it here. Sure, the staff doesn’t have their priorities straight and apparently will protect the identities of KKK members before they’ll support black history month, but it’s free and the xkit guy works miracles.
But most importantly, I’ve met incredibly talented and smart individuals here. And I know it can be better.
So do better. That’s all I’m asking. Check yourself before you start applying higher standards to characters of color and judging them in ways you don’t to anyone else.
And FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS UNIVERSAL, LISTEN TO US WHEN WE TELL YOU YOUR LANGUAGE IS RACIST!!!!! I DON’T CARE WHAT YOUR INTENTION WAS. I DON’T CARE IF YOU AREN’T LIKE THOSE FIGURATIVE ‘OTHER PEOPLE.’ YOU FUCKED UP. PUT ON YOUR ADULT PANTS AND OWN UP TO IT. LEARN FROM IT. AND DO BETTER NEXT TIME. It’s really that easy.
*This rant has been brought to you in part by too much caps lock, the Charles Shaw Trader Joes chardonnay blend, that tequila and Waffle House I had for breakfast, and years of frustration defending characters like Iris West | Bonnie Bennett | Abby Mills | Jenny Mills | T-Dog | Mako Mori | Breaden | Guinevere | Glenn | Olivia Pop | Joan Watson | Roxy & Fred Weasley | Uhura | Martha Jones | Lana Lang | Michonne | Nick Fury| Dualla ‘Dee’ | Rosita | Tyler Lockwood | Sharon/#8/Boomer | Teyla | Regina Mills | Stacker Pentecost | Lacy Porter | Tara Thorton | Shirley Donavan | Marcel Gerard | Naevia | Melinda May | Michaela Pratt | Sam Wilson | Tiana | Cassie Robinson | Tory Foster | Rhodey | Casca | Heimdall | Hogun | Aveline de Grandpre | Scott McCall | Mika | Sasha | Ororo | Literally all the non-white characters they had white folks playing them in Game of Thrones | dot dot freaking dot I can go on forever with this list