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Woobification In Fandom Culture

I spend a lot of my time on Tumblr. Possibly too much time, however I don’t go outside. On Tumblr it isn’t uncommon to be immersed in something called a fandom. I have so far been in 3 Tumblr fandoms. My first one was Homestuck, however I joined really late. The comic ended about 2 years after I officially joined the fandom. It was a strange experience to be my first online fandom. Many people shipped sort of incestuous ships. However, a lot of the ships weren’t directly incestuous so it was more forgivable. You may be wondering how Homestuck and it’s weird fandom has anything to do with woobification.

The Homestuck fandom was mainly teenagers or young adults. The characters were all teenagers, it was a coming of age story. A lot of the characters were very violent. You could go anywhere in the fandom sphere and see someone say “I love Gamzee, he’s so precious. He doesn’t deserve to be treated badly.” However this wasn’t exactly the case. In the beginning, yes Gamzee did deserve to be treated better. However he had a mental breakdown and went on a murderous rampage. People in the fandom sort of ignored that until he started killing their favorite characters. Some still ignored it, shipping him with multiple of his victims.

I was able to escape the Homestuck fandom by entering another one. This one was even more hellish. This fandom used to rule Tumblr, some argue that it still does. This show has gone on too long and has a gif for everything, even if you don’t ask for it. This fandom is notorious for queerbaiting and shipping wars. I’m talking about the Supernatural fandom. Another one I entered late. I got into it between seasons 10 and 11. People are still arguing whether it’s okay to ship Sam and Dean, or if it’s better to ship Destiel.

The Supernatural fandom has woobified every character at least once. Prior to season 11 it was very common for fans to demand the writers bring back the antagonist Lucifer. They say he was misunderstood, that he wasn’t bad, that they love him, even though he literally wanted to kill every human on existence because his dad was mean to him.

The Supernatural fandom acts like Castiel, an angel, a literal warrior of God, is a precious child who doesn’t understand social interaction. In the canon of the show, at one point he could kill someone with the snap of his fingers. The fandom acts like Sam and Dean would not be able to harm them, when Dean would happily slit their throat if they stepped too out of line.

The third fandom I entered was the It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia fandom. You may be wondering “why is that a fandom?” well the answer to that is: I don’t know. It’s a good show. People like to bond over shows they like. This fandom is the calmest one I have ever been involved in. I entered the fandom during season 12, which is actually about when an actual Tumblr fandom rose. Prior to this, most people would have reaction gifs or images from the show. Even though I hadn’t seen the show yet, I saw captioned screenshots from the show on my dashboard from time to time. It was a well known show, it had been on for over a decade. I had seen promos for the show while having FX on as background noise, I remember the black and white promos from season 9 saying they were switching to FXX.

This show, at it’s core, is about terrible people doing terrible things. It’s a satire of ignorant white Americans. Some people call the characters sociopaths. All of them are damaged, there I no arguing. They all have trauma. Mac is gay and came out at 40 years old, due to his Catholic upbringing. Charlie is illiterate and stalks a woman, who he doesn’t even know her name. Dennis was raped at 14 and uses sex as a form of manipulation and a way to assert himself in society. Dee was abused by her parents and her peers, and she lashes out on other women to make herself feel better. Frank was also abused as a child, he grew to be greedy and neglectful. All of these characters are alcoholics and substance abusers.

These characters are also extremely racist and bigoted. They’re just plain awful people. The first episode of the series is titled “The Gang Gets Racist”. In the fourth episode of the first season, titled “Charlie Has Cancer”, in which Charlie pretends to have cancer so he can gain sympathy from the woman he stalks, Mac and Dennis try to set Charlie up with a woman, they fail miserably and Mac begins a relationship with a trans woman named Carmen. Mac and the rest of the gang refers to her as “the tranny”, which is a transphobic slur.

At the end of the day, none of these characters ever get what they want. Fans woobify these characters by treating Charlie like a five year old child who couldn’t hurt a fly, when in canon he regular kills rats by bashing them with baseball bats, one of which has a chain and nails sticking out of it. In the episode A Very Sunny Christmas, Charlie bites a mall Santa’s neck, causing terror and tremendous blood loss, possibly death. There is no arguing whether Dennis is a serial rapist or not. He is, it is literally canon, however many people don’t necessarily talk about it. No one talks about Dee also being a serial rapist. Both Reynolds twins manipulate people for sex, usually nonconsensual.

Mac and Dee are guilty of blackface and other racist costume types. People point out that it was a bad choice to include these things, as casual viewers, and people who aren’t aware of the satire, would normalize it. Plus it was just in bad taste.

Some people lower Mac to this husk of The Gay Man, and ignore his other extremely interesting character flaws. People lower Dennis to The Emotional One, when he is a very sinister person. People make Dee to be The Tragic Female, when she brings it on herself sometimes, she is an awful person. People think of Charlie as The Dumb One when he sometimes can be the most intelligent one, and the most manipulative. People don’t even talk about Frank. If you take one member of the gang away from the others and make 100% sure that they can not go near the others, they won’t magically become better people. They would wreak havoc alone.

Woobification takes dimension away from characters. It is important to take a step away from the fandom versions of characters and reevaluate characters. You can enjoy a character who is an awful person. You don’t have to apologize for liking them. Your favorite character can be the “villain”. Every character has their own motivations and reasons for acting the way they do. Usually it is due to their upbringing. You can like The Bad Guy as long as you don’t ignore all of the interesting facets of their personalities. Every character deserves to have multiple dimensions.

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Scanned from the book “A I República na Génese da Banda Desenhada e no Olhar do Século XXI”, Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda.

1, 2 - Portuguese comic book artist António Cardoso Lopes, Um ratinho guloso (A glutonous mouse), Pim Pam Pum children’s magazine, Nº 22, 4 May, 1926.

3 - Portuguese illustrator Francisco Valença, Sempre-Fixe magazine, 4 October, 1928.

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Happy birthday to Ignis Scientia! (2/7) ✨✨👓🍴🔥🎂🎊🎁✨✨