Over the past few days I have seen an overwhelming amount of discourse complaining about the fic Dirty Laundry by @gibslythe that is a Voltron college AU fic featuring Lance x Keith. I’m going to address these concerns, and the frankly ridiculous nature tumblr has of attacking things that get popular.
So first of all, Dirty Laundry has gotten an unprecedented amount of attention in a tiny timeframe. It’s gotten so popular it has it’s own tag. And of course, as what happens when things get popular, they go under a lot of scrutiny.
Claim 1: Dirty Laundry is written by a white girl. She has no place writing this story.
This is completely and utterly false. In Dirty Laundry, Lance and his family are Mexican-American. Now, there would be a problem here if the story was about the struggle of being a Mexican-American. Or even if the main theme of the story was the Mexican-American story. But it’s not. Dirty Laundry is a romantic comedy about two boys falling in love. One of those boys just happens to be Mexican-American. The Mexican story should be written by Mexicans. But anybody can write a story with Mexican characters. It’s about diversity. If we could each only write exactly what we are, all the stories in the world would be… boring. And diversity is a good thing. Getting in a mindset to write something other than what you are is healthy.
Especially since it is now so popular, and everybody is aware that the author is white, as well as having disclaimers in the fic, you are aware you are consuming media created by a white person. If you don’t like that, create some yourself! Encourage your latinx friends to write some too! PoC authors are just as important as PoC representation, so get on that folks.
Claim 2: Lance is Cuban, and the author wrote him as Mexican. This is erasure and racist.
So there is one line in Voltron that hints at Lance being Cuban. It’s in Episode 4 when he says “There’s only one planet in the world that has Varadero beach, the pizza shack, and my moms hugs..“ So he said that he loves Varadero beach, which is in Cuba, but loving a place doesn’t mean you’re from there. Granted, the reference to his mom does seem to suggest Lance is Cuban. But nothing is confirmed. Headcannoning Lance as Mexican-American is not bad, or inherently racist, especially since nothing has been confirmed. Cuban Lance is great. Mexican-American Lance is great.
Claim 3: There are harmful “ugly” tropes in Dirty Laundry.
This one is hard for me to find, so I’ll address all the accusations I’ve seen made.
The large family: the author of Dirty Laundry is not the one who came up with this. It’s from the original Voltron content that Lance has a big family, the author of Dirty Laundry just put names and personalities to all the faces.
Also, how is having a big family a bad thing? I could see it might be troubling, especially if they were seen as poor or there were negative gendered stereotypes that can come with having a large family, but the author’s rendition of the Sanchez family have a big house, land, animals, and own a successful business. They’re not poor by any means… Also, in the fic it’s Christmas, so all the family is coming home to visit, they don’t all live there. My family does this too. Not a problem.
Autistic child: This one I just can’t believe. In the latest chapter (Chapter 9), there is an introduction of an autistic child, Alexei. Now Alexei is a young kid. And autism is a spectrum. There is no set way for an autistic person to “act.” People are complaining because Alexei told everyone she had sensory issues, while very carefully pronouncing it, as well as announcing to the family she is autistic at the dinner table. Like, guys… she’s 6. And kids with special needs, whatever they may be (like allergies) are often taught to memorize a phrase to help them express this. For a child to do that is not unheard of. Also, how dare you people claim she’s not “autistic enough.” Stop with this. Also, the author has plenty of experience with autism, and is capable of portraying it correctly. There is currently a total of one (1) chapter with Alexei. We barely know anything about her. She was barely introduced. Let’s all take a minute to breathe before we jump on the “ableism” witch hunt.
Lance referring to himself as “President Taquito” in the group chat: guys, this is Lance we’re talking about. The kid is a dork. He’d probably giggle at that. Also, taquitos aren’t a commonly appropriated Mexican food by white people. Like if he was President Nachos, or taco, quesadilla or fajita then I could see a problem. But flautas and taquitos aren’t really as well known, at least here in Texas.
Homophobic/biphobic men: Lance’s dad, Jaime, is having problems accepting his son’s sexuality and does say some harmful things. But he does seem to genuinely love his son. Maybe people are complaining about the men of this fic not being accepting of Lance’s sexuality? But his older brother Danny is a grown, married, man with a child. And he’s completely fine with Lance’s bisexuality, and when confronted with the fact that his own son “wants a boyfriend” and claims Keith is his boyfriend, Danny’s only worry is that Keith is much older than Mateo and that he hopes it’s not serious. Also, Benji is completely fine with Lance’s sexuality. So… I don’t see the problem here?
La chancla: So la chancla has become a common latinx joke that is rooted in a common shared experience in the latinx community. Because in the recent past, corporal punishment was widely accepted in the world at large and in the latinx community. Is this somehow making light of abuse? No. No one in Dirty Laundry is abused, nor is it made light of. UPDATE: Important note: Mexican characters and Mexican people can joke about Mexican culture. White people, fans and characters included, should not.
So in conclusion, I can’t find anything that screams racism or terrible. All I see are original, thought out, and well-planned characters.
Claim 4: Dirty Laundry is terrible and racist and I’m going to go yell at the author.
Okay, how fucked up are you? First and foremost, the author is a minor. If you are comfortable with being a terrible person and harassing a child, then congratulations, you are a horrible person and stay away from me. Secondly, let’s pretend this was a problematic fanfic, even though I can’t find a reason it would be. The instant somebody with goodhearted intentions makes a mistake, y’all all want to burn them at the stake. Seriously. Save your efforts for actual racism, and for terrible unapologetic people. The author has been made aware of the few people who are complaining’s concerns, and has made every effort to address them.
Claim 5: Latinx people don’t like Dirty Laundry.
Here is a list of people and posts of latinx people who are fans of Dirty Laundry.
If you’re not latinx, then you are not qualified to claim it as misrepresentative or appropriative. You have no right to speak over latinx people, and I am aware that includes me. The majority of people who have problems with Dirty Laundry are white or other minorities.
Conclusion: Stop harassing a minor for a piece of fanfiction. If you don’t like Dirty Laundry you have two options: don’t read it, or make a polite–or at the very least intelligent–post about what you find so wrong with it with proof and references.
UPDATE: to express your support for @gibslythe, post in the tag #dirtylaundress. Especially if you’re latinx and/or autistic, we want to hear from you. It’s time to spread some love now. Let’s undo a bit of the damage.
As a fandom, we decide where to go from here. The latinx and Mexican communities have been doing a great job of verbalizing their support, please continue to do so. I am now asking you, not to turn around and harass these people. They did a terrible thing when they started this, yes. But they apologized. Don’t turn into the bad guy by doing the exact same thing.