Vol 29 (2019): Fans of Color, Fandoms of Color, Edited by Abigail DeKosnik & andré carrington
Abigail DeKosnik & andré carrington, Fans of Color, Fandoms of Color
Abigail De Kosnik, Relationshipping Nation: Philippines/US fan art and fan fiction
Ellen Kirkpatrick, On [dis]play: Outlier resistance and the matter of racebending superhero cosplay
Megan Justine Fowler, Rewriting the school story through racebending in the Harry Potter and Raven Cycle fandoms
Sarah Florini, Enclaving and cultural resonance in Black “Game of Thrones” fandom
James Rendell, Black (anti)fandom’s intersectional politicization of “The Walking Dead” as a transmedia franchise
Nicholas-Brie Guarriello, Affective racial politics in “How to Get Away with Murder” fan fiction
Shan Mu Zhao, How the Green Hornet became Chinese: Cross-racial mimicry and superhero localization in Hong Kong
Poe Johnson, Transformative racism: The black body in fan works
Yessica Garcia Hernandez, Latina fans agitate respectability: Rethinking antifans and antifandom
Ebony Elizabeth Thomas & Amy Stornaiuolo, Race, storying, and restorying: What can we learn from black fans?
Sarah Christina Villanueva Ganzon, Fandom, the Filipino diaspora, and media convergence in the Philippine context
Tracy Deonn Walker,Narrative extraction, #BlackPantherSoLit, and signifyin’: “Black Panther” fandom and transformative social practices
Sascha Buchanan, Competition and controlling images as the fuel igniting Beyoncé and Rihanna fandom fights
Miyoko Conley, Transnational audiences and Asian American performance in the musical “KPOP”
JSA Lowe, Approaching whiteness in slash via Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Sam Wilson
Mel Stanfill, Fans of Color in Femslash
Regina Yung Lee, “Squee from the margins: Race and fandom” by Rukmini Pande
Alexis Lothian, “Bodyminds reimagined: (Dis)ability, race, and gender in Black women’s speculative fiction,” by Sami Schalk
Erika Junhui Yi, “Boys’ love, cosplay, and androgynous idols,” edited by Maud Lavin, Ling Yang, and Jing Jamie Zhao
Jungmin Kwon, “Seeing fans: Representations of fandom in media and popular culture,” edited by Lucy Bennett and Paul Booth
Susana Morris, “Speculative blackness: The future of race in science fiction,” by andré m. carrington
No such thing as a dumb question!
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It is a common assumption that illicit distribution of video footage from live events negatively affects those who have paid for a ticket by reducing the value of their experience, particularly visible when commercial organizations restrict this practice. However, the results of this study show that for this particular community of Supernatural fans, it is overwhelmingly the case that fans agree that sharing content with others online is of positive benefit and encourages ticket purchase. Not only did fans consider there was value in having access to convention footage but they also thought that access to content from the events increased inclusion and reinforced people’s desire to attend them in person. This view was held even by those who attend in person, who in some cases think that it enhances the experience. Evidence suggests online footage boosts interest in the events by raising awareness and increasing fear of missing out in those who have already attended and who want to recreate the experience.
Much of the debate surrounding “Rebel Girl” centers on the question of whether or not someone can be a political fan in the same way one can be a sports fan or media fan. In an essay on youth activism, Henry Jenkins and Sangita Shresthova (2016) tell the story of an MIT conference where several speakers, who had just presented on participatory politics, were asked if they viewed their work as activism. The speakers were quick to distance fan engagement from activism because of the perceived political connotation. Increasingly, fan communities are becoming places to mobilize political action; yet it seems fan scholars are reluctant to view fan work as overtly political (Brough and Shresthova 2012; Hinck 2012; Jenkins and Shresthova 2016; Sandvoss 2013). Ashley Hinck (2012) points out that many would prefer to refer to fan engagement with politics as media engagement instead of civic engagement.
The Yogscast are a group of online Let’s Players who produce YouTube videos in which they play video games, joke with one another, and sometimes engage in long-form storytelling. Some members of the Yogs have been friends for a decade, having met through playing the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft (Blizzard, 2004), while others are YouTube content producers who started out independent and then later joined the group. The Yogscast as a business entity takes a portion of earned revenue from member YouTube channels in exchange for promotional, editing, and legal services. The Yogscast is thus both a friend group and a business arrangement. The Yogscast fandom in turn includes discussion of and fan works about personalities and/or characters based on both content producers who are contractually bound to the Yogscast and various friends of those content producers who appear in their videos.
Fan debates that spiral out of control used to be called wank, ostensibly because it was seen as self-aggrandizing with no particular goal except for an anonymous emotional release on the internet, and it was labelled and described as such in communities such as fandom_wank and fail_fandomanon on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth. Nowadays, these similar arguments on Tumblr and Twitter are called discourse, a term co-opted from academia which lends gravitas and credence to the arguments being expounded in the post. Similarly, squick in old fandom simply implied a visceral dislike of a given topic, but the new fandom term trigger makes someone’s aversive feelings towards that topic more intensely personal and potentially traumatic. As fandom became more and more political and critical of its consumption of media, its preferred terms to describe its engagement with the media have also shifted towards a more academic, professional lexicon.
In the end, perhaps that is what the old fandom denizens currently on Tumblr are bemoaning when they note the shift from wank to discourse or squick to trigger. This cultural shift to becoming more serious about one’s hobby has thrown people who have been in fandom before Strikethrough slightly off-kilter. (…) In its current iteration on Tumblr, fandom’s shift from wank to discourse and squick to trigger indicates its growing acceptance of critical analysis of media, especially in regards to increasing representation for marginalized populations.
Old fandom—in the context of this article, fandom from before the rise of microblogging platforms like Tumblr and Twitter—was a very different place by virtue of being hosted on journaling platforms like LiveJournal or individual domains like GeoCities. The structure of those sites was more friendly toward written posts and long, individual discussions in comment threads, as well as communities keeping to their own and not having to see content from other parts of the site unless the user crossposted or linked to them. The average age skewed a lot older, with users on LiveJournal talking about families and jobs alongside their fan works, and younger users often either lied about their age or said nothing at all.
The above video clip shows my interaction with EVE performer Nina Samuels, who demands I approach the ring before chastising me for my lack of respect, reminding me that she is a media star. Yet my (auto)ethnographic research on fan performance and participation at EVE events leads me to question the extent to which I should also perform as a fan. While I am currently drafting work based on this interaction with Samuels, does my fannish performance here indicate some kind of coercion or manipulation of the research environment? Or am I simply acting as I would as a “normal” fan, to then reflect on it later as a scholar?
Our final scholarly reaction to the Tumblrpocalypse comes from Allison McCracken, DePaul University. Allison is a co-editor of A Tumblr Book: Platform and Cultures (forthcoming 2019).
I first went on Tumblr in 2010, because I was a Glee fan. As a fan and scholar of musicals–their social and industrial contexts as well as the texts themselves–Tumblr was a dream come true, a wide-open town with every kind of content related to the show available in the same place. And because Glee was its own kind of TV animal –a teen musical with I-Tunes hits and live tours – and because its immediate popularity coincided with the rise of social media, there was an enormous amount of content immediately available on the platform: entire episodes, every separate musical number (video and audio), every performance from every “Glee Live” show, every tweet by cast members or production staff, all show publicity and promotion, and literally every public sighting of the show’s stars anywhere. Because the cast were young and because they were network TV stars who had to do a lot of promotion, they were more accessible than many film stars (they flew on commercial airlines, for example). They were more covered than the Beatles in their early days just in terms of the volume and depth of material provided by both the press and the social media fans in those first few years (for example, it was quite possible to know where Glee’s top stars were almost every minute of their lives everywhere around the world). Tumblr’s “endless scroll” was ideally suited to accommodate Glee’s 24/7 news cycle, but of course, Tumblr also constantly made available fan creative production as well: art, video, and fan fiction; indeed, many of Glee’s early fan production integrated Tumblr as essential to its character’s lives, just as it had become part of its writer’s lives. Either as a fan or a scholar, I had never seen anything like it before.
As someone who has also always been fascinated by the cultural work of popular texts, Tumblr was goldmine of a different sort. In the early 2010s, I began to focus my attention to the way fan tumblrs visibly integrated other kinds of social discourses. Fan media practices have always been rooted in particular social contexts and dynamics, and I have focused most of my work on the fandom of marginalized groups (women, queer people, people of color, working class people). Tumblr made these intersections between fandom and marginalized identities and social justice politics publicly visible in a way, again, I had not seen before; the fluid nature of its interface made them part of the fabric of Tumblr fandom as a whole. Most of these intersections involved discourses of feminism, queer/gender identity affirmation and formation, public education, alternative porn and pleasure, critical media analysis, and social justice.
The greater effects of this integration on young people’s lives first crystallized for me at LeakyCon 2012 in Chicago, a smaller con (4-5,000 people) targeted at feminist and queer teens. I attended it (my first time) for a single Glee-related event, and while waiting in line I met two 16-year old best friends who were deep into discussion about Glee’s “heternormativity” and possible “transphobia.” I asked them whether they were learning these terms in school (both of them attended Michelle Obama’s alma mater, the excellent magnet school Whitney Young), and they replied that no, they had learned these terms from Tumblr. That single conversation determined much of my research for several years, which has focused on the cultural work and significance of Tumblr ad its users. Since I was particularly interested in young people’s uses of Tumblr, I subsequently attended and wrote about several similarly targeted cons between 2013 and 2015: LeakyCon, GeekGirlCon, and DashCon.
These cons were one of the few “Real Life” spaces where Tumblr’s users were both publicly visible and in which they were able to exercise a great deal of agency in the construction of the space. The producers of these cons developed panels and events in response to fans’ interests and concerns. Therefore, the cons reproduced the integration of fandom, alternative identities and social justice that characterized Tumblr and had become naturalized for its young users. These cons not only hosted standard fan events devoted to “squee-ing” over fan content and fan performances, but “social track” and “community connection” panels and gatherings devoted to learning, for example, about how to live with chronic pain, mental illness, and disability (“spoonie living”); feminism (rape culture, intersectional feminism); body positivity; alternative sexual practices and pleasures; ethical cosplaying; queer community; alternative sexual and gender identities; and social justice discussions (charities) and opportunities for “on the ground” political action. Panels devoted to media criticism integrated these tracks in the most obvious ways, producing cutting edge media analysis that often surpassed that of the scholarly conferences I was attending at the same time.
I found these cons enormously educational and inspiring, and I really felt like these young people represented a generational shift in fandom and in the larger culture. Today, I see the legacy of Tumblr everywhere, in the discourses of #metoo, in media criticism (especially regarding representation), in the rise of black women as significant public voices on media platforms such as Twitter and Teen Vogue, in the way the Parkland students speak about social justice, in the attention to mental health and chronic pain, in the calls for more sexual education, in the mainstreaming of alternative sexual and gender identities such as asexual and non-binary, in the greater attention to and activism of transgender publics, and in the rise of intersectional feminism. Tumblr made spaces—however limited, unstable, and sometimes wounding they were—for young people to find community and comfort and pleasure, to self-construct their identities, to create and share their art, to critique the mainstream, to network with each other, to learn from peers and mentors about sex, about history, about activism, about self-care. The outpouring of sorrow and criticism that greeted Tumblr’s announcement, on Dec 3, that the platform was banning adult content made Tumblr’s cultural impact more visible in the mainstream, all at once, than it ever has been before. And I believe we all will feel that impact for years to come.