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[QUOTE] From Valuing queer identity in Monster High doll fandom | Sara Mariel Austin | Transformative Works and Cultures

Monster High’s recent ad campaign claims, “We are monsters. We are proud.” Race, ethnicity, and disability are coded into the dolls as selling points. The allure of Monster High is, in part, that political identity and the celebration of difference become consumable. The female body, the racialized body, and the disabled body have long been coded as monstrous. Monster High reclaims this label, queering it.

Valuing queer identity in Monster High doll fandom | Sara Mariel Austin | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2fX1mrx

[QUOTE] From Racebending fandoms and digital futurism | Elizabeth Gilliland | Transformative Works and Cultures

(S)he not only recasts popular fandoms with diverse characters, but also constructs a new historical and social narrative within her fan art. Her fan castings not only include a token person of color, but also often say something important about that character’s newly ethnicized background, and how it changes the familiar story now that this background has been included.

Racebending fandoms and digital futurism | Elizabeth Gilliland | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2fPPnOl

[QUOTE] From Racebending fandoms and digital futurism | Elizabeth Gilliland | Transformative Works and Cultures

The importance of having an online space to explore identity is perhaps not as clearly defined as seeing, say, a blockbuster superhero film helmed by a black actor, or a post-apocalyptic society populated by more than one or two token people of color; however, these spaces still allow unparalleled explorations of self, as well as how that self is defined, in ways that we perhaps do not yet fully understand.

Racebending fandoms and digital futurism | Elizabeth Gilliland | Transformative Works and Cultures ift.tt/2d2ONsS

[QUOTE] From Rukmini Pande, Episode 29 of @fansplaining, “Shipping and Activism.” There are so many things I want to quote from this episode, but this segment in particular was extraordinary in helping me frame my thinking about conflict between fanon, canon, queerness, and race. (via elizabethminkel)

I’ve been trying to think through this kind of canon versus fanon kind of thing, and for the longest time I was a “who needs canon” kind of person. We have our archetypes, we have our narratives, and we’ll run with it. And those are the stories I want, and I don’t care whether they are the same stories I’ve read a hundred times, those are the stories I want. But as those stories themselves, as those characters have changed, I’ve realized that it’s not that simple. That I can go and find versions of queerness, but those versions of queerness in fandom will mostly be white queerness. They’re not going to be brown queerness, they’re not going to be black queerness. And that’s something that I’m going to have to rely on canon to center those characters to the point that they cannot be ignored. And that is very very rare.

We’ve now kind of come to the tipping point where how much primacy can a character of color get and still be marginalized in fandom? And you know, it seems like we’ve come to the end of that rope! I don’t think you could have—this is a question I think that a lot of people have kind of been thinking about at the back of their minds. Surely some text will come along where there’s no other option. And we’ve seen that fandom will make the option and it still won’t be black or brown queerness.

Rukmini Pande, Episode 29 of @fansplaining, “Shipping and Activism.” There are so many things I want to quote from this episode, but this segment in particular was extraordinary in helping me frame my thinking about conflict between fanon, canon, queerness, and race.
(via elizabethminkel) ift.tt/2bJp0eI

[META] New issue of Transformative Works and Cultures on comics fandom

Fan studies journal Transformative Works and Cultures has published its thirteenth issue on comics fandom. Here are links to all the articles, on topics ranging from women in comics fandom to fans on 4chan to Captain America and various other Avengers-related things. Enjoy! As usual, we’ll be posting some good quotes from the articles too.

Editorial:

Matthew J. Costello: The super politics of comic book fandom

Theory:

Suzanne Scott: Fangirls in refrigerators: The politics of (in)visibility in comic book culture

Praxis:

Catherine Coker: Earth 616, Earth 1610, Earth 3490—Wait, what universe is this again? The creation and evolution of the Avengers and Captain America/Iron Man fandom

Lyndsay Brown: Pornographic space-time and the potential of fantasy in comics and fan art

Tim Bavlnka: /Co/operation and /co/mmunity in /co/mics: 4chan’s Hypercrisis

Symposium (short articles):

Forrest Phillips: Captain America and fans’ political activity

Babak Zarin: The advocacy of Steve Rogers (aka Captain America), as seen in hetrez’s “Average Avengers Local Chapter 7 of New York”

Amanda Odom: Professionalism: Hyperrealism and play

Rebecca Lucy Busker: Fandom and male privilege: Seven years later

Kayley Thomas: Revisioning the smiling villain: Imagetexts and intertextual expression in representations of the filmic Loki on Tumblr

Ora C. McWilliams: Who is afraid of a black Spider(-Man)?

Interviews:

Matthew J. Costello: Interview with comics artist Lee Weeks

Kate Roddy, Carlen Lavigne, Suzanne Scott: Toward a feminist superhero: An interview with Will Brooker, Sarah Zaidan, and Suze Shore

Reviews:

Daniel Stein: “Comic books and American cultural history: An anthology,” edited by Matthew Pustz

Drew Morton: “Of comics and men: A cultural history of American comic books,” by Jean-Paul Gabilliet

[META] Madge, in Thy Orisons…

I’ve been known to have dreams about fictional characters, but it’s not every day that I find myself viewing the most mainstream social event of the United States calendar and thinking, “Wait, I’ve seen this vid!” I’m talking, of course, about Madonna’s Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show, in which her opening performance of “Vogue” was a clear take-off on the classic vid of the same title by Luminosity.

You can view a TV rip of Madonna’s entire performance (which also featured LMFAO, Cee Lo Green, Nicki Minaj, and M.I.A.) on YouTube, and Luminosity’s vid on blip.tv, which is a queer feminist critique of the movie 300, which was itself based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller. Honestly, for most of the halftime show I was mostly just staring open-mouthed at the screen; Madonna is nothing else if not a consummate performer, and she hit this one out of the park.

Watching the halftime show and Luminosity’s vid back to back, however, produces some interesting–and uncomfortable–conjunctions. Namely, both fandom and the larger pop culture which it critiques and draws upon have some similar problems.

In her notes to reposting the vid on blip.tv, Francesca Coppa notes that Luminosity “conflates the battlefield and the dance floor, subjecting the men to a female and queer gaze and setting Madonna up as this world’s reigning pagan goddess.” Very true, and at least one blogger, Obsidian Wings, picked up on the camp aspects of Madonna’s reappropriation of the “Vogue” vid’s aesthetic almost immediately: contrary to the lyrics, it does matter whether you’re a boy or a girl, as the vid makes clear. What I’m interested in, however, are the ways in which song, vid, and halftime show all make similar maneuvers, particularly around those issues of gender and of race.

The original “Vogue” song of course refers to a style of dance invented in Harlem and appropriated by Madonna for the song and its music video. The story of most pop music in the 20th century is of course the story of white musicians appropriating black performers’ styles and innovations and repackaging them for a “mainstream” (read: white) audience, and the tried-and-true strategy only continues in the 21st century, from Justin Bieber to–especially in the third song of the Super Bowl set, “Gimme All Your Luvin’”–Madonna herself, whose performance prominently deployed the more au courant star power of performers of color, including Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., in service to the blonde Queen’s latest reinvention. M.I.A. in particular earned censure–not least from Madonna herself–for giving the middle finger to the national television cameras during her verse.

Similarly, as much as it skewers the hypermasculine gender presentation of the movie 300, Luminosity’s vid doesn’t (can’t?) do much to problematize the exceedingly questionable racialization of the Persian Wars that Frank Miller’s graphic novel exults in–the good guys are the manly Spartans, and the bad guys(?) are the effeminate Persians. (To say nothing of Miller’s extraordinarily biased presentation of history, as David Brin notes in this post.) They may all get down on the dance floor, but unlike what the song says, it does make a difference if you’re black or white.

My point here is not so much that all of this is anything new (it’s not), but rather that viewing the vid and the halftime show together provides a textbook example of the ways in which fandom (and any pop culture critique based in pop culture itself), and vidding in particular, is limited by its working, in some senses, with found objects. Fandom is unquestionably a fascinating space of critique, remixing, and reinvention, but ultimately pure remixing, no matter how creative, makes it very difficult to introduce radically new elements, or to go beyond what you’re given to work with.

Of course, introducing radical new elements, as uncomfortable and difficult as it is and has been for fandom, may not be what strikes a pop cultural chord in the larger sphere at all. Madonna has shown herself constantly willing to reinvent herself over the course of her career, and the idea of infinitely revising a concept around a central core is of course intimately familiar to fans in general and to writers of fanfic especially. Furthermore, it’s no coincidence that this performance in particular was Madonna’s latest reintroduction to global pop cultural relevance, after the lackluster performance of her previous album, her divorce from Guy Ritchie, and above all the meteoric rise of Lady Gaga to the pop music firmament had somewhat dented the Queen’s crown. But her new album MDNA hits stores in the States March 26, and concert dates for her upcoming world tour are already selling out. Long live the Queen.