Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, how’s March Madness going for everyone? Fun times? Bitter defeat? Lots of game day snacks?
There’s been a lot written about race, ethnicity, and culture in fandom lately. YA fantasy author Alwyn Hamilton wrote a personal essay for BizzFeed about how growing up bicultural created a social disconnect that was eventually remedied by books and fandom. Her experience of discovering fandom and opening up through a love of media is one shared by myself and at least a dozen people I know, and the way it helped ease the cultural divide shows the positive impact fandom can have.
I internalised books in a way you only do when you’re first finding things on your own, and you sense that this book was written just for you, and you can’t help but feel that revealing anything about it might potentially be revealing something vulnerable and personal. […] [But Harry Potter] was a universal phenomenon, a cultural touchstone I shared with friends and classmates. […] And if [another girl] wasn’t afraid to admit her love of the Wizarding World, I supposed I could put myself out there too and own it. […] Telling you about a book or movie I love still feels like baring a piece of my soul. The difference is, I’m now good at baring that part of myself.
Over at Uncanny magazine, Michi Trota wrote about finding people who shared her ethnic heritage in fandom and how that helped combat the effects of a lack of representation in media. The essay talks about how, especially in the current US political climate, Othering can give people a skewed notion of their identity, and “We should all have that chance to find ourselves in fandom.”
It’s still shocking to realize that I now have more Asian friends than I’ve had in the past 39 years put together. I can’t understate the difference it makes knowing that you aren’t actually alone in the things you love and are trying to accomplish, and the specific struggles you’re facing (both external and internal). This is the infuriating and frustrating legacy of being underrepresented—if not downright erased—in the stories and fandoms you’re seeking enjoyment and escape in.
Meanwhile, at the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues, hosted by Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, USA, University of Alabama professor Kristan Warner gave a lecture about black representation on television titled “Black Women Squads in Online Fandom.” The Dickinsonian newspaper covered the lecture in <a href="an article. The lecture emphasized the power that fandom has to affect representation in the media. “According to Warner, fans have won battles over the direction of plot lines and developments. In this way, fandoms represent a type of activism in their attempts to push for the representation of African-American women in main roles in television shows.” Warner advocated for “blind casting” and said that “the overall mission should be to keep actors of color, especially black women who are in fandoms, on the screen.” She stated that “the power of fandoms may seem small, but they have a definite influence on the trajectory of shows.”
Have you ever been a part of a fandom-organized effort to influence media? Write about it on Fanlore!
We interrupt this roundup to tell you that Fifty Shades of Grey has its own official wines–a white and a red–and, according to FanBolt, at least, they’re pretty good.
— Marco Dante (@MarcoDante) January 19, 2017
Finally, the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast broke some box office records on its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. Have you seen it? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!
We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.