An Open Letter to Fanboys

Dear Fanboys,

I know you’re upset over the apparent “robbery” of “your” characters: the loss of your Doctors and Thors to women, your white Peter Parker “usurped” by Afro-Hispanic Miles Morales, your straight Hal Jordan “taken over” by queer Alan Parker, your blonde Captain Marvel flying out so Pakistani Muslim Khamala Khan can soar in.

How dare they touch your precious characters, you cry. And all in the name of something as ridiculous as “politically correct” culture.

You cry out to the geekdom gods: “Why have you forsaken me?”

Oh, my dears.

Just stop.

Seriously.

 

This is exactly what you sound like. Do you really want to be Dudley Dursley?

 

Enough with the cries of “P.C. culture is ruining geekdom” and “the canon says this character has to be THIS way,” as if those characters don’t already break accepted laws of physics and science.

 

If a time-traveling, regenerating alien hanging out with their past form makes more sense to you than that same alien regenerating into a woman, you’re being a little choosy with how you apply your logic.

You’re not being persecuted. You’re not losing your stories.

What you’re experiencing is a thing called “change.”

The world and culture are shifting around you. And as such, the representation of that world is going to change.

Straight, cis, able-bodied, white men aren’t the only people calling all of the shots anymore. Not only are more women, people of color, LGBTQ+, and disabled people finally getting the right to tell their stories; they have also been reading, watching, and loving the same characters and worlds you have.

All we are asking is that those heroes look like us once in a while.

But why not make an original character, though, you ask. Why must you “steal” one of ours? Go get your own, you demand!

Ah, yes, why didn’t we think of that? It’s easy, right? After all, your characters seemed to spring up out of nowhere with such frequency, we should be able to do the same.

If only it were the case that movies and shows with diverse casts of characters made by people who aren’t straight, male, or white didn’t take longer to make because producers don’t trust the characters will be likeable or even “articulate.” If only these projects weren’t desperately underfunded to the point that the production companies attempt to bribe their creators with more money if they just cast a white lead. 

Not to mention the frequency with which these beloved, well-rounded shows with this type of casting are dropped.

 

I guess they gotta make way for more episodes of Iron Fist, The Ranch, and whatever else Adam Sandler can cough up.

 

Why aren’t more women and people of color trying to tell their own stories, you ask. Why aren’t they working hard to get in the director’s seat or behind the writing desk?

Here’s the short answer: They are.

They’re working their asses off.

They’re also being met with microagressions like “I’m pleasantly surprised you knew what you were doing,” are blamed for a variety of minor issues for the sake of being a “minority,” and fearing that if they drop any “ethnic” dialogue or bring up too many “issues,” they’ll lose the project for good.

 

Not to mention the legitimate and very threatening harassment they receive online for critiquing video games while having vaginas and posting selfies with their fellow artists. 

These add up real quick and make pursuing a passion that much more exhausting and even dangerous. And it takes a special kind of strength to be willing to pursue what you love when all of that is coming at you every day.

When we get excited over a female Doctor, a woman of color being the main character in the new Star Trek, and actual Muslim women writing the story of an actual Muslim superhero, it’s not because we want to “steal” your characters for the sake of being “P.C.” We are excited, because just like you got David Tennant and 11 other men as the Doctor, and you had Captains Kirk and Picard (take your pick), we get Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and First Officer Burnham. We get people who are like us telling stories about heroes who are like us. We have icons to admire and exonerate, whom we aspire to be one day, just as you always have.

 

It looks like a sun is collapsing behind her, and she’s still taking time to pose all stoically for the camera. How badass is that?!

 

When only one-third of speaking characters are female, despite the fact that women represent just over half the population in America, when just 28.3 percent of characters with dialogue are from non-white racial/ethnic groups, though such groups are nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population, and when only two percent of speaking characters are identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual, we will line up in huge numbers for Wonder Woman’s release and binge watch The Handmaid’s Tale, American Gods, and Transparent.

When negative mass media portrayals of black men shape public views of and attitudes toward men of color, which can result in self-demoralization and a reduction of self-esteem for people of color and enable judges to hand out harsher sentences and the police to shoot indiscriminately, we will rejoice when Idris Elba heads The Dark Tower, John Boyega is a lead in Star Wars, and A Wrinkle in Time is driven by Storm Reid with Ava Duvernay at the helm.

So instead of complaining, please support us. We have good stories to tell. Heck, we even have universal stories to share, believe it or not.

Support us because you want more people to love fandom and geek culture.

Support us because stories are sacred and affect all of us in sacred ways.

Support us because we’re all a bunch of geeks who are into some crazy, weird, phenomenal stories, so we might as well enjoy them together while the rest of the world casts their judgmental looks upon our weirdness.

White America: Do We Have Enough to Share?

New York Times

White America seems to have a gratuitous fear of having “enough.”

We worry about having enough for important things, like money to pay our bills and loans, food to sustain us, and health care coverage.

We also seem to worry a lot about whether we can continue to have enough power and privilege at the expense of people of color and other marginalized groups.

It’s why we use terms like the “deserving poor” and “reverse racism” when we talk about healthcare, welfare, and affirmative action. It’s why we beg for people to “stop talking so much about race,” because it’s “unnecessary” and “too divisive.”

It’s why people in the writing and entertainment business say to writers, filmmakers, and other workers of color, “Diversity is so trendy right now, so it’s going to be so easy for your voice to be heard over mine.” It’s why people dismiss the #OscarsSoWhite controversy as pointless and bogus.

We cite both Black Lives Matter and the KKK as “racist,” when one movement rose up to protect black bodies and another to destroy them.

There is the rise of the “mennist” movement, because white men fear they are being mistreated when they have to make way for women leaders, especially women of color, and are called out when they make catcalls and off-color jokes.

We tell writers of color how lucky they are, thinking their “diverse nature” increases their likelihood of getting published, yet only 6 years ago, 88% of books reviewed by the New York Times were by white authors. Today, the publishing and entertainment industries continue to insist that promoting people of color in lead roles will result in financial loss instead of gain.

Even within the resistance movement, white feminists continue to struggle to make movements more intersectional and inclusive to women of color, as they often ignore acknowledgements of their own exclusionary practices.

We are the dominant group, the ones who have had the majority of political power for a majority of American history, the people who wrote laws into our Constitution to defend slave ownership and made our judicial process “colorblind” so our law enforcement can quite literally get away with murder, yet we fear sharing our power and privilege so those on the bottom have a chance to live off of more than the scraps we “so kindly” throw to them.

Do we believe if we concede or share any power, however small or great, we will lose all of it?

Do we fear that sharing with those who have little will result in us hitting the bottom?

Do we fear trading places with the people we have constantly slandered, dismissed, and oppressed?

Do my fellow white Christians struggle to realize that in Christ’s kingdom, the first will be last and the last will be first? Do we fear acknowledging this is how it shall be in heaven AND on earth?

In these actions, among others, we say to our brothers and sisters of color, “I am not willing to feed you but a small amount from my bounty.”

When we fear stepping down from our own positions of power to make way for people with less power and privilege to voice their equally legitimate concerns, we say to them, “These gifts are not for you.”

When we fear sharing our platforms, however important they may be, so people of color can voice their issues and concerns, we say to them, “Your problems aren’t important enough.”

We claim to be progressive, kind, loving individuals. We claim we don’t hoard power like others do. We thank God we are not like the Republicans and alt-right with their oppressive policies and hateful ideologies. But we should be beating our chests and asking God to forgive us for slamming the doors in the faces of our beloved siblings of color.

As white Americans, we have a lot to ask ourselves.

What will it take for us to concede some of our power and privilege to others?

What will it take for us to do this without accusing others of trying to steal from us?

What will it take for us to accept there is enough for everyone?