On Critical Fandom

Last Friday night I was invited to participate in what ended up being a great Twitter Chat organized by Black Girls Create to discuss critical fandom as part of their month-long #BlackWizardHistory campaign. I really enjoyed the discussion, but I realized afterward that because it was such a great back and forth, the cohesiveness of the responses I had created got a little lost, and after reading what other people had to say, there is even more that I want to say. So I’ve strung together below an archive of my responses to the questions, with a short paragraph afterwards digging a bit deeper into the experience.

Chat Questions and Answers:

What does critical fandom mean to you?

How do you practice critical fandom?

Why is it important, as a Black and marginalized person to participate in critical fandom?

When being outspoken and critical about works of fiction, how do you protect yourself against toxic elements of fandom?

How do you maintain joy and love of a property while remaining critical?

Do you have examples of being silenced? How do these attempts to silence you impact your relationship to the property and the fandom surrounding it?

How do we support other Black and marginalized voices when speaking up and being critical?

Have you ever made the conscious decision to not engage critically with a property?

How do you deal with people being critical of a property you love or criticisms that you don’t agree with?

What is your hope for Black and other marginalized voices engaging in critical fandom?

Key Takeaway:

The biggest takeaway from this chat can be summed up via this retweet of my answer to question five:

Being critical is a crucial part of keeping our fandoms loving and healthy spaces. Doing the work of making the world a better place doesn’t stop when it comes to our forms of entertainment. Yes, there are some points where people check out and have certain media that they don’t engage with critically — and that’s fine for them because it’s their choice and I’m not going to split hairs over it. But for me, if I’m going to enjoy anything on more than just a surface level, and actually integrate it into the way that I live in interact with the world — giving it my love, time, and attention, I will love it enough to criticize it, to demand more of it, and to uplift it to be the best version of itself that it can be.

There is still time to participate in all of the daily challenges and events left in the second half of the month, so I do highly recommend that you check out and follow the Black Girls Create Twitter account @weblackandnerds for more great content.

You can also read lots of great content on the Black Girls Create We Black and Nerds blog, including Critical Companion articles I wrote such as Revisiting Harry Potter’s Final Battle: Where Did All the Kreatures Go? and Body Shaming in ‘Harry Potter’.

“I am the dragon breathing fire.”

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