Fandom Is Ugly: Networked Harassment in Participatory Culture (Critical Cultural Communication)
Highlights the importance of considering contemporary public culture through the lens of fan studies
The Gamergate harassment campaign of women in video games, the "Unite the Right" rally where hundreds of Confederate monument supporters cried out racist and antisemitic slurs in Charlottesville, and the targeted racist and sexist harassment of Star Wars' Asian American actress Kelly Marie Tran all have one thing in common: they demonstrate the collective power and underlying ugliness of fandoms. These fans might feel victimized or betrayed by the content they've intertwined with their own identities, or they may simply feel that they're speaking truth to power. Regardless, by connecting via social media, they can unleash enormous amounts of hate, which often results in severe real-world consequences.
Fandom Is Ugly argues that reactionary politics and media fandoms go hand in hand, and to understand one, we need to understand the other. Mel Stanfill pushes back on two mainstream assumptions: that media and the pleasure of consumption are frivolous and unworthy of study, and that fandoms are inherently progressive. Drawing on a corpus of angry social media posts, Fandom Is Ugly finds that ugly moments happen when deep emotional attachments collide with social structures and situations that have been misunderstood. By holistically examining the forms of ugly fandom in cases that touch upon race, gender, and sexuality, Fandom Is Ugly produces a comprehensive theory of the negative sides of fan attachments.