‘Harshin Ur Squeez’: Visual Rhetorics of Anti-Racist Work in LiveJournal Fandoms [Conference Notes]

by Latoya Peterson

These are the notes for “ ‘Harshin Ur Squeez’: Visual Rhetorics of Anti-Racist Work in LiveJournal Fandoms.” The notes are from a paper by Robin Anne Reid at the Texas A & M University Race and Ethnic Studies Institute’s Symposium exploring Race, Ethnicity and (New) Media.

Reid’s paper is not yet public; however, the summary notes how she approaches the topic:

This presentation is part of a larger project on the written and visual rhetorics of anti-racist work growing out of ongoing conflicts about racism in online LiveJournal media Fandoms. Conflicts include racial and class stereotypes in fan fiction, racial stereotypes in the canon texts of the fandom, racist terminology that embodies histories and etymology not widely known, and, ignorance of a minority culture’s religious practices. I argue that the rhetorics of racisms in feminism and in fandom reflect the larger social rhetorics of race at play in the United States. By making an argument of similarity, I am not saying that fandom is feminist. However, since feminist groups and fan groups share a certain “us against society” mentality, valuing the groups as in part an escape from oppressions of the patriarchal or mundane culture, the attempts by people of color to analyze racisms in both groups have been met with similar responses, the roots of which are based in the need to maintain the comfort of the escape for white community members, that comfort being a privilege which fans of color are denied. later. Additionally, a number of the fans involved in anti-racist work are drawing from theories and practices familiar to me from anti-racist feminist work I know through academic discourses. This presentation focuses on the visual rhetorics of several representative icons.

  • There is the argument that the digital world of the internet represents a kind of freedom, since you can literally be anyone. The idea is that racism, sexism, etc. would not exist online. However, we have since discovered that this is not freedom, just the opportunity to pass as a white male for a while.
  • The refusal of fans of color to pass is the focus of paper.
  • The attempts by PoC to analyze racism in both fandom and feminism have been rebuffed; in both spaces, the view of these places as refuge is a function of privilege to set these issues aside.
  • Author notes how her whiteness impacts her perception and work.
  • Icons are made as a presence or physical representation of the self in online space – in antiracist work, icons are drawn upon to further the cause.
  • Biggest takeaway from the paper: Some people in fandom complain that fen of color are harshing their squee by talking about racism; however, they fail to understand that our squee is harshed by racism.
  • (Image Credits: Fen of Color, United (FOC_U); Laurashapiro and Hsapiens for the icons.)

    Update:

    Squee

    A noise primarily made by an over-excited fangirl, however it has spread rapidly and is now widely spread among the web community.
    Omg!! New Harry Potter book out!! Omg Squee squee! omg!!!

    Harsh

    Unusually or overly cruel, referring either to specific actions or circumstances.
    “So the teacher gave me a 35 in the class.”
    “Man, that’s harsh!” […]

    harsh

    verb – “to harsh one’s mellow” – interfering with drug buzz, or bothering someone who is stoned. Can also be used for people who are just relaxing.
    “Dude, can you turn off the Montel Williams show? It’s totally harshing my mellow.”

    Harshing one’s squee is equivalent to killing someone’s fan buzz. It’s the “why’d you have to bring that up?” line of questioning that arises when we point out issues (normally skanky race issues) in some created work. – LDP

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