Doing fandom, (mis)doing whiteness: Heteronormativity, racialization, and the discursive construction of fandom

Mel Stanfill


The fans depicted in mainstream media representation are unrelentingly white in a way that constructs fandom—from Star Trek to baseball to Elvis—as the property of white bodies. Though whiteness is typically understood in contemporary American culture as a position of privilege, represented fans seem to contradict this conventional wisdom; they are conceptualized in television shows, fictional films, and documentaries as white people deviating from the constructed-as-white norm of heterosexuality and employment through a "childish" fixation on the object of their fandom. Dominant culture produces an idea of fandom as a sort of failed nonheteronormative whiteness that serves a regulatory function, positioning the supposed inadequacy of fans as the result of bad—but correctable—decisions, reinforcing rather than challenging privilege as a natural property of white, heterosexual masculinity as it produces fandom as a racialized construct.


Whiteness; Heteronormativity; Discourse; Representation

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