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

  • Mel Stanfill University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Keywords: Whiteness, Heteronormativity, Discourse, Representation

Abstract

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.

Published
2010-10-01
Section
Special Issue 1