Race and ethnicity in fandom

Sarah N. Gatson

Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States

Robin Anne Reid

Texas A&M University–Commerce, Commerce, Texas, United States

[0.1] Abstract—This section of the special issue examines the cultural products of fandom and the intersections of race/ethnicity, class, and gender/sexuality.

[0.2] Keywords—Culture; Gender; Minstrelsy; Racebending; Racefail '09; Sexuality; Vaudeville

Gatson, Sarah N., and Robin Anne Reid. 2012. "Race and Ethnicity in Fandom." In "Race and Ethnicity in Fandom," edited by Robin Anne Reid and Sarah Gatson, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 8. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2011.0392.

1. Introduction

[1.1] Since May 2007, when Robin e-mailed me after talking with a friend of hers that I had met at a faculty development conference, she and I have had regular discussions about our shared backgrounds in fandom as participants and scholars. These have ranged over our interests in the particular spaces in which fandoms occur, experiential intersections of race/ethnicity, class, and gender/sexuality, as well as in critical intersections studies and theories. Over time, we have come to focus particularly on the racialized flow of cultures, historical marginalizations of specific populations based on race/ethnicity, class, and gender/sexuality in media, education, and scholarship, and the implications of how particular forms of culture flow more easily than others. One of the outcomes of our discussions is this special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures.

[1.2] In examining these cultural products—their inception, production, reception, and reproduction—these articles interrogate ascribed and achieved categories—their construction, assignment, performance, articulation; as fact and imagination, as causes and effects of human actions, their overlaps, gaps, relational existences; in public and private, macro and micro, and the spaces between these. This scholarship is grounded in an epistemology where the social world is simultaneously made up of semiautonomous cultural fields, where "'field' [is] not…a subject matter, but [is]…a (social) distribution of forces, like gravitational or electrical fields. At different points in the field, the forces may push in different directions" (Arthur Stinchcombe, personal communication, 1999). In this discussion, race/ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, and community are some of the relevant prominent fields. Race and ethnicity, as cultural forms and lived experiences, flow in ways that are historically restricted both legally and practically. Cultural forms originated and produced by minority groups are co-opted, whitewashed (and, conversely, hyperracialized), and historically monetized for the benefit of white producers and consumers. Simultaneously, cultural forms produced in racial/ethnic spaces and communities for local racial/ethnic audiences exist in and of themselves, for their respective communities. This approach highlights the importance of teasing apart such condensed discursive projects.

2. Fields of popular culture and fandom

[2.1] A myriad of practical fields of popular culture and fandom exist, both historically and in the present. Several that we are most familiar with are discussed below: minstrelsy and vaudeville, racebending, and Racefail '09.

[2.2] Minstrelsy and vaudeville are two forms of popular culture that are fundamentally products of the multiethnic/racial milieu of the United States whose influence across the mass media landscape is arguably ongoing. Although quintessentially American, both forms are also racially and ethnically marked. Blackface minstrelsy and Borscht Belt vaudeville are the marked forms that are best known to contemporary audiences. The word minstrel has a negative connotation, and it continues to be a racial boundary marker; vaudeville, on the other hand, has a nostalgic air and continues a successful assimilation whereby ethnic identity is not necessarily explicitly highlighted (Jewell 1993; Sacks and Sacks 1993; Kern-Foxworth 1994; Bogle 2001; Bial 2005).

[2.3] Racebending has at least two different meanings. Mica Pollack refers to racebending as "a strategy of questioning the validity of race categories to describe human diversity even while keeping race categories strategically available for the analysis of local and national racial inequalities" (http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/features/pollock10012003.html; see her Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School, 2004). The even newer permutation of this concept refers to a casting choice wherein a role with a particular race (or ethnicity) attached to it is given to a performer not of that race who then performs the role as the original race, or when a role's race/ethnicity is changed to match that of the chosen performer. Although this use of racebending may refer to a situation in which an originally white character is performed by an actor of color (for example, Denzel Washington in both Much Ado About Nothing [1993] and The Pelican Brief [1993]), overwhelmingly, it has a more negative connotation wherein a character of color—indeed, often an actual person—has their race/ethnicity changed, and then that character/role is portrayed by a white actor (also contemporarily known as yellowface, for the still-acceptable practice—in contrast to blackface—of having white actors tape their eyes back or use makeup to portray Asians). Examples from this second category abound, and their histories are quite complex. Two examples are relevant: that of the still-disputed connection of Bruce Lee to the original concept of the television series Kung Fu; and that of the Charlie Chan film series, which was based in part on the life of an actual Chinese American police officer, although the character is always portrayed by a white actor (Huang 2010). Both meanings are linked to localized activism and to the international discourse surrounding racial practices and policies in cultural arenas of production and reception (Williams 1990) (note 1).

[2.4] Finally, Racefail '09 refers to critical race and antiracist work being done in off-line and online fandoms. Discussions by fans of color in a variety of online spaces, both private and public, dedicated to antiracist work, activism, education, and support, report ten or more years' worth of work spent confronting racism in science fiction/fantasy fandom online and off. Additional years have been spent in off-line antiracist work that cannot always be as easily documented or accessed. The growth of decentralized social networks (LiveJournal, Dreamwidth, Facebook, MySpace) changed the nature of fandom discourses away from the more centralized structuring of mailing lists and archives that flourished before 1999.

3. Race, debate, and conflict

[3.1] This antiracist work includes a growing number of debates about racism in popular culture and fandom: the topics include racial and class stereotypes in fan fiction; racial and class stereotypes in the canon texts of the fandom; racist terminology being used by fans that embodies histories and etymology not widely known, especially in the international space of online fandoms; and, finally, ignorance of Jewish religious practices. In 2010, more recent conflicts have focused on Islamophobic commentary by fans and professional authors concerning the Park 51 Cultural Center in New York City.

[3.2] Additional levels of conflict have occurred because of the international demographic of online fandom, with debates over the history and contemporary racial attitudes in the United States compared to the United Kingdom as well as other English-speaking countries (Canada, Australia), and disagreements on antiracist strategies and practices, including the issue of what tone can or should be taken when noting the existence of racist language, imagery, or characterizations. Since a corporation based in Russia bought LiveJournal in 2007, there have been examples of intolerance toward services for Russian speakers and complaints by monolingual fans over multilingual postings in communities.

[3.3] The largest and most widespread of the debates is referred to as Racefail '09 (or alternatively, the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of Doom). This event differs from some of the earlier events in two ways. First, with the debates occurring from January to March 2009, the sustained nature of the imbroglio is unusual. Second, the participation of a number of professional writers and editors took the debates outside fan communities. A list of over 1,000 posts summarizing the debate was compiled by Rydra Wong; the original list was posted in her LiveJournal, then copied to a single post in her Dreamwidth journal (rydra_wong, Dreamwidth.org, February 4, 2002). Liz Henry identified 556 unique usernames in Rydra's list. The vast majority of participants made one post; however, there were lengthy discussions in many of the posts, and it was not uncommon to see several hundred comments in a single discussion thread.

[3.4] Although it may be tempting for those not familiar with the years of antiracist praxis and theory done in online and off-line fandoms to believe that Racefail '09 was a singular event that has come and gone, it actually occurred within a complex network of discussions relating to the cultural makeup of fandom and is connected to a history of work by fans of color and white allies. The Carl Brandon Society (http://www.carlbrandon.org/), growing out of the desire of fans of color to see more programming and awareness for writers of color in science fiction, originated in 1999. There are "Blogging against Racism" carnivals, dedicated communities and archives, and fic challenges and fests. Additionally, various communal efforts exist to raise funds to support fans of color attending conferences. Racefail '09 was not singular, nor are race discussions in fandom finished.

[3.5] Additionally, later debates about race, cultural appropriation, and related discussions about class, disability, language, and gender have often referred back to Racefail '09 in a variety of ways. Many fans have never heard of Racefail or the other events, but the effect on the fans, authors, and critics involved was real, and is still being referenced in off-line science fiction spaces such as WisCon and the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. Nalo Hopkinson dedicated her ICFA guest of honor speech in 2010, "Reluctant Ambassador from the Planet of Midnight" (http://nalohopkinson.com/2010/05/30/reluctant_ambassador_planet_midnight.html), to the topic of race in the literature of the fantastic.

[3.6] Obviously issues of access to media are important, especially when we are talking about access to the networks of creation and dissemination involved in the processes of media production. It is understood generally that new media technology—being both expensive and powerful—is pervasive, but its relative lack of penetration into and use by racial minority communities remains relatively unexamined. Some of the most prominent research on the digital divide is fundamentally disconnected from the vast literature on race and ethnicity inside the United States, as well as outside in postcolonial projects. The dominant digital divide framework replicates one strand of race/ethnicity theory, tending to be grounded more in assimilation theory, but it does not engage with more contemporary theories. (In contrast, however, see Brock 2005, 2009, 2011; Kvasny 2006; Kvasny and Igwe 2008; Brock, Kvasny, and Hales 2010.)

4. Race and identity

[4.1] A crucial component of such critical race approaches (which are influenced by black feminist theory) to fandom and spaces of popular culture explicitly examines the interplay between salient identities, how they interact, and how they are prioritized in macro and micro situations, both by those who hold the identities and by everyone else (Davis 1983, 1990; King 1988; Collins 1990; Jewell 1993). Like any other group identity, one's membership in a fandom may have more or less salience given a particular situation. Although one might assume that a fandom identity takes the ultimately salient position in a fandom space, especially an online fandom space created specifically for the development of a particular fandom, what exactly might that fandom identity entail? Who is to determine the salience of a fan's other identities in that fan-expressive space? Not to speak about race, gender, class, sexuality—or being pressured not to speak—in a fandom space ends up creating the image of a "generic" or "normalized" fan. Such a fan identity is not free of race, class, gender, or sexuality but rather is assumed to be the default. The default fanboy has a presumed race, class, and sexuality: white, middle-class, male, heterosexual (with perhaps an overlay or geek or nerd identity, identities that are simultaneously embedded in emphasized whiteness, and increasingly certain kinds of class privilege, often displayed by access to higher education, particularly in scientific and technical fields). We're being disingenuous if we pretend that these social forces do not exist and do not affect fandom interactions, with different effects in off-line and online fandom spaces.

[4.2] Mass media is ubiquitous to the point of saturation. It is made to be experienced in groups: strangers congregating in public spaces to watch films; neighbors, friends, and families gathering around radios and televisions in private homes; individuals reconnecting after the fact to further discuss their mediated experiences, be it in person at the watercooler or online on a blog. How we experience, identify with, and internalize these narratives matter in large part because they become our common cultural touchstones. They become our popular culture where we find comfort in knowing the narrative of the cultural scripts that make the mediated scripts resonate, whether they're the nonfictional scripts of newsreels or newscasts and sports, or the fictional scripts of drama and comedy. These scripts reflect as well as create and maintain the culture of our everyday lives, identities, and experiences.

[4.3] Popular and mass culture have a history of critical analysis that ranges from unambiguous indictment and the assumption of essentially passively receptive audiences (Horkheimer and Adorno 1972; Adorno 1998; Mander 1978), to work that recognizes the power dynamics of taste making and distinction without necessarily indicting the content of particular cultural formats themselves (Gans 1972; Bourdieu 1984; Williams 1990; Klinenberg 2007), to the even more nuanced work that examines these cultural experiences and artifacts from the top down and the bottom up, and explores the power dynamics, information creation and transmission, and transformative interactions that occur in the processes of popular and mass cultures (Bacon-Smith 1991; Jenkins 1992, 2006; Tulloch and Jenkins 1995; Hunt 1997, 1999, 2005; Laurinec 1999; Hills 2002; Gatson and Zweerink 2004). At least as important as these works are those that ask us to look as critically at the uses cultural criticism is put to, as to the cultural production, reception, and (potential) transformation processes themselves (Bailey 1989; Coontz 1992; Loewen 1995; Sternheimer 2010; Johnson 2005). How exactly culture flows, and how people dip into the stream and give and take from it are complex yet everyday processes.

[4.4] As others have discussed (Gatson and Zweerink 2004), we may, like Mary Douglas (1996), understand culture as a tool kit continuum. This concept can imply active, thoughtful political actions by social actors cognizant of their places in cultural competitions among groups (Ellis and Wildavsky 1990). One carries this tool kit around, lays it out, opens it up, and selects among a range of possibly appropriate expressions, actions, and interpretations that serve to create and/or maintain more or less open community cultures. Similarly, Ann Swidler's discussion of culture uses a metaphor rooted in Erving Goffman's (1954, 1971) symbolic interactionist dramaturgical analysis. Although Swidler explicitly uses the term tool kit, her simultaneous use of "bag of tricks" implies a less political and more performance-oriented use of cultural resources (1986, 273; 2001, 24). Her offering of the notion of repertoire as her central metaphor implies accessible performances, motifs, and themes. This suggests cognizant, perhaps savvy and/or cynical social actors engaged in performances of politics, identity, and community (Swidler 1986, 2001). Repertoire tends to stress a more micro-level approach to cultural choices than Douglas's group/macro-oriented focus.

[4.5] In contrast to Douglas and Swidler, Pierre Bourdieu's development of the importance of culture is centered on the concept of habitus. This concept is rooted in the denotation of routine. It implies unquestioned if not unconscious social discourse and action. Although it is often offered as the bedrock of tradition, habitus is also fragile, a state of rest that is never the state of an entire community or society, or indeed a person. Different strata and different aspects of individual lives may be more or less habituated to a particular hegemonic cultural character (Bourdieu 1984, 1991, 1994; see also Giddens 1979, 1984).

[4.6] These understandings of culture overlap significantly. In our everyday lives, we exist in a matrix of innovative uses of particular technologies—technologies whose dominant cultural images have tended to embody presumptions of danger, mindlessness, and fragmentation.

[4.7] Speaking to living in this cultural matrix, Jeffrey Ow gives us a savvy reading of his own intentional, political amorphousness, of his intersectional identities:

[4.8] As an Asian male cyborg in my own right, I choose to play my own intellectual game with the Shadow Warrior controversy, acknowledging the perverse pleasures of weaving an oppositional read of the controversy, creating much more horrid creatures of the game designers and gaming public than the digital entities on the computer screen. In each level of my game, the Yellowfaced Cyborg Terminator morphs into different entities, from the individual gamer, to company representatives ending with the corporate entities. (2000, 54)

[4.9] Both the culture we make and the stories we tell/are told about that culture matter. For example, in a massive example of racebending, while the actual proportion of cowboys in the United States was mostly Mexican and African American, the iconic image of the American cowboy is a white man—John Wayne, to be exact (Katz 1993). Misinformation and erasure may be promulgated through other powerful cultural channels, such as education (Loewen 1995), but mass-mediated stories are that much more powerful because of their very nature. While earlier erasures and marginalization of people of color in the United States are being studied, contemporary people of color lead protests against the ongoing whitewashing.

[4.10] The most stunning recent example are the protests organized by fans protesting the whitewashing of Asian characters in the live-action film adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender (2005). The use of the Internet to spread information (through sites such as Racebending.com and Media Action Network for Asian Americans, http://www.manaa.org/) allowed fans of the original series to organize, educate, and publicize their protests concerning the whitewashing casting choices in the live-action film. The actions taken included online petitions, letters of protest, and demonstrations in front of theaters in 2010. The activist work has not stopped in the last year; racebending continues to actively focus on advocating "for underrepresented groups in entertainment media" ("About us," http://www.racebending.com/).

[4.11] Scholarship on science fiction and fantasy fandom has been growing for the past two or three decades, originating in two essays published in the 1980s: Joanna Russ's "Pornography by Women, for Women, with Love" (1985), and Patricia Frazer Lamb and Diana L. Veith's "Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines" (1986). A good deal of that work incorporates feminist and gender analysis reflecting the feminist work in science fiction and fantasy that occurred for decades. WisCon, the largest feminist science fiction convention began in 1977; the earliest academic feminist scholarship was published in the 1980s (Marleen Barr's Future Females in 1981 and Natalie Rosinsky's Feminist Futures in 1984).

[4.12] Whereas white women have been focusing on issues of gender, fans of color have been doing antiracist and intersectional work in science fiction fandom for decades as well. However, the scholarship on fandom has an immense gap when it comes to dealing with race. Helen Merrick, an Australian feminist, fan, and scholar, in 2009 published The Secret Feminist Cabal: A Cultural History of Science Fiction Feminisms, which documents the decades-long history of feminism within fandom that preceded academic feminist criticism of science fiction and fantasy. Her last chapter, "Beyond Gender? Twenty-First Century SF Feminisms," argues that a similar pattern is occurring with regard to critical race and social justice work in online science fiction fandom—and this special issue of TWC is, we hope, one that continues the push begun by fans, acafans, and scholars, and points to the potential for an intersectional approach to scholarship on race and ethnicity in fandom.

5. Contents of this special issue

[5.1] The articles selected for this special issue well represent the scope of methodologies and disciplinary approaches possible in fan studies as well as working within a broad range of types of fandoms. Mel Stanfill, in "Doing Fandom, (Mis)doing Whiteness: Heteronormativity, Racialization, and the Discursive Construction of Fandom," focuses an interdisciplinary analysis of film and television shows to analyze how the popular media construction of fans as white men performing fandom both undercuts and reinforces white privilege. Aymar Jean Christian, in "Fandom as Industrial Response: Producing Identity in an Independent Web Series," expands the definition of fan by analyzing a Web series and its creators who are fans of Sex and the City (the 1998–2004 television series) as well as intermittently marginalized workers in the media industry. Thomas D. Rowland and Amanda C. Barton, in "Outside Oneself in World of Warcraft: Gamers' Perception of the Racial Self-Other," use an open-ended survey methodology to consider how gamers' racial attitudes intersect with avatar and interavatar creation. Finally, Sun Jung, in "K-pop, Indonesian Fandom, Social Media," uses an ethnographic and mixed-qualitative methodology carried out both on- and off-line, in South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey, and Egypt, as well as drawing on material on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to analyze K-pop fandom from the perspective of Indonesian youth (aged 18–24).

[5.2] Although they draw from different disciplines, discourses, and fandoms, these four articles do similar work in deconstructing and decentering the dominant element in a number of outworn binaries: deconstructing the concept of white privilege and its dominance even when texts attempt to decenter it; decentering the idea of Western media and (white) Western fans as the sole field of study; deconstructing the idea of boundaries between off-line and online behaviors and attitudes, and between the cultures of fandom and industry. The fans whose productions and cultures are the focus of the essays by Christian and Sung are those whose national, gender, race, and sexual identities have often been erased or ignored, not only by the Western media but, until very recently, by fan studies scholarship generally.

[5.3] Stanfill analyzes the constructions of fans across different types of fandom, including fictional and documentary texts. Considering fans of baseball, the New York Mets, science fiction, Elvis, cult media, and horror, Stanfill examines the extent to which fans are constructed as white and male in popular media. However, Stanfill shows how the media constructions work to present the image of nonheteronormative fans who fail to follow the social standards required to perform whiteness that are connected to white privilege. This analysis extends Judith Butler's argument that gender is performed in other categories such as whiteness and fandom. Stanfill writes, "The need to repeatedly perform one's whiteness in order to construct and reaffirm it opens up the possibility that a white-skinned person can 'fail' at whiteness…and this article contends that fandom is one of the ways of 'doing' whiteness 'incorrectly'" (¶2.10). The popular construction of (white and male) fans as "losers" is based on the extent to which the fans fail to perform normative (white) masculinity. Their failures, shown across multiple fictional and nonfictional texts, include the perceptions of them as feminized, gay, or childish; their lack of professional employment; and their sexual pleasure in the objects of their fandom rather than in women, thus separating whiteness from privilege.

[5.4] This interdisciplinary and intersectional analysis draws on extensive scholarship in fan studies (Jenkins 1992, 2006; Hellekson and Busse 2006), gender studies (the work of Foucault and Butler), whiteness studies (Dyer, Chambers, Frankenberg, Newitz, Wray), and intersectional studies (Ahmed, Frankenberg). Additionally, by considering constructions of fans in the context of discourses of whiteness and fandom without focusing on a single fandom or type of fandom, Stanfill addresses a gap in television and media fan studies that has failed to address racial differences in fandom, as opposed to studies of whiteness and fandom in sports and music fan scholarship. The apparent undercutting of white privilege in the popular media construction of fans as losers actually reinforces "the cultural commonsense that privilege is a 'natural' property of white, heterosexual masculinity" (¶1.2). Because (white and male) fans are shown across fandoms and genres as being able to change in order to gain control over their selves and their pleasures by deciding to self-correct their "deviance," heternormativity is reinforced, and Stanfill argues that the narrative of "that most neoliberal of buzzphrases, 'personal responsibility'" (¶4.3) focuses attention on individual choices in order to erase ideas of structural causes and reinforces white universality. The patterns noted by Stanfill, in such diverse texts as The Fan, Fanboys, Fever Pitch, Galaxy Quest, Looking for Kitty, Almost Elvis, Fanalysis, Horror Fans, Mathematically Alive, Trekkies, and Trekkies II, as well as selected episodes from Xena: Warrior Princess, The West Wing, and The Simpsons, provide a rich foundation for future intersectional work and show the need for moving away from relying solely on single types of fandoms.

[5.5] "Producing culture is political." So notes Aymar Jean Christian (¶3.1). Although not the first scholar to assert this position, in work that examines culture produced primarily or significantly within the realm of leisure and entertainment, this is a position that perhaps needs to be strongly emphasized. Christian's article examines the production process and content of a Web series, The Real Girls' Guide to Everything Else, a project grounded in an intersectionarily racebending response from fans of the TV series Sex and the City, and simultaneous antifans of the film Sex and the City. These politically driven moral entrepreneurs, at once fans and workers within the media industry (Christian calls them "intermittent participants" [¶0.1]—marginal workers due to their racial, gender, or sexual identities), produced a short (six episodes, 40 minutes total) answer to what they observed as the degrading of their object of fandom in its transition from television to film, as well as a piece intended to comment on the overall lack of work for "real girls" in the media industry (including television, film, and print). Christian's work connects the fan with the producer with the consumer in the professional environment, thus challenging the traditional use of prosumption (Ritzer and Jurgenson 2010), which is usually well embedded within the world of the amateur fan, no matter how sophisticated their skills and use of various kinds of capital in those prosumption practices. This connection provides an examination of the process of identity formation and cultural formation as a complex nexus, where "the central tension…is between creating something culturally and politically important (the domain of the fan and marginal) and creating something marketable (the domain of industry and the mainstream)" (¶3.11). Christian argues that the producers of Real Girls' Guide have made "an intervention in race and women's genres, television, gender, and sexuality in a specific political and industrial moment," whose "criticism of the industry is as aware of structural concerns as it is of how those structures affect participants within that world; it is personal, political, and professional" (¶1.1, ¶4.6). Christian argues that even though the success of the Real Girls' Guide as a cultural-political intervention into industry is ultimately questionable, "such developments could force scholars to reconsider how we frame fan practices." If we do indeed "interpret the problem of post-1960s media as one of access," as Christian asserts (¶5.4), access to the cultural markets that are the most visible and powerful in terms of creating the content from which fandom emerges "should acknowledge shifts in fan and independent production in a period of technological change, seeing it as evidence of how changing social, political, and economic conditions can encourage new models for making and marketing stories through media" (¶5.6).

[5.6] Working in the context of contemporary scholarship on Internet racism and color-blind racism, Thomas Rowland and Amanda Barton survey participants in World of Warcraft (WoW) on the question of how their avatars, the figure within the game that is created by the player but limited by the game constraints, are influenced by the players' own racial perceptions. The question that Rowland and Barton set out to explore is whether the online virtual environment of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORG) would tend to reproduce American notions of racism, or whether it "attempts to subvert questions of race through means of neoliberal colorblindness and passing, and in so doing, contains the undesirable aspects of racism" (¶4.1). Their methodology was to directly survey players in the online gaming communities because of the difficulties of dealing with the huge amount of data generated online by fans (inside and outside the game and its forums). However, acknowledging Bonilla-Silva's (2006) criticisms of survey limitations, they provided open-ended questions as well as fixed answers. Their survey, approved by the institutional review board at Saint Louis University, was online for a month, and they received 446 responses. Although information about the survey was distributed to forums for a number of online games, the overwhelming response from WoW players led them to focus entirely on that group. Rowland and Barton's data analysis showed some weaknesses that they address, including age limitations and the inability to limit based on nationality, but they conclude that their survey "provides important preliminary data about gamers' racial perceptions and any relationship to the character creation process, and reveals the importance of further studies that will utilize more rigorous sociological methodology" (¶2.5).

[5.7] The conclusions that Rowland and Barton are able to draw emphasize a strong relationship between the racial attitudes of the gamers and the constructions of their avatars and interavatar interactions, with the hyperbolic visual environment emphasizing the extent to which physical characteristics of others are interpreted as either being sympathetic or antagonistic. Because the physical charactersistics are specific to the "races" (the term used for "species") in the game, such as Humans, Elves, Dwarves, and a variety of hybrid "monsters" (Taurens) or various Undead, the extent to which discrimination is unconsciously expressed concerning the races in the game was shown by the responses to survey questions. Additionally, the extent to which respondents' chosen descriptors for their avatars were mirrored in their choice of descriptors for themselves, their projection of their own identities onto their avatars showed another level of the unconscious influences of racial attitudes. Some discussion of gender preferences and fetishization of female avatars (with male players being more willing to play female characters) and the influence of skill sets being associated with specific races/species in the game imply that future work drawing on intersectional theories and methods would be useful.

[5.8] Pushing the concept of cultural politics further and in different directions, Sun Jung's contribution presents the complex ethnographic environment in which the author is embedded for this work. If the ethnographic field is K-pop fandom, Jung, who is based in South Korea and Australia, has traveled to Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Turkey, and Egypt, in addition to following and embedding within various online sites of this culture, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This article uses mixed qualitative methods to primarily examine the field of K-pop fandom from an Indonesian youth (aged 18–24) perspective, where the participants share content and news, cover dance, and write fan fiction—sometimes becoming minor celebrities themselves. Jung's analysis complements Christian's discussion of how fandoms reflect and reshape the industry, emphasizing in the most contemporary way how fan culture is not separate from industry culture.

[5.9] Jung argues from a position on convergence culture that shifts the center at once from "the West" as well as suggesting the notion that with multiple centers, there will be multiple convergences: "The global cultural economy has to be understood as a complex, overlapping, disjunctive order, which can no longer be understood through existing models of center and periphery" (¶1.4). Jung thus offers us an "in-depth study…of online fan practices on social media that particularly focuses on transcultural circulation of Asian pop content via empirical research methods" and helps us discover "how transcultural online fan networks of Asian pop cultures operate, how large and diverse these networks are, who uses them, what kinds of content they distribute, and how such operations affect actual global cultural industries" (¶1.5).

[5.10] Jung's analysis is one in which race and ethnicity are central to the fandom, yet largely unremarked upon by the participants analyzed. In a fandom where the practice of cover dance teams is one of the most prominent prosumptive engagements by the participants, and where those participants are overwhelmingly young Indonesian women self-consciously performing and embodying young Korean men, Jung presents us with a fandom whose genderbending is remarked upon, and whose racebending is visible, yet remains largely unspoken. Jung's subjects are a "small sample group…[of] well-educated, middle-class urban consumers [with advanced] English-language skills and…access to advanced media technologies" (¶2.9). Although they are a small and privileged group, Jung argues that "in the case of Indonesian fandom, fans reinterpret and re-present K-pop content within the conceptual paradigm of embracing simultaneously cool, modern, and exotic foreign culture" (¶4.22). Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, has been actively chosen in China, Vietnam, and now Indonesia as alternative culture in local situations of rapid change and globalization, and Jung thus focuses on "the way Indonesian youths actively and voluntarily seek, appropriate, and consume new kinds of pop culture to satisfy their emerging desires in this new and modern digital setting…while their country underwent socioideological changes after the Suharto era" (¶4.22). Jung argues that this active translation of an external ethnically identified desired Other is part of a transition and convergent practice wherein "Indonesian youth seek out and create new forms of culture by being actively involved in participatory K-pop fan practices to satisfy their desires until they can engage with their own cool 'I-pop'" (¶4.22). This raises the question of whether this is racebending. Is the racial/ethnic content of the performance as self-conscious as that of the gendered performances that the participants seem aware of?

[5.11] These four essays draw from a range of disciplinary methodologies and consider a broader field of types of fandoms, but they are in no way exhaustive of the scholarship that needs to be done in the broad field of race and ethnicities and fan studies. Some of the areas in which future work could be done are clear, as follows: more work on transcultural and international fandoms in languages other than English; more interdisciplinary methodologies, not only within scholarship generally, but within individual projects, with a particular need for more digital humanities approaches; more collaborative work to develop the technologies that will allow the ability to analyze the data on the Internet; and more work across categories of fandoms (sports, music, cult media, and science fiction and fantasy).

6. Note

1. Racebending.com's definition of racebending appears at http://www.racebending.com/v4/about/what-is-racebending/. They make explicit the connection between the aesthetic/talent argument for the dominant practice of casting whites to portray (both real and fictional) people of color and its direct impact on the employment, incomes, and careers of actors of color: "Our organization's primary concern is the impact of 'racebending' on underrepresented communities. Casting established characters of color with white actors has a huge, harmful impact on underrepresented communities of color and their struggles for representation. On the other hand, casting Nick Fury, Cinderella or Velma with actors of color had no discernible impact on the overall opportunity for white children and consumers to be represented by and relate to the wide array of other Hollywood characters who are white, including other incarnations of Nick Fury, Cinderella, and Velma."

5. Acknowledgments

[5.1] The following people worked on TWC No. 8 in an editorial capacity: Sarah N. Gatson and Robin Anne Reid (guest editors); Kristina Busse and Karen Hellekson (editors); Anne Kustritz, Patricia Nelson, and Suzanne Scott (Symposium); and Louisa Stein (Review).

[5.2] The following people worked on TWC No. 8 in a production capacity: Rrain Prior (production editor); Beth Friedman, Shoshanna Green, and Vickie West (copyeditors); Wendy Carr, Ekaterina Fawl, Allison Morris, Kristen Murphy, and Gretchen Treu (layout); and Carmen Montopoli and Vickie West (proofreaders).

[5.3] TWC thanks all its board members, whose names appear on TWC's masthead, as well as the additional peer reviewers who provided service for TWC No. 8: Rebecca Busker, Pawel Frelik, Alex Jenkins, Rachael Joo, Anne Kustritz, Alexis Lothian, Douglas Schules, James Thrall, and Andrea Wood.

8. Works cited

Adorno, Theodor. 1998. "Resignation." In Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords, 289–93. Trans. Henry W. Pickford. New York: Columbia University Press.

Bacon-Smith, Camille. 1991. Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Bailey, Beth. 1989. From Front Porch to the Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth-Century America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Bial, Henry. 2005. Acting Jewish: Negotiating Ethnicity on the American Stage and Screen. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Bogle, Donald. 2001. Toms, Coons, Mulattoes, Mammies, and Bucks: An Interpretive History of Blacks in American Films. 4th ed. New York: Continuum.

Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. 2006. Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. 2nd ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction. Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1991. Language and Symbolic Power. Trans. Gino Raymond and Matthew Adamson. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1994. "Structures, Habitus, Power: Basis for a Theory for Symbolic Power." In Culture, Power, History: A Reader in Contemporary Social Theory, edited by Nicholas B. Dirks, Geoff Eley, and Sherry B. Ortner, 155–99. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Brock, André. 2005. "'A belief in humanity is a belief in colored men': Using Culture to Span the Digital Divide." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 11 (1): 357–74. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2006.tb00317.x.

Brock, André. 2009. "Life on the Wire: Deconstructing Race on the Internet." Information Communication Society 12 (3): 344–63.

Brock, André. 2011. '''When keeping it real goes wrong': Resident Evil 5, Racial Representation, and Gamers." Games and Culture 6 (5): 429–52. doi:10.1177/1555412011402676.

Brock, André, Lynette Kvasny, and Kayla Hales. 2010. "Cultural Appropriations of Technical Capital: Black Women, Weblogs, and the Digital Divide." Information, Communication and Society 13 (7): 1040–62.

Collins, Patricia Hill. (1990) 2008. Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment. London: Routledge.

Coontz, Stephanie. (1992) 2000. The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap. New York: Basic Books.

Ellis, Richard, and Aaron Wildavsky. 1990. "A Cultural Analysis of the Role of Abolitionists in the Coming of the Civil War." Comparative Studies in Society and History 31:89–116.

Davis, Angela Y. 1983. Women, Race, and Class. New York: Vintage.

Davis, Angela Y. 1990. Women, Culture, and Politics. New York: Vintage.

Douglas, Mary. 1996. Thought Styles: Critical Essays on Good Taste. London: Sage.

Gans, Herbert J. (1972) 1999. Popular Culture and High Culture: An Analysis and Evaluation of Taste. New York: Basic Books/Perseus.

Gatson, Sarah N., and Amanda Zweerink. 2004. Interpersonal Culture on the Internet: Television, the Internet, and the Making of a Community. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press.

Giddens, Anthony. 1979. Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, Structure and Contradiction in Social Analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Giddens, Anthony. 1984. The Constitution of Society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Goffman, Erving. (1951) 1990. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Penguin.

Goffman, Erving. (1974) 1986. Frame Analysis. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Hellekson, Karen, and Kristina Busse, eds. 2006. Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Hills, Matt. 2002. Fan Cultures. London: Routledge.

Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor Adorno. 1972. The Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Harder and Harder.

Huang, Yunte. 2010. Charlie Chan: The Untold History of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History. New York: Norton.

Hunt, Darnell. 1997. Screening the Los Angeles "Riots": Race, Seeing, and Resistance. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hunt, Darnell. 1999. O. J. Simpson Facts and Fictions: News Rituals in the Construction of Reality. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hunt, Darnell, ed. 2005. Channeling Blackness: Studies on Television and Race in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jenkins, Henry. 1992. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. London: Routledge.

Jenkins, Henry. 2006. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York University Press.

Jewell, K. Sue. 1993. From Mammy to Miss America and Beyond: Cultural Images and the Shaping of US Social Policy. New York: Routledge.

Katz, William Loren. 1993. "Movies Discover Black Cowboys and Cavalry" [letter to the editor]. New York Times, June 2. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/06/02/opinion/l-movies-discover-black-cowboys-and-cavalry-654593.html.

Kern-Foxworth, Marilyn. 1994. Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, and Rastus: Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Westport, CT: Praeger.

King, Deborah. 1988. "Multiple Jeopardy, Multiple Consciousness." Signs 14 (1): 42–72. doi:10.1086/494491.

Klinenberg, Eric. 2007. Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America's Media. New York: Metropolitan Books.

Kvasny, L. 2006. "The Cultural (Re)production of Digital Inequality." Information, Communication, and Society 9 (2): 160–81. doi:10.1080/13691180600630740.

Kvasny, Lynette, and Frank Igwe. 2008. "An African-American Weblog Community's Reading of AIDS in Black America." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (2): 569–92. doi:10.1111/j.1083-6101.2008.00411.x.

Lamb, Patricia Frazer, and Diana L. Veith. 1986. "Romantic Myth, Transcendence, and Star Trek Zines." In Erotic Universe: Sexuality and Fantastic Literature, edited by Donald Palumbo, 235–55. New York: Greenwood Press.

Leblanc, Lauraine. 1999. Pretty in Punk: Girls' Resistance in a Boys' Subculture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Loewen, James W. (1995) 2007. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: Touchstone.

Ow, Jeffrey A. 2000. "The Revenge of the Yellowfaced Cyborg: The Rape of Digital Geishas and the Colonization of Cyber-Coolies in 3D Realms' Shadow Warrior." In Race in Cyberspace, edited by Beth Kolko, Lisa Nakamura, and Gilbert Rodman, 51–68. London: Routledge.

Pollack, Mica. 2004. Colormute: Race Talk Dilemmas in an American School. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ritzer, George, and Nathan Jurgenson. 2010. "Production, Consumption, Prosumption: The Nature of Capitalism in the Age of the 'Prosumer.'" Journal of Consumer Culture 10 (1): 13–36. doi:10.1177/1469540509354673.

Russ, Joanna. 1985. "Pornography by Women, for Women, with Love." In Magic Mommas, Trembling Sisters, Puritans and Perverts: Femininst Essays, 79–99. Trumansburg, NY: The Crossing Press.

Sacks, Howard L., and Judith Rose Sacks. 1993. Way Up North in Dixie: A Black Family's Claim to the Confederate Anthem. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

Sternheimer, Karen. 2010. Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture: Why Media Is Not the Answer. Boulder, CO: Westview.

Swidler, Ann. 1986. "Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies." American Sociological Review 51 (2): 273–86. doi:10.2307/2095521.

Swidler, Ann. 2001. Talk of Love: How Culture Matters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tulloch, John, and Henry Jenkins. 1995. Science Fiction Audiences: Watching "Doctor Who" and "Star Trek." London: Routledge.

Williams, Patricia. 1990. "Metro Broadcasting vs. the FCC." Harvard Law Review 104 (2): 525–46.

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Transformative Works and Cultures (TWC), ISSN 1941-2258, is an online-only Gold Open Access publication of the nonprofit Organization for Transformative Works. TWC is a member of DOAJ. Contact the Editor with questions.