Cultural Imperialism in Fandom

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See also: Racism in Fandom, Britpick, Amer-pick, Social Justice
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Cultural imperialism is a term for undue focus on the West, Western culture, a Western point of view, etc.

Some fans may specifically use the term to refer to United States-based imperialism, where in many fandoms, fans from the US outnumber other fans or are more vocal. This can be seen as particularly annoying if the fandom is for something that originated outside of the US.

The term tends to come up in debates about Britpicking and whether to use US spelling in anime and manga fandoms. fail_fandomanon has had frequent flamewars over the topic, and fanficrants can always bring the comment count when the topic is US vs. UK spelling or usage.

Specific Fandom-Related Controversies

The SPN Roundtable Workshop

Livejournal-based Supernatural discussion community spnroundtable hosted a workshop post written by benitle and legoline called, Faking It: Pretending You're A US Citizen When You're An Ocean Away. Both authors are non-Anglophone Europeans. The workshop covered a broad range of US cultural details specifically skewed to the needs of non-US, non-Anglophone writers in the fandom who haven't experienced the US culture that is the basis for canon in most major media fandoms. It also offered suggestions for research methods and lists of resources.

Commenters to the post pointed out several areas where US regional differences were not accounted for in the information, and the fact that the show itself, which is not filmed in the US often has noticeable errors in depiction of US life and culture, some intentional. The idea that this canon could ever be a platform for a writer to accurately depict US life was discussed at length.

Other commenters were unhappy that the post seemed to be implying that it was necessary for a writer to not only make Sam and Dean sound correct in dialogue, the narrative itself needed to seem to be written by a US writer in order for a reader to be comfortable with the story, a reading reinforced by some of benitle's comments. [1]

Some commenters felt the post painted non-US writers as more likely to write poor-quality stories.

Like many discussions of this kind the Britpicking culture in Harry Potter fandom was presented as an example of how there is an equality in fandom practice between US-based canons and UK-based canons. The idea of this equality seems to ignore the wider reality of the level of saturation of US culture in the world, and the attendant expectation that US pop culture references or slang will be understood by everyone.

Some fans criticised the post for lumping 'US culture' into one big heap, and then tried to generalise on that heap. Some criticised the fact that the guide was written by fans living in Europe, and the attitude that if you do get a detail wrong, the reader is ultimately distracted and will lose interest in your story.[2]


  1. Comment thread begun by 22by7, accessed April 8, 2011
  2. narcissam, (2009). Fandom Wank: Give Me Your Huddled Masses. Accessed April 2, 2011. Webcite.