If This Is Wrong: A Film About Fandom

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Fan Film
Title: If This Is Wrong: A Film About Fandom
Creator: Chelsea Woods, Franzeska Dickson, Kate Chamuris, Erica Awai
Date: June - September(?) 2017
Length: In-Progress
Medium: Animation(?)
Genre:
Fandom:
URL: If This Is Wrong on Kickstarter

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If This Is Wrong: A Film About Fandom is an upcoming short film about slash, particularly buddy cop slash. It emphasizes that it is a film about fangirls by fangirls, and stars a "black, queer, and a longlife geek" named Maria as the main character.

The film is backed by the AFI Conservatory. Filming begun in June 2017, and was expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

The film premiered on March 22, 2018, in a screening at AFI.[1]

About

A Coffee Date with Destiny

When it comes to primetime television’s most homoerotic buddy cop series, it would be hard to find a more obsessed fan than Maria. Black, queer and a lifelong geek with a love for slash fanfiction, Maria’s deepest passion is the show Bay City and the work of a mysterious fic writer who seems to understand what it’s like to feel like an outsider. But in real life, Maria finds little empathy from her best friend Anna. In her opinion, all Bay City represents is another case of network queerbaiting and a distraction that holds back Maria from pursuing relationships outside of her laptop. Maria hopes a trip to the coffee shop that inspired her favorite writer’s newest fic might help her bring Anna into the fold.

The characters of If This Is Wrong are the women you find every day in fandom communities. They come from different walks of life and different points of view. They come to fandom and the numerous communities within fandoms for a host of personal reasons. They talk about the variety of issues that stem not only from the subject of their admiration but also from how one another are treated. And for too long has that perspective been absent from the larger narrative. This is a story about fandom from a fangirl’s point of view.

By taking on the world of slash fanfiction, this film explores how people connect and explore themselves and their world through fictional characters and their trials and tribulations. For many women, fanfiction is an opportunity to reshape these fictional worlds for themselves, using these characters as fuel to not only create new art but also fascinating explorations into intimacy. This is a story by fangirls about what fanfiction means to them.

Even though we’ve begun to see TV embrace more diverse casts, fandom trends – and discourse around these trends – have been resistant to change. Fangirls of color have always been a part of the fandom community yet their presence is seemingly invisible. And when they speak up, they are often met with resistance from other fans. For all of us involved we see this film as a great opportunity to show a queer black woman who fully embraces herself and her love of slash and to showcase the fact that women of color are fangirls too. This is a story about the reality of being a fangirl: we come from all backgrounds.

In mainstream media, the word “fangirl” still brings to mind sexist stereotypes without thought to what it is that connects women to this world. Slash fanworks have faced especially sharp criticism, often begging the question of sexual fetishization. Portrayals of women that enjoy slash content are cast then as a subculture ultimately driven by cis white men. But as sales of comics and movie tickets continue to surge thanks in large part to female audiences, both fandoms and the media continue to pretend that women are not interested or that their interests are tainted. It is time for our narrative to be told in our own voice.

We invite you to help support a project that celebrates the passion, creativity and complex emotional lives of women. Whether you love fandom, slash or women of color letting their freak flags fly, join us it making a film that tells our story by donating, sharing this campaign and getting involved. If this is wrong, well frankly we don’t wanna be right!

Reception

The kickstarter received significant backlash after Aja boosted the Kickstarter on her Twitter.[2]

Particularly, many pointed out that the creator, editor, and one of the cowriters is Franzeska Dickson, who had written the largely criticized meta essay, "Your Vagina is a Bigot; My Vagina is a Saint". Fans of color have noted the hypocrisy of her having written an essay that excuses the racism within fandom[3], but then creating "If This Is Wrong," which claims to push for racial diversity. Others have pointed out that Franzeska had also condemned the Slash (film) Kickstarter[4] in 2016 for a male writer trying to "make his name off the backs of women," but is now doing the same as a white woman making her name off the backs of women of color.

In response to Aja's tweet, some have brought up their concerns with Franzeska's involvement, due to her meta essay. Franzeska has not addressed these concerns publicly.[5]

This Twitter thread has been widely circulated among those trying to discourage donations to the project.

A Tumblr user writes:

Franzeska, the woman who wrote at least two reductive and racist meta pieces about fandom last year (the “My Vagina is a Bigot” meta and one dismissing racism in the SW fandom) is attached to the project and she has a HISTORY of being racist about fandom that somehow manages to go beyond writing sixteen thousand words (at least) that acted like racism in fan spaces wasn’t a problem and that fans of color have no agency or voice in these discussions. (Which is obviously plenty racist on its own.)

As far as I know, she has never apologized for any of the racism in her meta and she promotes an idea of fandom where no one can be critical and where fans of color are CONSTANTLY infantilized or erased. And, as a major voice in fan spaces and fan studies, she has set an example that people ARE following when it comes to erasure and antiblackness.

I get that the adorable art and two black women creating it might be a draw, but please don’t support Franzeska in this.

Please criticize her participation and motives for the project and don’t reward her for appearing to do care about race and racism in fandom when her own work and rhetoric has proven that to be far from the case.

If anything, please support the artists for this project by commissioning them or purchasing their art if they have stores available, but don’t support the kickstarter. (If I have the energy do a longer post about this subject, I’ll link to support sites for these WOC so that you can do this more efficiently).

Franzeska is responsible for one of the most racist things I have ever seen in fandom and bigotry disguised as academic impartiality is the LEAST of the problems in her two main meta pieces and the absolute non-response from her to the women of color – primarily black women – she erased in the process of writing, sharing, and receiving back pats for that work.

If you require receipts, you can google her name and the meta. There’s a fanlore page that quotes me and other WOC (but also some anonymous assholes because ~impartiality~).

You can also check out my “the star wars discourse” tag from the start because literally, she is one of the main reasons why I’ve been dedicating my academic and professional work to talking about racism and race in fan spaces.

Do yourselves a favor and support critical fans of color in fandom who Franzeska erased and minimized by not rewarding her with your money and time.

There will be other, less smokescreen-y projects about race in fandom coming out, I can promise you that. Don’t support this one.[6]

References

  1. Facebook event. Archive link. Accessed on July 15, 2018.
  2. Tweet by @ajaromano
  3. "This Meta Is Awful", with additional commentary on snarlfurillo's Tumblr
  4. See New Kickstarter for a slash fiction film unsettles the fandom community
  5. thread and tweet by lurrel on Twitter
  6. I might write more about this later... by stitchmediamix on Tumblr