Ironic Racism

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Synonyms: hipster racism
See also: Race and Fandom Wikipedia:Hipster (contemporary subculture)
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Ironic Racism is a term used to describe the practice of making fake racist comments as a way to show how not racist the speaker is. The phenomenon is a part of Hipster humor and is often called Hipster Racism. Unfortunately, ironic racism, however well-intentioned, still produces racist comments. s. e. smith says of ironic racism:

Specifically, the idea is to sound ironic, as in “I’m allowed to say this because of course I’m not racist, so it’s funny.” It’s an aspect of a larger part of the hipster culture, which wants to seem jaded and urbane and oh-so-witty. Using language which is viewed as inflammatory or not appropriate is supposed to push the boundaries and make someone look edgy, but it only really comes across that way to people who buy into that system. To everyone else, it’s just racist.[1]

Problems in canon

Fannish meta and other fan works often engage with the hipster racism of the source texts.

Ciderpress discusses the media's racist treatment of multiple occasions in Glee:

The "Other Asian" joke is funny and okay because it shows what an awful human being Sue Sylvester is! Will Schuester's Other Asian "joke" is a call-back, we didn't even notice how dehumanising it is, Mr. Schu is a "good" guy being funny to show that he "gets it"! It's okay because it's "ironic", it's meta, the show itself treats him like "Other Asian" anyway, they don't say his name very often, he doesn't speak, has no means of recourse, even after the racist speech directed at him several times, he's just there to be the other Asian and fill the diversity quota, the character and the actors are totally okay with it![2]

Problems in fandom

Fanworks themselves are sometimes accused of partaking in ironic racism. In 2010, The_Moonmoth called out an Inception story for an ironic racist exchange:

I'm mad because this is a blatant example of hipster racism and I kind of thought fandom was more grown up than that these days.[3]

This led to a conversation in the fandom about what exactly hipster racism is and whether the exchange in question was a legitimate example of the phenomenon:

A similar conversation happened in the fandom just a couple of weeks later, with a more positive resolution:


  1. Hipster Racism by s.e. smith, posted 16 July 2009 (accessed 31 March 2011)
  2. interesting. no, wait, the other thing: tedious., by ciderpress, posted 21 April 2010 (accessed 31 March 2011)
  3. I'm torn between rageful flailing and a defeated sigh by moonmoth, posted 13 October 2010 (accessed 31 March 2011)
  4. archived, posted 2010-10-18.
  5. comment archived, October 18 2010. post archived, 2010-10-29.
  6. archived, posted to dreamwidth 2010-10-22
  7. archived, posted to livejournal 2010-10-25