Two White Guys
|Trope · Genre|
|Related:||Any Two Guys, Manpain, Migratory Slash Fandom|
|See Also:||Race and Fandom, Misogyny in Fandom, Slash|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
In media fandom, 'two white guys' or 'white cock' is a sarcastic commentary relating to Race and Fandom and Misogyny in fandom. The basis of the criticism is that stories of homosexual romance between white and nonwhite male heroes, and between male heroes and women, tend to be far less popular than pairings between white men. This occurs even when an interracial or heterosexual romance has equal or greater canon evidence or support.
Well. It works like this:
When a white penis meets another white penis, and both penii are attached to white men of at least an 8 on a 1 to 10 conventional attractiveness scale?
The connection between those white penii is more powerful, deep, meaningful, and compelling than anything else. At all. Plot, characterization, logic, none of these things matter.There is a pair of white cocks at stake, and their needs must be met.
There are at least three different patterns to relationships that may be described as Two White Guys pairings:
- Pairings with some basis in canon, but the canon also has potential for a white/non-white pairing that gets much less fannish attention. This was the original pattern for the "two white guys" criticism, where some fans argued that fandom was ignoring well-developed characters of color and women to focus entirely on slashing white men.
- Pairings with little or no basis in canon yet somehow become juggernaut pairings, leading to accusations that fic writers will pair up any two white men so that they can write mostly generic stories, possibly thinly-disguised original stories. The canon source may or may not include characters of color or women who could also be paired, but usually it isn't a question of brushing off canon relationships for these pairings, because the characters are minor in canon.
- Pairings with significant basis in canon. Here the argument is about whether the lack of diversity is due to the fans of the work or the creators of the work. When Destination: Toast researched the most popular pairings on AO3 and discovered that the vast majority of the top 50 pairings were white m/m [male with male] pairings, a common argument was over whether this was the fault of fans showing implicit bias/racism by ignoring nonwhite characters and women, or the fault of canon-creators who cast white men in nearly all major roles.
Fans of particular relationships criticized as Two White Guys may make the counter argument that the other fans are just complaining because no one writes fic for their less popular 'ship.
Relation to Character Popularity
Two White Guys ships often correspond with a disproportionate elevation of a white male character's popularity in fandom. In some cases this is because the popularity of a ship leads to a lot of fanon being developed around a minor character. In other cases, ships gain attention because a single male character is popular - this male character is often white. This frequently intersection with the sidelining of women and people of color.
- Q of James Bond: The Bond franchise has significant history for fandom to draw from, but Q, the MI6 Quartermaster of the Craigverse, was a completely new character introduced in a minor/supporting role in Skyfall. The character had no canon backstory, but fandom latched onto the young, attractive white man. As Bond/Q became popular, so was imagining Q's backstory and developing fanon. Other characters with larger roles in Skyfall and the Craigverse - such as M, Eve Moneypenny (a classic Bond character who was racebent as a black woman), or the Bond girls - receive far less attention.
- Armitage Hux of Kylo/Hux from Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Hux is a minor character in a film that has diverse protagonists, but is one of the most tagged character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars Sequel Trilogy works on AO3. These numbers are surpassed only by Kylo Ren and Rey, and exceed the number of Poe Dameron and Finn, central protagonists who are men of color. This relates to the discussion of racism in Star Wars fandom.
- Kent Parson of Check Please!: Kent is a minor character who became extremely popular in the OMGCP fandom. Significant fanon was developed about him, though arguably it justified by his significant canon relationship with Jack Zimmermann. The ship of Kent/Jack competes with another Two White Guys ship, Jack/Bitty. Opinion of Kent is divided in OMGCP fandom. He is observed to be a fave significantly among white fans. Critics of Kent fans point of the disproportionate attention that Kent and his ships get compared to characters of color in the main cast. They point of the popularity of the Two White Guys ship of Kent and Alexei Mashkov, another extremely minor white male character, which grew from the pair having a single brief and antagonistic interaction.
In 2012, a fan known as lastofthetimeladies created a satirical roleplaying account called @hetwhitefangirl on Twitter (see it here), where she mocked both Migratory Slash Fandom and their tendency to pair up white men. Daily Dot reporter Aja Romano observed:
If there’s one universal truth about fandom, it’s that even though it’s vast, extremely diverse, and populated by women, white dudes still rule the roost.
At least they do in slash fandom -- the part of fandom focused on male/male relationships -- where the mantra “slash is the sound of white men fucking” is so common people have written songs and made one famously controversial satirical banner about it.
Tumblr meta in 2015 by stardust-rain:
I have honestly lost count of how many self-serving, self-congratulatory essays there are out there, both in academic media studies and mainstream journalism, that love to uphold white-dude slashfic as some sort of feminist [utopia] free of the ramifications of male-gaze patriarchy or whatever....
furthermore, fandom discussions have a way of self-validating itself, in which conversations about the lack of focus on women and people of colour find reasons and circles of logic to circle back on justifying not focusing on women and people of colour because focusing on white males make them more comfortable.every criticism, every complaint, every time marginalised fans speak up about it we’re dismissed as ‘BUT IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!’ as if it were a carte-blanche that excuses the exclusionary behaviour of white fans.
The following examples are specific ships that some fans describe as "Two White Guys". Also included are white/non-white ships that some fans feel are overlooked. Please note that one fan's "Two White Guys" ship is another fan's totally-canon/fated-to-be-together OTP. Your mileage may vary.
In which a main character who is non-white is overlooked in favor of two white secondary characters:
- Derek/Stiles from Teen Wolf is by far the most popular pairing for the show, though the characters interact with each other less than they interact with the main character, Scott McCall. (The actor who plays Scott is half Latino, and it is implied on the show that Scott is meant to be the same.) Neither Scott-based ship has a significant fan following, despite Scott/Stiles being best friends.
- Kylo/Hux from Star Wars: The Force Awakens has the largest amount of works in the Star Wars tag on AO3, despite that Hux has very few speaking roles. Additionally, the amount of screentime and interaction between Kylo and Hux is miniscule compared to Finn (Star Wars), who is black and one of the main characters; and Poe, who Finn is the most often shipped with. The amount of Poe/Finn works on AO3 is barely half of the amount of Kylo/Hux works as of September 2017.
Two White Guys pairings with significant canon history or practically none, depending on which canon and who's arguing:
- Steve/Bucky from the Captain America movies had a much larger boost in popularity in the wake of the film Captain America: The Winter Soldier than Sam/Steve, despite some fans arguing that Afro-American Sam Wilson filled the traditional "love interest" role in that film. However, Bucky appeared in the Captain America comics and also the first Captain America movie as Steve's best friend.
- Steve/Tony from The Avengers is a pairing with years of comic canon where they are practically married (and in one genderswapped canon reality they are). In the MCU they have an antagonistic relationship that can be read as unresolved sexual tension. However, to some fans of the movies, and even to some comics fans, the popularity of romances featuring Steve/Tony is baffling. Note that Steve/Tony was popular before they had any screen time together, presumably inspired by comics canon.
Two White Guys pairings that have some interaction in canon, but which seem to outcompete pairings with a character of color that have equal basis:
- Shawn/Lassiter from Psych, which is an antagonistic relationship that can be read as UST, has far more fans supporting this relationship than Shawn/Gus, the best friends, buddies, and main characters of the show.
- Nick/Monroe from Grimm is much more shipped than Nick/Hank, cop partners, good friends, attractive men, almost never shipped
- Crockett/Castillo from Miami Vice was far more popular than Crockett/Tubbs for many years after the original run of the show, despite Crockett & Tubbs being the cop partners, good friend, attractive men, and main characters.
- J.D./Cox from Scrubs is a mentor/mentee relationship and the most popular pairing in the fandom, but the show focuses equally heavily on the bromance in the much less popular J.D./Turk pairing.
- Merlin/Arthur from Merlin (TV series): The slash ship is much more popular in fandom than the canon het ship of Arthur/Gwen. Some argue that the popularity of Merthur sidelines Gwen, a black woman.
- Hank McCoy/Alex Summers from X-Men: First Class: The two have a largely antagonistic relationship in the film, but it is a popular slash ship in XMFC fandom. There is arguably more basis for the pairing of Armando Muñoz/Alex Summers - the two have a significant friendship in the film and Alex is strongly affected by Armando's death.
Two White Guys pairings that have little/no interaction in canon, but which aren't taking the characters away from a more obvious pairing:
- Arthur/Eames from Inception, where two relatively minor white males displace the canonical white lead to create a surprise juggernaut pairing, apparently based partly on Joseph Gordon-Levitt's sex appeal.
- Clint/Coulson from The Avengers, where two relatively minor white males with no comics history (because Coulson didn't exist in the comics before the MCU) and no shared screen time (only a few words exchanged over the comms) shot up to nearly the popularity of Steve/Tony, a pairing between two lead characters and which has significant comics history.
- James Bond/Q of James Bond: Q is a new character in introduced in Skyfall. Bond and Q have relatively minor working relationship as part of MI6.
Two White Guys pairings that have significant interaction in canon:
- Steve/Danny from Hawaii Five-0 (2010) is a typical buddy cop show pairing, but depending on how you interpret the canon, either they are the stars of the show or they are simply the two white male members of a quartet of stars, and the other two members of that quartet are characters of color that get shipped far less (either with each other or with Steve & Danny).
- McKay/Sheppard from Stargate Atlantis are the two main characters in an ensemble show, and fit the pattern of a buddy pairing.
- Aziraphale/Crowley of Good Omens: The juggernaut pairing of the fandom, which rocketed to popularity when the Good Omens TV series aired. However, some have pointed out that race was not specified in the book, but fanworks are largely based on the show and depict both as white men.
White Guy/Non-White Guy pairings that get little fannish attention, despite the canon being otherwise set up for slashiness:
- Van/Deaq from Fastlane - Buddy cop fandom, main characters, main slash pairing, but never took off like comparable fandoms with white buddy pairings.
- Rhodey/Tony from the Iron Man movies -- Three movies where they are best friends & save each other's lives, yet far less fannish activity than Steve/Tony before they even appeared in a movie together.
- anonymous comment on Fail-Fandomanon, in regard to Shawn/Lassiter of Psych, 10 July 2010 (accessed 10 February 2012).
- Destination: Toast, responding to a question from The Daily Dot, 10 August 2013 (accessed 10 September 2013)
- Aja Romano, The slash fandom confessions of @hetwhitefangirl. Daily Dot, November 9, 2012.
- untitled tumblr post by stardust-rain, posted 25 January 2015, with 3,235 notes as of 8 May 2016.
- CA:TWS Review: Black Widow & Falcon, by Hello, Tailor. Blog post dated 7 April 2014. (accessed 15 May 2014) Note that Hello Tailor argues for Sam as love interest, but does not comment on the relative popularity of Steve/Sam vs. Steve/Bucky.
- See this tumblr discussion in April 2014. jaegermighty said: its a case of “any two white guys” for sure. Like in the comics they’re best friends and that makes more sense but lbr [let's be real] the fandom is 99% about the movies. See also this tumblr discussion in October 2012. comradecourt commented, "Just because two white guys shake hands doesn’t make it canon, christ. Makes me so mad that Sam/Steve or Tony/Rhodey gets no recognition WHATSOEVER, even though it makes a HELLA LOT MORE SENSE than Steve/Tony."