Literature Discussion: Fandoms with Creators Who Promote Hate and Cause Harm [updated title]

bastion

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EDIT: I intended for this thread to be a discussion about fandoms with bigotted creators, and to engage with others in critical thinking. I realized too late that the way I worded the title made it seem like I was looking for reassurances.


This has been on my mind lately given everything going on with the wizard school author. She actively advocates against transgender people and been a part of the anti-trans legislation in the UK thanks to her financial and social influence. Obviously liking a thing doesn't mean you agree with the views of the creator, and there are ways to participate in a fandom without financially supporting it. I just wonder if participating in the fandom, even if you don't financially support it, still causes harm.

Every time you post about a fandom, even if you don't mention it's creator's name, it keeps that creator relevant. It tells social media platforms to boost that creator's posts and search engines to put articles about that creator at the top of any possibly connected searches. Even when posting about a fandom on a site like RPN, due to the way the internet is set up and most browsers are constantly monitoring what you do, anything you say here can add to that fandom creator's relevancy. It ensures the dangerous views of these fandom creators are being kept in the public eye and that the creator always has a platform to promote their views.

There's also the fact that a creator's views are always present in their works. I can't speak on any anti-trans aspects in the wizard school series, since it's been so long since I engaged with any of it, but I do clearly remember the antisemitism built into the world with the goblins. From what I've heard of the recent game, it's even worse, with the main character mounting goblin heads on the walls. There's also the disgusting aspect of having a race that is inherently slaves, and want to be slaves. There's more, I'm sure, but I feel those two things are enough to make it clear how the creator's views are tied into their work.

It's okay to hold fondness for a series even when the creator is such a terrible person, even when it is filled with such flaws. I just feel like it's a problem to hold onto it and continue boosting that work when it helps keep someone dangerous in the spotlight.
 
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Edric Blight

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I think as long as you don’t actively spew out hateful views or support their questionable views, it’s 100% ok to separate yourself from the creator and to enjoy their content.
 

Edric Blight

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Maybe that’s controversial, but that’s how I see it at least.

If you personally don’t support this creator’s bigoted views and such, you can still fondly enjoy their content since that’s separated from their real life beliefs.
 

bastion

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Maybe that’s controversial, but that’s how I see it at least.

If you personally don’t support this creator’s bigoted views and such, you can still fondly enjoy their content since that’s separated from their real life beliefs.
To a degree, yes. But a creator's opinions are reflected in their works, such as the way the goblins and the slave race are in the wizarding school series.

If you engage with it critically, I do agree that it's okay to find enjoyment in content even made by bad people, but I do also feel there comes a point you have to determine whether it's worth dedicating as much love and energy to it as participating in a fandom requires.
 

Edric Blight

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To a degree, yes. But a creator's opinions are reflected in their works, such as the way the goblins and the slave race are in the wizarding school series.

If you engage with it critically, I do agree that it's okay to find enjoyment in content even made by bad people, but I do also feel there comes a point you have to determine whether it's worth dedicating as much love and energy to it as participating in a fandom requires.
Ohhhh I see what you mean. Honestly at that point, I think it’s ok to enjoy certain aspects of it, but no maybe you don’t want to dedicate TOO much time and energy into a fandom like that. But like I think it’s ok to read and write fan fic about it and he’ll even roleplay it too since you can control the events to a degree.
 

bastion

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That's true. There's a reason fix-it fics are so popular after all.

I think the only time engaging in a fandom -even when you're engaging critically- becomes a problem is when the creator is actively creating harm in the world, like the wizarding school author pushing anti-trans laws. Unfortunately the way the internet is designed, Google and such is combing through the content of every website and deciding what's popular based on what people are talking about. That means even when you're posting on a roleplay site it keeps that franchise marked as something Google and social media sites want to promote. Which in turn means the creator gets pushed into everyone's feeds and placed at the top of search results.

I definitely understand why people have trouble giving up fandoms that hold fond memories, since fandoms are a way to connect with people that share your interests. I do think it becomes a problem when that fandom serves to keep dangerous people in the spotlight.
 

GojiBean

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Hoyo!

This is a well understood and established point of contention among fans of any franchise. When the creator is bigoted in any way, shape, or form, it's difficult for those who are sympathetic to the victims of their bigotry to accept the creator as a person, and that can cause confusion and mixed feelings about their work no matter how much you may have loved it before you realized who the creator was outside of their artistry.

It's been said before by those who commented before me, but allow me to put it a slightly different way: Art, in and of itself, is innocent of an artist's personal deficiencies or bigotry.

Let's say it openly. Look at J.K. Rowling and her anti-trans views. Nobody blames Harry Potter for her views and comments made about the trans community. And its popularity clearly isn't waning as a story. But her reputation has tanked. And people are now disassociating her Harry Potter series from her as a person.

An artist could be the biggest douche bag on the planet promoting slavery and genocide. But if they created something which may or may not reflect those views, but is in and of itself an enjoyable journey to go on alongside the main characters, it's not fair to hold the art to the same standards as the creator. Why? Because the art has no say in the matter. It doesn't write itself. And it has no conscience or personal views to speak of.

Art is art, and it's whole purpose is to imitate life in creative ways. Sometimes life is ugly and malicious. And art will inevitably reflect that in one way, shape, or form.

Something to keep in mind is that this is exactly why we have fanfiction and fandom RP's. They're not limited to the artists original work.

If you want to do an RP based on this world that you obviously enjoy, just remove the parts about the race that is naturally enslaved and wishes to be slaves and alter any anti-trans elements you can identify to give a bit of yourself and a more inclusive twist on the world.

It's still a fandom, and it's still a valid form of enjoying and promoting the original art while making it clear through the removal/alterations in your version that you do not support the original artist. If you want to take it a step further, you can always put a disclaimer on your RP about the artist being a shit hole and that you don't support or condone their controversial opinions or any statements made, and that you've gone out of your way to separate your fandom from the original work in that respect while keeping everything else about the world that is innocent of the artists bigotry in tact to preserve the core experience.

That's usually what I do when I don't agree with something in a series either because of the artist, or because I simply don't want a certain element to exist in the form it does originally.

Hopefully this helps alleviate some of the confusion or mixed feelings about the matter.

I'll reiterate: Art, in and of itself, is innocent of an artists personal deficiencies or bigotry.

No matter how bad the artist, the art itself can still be enjoyed without promoting or supporting the artist in question. Will fandoms about a controversial artist keep them relevant? Sort of. Their name might float around for a day or two in a few people's minds because of the mention. But other than that, the impact of a simple fandom RP on whether or not the artist is still relevant is going to be microscopically minuscule. So, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Love what you love, and never apologize for loving it. If you have to or want to make changes to suit a less bigoted environment, go for it. It's your right as a role-player to craft your own experience regarding your favorite fandoms.

Cheers!
 

bastion

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GojiBean GojiBean I understand you're intent, but I think it's a bit faulty to say art is completely innocent. It's not a person, it can't learn and change. It will always be what the creator made, and it's impossible to create art that doesn't hold yourself in it. Especially with writing. Writers draw from their experiences, which results in their works being built upon their biases. Even if we move away from Harry Potter, it can be seen in series from throughout time and cultures. There's HP Lovecraft with the constant racism everywhere in his works. There's also Attack on Titan being filled with fascist imagery and subtext.

It's impossible for art to be innocent, because art is piece of the creator, and no one is innocent.

So I do agree you can enjoy something even if the creator is bad, but it's not because the thing they created is separate from them. Engaging critically with media is important, learning to see where the author's biases are is an important skill.

Fandoms do tend to alter the original work a lot to the point that some of the canon stuff gets forgotten, and fanon stuff starts being taken as canon. Yet that doesn't change that it's building off the foundation that the original creator made, which is filled with their biases and views. A lot of those may be subtly incorproated in the world, in ways that seem innocent, but help normalize harmful thinking. Those little things won't get altered by the fandom, even if the glaring flaws do, ensuring the creator's biases live on in the fandom.
 

Cosmo

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Not really sure what you are trying to advocate here. That we don't support anyone unless we are 100% certain their beliefs fit perfectly with our own thus putting ourselves into boxes unable to experience or see new ideals or viewpoints for fear of being influenced?
 

Inno

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Are you asking for you personally? Or in general? It seems like you already have your answer. Although your views and those of hers differ, I don't think you should let that stop you from participating in the fandom especially if it's something you like because either way her views aren't likely to change.
 

bastion

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Are you asking for you personally? Or in general? It seems like you already have your answer. Although your views and those of hers differ, I don't think you should let that stop you from participating in the fandom especially if it's something you like because either way her views aren't likely to change.
It's more wanting to have a discussion and think critically about it.
 

Jannah

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No because the works of fiction are exactly that: fiction. Keep enjoying things. Don't let the PC police stop you. I think it's possible to separate the art from the artist. Additionally, most fandoms have fan created works too that have little to do with the original creator. If you like the universe, but don't like its creator then just enjoy those.
 

Chordling

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To a degree, yes. But a creator's opinions are reflected in their works, such as the way the goblins and the slave race are in the wizarding school series.
Which fantasy writer hasn't showcased some sort racial diversity and maltreatment?

I think it's still okay to enjoy a creator's work, even if the creator themselves were ignorant to modern concepts, as long you are aware of those flaws yourself.
 

Jannah

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Which fantasy writer hasn't showcased some sort racial diversity and maltreatment?

I think it's still okay to enjoy a creator's work, even if the creator themselves were ignorant to modern concepts, as long you are aware of those flaws yourself.
Whatever Rowling did with the goblins I don't even think was intentional on her part anyway. I think she was just going off common tropes in goblin lore without realizing the anti-semitic undertones.
 

simulationanomaly

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Whatever Rowling did with the goblins I don't even think was intentional on her part anyway. I think she was just going off common tropes in goblin lore without realizing the anti-semitic undertones.
I think that's incredibly wishful thinking considering the direction she took the goblins. When I think of "typical goblin tropes", I think of these tiny, green-skinned, large-eared, very separate from human creatures that tend to range in intelligence from dumb human to smart dog. They're primitive, bloodthirsty, and don't mesh well with other species.

The goblins in Harry Potter are much closer to human in appearance, highly intelligent, control the wizarding world's banks, and have risen up against the wizards numerous times in response to years of unfair treatment. They are regarded, as a species, to be highly adept at all financial matters, and are incredibly materialistic, viewing all purchases from a goblin craftsman as merely renting the item rather than buying it. Basically, if you bought an item from a goblin, then died and passed the item down to your child, it would be considered theft. On top of that, they really just look uncannily like nazi-era antisemitic caricatures.

There's a lot I could go into regarding the racism and antisemitism present throughout the entire Harry Potter universe, but I'm not sure anyone here really wants to read that, and i'm sure there's already a much more informed and comprehensive essay on it elsewhere. I'll just leave my opinion on the topic as a whole which is that I think it's fine to a point. Keep critical about it. How many of the creator's awful views have made it into the media, either explicitly or through subtext? How much of the fanbase actively defends or ignores these harmful views? Can you really separate the art from the artist, or are the bigoted themes so woven into the lore that it's impossible to do without essentially writing your own story? At that point, how do you still enjoy the media?

Personally, as a nonbinary person, I realize that there can be Harry Potter fans who don't share Rowling's ideologies, but seeing people uncritically involve themselves with her work despite being informed of the bigoted influences behind it makes me incredibly wary. I'm less likely to trust or even want to talk to an avid Harry Potter fan just because there's a fair chance that they might not approve of my existence.
 

Jannah

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Personally, as a nonbinary person, I realize that there can be Harry Potter fans who don't share Rowling's ideologies, but seeing people uncritically involve themselves with her work despite being informed of the bigoted influences behind it makes me incredibly wary. I'm less likely to trust or even want to talk to an avid Harry Potter fan just because there's a fair chance that they might not approve of my existence.
I get how you have drawn that conclusion, but I'm yet to meet a single bigoted HP fan. The vast majority don't even like J.K. They mostly just enjoy her work, whether out of nostalgia or some other reason. Personally I'm in the former category. It's nostalgic for me. The books themselves I think are poorly written and full of plotholes. I just think the universe itself for the most part is fun to roleplay in.
 

Inno

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Personally, as a nonbinary person, I realize that there can be Harry Potter fans who don't share Rowling's ideologies, but seeing people uncritically involve themselves with her work despite being informed of the bigoted influences behind it makes me incredibly wary. I'm less likely to trust or even want to talk to an avid Harry Potter fan just because there's a fair chance that they might not approve of my existence.
People can like a work of art without associating themselves with a creator who has poor views. You are assuming because they enjoy said work, they might not approve of you as a person and that's just not really fair at all.
Just because someone likes a creator's work doesn't mean that they align or even shares the views of that person. You can't live your life worrying about what someone else thinks of you because honestly what does their opinion really equal out to you?
 

simulationanomaly

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People can like a work of art without associating themselves with a creator who has poor views. You are assuming because they enjoy said work, they might not approve of you as a person and that's just not really fair at all.
Just because someone likes a creator's work doesn't mean that they align or even shares the views of that person. You can't live your life worrying about what someone else thinks of you because honestly what does their opinion really equal out to you?
If I make friends with someone who's into this media under the assumption that they must not like the (notoriously transphobic) creator, then come out as nonbinary to them because I trust them to be a friend about it only for them to turn around and spout transphobic nonsense at me, then that would become a problem for me very quickly. Not to mention that, particularly in the case of irl friendships, it could very quickly become a matter of personal safety. I have to choose who I let in very carefully in everyday life, otherwise I might come out to the wrong person and end up in financial, mental, or even physical danger.

This isn't a matter of "oh, they might not like me", this is a matter of "they might think I shouldn't exist". With these circumstances at play, I have to be cautious.
I get how you have drawn that conclusion, but I'm yet to meet a single bigoted HP fan. The vast majority don't even like J.K. They mostly just enjoy her work, whether out of nostalgia or some other reason. Personally I'm in the former category. It's nostalgic for me. The books themselves I think are poorly written and full of plotholes. I just think the universe itself for the most part is fun to roleplay in.
Yeah, fortunately that's what I've seen from a lot of them as well. I even recently read an article about the people who turned quidditch into a real sport—they're calling it quadball now due to not wanting to give Rowling any attention. And that really is the problem: she thrives on attention. So long as people are still talking about her work, she considers it a point for her. Sucks for all the well-meant HP fans out there, honestly. I wish there were a better book series about wizard schools for the future generations to hold onto, preferably one not written by a raging asshole.

Anyways, as for the both of you, I don't fault either of you for skimming my novella of a reply, but you missed a key word:
uncritically
If people enjoy HP and also acknowledge that Rowling is a bigit whose prejudices have leaked into the lore, I'm not going to assume they're bad people. It's when they remain eerily quiet or defensive about these facts that I start to really assume the worst.
 

Jannah

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Yeah, fortunately that's what I've seen from a lot of them as well. I even recently read an article about the people who turned quidditch into a real sport—they're calling it quadball now due to not wanting to give Rowling any attention. And that really is the problem: she thrives on attention. So long as people are still talking about her work, she considers it a point for her. Sucks for all the well-meant HP fans out there, honestly. I wish there were a better book series about wizard schools for the future generations to hold onto, preferably one not written by a raging asshole.

Anyways, as for the both of you, I don't fault either of you for skimming my novella of a reply, but you missed a key word:

If people enjoy HP and also acknowledge that Rowling is a bigit whose prejudices have leaked into the lore, I'm not going to assume they're bad people. It's when they remain eerily quiet or defensive about these facts that I start to really assume the worst.

I think the name was changed both because of the controversies surrounding J.K and copyright issues. Regardless, I do support the move. Quadball is sort of a better name anyway. I also haven't given J.K any attention in years. I don't even follow the fandom that closely. These days I mostly just like it for RP purposes. It's genuinely a fun universe to engage in. It's one of those settings I frequently find myself coming back to.

Also, yes, I wish there were similar concepts being written, but because J.K sort of did the most well-known rendition of it that's the one getting all the attention. Then again I'm pretty critical of popular fantasy in general. I got sort of burnt out on it for years because it started feeling all the same to me. I'm glad to see more diversity in fantasy and sci-fi in recent years. Personally I want to write a futuristic cyberpunk story set in the Middle East, all because I saw a news article about a futuristic city being developed in Saudi Arabia by some prince. I already have a setting chosen for this potential story of mine, but zero ideas for a plot, hah.

Anyway, long story short J.K is not the end all of the fantasy genre. There's so much better written content beyond hers. Not necessarily about wizarding schools, but fantasy nonetheless.
 

Inno

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If I make friends with someone who's into this media under the assumption that they must not like the (notoriously transphobic) creator, then come out as nonbinary to them because I trust them to be a friend about it only for them to turn around and spout transphobic nonsense at me, then that would become a problem for me very quickly. Not to mention that, particularly in the case of irl friendships, it could very quickly become a matter of personal safety. I have to choose who I let in very carefully in everyday life, otherwise I might come out to the wrong person and end up in financial, mental, or even physical danger.

This isn't a matter of "oh, they might not like me", this is a matter of "they might think I shouldn't exist". With these circumstances at play, I have to be cautious.

Yeah, fortunately that's what I've seen from a lot of them as well. I even recently read an article about the people who turned quidditch into a real sport—they're calling it quadball now due to not wanting to give Rowling any attention. And that really is the problem: she thrives on attention. So long as people are still talking about her work, she considers it a point for her. Sucks for all the well-meant HP fans out there, honestly. I wish there were a better book series about wizard schools for the future generations to hold onto, preferably one not written by a raging asshole.

Anyways, as for the both of you, I don't fault either of you for skimming my novella of a reply, but you missed a key word:

If people enjoy HP and also acknowledge that Rowling is a bigit whose prejudices have leaked into the lore, I'm not going to assume they're bad people. It's when they remain eerily quiet or defensive about these facts that I start to really assume the worst.
I didn't skim your reply. I read everything you said and replied as I saw fit. By the way my name is Inno.
Here's the thing. You can't make people feel as you do. Just because you don't hear people ready to tar and feather JK Rowling doesn't mean they don't feel in a way about her. To be honest, you have to be cautious about everything these days.
 

bastion

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simulationanomaly simulationanomaly really summed up my thoughts on this really well, as well as why I've been hesitant to engage with the fandom anymore.

I get how you have drawn that conclusion, but I'm yet to meet a single bigoted HP fan.
I don't know if they're actual fans, but I know on Tumblr transphobes have been putting the Hogwarts houses in their bios to signal to others. Whether they're actual fans of the series or not, thanks to JKR's loud and hateful presence, terfs are using the franchise to unite under.

It makes interacting with the HP fandom all the more difficult for me, since now not only is there the inherit bigotry baked into the world, but also the bigots using it to rally together. I haven't seen it on here, thankfully, but I've also been hesitant to interact with the HP fandom recently so I can't be sure it hasn't spread beyond Tumblr.

To be honest, you have to be cautious about everything these days.
Yes, it is important to be cautious. Simulationanomaly is doing that in a very healthy way by not engaging with a fandom that has a creator who advocates hate against their identity.
 

bastion

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Also I guess I didn't make this very clear in my first post, but I created this thread in hopes of having a discussion and get into some actual critical thinking with people. I suppose I should rephrase the title or something.
 

Inno

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Also I guess I didn't make this very clear in my first post, but I created this thread in hopes of having a discussion and get into some actual critical thinking with people. I suppose I should rephrase the title or something.
To be honest, it doesn't feel that way. It feels more like what Cosmo pointed out above but oh well. I said all I'm going to say about it. I'm out.
 

simulationanomaly

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Also I guess I didn't make this very clear in my first post, but I created this thread in hopes of having a discussion and get into some actual critical thinking with people. I suppose I should rephrase the title or something.
Hey, better late than never. Honestly, even if you were just looking for reassurance on the topic, I always find it helps to just go in with the mindset that others may disagree and a discussion could come of it. I've also seen the trend on Tumblr where transphobes use the houses as a dogwhistle, and I'd be lying if I said that didn't feed into my distrust of the fanbase as a whole.

Also, I'm not gonna tag Inno since she already said she didn't want to discuss this further, but I feel the need to echo what you said: I am simply being cautious. It's not like I'm going out of my way to send hate to people who like HP, I'm just putting up walls and moving on with my life. Again, especially when it comes to irl interactions, I cannot overstate how important it is for me to choose my friends wisely. Where I live, there are no housing protections for trans people. If I make the wrong friend, it could lead to me getting evicted later down the line.
 

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