The Fandom Menace

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Frogs, clowns, and swastikas
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Rebuilding the Reich, one meme at a time
Buzzwords and dogwhistles
Regardless of how they identify, each is a cancer cell in a larger amorphous hate blob descended from Gamergate and Comicsgate, infecting the fandoms of the most ubiquitous entertainment franchises in the world — mainly Marvel, Star Wars and other Disney titles.
—Melanie McFarland, Salon, 2022[1]
The handful of YouTubers who have led “The Fandom Menace” boogeyman since 2018 have nothing to do with Star Wars fandom. These YouTubers have nothing to do with “fan criticism” or opinions about a film franchise. These YouTubers platform hate mongers and right-wing extremists. These YouTubers continue efforts to mainstream white nationalism. And these YouTubers profit from consistent and targeted harassment of any individual seen as a threat to the preservation and supremacy of white identity in American culture.
—Rewriting Ripley, 2022[2]

The Fandom Menace[note 1] are an amorphous collection of right-wing trolls, reactionaries, and grifters that target popular media. It is essentially a new name for the same old shitstorms previously known as Gamergate and "Comicsgate".

Participants engage in review bombing and coordinated social media attacks against creators and other fans who take offense at their reactionary views. They frequently initiate attacks on women, people of color, and LGBT people. They use Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites to engage in often racist and misogynistic attacks.

The Fandom Menace is usually described as a textbook example of a toxic fan culture.[3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

Toxic right wing trolling of entertainment media is not restricted to Disney and Marvel properties. In 2023, the BBC series Doctor Who faced criticism from anti-"woke" fans when an alien is asked for its pronouns.[11]

Antecedents[edit]

Gamergate[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Gamergate

Comicsgate[edit]

Basement dwellers went completely apeshit at expressions of diversity in comics with attacks on author Chelsea CainWikipedia in 2016.[12][13][14]

Comicsgate was a campaign, similar to Gamergate, in opposition to perceived "forced diversity" and progressivism in the content of North American superhero comic books and the kinds of creators who work in the industry.[14] The movement has been described as part of the alt-right movement and part harassment campaign, which targets women, people of color, and LGBT individuals in the comic book industry whose goal is to "combat SJW control of popular media". They are reminiscent of Gamergate in terms of tactics, their excessive focus on Marvel's Iron Man character Riri Williams,Wikipedia and how the group acted as a catalyst in the firing of comic book writer Chuck WendigWikipedia in 2018. Comicsgate is essentially Gamergate but for comics instead of games, a campaign created by and for alt-right grifters.[13][15]

The most prominent talking heads in the movement were conservative comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver and Richard C. Meyer, who runs a YouTube and Twitter blatherfest called "Diversity and Comics" (now known as "Comics MATTER w/Ya Boi Zack").[16][17]

Members[edit]

Warning icon orange.svg

Warning

Viewer discretion is strongly advised when checking out any of the grifters, windbags, and blowhards in this section.

Leaders[edit]

Sciver — unlike this guy, the real Superman actually wears tights — tight tights![18]
  • Geeks And Gamers/DDay Cobra (Jeremy Griggs), an American high school dropout turned YouTuber whose channel focused on various forms of media, including movies, television and videogames. Originally started out as more objective in his reviews before devolving into far-right ideology after the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.[1]
  • Ethan Van Sciver, an American comic book artist known for illustrating and/or drawing covers primarily for DC and Marvel and a central figure in the Comicsgate campaign.
  • RK Outpost (Ryan Kinel), an American YouTuber that became prominent after making daily videos berating Star Wars and Marvel for their perceived "wokeness" and alleged agenda against straight white males like himself.
  • Nerdrotic (Gary Beuchler), former comic shop owner and convicted felon, allegedly for selling methamphetamines to minors, turned far-right YouTuber. Claims credit for the "M-She-U" insult against Marvel movies. Hosts the weekly "Friday Night Tights" livestream which is attended by many of the Fandom Menace figures and has featured controversial figures as guests, including far right radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes (who was intoxicated and proceeded to expose himself and urinate on camera during his appearance) and former US Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.[19]

Troops[edit]

  • Computing Forever (Dave Cullen), an Irish YouTube talker and conspiracy theorist who holds reactionary and ultra-nationalist views
  • Bounding Into Comics (John F. Trent), a right wing webshite that reports on comic culture, comic books and entertainment in general; the webshite has been identified as associated with alt-right harassment trolls since at least 2018[20][21][22][23]
  • Bowlestrek, a Twitter troll and YouTuber who foams and froths about Doctor WhoWikipedia and "SJWs"
  • Itchy Bacca, owner of a blog called "Disney Star Wars is Dumb"[2]
  • Cosmic Book News (Matt McGloin), a less successful version of Bounding Into Comics that has been around since 2008[24]
  • The Critical Drinker (William "Will" Jordan), a Scottish YouTuber, and author with almost 2 million subscribers
  • Yellow Flash, a Canadian YouTuber that makes videos ranting about "wokeness" in comics and movies
  • That Umbrella Guy, an American YouTuber sharing the same qualities (or the lack of them) of the others mentioned

Activities[edit]

Kelly Marie TranWikipedia is an actress who starred in the 2017 film Star Wars: The Last JediWikipedia. After the film's release, Tran was attacked by right-wing trolls over the internet in a targeted harassment campaign spearheaded by The Fandom Menace.[4][10] After a wave of harassment and abuse, Tran removed all posts from her Instagram account without explanation. After an outpouring of support, Tran spoke out in a piece for The New York Times in August 2018:

I want to live in a world where children of color don’t spend their entire adolescence wishing to be white. I want to live in a world where women are not subjected to scrutiny for their appearance, or their actions, or their general existence. I want to live in a world where people of all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, gender identities and abilities are seen as what they have always been: human beings.

This is the world I want to live in. And this is the world that I will continue to work toward.[25][26]

In 2019, an inflammatory fake tweet originated attributed to science fiction writer Alyssa Wong.Wikipedia The obvious fake was promoted by several right-wing media sources, including Bounding Into Comics, which attacked Wong mercilessly and peddled hate to their fans. After the obvious fake was revealed by more reputable sources, Bounding Into Comics was forced to make a retraction.[23]

Moses Ingram,Wikipedia another Star Wars actress, was bombarded with racist messages on social media in 2022.[27]

In conclusion[edit]

The worst part about this trend is that there’s not really any way to fix it, especially when these fandoms have become so entrenched in their own toxicity that it’s basically a micro-economy. Every day, you get new videos or social media hot takes about how they ruined Star Wars and Marvel. Type in either woman's name to any social media site, and you'll probably see rants against these women before you find any actual interviews with them or information about them. It's an endless feedback loop of shameless pandering.
—Kimberly Terasaki, The Mary Sue, 2023[7]

Notes[edit]

  1. The name "The Fandom Menace" riffs on the Star Wars film The Phantom MenaceWikipedia

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Melanie McFarland, Let's all stop ignoring The Fandom Menace. It's real, and it's winning. Salon, 30 June 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Calling Out Hate In Fandom Isn’t Enough. We Must Deplatform It. by Rewriting Ripley Medium, 28 July 2022.
  3. The Fandom Menace: How backlash to the Star Wars prequel created a toxic fan culture by James Cooray Smith, archived from The New Statesman, 7 June 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Lynn Zubernis, How Fandom Turns Toxic: We can no longer ignore "cancer cells," trolls, or arrogant advocates. Psychology Today, 16 July 2022.
  5. LordDraconia, The Fandom Menace: How Toxicity Dissuades Newcomers. The Game of Nerds, 9 June 2022.
  6. Tyler Roberts, The Fandom Menace: Injecting Hate & Fear Across Pop Culture (pt. 1). The GWW, 19 December 2021.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Kimberly Terasaki, Why Toxic Fans Are Targeting Female Producers. The Mary Sue, 5 May 2023.
  8. Matt Miller, The Year Star Wars Fans Finally Ruined Star Wars. Archived from Esquire, 13 December 2018.
  9. Aaron Couch, From 'Justice League' to 'Star Wars,' Studios Reckon With "Toxic" Fandom. Archived from The Hollywood Reporter, 31 March 2021.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Cynthia Vinney, What Are Toxic Fandoms? Very Well Mind, 28 November 2023.
  11. Jacob Dressler, ‘Doctor Who’ Faces Backlash For Asking Alien Its Pronouns. Screengeek, 6 December 2023.
  12. Melissa Leon, Chelsea Cain Returns: 'Yeah, I’m Dead to Marvel. Trust Me.' The Daily Beast, 25 September 2018.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Noah Berlatsky, The Comicsgate movement isn’t defending free speech. It’s suppressing it. Archived from The Washington Post, 13 September 2018.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Rachael Krishna, There’s An Online Harassment Campaign Underway Against People Advocating For Diversity In Comics. Buzzfeed News, 22 March 2018.
  15. Eric Francisco, Comicsgate Is Gamergate's Next Horrible Evolution. Archived from Inverse, 9 February 2018.
  16. Asher Elbein, #Comicsgate: How an Anti-Diversity Harassment Campaign in Comics Got Ugly — and Profitable. The Daily Beast, 2 April 2018.
  17. Comics MATTER w/Ya Boi Zack, the re-branded version of "Diversity and Comics" on YouTube.
  18. Robin Hood: Men in Tights (3/5) Movie CLIP - Men in Tights (1993) YouTube.
  19. Nerdrotic has the most interesting backstory. Geeks and Gamers, 8 May 2021.
  20. Bounding Into Comics, Media Bias/Fact Check.
  21. Abraham Josephine Riesman, Comicsgate Is a Nightmare Tearing Comics Fandom Apart — So What Happens Next? Vulture, 29 August 2018.
  22. Bounding Into Comics Joins the Satanic Panic. Attack of the six foot tranny, 9 August 2022.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Anthony Gramuglia, Right-Wingers Tried to Take Down Author Alyssa Wong With a Fake Tweet. Why? The Mary Sue, 26 August 2019.
  24. About Us (Staff). Archived from Cosmic Book News, 2024.
  25. Constance Grady, Star Wars’ Kelly Marie Tran speaks out on the harassment that drove her off Instagram. Vox, 21 August 2018.
  26. Kelly Marie Tran: I Won’t Be Marginalized by Online Harassment. Archived from The New York Times, 21 August 2018.
  27. Tom Tapp, Ewan McGregor Addresses Racist Messages Sent To ‘Obi-Wan’ Costar Moses Ingram: “We Stand With Moses. We Love Moses” – Update. Deadline, 31 May 2022.