Race in Fandom

How Race and Fandom Collide Online and Offline

New Thread on Trektoday about Race in Trek

‘The Racist Legacy of Star Trek’ is a recent thread on Trektoday that has gotten many of the fans (mainly fanboys) in a tizzy. (DId I spell ‘tizzy’ right?)

It seems the common saying among said fans is “You have to really be looking for racism around every corner to consider Star Trek racist.”

A lot of the posters – not all – speak from ‘white privilege.’ And, they feel that they are the voice of authority on race. If something isn’t racial in their eyes, one – usually a person of color like myself – is ‘really looking for racism around every corner.’

Looking at the initial post, it does somewhat come off as a ‘satire’ but the initial poster does bring up some good points. Of course, the initial poster was probably a white guy trying to be funny. (He, the initial poster – and it probably is a ‘he’ – calls himself ‘Afrika Bambaata’ after the rapper/musician).


Joblo.com – ‘Chronicle’ actor Michael B. Jordan May Be the New Johnny Storm

Johnny Storm aka ‘The Human Torch’ of Fantastic Four, previously portrayed by Chris Evans. Of course, there are many ‘purists’ upset about this. Interesting because – as pointed out by one in the comment section – no one complains when a white person portrays a character that was previously Asian. It’s usually ‘race doesn’t matter’ or some other rationalizing. On the other hand, have a black performer be cast as a character that was previously portrayed by a white performer….then ‘we must stick to the source!’



Joblo.com Post – Spike Lee and Old Boy

Based on the posts at Joblo.com, it’s very much assured that the posters are white and male. From my experience, there isn’t much of a liking for Spike Lee, who usually is very vocal about the black experience in America. (Interestingly, the site has a big love for anything Tarantino – related; this is more interesting since Tarantino is known for using the n-word in his films…and he figures it is racist for him not to it, and he believes that ‘black people talk like that.’)

Anywho, there was a recent update on Joblo.com, and it looks to be a mainstream film that will do pretty well. However, some of the comments have those knocking the film before it is even released, or based on ‘hate’ for Spike Lee…


Of course, Spike Lee has fans of all colors (black, yellow, white, brown, etc…) and there are those who are not fans for the simple reason they aren’t fans (even I only like about three – maybe four if Old Boy turns out to be as good I think it will be – films of Lee) but JoBlo has certain standards, being a fansite that isn’t as diverse as one might think, and – like many place online – having people say things they wouldn’t say offline.

A recent post on Joblo.com – “300”

A post on Joblo.com, under “The Unpopular Opinion,” did a review of the movie “300,” and received potshots from a few fanboys who didn’t like the author (Alexander Stepenberg) bringing out the racial undertones of the film.

In my own opinion, I feel the author did what many (good) film professors or scholars would like: Looking at the film beyond what is just presented onscreen. Of course, the fact that the author brought up race, turned off many of the posters…who just happen to be primarily white, and male.

(I did post two responses in the thread).


Experiences As a Black Male On the Star Trek site “Trektoday”

Star Trek overall is said to be progressive show. It was known as the television network show that had the “first interracial kiss,” however, white men were already kissing up Asian women onscreen (i.e. Robert Culp in I Spy, and David McCallum in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.).

Race, when brought up on Trektoday, that is very possibly predominantly white (and male) is trivialized, torn down, or suppressed. Not too much different offline in areas (school systems, job areas, etc.)where there may be a few people of color, specifically African Americans. (Of course, it varies in different parts of the world; but, interestingly, there are posters from various parts of the world, specifically Europe).

I feel an African American Studies major might have a lot to look at, in regards to Trektoday, and race. (I actually know a friend who is going for his Ph.D. in African American Studies…and I may steer him to the site and specific threads).

Online, people are more bolder, and say things that definitely wouldn’t be said in person….or at least wouldn’t be said if they know there won’t be any recourse. I personally “meet” or notice these types of people on news blogs sites, Youtube, what have you. Sometimes, these attitudes are from people who spend a little too much time online.

Trektoday has individuals who falls into the former.

The site also has various Trek authors (yes, those guys who write tie-in novels) and twice I’ve had some experiences where I corrected an author–white male– who made a generalization of the features of black men, as well as an earlier correction who exactly who is “Asian” or how Asian Americans are portrayed in Star Trek. With the correction on the features of black males, I was told by the author that he was insulted….(I find this may be a cop-out excuse, since I came across another white male at my school who was corrected when he used the n-word, and was told the history of said word and why it shouldn’t be used by anyone).

I gave feedback openly to the site stating my uncomfortable feeling as a black male, especially since there isn’t a large presence of people of color on the site. And, the fact that moderators did nothing to “moderate.”  Following this feedback, I was harassed (or, to use an internet term: “flamed”) because I mentioned I was going to add my experience as a black male on Trektoday….and “name names.”

However, there is a clause on the site’s FAQ page about putting names. (Even though I’m not sure when that was actually posted, I’m going to adhere to their criteria, even though the clause about “flaming” was broken when I called out how I was treated by the author (and had some comments from some other authors, also white males).

It was a bit unnerving that I was also harassed by some posters (even moderators) when I didn’t answer a post spontaneously. Too, it seemed to boggle some that I actually have a life aside from Trektoday.

(Granted, not all posters on the site–Trek authors, casual posters, etc.– are belligerent. Depending who they are, some are professional, and just there to have fun).

I am going to make hard copies of some of the posts that were questionable for my records.There was already libelous posts made, from what I witnessed when I gave feedback on my experiences.

Lastly, I plan on looking at other Star Trek sites, and seeing how race and fan-culture mix.

P.S. I think I may break the rule of not “naming names.”


That is who I am on Trektoday. I will possibly use that same name (obviously my own, with a bit of modification for forum usage) with other Star Trek-related sites I may or may not become a part of.

(Edit – 6/3/2012 – per comments below, as it seems like Trektoday’s little rule of posting threads has been broken; a post and poster that support my claims. I will post two more links to questionable postings).



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