Race and Gender in Pop-Culture Fandom
Pony of the day
Over on Racialicious, a post interrogating the hatred leveled at black women characters in popular television fandoms.
Being sort of a fan of True Blood myself (I've seen every episode of the show even though I've come to despise it) I have seen Tara-hate firsthand on fan forums. The vitriol spewed at the character by fanboys is extremely racialized: the usual claims are that Tara is selfish and shrill. She is "too angry," and this perception of her character belies the continuing influence of the Sapphire archetype.
Tara also shares a troubling trait with the steadfast Guinevere of Merlin. Guinevere is completely devoted to Arthur, and Tara is unwaveringly loyal to Sookie Stackhouse, the (despicable) protagonist of True Blood. The two otherwise strong and self-possessed women are defined by their roles as devoted companions to white characters, to whom they remain loyal even in the face of betrayal and abandonment.
As for Glee, the sheer overwhelming deluge of offensive tropes--about race, disability, mental illness, gender, body size, anything and everything--completely turned me off of the show a long time ago. In Mercedes, the show often combines intersecting stereotypes of black women and fatness. For example, the awful tater tots episode.
I would post another pony for the sake of some positivity, and optimism about the possibility of progressive change through frank analysis and dialogue, but for all its emphasis on harmony, diversity, and understanding, My Little Pony has had its own problems with race. Though naively well-intentioned, two episodes in the first season make use of tired racial stereotypes. One features a herd of buffalo who are caricatures of American Indians, complete with teepees and feathered head-dresses, and the other focuses on an "exotic" zebra character with an accent one can only describe as "vaguely African." The show's creators have so far been attentive to input from the their adult fanbase--here's hoping that upcoming episodes avoid trying to use damaging stereotypes to teach lessons about friendship.