Imagine you’re scrolling on TikTok. You stop to watch a video using the sound “Instructor Mooselini’s Rap.” As PaRappa The Rapper sings — “Alright, we’re here just sitting in the car. I want you to show me if you can get far! Step on the gas! Step on the brakes!” — images of villains who have received the spin-off greenlight from Disney cycle through. Maleficent, Cruella de Vil, Loki, and Gaston start the list off, but then the video dives into unchartered waters: the hunter from Bambi, Marvel’s Red Skull, and Star Wars’ Emperor Palpatine. What!?
While I made up this TikTok video, I do honestly think it could very well be a tale as old as time very soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if in a Disney boardroom far, far away, an exec has tossed up the hunter, Red Skull, and Emperor Palpatine as possible characters to revisit in an upcoming film or television show. This is because villain origin stories are becoming more common as film and TV content, which isn’t a bad trend. I mean, who doesn’t love villains?
One of my favorite villains of all time is Shego from Kim Possible. Shego got her start as a member of a crime-fighting quintet with her brothers. However, the more villains she fought, the more she became enamored with villainy. Ultimately, she left her brothers’ group because they were too incompetent and joined up with Dr. Drakken. One of the reasons why I like Shego is because she is confidently and unapologetically evil. Nowhere in Shego’s backstory is there any trauma or pain; she simply enjoys participating in crime.
However, Shego is starting to be in a villain minority. With the rise of origin story films and television, tragedy (“tragedy”) is becoming more commonplace. In my opinion, we’re reaching the brink of this style of content because making tragic backstories a necessity to villainy ruins the whole concept of villainy.
Cruella is probably one of the best examples of this. The online backlash to Cruella was very amusing. Many people were aghast that the writers thought a good origin story for the iconic character Cruella de Vil would be to have her mom murdered by a pack of dalmatians. It was a … choice, to put it politely.
i want an origin story for the dalmations that killed cruella's mom where it's revealed that their mom was killed by a white lady near a cliff
Cruella de Vil seemed like one of the last irredeemable villains. As a character, she consistently delights in being cruel just because she could. We don’t need to empathize with Cruella, mainly because her unabashed villainy was the most fun part of her character. Disney could have given us an utterly absurd film similar to Suicide Squad in which we get to see more of Cruella de Vil being the fashionable scoundrel she is. Instead, they tried to justify her motives and actions (killing puppies!) — which isn’t always possible for villains, and that’s the way it should be.
Kuvira from The Legend of Korra received similar treatment as Cruella. During the fourth season of the show, Kuvira says, “I was cast aside by my own parents like I meant nothing to them! How could I just stand by and watch the same thing happen to my nation when it needed someone to guide it?”
In theRuins of the Empire comic series, we learn more, finding out that Kuvira was a difficult child her parents struggled to raise and they eventually sent her away to Zaofu. While this origin story does pull on my heartstrings (more so than Cruella’s at least), this backstory makes me think the writers are setting the stage for Kuvira to start a program for abandoned kids, not become the Great Uniter.
Kuvira believed what she believed and did what she did not because she had a tragic backstory, but because she had a vision for the future of the Earth Empire. She wasn’t afraid to use any means necessary to achieve her goals, which to her meant employing fascism, imperialism, and tyranny to create order. Kuvira is a morally ambiguous villain that we do not need to empathize with to understand. I am saying this as a fully-fledged Kuvira fan. I’m not an apologist because there really is no defending Kuvira, but I do love her very much. Your fave is problematic: me.
Thanos is another morally ambiguous villain we do not need to empathize with in order to understand. And yet, I recently learned that Thanos has a “tragic” backstory in the Marvel comics. In some versions, Thanos’ mom hates him and tries to kill him; in others, she sees death in his eyes and tries to kill him.
Both versions are pretty tragic, and yet neither helps us further understand Thanos’ motives as depicted in the Avengers films. He didn’t want other planets to end up like his planet, and he thought the best solution was to eradicate half of the universe’s population. If anything, his backstory foreshadows his actions, which I think is the point.
However, some people argue villains are people to whom terrible things have happened. But that’s not always true, and that’s why I think tragic villain backstories shouldn’t be forced upon all villains. If we continue to use Thanos as an example, his goal to wipe out half of the population has nothing to do with the fact that his mom tried to kill him. But if Disney were to make a film about his origin story, the writers would probably try to make that scene a tearjerker.
It’s also frustrating because there are successful tragic villain backstories. The Joker and Killmonger both have origin stories that serve as in-depth explorations of the effects of systemic societal issues. But what systemic societal issue is Cruella trying to tackle? Not every villain has endured hardships. Sometimes villains are just evil, and that’s why we love to hate them. Trying to humanize these villains justifies behavior that shouldn’t be justified.
Between “there was no plan for the Star Wars sequel trilogy” and “Cruella’s tragic backstory is that dalmatians killed her mom” I hope every indie creator who has ever experienced self-doubt over their storytelling skills and/or professional competency is feeling very reassured.
Real-life villains — you know the superrich, oil monopolies, major corporations, global dictators — don’t have tragic backstories (and their actions most certainly should not be justified). Jeff Bezos isn’t hoarding wealth for any other reason besides greed. Donald Trump didn’t run for president to change the U.S. for the better but to have power and status. In fiction, let villains be villains because people do bad things in real life for a variety of reasons, and it’s not always because of childhood trauma.
Like Alfred said, “Some people want to watch the world burn.” Full-stop, end of story. They want to watch the world burn, so they burn the world. I’d still watch that movie, especially if Shego was the main character.
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The internet is a window that needs some curtains. Or shutters. Or drapes. Anything that creates a semblance of privacy, respect, and boundaries I think would do the internet some good. At the very least, maybe it would end the rampant, unchecked sexualization, fetishization, objectification, and dehumanization of celebrities by fans.
The internet and social media have made it possible for just about anybody to see anything. For those of us who are fans of celebrities (reminder: real-life people), this means that thirst tweet, smutty fic, or fan edit we just posted could very well be seen by the people we stan. And if that doesn’t embarrass us, then we need to have a conversation about fan culture.
In 2021, Twitter and TikTok users are both the poster-children for and the spokespeople against toxic fan culture. I regularly see tweets and videos that explain why people are so judgmental of fans in the first place. For a brief moment a few months ago, there was a trend where people admitted which celebrities they think they could pull on their best day. Now, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with this trend, mostly because it’s not that serious and it does help humanize celebrities. But there were some people who made it obvious they were not joking. For these fans, this trend was a microcosm of how normal it is to sexualize celebrities.
A few years ago, back in One Direction’s heyday, Larry Stylinson was the pinnacle of toxic fan culture. While shipping real-life people is hotly debated in fandoms, Larry Stylinson shippers are considered radicals in the shipping community.
For most Directioners, even if we thought it would be cute for Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson to date in real life, we left it at that. It was simply a thought we briefly had before moving on with our lives. We did not show up to concerts, meet and greets, and other public events on a mission to make it clear to the boys that we were obsessed with their sexualities and insistent on fetishizing their (probably non-existent) relationship. To this day, toxic Larries think Harry and Louis are trying to communicate to them through coded messages.
no I hate it because it's invasive, scary, delusional, disrespectful to us both and was never real…Ever.
In fandoms where fictitious worlds are brought to life through the power of film and television, toxic fans blur the line between fantasy and reality. Star Wars fans’ (and Disney’s) treatment of John Boyega is one example. Shadow and Bone fans’ treatment of Danielle Galligan is another. In both instances, fans attacked the actors online, even going as far as sending death threats.
Basic human respect and decency dictate sending hate and death threats to anyone is horrible. And sending hate and death threats because a Black actor playing a Black character speaks up about how blockbuster series fail to explore the nuances of characters of color or because an actor playing a character isn’t curvy enough is the epitome of toxic fan culture.
Also, toxic fans are almost always involved when celebrities have to take a hiatus for their mental health. Toxic fans are why Little Mix is now a trio, why Chloe Bailey received so much misogynoir-fueled hate online recently, why Natalie Portman left the spotlight for a brief period of time, why Sulli and Hara are no longer with us, and even why Britney Spears experienced such a public breakdown (why do you think paparazzi were following her so closely? Because fans were too interested in her life).
Luckily there are people who are trying to correct this toxic fan behavior.
Lindsay Webster, of Buzzfeed fame, is a well-known Harry Styles superfan. In a recent YouTube video, she admitted she’s never actually wanted to marry Harry. She’s just a really big fan of who he is and what he does. This is very relatable, and it should be the only opinion held by fans. On Twitter and TikTok, I’ve seen fans echo Webster’s opinion with humor, reminding others in their fandoms that they’re probably not going to ever meet their fave, let alone marry them. Other fans have joked about how they cannot believe they stan a human person, while still others have admitted they never want their ult to know they (or their fan page) exist.
No one is saying you can’t stan celebrities. But celebrities should always be treated like people because they are people. Respect their privacy, respect their boundaries, and remember that they don’t owe us anything.
Keep going to concerts, meet and greets, book signings, red carpets, award shows, and more—but if you meet the celebrity you stan, don’t show them your fics, and don’t pull up the webtoon you drew of them in a furry relationship. It’s really not that hard to rein in the hate, creepiness, and judgment in favor of keeping fan culture light, fun, and enjoyable for everyone.
Even if you’re not one of these toxic fans, I still suggest we all get in the habit of logging off of the internet from time to time. There’s more to life than being a fan—and I say this as one. Go out and experience it. Or, at the very least, start small and go outside to touch some grass.
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Chloé Zhao is more than just the latest award-winning director turning heads in Hollywood. While most of us can only dream of making it as big as Zhao has in a creative field, this two-time Oscar-winning director has a couple of tricks up her sleeve that only further solidify her standing as a tour de force storyteller. Chloé Zhao is a fanfiction writer.
Last year in an interview with Variety, Zhao revealed she not only writes fanfiction but that she still finds time between her many projects to write a fic or two. Let’s take a moment to imagine Zhao sitting down in between serving as Nomadland’s writer, director, producer, and editor to pen a chapter of a fanfic. Or maybe she’s doing exactly that right now as she finishes up her next project, Marvel’sThe Eternals.
In the podcast interview, she said, “I’m an only child, you know, and it comes from spending a lot of time growing up on my own just writing fiction and putting it online and reading it back. If you know anything about fanfiction, you write the stuff for yourself. It’s what you want to see, and that’s probably something that I will continue.”
While this is old news at this point, it lives on forever in my heart.
In the past, Zhao published works on Livejournal and fanfiction.net. But before you head to either of these sites to hunt down any username with “Chloé” or “Zhao,” know that we’ll probably never learn which masterpieces were written by Zhao herself. In the same Variety interview, Zhao said, “Never reveal your pen name. Many people ask me, but you will never find out.”
I am very comfortable with the energy Zhao has created in the studio today—because she’s right. If you’ve ever read fanfiction under any fandom, then you know there are so many incredible pieces of writing just existing in the ethers of the internet, and that’s part of what makes fanfiction so enjoyable. As Zhao said, fanfiction is self-indulgent. Even when it’s published online, it still exists as a passion project. Fanfiction writers are rarely compensated monetarily for their work, making each fic a labor of love that was gifted to anyone interested.
So, yes, Zhao’s fanfiction is probably just as incredible as the films she’s published under her actual name. However, until she chooses to share her username, I’ll stick to enjoying her public work for the time being.
While I’ve never read Zhao’s fanfics, I know they’re exceptional. However, the same cannot be said about all fanfiction. In fact, it’s a real tragedy that some of the most well-known pieces of fanfiction in the mainstream are absolute garbage. I’m talking 50 Shades of Grey and After. E.L. James doesn’t know how to write (sorry!), nor does she understand ethical, healthy, or consensual BDSM. Anna Todd romanticizes abuse and, you know, based her characters off of One Direction, which is controversial.
As someone who has been reading fanfiction since middle school, each of these authors and their respective works boils my blood. I have read plenty of fics that have done everything right, unlike the aforementioned works. I can’t count the times I’ve finished a piece of fanfiction at 3 am and said out loud in my dark bedroom, “Whoever wrote this was born to be a writer.” And, if you listen closely, you’ll probably hear me at any given moment ranting to my friends about how there are talented fic writers breathing new life into the craft of writing and succeeding at something that so many published writers fail at.
Again, I’m looking directly at E.L. James and Anna Todd. Sorry ladies, but each of you has only helped bolster the bad rap fanfiction receives from the general public. But kudos for achieving the impossible and getting published, I guess.
I just wish it had been those with more talent, poise, and writing ability who had made it big. On any given night, I’m reading a 100,000-word fic whose author is literally doing the lord’s work. It is these writers who should be household names. Because traditionally, these writers are often doing more for diversity and inclusion than those who are published.
Characters of color, neurodivergent characters, characters with disabilities, and characters of all gender expressions and sexualities are not lurking in the background of fanfictions like they so often are in books you see lining the shelves of the local Barnes and Noble (though this is changing). Instead, they are the protagonists fearlessly tackling more taboo topics and encountering experiences that are actually representative of today’s nuanced readers.
Good fanfic writers also know how to write a sex scene like no other. Again, while not every fic author knows what they’re doing when it comes to steamy scenes, I’d argue there are plenty of fanfic writers who handle consensual sex pretty well. Most of these writers also know how to sidestep trauma porn and create works that are the best kind of trope-y.
I doff my proverbial hat—or as a fellow writer, tip my pen—to Chloé Zhao. If she can make it big as a Hollywood filmmaker and a fanfic writer, then so can all of us. I hope her fanfiction admission will change how mainstream society sees fanfiction—because fanfiction shouldn’t be seen as the shameful cousin of published novels any longer.
There’s too much important work being done by fanfic writers that needs to see the light.
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Being a fan of a musician, actor or public person is too often looked down upon as something that is meant for teenagers and not grown-up adults. But let me tell you, fans might just be the hardest working young people you will ever come across. So let’s look at the ups and downs to fan culture.
Fans like myself, we have two jobs. We have our usual full-time job that we get paid for. And then there is the job we mostly do for free, but find so much passion in. When you decide to support someone, you develop skills you probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Editing videos, creating promo for new music releases or like me, finding my love for journalism are just a few examples.
Me personally, I wasn’t happy with how the media was reporting on Rita Ora, so I decided to change that by portraying her in a much more respectful and truthful way, publishing my own article about how she is more than a tabloid headline, promoting her music and values on the radio and using mostly my twitter account to talk about the positive sides to her name as well as share the impact Rita Ora has made on fans and a whole generation. It takes a village to overweight irrelevant troll opinions, but once we start coming together we make it happen.
Fans hold so much power and it’s time to start valuing it. With running a platform I realized that I could actually use it for good and that something greater could evolve from it. I got into journalism, didn’t I? Stanya got accepted into her dream university after she showed them the work she did to support her favorite singer.
“I was told by the school to really thank Miss Bebe Rexha for bringing me into graphic design, which is the field I am studying right now. That was the moment I realized how big the power of being part of a fandom community can get,” Stanya, who runs the @beberexhaczsk account, tells The Tempest.
Amazing right? To some people being in a fandom seems to be a sign of immaturity, but that is because they don’t understand all the work that goes into it behind the scenes. I would not have developed skills such as editing videos, doing creative work for project promotion etc., if it wasn’t for all the years I spent supporting my favorite artists. Back in the days when social media wasn’t a huge part of promoting music and connecting to the world, it was different. Today, I get updated on chart rankings, achievement peaks and rising stream numbers by fellow mutuals. We really have built something special, haven’t we?
“I always loved statistics and when I saw all these chart accounts, I loved it and started to do it myself. With time I realized that I created an account where people go to for updates. It started to feel like an obligation (in a good way)!” says the administrator behind @RitaOraEU.
Nowadays, fandoms often take over the label’s job to make a certain project successful. And they speak up when tabloid media decides to drop yet another negative headline. We put in the work and the power it holds is remarkable. But building a platform isn’t easy. You have to put time and effort into not just growing your follower count and being seen, but standing out in a fandom that includes thousands of people. You have to find your way. A fellow mutual runs a fashion page for Rita Ora, posting all her outfit details so everyone can easily get it themselves.
“At first it was all for fun and I didn’t expect it to get serious, until Rita and her family started following me and loving what I do. And then her stylists reached out, giving me details on Rita’s outfits. It inspired me to continue my work and I gained a lot of fashion knowledge,” Victoria, the face behind @dresslikerita, adds.
And these are just a few examples. It amazes me, seeing mutuals evolve into artistic geniuses, statistical legends and social media professionals. Fan support might have taken a completely new turn and I’m excited to see what we can achieve with it.
As much fun as it is being a part of a fandom, there are downsides to it too. Even though we make so much happen, platforms like Instagram and Twitter aren’t letting us do it fully. Fan accounts are being shut down due to “breaking copyright laws” when posting a clip of a video containing the artist’s music. Which can be understandable, but often seems unfair when all you are trying to do is support. I would personally love to see some compromises and changes to make it work successfully as well as legally. Why not find a way that works for both parties sitting at the table?
It seems like labels often don’t put enough effort into providing the right support and when fans take it upon themselves to promote an artist by reacting, analysing or sharing songs, they are often hit with copyright laws, and lose their accounts. Artists rely on their fans’ support and if it wasn’t for them, their music would not reach the top of the charts. We play a big role in a lot of ways, but it takes a lot of determination to succeed.
It’s like being an unpaid intern in addition to your full-time job or college work. I never would have imagined what being a fan of someone and joining a fandom could teach me and the path I was gonna get on because of it. Besides that, you are internationally connected and you make connections all around the globe. The true meaning behind fan culture is still being underestimated and laughed at, which I believe should change and instead be applauded.
In my opinion, the whole reason you start supporting someone is because they have played an important role in your life. You got inspired to get to where and become who you are today, you were taught things you still live by and most importantly: You started feeling less alone. And that is where genuine support for an artist comes from – besides loving someone’s music and work – and why we put so much effort into it. Think of it as a team of valuable young people who can come up with any kind of idea, create exciting content and be extremely protective if necessary. Do I think that it is about time to maybe open up departments, give us real opportunities and pay us accordingly? Yes. So what are we waiting for? Fix it besties!
To Potterheads, May 2 is International Harry Potter Day. According to the books, The Battle of Hogwarts took place on May 2, 1998, which means it has now been 24 years since Voldemort was defeated once and for all by the Golden Trio.
Say you return to your common room after a long day of classes. Whether you’re in the Ravenclaw Tower or the Slytherin Dungeon, wouldn’t it be nice to curl up by the fireplace and enjoy a hot cup of tea?
These delicious tea blends come in a pack of four, and each one is specially designed to match the vibe of each of the four Hogwarts Houses. Get it here!
These handmade ceramic coasters are made from the chapter title pages of real Potter books. The set of four is picked at random, so you never know which chapter titles you might get. These coasters are a simple and useful gift for diehard fans of the books, and make a great conversation starter for when guests come over.
The one magical object I have always longed for is a Time Turner! This necklace is identical to the device Hermoine possessed in the Prisoner of Azkaban. While I can’t guarantee it will let you travel back in time to take extra classes or rescue hippogriffs, it is sure to make a lovely addition to your collection of Harry Potter merch.
If you know any baking wizards, consider getting them this cool engraved rolling pin. This pin is for embossing cookies with wizarding world symbols, such as Harry’s glasses, the Deathly Hallows symbol, the Dark Mark, broomsticks, wands, etc. Not only is it a great gift, it is also a cool purchase if you want to treat your friends to baked goods this Harry Potter Day.
One of the best things about Romoine is their playful, and often brutal, banter. Remember that scene in Order of the Phoenix where Hermoine tells Ron off for dismissing Cho’s grief over Cedric’s death? Well, now you can buy this teaspoon commemorating Hermione’s devastating burn!
Light the Sorting Hat candle to find out which house you belong to! This vegan scented candle appears white at first, but it reveals your house colour as it burns. If you and your friends already know your houses, you can just select it when you make your purchase. If you know someone who doesn’t, or a Potterhead about to turn 11, pick the ‘Sort Me’ option and let them have a real first day at Hogwarts experience!
Alohomora is the charm used to unlock objects such as doors and windows. While the spell is certainly useful for wizards and witches, in the case of the muggles in your life, this ‘Alohomora’ key holder is the next best thing.
To the unabashed Draco fans out there, I got you! This soy wax candle comes in a variety of scents, from Cedarwood Musk to Flannel Pine, to suit your preference. The seller recommends the Mahogany Apple scent as it best captures the Slytherin’s coldblooded nature, while also reminding you that he still had the potential for goodness.
Every Harry Potter fan has wanted to get their hands on the legendary Marauder’s Map. This high-quality infinity scarf is the perfect accessory for sneaking around the castle grounds and through secret passageways in the winter months! Get it here!
As you know, the Dark Mark is the symbol of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. These unique laminated bookmarks are hand-drawn and can be customized in a variety of colors and foiling. A captivating gift for the booklovers in your life!
Need to replenish your stock of potions and ingredients? You can purchase replica bottles of Felix Felicis, amortentia, basilisk venom, and many others, to add a touch of whimsy to your workspace and bookshelves. If you have a fireplace, there is even a bottle of Floo powder!Get it here!
Unpopular opinion, but Luna Lovegood is a style icon. Her spectrespecs? The lion hat she wore to support Gryffindor when they played against Slytherin? Both amazing. But best of all are her Dirigible plum earrings. This pair sold on Etsy is identical to the one that Evanna Lynch personally crafted and wore as Luna in the Order of the Phoenix film adaptation.Get it here!
If you’ve ever wanted to attend a Divination class, here is a set of Professor Trelawney-approved tarot cards. The set consists of the 22 major arcana cards, and each one has a unique design inspired by the world of Harry Potter. Get it here!
Flourish & Blotts is the bookstore in Diagon Alley where Hogwarts students purchase their schoolbooks. In Chamber of Secrets, it is where Harry meets Gilderoy Lockhart for the first time at a book signing. This shirt is a gift for those true fans who love merchandise that is understated. If you are more the type to be found wandering through Knockturn Alley than Diagon Alley, there is also a t-shirt inspired by Borgin & Burkes!
As a Harry Potter fan, you have probably wanted one of the special handmade ‘jumpers’ that the Weasleys and Harry received as Christmas presents. Now you can have a very similar sweatshirt, customized with your own first initial!
This luxurious dragon egg bath bomb gift set is inspired by the golden egg from the Triwizard Tournament and meant only for the greatest wizard in your life. The set also contains bath crystals, a bath potion, a cotton towel, and a charm bracelet. It comes with a wax-sealed letter, informing the recipient that they have won the Wizard of the Year award.
If you’re anything like me, you want to gift at least five of these items to yourself, but don’t forget to spoil your fellow Potterheads as well! Your money would also be going to these talented Etsy creators, rather than into the coffers of She Who Must Not Be Named. We may not support her anymore, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t relive the magic of our childhood stories this Harry Potter Day.
Haven’t found the perfect Potterhead gift yet? We’ve curated another list!
I didn’t swoon over Harry Potter or obsessively stalk One Direction members like some of my other friends. However, I have always been an avid reader. The Percy Jackson series in particular caught my attention as soon as I read the first book at 11 years old. I was instantly hooked. To this day, I still hold many fond memories of the series.
Test your knowledge and see if you’re a true fan like me by seeing if you relate to and understand the statements below.
1. You affectionately refer to the author of the Percy Jackson series as “Uncle Rick”
Who needs formality when you feel like he’s part of the family?! After all, he is like that kooky relative that you think about fondly. He’s friendly and off-beat. He even knows how to crack a good satyr joke that just tows the line between clever and cheesy.
2. You have shipped Percy and Annabeth since the beginning!
Is it weird to be a little bit in love with a fictional character? Honestly couldn’t tell if I liked Annabeth, Percy, or just their relationship with one another as a whole. I swear it was as if they were close friends of mine, I knew so much about them and their relationship. They were my original ship. Percabeth forever!
3. You have written some low-quality Percy Jackson fan fiction on websites like Wattpad.
I personally was a big fan of the insert y/n here fanfics. They allowed yourself to really picture yourself within the world of Percy Jackson. I also definitely wrote some pretty embarrassing Percabeth romance scenarios. At the time, I was hopelessly single. Fictional character love was the only experience with what relationships looked like.
4. You secretly hold out hope that you could be a demigod. Hey, stranger things have happened.
I don’t know about you, but I really was eagerly waiting around for my 13th birthday and wondering when I would find out I had an Olympic God in my bloodline. I honestly credit it to my active imagination and optimism. Poseidon was definitely the parent I wished for. Now, being 21 years old, I have officially given up on being a demigod. For a few years though, I held out some hope.
5. You know many of the Greek myths like the back of your hand and can be a bit of a mythology nerd.
Not only did I know all the names of the gods, but also their subsequent jobs and powers. I also knew many lesser-known myths like Narcissus and Echo and Prometheus and the theft of fire. I read countless supplemental mythology books to stay up to date on my knowledge. The stories and explanations of nature’s workings fascinated me.
6. You know the difference between Greek and Roman god iterations.
True fans will know that when the names change, so do the characteristics of the Gods in nuanced ways. Which camp were you in? Camp Half-Blood or Camp Jupiter? Were you a Poseidon or Neptune kid?
7. You will always take capture the flag a little too seriously.
Let’s agree on one thing, it wasn’t just a game. This was war. This was some serious stuff. How could you not take capture the flag seriously after reading all about the Camp Half-Blood competitions? The stakes are high and your capture the flag team definitely valued you for your dedication to winning.
8. You have picked out which of the Gods of Olympus would be your parents.
I personally feel like I’m Poseidon’s spawn. Maybe it was just because I like to swim. I also always dreamed about being a mermaid. Something about water powers really appealed to me and still does. Let’s face it, Percy’s powers were pretty dope.
9. You consider The Lighting Thief movie and its sequel to be garbage in comparison to the book.
Since when are Percy and Annabeth 17 at the onset of the first book? Try more like 12. And why does Annabeth look nothing like her fictional description? Where did the brown hair come from? It feels like the producers and director didn’t actually read the book.
10. You are painfully aware of how bad Olympian gods are as parents.
There was far too much abandonment, cheating among Gods and Gods trying to kill their children. The family dynamics were very strange. They make you grateful for the family you do have.
11. You hold a weird appreciation for swords and niche things like lightning bolts.
Forget any normal human weapons. Those are boring. You were always trying to find a trident lying around. I even got my own Riptide here.
12. You have wished you had a best friend like Grover Underwood.
He had all the qualities of a great right-hand man: loyal, protective, and brave.
There’s something about the first book of a series that is such a soft spot.
17. You remember The Great Prophecy clearly. Hell, you could probably even recite it.
“You shall go west, and face the god who has turned, / You shall find what was stolen, and see it safely returned, / You shall be betrayed by one who calls you a friend, / And you shall fail to save what matters most, in the end…” whoops.
18. You learned the ancient Greek alphabet and maybe even wrote some coded messages to fellow obsessed friends.
Maybe you’re putting that to good use in Greek life at college now? I sure am.
19. Greece is on your bucket list of places to go for reasons beyond its natural beauty and architecture.
Forget the Parthenon, where can I visit Mount Olympus?
20. You carry a ballpoint pen in your pocket. That or you wear a Yankees hat everywhere when you don’t even like baseball.
Are you more of a Percy or an Annabeth? I think I’m an Annabeth. There is a certain poetry of a pen that turns into a sword though.
21. You remember all of Percy’s friend group’s inside jokes.
Anyone remember the dam snack bar lol?
22. You shrieked when you heard about The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical.
Your fangirl heart could have exploded hearing about the musical. It has been keeping the fandom alive and well ever since it debuted. You love to watch the YouTube clips when you’re feeling nostalgic and want a pick me up.
23. You’re counting the days until we hear more about the new Percy Jackson tv series on Disney+
And you still can’t believe the fandom was blessed enough to receive a second chance at a screen adaptation, one where the author is finally involved, which is why I have faith in it.
The Percy Jackson books will never die in your heart. These books hold special memories from your childhood that linger to his day. Keep being your super fan, demigod self and don’t let the haters get you down!
Let’s face it, lockdown has been hard on all of us.
You’ve baked all of the bread, you’ve done everything to learn a new language and now there is nothing else to do! I feel like I’m a teenager again: I can’t go out, my hair is long and I have fallen down a Twilight Saga rabbit hole.
From reading fanfiction to looking at Twilight tags on Tumblr, I’m completely lost to the world of Forks and La Push.
There’s a big difference between teenage and 22-year-old me reading these novels; the rose-tinted glasses are well and truly removed. As a politics graduate, I see the books through a completely different lens than simply a reminisced supernatural love triangle.
Not one cent was given to the tribe Stephenie Meyers exploited for her own personal gain.
The Twilight franchise is based in the state of Washington. La Push is the home of the Quileute Tribe, both in Meyer’s fictional world and in ours. In the books, the tribe is described as mainly fishermen and whalers and really secretive about their legends.
One-third of the Twilight love triangle, Jacob, is the son of the chief Billy Black, a man who hates the Cullens and even refuses to allow the Quileutes to get treatment at the hospital that Carlisle works at. Because of the vampires’ presence, some of the young guys in the tribe become shapeshifters to protect the tribe from the cold ones.
The Native American Quileute Nation’s legends are used to explain the shape-shifting nature of the tribe, but Meyer twisted them to suit her own story.
The creation myth of the Quileute people does, in fact, include men turning into wolves.
The creator, or K’wa’iti, created humans from the wolves in the forest. Meyer uses this story to prove that the Tribe was the enemy (something so often attributed to Indigenous communities).
She uses the darker-skinned Native Americans to contrast against her superwhite vampires and uses their folklore to paint them in a civilizing light. It’s not lost on many readers that this is following the narrative so often used by settler communities in North America and by introducing it into popular culture, Meyer sets a dangerous precedent.
It paints tradition and culture as being in conflict with modern education, something the Cullens do not suffer from.
Indigenous communities have suffered at the hands of the white settlers since 1492.
From the genocide to the indoctrination of ‘Western civilization’ through enforced boarding schools; centuries of culture and tradition were forcibly erased. Instead of helping to combat and support Indigenous communities, she helps in their erasure.
Similar to many Indigenous reservations, the La Push reservation is in dire poverty.
Through the Twilight franchise, they received many tourists, but they visited for the wrong reasons: not to learn and honor the Quileutes, but for super hot werewolves looking like Taylor Lautner, who incidentally isn’t even Native American (yes, fine, he has ‘distant ancestry’ through his mother’s side of the family).
My point is that Stephenie Meyer made millions from the Twilight franchise. Not one cent was given to the tribe she exploited for her own personal gain.
The reservation has barely changed, unlike her bank account and personality,
Both vampires and werewolves are used to romanticize whiteness and demonize Indigenous communities.
Carlisle, the head of the Cullen family, is a well-respected and super-rich doctor, regardless of his bloodlust and endeavors to help and support people.
The wolfpack, on the other hand, all dropped out of school and cannot contribute to society in the same way. These might be small plot-necessary details, but Meyer peddles stereotypes of Indigenous peoples for the plot.
The role of the shapeshifter is seen as the most important and most honorable position, above everything, even education. The high school graduation rate for Native Americans is only 65%, with college graduation level at 9%.
There is pride in their role as protectors but the consequence is that they cannot leave the reservation or excel in their professional lives.
It paints tradition and culture as being in conflict with modern education, something the Cullens do not suffer from.
On the other hand, the werewolves are violent and short-tempered.
Even the controlled pack alpha Sam Uley injured his girlfriend Emily Young and scarred her face for the rest of his life. Edward only turned Bella out of desperation and as a mercy. The humane nature of the white vampire is contrasted with the Native aggression of Sam.
Sam is reduced to a primitive character: a sign of what love is not.
It creates a narrative of who has the capacity of civilized/refined versus savage/animalistic.
The white character can hold his thirst and protect his love no matter how hard it is. The native character scarred his love after she made him angry.
Sam is reduced to a primitive character: a sign of what love is not. Edward is celebrated and loved for his ability to hold back from killing Bella.
The comparisons between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are blindingly clear. This resurgence of the Twilight Saga should bring with it the decolonized education about Indigenous communities and finally give the Quileute Nation the recognition they deserve.
Somehow, someway, One Direction turned ten this week.
Yes, ten. And, at 21 years old myself, I’m not quite sure when time managed to escape me—because in my head I am still 13 writing fanfiction in my room, hanging up posters from Rolling Stone of the band on a beach, and having my heart literally melt because of the way that Harry Styles shakes his hair out of his eyes—but it is right now, in this moment, that I feel as if I’ve crashed headfirst into unwarranted adulthood. As if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. Damn.
Ten years is a very, very long time. A lot can happen within a single decade—in fact, a lot did happen. We’ll get to more on that later, but it is important to say first that I am starkly nostalgic of those times, which now seem to be reminiscent of the most incredible joy and comfort. It seemed as if the mind, body, and spirit of every single Directioner somehow operated on the same wavelength—and heartbeat. I always loved the idea that we all, as a collective, validated one another’s thoughts or commentary and found community in adoration. Looking back, being part of a fandom like this one was surely a bit of necessary respite in a time of awkwardness, petty teenage relationships, and deceit.
Of course, there are other things too. For starters, it is common practice to associate things like personal style, music, cinema, and clothing to be both obvious and meaningful stakeholders of culture—which certainly helps in the case of any band or musician. Think of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk or Elton John’s sunglasses. Those are things you will never forget, or that you will even cherish. The kind of things that you can point out from a mile away. The kind of things that seem to transcend time and place—that sort through all of the randomness and bring you back to that one perfect moment or feeling. For One Direction, at least to me, it’s their silhouettes and boyish laughs. But also, it’s their evolution from shaggy hair, varsity jackets, khaki pants, suspenders, and striped T-shirts to slick black suits, skinny jeans, assortments of tattoos, and wide brim fedoras all the while maintaining a charming sense of self.
Now, I know what you’re thinking—she’s obsessed! And, while that is a true statement, I am not just saying these things as a fangirl. Trust me, I’ve fallen in ‘love’ with my fair share of boy bands (insert the Jonas Brothers, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Big Time Rush here) but nobody, and I mean nobody, compares to One Direction. So, although this might seem like a stretch for most people, One Direction defined a generation. And, they defined it in a way that moved way beyond the capabilities and limitations of music.
There is no denying the enormity of the impact and that One Direction had, whether you are a fan or not. It is clear as day.
However, it is quite important to note that their career as a band was not always a linear feat. As most people know, they weren’t always a band. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson each started off as solo artists, all under 25 years old, on the X-Factor UK. On July 23, 2010 Simon Cowell, the notorious judge of the talent competition, pulled the 5 boys together and gave them the chance of a lifetime. By the time they rounded out the competition, One Direction wound up in third place and backed by Cowell’s record label, Syco. Right off the bat their first singles as a band toppled charts across every single continent. Quite literally, their Na na na‘s could be heard world-wide, which is nothing short of a testament to the stardom that they soon would face. Not to mention the frenzy of fans, media, and paparazzi that quickly surrounded the boys which in hindsight seems like an all-encompassing storm. It was a non-stop cycle of album making, global touring, countless 24-hour long live-streams and video diaries commemorating their relationship with fans, along with goofy realness that made them immensely crush-worthy.
Fast-forwarding a bit, One Direction managed to accomplish a ton while in the limelight. In 2011, the band’s debut album Up All Night shot to #1 overnight and stayed there, making them the first UK group to peak at #1 in the US with a debut album. In addition, they were the first group to debut at #1 with their first four albums in the US: Up all Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, and Four. In 2012, the band performed at the Olympics closing ceremony in London. By 2013, the group produced and released two concert documentaries titled One Direction: This Is Us and One Direction: Where We Are. In 2014, Billboard announced One Direction Artist of the Year. Altogether, the band has sold more than 70 million records worldwide. In addition, they’ve taken home 16 MTV awards, 154 awards in other isolated categories, and have been nominated for 317 awards in total. Plus, they have sold over 8,287,195 tickets on their tours.
On March 25, 2015 Zayn Malik, 22 years old at the time, left the band during the One The Road Again tour citing a need for normalcy and some time out of the spotlight. Speculations have risen since then about the real reason behind his leaving the band, including episodes of discrimination based on his religion and music style. The other boys continued on and produced the Made in the A.M. album that same year. The band never toured with this album and announced that they too would be going on a hiatus in January of 2016. All 5 members have gone on to maintain remarkable solo careers while holding on tight to their roots in One Direction. The most successful being Harry Styles, an undeniable international heartthrob and sensation.
So far, there has been no serious mention of a reunion in the near future, but hey, miracles do happen! Based on their social media presence on the day of their 10 year anniversary, the boys seem as amicable, genuine, and grateful as they were a decade ago.
Within their record-breaking career before entering a hiatus, the quintet managed to reaffirm what a boy band means all the while establishing their unique and notable brand. These are heavy, even monumental, footsteps to fill.
So, no, One Direction is not just a measly boy band. At incredibly young ages, they were thrust into a world of not so subtle adoration and managed to produce worthwhile music for a loyal, dedicated, fanbase. They changed my life in the best way. Let’s give credit where credit is due and grant them the celebration that they so desperately deserve.
Avatar: The Last Airbender, perhaps one of the greatest shows of all time, is now on Netflix and fans are overjoyed to finally get to relive their childhood nostalgia.
For the first time, this iconic animated series is available on a streaming service in the United States. 2020 marks the 15th anniversary of its premiere on Nickelodeon. The show has a cult following, with fans absolutely loving every part of the series.
This show will have you crying, laughing, and feeling all the emotions.
Any show with that type of wholehearted support and positive memories gets the gold stamp of approval in my book.
For anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of watching Avatar: The Last Airbender before, first of all, pull your head out from under a rock and go binge it right now!
But, secondly, here is a little synopsis of the plot to give you some context. The Avatar world is divided into four tribes known as the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads that are based on the elements in their namesake. Members of these tribes or “benders” have the ability to control the element of their nation and manipulate it for their own use.
There is only one person, The Avatar, who is able to control all four elements and is therefore extremely powerful.
The story follows the main character: Aang, the long-lost Avatar, who, at only 12 years old, who has to save the world from the military takeover of The Fire Nation. Throughout the show, Aang learns how to master the elements and channel his powers to help protect the world. There is something so inventive and creative about the storyline.
When it comes to TV series, it can’t get much better than Airbender.
Airbender deserves the hype it gets for an abundance of reasons.
Firstly, the animation is masterful and beautiful in so many places. Second, the story is so charming and transports viewers to a totally alternate and immersive world. The show may be considered kid-oriented, but its story arc and level of complexity are actually quite complex and impressive. Throughout its three seasons, viewers learn the rich history and lore behind the Avatar world.Avatar: The Last Airbender incorporates elements of fantasy, martial arts, and culture from across the world. Some consider Avatar to be a sort of Western “anime.”
Besides the show’s amazing storyline, its characters deserve praise and love.
Aang as a main character is endearing, adorable, and extremely lovable. He is so full of energy and enthusiasm and loves to fly around on his flying pet Bison, Appa.
Even the show’s villains stand out in complexity and character development.
For example, Zuko, the eldest child of Fire Lord Ozai and Princess Ursa of The Fire Nation who is exiled in the first season, begins as a ruthless, cruel, and vindictive character who is hell-bent on destroying Aang.
Even the show’s villains stand out in complexity and character development.
The kind way he treats his girlfriend, looks after his men, and the mercy he shows for Aang at various points in the series convey how emotional and caring he can be underneath his harsh exterior. We also see throughout Airbender that Zuko’s childhood and poor past treatment impact and influence his behavior.
The impact of Avatar on animated television feels extremely clear as it was one of the first lore-heavy cartoons. It may have served as a precursor to some modern favorites in the lore-cartoon category like Adventure Time and Steven Universe.
In fact, the show has been so popular on Netflix that it’s been in the top 10 for the past 57 days, according to Forbes. That’s not just impressive; that means it’s in a tie with Ozark as the show that’s spent the most consecutive days in the top 10 ever.
For reference, here’s the full list:
Ozark: 57 days
Avatar: The Last Airbender: 57 days
Outer Banks: 51 days
Tiger King: 50 days
All American: 42 days
Love is Blind: – 39 days
Space Force: – 34 days
Dead to Me: 32 days
13 Reasons Why: 28 days
Money Heist: 24 days
I cannot say enough good things about this series. Avatar: The Last Airbender feels like a piece of my soul and truly captures some fond childhood memories. This show will have you crying, laughing, and feeling all the emotions.
When it comes to TV series, it can’t get much better than Airbender.
Taylor Swift may be a polarizing figure, but you can’t deny that she’s created her own space within the music industry’s revolving door.
Point blank PERIOD.
1. Her lyrics.
Who has ever been heartbroken and not cried to a Taylor Swift song? Taylor Swift’s lyrics are always incredibly honest and to the core. She writes about her personal experience and creates songs that everyone can relate to. She is also the queen of bridges. If you doubt me, check out theAll Too Wellbridge.
3. She invites fans to her house and bakes for them.
When Taylor was about to put out 1989, she was worried about what her fans would think about this full-on pop album. She decided to invite 89 of them to her house and play the album for them in a secret session.
Since then it has become a tradition for Taylor to choose fans from social media and play them her albums before their release date. She even bakes cookies for them! To date, these sessions have never resulted in her songs being leaked, which is a real testament to the love her stans have for her.
4. She filed and won a sexual assault lawsuit – all for a $1 settlement.
If you don’t know the story, this is how it goes: Taylor Swift went to court in 2017 against the Denver DJ David Mueller. Mueller had sued Taylor for defamation and losing his job after the singer had complained to his employer that he had grabbed her inappropriately during a photoshoot. The moment was caught on video and there were witnesses.
He asked for $3 million in compensation. Taylor filed a countersuit in response, claiming assault and only requested $1 in compensation to make a point.
I still get chills reading her testimony, especially in light of the fact that she won.
5. She was a ‘nice girl’ that learned to make her voice be heard, and let’s be real: we’ve all been there.
Her recent Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, is a reflection on how Taylor went from wanting to please everybody and being seen as a “good girl” to learning to be happy despite other people’s opinions.
The documentary — which has already reached critical acclaim, according to review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes — touches on a multitude of issues. And most of those issues aren’t pop star problems. They’re human problems.
6. She flipped the script on the bullying that people put her through, reclaiming the “snake” sign they used for her new signature.
After Kim Kardashian West “exposed” Taylor Swift’s supposed lies in a tweet about National Snake Day, Taylor’s social media was flooded by snake emojis. People used that emoji to call her fake.
Taylor disappeared from social media for a year after that but came back with a whole era based around snakes. She claimed an image that people used to bully her and turned her into her personal brand: there’s nothing more badass than that.
7. When she used the attention from Kanye’s leaked call to ask for donations, instead.
Continuing with the Taylor vs. Kim feud, in 2020, the full call between Kanye West and Taylor was finally leaked. It resulted in proving that she was telling the truth all along. Kanye never mentioned the line “that bitch” in the call.
Taylor then used all the media attention that she was getting because of the leaked call to ask people to donate money to Feeding America and The World Health Organization.
8. The Easter eggs. All the Easter eggs.
If you’ve ever followed the release of Taylor Swift’s music, you know that it is very similar to a treasure hunt. Taylor loves to leave clues and Easter eggs in her posts, songs, and music videos for her fans to find. And we love looking for them!
9. Taylor’s hard-hitting points in her acceptance speech during Billboard’s Women of the Decade Award.
Taylor Swift was awarded Billboard‘s first-ever Woman of the Decade, thanks to the singer’s vast musical accomplishments over the course of the 2010s. During her acceptance speech, she used the opportunity to call out sexism within the music industry.
She spoke out on the barrage of criticism typically accepted around women’s bodies and relationships. She called out Scooter Braun and the role of private equity in the music industry. It was an empowering and honest speech where she spoke out about issues of the music industry that are not commonly brought up.
10. The song Ronan and the story behind it.
One of Taylor Swift’s saddest songs is Ronan. She wrote this song using phrases from the blog of a fan that had lost her 4-year-old son, Ronan, to cancer. Taylor credited the fan, Maya Thompson, as co-writer and donated all the proceeds from the song to cancer charities. Taylor has only performed this song once, during a Stand Up To Cancer gala.
11. She has been honest about her struggle with her body image.
One of the most shocking scenes within Miss Americana is the moment that Taylor confesses that she had an eating disorder. She even pulls out a picture of herself and points out all that she hates about it before stopping herself.
“This would cause me to go into a real shame, hate spiral. I caught myself yesterday starting to do it and I said, ‘Nope. We don’t do that anymore. Because it’s better to think you look fat than look sick.’ There’s always some standard of beauty that you’re not meeting,” she said. “It’s all just fucking impossible.”
It shows that the biggest star on the planet is feeling the same insecurities and pressures that millions of people face. It’s important we reject society’s unrealistic expectations.
12. The “Taylor Swift effect” in voter registration.
In 2018, Taylor Swift broke her long-held silence with a post on her Instagram urging people to vote for the Democratic candidate in the Tennessee primaries. She stated all the reasons why she was voting for this candidate and reminded people to register if they wanted to vote.
However, many forgot that the song went along a Change.com petition for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, a law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation that had been approved by the House.
15. She was the sole writer in her third album, Speak Now.
Taylor’s greatest talent has always been songwriting. When people criticized her second album, Fearless, saying that such a young girl could not have written those songs, she decided to write her third album, Speak Now, all by herself. It is a masterpiece and shut up critics everywhere.
16. Taylor does free meet-and-greets for her fans.
Instead of requiring fans to pay for meet-and-greets, Taylor finds them on social media and the audience. Then she spends hours before and after every show hanging out with the Swifties. Know any other mega celebrity that does that? No? Thought so.
17. She calls out sexism.
She actively speaks out about sexism in the music industry, particularly how people criticize her for writing about her love life yet don’t do the same to male artists.
18. The Apple Letter and her defense of artists’ rights.
For years, Taylor’s used her influence to support artists. In 2015, Taylor wrote an open letter to Apple explaining why she was going to pull her albums from Apple Music. She criticized the policy of not paying artists during the free-trial period of the app. Apple changed its policy less than 24 hours after that.
The latest? In Taylor’s recent deal with Universal Records, she included a clause that stipulates that all of Universal’s artists will be compensated if the label sells its Spotify shares.
19. She is a proud cat lady.
Taylor’s cats are almost as famous as she is. Who could resist Dr. Meredith Grey, Detective Olivia Benson, and Benjamin Button?
20. She doesn’t take herself seriously.
Taylor Swift is hilarious. Who else would allow an ad like this one to air?
21. She wrote songs for both The Hunger Games and Hannah Montana: The Movie.
Two movies that symbolized our teenage years feature the musical genius of Taylor Swift. Who could forget about them?
She wrote You’ll Always Find Your Way Back Home for Miley Cyrus, and wrote and performed Crazier. For The Hunger Games, she co-wrote and sang the masterpieces that were Safe and Sound with The Civil Wars and Eyes Open.
22. She made being 22 cool.
Who hasn’t sang along to Taylor’s song 22 on their birthday? Before her song, turning 21 was the biggest highlight of your early 20s. Then Taylor came along and reminded us that you can still party and have fun, no matter your age.
23. She taught Zac Efron how to play the guitar.
Vote for Taylor to star in a High School Musical remake?
24. THAT Miss Americana scene.
During Miss Americana, Taylor shows the moment when she stood up to her team and her own father and decided to make her political views public. It is a very emotional moment and I still cry every time I watch the scene.
25. Taylor is the first youngest woman in history to win two GRAMMY Awards for Best Album of the Year (plus a couple of others!).
The first album was awarded to her when she was just twenty, making her the youngest person to win this award (until Billie Eilish). We love us some successful women.
26. She stalks her fans on social media (in the nicest possible way!).
Taylor Swift recently offered financial help to fans who were left without work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, sending them $3,000 each.
She also has secret social media accounts where she follows her fans and sends them monetary help or concert invitations.
27. She made country music cool and then switched into a whole new music genre.
Taylor was a successful country artist and could have continued being one for years. Instead, she decided to take a leap and switch to pop, teaching us to not be afraid of change.
29. She taught me that it’s okay for people not to like you.
At the end of the day, the only person that needs to like you is yourself.
30. Her constant reinvention.
Any Taylor Swift fan will be able to recognize the year and album it is whenever Taylor posts a throwback photo. Taylor changes her style, hair, and aesthetic for every era she enters.
31. That time when she learned to apologize for apologizing and showed us that it’s okay to be angry.
During the last scene of Miss Americana, Taylor is seen ranting about sexism. Then she stops herself and apologizes for getting angry. A woman behind a camera tells her not to apologize because she is allowed to be angry. At that moment, Taylor recognized her moment to learn and took it to do so.
32. Last, but definitely not least, I’ll always love her for just how imperfect she is.
She hasn’t always used her voice, and she’s been involved in drama. But no one is perfect, and Taylor genuinely is someone who treats her fans and everyone the way they want to be treated — with respect.
For a lot of people, fanfiction is something they would never openly admit to reading.
Its reputation in the mainstream media may have something to do with this. As with anything on the Internet, we are often drawn into discussing the most out-there examples of the phenomenon. From 50 Shades of Grey‘s origin as a Twilightfic, to the recent New York Times piece about the Omegaverse, to… well, incest pairings — yep, those are a thing — it’s easy to see how these unofficial, often sexual spinoffs have developed a bad rap. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s valid.
Like anything else online, there’s an infinite variety available, and the vast majority of fanfiction holds another appeal altogether. We can all appreciate the value of creativity and community. But there are a few things offered by fanfiction in particular which have helped it evolve into a beacon for queer and questioning teens and young adults worldwide:
1. A modern-day twist on a near-timeless medium
Fun fact: most fanfiction is written with the same purpose as olden-day romance novels.
Sure, fics are set in the world of pre-existing stories — but people have been writing this way for centuries. Well-known characters have always been repurposed and depicted in new and creative ways — Shakespeare, anyone? — which typically involve new plotlines with satisfying romantic endings.
Modern fanfiction can range from micro fics of a few hundred words to multi-book sagas, each with a novel’s worth of chapters and detail.
2. Queer. Sex. Ed.
How does queer sex work? What do safe sex practices look like for queer couples? These are questions that fans are often looking for answers to, and they’re finding them in these stories. More importantly, including these details in an informative and accurate way is a job many fic writers take incredibly seriously. (If only the same could be said of our education systems…)
In addition, fics can offer a low-risk opportunity for readers to engage in shame-free kink exploration, with many healthy portrayals of BDSM — including an emphasis on safe word usage. Search results on all popular forums can also be filtered by maturity rating, searched for using keywords, and excluded via trigger warning tags, promoting safe and appropriate consumption for all.
3. Queer love and relationships
Queer folks — especially those still questioning or coming out — are STARVING. We need positive representation in fiction. And in the absence of accurate world depictions in media, it seems we’ve decided to take care of it ourselves.
These fics really do have it all! I’m talking queer weddings. Children raised by queer parents. The introduction of partners to families in controlled and supportive environments. Dating milestones through a queer lens. First queer relationships in otherwise sexually experienced characters. Older characters finally feeling safe enough to question their orientations. Genderbending and the embrace of gender fluidity. There’s a rich, vivid history here, and we aren’t getting it anywhere else.
4. Defiance of social norms and restrictions
I think this is where we can begin to understand the true beauty — and even political power — of fanfiction: its radical, intersectional acceptance.
Let’s think for a minute. Why on earth would a group of people who have been historically ostracized and oppressed by society be drawn to a genre that actively works to eradicate the oppressive norms that very society has built?
It’s worth looking at the ways in which fanfiction is making a real-world impact:
Fans often pick up on homoeroticism and subtext between characters that show creators are being actively discouraged from exploring by network executives.
The rejection of heteronormativity in the majority of these stories then becomes a method through which many women, regardless of orientation or relationship status, are immersing themselves in depictions of relationships where equality is expected between partners. This is allowing alternative gender roles and healthier relationship dynamics to permeate the broader culture.
Writers are most often female. This allows a different perspective on romance to emerge that isn’t often expressed in original media, which is still overrun with male writers, directors, and producers. Women are giving themselves the opportunity to express the way they’d like to be treated by a partner, and to depict the way they think love should unfold.
By existing outside the standards of capitalism and corporate media, disabled creators can provide themselves with the accommodation they deserve. Company deadlines and network schedules do not exist, and writers can set their own timelines — and, in doing so, their own boundaries — as regularly or inconsistently as needed. In this way, fanfiction is dismantling a major barrier to disabled contributions and voices in arts and literature.
On top of all of this, the work is all done by fans for free — and for the love and fun of it. Forums where pieces are posted allow for support and feedback from readers, allowing aspiring writers to improve their work — and this can be especially valuable to those who are unable to seek formal training or education in the field.
So yeah, fanfiction is changing the game. In taking control of a narrative, fans are also taking control of the norms of creation itself.
And what could be bolder, more radical, more unapologetically queer than that?
I know it’s cool to shade on Game of Thrones season 8. It has been a full year since its release and I still can’t get over what they did to my beloved characters. And it’s not even necessary the deaths that I am angry about; it’s the (lack of) character development.
Season 8 had everything it needed to be an amazing finale for the best TV show in history: good actors, great sets, cool special effects, a ridiculously high budget, and a very dramatic starting point. However, the truth of the matter is that the script failed miserably and the whole season wasn’t able to make up for it.
If I had to describe the last season with one word, it would be ‘rushed’.
Characters died all the time in Game of Thrones, but their decisions always made sense. The ones they made on the final season did not.
If I had to describe the last season of Game of Thrones with a word it would be ‘rushed’ (although ‘bad’ and ‘disappointing’ would also work pretty well).
The decision to shorten the season was wrong, there is no way around that. It forced the writers to tie together seven intense years of plotlines in very little time.
It was the need to wrap up the show in six episodes that made it necessary for the writers to kill the Night King in the third one. The huge danger that everyone had been fearing all along was defeated in little over one hour (The Long Night?? I swear it was the shortest night ever…). It was an amazing episode (if you disregard the lack of lighting), and personally I loved that Arya was the person to do it (the plot armor though…). But it ended the most important war, the focal point of the entire show, when the season was only halfway through.
It’s not character’s deaths that I was angry about; it’s the (lack of) character development.
This last season did not disappoint the fans because of the many illogic things that happened for shock value (or rather, it did, but not so much), but because we felt like the very essence of the characters that we had loved for seven seasons had completely been disregarded.
I maybe would have believed Daenerys’s ending (despite loving this character to death and refusing to believe that she would ever go mad) if they, again, would have given more time for her transition. Like two entire seasons, though. I will not accept that she went mad over the death of Missandei and Rhaegal when she had suffered so much before and never lost her mind despite it. Sure, Dany had been harsh with her enemies before, but her actions were necessary, and never more ruthless or crazy than any other character on the show.
All the characters lost all their personality. Brienne slept with Jaime, was then reduced to beg him not to leave him, two things I thought I’d never see her do. Tyrion’s ideas were disappointing. Jaime’s ending was as – well, let’s not even go there. And Cersei? She didn’t have an ending. She didn’t have anything this season. All she did was stare from a window. What a waste of Lena Headey’s talent.
Season 8 felt like it was written by a director.
There were so many plotlines that seemed to be leading up to something important, only to be ignored at the end. For example, Bran had been learning to use his powers for years… but then make no use of them during the Long Night? Moreover, he could not be the Lord of Winterfell because he was the Three-Eyed Raven. However, for some reason… he was okay being king (of the six kingdoms, another ridiculous choice)?
But the thing that annoyed me the most was Jon Snow’s regression. Jon was only used as a pawn by other characters and as a tool by the writers. His lineage, the great secret of Game of Thrones that would change the entire game, did not matter at all in the end. Jon would have done exactly the same things he did in this season without knowing he was a Targaryen.
Ending a show that is known for its surprising plot twists is not an easy task. However, the brilliancy of this show resided in the fact that the plot twists were shocking, but never purely for shock value. Not this season.
So many plotlines seemed to be leading up to something important, only to be ignored at the end.
Season 8 felt like it was written by a director, not writers and showrunners. The plot didn’t seem to matter much as it allowed amazing directorial possibilities. Episodes such as ‘The Long Night’ and ‘The Bells’ were amazingly directed in terms of cinematography, but absolutely disappointing plot-wise.
This season was so badly executed that even people who aren’t media-savvy noticed. Even amateur fans of the show started talking about technical terms like ‘foreshadowing’ and ‘character arc’. No, fans were not just upset because character X died, or characters Y and Z didn’t end up together. Instead, they discussed whether Jaime’s redemption arc was left incomplete, the purpose of Jon’s resurrection, and the foreshadowing of Dany and Arya’s endings. When I read the fan theories and analyses, I felt like I was in a literature class instead of Twitter. I loved how fans fought back and still are, a full year later. Just this week, Targ Nation – the strenuous fans of the Mother of Dragons – successfully trended #IStandByDaenerys on Twitter.
Although I hated the final season; reading reviews and understanding why we all hated it has taught me a lot about writing and plotting techniques. Thanks David & Dan, I guess?
For me, Game of Thrones ended in Season 8 Episode 3, and that is giving the screenwriters a lot of leeways.