teen wolf - a fandom so relentlessly racist
May 7, 2013
I feel like I’m starting to wind down on my teen wolf binge. Maybe things will change after the new season starts this summer. Somehow… I doubt it. Mainly because the problem, for once, isn’t canon, but fandom.
I like most of the teen wolf fic. I like sterek. They have the dynamic that is, apparently, my favourite (as noted in my other big ships – xander/angel, blair/jim, ryan/seth). I apparently just cannot get enough of couples with one motormouthed/mumbling/extrovert paired up with a grumpy/taciturn/strong silent type. This is, for no discernable reason, my thing.
Now, most of the fandoms/canons I mentioned with my other favourite ships are racist. For a lot of them they are racist in that more covert/passive way where PoC either don’t exist in those universes or they exist to die or act as convenient plot points for the white people. For the most part, while grating, I can sort of… just ignore this, since this sort of covert/passive racism is just… idk, background noise for a girl like me. i’m used to feeling invisible and just not existing, or being a minor plot point in a white narrative.
But the thing with teen wolf, as many have pointed out, is that the fandom has simply trampled over the main character, Scott. Who is one of the few MoC leads in a tv show right now. I might be too concerned about this since I know that canon very heavily pushes Scott/alison. And that, even if there were more Scott-centric fics, I sterek happens to have that quality that I particularly like. So even if there were more Scott-centric fics, I probably wouldn’t be reading them (especially if it were Scott/Alison).
But I track the teen wolf tag on AO3. Yes. The entire tag. I comb through all the stories posted in the teen wolf fandom, every day. I’ve been doing this for months. I’ve also, at this point, probably read thousands of teen wolf fic. At least as far as AO3 is concerned, sterek is everything. Okay.
Again, not exact problem at this moment.
What is my problem is the continued ableist (and implicitly racist) microagressions many of the writers demonstrate towards the characters of colour: Boyd, Scott, and less frequently Danny.
In those fics where Boyd is present (which aren’t that many, btw). He is usually one dimensional, flat, and largely uninteresting. He also rarely plays an integral role to the narrative, often visible but silent. Almost a prop, like the crumbling Hale house. And, to a certain extent, we do have canon to blame for this as well, since the show did a pretty terrible job at giving him any real level of depth. Except… from what we know, this is a person so lonely that he chose to become a werewolf. Just to get friends. That, to me, seems like a fruitful enough narrative path that, idk, maybe even a handful of Boyd-centric fics could explore this?
But. Nope. The way fandom treats him really just reminds of that script writing thing I read where the participates just had trouble imagining the Black characters as anything other than a stereotype.
With Scott… Who is, without a doubt the main protagonist in the show and the show’s hero. Except that in fandom, he is constantly called ‘stupid’, a ‘potato’ – which I’m not entirely sure what it is supposed to mean, berated for being a terrible friend to stiles (despite, at the end of season 2, having taken all the necessary actions to save everybody).
In many ways, it appears that a goodly portion of teen wolf writers simply cannot conceive of stiles as the main protagonist without taking a massive shit on Scott[1. similar is the massive amounts of misogyny that many people in the buffy-fandom needed to enact in order to write xander-centric fic, because most could not conceive of ways to centre a man without stepping on women]. And this is the sort of thing we actually see play out time and again in real life. That white people establish themselves and centre themselves on the backs of PoC. That in order to become agents and heros they must necessarily work to tear everyone else down.
And it has just worn me down.
It is weird that i prefer just outright erasure (even as this tends to grate in my atypical OTP, Kurt/Blaine). Ultimately, it was the misogyny and vague stench of the mra that drove me out of the buffy fandom. Likely the the joyous combination of racism and ableism is probably what will drive me out of the teen wolf fandom.
It would behoove many writers in the teen wolf fandom to actually spend some time thinking about what it means that they cannot create sterek fics without casting Scott in an almost villainous role.