As I’ve said previously(and I think this will be a recurring theme), the idea of reclamation through fanfiction is inspiring and fascinating to me. I love when people see a text/show/media that fails a community in some way and decide to remake it. Most recently I read a fic called “Among the Gumtrees” which discusses the treatment of race and sexuality, amongst other things, in Australia. It’s also a Harry Potter(marauders) fanfiction. I just love it! The fic is genuinely a masterpiece- I was completely blown away by it. The writer says directly in the notes, “It’s a response to a book a dear friend gifted me, which was aggressively closed-cultured. I decided to strike back by doing the exact same thing. This is Australia exactly as I know it, from speech to street names to sucky homophobic attitudes.” Plenty of literature/media tried to present a sort of “woke” or enlightened narrative, and often it comes across as untrue, cringy, or offensive.
Actually, just last semester I wrote a paper on how dehumanizing these narratives can often be. A group called Femrite released a book of stories from women living with HIV. The story I wrote about was called “The Second Twin” and because Nakato wasn’t literate, they sent a writer to interview her. The writer consistently uses patronizing and honestly humiliating language when telling Nakato’s story. At one point Namukasa writes, “She doesn’t mind the fact that we are standing beside stinking drains. This is the air she breathes everyday, and this is her children’s playground, but the stench is threatening to burst my nostrils.” It is clear that the audience is not Nakato. This story is not for the people that they write about. I feel the same about the Sherlock stories, for the most part. Doyle wrote these stories not for people of color, but for white people. Again, I understand that it was progressive for its time, but it feels a bit like a consolation prize.