Fake Geek Girls
Fandom, Gender, and the Convergence Culture Industry
Published by: NYU Press
Reveals the systematic marginalization of women within pop culture fan communities
When Ghostbusters returned to the screen in 2016, some male fans of the original film boycotted the all-female adaptation of the cult classic, turning to Twitter to express their disapproval and making it clear that they considered the film’s “real” fans to be white, straight men. While extreme, these responses are far from unusual, with similar uproars around the female protagonists of the new Star Wars films to full-fledged geek culture wars and harassment campaigns, as exemplified by the #GamerGate controversy that began in 2014.
Over the past decade, fan and geek culture has moved from the margins to the mainstream as fans have become tastemakers and promotional partners, with fan art transformed into official merchandise and fan fiction launching new franchises. But this shift has left some people behind. Suzanne Scott points to the ways in which the “men’s rights” movement and antifeminist pushback against “social justice warriors” connect to new mainstream fandom, where female casting in geek-nostalgia reboots is vilified and historically feminized forms of fan engagement—like cosplay and fan fiction—are treated as less worthy than male-dominant expressions of fandom like collection, possession, and cataloguing. While this gender bias harkens back to the origins of fandom itself, Fake Geek Girls contends that the current view of women in fandom as either inauthentic masqueraders or unwelcome interlopers has been tacitly endorsed by Hollywood franchises and the viewer demographics they selectively champion. It offers a view into the inner workings of how digital fan culture converges with old media and its biases in new and novel ways.
"Fake Geek Girls is a must read for anyone interested in the gender politics of the media industry and media fandom. Scott connects the dots between GamerGate, Trumps election, and the mainstreaming of fandom, revealing the systemic gender policing underpinning all three. An incisive and thoughtful critique, this book lays bare the gendered logics at work in the industrys hailing of fans while recognizing the complexity of their response." ~Louisa Stein,author of Millennial Fandom: Television Audiences in the Transmedia Age
"Scott has created a terrific and timely account of the exclusionary logics that inform fan culture and mirror contemporary American politics. It helps contextualize the recent sexist, racist, and homophobic backlashes against Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ghostbusters, and The Little Mermaid (for casting a black actress as Ariel) as symptomatic of the culture at large. Fake Geek Girls is a must read for anyone interested in learning how gender, power, and privilege shape media production and fandom." ~Women's Review of Books
"Fake Geek Girls ties together a dizzying array of fan studies theories, feminist media theories, and industrial critiques to build a convincing argument about the convergence culture industry and its gendered practices… Fake Geek Girls provides an interesting and timely intervention into questions of gender, fan studies, and popular culture." ~Convergence
"Essential reading for anyone interested in fandom, media industries, and the larger political struggles in which we all live. In this compelling book, Scott investigates the boundary-policing in media fandom that constructs female fans as inauthentic, marginal, and unwelcome. Fake Geek Girls situates these gendered struggles as part of a larger war on women, helping us to understand the way that privilege and power operate within contemporary convergence culture and beyond." ~Derek Johnson,author of Media Franchising: Creative License and Collaboration in the Culture Industries