The Power of Black, Female Fandom

Kristen Warner

Kristen Warner

Fans flock to beloved characters’ defense

Cultural studies expert Kristen Warner will discuss the online phenomena of fan-run social media forums that support minority actors and characters in mainstream television shows. Her lecture, “Black Women Defense Squads in Online Fandom,” will be held Thursday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in the Stern Center Great Room.

Warner will explain the rise and work of “defense squads,” an online phenomenon where female fans vigilantly watch for mentions of beloved characters from television or films and respond to criticisms of those characters with collective force. Warner will examine black, female fans of the CW’s The Flash superhero drama to explore their devotion to and protection of the character Iris West, a black woman. Warner will explain how fandoms often exist as online blogs that support the continued involvement and character development of their favorite character. She notes it is common for online forums of black women on Twitter and Tumblr to support black actresses cast in popular television series.

Warner is an associate professor of journalism and creative media at the University of Alabama. Her research is focused on racial representation and how it fits into media industries, especially when casting actors for roles in television shows and movies. She is the author of The Cultural Politics of Colorblind TV Casting.

The event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues and co-sponsored by the departments of English and sociology and the film studies program. It is part of the Clarke Forum’s semester theme, Media, Technology and Civic Engagement.

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Published March 1, 2017