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‘Toxic Fandom’ How Fans Are Turning Into Villains



Toxic fandom has reared its ugly head on social media yet again, and it’s infected almost all things we geeks love.

Only last month Titan’s actress Anna Diop was targeted with racial abuse after the first trailer for the DC Series was released. So-called ‘fans’ harassed Diop, who plays Starfire because she was a black woman playing an orange alien.

In the past week, we have seen Grant Gustin (The Flash) body shamed for having a slim frame. Ruby Rose quit Twitter days after being cast as Batwoman due to the backlash, with fans criticising her acting skills, being the ‘wrong’ gay actress to play Batwoman or for not being Jewish.

Both of these stories were reported by the media within a few hours, shining a light on the ever-present issue of toxic fandom. Racism, sexism, homophobia, body shaming and death threats are some of the traits associated with these obsessively protective fans of fictional characters.

With toxic fandom once again being highlighted, it was brought to my attention by real fans that three other actresses have been getting abuse from ‘toxic trolls’ for years and they were sick of the media turning a blind eye. These are Katie Cassidy, Emily Bett Rickards, both from Arrow and Candice Patton from The Flash.

These ‘trolls‘ have directed their hatred towards Cassidy who plays Laurel Lance and Rickards who plays Felicity Smoak for being the main love interests of Oliver Queen in Arrow. There are a splinter group of shippers who support Olicity or Lauriver that often spout hatred towards each actress.

As for Patton, she has been ripped to shreds since she was cast as Iris West in 2014. In the comics, West was originally a white, ginger-haired journalist and with Patton being an African American in the role some people can’t see past skin colour, and attack the actress with racist, sexist and misogynistic posts. I saw one tweet aimed at Patton telling the actress “100 years ago I’d bought and sold you’re stupid ass”. Then there was the Tumblr image that had changed Patton’s skin and hair colour, to make her the “real Iris West“. I was honestly disgusted at what I was seeing.

Just searching through Twitter gave me a hindsight on what she and other actors go through on a daily basis. In the galleries below, I am going to highlight some of the hate I have found on the internet with a simple search:

Anna Diop

Grant Gustin

Ruby Rose

Katie Cassidy

Emily Bett Rickards

Candice Patton

It’s vile what these actors go through, and there will be more out there going through the same thing. I know I have focused on DC, but every fandom has toxic fans who try and spoil it for everyone else.

The toxicity has become so vitriol, it’s casting a very big shadow on actors and directors taking on these projects. That’s not what we want.

These people who can’t separate fictional characters from actors have serious issues and they need to reevaluate their lives. As fans, we also need to be better, if we see an actor/actress being targeted with hate, we need to report whoever is doing it. For fandom to become a better place, we need to stop the toxicity.

Be Better

Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Reel Anarchy & DC Films Hub. Former editor at Omega Underground. Watcher of films, lover of football & eater of dim sum.

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