About Books #100: Queerbaiting and Fandom

A definite advantage of having my sister as my sister: I’ve definitely become more socially aware because of her. One of the elements in which that was most the case? The representation and diversity that is (or – more often – isn’t) present in consumables. So, when I came across this book, which promised to really delve into that illustrious duo of queerbaiting and fandom? Why, I knew that I just had to read it!

I was offered an ARC by Netgalley in exchange for a review. All opinions are strictly my own.

The subject

In this first-ever comprehensive examination of queerbaiting and fandom, fan studies scholar Joseph Brennan and his contributors examine cases that shed light on the sometimes exploitative industry practice of teasing homoerotic possibilities that, while hinted at, never materialize in the program narratives. Through a nuanced approach that accounts for both the history of queer representation and older fan traditions, these essayists examine the phenomenon of queerbaiting across popular TV, video games, children’s programs, and more.

Contributors: Evangeline Aguas, Christoffer Bagger, Bridget Blodgett, Cassie Brummitt, Leyre Carcas, Jessica Carniel, Jennifer Duggan, Monique Franklin, Divya Garg, Danielle S. Girard, Mary Ingram-Waters, Hannah McCann, Michael McDermott, E. J. Nielsen, Emma Nordin, Holly Eva Katherine Randell-Moon, Emily E. Roach, Anastasia Salter, Elisabeth Schneider, Kieran Sellars, Isabela Silva, Guillaume Sirois, Clare Southerton

The opinion

Look, it can’t be denied – this book aims to give a first broad overview of the concept of queerbaiting and fandom. And it does so, you know? Throughout the various essays, you certainly get a good scope of the many ways and forms in which queerbaiting might be present in media. I especially appreciated that the authors don’t limit themselves to one genre, medium, or even era.

At the same time, though, this appeared to me to be almost this book’s downfall. In trying to be exhaustive – or at least: to come as close to it as possible? The authors seemed to, at times, lose track of what they were actually sharing. Of course, if you talk about a show which is still running, things might change between the moment of writing and that of publishing. In this case, in at least one show, a couple of queer characters have been added to the line up, which might have added to the wealth of this book.

What annoyed me more, however, was the fact that – at times – the authors seemed to miss the perspective of the fandom. Sure, queerbaiting is largely done by the producers of these media. But, as is so often mentioned, especially in the introduction: queerbaiting is largely dependent on the fandom’s reading. It’s exactly this perspective that, at times, I was missing. Again, this might just be because that’s the side of this subject I usually find myself on, but still… I feel it might have added a richness, that little something extra, which now, at times, I found to be a bit lacking.

The rating: 3/5

Let’s be real – a first book on any subject is not an easy quest. If, from time to time, the authors tend to get a bit wordy? Maybe even forget to put a stopper on the sheer amount of names they drop? Might have tried to focus on the fandom’s perspective itself? All those things are only to be expected in a sense. After all: in being the first, they had a lot of ground to cover.

I’m honestly looking forward to seeing what discussions this book might start, if any at all. (and wouldn’t that be telling!) More than anything though, I know that I will go back to certain of these essays while I’m consuming the media they discuss, and think… “Oh, so that’s what they were going on about!” (Goodreads)


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