A poor “translation” of a critique

I shared this Tumblr post earlier tonight as an example of the cutting cultural critique that media fandom produces internally:

SterekCritique.PNG(Edit: the original source of this post is http://thominos.tumblr.com/post/98330131513/tw-were-trying-to-let-sterek-die-sterek-fandom; I first encountered it, and screencapped it at

(which appears to have added the “the anti-marketing legend” tag.) The source link formatting was unclear when I originally posted.)

As I said at the time, I couldn’t figure out how, in the Twitter context, to make it comprehensible to the kind of people who dismiss Tumblr and fans. But then several different people asked for further explanation anyway. Here’s my -admittedly poor- attempt:

TW here is a shorthand for “creators/producers of the Teen Wolf tv show”. Sterek fandom is fans who enjoy positing a romantic/sexual relationship between two male characters (Stiles & Derek, hence “Sterek”) that is not canonically part of the show.

So in this post, a fan is acknowledging that the producers are increasingly uncomfortable with the noncanonical gay relationship that is popular among fans (although the producers have in the past quite openly encouraged fan interest in the “Sterek” relationship while carefully ensuring it’s never more than subtext in the show), and have suggested that they would like fans to knock it
off – “Trying to let Sterek die”. The writer paraphrases the attitudes of the entire group of Sterek fans as laughing dismissal – “lol fine”, and then suggests that if the show is edited to reduce focus on the characters so many fans enjoy, they’ll stop watching the show altogether, but continue writing, drawing, and otherwise producing fan-generated content focusing on the parts of the show they have found compelling in the past – “shipping Sterek”.* Finally, the writer suggests the producers may not have anticipated the fact that fans of the show aren’t particularly concerned with what the producers want them to like about the show – “no wait”.

Fans are well aware of the close relationship between the meanings consumers create by consuming media, and the long-term success of the media source itself. And fans are also well aware that corporate creators tend to ignore or deny that relationship, or try to manage it in unrealistic ways.

*Incidentally, many fans of this show have been actively critical of the show’s treatment of its nonwhite and female characters, and its waffling attitude towards normalizing gay characters  (as well as apparently** overall shoddy plotting and continuity) but watch it anyway because of the parts they find compelling. Active critique of source content isn’t uncommon among fans.

**I don’t watch the show. I’m fascinated by the depth and creativity of cultural critique that fans produce via fan-created media, so I spend time reading
the Tumblrs of people I’ve found in the past to be insightful or entertaining or just good at link-sharing (Edit: or, I confess, who share a lot of cute animal pictures.) Though critique is not always the main mode of fan interaction, it is often present, if sometimes subtextually, even in everyday conversations.

What I’ve entirely failed to capture in this “translation” is the humor of the original.

Edit: OMG, if you’re not familiar with critique & study of fan culture (& that journal is just one among many sources!), please accept that none of these observations are new or original to me!

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