Matthew L. Meier, Kellen Sharp

Death to Chad and Stacy: Incels and anti-fandom as group identity

  • Cultural Studies

Anti-fan research has traditionally focused on audiences' engaged dislike as media consumers more than as media producers, often ignoring their capacity to inflict harm. Building from this while drawing empirical support from incels, the manosphere's most violent faction, this article reconceptualizes the anti-fandom as a networked community organized around textual productions of hate or dislike. We explicate this first at the level of the text, comparing centrifugal anti-fandoms, which grow outward from an originating text, to centripetal anti-fandoms, which engage a variety of texts pulled into an organized, self-perpetuating structure. We then consider anti-fandom as performing both as and for an audience: although situated within the manosphere and the online anti-public sphere, incels rely on articulations of hate, apathy, and misanthropy as a means of distinguishing themselves as a stable, impermeable social identity, a process that we suggest potentially contributes to their radicalization.

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