Fandom Flames: rainbow capitalism invades fandom spaces
In May, Tumblr made the puzzling decision to declare itself “weirdest place on the internetWhich many saw as a shameless attempt to publicly congratulate each other. This despite the 2018 porn ban, that has disproportionately affected queer communities and sent people to the site in droves. It’s not just Tumblr participating in rainbow capitalism, the practice of washing corporations and businesses in the colors of the rainbow in every pride season, with no real intention of changing practices or genuinely supporting queer spaces such as youth shelters with the profits generated by the pride products.
While rainbow capitalism can have a positive effect on social change, saturating the cultural conversation with the undeniable existence of queer people, it is still primarily marketed towards queer people, not straight people who need to be more tolerant in their personal and professional lives. Most of these companies make nominal donations from the profits of their merchandise. Some companies have been accused of profiting from Pride products without donating to a charity, such as the games company Blizzard, although in the case of Blizzard the situation is more complicated, with merch being designed by queer and trans employees.
Twitch capped donations at $ 25,000 for their “fundraising” Pride, although it was bought out by Amazon, much to the chagrin of many. Then there is Disney, which had so many “openly gay first” characters that you can count them on two hands. Disney has also sparked outrage for its Pride merchandise. Rainbow capitalism is unfortunately becoming less of a buzzword and more of a reality. Queerbaiting could also be seen as a part of Rainbow Capitalism, in the hopes of getting viewers to support your show.
So what can you do, other than protest by proxy on Twitter or Tumblr or whatever social media platform you use? Well you can stop buying Pride products no matter how tempting this rainbow Mickey silhouette t-shirt is. You could donate the money that would have been used for this product to a queer youth organization or shelter, for example.
Real change requires putting your resources, all the resources, where your mouth is. And while expressing outrage on social media shames publicly, it’s withholding your money and energy from these businesses and devoting it to someone in need, which makes a real difference. Rainbow capitalism in our fandom spaces may be here to stay – the consequences of a capitalist society – but that doesn’t mean that we, as queer fans, have to commit to it.