Dominated by LGBTQ+ and female-identified fans from various backgrounds, Tumblr blogs dedicated to queer readings of the BBC television series Sherlock (2010–ongoing) are a breeding ground for less-discussed forms of unremunerated queer labor: utopian, heuristic, and care work. In their digital fanworks, Tumblr queer users marry crafts associated with domestic heterosexual femininity (collage and scrapbooking) with established female fan practices (slashing and shipping) to articulate complex sexual and gender identities and navigate neuro-divergent mental health statuses. This article examines the shifts real-time digital interactivity and transmedia storytelling have introduced to viewer/producer power relations. Unpacking “queer cryptography” as a form of reception labor offers a feminist reading of the diverse modes of LGBTQ+ identification, kinship, and activism performed by queer female viewers on Tumblr, while questioning the vulnerability and possible exploitation of the unsanctioned affective labor produced by such a desperately underrepresented demographic.
Gender and Queer Fan Labor on Tumblr: The Case of BBC's Sherlock
Diana W. Anselmo is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Contemporary History, Center for History and Philosophy of Science (IHC-CEHFCi-UE), in Portugal. Her work on young female audiences and US silent cinema has appeared in Cinema Journal, Camera Obscura, Screen, and Spectator, as well as in several academic anthologies. Her research has received grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Harvard University, among others. She is currently working on a book, under contract with University of California Press, examining the film scrapbooks, fan mail, and suicide letters produced by the first generation of movie girl fans to emerge in the United States.
Diana W. Anselmo; Gender and Queer Fan Labor on Tumblr: The Case of BBC's Sherlock. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2018; 4 (1): 84–114. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2018.4.1.84
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