Stereotypes can be a good way to portray a fictional character in a comic, but they can also be negative in the real life. While stereotyping is a widely used technique in comics and movies to quickly introduce a character so that the audience can quickly grasp his/her personality, reality is that stereotypes in real life can end up with negative effects on a certain community.
There is a hidden stereotype in the Loki Meme above. According to it, when a woman says that she likes the Avengers, she is actually stating that she likes the villain (that’s Loki, hence, Tom Hiddleston). But this is a negative stereotyped vision of fangirls who like Tom Hiddleston portraying Loki. It assumes that girls cannot like the Avengers as men do. It also assumes that Loki’s fangirls are only so because of the celebrity and not because of other reasons like Marvel movies, or the comics. This stereotype is misleading and clearly misogynistic.
Have you ever encountered this test?
The Test assumes that girls cannot be geeks, or that girls cannot like things that belong to the geek world, like comics or superhero movies. When a male geek encounters a female geek, he might think of her as a fake one. Thus, the first thing he will do is to ask her lots of questions trying to figure out if she is or not a true geek girl.
Similarly, the stereotype of fangirls belonging to Loki’s Army presumes that those fangirls like Loki only because the actor who portrays him is Tom Hiddleston. This is a very closed-minded statement which hurts many fangirls, specially because when they affirm that they like the Avengers, the statement is true, regardless of their tendency to prefer the villain over the heroes in the movie. In fact, there seems to be a tendency to attack Loki’s female fan Army and female Hiddlestoners with the argument that they only like Marvel movies in which Loki appears just because of the actor, meaning that they do not care about the movies or what happens in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). However, lots of Loki’s Army’s members are well aware of the MCU, and many are hard core Marvel fans (not only of the movies, but also of the comics). This type of attacks do not happen with male fans. So, what is going on here?
Let’s take a look to another example before answering that question. The video above is plenty of stereotypes, just dedicated to fangirls of Loki, women who like Loki because of pre-stablished clichés. According to the video, fangirls like Loki because of the actor who plays him (though this guy does not consider him to be one of the attractive ones in the movies), because of the power he shows up in the Avengers, because he is the villain, because he is a whoobie (you need to nurture him), and, in short, because he is weak and strong at the same time. All of these reasons are but clichés belonging to the stereotype that “women like bad men, with lots of power, and who need their constant attention.”
The statements made by this man in the video, along with the statement made by the Loki meme above, are just stressing the existence of a negative stereotype which cannot explain the full reality around Loki female fans. Why are women attacked and men not? Why men are just fans and women are seen as some type of hysterical fangirls? Why men can like the Avengers and the villain and women are only allowed to like the villain while are supposed not to care about the Avengers? Why are female fans of Thor not attacked in the same way as the female fans of Loki?
One way to explain this difference in treatment is the Test. The Test appears when a pattern deeply rooted into someone’s brain is confronted by a reality that is different from the pattern creating a disruption. In geek terms it makes someone attack the element that disrupts the pattern by using questions so that the new element is disproved, and thus, the pattern remains unchanged. This happens, for example, when a geek fanboy starts to question a geek fangirl on a topic or on a behavior, like the comic of Meg Danger shows us. The unfamiliar element that disrupted the pattern into the blond guy’s brain was that the one wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt wasn’t a boy but a girl, thus, he automatically started attacking the disrupting element so that the pattern would be kept untouched.
According to Jeff Hawkins, our brains work as hierarchical machines, based on an economy principle. Our brains will create patterns from childhood that will be called upon when confronted to situation in our daily lives. When a pattern is challenged, the first thing that our brains do is to act in disbelieve and attack the new element. Why? Because it is less energy consuming for our brains. To change an old pattern and to introduce a new one in its place consumes lots of energy. Since our brains work on an economy principle, it means that our brains will always choose the economical action, not the energy-expensive one.
This means that when a male finds a Loki fangirl, his reaction towards her might not be nice.
- He might be a Marvel movie geek. Geeks/nerds have enjoyed a male centered sphere during decades. Most of comics and movies portrayed the old-fashioned stereotypes of the past when portraying superheroes and female superheroes. However, this has changed recently with more women “invading” the geek/nerd space. Old stereotypes talk about a woman uninterested in comics, superhero movies and anything geeky. According to this stereotype feminine women are more prone to like a certain type of characters when exposed to certain movies. Thus, if the old stereotype is still existing in someone’s brain, it will be very difficult for that person to understand why a female fangirl might love Loki and love the movie of the Avengers at the same time.
- He might not have internalized a real pattern for geek women (the stereotype of women in his brain might be that of the “fake geek girl,” or of girls who like villains in the movies, or girls who do not care about a certain type of movies and just go to the cinemas to see their favorite celebrity). If we follow the previous point argument, the one in which the old stereotype of women is still alive, we’ll find out that liking the Avengers and liking Loki do not compute. Liking the Avengers means that you are a geek, while liking Loki, if being a female, means to enter into the stereotype of a girl who only likes “villains with lots of power and who are, at the same time, “needy.”
- He might have yet another stereotype in his head that says that the one who should get more female fans is Thor and not Loki. This is yet another characteristics of the old-fashioned stereotype which says that women might like muscular men, jocks, or men who are one-dimensional and the hero. There is no room, according to this stereotype, for skinny men who show or are not afraid to show their feelings in public. The intelligence of the male, for this stereotype, is not something considered as sexy, but physical traits are.
Men and women are fed with certain patterns (stereotypes) from childhood. The brain internalizes these patterns, so that it allows quick responses of the brain. Since the brain tries to foresee what is going to happen next, internalized patterns/stereotypes allow it to be quick and fast, so that uncomfortable or dangerous situations are avoided. Lots of times these patterns/stereotypes are used without the person realizing it. Thus, we might have someone reacting using a rooted pattern/stereotype in his/her brain without realizing well what he/she is doing. Only will and reason will allow us to change unpractical and outdated stereotypes which only diminish and damage certain members of a community, creating double standards for them.
So, when a girl states that she loves Loki, or that she is a fan of Loki, she might be so for many different reasons. She might be a Marvel movie fan, and have as a favorite character Loki. She might read Marvel comics and know a lot about Loki in the comics and in the MCU. She might also love other characters like Iron Man, or other shows and movies like Sherlock Holmes and LOTR. Who are we to presume that if she loves Loki she might only like him because of Tom Hiddleston? Who are we to presume that if she loves Loki she cannot love Marvel movies? Who are we to presume that if she loves Loki she has no clue about the MCU?
Before presuming anything, think twice about where your presumptions come from. Is it an old stereotype running automatically in your brain that makes you act automatically, or is the conscious you stating what you really think?
- This usually happens with fangirls of Loki confronted with someone who is not from the Fandom, meaning, someone who is not a fan of Loki.
- This usually happens when a non-Loki male fan encounters a Loki female fan. But it could also happen with a non-Loki female fan and a Loki female fan due to stereotypes. However, the general rule is non-Loki male fan talking to a Loki female fan.
- This type of stereotyping girls as “not caring about superhero movies” or being labelled as “fake geek girls” is not something that happens only with Loki’s Army members, but with fans of other fandoms as well.
- On Intelligence, by Jeff Hawkins.
- Stereotyping in Comics & Movies.
- Your Princess is in another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds.
- The Fake Geek Girl Project (3) Who cares?
- The Test.