A brief history lesson: Voltron started as a cartoon back in the 1980s, and it focused on the efforts of five chosen pilots, or Paladins, who each operate the pseudo-magical lions robots of Voltron. Together, Pidge, Hunk, Lance, Keith, and Shiro can form a behemoth of a robotic man that boasts an armory comparable to an entire space armada. With their combined powers, they fight to protect the galaxy from the evil Galra empire, the imperialist antagonist in this case. Because of its initial success, the show spawned multiple comic books, and later incarnations. The most recent incarnation, which is what we’ll be focusing on, is Studio Mir’s 2016 Voltron: Legendary Defender. The reboot is meant to be a more inclusive, more dramatic, and more action packed take on the original series’. However, much like the original series, the show is focused on the intergalactic struggle of humanity versus alien invaders. And with every new reboot, comes a new generation of fans.
To start, as the word suggests, an “anti” is a fan who is vehemently against a person, or thing, within a pre-existing work of media. Urban Dictionary also happens to offer a rather charming, yet grammatically incorrect, definition: “Antis (usually irrational FanGirls) are always idiots who find the faults and/or negative view on the person they are against (anti). No matter what the person/group does, Antis WILL always find some negative flaw in it and put it on blast in attempt to make the whole world think that, that person/group is horrible and deserves to die.” In most cases, antis are typically individuals who are completely against a specific romantic pairing, and they condemn the actions of people who are in support of that pairing. Said fans commonly resort to cyber bullying, death threats, verbal harassment, doxing, and even swatting in some more extreme cases. I know what you’re probably thinking: “That’s only a small group of people, right?” Unfortunately, you’re wrong in this case. As of August 18, Klance is the single most popular relationship on Tumblr, a popular social media site for fandom activity. Sheith comes in second place to Klance; as the second most popular relationship on the website, it’s no surprise that supporters of each relationship have clashed. Oh, and another thing; Klance supports possess the single largest concentration of antis in comparison to the rest of the fanbase. However, keep in mind that this statement in no way insinuates that all Klance fans are part of the anti subgroup. Such an assumption would be counterproductive to the discussion.
From the outside looking in, one would presume that these differences would only result in short arguments, occasional discussions, and respectful debates for fun. Instead, these online discussions have turned into heated squabbles that culminated to a young fan blackmailing Studio Mir into making Klance a canon relationship, cast members receiving death threats, and varying accusations of homophobia and queer-baiting. The extent to which antis are willing to go through is startling, and their toxic mentality permeates throughout Voltron’s fanbase. The series creator, Joaquim Dos Santos, went as far as to pen an apology letter after the extreme backlash to Voltron’s most recent season. As we can see, the actions of a few have generated a sort of negative ripple effect that has reached the far corners of the Internet. Because of this, it is to no surprise that the Voltron fanbase has been classified as one of the four most toxic fanbases.
As a result of the actions of a few, the fanbase has become much more unbearable within the span of two years. Antis create this falsified image that the entirety of the Voltron fanbase consists of rabid dogs who will attack anyone who disagrees with their opinions. Despite this being a literal children’s show, antis have made the community an unsafe place for minors because of their insistence to push their romantic agenda. In order to mask the obsession as a paragon of moral superiority, antis have used the excuse that they are pushing for LGBT representation. By using this approach, antis attempt to dissuade any possible allegations that they’re obsessive fan girls. It is a contradictory dynamic as antis are in love with the idea of claiming that they’re the gatekeepers of purity, while simultaneously attacking people of differing perspectives.
Though it may seem reasonable to believe that antis should have no interest in a children’s show, but it would be surprising to hear that the show appeals to audience members ages eight, and above. The show has also attracted a large viewership of LGBTQ+ adolescents, and young adults from the ages of 14 to 25. Within the Voltron fanbase, as many others, fans come together to show their appreciation for the show through artwork, fanfiction, cosplay, and sometimes even music or fully animated videos. This has been a common practice since the early days of Star Trek from the 1960s; as such, these practices are in no way new, and are often times wholesome experiences. Romantic pairings are typically a focus of the previously mentioned works; this is where the problem starts. There is, in no way, any issue with pairing up two characters in a romantic context; there is, however, an issue with obsessively attacking fans who do not support the same pairing. The problem has spread from the community, and beyond to the show runners, as they too have withdrawn any attempts to interact with the Voltron fanbase. But of course, not all is lost as there is something to learn from this.
I do not at all, and will never support the actions of antis, but I do know how we can go about rectifying the situation. At this point in time, it’s of the utmost importance that the Voltron community learns to set aside petty differences in order to silence the cacophony generated by the antis. The showrunners, and cast members all deserve decency and respect from us, their fans and primary supporters. Without their involvement, we wouldn’t even have this reboot of Voltron that tries so hard to reach out and make changes within the medium of cartoons. Studio Mir has created some of the most beautiful, and breathtaking moments I’ve seen in television history, and this is coming from someone who has been very much involved with animation history since the 1990s. Remember that these are actual people, artists with a spark of passion who cannot stand by and let something great pass them by. Even if you have disagreements with their work, carry forth with a civil discussion where neither side will be harassed, attacked, and even worse, threatened.
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