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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

And Fansplosions Abound

Next-to-Normal-girl: Tumblr’s Overnight Fandom


Creamsicle by cosmickonett.tumblr.com Ah, Tumblr, land of possibility. Where large fandoms become generational phenomenons, and unlikely smaller ones explode into supernovas of animated gifs. And where, if you’re a misunderstood satire that initially garners a bevvy of outraged responses, you can spawn a full-fledged internet meme-turned-actual fandom in less than 24 hours.

It all started when Tumblr user beekkake [intermittently NSFW], perhaps in response to recent sexist trends across the internet (such as these takes on the female audience for The Avengers), decided to mock the “me v/s THAT WHORE” dichotomy that pop culture, even geek culture, expects girls to participate in and perpetuate.

In other words, using proper tumblrspeak, she made a cute picture that got taken out of context with amazing results.

“This is for all the real girls out there,” Beekkake jeered. But Tumblr, ever the land of hasty reactions, quickly took the image seriously and burst into outrage at the depiction of the “real girl” and the “other girl.” “Other Girl,” with a spray-tan, a Facebook fetish, and no evident geek cred, seemed the stereotypical “hot chick,” while “Real Girl,” with her “just right” Tumblr savvy pastiness, was perhaps a more uncomfortable stereotype of the exclusiveness and privilege of white geek culture.

At first it seemed this kerfuffle would go the way of all Tumblr wanks, complete with accusations of point-missing, taking things too seriously, and lots of mocking. But then user tokimekiwaku offered up the inevitable fan viewpoint: “I dunno you guys…I think they should make out……”

And thus a ship was born.

Quickly taking the form of endless shoujo manga tropes, Other-Girl-San/Normal-chan spread like wildfire across Tumblr yesterday, the initial post growing to 25,000 likes and reblogs as Sunglasses & Snowflake (Sunny and Snow) crossed the internet cultural divide, making meta and making out. Given fandom’s enormous predilection for pairing opposites, there was more than enough canonical material in Beekake’s original picture to boost this particular ship, and the results, even for Tumblr, are a bit mindblowing. Dubbing the ship “Creamsicle” after the yummy orange-and-white sherbert, Tumblr produced in slightly over 24 hours:

The immediacy of hivemind creation surrounding this mini-phenom speaks to the incredible savviness fans have of how the creation of fandoms works. As a body, fans have become so good at the production of fanwork, the assimilation of ideas, the collective language surrounding their fandoms, and the overal apparatus of enthusiasm, that they don’t necessarily need a substantial canon to participate in the act of being fannish. Apart from being a fanthropologist’s wet dream, the overnight popularity of this ship definitely contains a hint of defiance. As user mephitztophel commented, “I think what I love most about the Creamsicle shipping is how it subverts the idea that girls have to be pitted against each other.”

Whether satire and meta alone can fuel a ship without a “real” canon, is, of course, a different question. But there’s a definite advantage and a freedom that comes from working with flimsy source material. Don’t write these two lovebirds off just yet. And definitely don’t write off the enormous creative energy of fandom to make something out of nothing–and then make it unbelievably awesome.

Aja Romano blogs regularly at Bookshop.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Quavey-Havers/1593505278 Ryan ‘Quavey’ Havers

    When my friend first reblogged a post with all the shipping fan-art on it, I fell in love with this pairing.

    There is a spin-off too, Normal guy and Other guy. XD

  • http://www.raingeek.com/ James Strocel

    As a male, I am shocked and dismayed at how much I resemble your sexist pie graph. ScarJo was the weakest part of the movie, by far. Cobie Smulders FTW! 

    However, I’m curious as to what you perceive as “stereotype” vs. “observational humour”. Sure, girls don’t have to bring each other down, but what if that happens in real life? If anything, the Creamsicle is the subset of the equally ridiculous Jocks v. Nerds dichotomy.

  • http://twitter.com/Super_Widget Joanna

    According to the chart, I must be the only girl that liked Scarlet Johansen.  

  • Jen Roberts

     Hi, Aja! ^_^

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/F6WDMXYFH6S5NTOYGNP6WPXGFA Sarah

    Can we slap a NSFW disclaimer on beekake’s page. Good lord, I hope I’m not being monitored.

  • Anonymous

     We already know the chart’s wrong but I thought I’d pitch in anyway.  Black Widow was one of my favourite things about the movie :P

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Heather-Winstead/1444140077 Heather Winstead

    I think that it’s awesome that this fandom exists! One of my closest friends once told me “I never thought I would be friends with someone who likes pink as much as you do.” The whole creamsicle fandom can bring up the idea that people want to see opposites attract and coexist. It’s got a fairytale quality to it; we are too different for people to understand but we love each other anyway. Hell, I’d ‘ship ‘em! They’re precious!

  • http://twitter.com/archasa Åsa M Larsson

    To counter the ugly side of mob mentality: The amazing creativity of the human hive mind!

    And if that pie chart had any semblance of reality (which of course it doesn’t) Loki would have made up 50% of “why your girlfriend loved the Avengers”….

  • R.O.U.S.

    I freaking love Tumblr – anything goes, and does. Inane, but so much fun.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Somehow, the response to everything Internet always resulting in, “They should make out” and the like, is deeply gratifying, hilarious, and makes me optimistic for the future of all humankind. Even when it’s Kirk and Spock.

  • http://twitter.com/vech2008 Vech2008

    The difference being that promoting the idea that girls bring each other down is not the same as understanding that girls are pushed to participate in the criticism of other girls who don’t conform to certain conventions and then again criticized if they follow that trend and told that it’s what girls do

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gorillazfan Emily Hill

    I think I have a new love

  • Anonymous

    what is this I don’t even…

    OK, the Internet is always a strange place, but Tumblr is genuinely crazy. In a harmless, well-intentioned way, of course, but still utterly batshit. Like Luna Lovegood.

  • http://vita-ganieda.livejournal.com/ Ganieda

    Yeah, that chart wasn’t made by very clever sexists. Entirely aside from the assumption that any straight girl’s enjoyment of a movie would be compromised by…I don’t know…the possibility that someone else looks better in a black leather catsuit than she does, no matter how many kickass fight scenes that character has…there’s the fact that if they’d been paying attention, a much bigger slice of the pie would have gone to Loki and that thing he does with his mouth. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

    SUNOFABITCH SHE HAS NIGHTENGALE ARMOUR!!!! 

  • Anonymous

    All the awards!!! Someone please turn this into a graphic novel! I’d buy the hell out of it!

  • Anonymous

    Funniest thing I read all day. Thank you.

  • Julianne McCartney

    I watched this all unfold on my dash and just sat there and loled and loled…..

  • http://twitter.com/RC_Writes R.C.

    “That thing he does with his mouth”? A.k.a, talk? Because if so, I totally agree. I would’ve sat through 2 hours of Tom Hiddleston reading from the phone book.

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  • http://vita-ganieda.livejournal.com/ Ganieda

    How excited are we for his Prince Hal? THIS MUCH EXCITED. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/zeonchar Amanda M. Ramsey

    You should take a look at the Avengers on Tumblr, it’s crazy! (esp. Loki fandom).

  • Frodo Baggins

    I thought people were down on oversexed Starfire?

  • http://nmlop.tumblr.com/ nmlop

     I think you mean *especially* when it’s Kirk and Spock! They are SO FREAKIN IN LOVE.
    :)

  • Anonymous

    This is hilarious! I love random fandoms! It’s wonderful! <3

  • Anonymous

    Tumblr is TOTALLY Luna Lovegood!

  • http://www.commonplacebook.com electrasteph

    I love Tumblr – where shipping a girl couple is the least controversial thing about any given ship.

  • oBifferson

    I found this interesting