If S/He Be Worthy: Redditors' Reception to Female Thor

If S/He Be Worthy: Redditors' Reception to Female Thor

Matthew Guinibert (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand) and Angelique Nairn (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 29
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4829-5.ch008
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Abstract

This study examined Redditors' reactions to the announcement that Natalie Portman will play female Thor in Thor: Love and Thunder. The discussions on Reddit allowed fans to voice support, trepidation, and condemnation of the announcement. The authors analysed over 4000 Reddit comments using thematic analysis, which resulted in seven themes regarding women's voice and agency. They found that many Redditors engaged in bullying, misogyny, and hate speech while others supported the pro-feminist implications. Further, they found that Marvel's attempts at “going woke” drew condemnation from fans espousing male dominance and dividing those that voiced feminist rhetoric.
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Background To Reddit

Social media permits the expressing of personal views on perceived significant opportunities or issues because it is easily accessible, it is in principle democratic (Chaffee & Metzger, 2001), although political economy scholars believe this assertion to be highly contentious (Wimann, Weiss-Blatt, Mengitsu, Tvergerman & Oven, 2014), and potentially encourages a plurality of voices. For example, in November 2017, Reddit had over 430 million active and diverse members “sharing the things they care about most” (Redditinc.com, n.d.). Such sharing is permissible because social media sites can maintain individuals’ anonymity making people less inclined to feel embarrassment or isolated in an online exchange (McDevitt, et al., 2003). However, it can also prove problematic by facilitating the development of echo chambers where individuals select media content that supports their views rather than looking for alternative perspectives (Garrett, 2009; Flaxman, Goel & Rao, 2016). The threat of negative responses to comments can also impact the willingness of people to voice their perspectives (Liu & Fahmy. 2011). Although the latter issues of social media could skew our data, our interest lies in reviewing the opinions of people looking to assert their agency and voice on the decision to incorporate female Thor into the MCU.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Female Thor: An adaption of Thor from the fourth volume of The Mighty Thor comics by Jason Aaron, in which the character Jane Foster becomes Thor.

Agency: The ability for a person to freely act on their own behalf.

Voice: The ability to actively and meaningfully participate in discussions, discourses, and decisions.

Reddit: A social media website used for the aggregation and discussion of web content. Users may submit content as a “post”, which other users may then vote on and/or discuss through “comments.”

Thor: A comic superhero who is part of Marvel’s franchise based on the Norse god of thunder of the same name.

Redditor: A user of the social media website “Reddit.”

MCU: An acronym for Marvel Cinematic Universe, which refers to a shared universe focused on comic superhero movie adaptations created by Marvel as part of their media franchise.

Goodwin’s Law: An adage that claims that the probability of a comparison to Hitler or Nazis approaches 1 the longer an internet discussion continues.

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