After chatting with Erica face to face weeks back, I realized that Dark Matters has a much greater agenda that revolves around the importance of preserving information and the legacy of current and future communities with an interest in its content.
Discuss your beginnings. What was it that made you build a friendship with each other, then maintain it?
Besides simply being a mixed/black person in the U.S., I’ve done writing and academic work in African-American studies so I already knew I enjoyed the analytical part of asking questions about race. I read sci-fi as a kid and later developed the kind of affinity for horror that I only had a kernel of as a child. (It’s hella scary after all, and I was a sensitive kid!) I love cult movies, graphic novels—there’s so much. So, when Cate presented the opportunity to do this together, it felt perfect.
At first glance, Dark Matters feels like a catchall for much of what arises in the world of horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. What do you want your audience to gain from this project?
How are efforts split between the two of you? Where do your individual passions lie in the realm of genre media and where do they converge?
Cate has years of experience in fan fiction and is always on top of anything having to do with fandom. She also has a more dedicated history reading comics than I do. I think I might be a little more into B movies and retro stuff than she is. And I’m a big Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan. I think different things scare us too. We’re both horror fans: except for the exceptionally gruesome and anything involving torture or cruelty, I love it, and Cate’s not as freaked out by the hardcore stuff as I am. I’m a sucker for anything having to do with demons, angels or possessions/exorcisms. But we both were in grade school in the ’70s and teens in the ’80s, so we share a lot of cultural memory—meaning we do a lot of dishing and reminiscing. Hysterical laughter often ensues.
Cate, as a content generator that focuses on the diversity in genre works, what has been some of your biggest challenges in regards to your own identity?
Why do you think it's important that non- people of color engage in critical analysis that doesn't center only on white identity and characters in genre works?
Plus, come on. The best genre work has a foundation of reality, feels like real life at least enough for the suspension of disbelief to take place. And in real life, shit is not all about white people. You gotta ground the fantastic in the truth or it sinks under its own weight. Magic is always a blink away from being ridiculous. Why get pissed off that Guinevere is played by Angel Coulby when you don't think twice about Merlin getting advice from a fucking dragon?
Erica, has your identity as a person of color influenced the ways in which you engage with media texts? What have been some of the main points of interest in your exploration of "race and 'other'" in genre works?
|Co-creator Erica Freeman|
I see value in all we do, but some things that really stick out for me are the ways genre works provide room to envision a future that our past tells us we can’t have. This can be used for advocacy and activism, but also just as a means to give people of color “permission” to dream in front of the whole world—stereotypes of people of color in the West tend to keep us imprisoned in public identities that are only about struggle.
What is your vision for the future of Dark Matters?