Episode 106: The Neverending Franchise

Episode 106’s cover: a house on the edge of a precipice.

In Episode 106, “The Neverending Franchise,” Flourish and Elizabeth debrief after Fansplaining’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019, “Don’t Dream It’s Over: What Fans Do When Long-Running Stories End.” They discuss the panelists’ takes on the topic—what happens when specific iterations of a franchise come to an end—and dig into the (sometimes radically different) perspectives of various stakeholders in entertainment franchises, including fans, writers, producers, marketers, and more.


Show Notes

[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel” by stefsax, used under a CC-BY 3.0 license.



[00:03:30] Behold! The full video of our panel, “Don’t Dream It’s Over: What Fans Do When Long-Running Stories End.” We’re super lucky to have it—thanks to Annalise Ophelian for videography!  


[00:05:00] Craig Titley on Instagram.

[00:05:51] Justin Bolger is @TheApexFan on Twitter.

[00:06:38] Lynn Zubernis is half of @FangasmSPN on Twitter and blogs at fangasmthebook.com

[00:07:54] Joelle Monique is @JoelleMonique on Twitter.

[00:09:38] Delilah Dawson is @DelilahSDawson on Twitter; her website is whimsydark.com.

[00:10:46] Feast your ears upon the natural accents of both Fassbender and McAvoy!


[00:17:12] Episode 88 featured Kenyatta Cheese.



[00:25:15] “101 Ways to End Up in a Canadian Shack” was a Due South ficathon that took on a life of its own in other fandoms. The aforementioned “Temple of Dendur” fic is thehoyden’s “Not So Much the Teacup,” which is a masterpiece.

[00:26:47] The Will Smith movie Elizabeth is thinking of is Gemini Man.


[00:28:59] The Ringer article in which Elizabeth is quoted is “Meet the Marvel Fans That Helped ‘Endgame’ #BeatAvatar,” by Ben Lindbergh.


An animated gif in which Don Draper says, “What is happiness? It’s the moment before you need more happiness.”

[00:53:19] Emily Nussbaum spoke with us in Episode 105.

[00:55:23] Elizabeth’s conversation with Gretchen McCulloch about Because Internet is here! (Plus Gretchen’s piece on smushed ship names for The Toast.)

And, last but not least: our outro music is “Reflections” by Lee Rosevere, used under a CC BY 3.0 license.


[Intro music]

FK: Hi, Elizabeth.

ELM: Hi, Flourish.

FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom.

ELM: This is Episode 106, “The Neverending Franchise,” alternately titled “We have both been ill for literally two weeks, quite quite ill, we’ve never missed a podcast so we are not missing this one, but things are a little dire over here and over there.”

FK: [laughing] Oh, they’re really dire. OK. So we both got ill in conjunction with—what? You just made this face.

ELM: Yeah, I made a face because you really made it sound like we were both just strolling down the street and, like, we both got ill at the same time, when in fact you got sick first and then proceeded to cough in my face for days until I got it too.

FK: All right, so we were at San Diego Comic-Con, I was definitely not the only person who was sick with this… 

ELM: You were the only person who coughed in my face.

FK: Did I ever actually cough in your face?

ELM: Like, while you were asleep. 

FK: And you didn’t punch me and, like, tell me not to cough in your—never mind. 

ELM: The worst part, let me just say, maybe this is TMI for the podcast, but we were sharing this bed and we wake up one morning and you were like “Yeah, yesterday I actually had a fever.” And I was like, “How did you know?” And you were like, “Because my fever broke and I woke up and the bedsheets were soaked.” [laughing] I just looked at the sheets and you were like, “I’m sorry.” It was just like, oh no.

FK: Yeah, I…it was a lot of, there was a lot of just me looking at you like, in misery, being like, “I have nothing to say.”

ELM: It was also like, there was a lot of your reactions to, like, sneezing and coughing remind me of both, like, a dog or a cat and a child. It’s like, you look shocked and betrayed every time, like, you can’t believe this sound is coming out of you. You’re like “What?!” And it’s like, “That’s, you’re sick! Intellectually you understand this.” [both laughing]

FK: Last night Nick was asleep and I, like, suddenly sat up with a terrible cough and it was like, have you ever seen that gif of the mama panda and the baby panda…? Where the baby panda sneezes and the mom, like, jumps and like… 

ELM: Yeah! Was that what happened?

FK: Yeah. He, like, woke up out of a sound sleep and was like “HOLY SHIT.”

ELM: To be fair, your coughs are very loud and shocking.

FK: I’m sorry to everybody who has to be around me. You’re not much better right now.

ELM: My coughs are gentle and quiet. [coughs gently and quietly] All right! All right. Back on track. San Diego Comic-Con. We were there. We were not ill for most of it! I was not ill for any of it. It was glorious and we hosted our very first panel!

FK: Woo-hoo!

ELM: Yes. It was entitled “Don’t Dream It’s Over: What Fans Do When Long-Running Stories End.” And we have a full recording of the panel up on YouTube!

FK: Yes. It is so good.

ELM: Filmed by… 

FK: Annalise Ophelian, of Looking for Leia, the documentary!

ELM: Who hopefully we will have on the podcast.

FK: Oh yeah.

ELM: When that is closer to being in the world.

FK: Yeah, and who also got the same sickness, sorry Annalise. 

ELM: Shout-out to Annalise.

FK: You did us a favor and we gave you the plague.

ELM: While I like blaming you for this, I think it was in the air. The air of California.

FK: Yeah, OK. Generalized California plague. OK. So for this panel, we had a bunch of different people on from various different perspectives, both from within the entertainment world and within the fan world. And we tried to cover a bunch of different franchises that have, like, either the franchises coming to an end for now or the story arc they’re on is coming to an end.

ELM: First we had Craig Titley, who is an executive producer on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which we knew was ending but announced it was ending officially at their Hall H panel at Comic-Con. It’s been on ABC for, what, seven seasons I think, right?

FK: Seven, yeah. And to give you some context, “executive producer” in this case means he’s in the writers’ room. So. He’s one of the writers.

ELM: Yeah. So he was really representing the kind of full creator side of this divide in terms of, like, the person producing the thing that fans are into and also this is like, you know, most of Marvel television—no, all of Marvel television essentially is now ended in preparation for them switching everything over to the Disney streaming service with the new shows. Right?

FK: Yeah, and it’s also interesting because Craig is also genuinely, like, a person who really loves Marvel. Like, he’s seen every Marvel film ever made going back to like the ’70s, like, every instantiation of every character he’s like—so, so he’s sort of an interesting person, because he’s like, he’s very professionally involved in this but it’s not like he doesn’t have any feeling for this franchise.

ELM: Right, right. Exactly. Which, I mean, like, I don’t wanna paint people who work in the entertainment industry as a bunch of, like, you know, people who are just for the money and never care about their work or anything like that, which is what I feel like it can sometimes, you know, like… 

FK: No, but sometimes you can care about the work and also not be a person who had, prior to getting this job, cared about… 

ELM: That’s true. That’s true. Right. Yeah, you don’t have to be a fan of your work in advance, yeah.

FK: As opposed to someone who in 1972 was, like, thinking about these characters.

ELM: Right, right. OK. So that was him. Next we had Justin Bolger, who is now—not currently, but until very recently I believe was working on the Star Wars social media—

FK: Yeah.

ELM: —presence. And so he is representing longer-term sort of marketing for a big franchise, and Star Wars, of course, the current iteration, this, like, Skywalker arc, is ending with the final film of the new trilogy in December. 

FK: Yeah, and during his, his tenure at Star Wars land—that’s the weirdest way to frame it—but as he’s been working on that, I’m just gonna move forward, he’s also seen obviously a lot of people’s feelings about things like characters’ deaths and so on, which are sort of in some ways their own mini-arcs. You know, I think, I think have a lot of relevance to this.

ELM: Sure. OK. And next up was Lynn Zubernis, who is one half of the Fangasm duo. They’re both academics, the other one is Kathy Larsen. Lynn is a psychologist, psychology professor I believe, and Kathy is an English professor. So we had Lynn on and they have for years been writing about Supernatural, attending a lot of Supernatural cons, that whole circuit. Their books are very interesting. I’ve read a couple of them, actually. I’ve never seen Supernatural, I always say, and I’ve read multiple Supernatural books. They are interesting—they kind of sit at this intersection of fans and academics and professionals, and like, that kind of tangled sort of relationship between those. But obviously Supernatural is ending at Season 1,000.

FK: Yeah, we thought it was particularly interesting to have someone who is a psychologist and also who is currently emotionally compromised by the end of their thing to be on the panel.

ELM: Right, and also something that’s ending after frankly an unusually long run for a show. 

FK: It’s, it’s been on since my freshman year in college. Sophomore year? Since the first half of my college career, which is a long time.

ELM: Yeah, but people don’t know how elderly you are, that may have no context. That could have been like two years ago.

FK: That was not two years ago.

ELM: No, it was 15 years ago. [laughing]

FK: I know.

ELM: All right, next up: and then we had Joelle Monique, who is a journalist and we specifically wanted to get someone from Game of Thrones fandom who had been involved in black Twitter Game of Thrones fandom, cause it was such a strong subcommunity.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Sub-fandom, basically, of the big broad capital-C conversation—that I think is a misnomer because there’s obviously—

FK: Many many conversations.

ELM: Lots of different conversations. But. There were certain hashtags, like #DemThrones, that had like a huge amount of…volume, is the word I’m looking for.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: And just really specific—specific community conversations that were gathering around these, these like event television. And those events are over, right? And even though the Game of Thrones franchise is not over, that particular—you know, capital G capital T, Game of Thrones, Sundays, you know. [laughs] Capital G! Yes, they capitalize the title. You know what I mean.

FK: I do know what you mean, and I think also worth noting is that because in this case, like, that’s a franchise that didn’t end on a note that everyone loved. Ha ha. Right? I mean, like, for many different reasons, but I think that that’s an important perspective too. Because there’s some things that go out and everyone’s sort of wistful, and there’s other things people go out and they’re like “THESE ARE MIXED FEELINGS.”

ELM: Right, right.

FK: That’s an important, like—cause I think otherwise it can be easy to be, like, “Oh, your thing is ending, isn’t it sad!” And sometimes people are like “Yeah, it’s sad, but also, maybe I just wanna pitch it into the sea at this moment.”

ELM: Yeah, “but what about all these people that I was mad with,” you know? “Like, my friends and I.” That’s the one that feels to me most like sports, cause it’s like “Ah, my team sucks this season but I still—I still love them and I still love my fellow fans,” et cetera. So, anyway. And finally—no, not finally, cause I was last—Delilah Dawson is a tie—has written a bunch of tie-in novels, including a Star Wars novel and currently a Firefly comic.

FK: Yeah, Firefly comics. Which is interesting cause that’s another case where it’s like, is there ever gonna be more Firefly? Doesn’t seem likely? Don’t know? Mystery? You know?

ELM: Right, right.

FK: But there is more Firefly, in the form of these comics, that Delilah’s writing.

ELM: Right, right. So that’s interesting and I always think tie-in writers are fascinating from a fanfiction perspective. And, from a fanfiction perspective, I was the final person on the panel.

FK: Yep you were.

ELM: You know me.

FK: Go you.

ELM: And you just needed to bring up my, my interest in X-Men: First Class.

FK: Yeah, well, everyone, everyone else was sort of like talking about a particular um…I mean they weren’t talking about it, but everyone else was sort of assigned a particular franchise, to be, you know, related to.

ELM: I, you know, we got to see James McAvoy. 

FK: Yeah we did!

ELM: At a distance.

FK: At a distance.

ELM: But still, still. So I’m happy to represent that fandom.

FK: Cool, I’m glad, I’m glad. I feel, I feel very much in charity with that fandom after seeing James McAvoy at a distance.

ELM: Really, you didn’t feel that way beforehand? You just needed to see… 

FK: No, I did before too, but it like, it helped, you know. It made me happy.

ELM: Good.

FK: It was like, “Aw, there he is.”

ELM: You learned the truth of his real accent.

FK: I did, I’d never heard him using it before!

ELM: I cannot believe that.

FK: I mean maybe I had, but it didn’t strike me, you know what I mean? It didn’t penetrate.

ELM: OK. So that was the panel. 

FK: Yeah! So what, in your opinion, like—I feel like since I was moderating it, it’s like, I have some thoughts, but it’s sort of hard because I spent the entire time, like, worried about like how to keep conversation moving and so on. What—

ELM: I think you did a good job, FYI.

FK: Well, thank you. Well, I’m glad. But it definitely consumed my brain. So like, I rewatched it, and like, all I could do was like, play-by-play it in my head and be like “Oh, I wish I’d asked this, I wish I’d asked that!” What do you think was the—what stood out for you from it?

ELM: So my biggest takeaway was I think that what, what Craig, the you know, executive producer, writer on a big, you know, big long-running television show, and Justin, doing social media for a huge franchise—especially a franchise that isn’t just films and historically more than a lot of other—you know. Like, Star Wars obviously, one of the biggest franchises of all. 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: And one that is so big and so compelling to so many people that there’s huge numbers of people that will take literally anything in that world and enjoy it, you know? Like, are happy to read every novel. Which I don’t think is true of every franchise, you know?

FK: No.

ELM: There’ll be some people who want to read the tie-in novels, but the fact that Star Wars is so big… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: And it’s so important to people…you know. So that’s a different kind of thing than…

FK: Than a lot of other—

ELM: Than another franchise might be, yeah. So I think listening to the two of them talk, and I think I started to come into this a little bit towards the end when we started getting into more of a dialogue, it really crystallized for me how different their jobs are and how different their tasks are and how fans often conflate their jobs.

FK: Mm.

ELM: This kind of idea of like, Craig is going on to a different job. Obviously Justin has a different job now too, like, but thinking about the writers on a show… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Show’s ending, maybe if the—you know, the Game of Thrones writers, whatever, maybe if there’s a new show within that franchise some of them will come back.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: But it’s not their responsibility to sit there and continue to kind of have a robust fan–creator interaction with the fans, you know, like—they are going on to their next job. And that’s not to say, like, that you know, oh, he’s gonna go say “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is dead to me.” He’ll say “Yeah, I worked on that show. I’m proud of the work I did.”

FK: Yeah yeah yeah! And Craig even is a person who has investment in Marvel, like, on his own. And also, like, was a very high-ranking writer in that room. And yet he didn’t create that show. For him maybe if he creates a show in the future he’ll take on that position of, like, having an ongoing discussion. But maybe not. 

ELM: Even then, I just think that people—you know, these are people’s jobs. And that’s not to say, I think that a lot of times fans don’t like it when you say that because it, when you mention that there’s monetary elements… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Kind of takes away from the purity of it. “Oh, but I love, I love this. And it’s just a job to them?” It’s like—no, it’s not just a job to them, but it also is, it’s their job, you know? Like… 

FK: Yeah, Delilah had—Delilah said a bunch of stuff about this also, you know?

ELM: Yeah.

FK: She was very much like “I am hired to tell a story, and I don’t necessarily get to choose all of the elements of that story. I’m told here’s some stuff that you need to execute, and I go and I execute it.” Which is very similar to a lot of, you know.

ELM: Right, right. And enjoy it.

FK: Right!

ELM: And maybe something you already liked—maybe you like the story you’re telling.

FK: And don’t take on something you wouldn’t wanna write for.

ELM: Right. And it’s great for people who have had enough success in their careers that they can make those choices. There’s also a lot of people who are taking, you know, writing for shows that maybe they don’t particularly love, or doing tie-in work for properties they don’t particularly care about. If they’re professionals, they’re gonna want to do a good job as they can. But it’s also their job, right?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Just like I, I’ve taken a lot of gigs in my professional career and I haven’t been like, “I’m a fan of the product I was working on,” but I wanna do a really great job for it. It’s not like I hate it, but like, I don’t need to love the thing that I’m working on to be really good at my job.

FK: Yeah. Same. And I think that—I think that there’s, I think this comes up a lot actually. Like, sometimes I’m—sometimes I’m a little hesitant to say this, too, because it’s certainly been true in my career. Right? Where like, I’m like, looking at fandoms and like, discussing it, and actually sometimes I feel like I do better work when I’m not personally emotionally invested in it. Because I’m like—

ELM: Oh yeah, oh yeah.

FK: I’m further away from it, I can actually get some perspective on it. As opposed to something that I’m like, personally emotionally like, completely destroyed by. 

ELM: Sure!

FK: In fact, to the extent that, like, there are some fandoms that I would respectfully decline to work on, or try and—you know, if my company took it on I’d be like “Well, maybe we need to make sure that someone else leads the charge on this one,” because like, no. 

ELM: Yeah.

FK: I don’t think I could—I don’t think I could do it without bringing in so much bias.

ELM: I’m—we’ve discussed this before on the podcast, but I think for me—and you’re, you’re in more, you’ve been in more zeitgeisty fandoms than I have, in the length of this podcast—it’s been helpful for me as an observer and a journalist and a commentator, whatever, to not have an emotional investment in Star Wars. 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: And to not watch Game of Thrones, you know? Because I can watch what the fandoms are doing, you know, I watched Star Wars, but I do not have any emotional investment in any of these characters. 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: And you know, it—when I think back to, like, when I was writing journalism about a zeitgeisty fandom I was in, Sherlock, like—it made me feel, I don’t wanna say it compromised me professionally, but like…I don’t think it, I think it hindered me.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: It was like an obstacle that I had to overcome. I, like—emotional investment in this. You know. 

FK: Yeah. So, so, in other words, I think that we’re—we’re all getting around to the idea that it’s not just that it is only a job for a lot of people, but also that maybe this is a good thing.

ELM: Yeah, a little bit of distance. But all right. So I brought up Craig and Justin because Justin represented the kind of flip side, where he was saying “Yeah, but like, from a social media manager’s perspective,” and especially obviously he’s coming from Star Wars, right… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Which, as I was saying, is this big, huge, huge universe, actually is good business to keep being there and to keep being supportive. 

FK: Right.

ELM: Right? And it made me think a lot about our conversations with Kenyatta Cheese, who we talked to at the end of last year, whose company works on long-running TV franchises—or, well, one in particular, Doctor Who, and some other BBC America shows, not necessarily long-running franchises. But television shows that go on over several seasons, right.

FK: Orphan Black for instance, right?

ELM: Exactly, and I know they’re working on Killing Eve as well, which is like, happening as we speak.

FK: Right.

ELM: And like, I think that—you know, even in that conversation we were saying that sort of thing of like, “Well, it’s all well and good for Doctor Who, or Star Wars, to say like, ‘It’s good business to create’”—actually some of the things they both said struck me as similar. You know, like, “We wanna keep being a really solid good voice here.” You know, like, and Kenyatta talking about creating a space for fans to hang out and a space for fans to find other fans. That’s, I kinda see that consistency, like, I think that only works in certain cases. Right? 

Because a lot of these franchises, you know, a studio or whoever will own the rights to the franchise, to the—or to the intellectual property, wanna turn it into a franchise, but like…maybe doesn’t have that baseline of stability, or the sheer scale, you know? Like Doctor Who just has this structure that is so unique.

FK: Right.

ELM: And so stable. And Star Wars just has the scale. Right? Like, just, you know. Everything.

FK: Yeah, well and… 

ELM: There. You know what I mean?

FK: I think that from Kenyatta’s perspective, I suspect from Justin’s, and certainly from a lot of other people in this space, creating that stability is, you know, it’s good business for the studio, it’s good business for whoever owns the IP of that franchise, right? And this gets us back to this question of, like, why do these—why do individual people care about franchises or fandoms continuing? Right? 

Well, from, from Craig’s perspective, I mean, separate—separate from any of his Marvel feelings, like—but from a writer’s perspective it’s like, “Well, I want to get staffed on something so that I have a job.”

ELM: Right.

FK: “And I would like to have a job on something I like and have it be good and all of that, but ultimately, the reason I’m invested in this franchise is: I’m not, except it provides me an opportunity to be in a writer’s room.”

From the perspective of the IP owner, though, the reason that people keep making all of these sequels and all of these, you know, additional things in every franchise world, is because it’s cheaper to develop, because you’ve already got a basis for the world so you don’t have to, like, hire someone to figure out how magic works in Harry Potter. You already know how magic works, right? And then because it’s cheaper to market. Because you’ve already got, like, a community of fans who are gonna be evangelists for you, because you’ve got brand name recognition, right? Everyone knows what Star Wars is. Everyone knows what Power Rangers is. You know? That’s, that’s how that movie gets greenlit, is because it is a brand that exists that, that reduces your marketing costs in theory. Or increases people’s interest.

And so from that perspective, having that long-term social presence is incredibly valuable, because it—it, you know, supports the continuing relevancy of the brand. But that’s very different than, than the feelings of any creative working on it, you know? Like, that’s—

ELM: Right.

FK: That’s a business concern. And the irony is then the social media people working on it have to tap into some of those excited fan feelings, in themselves, as well as in the community they’re talking to. But there’s just such a disconnect between everybody’s needs in this space and everyone’s motivations.

ELM: Right. Right. And then when you think about what the fans want and like—you know, I mean, obviously there are going to be fans who like—whatever Star Wars throws at them they want. Or they’re open to it. You know? Whatever—I think it was very interesting going with you to the Star Trek… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: …presentation. It was so pure. We’ll put some photographs in the show notes. It was just, every single…and it was so cute because, like, every, they announced something and I was just like…it would just seem like whatever. Just, they were saying words to me. 


ELM: I understood the words they were saying.

FK: So to give some context… 

ELM: And you’d just turn to me and just be like “Holy shit can you believe it?!” And like, the look on your face—it was so pure! It was so pure.

FK: OK to give some context… 

ELM: No context needed! Just own it. Own your purity. It was just like…aww.

FK: Well, it was especially pure because like, there’s this Star Trek animated show that like, I had not thought was gonna be very appealing to me in a lot of ways, and then like, the stuff that they showed was all so appealing to me. And I was just like, “Holy shit! I thought I was gonna be excited about Picard, but it turns out I’m not excited about Picard as much as I’m excited about Star Trek: Lower Decks, which has no characters we’ve ever met before and that I didn’t think I was gonna care about at all.”

ELM: It was—it was one of the purer fan reactions I’ve ever seen from you. And it really reminded me—sometimes when I’m in Hall H and especially in the Marvel presentation, I’ve said this before, but I often feel like they are announcing the line-up of an all-star team for a sport?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: And this was a similar sort of thing. Or, like, it reminded me too of like, when you—the Apple presentations. With new features. You know?

FK: Well, yeah…I was like, you know, and the thing is you’ve never heard of this character before, but I’m like “Oh! But it’s a Caitian character, but this time it’s not like a sexy cat, it’s like a grouchy cat, and it’s so good!” [ELM laughing] And every—you’re, like, sitting here, like, “Uh, OK.”

ELM: But it’s exactly like—they’ll be like “We’re gonna replace the three buttons with one button!!” And everyone goes “Holy shit!” And this is exactly what it was like. [FK laughing] It was like, you don’t know three buttons are better than one button! But for some reason you just had this extreme direct, you know, completely bypassed all of your rational brain functions. And you just like, “I don’t know what it is but I love it immediately!” You know, that was what it was like, and it was really fun to watch it on you. And not, like, a bunch of strangers, you know? It was delightful. I don’t know why I started talking about this.

FK: Yeah, I was just wondering that myself. I was like, “How did we get on this subject?”

ELM: I have no idea, I’m just really glad I brought it up. No, I—I feel like, and…all right. So anyway, OK. Back to the point. So, like, this was a very interesting… And actually, while I bring this up and I, I don’t mean to be so reductive about it, cause one of the things that I really was impressed with in that, and not being a Star Trek fan in any way, though having seen, you know, I’ve seen some Star Treks before. I felt like particularly the showrunner of the animated show was talking about the idea of Star Trek in such a—almost fanfictiony way.

FK: Yeah, that was what impressed me about it! Is that he was like, talking about the themes and he was like, “Here are some characters that are playing with these, that we’re introducing, and here are the ways that we’re playing with these themes and thinking about what previous Star Treks have done, and how you can poke at that.”

ELM: Yeah, but not even just themes. He said things like—and apparently, obviously this is like, somewhat specific to this franchise, this property and this fandom. But like, these are things that a lot of fanfiction fans across all properties like. Right? You know, saying like, “Your favorite Star Trek episodes were when,” what was it, “When Geordi and Data have to write a play and they spend the whole time arguing with each other.”

FK: Yes.

ELM: Right? And so like, that’s classic.

FK: Anytime you get Geordi and Data into a room, it’s like.

ELM: To do a thing.

FK: Do your thing!

ELM: But that’s always such a classic—that’s what people who don’t understand fiction are like “What, do you just wanna see them sit in a room and argue with each other about…?” And it’s just like “YES.”

FK: Yes.

ELM: I want that for all properties, right? But I really love that the actual people making Star Trek were like “Of course every Star Trek fan wants…” and I was just like “Oh!”

FK: Yes. They are also literally doing a trapped in an elevator minisode.

ELM: Yeah!!

FK: Which I am so stoked about.

ELM: Right? These are classics! Millions of people like these things. I don’t understand why Hollywood doesn’t do this all the time. Just be trapped in an elevator movies at all times.

FK: Well… 

ELM: Yes.

FK: OK, back to your point. You had a point.

ELM: You wanna branch it out a little, OK. So we can do trapped in a supply closet… 

FK: You had a point! There was one.

ELM: We could do, like, that X-Men fic, trapped in the Temple of Dendur at the Met.

FK: Aw, yeah. OK. Yeah.

ELM: There could be a whole subgenre of those.

FK: Are we gonna, are we going to have, like, a new Canadian Shack ficathon except that it is “Trapped in the Temple of Dendur at the Met”? 

ELM: No, there’s literally no—this one fic did it, you can’t top it, there’s literally no way, all imitations would pale in comparison.

FK: I want every single fandom. Like, Star Trek? They go back in time… 

ELM: No!

FK: To 2018.

ELM: No.

FK: Actually they can’t because in Star Trek timeline at this point we’re all in the middle of a terrible world war. Never mind. We might be shortly! Oh sad. Let’s move on.

ELM: Oh wow you really went there. All right.

FK: I did.

ELM: No. We don’t need imitations of this fic, which I will put in the show notes, cause it’s such a total delight. I would read it right now. I, in fact, will read it when we hang up. Anyway. The point is that there—it depends on the fandom, right. And Star Trek obviously is really well-positioned because the shows have already done this sort of thing, the fans really like this sort of thing, they all talk explicitly about it. Not all of them, obviously, I know this is a big critique of the current films which people are basically like “It looks, they look like the original characters but these are just action movies,” right, et cetera et cetera.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: This is not true of a lot of franchises and a lot of properties and a lot of stories, right? And a lot of what people get attached to is particular actors, particular iterations.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Maybe particular versions of a character? I mean, even me bringing up Doctor Who. There are some people who really just like one, one iteration. And obviously the tone of the show varies a lot when different showrunners are involved, but the tone also really varies when you have not just a different Doctor but a different companion. You might like that one specific dynamic, and that is the part that you’re not gonna be able to keep going. Because actors get older, they do different projects, you know? It’s really—you know, except in the world of, now, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman or what’s that Will Smith movie that haunts me, that trailer? Haunts me.

FK: The, the one about Will Smith and his, like, much-younger clone killing each other.

ELM: That trailer haunts me!

FK: K.

ELM: Right? Like, so maybe this is not gonna be—it’s still not gonna feel the same cause it’s gonna feel weird and creepy, right.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: But that’s the stuff that is not gonna be, you can’t sustain that. Because people get older, they do different projects. They stop being actors. They die. They get #metoo’d. I’m just going to list all the outcomes for actors right now.

FK: These are the outcomes.

ELM: Sorry. Commit murder. I don’t know. You know what I mean?

FK: I do know what you mean. Yeah yeah yeah. And some franchises, like, there’s all—there’s, like, a question, when does a franchise get over the hump? One of the things that the new films did for Star Trek was that they, they got it over the hump of like: Yes, we can recast these characters. Once you’d had the characters recast, now, now for Star Trek: Discovery it’s fine that they recast Spock. He’s a good Spock, we’re all into him, great. But there’s sort of like a big hump of like—can you recast the characters? 

And I think that’s a real question too, not just—people will say like “Will fans accept it?” But I think it’s more than just like “Will fans accept it?” It’s also about, I don’t know, like, the development of fandoms and, and communities around…actors’ cults of personality, right. It’s not just “Oh, this actor looks like my character and this one doesn’t,” it’s also like, “This actor has been going to conventions, this actor has been, like, speaking on panels.”

ELM: Sure, sure. Yeah. I mean, you’re making me think right now about—I finally saw Endgame after Morgan, our friend Morgan made me wait 77 days, I believe? To see it? I said “Do you want to go see it?”

FK: I can’t believe you actually did that.

ELM: And Morgan said “At least six weeks after it comes out” and somehow that turned into 77 days. Maybe it wasn’t, maybe it was like 73 days, it was a lot of days, basically. It was more than two months. That bit at the end? I don’t know if it was like this in the original one, we saw it after they had re-released it with the special, special scene at the end, which…I’m gonna say is not worth your $20. When they did the credits, at the very end, they showed the actors’ autographs? 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Did they have this…? And that was fascinating to me. I mean, it really, I really am this Marvel—I was just quoted at length in this article for The Ringer about what I think is frankly a kind of silly, the war between, the box-office war between the first Avatar film and Avengers: Endgame. Right?

FK: Mm-hmm.

ELM: And I really, you know, when I talked to the journalist—I think it was a good article, when I talked to the journalist I really wanted to stress this theory of the MCU in particular as, as taking on these sports fandom models. And it was something about seeing, like, the actors with the autographs? 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Just felt so much like I was seeing the roster of the team, you know. Like… 

FK: Yeah yeah yeah.

ELM: Ken Griffey Jr. over here. I don’t know, I’m so dated right now. This is a very ’90s reference. But you know what I mean?

FK: I know what you mean, I gotcha. Totally.

ELM: And it was just kind of the like—Robert Downey Jr., very elaborate death scene…spoiler…and you know, it’s like, we’re raising his jersey into the rafters, like, you know? It’s just something like—it didn’t feel like a movie to me anymore. It felt like it was so wrapped up in this actor and this character and like, I think—not just him, but like, he’s the most extreme example. Right? But all of the original Avengers cast, I just feel like the way that they’ve been—those actors have been so, like, those actors as those characters, it’s so, so present and so much a part of the way…not just the way that they’re presented by Marvel, but by the way the fans engage with them.

FK: Right, I mean, and I think that’s sort of a hybrid of stuff that was happening already in terms of actor fandom getting integrated into franchise fandom and also, like, an amplification of stuff that’s already in comics. Where in comics it’s like, “Here’s this team-up!” Right? 

ELM: Right.

FK: “Here’s this exciting crossover in which you see all these characters,” right. That’s exactly what the Marvel movies are about. It’s about, like, “Oh yeah, we’re gonna have this massive team-up, this massive roster.”

ELM: Right.

FK: And so then you sort of—you sort of marry that onto celebrity culture.

ELM: That’s when it comes, starts to feel like athletes to me.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: It would be one thing if it was—cause otherwise you’re just playing like, you know, a Madden Football, whatever. Right? But this is like… “And it’s this guy as this guy you know!” You know? “This actor is this character!” Right? You know, like—there’s something very, it just feels so different to me than, even the way currently now most movies are presenting… 

FK: Yeah, but… 

ELM: …their cast and their actors.

FK: Yeah, and then this also leads us to that point which is the realization that fandom is a thing that happens to us temporally. Actors get older. Like, this is a thing where I think Star Trek—because it’s been so long-running as a franchise—dealt with some of these ideas ahead of where Star Wars has been dealing with it now. Right? Like, actors get older. They can no longer, you know, time marches forward. 

ELM: Sure.

FK: At a certain point, if you’ve got these beloved actors, you’ve either got to kill ’em while the character is young, or you’ve got to have them come back as an elder statesman.

ELM: Right.

FK: Star Trek did some really interesting stuff with this cause some of the alien races live longer than humans, so they were able to do things where in Next Generation it’s supposedly like 100 years on, but you can have Spock’s—or not 100 years, I don’t know exactly how many years it is. Sorry Trekkies, don’t kill me. But you can have, like, Spock’s father show back up at the end of his life, and at this point the actor who plays him is very old, also. Right? 

ELM: Right.

FK: It’s been much longer in, you know, in the—but the point is that this is something that exists in order to, like, capture nostalgia and the emotion for this character, and yet figure out a way that you can, like, sort of quote “pass the baton.” But you can never, but you can never—like, you have in the past said very cheesily, you can never step into the same fandom twice. Right?

ELM: I didn’t say that. Heraclitus said that.

FK: Heraclitus. Famous [laughs] fanperson. 

ELM: You don’t think he was a fanboy? Fanman?

FK: Ah, yeah. OK. He was a fanman. Pretty much had to be a fanman at that, uh… 

ELM: What do you think he was a fan of?

FK: [laughs] Philosophy? That’s not really that, that’s not really that kind of thing. Um. I don’t know. Like, some horse? Some sprinter? Probably.

ELM: Oh yeah, probably. Probably. He probably had a favorite sprinter.

FK: Right?

ELM: Discus thrower?

FK: Yeah, I don’t know. I’m not very good when you get, like, back past you know, about 200 B.C. Anything before that it’s like, real fuzzy for me.

ELM: But like, 200 B.C., you’re really good.

FK: Well… 

ELM: More like 0. You’re great at 0.

FK: I’m really good at 0.

ELM: Yeah.

FK: 0 I’m great.

ELM: 33. Excellent at.

FK: 60. 

ELM: Oh, you like it a little later.

FK: I go all the way up to about 400, 500 A.D. and then I start getting fuzzy again.

ELM: I’ll pick it up from there, don’t you worry.

FK: Great, OK. Glad that we now know what parts of, um… 

ELM: Western history?

FK: I guess. How would you describe it? Western history, I guess. Trying to think of, like, you know what I mean. You gotta include the top bit of Africa in there, you know.

ELM: Yeah, OK. You can never step in the same fandom twice.

FK: Yeah!

ELM: Yeah! I—I think that it’s something that’s very hard for people to wrap their heads around, even people in fandom. I think that we see so much of it right now with so many Gen X creators in Hollywood, implicitly or explicitly trying to recreate the feeling of being a seven-year-old boy watching Star Wars. Like, girl too, or person, but like, a lot of boys. Let’s be real.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Right? You know. I, sometimes people will say it so explicitly that I will send it to you and be like “Oh, this guy maybe should go to therapy.” Like, I love that people wanna create this, but it’s also like, there’s something—there’s so much like, there’s so much wrapped up in it that sometimes I feel like… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: You know what I mean.

FK: It’s also a lot when every male person who’s in Gen X in Hollywood is all trying to make Star Wars for now. 

ELM: Yeah. And—but it’s not just like, trying to make Star Wars, it’s like… “I wanna recapture the feeling of what it was like to be a seven-year-old boy.” It’s like yeah, cool, I also would like to recapture the feeling of being a seven-year-old, but like… 

FK: Yeah!

ELM: There’s a limit to that and we’re adults now and also the world is different, you know, and like… 

FK: I too want to recapture the feeling, in my case, of being an 11-year-old really into Harry Potter.

ELM: Yeah, that’d be magical. But like, you know? That’s not really the way that it works, right? 

FK: Probably also I cannot just write something like Harry Potter and expect people in the future to feel the same way about it.

ELM: No! Absolutely not. And it’s so contextual. But the thing is though, like, this is relatively easy to study. You know? Like, if you were to look at like, what made Harry Potter resonate the way it did at that time… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: To that volume and what makes it different from now… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Right? Like, especially these big examples at scale. But I feel like a lot of people don’t study it, and they don’t think about it, you know? And like… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Maybe I think fans are probably a little bit better at this, because you could say, like…we’ve talked a lot about this in the past. Sometimes it’s hard to separate out, like, were those the good old days in fandom, or do you just have rose-colored glasses? And also like you weren’t paying attention to these conversations? And maybe things are really calm and good in your life at the time. You know? Like…maybe other things are going on for you right now and it’s really hard to separate that out. Know what I mean?

FK: Yeah, I think that that is actually probably the very hardest thing to separate out, and something that it’s really tough when, like…so when people’s lived experiences run up against what is effectively a system that is seeking to make things that more or less look the same, movies or franchises or TV shows, right? It’s like, you’ve got this one like, set of many different extremely squishy fuzzy things that different people have different experiences of and viewpoints on, on one side. And then you’ve got a product that needs to be sold to all of these people.

ELM: Sure.

FK: I don’t know, I mean, and—and that isn’t, like, an indictment, because this is like, what everything is, right? Anytime you tell a story or whatever, even if you don’t have a corporate group of people making a product, you’re still, like, producing a single thing that is then interpreted in lots of different ways. But it is weird, then, when you talk about, like, the fandom around things as being essential to what that product is.

ELM: Sure, right. Exactly. And I think that people get really agitated thinking about this. You know? Like…I don’t know. I immediately, the second you said “product” I just all of a sudden I was Don Draper. You know? Just like, probably a bad instinct on my part.

FK: Yeah… 

ELM: You know, but like, there is something with advertising for things that are not films, you know, if it’s…Brillo or whatever…I don’t know why I just immediately thought of household products, right? But there’s something very, maybe it’s just because I’ve been watching Mad Men so much but there’s something a little callous about it because it’s like, “We want to trick them into feeling a lot of feelings, but like, we know how transactional this is,” you know? And like, “We have all the research,” you know, that’s what advertising is, it’s not about…you just wanna create something people love and then, like, oh, by chance they just happen to give you their money as they love it! You know? Cause it’s like free-flowin’ love circles, right?

FK: The people who make Dawn do not sit here feeling like, free-flowin’ love circles about the scent of Dawn.

ELM: Dawn? Dawn or Don? Dawn?

FK: Dawn. With a W.

ELM: You gotta say it like “Dah-wn.” Yeah, with the little bird on it?

FK: I cited Dawn in particular because I feel like to me—this is a case where, like, most people, right, whatever the scent of the dish soap—was it Palmolive or was it Dawn or was it something else—that you used in childhood, smells like clean dishes.

ELM: Right.

FK: And so, like, for me that’s Dawn, that’s what my mom used, Palmolive is fine, but I’m never gonna reach for that on the shelf cause it’s this, like, thing. The people who make Dawn, they know that.

ELM: Yes.

FK: And they also—it’s not like they, like, are excited about making that scent somehow more…the reason that they want that is entirely so that I will purchase their product as opposed to something cheaper.

ELM: Right, they don’t sit in the lab and go, like, “How do we evoke a feeling of, like, them standing with their mom doing the dishes?” For like… 

FK: For the sake of, for the sake of them having good feelings. No.

ELM: Yeah.

FK: If I have that feeling, it’s for the sake of me being like, “Yes! And now my dishes are clean just like my mom always used to get them.”

ELM: I mean, let’s be real—

FK: “Cause I need to get my dishes as clean as my mom got, otherwise I’m a failure.”

ELM: Right. In this particular example it’s not like the scientists who make dish soap are thinking about that at all. It’s completely on the marketers’ side, right?

FK: Yeah yeah yeah. The scientists who make dish soap are thinking about, like, how can I manufacture the same scent like—

ELM: A good product with a good scent.

FK: For a fraction—

ELM: Yeah.

FK: No, a fraction of a cent cheaper.

ELM: Yes, yes.

FK: Right?

ELM: Right. But yeah, there’s something very…I think that fans can get very anxious, upset, angry, when people bring this bit up. 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: When it comes to the, the media that they love. And not just corporate media, but like, because so much of it is corporate media, right? So, so much of what people like is in some way made by a large studio, many of whom are financed by investors.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Not, it’s not a bunch of people sitting in their basement, anti-capitalist, anarchist, making a…you know? Because, like, fandom at scale, even at moderate scale, can’t gather around something that doesn’t have that corporate…like, frankly, it can’t. You know?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: You can definitely have fandom for something that’s totally divorced from all of this. You see people who are fans of things that are completely non-monetized. Like, absolutely. But that’s not gonna happen at a large scale. 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: That’s just not the way that communication works, right? So to get the scale you also get the money. And I think people get really upset, I got in an exchange on my way to Los Angeles before Comic-Con, I was tweeting with someone who was saying, like, you know, they were saying basically like “I feel like it’s too many Marvel movies coming out…”

FK: Yeah.

ELM: “Don’t they want to build up anticipation? I’m just gonna get fatigue.” And I was like, “You know what, frankly I don’t know if they care so much about that, I think they wanna make it can’t-miss”—again, with the sports fandom models, “Gotta see the big game. This is my team. Can’t miss it.”

FK: Right.

ELM: You know? And the person wrote back like, “They don’t care about my feelings?!” And I was just like, “Mm…yeah, no.” You know? Like, I was very surprised by that, because it was like, no! You know? Like…and that sucks, and like, I care about your feelings, and I care about my feelings, but no. 

FK: Not on a corporate level. Like, an individual might care about your feelings in the sense of like, “I don’t want you to feel bad,” but that’s different than the movie studio caring.

ELM: But that’s functionally meaningless. Right?

FK: Yeah, exactly, exactly, exactly.


FK: But similarly like—it’s not as though the emotional experience, just because someone doesn’t care about it is any less real. Right?

ELM: Sure!

FK: To give you, to put this into another context, back to this dish soap example, right?

ELM: Sure.

FK: I would be upset if Dawn, like, went out of business. And I know—I mean, maybe not like crying. You know.

ELM: Fansplaining: brought to you by Dawn.

FK: Maybe not crying, but like, I would be upset. I would be like “Aw, man, this thing from my childhood is gone forever, and this link to, like, this link to what to me smells like a clean home and all of these positive things.” That would make me sad. Those are real feelings, and it’s OK for me to have those feelings, even though the people at Dawn are at best completely indifferent and at worst actively trying to manipulate me to have these feelings, right?

ELM: Right.

FK: They’re still real feelings and it’s still OK. And if they did, like, end that scent, it would be fine for me to have those feelings. And legitimate. And similarly, I think, in fandom, like, separate from whether the thing you like—whatever the motivations behind making that thing you like, you’re allowed to have feelings about it. You’re allowed to have feelings when it comes to an end and be sad. I mean, you—the thing that is not good is to have illusions about “Oh, maybe if we—” you know, “If we all get so excited about this, we’ll get the same thing back with the same cast in the same way.” No, I mean, there’s a reason that your TV show ended.

ELM: Right, right.

FK: And maybe you can, if it’s some reasons, get it revived on a different network. 

ELM: Right.

FK: But for a lot of reasons, with a show like, like for instance Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ending, that cast is never coming back as a group.

ELM: Sure.

FK: Or if they are then it’s gonna be like, literally 30 years from now.

ELM: Right, but I think that this is where fans can get really tripped up, because like, “Well, they don’t care as much as I do.”

FK: Yeah.

ELM: “It belongs to me cause I care about it more. And if they really cared about it, they’d keep doing it.” Or “they’d keep doing it the way I want it to, they wouldn’t change anything if they truly knew it like I knew it,” you know? And like—

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Obviously there’s some level of hypocrisy of me saying this, because I’m always the one being like “Fanfiction is better than the real thing!” You know? “Fans do it better!” But like—you know, in a way, maybe it’s not hypocritical, because when I say that I’m acknowledging that I don’t, you know, like, I’m takin’ it! You know? It’s mine now! Stealin’ it, runnin’ away with it, you know?

FK: Right.

ELM: And I’m not looking for you to keep doing it because I truly do think I’m more emotionally invested than you, and that’s why I’m gonna go do this fanfiction for free in my own time! And I understand that you, making it, are going to do your other job! You know? Like… 

FK: Yeah!

ELM: Got it, you know what I mean?

FK: Totally.

ELM: And so—but it’s this kind of, where you want it to loop back, where it’s a different kind of fandom, not fanfiction fandom, where you’re totally divorced from the, you know, trying to—talking directly back to people making it. But like, it’s the sort of fandom where you’re like, “I want it like this, I want it to keep going like this, I want you to do that for me.”

FK: You know, yeah, I think that there’s—there’s something in the dream there, also, of like, affirmation, or… Not “affirmation” like “affirmational fandom” sense of like, but maybe what I’m looking for…what word am I looking for? Like, recognition? 

ELM: Yeah.

FK: Or acceptance? Or being on a team? In a way that like, a lot of times I really hate it when people say things like “Your fandom’s never gonna love you back,” because that’s not true. Other fans will love you back.

ELM: Yeah, the fandom itself!

FK: And furthermore, like, you can get huge amounts of meaning out of fictional characters, and they may never quote “love you back” but you can read into them, you can do all this stuff. But there are certain aspects of this that aren’t—a corporation is never gonna love you back.

ELM: Right.

FK: And quite possibly, like, the writers on your show are never going to see the world in exactly the way that you see it, because they have a completely different relationship to it than you. And that doesn’t mean that they’re not nice people, right, so I hesitate to use that “love you back” framing here because I’m—I’ve never met a writer who’s not thrilled to meet someone who loved their work.

ELM: Sure.

FK: But they’re not going to have that deep simpatico that you want.

ELM: Right, right.

FK: And that has to be OK, on some level.

ELM: Yeah. I mean, absolutely, like, how—I don’t know. It’s interesting because I’m still thinking about sports, and I’m thinking about how—obviously teams move to different cities, right?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: But just thinking about your team, a team that’s not going anywhere like the Yankees or the Red Sox or something. They’re never goin’ anywhere, right? It’s not gonna be the Tuscon Red Sox or whatever. I don’t know, I’m trying to think of a city that doesn’t have a baseball team.

Say it’s the Red Sox cause, you know, they’re more lovable than the Yankees I guess. There’s something about the permanence of it, and so thinking about the scope of it, that—it feels like, like, what would that even mean for, like, a sports team to love you back? 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Do people even ask for that?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: You know? They just like—“I’m gonna give all my emotion and feeling into this, and they’re gonna play as well as they can, and that’s them doing their job, and me doing my job as a fan is to,” I don’t know, “take my top off and paint myself a color,” or something, I don’t know. You know what I mean? Like… 

FK: [laughing] Yeah. To sing “Sweet Caroline” at the appropriate moment.

ELM: Right, whereas I feel like…and obviously this isn’t meant to, like, steamroll over, you know, RPF sports fandom or whatever, other kinds of, you know. But I’m talking about this kind of like—you go to the game and you drink a $10 beer and you shout, you know. That kind of fandom. Or you do that in your living room or whatever.

FK: Buy me some Cracker Jack.

ELM: Yes. Yes. I think it gets really messy when characters are involved—and that’s why I say I don’t want to steamroll over baseball players or whatever as characters. So set that aside. But when it is characters or actors, I think that it can be really hard to think of the idea of like, “Well, I did my part, my part was just going to buy the ticket to the movie and it’ll always be here for me,” because it’s not how it works. Right? You know? It’s not like—it’s not like Team Avengers with those exact actors, you know. 

Like, well—now I’m even thinking about my analogies here, and like, say the Avengers, like, that’s kind of what they are doing, right? The Avengers will keep going but it’s like a new roster! 

FK: It completely is, yeah yeah, exactly.

ELM: But people get so attached, and because it doesn’t have that same sort of—we just relate differently to it. So it’s not like you’d be like “Oh, I remember back in 2008, I cheered for Team Avengers and I loved Iron Man then, and like, now it’s 2025 and I love—” I don’t know who’s gonna be in the new ones. 

FK: yeah.

ELM: “Blade!” [laughs] I don’t know, who’s gonna be in the new Marvel films? You know? Like…it simultaneously feels the same and different and I don’t know what it is about these specific characters or the certain actors playing them that gets people so, so invested in that particular iteration. 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: That they can’t see the, the broader structures of it and maybe it’s because even though I’m saying that Marvel’s trying to play it like a sports team, actually for the most part that’s not how they’re presenting these things. 

FK: Mm-hmm.

ELM: Right? Because it’s just like a bunch of different things. I feel like there’s a lot of ideas going on in my head right now, maybe too many, and like, not enough cold medicine.

FK: [laughs] That’s all right. It’s OK for that to be the case. 

ELM: Does that make sense to you, some of what I was saying?

FK: You know when you are looking at an early draft of an article… [ELM laughs] And you’ve kind of got a lot of different ideas that you sort of, like… 

ELM: So many ideas!

FK: …pooted out, and you’re like “Someday these are all gonna be separated out into nice little…”

ELM: My grand unified theory.

FK: Yeah, and maybe it’ll be—you know, and you’re like “There’s too much goin’ on here.” But that’s OK, because I think that one of the points of this is, we’re not goin’ back. Like, we’re gonna have this issue coming up again and again and again and we’re gonna see it—especially I think as we get into the next iteration of the Marvel movies. 

ELM: I wanna go back, Flourish. I want all movies to be X-Men: First Class.

FK: But you can never step into the same fandom twice.

ELM: Never step into the same X-Men: First Class… I can! I can step into the X-Men: First Class over and over again. I can pretend no other movies have ever been made before or since.

FK: But give it enough time, like, the other day I like, got down The X-Files and I like, for probably the 50th time started watching Season One, and I was like “I’m not sure I can do it.”

ELM: Flourish, we are sick right now.

FK: Maybe that’s, maybe it’s like—poisoned me. Maybe the sickness?

ELM: I tried to read some fanfiction the other day and then I started not being able to breathe. [FK laughs] And I was like… 

FK: Yeah, it really does, it really does ruin your lust for life, doesn’t it?

ELM: Yes, it does, it does. 

FK: Anything that you normally find appealing is, like, suddenly much less appealing.

ELM: You know when people are like “I’m sick so I’m gonna lie in bed all day and watch a movie”?

FK: Yes.

ELM: I’m like “How? What kind of sick do you have that you could pay attention to a movie and lie down? I’m so jealous.”

FK: Yeah, historically my way of dealing with this is to find some very large open-world video game that I’ve played in the past and start replaying it, but like, because I’ve done all of the tasks before and then, like, I don’t care about anything cause I’ve already seen it all before? So it really just turns into like a…meaningless, like, amble through usually like some beautiful natural area that I can’t actually see.

ELM: That’s what I—I started to read a fanfiction that I’d read twice, and it’s like, comforting and easy and… 

FK: And you couldn’t even do it.

ELM: And I was just like “Ugh the pain!” [coughs] 

FK: Oh, Elizabeth. [ELM continues coughing] To be fair I had that day. I had that day.

ELM: Oh my God that was like a week for me.

FK: Oh my God I’m so sorry. I didn’t have it for a week. The day that I had that I just, like, went to bed and slept.

ELM: Congrats. Congrats to you.

FK: It wasn’t great. It was a bad sleep. It was a bad all day sleep.

ELM: Anyway, now we’re talking about our illness again. The point is, there’s too many ideas going on.

FK: Yeah I mean I think the one thing that you can say, though, is that as the new instantiations of different franchises show up, as, like, whatever, we get into the next part of the MCU, we see what happens with the end of this Skywalker saga in Star Wars, and what comes next, we get into the, you know, whatever the next Game of Thrones stuff is gonna be, we’re gonna see some of these themes coming back and we’re gonna have a lot better perspective on it, because I think we’re gonna have a lot of stuff to compare. And, bonus, one of the things we’ve said in the panel is that we wanted to have a bunch of the people who were on the panel onto this podcast. And we’re booked out for the next few episodes, but I’m really looking forward to having those people on, so I think that whether or not we can pick apart all of the things that we wanna say right now, we’re gonna drill down and sort of figure out exactly what we mean. Over the next few months. 

ELM: Yeah and I wonder too, not to like open up a new can of worms, since we’re trying to wrap up, but like—I think so much of this franchise stuff and you know multi-chapter sort of new iterations and reboots, has been happening over the last few decades a little…slapdashedly? 

FK: Oh, yeah.

ELM: And there’s been some backfilling, retconning, “Oh, there they are, now how do we deal with these people” kind of approaches to fans, and I—you have a better perspective on this than me, as someone who’s inside the entertainment industry but I feel like there is more intentionality now and there’s more medium- and long-term thinking in both directions, horizons, history and future? 

FK: Yeah, and that’s part of why I’m excited about the next few years on this stuff, is, is, it’s not so much because I think everything is gonna be ideal and peachy-keen and we’re all gonna love everything that happens, but that I think it’s the first time that we’re really getting not just one or two franchises but a lot of franchises at once thinking in these ways. 

ELM: Right.

FK: And I’m—I’m interested to see what that looks like for fans, right? And at one time I would have said that that was the dream. Is it the dream?

ELM: You would have said that?

FK: I don’t know, yeah! Professionally speaking, yeah.

ELM: Yeah, yeah. I guess you would have said that.

FK: As opposed to, like, being slapdash. There were all sorts of frustrations when people were being incredibly slapdash and I think that, I don’t know that it was a fantasy, but I certainly thought that if people gave it more thought, life would be better for both fans and franchises. And I guess we’re gonna find out.

ELM: That’s what—that’s what I really am curious to see. If life would be better for fans. I feel like we’re at a point of change right now, transition, where it still doesn’t seem like fully, like, the long-term… I feel like there’s a, there’s a world in which the, like, long-term brand-building of studios, like, aligns with fan desires to see things. And to have more things. But I feel like right now, it kind of…it’s a little bit of cross purposes going on right now. And so that’s what I’m curious to see. I think that’s gonna take time. 

And also, you know, thinking back to our last episode, talking about technology, we’re in a period of major change for distribution right now, too, right? So like… 

FK: So we’ll get back to you once the Disney Plus streaming service comes out and tell you what we think then.

ELM: Yeah, I mean, I’m just curious to see. Like, or, what…I don’t know. I’m curious. Curious me. 

FK: All right. Well, we’re gonna have to put a lid on the curiosity for now. I think we need to wrap up.

ELM: Good.

FK: So as always… 

ELM: Lidded.

FK: …Fansplaining is supported by listeners and readers like you. So you can support us by donating to our Patreon, patreon.com/fansplaining. You can get episodes early, you can get a bunch of exciting things including hopefully soon a new Tiny Zine for people who pledge $10 a month or more. So that’s, that’s the number one way you can support us.

You can also spread the word. That’s a really good way to support us that doesn’t require giving us your money. Talking about Fansplaining, every time we see someone tweet or, you know, talk about it on Instagram or wherever, advising your friends, giving us a rating on iTunes, reviewing us somewhere—those really help us get the word out and that really helps us, too. And that’s free!

ELM: Yes. And, if you would like to talk to us, you can write us an email: fansplaining at gmail dot com. You could call us on our voicemail: 1-401-526-FANS, F-A-N-S. In both of those instances, if you would like to remain anonymous, just say so—or obviously if you leave a voicemail you can just not say your name, and we will make sure that we do not read any information you do not want read on the air.

You can also leave us an ask on Tumblr. That’s fansplaining.tumblr.com. Or tweet at us, or message us on Facebook or Instagram…all of those are fine for short comments or questions but if you have something more substantive, we recommend email or voicemail.

FK: Yeah. 

ELM: Final business: we have a new article out!

FK: Oh, we do! We do.

ELM: We do!

FK: It’s an interview with Gretchen McCulloch! 

ELM: Yes, you may remember Gretchen, the internet linguist from I believe… Episode 15 or 16? It was one of our first episodes.

FK: Very early on.

ELM: She was one of our early guests, and she’s a linguist, she rose to prominence online through some articles on The Toast that were about, like, different memes and different—smush ship names, I believe she had a big piece about that back in the day?

FK: Yep, classic.

ELM: And I think it was after she came on the podcast she announced that she had sold a book about internet linguistics. And it just came out a couple weeks ago. It’s called Because Internet.

FK: Yeah!

ELM: And I have read it, loved it.

FK: Me too!

ELM: Yes. Though Flourish wasn’t a part of this.

FK: No, I was not a part of the interview, mostly because all of the things that I was like—you were talking, the interview’s about fandom language, and I was just focused on the fact that she explained to me why my father writes things with so many God damn ellipses in them all the time.

ELM: Oh, yeah, Boomer ellipses!

FK: And when I talk to him a lot I find myself doing it too and I’m like “What is this and why is this plague of ellipses…”

ELM: Why are we trailing off? Why are we trailing off?

FK: Why are we always…? And then why am I doing it now? Cause I’m writing you too much.

ELM: Really funny.

FK: It’s so bad. Anyway, it was so delightful. Boomer ellipses. Explained.

ELM: That is part of the book, but I talked to Gretchen, we sat down and we talked at length for about an hour about fandom linguistics. We talked a lot about fanfiction, and it was very interesting conversation. And so we have published that on our website. So if you go to fansplaining.com, under articles, you will see it. 

FK: Do it! OK. Is that it?

ELM: Yes.

FK: All right. In that case, I’m gonna go not lie down. Because if I lie down, I will choke and die.

ELM: Excited to go sit at a minimum 75 degree angle. Ideal, 90 degree angle. Pure right angle. That’s the ultimate. Here’s my recommendation if you’ve caught this, people: if you sit on a couch, with your back to one end, and your legs straight out, that helps you maintain the full 90 degree. And you can kind of rest your side just slightly without moving your head against the back of the couch. 

FK: The best way that you can sleep without dying. Because of your own phlegm.

ELM: Yeah, it’s been, I’ve accidentally fallen asleep that way multiple times in the course of the last two weeks.

FK: Great, well, I’m, I’m off to do that. And you’re off to do that. 

ELM: Yeah.

FK: And hopefully next time we’ll be less sick.

ELM: Oh my God Flourish. If, I’m gonna, I don’t know what I’m gonna do if I’m still sick in two weeks. I can’t.

FK: I don’t know either. 

ELM: I can’t.

FK: I’ll talk to you later, Elizabeth.

ELM: Bye Flourish!

[Outro music]

FK & ELM: Thank you to all of our Patreon subscribers, and especially Amelia Harvey, Anne Jamison, Bluella, boxish, Bradlea Raga-Barone, Bryan Shields, Christine Hoxmeier, Christopher Dwyer, Clare Muston, Cynsa Bonorris, Desiree Longoria, Fabrisse, Diana Williams, Dr. Mary C. Crowell, earlgreytea68, Felar, froggy, Georgie Carroll, Goodwin, heidi tandy, Helena, Javier Grillo-Marxuaach, Jay Bushman, Jennifer Brady, Jennifer Doherty, Jennifer Lackey, Jennifer McKernan—that’s a Jennifer streak—Josh Stenger, Jules Chatelain, Julianna, JungleJelly, Katherine Lynn, Kathleen Parham, Lucas Medeiros, Maria Temming, Meghan McCusker, Menlo Steve, Michael Andersen, Molly Kernan, Sara, Secret Fandom Stories, sekrit, Stephanie Burt, StHoltzmann, Tablesaw Tablesawsen, Tara Stuart, veritasera, Willa, and in honor of One Direction and Captain James McGraw Flint-Hamilton. [ELM laughs]

Our intro music is “Awel,” by Stefsax. Our interstitial music is by Lee Rosevere. Both are used under a Creative Commons BY license. Check the show notes for more details.

The opinions expressed in this podcast are not our clients’ or our employers’ or anyone’s except our own.