Episode 107: Happy Anniversary #4
Continuing an annual tradition, Flourish and Elizabeth celebrate their fourth anniversary with guests from the past year, who talk about changes in fandom from the global to the personal. Topics include shifting privacy norms, fanzines and other smaller-scale fan activity, stanning corporations, and that old chestnut, fan/creator interaction on social media. A note: this conversation was recorded before Tumblr was sold and AO3 won a Hugo, but still! These points hold up!
[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel” by stefsax, used under a CC-BY 3.0 license. Our previous anniversary episodes: “Happy Anniversary #1,” “Happy Anniversary #2,” and “Happy Anniversary #3.”
[00:11:04] Episode 105, “Emily Nussbaum.”
[00:14:00] Rukmini Pande appeared most recently in Episode 89, which actually was December 2018, not “the beginning of the year,” as Elizabeth stated (but close!!).
[00:17:45] Keidra was our guest for Episode 101, “Stan Culture.”
[00:28:37] Kid Rock’s original tweet was so sexist and crude that we will not repeat it here. The response Flourish is talking about:
[00:29:20] In case you missed it, the Cats trailer:
[00:29:29] The Farewell’s trailer:
[00:31:50] Behold the one, the only, the original RUM TUM TUGGER!
[00:34:30] Our interview with Javi was Episode 82. Feast your eyes on his latest project, The Dark Crystal:
[00:47:02] Behold the kitten noses tagged as explicit:
Also, we recorded this episode literally while the Tumblr sale was being signed (according to Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, owner of WordPress and now owner of Tumblr). As you can imagine, we’ll have a lot to say about that in a future episode. In the meantime, here is an interview the aforesaid Matt Mullenweg gave about his initial plans for Tumblr.
[00:51:30] The AO3 actually did win the Hugo!
[01:00:00] Elizabeth’s conversation with Gretchen!
[01:00:44] In case you missed the Shipping Survey, find all our coverage of it on our Projects page.
Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish!
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom!
ELM: This is Episode 107, “Happy Anniversary #4.”
FK: Four. Like, I know we’ve talked about how long this has been, but it’s been a significant chunk of time we’ve been doing this podcast.
ELM: Four years!
FK: Four years!
ELM: It was actually more alarming to me to realize that I’d gone to Comic-Con five times.
FK: Was it?
ELM: I don’t know, that was just weird. I was like “Oh, this is like a thing that I’ve been doing.”
FK: Yeah, it’s a thing you’ve been doing now!
ELM: For five years!
ELM: I mean it’s great.
FK: Well, OK.
ELM: Lovin’ it. Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry.
FK: [laughs] So. In the past when we have done anniversary episodes, and today also, we ask our guests from the previous year to come on and to speak. We say, OK, you can either tell us about trends you observed over the past year in fandom overall, or ways that your thinking about fandom has changed in the past year. And, or.
ELM: Or, like, your personal experiences. People have talked about, like…
FK: Yeah, that’s true too.
ELM: Just what happened to them in fandom, basically.
FK: Which is also lovely to hear! Nice little update.
ELM: Yes! So also in the past, though, not last year, but the two prior anniversary episodes, we had a lot of guests. Because we had a lot of guests on the podcast! I was thinking about this too as we were, like, kind of going back recently and looking at our very first episodes. Like, we had the famous just-us one where we almost canceled the podcast cause we, like, wound up crying in the middle of it. [FK laughs] Was Episode 8. But other than that it was like wall-to-wall guests for like the first 20 episodes, literally every single episode was a guest.
FK: It was.
ELM: So, I’m glad that we stopped doing that, because it is so much work to do guests! [laughs] And I think that we’re still able to have, you know, a solid batch of guests on at this point. One every couple of months. While being able to incorporate a lot of other voices via our, our listeners and all this stuff. So that being said, we only had like half-a-dozen guests since last August, and so three of then have sent in their thoughts. And they’re three great guests with three great sets of thoughts! But you know, that’s a light, it’s a light load. It’s the lightest load of all. So far.
FK: That’s fine! That’s OK. I am prepared for this. I am totally prepared. OK. So, who is the first one, who are we gonna listen to first?
ELM: Casey Fiesler!
FK: All right!
FK: Dr. Casey Fiesler!
ELM: Dr. Casey Fiesler. Casey Fiesler first came on actually during that spate of all the guests all the time, [laughs] that episode in fact had two guests. We did an episode in January of 2016 about fandom and celebrity death. It was right after David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died within a few days of each other. But, in January, she came on for a full episode just dedicated to her and her work. And it was great!
FK: Right! And so Casey is a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and she works on…she’s in…the Department of Information Science? Which is in, inside Computer Science? Right?
ELM: Yes. Whenever you talk about Information Science you look so confused.
FK: I’m so confused by this. I’m like “What is it? How does it work?” Casey actually did explain this, like, in her episode when she came on.
ELM: And I studied Digital Humanities side-by-side with Information Science, housed within the University College London Department of Information Studies.
FK: How does this work?! Why, academia?!
ELM: I don’t know what to tell you, yeah. Infosci inside Info...stu?
FK: [laughs] Anyway. So Casey looks at, like, platforms, usually, right? I mean she looks at—she looks at platforms and the way that fandom has existed on different platforms, and she’s also done…she used to be a lawyer and she’s done some stuff about like the way that…
ELM: I think she just went to law school, I don’t think she ever practiced as a lawyer.
FK: OK, she never—OK, she maybe never practiced.
ELM: But so some of her research has also been about, I know she was talking about copyright and…
ELM: Norms around, beliefs around fair use on YouTube and how people have no idea what they’re talking about…I love that.
FK: What is fair use? Yeah.
ELM: Yeah, but like, you know, Information Science is a lot about studying, like, systems and architecture online and also the way we interact with it. It intersects with UX and Human-Computer Interaction and those fields, all jumbled together basically. Like, how we use the spaces online and how we communicate with each other online, and what that looks like, you know, quantitatively and qualitatively.
ELM: And so she’s been in fandom for a long time so that’s what she studies!
FK: All right, we should listen to what she had to say about this past year!
ELM: All right, let’s do it!
Dr. Casey Fiesler: Hi, Fansplaining! It’s Casey.
You know, the first time I did this for your very first anniversary episode, I talked about the growing acceptance of fandom, and I think that I’ve seen that more so in the past year. AO3 being nominated for a Hugo, for me personally I’ve gotten some research funding from the National Science Foundation—which is a great “this is important” stamp of approval, and I think we’ve seen this in all kinds of spaces.
So one of the things I’ve been thinking about is how this growing acceptance changes the way that fans interact with each other, and how this interacts with some changes we’ve seen in fandom around things like privacy. So, old fans like me relied very strongly on secrecy and privacy norms, but now with so much less stigma around fandom, for younger people coming in, they might be like, “Hey, why are you guys all so private when I’m, like, talking about slashfic with my family at Thanksgiving?”
And I think this tracks in part to another type of change that we’ve seen, even more prevalent over the past year, and my knowledge of this is based in part on research that my PhD student Brianna is leading, which is that some parts of fandom are moving to spaces where they can be more private, or where they create subcommunities where they can make their own norms. Like, you and your friends pack up your bags and move from Tumblr to a Discord server where you don’t have to worry about antis crashing your party or journalists screengrabbing your commentary.
And this can be a a really great solution, both for certain types of toxicity or norm violations, but we also have a paper coming out soon that talks about why this could be a problem, too, because it limits the discoverability of fan spaces, and this can be a big problem for people where fandom can be an important support community. Particularly for queer people, because they found fandom in part because it doesn’t say “queer support community” on the tin, but that’s what they found there. This is a hard problem, how to deal with both of these things, and something that I am planning on thinking a lot about over the next year, in addition to reading a lot of the new Good Omens fanfiction, which is like, bringing me back to 15 years ago! [laughs]
Thanks for all the good content, and I hope everyone has a great year!
FK: So, what Casey’s thinking is really interesting because it seems to me to sort of echo broader trends on the internet overall. Like, right, around privacy norms. But, but seeing it through a fandom lens, which is really cool because it—it helps, like, specify. You know when people are like “Kids these days! They have different norms!” And you’re like “Can you give an example?” And they’re like “No!” [ELM laughs] But this is like—no, genuinely, right?
FK: Sometimes I have this conversation. “Kids! They’re different!” You’re like, “How?” But this is an answer, right? Like…
ELM: It is interesting, but it, it—you know, I’ve been observing a lot of this recently and I’m really glad that she talked about it so eloquently. I do see from older-school fans sometimes a protectiveness, a…of personal information in a way that feels like, wildly unfounded these days. It’s not about your sexuality, your gender identity, or your person, actual personal details. It’s literally like, “I could never tell someone I was a fan.” You know?
ELM: And you’re like, “Mm. I think that that’s not a stigmatized, marginalized group.” And maybe that—I understand, I’ve been online in fandom since the ’90s so I understand where this is coming from, but I think there is a bit of a protectiveness for some people and…and a framing of it as a marginalized identity. And sometimes, maybe not necessarily a bad-faith conflation with actual identities, but…I mean not always a bad-faith, but sometimes it can feel a little like…you know, but, you’re not actually saying you’re asking people to come out if they’re not out. You know? Like, you’re just, you just wanna acknowledge that, like, “I like this corporate media and read stories about it,” which is something that’s been widely covered in the mainstream media now for—we’re coming up on a decade of this, you know what I mean?
FK: Yeah totally. I mean, I don’t wanna play armchair psychologist, but I do think that there’s elements of social anxiety in some of these responses, like, sometimes I feel like I can just see it when people are like, writing…you know, like, whatever, you see a post and someone’s writing about it, and you’re like “Oh man. I don’t know your life, but it really sounds like you’ve got a lot of anxiety around the way that people perceive you, and that you’ve, like, tied into this thing. And that’s, like, what you’re hanging a lot of your anxiety on is that if anyone found out you were a fan they would think that you are weird.”
ELM: Right. Right. Which is like—
FK: People still have social anxiety who are younger, but I think it tends to be hung on different things—
FK: Not always, like, “I’m a fan.”
ELM: I’m aware, as we’re saying this, we always stress the importance of like, maintaining pseudonominous? Pseudonimi—I can’t.
ELM: Pseudo, anonymity via pseudonym…
FK: [laughing] Pseudonymity.
ELM: Pseudonymity. And like, I still stand by that, I think you have the right to not disclose any of this. I just often feel like the, the kind of bewilderedness of it and like, it’s easy for me to say because I literally slap my name next to detailed descriptions of, of fandom, and all—like, that’s my actual job. You know? And that’s yours too, so like…and Casey as well, you know what I mean? Like…
FK: Yeah yeah yeah, but also like—I also have a pseudonym.
ELM: Sure, me too.
FK: You know? Like, and it’s, and it’s not like…it’s not because I don’t, it’s not because I’m not extremely public about being in fandom. It’s for other reasons. It’s like, you know, well, I don’t wanna like, write a, you know, a sexy scene about someone and then like have the actor like that I later meet or something like this. Right? Which—understand—like, it’s a personal issue, like, this is to do with my job and everything else.
ELM: Oh no no—
FK: But it’s like, but it’s not because I’m—right, you can have pseudonyms for reasons that are not like “I don’t wanna admit I’m a fan.”
ELM: I think almost everyone I know who is, like, professionally involved in, like, professional fan in some way, you know, that’s a wanky way to say it. But you know what I mean.
ELM: Has, definitely has at least one pseudonym.
FK: Yeah yeah yeah, for sure!
ELM: Many people who’ve been on this podcast I know do, you know. [both laugh] And I don’t know, for most of them I don’t know what they are, you know? Like…
FK: Right, totally! Yeah. I actually, I don’t know what yours is!
ELM: Uh, well, I know what yours is. So…
FK: I know but that’s OK because, like, it’s fine. [ELM laughs] Mine’s like a very pseudo pseudonym. Anyway.
ELM: Look, you’re gonna be haunted by this, aren’t you?
FK: A little bit.
ELM: We can table this one for later.
FK: Yeah. But I do think it’s interesting to tie it into sort of broader changes around the way that people think about the internet and what it’s for and how it works. And I don’t know, you know, Emily Nussbaum I think said “I never try to project to the future. I don’t know. I don’t know what’s happening in the future.” And I guess I feel a little bit like that too. Like, things have changed so much since, I mean, you know, whatever, in the 15, 20 years since I started being Extremely Online. And I would never have guessed where we’re at now. So I don’t know that I can guess where we’re gonna be in the future!
ELM: Yeah, I mean, and also, like, to broaden this out a little and what Casey’s talking about, it’s not just about fandom too, it’s like—what would happen, if you’re 16 now and you’re like, listing all your specific sexual interests or whatever, or like, you know, very…even outside of fandom, listing really personal information, like…stuff that generally you or I or probably people are pretty uncomfortable talking about online.
FK: [laughs] Yeah.
ELM: And what happens in five years when that person’s boss can connect that to like…these aren’t, like, nothing concerns, and it’s not…when I say this out loud I feel like I’m doing a local news segment. [FK laughs] You know? Like “Teens! Think they can do this! But what happens if…?” You know, you can hear the voice, right?
FK: I can.
ELM: The local news story voice? You could imagine the visuals.
ELM: You know, but it’s like, it’s not a—it’s not an invalid concern, and I think that, you know, we’re even, we’re seeing a lot of clashes with people—maybe not necessarily, maybe our age, but like, younger Millennials too coming into the workplace, people being like “this behavior is not professional, these are not things that you should be sharing,” and I think that there’s a lot of tension about, like, expectations right now in terms of, of your life and how much is on display.
FK: Yeah. What’s normal. I mean heck, I—so, you know I’m in discernment to consider possibly becoming an Episcopal priest—
ELM: Hang on, hang on, I don’t think you’ve told the podcast this.
FK: Oh, well, I am. I mean, it’s very early days. But I had this moment where I was talking to my priest about this and I was like, “So, real talk, when this gets up to, you know, like the committee, the diocese…”
ELM: The bishop. The bishop, Flourish.
FK: The bishop.
ELM: Who looks like Santa Claus.
FK: “Is the bishop gonna, like, go onto my personal website and discover that I once wrote a Fred and George Weasley incest eternal poem generator and be like, ‘you can’t be a priest.’” [laughing]
ELM: What did she say?
FK: Yeah, she was like “I don’t know if they’ll find it and if they do find it you have a really good, like, explanation for what that is, right?” And I was like “I do!” [laughs]
FK: “And it’s been taught in…!” And she was like “OK fine!”
ELM: I heard in the Episcopal church, during a sermon, that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. [both laughing]
FK: Great. I think that the real issue is that I actually, I would totally write that generator right now.
ELM: Yeah, of course you would!
FK: Not ashamed!
ELM: Cause that’s your high art version of it! Write something that’s not high art incest fic generator. Write something that’s just raw, pure twincest. [FK laughing] No couching it in intellectualisms! “Oh, my husband did this!”
FK: No intellectualisms!
ELM: “With non-twincest!”
FK: Yeah yeah yeah, that’s scarier. All right, all right, all right, all right.
ELM: OK, great.
FK: But my point is, the reason I brought this up is simply to say that this is—this is a continuous concern! It’s not just like the kids these days, either! You know?
ELM: Yeah. So I think to bring it back around a little bit too, so Rukmini Pande was the other guest we had in the beginning of the year, with, back-to-back with Casey, and she wasn’t able to get us something for this episode. She’s been on multiple times and has given us her years in review, so we, no worries at all Rukmini. [FK laughs] But you know, she was talking about some of the similar things in terms of this kind of collapsing of big broad wide-open spaces, and people…
ELM: I was gonna say retreating to smaller, closed communities, and that’s like a weird way to frame it. Not necessarily retreating, but choosing to go to. And some of the discoverability stuff that Casey’s talking about I think is, is the other side of the coin of what Rukmini’s saying, like, you know, yes, Tumblr dynamics or Twitter dynamics with the big broad call-outs can lead to abuse, but also it is easy to go into a Discord and if someone brings up something that you don’t wanna talk about, to shut it down. And you know, it’s this, it’s the other side of the coin from the discoverability, you know? The nice thing about the big wide 2.0, Web 2.0 social internet is that scalable discoverability. Oh, that’s the wankiest Silicon Valley way I could have phrased that.
FK: That’s fine. It’s OK. But we understand what it means.
ELM: Yeah, you know. Big and broad and like, uh, low barrier to entry, I think is a huge thing. I think that the thing that stresses me out a bit about people going to smaller spaces is there is a higher barrier to entry and…it’s all connected because, you know, one of the problems with abuse on these big platforms is the onboarding is so minimal.
ELM: All you have to do is put in your email address and create a username and then that’s it. And that’s one of the reasons why, you know, it’s wide open for bad behavior as much as, you know, anyone finding anyone else. You know what I mean?
ELM: And so that’s kind of a hard thing to look at and think about as the future. An idea of smaller spaces that are harder to find and harder to even access if you don’t have the, the technical knowledge.
FK: Great, well, that’s a depressing note, but I think that we should listen to the next person, cause I don’t have any way to like make that less depressing.
ELM: Cool! Cool. Maybe this’ll be more—no. I think all, I think all of our letters have like similarly, like, “It’s complicated and not great!”
FK: “And difficult!” OK, well, that’s OK. That’s, sometimes that’s like the state of fandom and that’s fine.
ELM: It’s definitely the state of this podcast at all times.
FK: And the state of the world.
ELM: Cool, thank you.
FK: So fine, whatever, OK.
ELM: Thank you, thank you.
FK: So who’s our next guest?
ELM: Keidra Chaney!
FK: Keidra!! Of The Learned Fangirl.
ELM: Yes, The Learned—one of the founders and publishers of The Learned Fangirl, a great website. She came on a recent episode to talk about stan culture, and it was a, it was a conversation that’s really stuck with me for the last few months. I know it has with you as well. I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
FK: Yeah, I think it was one of the most, like—you know, like, there’s a lot of, there’s different kinds of episodes that we have, and they’re all good, and this was one of the ones—sometimes something comes up and it, like, crystallizes for you an idea that’s been kind of like…
FK: …bouncing around in your head but you haven’t fully figured it out? And the idea of this, like, kind of fandom that’s like, agonistic and like…I don’t know, she talks about—we should just listen to what she says, cause this is like…
FK: Agonistic! Fighting. Anyway—
ELM: Do you mean antagonistic?
FK: No, I mean agonistic! It’s a word, look it up.
ELM: Oh my God. The confidence with which you said that after 107 episodes of, of this not going well for you, is very impressive, but I believe you.
FK: Argh! [typing noises]
ELM: Cause you know, a stopped clock is…
FK: Agonistic. Adjective. Combative. Polemical. Associated with conflict.
ELM: All right!
FK: There you go.
ELM: All right. Stopped clock. Congrats.
FK: [laughs] No, usually I’m right about what the word is, I’m just wrong about how I say it.
ELM: Yeah, you’re one of those. One of those “mize-eld” people.
FK: OK, we should actually listen to what Keidra was saying. Because I think that she covers a lot of this in what she left for us.
ELM: All right, let’s do it!
Keidra Chaney: Hi Fansplaining, and happy anniversary! This is Keidra from The Learned Fangirl.
When it comes to broad trends and changes that I’ve seen in fandom in general, I think what’s really interesting to me is that I’ve seen more of a push towards corporate and brand fandom and fan identity, where it’s not just like a movie or an artist that you’re into, but it’s the company overall. So for example, people aren’t just a fan of the MCU, they’re a fan of Marvel. They’re invested in Marvel’s success as a company, and they track that as, like, a barometer of quality and worth, and they argue about Marvel as a company. And this might not be a new trend, but I’ve seen a lot more of it. Like, really kind of growing as a thing. So that’s very interesting to me, and I’m trying not to place a value judgment on it, but it is interesting.
Specifically within K-pop fandom, my own fandom, I’ve seen a couple of things. Mostly how the language of social justice and specifically how racial justice gets used and weaponized within fan wars. So, for example, there’s a lot of discussion about cultural appropriation of hair and of music. But people use that, fans use that as a way to one-up each other about the worthiness of their faves, and it’s not really a broader discussion about race or anti-blackness in K-pop or K-pop fandom as a whole. It’s just a way of saying “my fave is better than yours,” or “your fave sucks because your fave did this bad thing.” So it’s kind of troubling, because it really is using, you know, the importance of talking about racism and anti-blackness, but on a very surface level, for pettiness as opposed to actually for social change or for social justice. So kinda weird.
But on a personal level, I’m feeling more connected to the act of fandom in general for the first time in a lot of years, because I’m working on a fanzine for the first time in my fandom life! A print fanzine. And it’s a lovely feeling! I really love it. It’s been such a bright spot for me to focus on that, and it really has started to make me think and wonder about what a post-social-media internet-age fandom would look like, in fandom in general and for me.
So those are the things that I’m thinking about, and those are the trends that I’m thinking about. Thanks a lot!
ELM: Another great message!
FK: Also, so charming: working on a print fanzine! I want more.
ELM: You should work on a print fanzine.
FK: Elizabeth…you’re the one who needs to work on a particular print fanzine. [laughing]
ELM: I mean like a fanzine, like a thing you’re in the fandom of! Not…
FK: OK, not like, yeah.
ELM: It’s the week of the zine discourse, let’s not talk about zines too much.
FK: Maybe I should—maybe I should do a Star Trek print fanzine.
ELM: Yeah, you love it! Like, it’s bringing Keidra joy, it could bring you joy as well.
FK: Maybe I’m gonna do this. OK.
FK: I just wanna focus on the good part here. Because like…
ELM: Yeah, yeah.
FK: Everything’s so depressing. I wanna get, I want Keidra’s fanzine, and I wanna make one myself, I want us all to make zines.
ELM: Good. Good.
ELM: Working backwards.
FK: They’re good.
ELM: I think that is, is very interesting to hear…a similar sort of description, a lot of the stuff that we talk about in media fandom, not music fandom, in terms of shipping and kind of appropriation of social justice to score points, or conflation of social justice activism or work with just you trying to score points…arguing about your fave. I would like to actually hear more about this and you know, I’m not in music fandoms, so it’s not something I spend as much time observing, but like, the trouble that I often have in media fandom conversations is so often around shipping and romance, and I feel like that can get even messier if you’re specifically talking about individuals and their, like, presentation.
ELM: That, I think, can offer a little bit more clarity. I mean…maybe not. But I feel like things get, like, an extra level of fraughtness sometimes when you have to add the romantic element to it. You know? Or the sexual element. As opposed to…
FK: Yeah, but it’s also about like what you personally, like, are turned… like, some people read that as, like, “Oh. I’m turned on by this,” you know, or like, “Well, I’m emotionally invested in this,” you know what I mean? In ways that I think are, are different as opposed to like, “Well, this person is wearing a hairstyle.”
ELM: Yeah. I think that’s a…
FK: You know?
ELM: It’s a little more straightforward and it’s something that I would be really interested in in, like, reading or hearing more about. The way this manifests in music fandom. And that’s a really complicated transnational and transcultural fandom conversation, obviously. You know? Especially, I mean, this was one of our trends, when we do our New Year’s episode we talk about trends from the last year, it’s a similar but not the same format as this one.
ELM: And definitely last year we were talking about the, the Western mainstreaming of K-pop. And that has, like, exponentially increased over the last, like, since we even recorded that, you know? Like—it’s fascinating to me to see the pace at which the discourse is flying in K-pop. I say only following half a dozen people who are analyzing this. It’s like, it is wild to me. You know? And I don’t even know how to get a handle on it beyond just listening to them and their takes and being filtered through them, which like, has some problems, but.
FK: But one of the things that was part of the discourse that I thought was interesting was I saw people talking about, like, the bands versus their management companies and so on? And I thought that was interesting in terms of, I mean, I don’t know anything about it. I will look forward to talking to more people about it, but it seemed like Keidra was saying that, like, that was one of the things, you know…it’s the company over all. Just as it’s not that you’re into Spider-Man, it’s that you’re into Marvel.
ELM: Is this your way of transitioning to the first part?
FK: It is!
ELM: Yeah! So I mean, that, that part is obviously the stuff that’s like literally occupying my brain right now. Right? Like, we talked about this in our last episode. This sort of idea of, like, Marvel being the team that you root for, and I think too, it’s…if I had to name one of the biggest trends of the last like five years, I would say the increasing visibility of the people making the things. Right? The idea that you know who the Russo brothers are. I mean, obviously famous directors have always existed, but these are like, a pair of brothers making an installment in a big kinda cookie-cutterish franchise. You know? And the fact that I know who they are? I mean, well, not me. But like, the fact that everyone knows who they are, you know what I mean? Like…
ELM: I don’t know. It’s very interesting to me because, I mean, we were talking about this when we were at Comic-Con too, it was like, you know, 20 years ago did people know, like, what a Paramount picture meant versus a Warner Brothers picture? I mean, obviously people who made movies knew. But like, would your average viewer be like “Oh, this is Warner Brothers’ newest release!” Right? And that’s like, super weird to think about. The fact that the studios and the producers and things like that, all the people who are on the other side, the back end, that that’s something that people are stanning essentially.
FK: Yeah, but I think it’s also like, I mean, this is also partially because of…I think…people trying to talk about, like, fandom and the way…like, the, the sort of best practices of I guess representing different franchises to people. Because historically, right, one of the problems that people had in this relationship between like the quote “creators” and fans was sometimes like, well, there are actors and those are the only people that people know. And so, you know, often that’s like a—that’s a real point of tension when people don’t realize all the people involved in making it. So one of the pieces of advice that started really going around was, create more points of contact for people.
FK: Help people understand who is making it. Maybe not in all the detail, right, maybe still have, like, whatever, for your TV show you have the creator who’s the face of the team, even years after they’ve stopped being the on-the-ground showrunner.
FK: Right? But still, like, you know that there’s this person, they’re representing the writers’ room. And there’s this person, and they’re representing, like, whatever. You know, the food stylist on Hannibal, and there’s this person, right? All of these behind-the-scenes people having more of a voice.
So [sighs] it’s weird but it also feels to me very organically based on, like, genuinely how people in the entertainment industry have started paying more attention to how fans were constructing what they were doing and trying to, like…
FK: Present fans with, with brands.
ELM: Right, right.
FK: To associate with.
ELM: The great irony of this is that that advice was being pushed forward on the, the precipice of a lot of people being exposed as, like, you know, like, the, like the dark side of this, the entertainment industry, is now more transparent than ever. Whether people are actually facing real long-term consequences remains to be seen, in our approaching the second anniversary of the Weinstein revelations, right.
But like—it is, it’s very, it’s, it genuinely is ironic that as you have people pushing like, “Oh, you should,” you know, “We, they should know who the producer is behind this,” right, “it’s not just a faceless studio,” and then you’re like, “Well, that producer is now involved in, like, a sex trafficking scandal,” or whatever, you know? And maybe that’s something that could’ve slipped under the radar, they never would have known that person had worked for X studio, if, if, you know. If they hadn’t, you know what I mean? And now fans are actually, are paying attention.
FK: Yeah, wouldn’t have cared so much. Right?
ELM: Right, exactly. Yeah. I mean, obviously this stuff has always been true of actors and to some extent directors, right? Like I say, it’s like, how many years since Roman Polanski left the country, right. People…
FK: Yeah, and it’s not like people never had any idea of like, who was making their thing. Right? Like, you will never have a Star Trek fan who doesn’t know…I say Star Trek not because it’s my fandom but because it was an old fandom.
ELM: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
FK: Where people genuinely had an idea of the different people, right?
FK: You know. I mean, whatever. We can replace Star Trek with X-Files, which is another of my fandoms…
ELM: Uh-huh! Uh-huh!
FK: [laughs] We can replace it with, I don’t know! I only know, I only know the people in the fandoms I was in! But I’m sure it’s the case of like, you know, whatever. Highlander or, you know, whatever. [ELM laughing] Whatever other fandom I’m not in.
ELM: Blake’s 7.
FK: Blake’s 7. Right? Like, I’m sure! You know, so it’s not as though people didn’t know this, but I think it’s even more wide-spread. Right? Like—as fandom has mainstreamed, like, knowing these people has become much more…
ELM: Yeah. And so then I think the, the like, following that to the next thread, one thing that I’ve observed, wildly prevalent in the last few months, is louder and louder conversations where people are also personifying—we talked about this a little bit in the last episode—but like, also personifying the corporation element of it. I think—
ELM: And it’s getting a little, as this kinda loops around it’s getting a little jumbled for people. And talking about you know, like, “Marvel is this friendly company that, like, is on your side!” You know?
FK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
ELM: And it’s super weird because it’s like, maybe it’s really hard once you start thinking about brands as your friends, to actually say, like, “Oh, this is a corporation, and,” I don’t know, it’s publicly traded—Disney is.
FK: Uh, Disney is, yeah.
ELM: Yes. You know. And there are investors. And they are making decisions based on business, and business does not have friendly feelings. Business is not moral. It is amoral in the truest sense of the word.
FK: Yeah! There was that tweet that was like, whatever, you know, Kid Rock was like, complaining about Taylor Swift being in Cats or something, right? And there was this tweet, I retweeted the first tweet in the thread, which was like “News flash,” like, “film companies are only interested in destroying each other and making money.” But the second thing in the thread was like, “You realize that, like, if Taylor Swift walked into any movie exec, their office, and was like, ‘You and you, you two buddies, I’ll be starring in your movie, if you kill your best friend,’ like, they’d be sending in the janitor to wipe off the floor!” And like, that’s exaggeration, slightly, but not very far! [laughs] You know?
ELM: Was this just your way of getting me to talk about the Cats trailer? [FK laughs] Let me tell you. Yesterday I went to go see The Farewell—strong recommend! The strongest recommend!
FK: Oh yeah?
ELM: I rarely recommend things cause I think most things are bad. The Farewell is so good! You know The Farewell?
ELM: Wait, let me tell you the premise while I said it was good. OK, so this was a This American Life story a long time back. They just re-aired it last week because the movie was coming out.
FK: Oh! I know this one!
FK: It took me a minute to figure it out.
FK: Tell, tell.
ELM: I’m telling it. So basically the director, it was her family story—so basically her grandmother is diagnosed with cancer, but she’s Chinese-American, and she emigrated China with her mother and father when she was a small girl. Most of her family still lives in China, though her uncle and his family live in Japan. So apparently in China, in, you know, we have—I think laws here actually saying you have to tell the patient directly your diagnosis.
ELM: In China they give it to a family member. And so the family, and I guess this is pretty common, decides they’re not gonna tell the grandmother that she has like three months to live.
ELM: And so they all fly out to China and say it’s for her cousin’s wedding, which I don’t think he had been planning to have—this is all a true story. Like, he had a girlfriend but I don’t think they’d been planning to get married till they like—
FK: They were not going to—
ELM: Like, it’s not a fake wedding, they just like staged, they like were like “We’re doin’ it now!” And he was like “OK!” [FK laughing] And it’s essentially a chance for the whole family to say goodbye. And it is, it’s, it’s an extraordinary movie. It’s beautifully shot, Awkwafina plays the protagonist, and it’s a really interesting story and it was just so beautifully done. So that’s my long and strong recommendation for The Farewell.
Anyway, the point is, the point is, during the trailers it went like, “Doo doo doo, doo doo, doo doo…” and then like twinkles, and the whole audience just like burst out laughing. We were all so ready to see it on the big screen! I had watched a trailer on my phone. It didn’t strike me until I saw in the theaters that the cats are like, they’re tiny!
FK: I know!!
ELM: It’s so fucking creepy!!
FK: They made the people cat-sized.
ELM: Like…one of the pleasures of the original Cats—which I saw on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre in 1993, because I was fucking obsessed with Cats when I was nine—was that they were humans, like…
ELM: Acting like horny cats in like, very horny ’80s like legwarmers, and like big hair, you know, and it was like…
ELM: They were in a music video!
ELM: Not all of them obviously…
FK: They’re a little…
ELM: And that’s creepy! There’s something, I was nine, it’s not like I found them sexy, but like, looking back like, there was…it was like, something really appealing about like, the fact that it was like humans acting like cats. Not that they were cats. That they were in cat outfits.
FK: I’ve, I’m getting some insight into your personality here, Elizabeth, that I don’t know that I needed.
ELM: [laughs] I think that was part of the pleasure of it!
FK: No, I get it, but now, but now they’re just like—creepy…
ELM: Like, imagine…
FK: …cat-sized humans.
ELM: Imagine if they did it like the new Lion King where they were literally cats.
FK: Imagine if…
ELM: Would that be better?
FK: …if you had like a pet cat-sized human.
ELM: If Orlando was my size, holy shit. I just thought about it and I just had a freak-out. If Orlando was my size?
ELM: Oh my God, she’d be so tall!
FK: Or—would be so tall. All right. Let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s—we’ve gone too far. I think we need to listen to our next caller-in. Former guest? Current guest, I mean, he’s gonna be talking on the pod—anyway.
ELM: Once and future guest. Javier Grillo-Marxuach.
FK: Also an MVP, because he called in like the day before his son was born.
ELM: Oh, congratulations Javi!
FK: Congratulations Javi!
ELM: Yeah! So, Javi Grillo-Marxuach. He has been on two episodes, one was our first special episode with a guest, but the first time he came on was about his career. He is a television writer. He’s been a producer. He has been a network executive, I think, back in the day.
ELM: And just very TV guy. All about TV.
FK: Yeah, and it was great at San Diego Comic-Con because he worked on the new Dark Crystal, which we got to see the first episode of.
ELM: Yes! Excellent.
FK: And it was awesome.
ELM: Delightful! Except I’m still, still gonna hold it against the people behind us that I’m gonna call them out now. Cause they’re never gonna hear this. But like, so all the characters in The Dark Crystal make these little noises that are like, “Hmm. Hmm?”
FK: Yeah, like, very sort of Yoda-y noises.
FK: Which is obviously, duh. I mean, it’s, it’s Henson.
ELM: There’s a reason why they made those noises. But they only make them, oh my God, Orlando just looked at me like “What the fuck was that noise?!” [FK laughs] Now imagine her the size of me. OK. Anyway, they kept, so, like, they make them occasionally. But the people behind me apparently took it as a sign that they should make it literally the entire…they were behind you too, you’re next to me.
FK: Yeah, I heard it!
ELM: The entire time. They’re just sitting behind us.
FK: I mean, they were enjoying, they were clearly enjoying it.
ELM: I just thought that was kind of antisocial behavior. Like, we’re all watching, and they’re just sitting behind us going “Mmm. Mm! Mmm.”
FK: “Mmm.” Pepys, too, is looking at me like I have…
ELM: For an hour!! What are you doing, folks?! What are you doing.
FK: All right. All right, all right. But we don’t have to listen to them, fortunately.
ELM: No, we have to listen to Javi.
FK: We have to listen to Javi!
ELM: Which is fortunate. Fortunate.
FK: All right. Let’s listen.
Javier Grillo-Marxuach: Hi Flourish and Elizabeth! This is Javier Grillo-Marxuach, A.K.A. Javi. I remain completely resolute in my ambition to be the Tom Hanks of Fansplaining, so you guys had better have me back soon. I wish you a happy, happy anniversary, and you know, you’ve asked me to tell you what I think the biggest trends are in fandom.
You know, I think, I think it continues to be the growing tension between creators and fans in terms of social media. You know? I find that fans are more able to access creators, and they feel like that is becoming part of their entertainment, and part of how they consume entertainment, and creators feel very strongly that they have to be able to protect their privacy and also their creative process, but they also very much like attention on social media. So you know, with things like The Magicians, Veronica Mars and even what happened with me on The 100, you know, you’re starting to see that ongoing, unresolvable sort of tension of who gets to talk to who, why, and who get—and does that give either party the entitlement to expect certain things from the other? It’s a really interesting thing that I think will just continue to develop, and I don’t know that there’s a resolution for it. I think that continues to be the biggest trend in fandom, so.
Those are my two cents’ worth, I hope you guys have many many years of Fansplaining, because the podcast has really broadened my own ideas around what fandom is and how it works. So congratulations and keep up the great work!
FK: Aww, Javi!
ELM: Thank you!
ELM: Well, I mean, agree?
FK: I think this also ties into that issue of, like, branding and like, knowing more of the people behind, because I think one of the points here too is that, like, you know—Lilah actually talked about this a long while ago.
ELM: Lilah Vandenburgh.
FK: Lilah Vandenburgh, who we had on, about how like, as there’s more pressure for creators to speak, people who are, like, you know, whatever. You know, a big director of a Marvel movie, they probably do have folks who can like advise them and/or run their social media if they’re bad at it, and/or whatever else. Right? But the sort of mid-level creators, people like—people like Javi as just a staff writer, you know, on The 100, or or whatever, you know many of the other people who we have on who are less far along in their careers than Javi, they don’t have that kind of support necessarily, you know what I mean? They’re kind of out there, like, doin’ their best. And I think that that’s complicated.
ELM: Yeah, beyond, I mean, maybe it’s not, like, not necessarily beyond training, but it’s also like…if you’re a showrunner and you put your thing in the world, that all of your writers and producers have agreed to make and not told you is garbage, you know what I mean…? I think that it is probably normal reaction when confronted with hundreds of thousands of tweets saying “this is garbage” to get really defensive!
ELM: And there’s this kind of idea of…not necessarily being above critique, but like, where the source of critique is coming from. Right? Like, obviously there was a lot of—there’s been a lot of tension in the last few months, I know Lizzo really let me down when she started that…there was that week when every major music artist was like, “Music critics suck and they’ve never contributed anything to the world.” And Lizzo did it too and I was like “Lizzo no!” You know? [both laugh] “I don’t care about the other ones but I care about you!” You know?
And it was, so, that kind of undercuts my argument a little bit. But I sort of feel like if a TV writer, or a film, you know, art director or a screenwriter or whatever gets a bad review, they understand, like, “Oh, critics, that’s what they are.” But it’s, if you have no context for “who are these people on Twitter shouting at me?” You know?
ELM: Or like, “I was a fanboy and I just complained about everything, so like, fuck you,” like, you know, that kind of attitude of like—there’s different kinds of fandom at work, there’s definitely the kind of fandom where it’s a full, you have to like it or it’s garbage and you’re gonna shout at someone. Which is different than this sort of fandom that we spend time in as fans, is one that has got criticism like embedded into its practices. Right? But like…
ELM: There are other kinds where it’s like, “I’m gonna love this or you should die in a fire.” And I think that is…
ELM: That is very hard. And it’s hard to ask, like, how much—I mean, like, if you get, if you’re fancy enough to have someone run your social media, then what are you—then you ignore that! Like, that’s what, the social media team is not gonna respond to people shouting at you. But if you’re just a human and it’s about you…
FK: Yeah or if they do it will be, like, an extremely calculated like…
FK: Y’know? Right. Yeah yeah yeah, totally. Yeah, and I think also there’s a, there’s questions about who gets to talk to who as well, which are probably impacting, like, who gets to and who has to talk. Right? I mean, again, to go back to like, when we had Javi on, talking about how he was able to be the person who spoke about The 100 because he knew he was leaving the show.
FK: And if he was still on the show, and the showrunner didn’t want to talk, he wouldn’t be allowed to talk, right?
ELM: And, he is, you know, he is not…it’s not his first job.
ELM: He has been working in television for, you know, 25 years or whatever, right? Like…
FK: Yeah yeah yeah, exactly, exactly.
ELM: It’s not like, there’s so many of these writers who have, if they speak out that’s gonna be the end for them. Right?
FK: Right, totally. It’s interesting to think about it from a perspective of not just, like, fans getting really into not just like, people behind the scenes but also the brands and the, you know, whatever, the, the Marvel or whatever you’re gonna think about it as, but also from the perspective the other way, right? Like, what is it like to be a person working on these things? And trying to make, do your best to respond to this situation? I don’t know, that—it seems like everybody’s sort of in a bad position. [laughs]
ELM: Yeah, but I, it’s also, to me it’s also, like—I feel like we’ve said some variation of this, and the flavor’s been a little bit different cause, like, the dynamics have shifted, you know, it hasn’t been like the same exact thing over and over again every year, but we literally have said it’s like the number-one thing for every year that we’ve had this podcast. Every time. [FK laughs] And like…
FK: It keeps going! It keeps going, it gets more!
ELM: I know! And it’s like, it’s just more! Bigger than before!
FK: Bigger! Than! Before!
ELM: A meme that will be so old by the time this episode comes out, in like, a week!
FK: Oh, it’s really gonna date this. When we get to “Happy Anniversary #5” we’re gonna be like “Whoa! Remember ‘bigger than before’?”
ELM: I hope I remember “bigger than before.” I hope I remember 30-50 feral hogs. Those were memes that brought us together in dark times.
FK: In dark times.
FK: For 3-5 minutes.
ELM: [laughs, then coughs] I’m still ill, don’t make me laugh!
FK: All right, all right, all right.
ELM: OK, well why don’t we take a quick break and then—even though we’ve offered up a lot of our opinions—we’ll offer up some final opinions with some of our takes.
FK: All right, we’re back!
ELM: Yep. We’re back.
FK: So, in terms of fandom trends. What are you seeing? That we haven’t already covered, cause we’ve covered—
ELM: Aww, but they already took away a lot of the things I’m seeing! [FK laughs] Why? No, you go first!
FK: All right, all right, all right, all right. So I think that one of the things that has been interesting for me, I think it’s really—this is more of a personal trend, because I think it’s not so much that this is new as that I’m getting into different spaces—is, like what Keidra was saying about making a zine, but also other kinds of like, really just like personal or small-group making things. You know? As opposed to like, the days of like, “I’m gonna make a gifset and it’s gonna be passed around Tumblr to everyone.”
I feel like a lot more of what I’m seeing in, like, my interactions in fandom have been a lot more…not small group like on a Discord, or on a Slack, but like small group in the sense of, like…“Well, I made this little thing and I loved it and I talked with two or three of my friends about it.”
ELM: I wonder if this is partly, like, you know, we’re well over a decade into Web 2.0, and the big open social web, and it’s been plenty of time for people to see that this, like: there’s an emptiness to going viral.
ELM: Like, there’s, there’s a very short—actually I mean like, your tweet goes viral, that is kinda funny for like an hour and then you’re like “Wait no, I’m gonna mute this right now.”
ELM: It’s exhausting and upsetting. And, like, not even like people yelling at you with discourse stuff, but like…you know what I mean? Like…
ELM: Ugh, I had this tweet—can I just say, side note? Can you remember two years ago when I tweeted about tennis shoes?
FK: No! I don’t remember what, anything you tweeted about two years ago!
ELM: This is my—well, I didn’t know it was two years ago but I found this out because, so I found, it was like this article from Reader’s Digest that was like a heatmap of different terms
FK: Oh wait, no I do remember this because we like—you were really like—yeah.
ELM: So this was like, so “sneakers” were, like, tiny corner of the Northeast in blue, and “gym shoes” in Chicago were green, and then the entire rest of the United States was red for “tennis shoes.” And so I just posted this, like, horrified tweet that was like “You all say this?!” And it went viral and, like, I got like hundreds of followers over this stupid tweet and I was like—
FK: And I do want to report, which I know I did at the time: Yes! We call it “tennis shoes”!
ELM: I hate it. Thanks, I hate it! And it was so, it’s so weird too cause it’s like “Why are you following me for this? You are gonna be leaving shortly when I just make fun of journalists for not understanding fanfiction.” [coughs] Which is what I do on my Twitter.
But it resurfaced over the weekend, because it—someone googled this question, like, “tennis shoes versus sneakers,” and like the first result was an article where someone had embedded my tweet.
FK: Oh my God.
ELM: And literally—literally wrote an article about this question!
FK: Oh my God.
ELM: And so then I, I realized that it was being shared again, cause I was like “Why are all these people following me again?”
FK: It’s because of something you said about tennis shoes.
ELM: Pretty popular. My opinions are pretty popular.
FK: “Plimsolls” don’t even make it on the list.
ELM: Stop it, get outta here. [FK laughs] On the bright side I gotta say shoutout to Twitter, you really suck on all levels except you’ve really tightened up your “mute this tweet.” Cause two years ago when I did it, it was, things were leaking through.
ELM: Seems to be ironclad now.
ELM: Appreciate it. I wanted it muted.
FK: Yeah no but—but your point about, like, virality being like…
ELM: Right, and this wasn’t like people yelling at me for my opinions. Or like calling me problematic.
FK: No, even good viral is unpleasant!
ELM: No. And so I think that there—if you see in your own life, which I think a lot of people have had an opportunity to do, if you have a post go viral, it happens to random people all the time, right?
ELM: You see the very limited rewards of that/no rewards at all, and I think that it’s, there’s been enough time for people to experience that where you’re like “Well, what actually brings me emotional satisfaction? Maybe it is sending it to five people who truly love it and not just getting 10,000 hits of people who are like “Eh.”
FK: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I think there’s also like, some amount of…and again, this is why I think that this is probably partially personal. But I’ve discovered in the past year that I’ve, like, reconnected with people who I lost touch with, just because we all get on, like, a new platform and I’m like “Oh wait! Oh! This person! I remember you from like 10 years ago on LiveJournal, look at that, we happen to be here!” And sometimes that is, like, a very…you know, it’s like you knew them a little bit, and so you have some excuse to like respond, get into a conversation, and it’s very very rewarding to sort of pick that stuff up again, in a way that…you know, that I’ve been finding pleasant.
And again, I suspect that this—I mean maybe other people are having this who are sort of about, who have been online about the same amount of time. I don’t know, I would be curious to find out. Because I think that there is something sort of about the life cycle of different social media and the life cycle of friendships and so on that’s maybe coming around for me. And maybe for other people too.
ELM: OK. Well, then, I will think about the…not the big corporate things, but the things on a more day-to-day level. I think that it’s interesting to look at Tumblr, eight months after the, the great female-presenting-nipples gate.
FK: Explain it to me because I am just so not on Tumblr right now. Not at all.
ELM: Yeah, but you kinda checked out of Tumblr long before this.
FK: I did I did I did, but I’m just sayin’, tell me about it. Like, treat me like I don’t know anything about this, cause I really don’t.
ELM: It’s interesting, I’m sure depending on what subcommunities you’re on there, what fandoms you’re on there, whether you’re really into you know super-explicit stuff or not, is gonna make a big difference about how this is. But for me and for a lot of people I’ve talked to, very little has changed on the platform. They had a few wacky weeks where all sorts of hilarious things like, in my case, kitten noses were tagged as explicit.
FK: Oh ho!
ELM: They created a little feature saying you can appeal it, a human looked at it and would resolve the appeal.
FK: “That’s a kitten nose.”
ELM: You know, I know people who just quit in protest the second that was announced, and like, I respect that, that’s fine, I was definitely more of the like, “You will have to—I’m going down with this ship” kind of attitude about it. Not least cause I like Tumblr, but also like, cause I feel like it’s still one of the central places of fandom and it’s important for me to be on it and observe conversations on there. You know?
ELM: So, which is not me subtweeting you at all, but uh, it would be—
FK: No, I mean I—no genuinely I think that, like, Star Trek fandom, of course there are people in Star Trek fandom on Tumblr, but there’s also a big chunk on Twitter who are like, just doin’ their different thing, and like—yeah. So I think that like, to some extent, like—it’s to do in part with what you’re interested in and the fandoms you’re in, right?
ELM: Sure. Sure. It’s interesting. It’s interesting to see what’s in the top, what’s in the, you know, the weekly fandom analysis, to see what’s popular there.
FK: Oh yeah.
ELM: It’s also been interesting to see a lot of people that I know from Tumblr only trying Twitter. I feel like there have been some growing pains there. [FK laughs] It’s weird to see them show up and be like “what the fuck is this?” right as Twitter’s gotten worse and worse, you know, like, from a UX perspective it’s just gotten dumber in the last year. So like, I think it’s a terrible platform for fandom. I wouldn’t recommend it for any reason other than the fact that I don’t think it’s about to be shut down. [FK laughs] You know? So like—I don’t know. I don’t know what to tell people.
ELM: But yeah, for the most part my Tumblr dash is pretty unchanged. And people are still posting, making gifsets, people are still posting original writing, like, fandom is definitely still there. So.
FK: Yeah that’s really interesting cause I definitely would not have guessed that, you know, eight months ago.
ELM: I mean, when I was tweeting about it I said I don’t know if this is gonna have a huge effect. And I know—
FK: Yeah! I mean I—
ELM: You know—
FK: I think you were always more sanguine about it than I was.
ELM: I mean, I don’t know, I just also—I mean I think this bringing back full circle, there was definitely a strand on my dash of “I’m so oppressed, they’re trying to take away,” you know, this is like, treating it like a Tumblr user is a marginalized identity. And again, it’s conflating. It’s like, “No! If you’re a queer person using Tumblr, sure,” right? Like, but it’s not—you know, like…or if you are a sex worker.
ELM: Using Tumblr. Then yes, definitely. They are literally coming for you, that’s what the whole point of this was, right, was SESTA and FOSTA. But the kind of idea of like, there was something about it like, “They’re coming for fans! Fans are always so marginalized,” which was just very…you know, at some point, it’s not like every single corporate action against fans has been because people are being, like, homophobic about queer fanfiction or explicit, you know, slash or whatever. Like, very often it doesn’t matter what you’re doing with it, it’s pure copyright stuff. You know?
ELM: You could be writing them just talking to each other, and they’re like, these corporations would have come for you. So. I think I understand why this is embedded in a lot of people’s mindsets, but I also…sometimes I wish people would take a step back a little bit before…it can feel, what’s the word? It’s like when people bring, like, posters of their slash ship to like, a pride parade or, like, a protest or something. You know? And it’s like, “Finally Dean and Cas can get married!” And it’s like…oh, come on.
FK: Yeah. [laughing]
ELM: You know? How about those two people right next to you, or you and your partner, whatever, you know, like…
FK: Yeah, or even two characters who are canonically gay! [laughs]
ELM: Yeah, well, I mean, I don’t know. No.
FK: I don’t think it’s that much better, but it is…
ELM: I understand what you’re saying, but no, I push back against it—no.
FK: No, I, we’re on the same page about this, I think there’s a—there’s a scale.
FK: Yeah, yeah yeah. All right. Well, you’ve managed to make that—it started off like kind of cheerful—
ELM: I was genuinely, Tumblr’s still fine, I still get a lot of great gifsets, so…but looking at the scope of things over the last year since August, like, that encompassed, like, the work that, the things that we’ve been looking at, purity culture and stuff like that. And people flipping their shit about AO3 and its role. I think that, I’ve seen a kind of a shoring-up and more education about what AO3 is and what the OTW is. I have seen continued critique without substantive suggestions. [FK laughs] You know? Like, I try to engage with people on this, people saying “AO3 could do better on X, Y and Z,” and I’m like “Well what would that look like in practice?” And literally no one has offered, offered any suggestions, cause I don’t know what that would look like in practice.
ELM: Without making that a social network with moderators and things, which is not what they’re intending to do.
ELM: That’s interesting to see. And I hope there’s a way to continue discussing and critiquing and pushing AO3 to a place that works for more people who are arguing good-faith that it has some problems.
ELM: While continuing to shore up this sort of, like, “It exists for a reason! It’s not stealing your money! It’s not selling your data. It’s not…”
ELM: “…cashing in on your participation,” like all of the really dumb ignorant or bad-faith arguments that we’ve seen in the last year around it, I feel like a lot of that has died down because there’s been so much, it’s been so vocal about explaining what it is and how it works and why it’s important. So.
FK: The world is tricky.
ELM: Yeah. On a final note, obviously the most important thing to happen in fandom in the last year was when you and me and Nozlee went to see X-Men: Dark Phoenix in 4DX. [FK laughing] Got rained on. During the—
FK: And got rained on.
ELM: During the super serious funeral scene and laughed so loudly.
FK: That’s our number one. Well. All right.
ELM: Most important.
FK: So what are we, what do we hope to see next year, if anything? Before we hit our five-year anniversary, is there anything we wanna—in fandom, on this podcast…?
ELM: Yeah, here’s what I wanna see in fandom: I want more people to talk about how Marvel is not your friend. Like, all that stuff. Yesterday Armie Hammer made the news for, you know, calling out Ike Perlmutter, who’s the head of Marvel, cause he’s a big Trump donor and all this. And it’s like, I don’t know. I don’t think that these companies are above critique, but I don’t think you can simultaneously sit here and be, like, mad at the guy who owns Marvel, but also the same people on my feed who are mad about that are talking about what a good and cheerful company it is. The MCU is so great, and like, you know, obviously it’s real gay. And it’s like, “It’s not! I don’t know what to tell you,” you know? Your fanworks are!
And I just, I would really like people to be able to, to look at these big corporations for what they are. And they’re not your friends. And they wanna sell you things. And that’s fine if you enjoy the things they’re selling, then you both win, right? But they’re not social justice organizations, they’re not progressive. They are solely governed by making money.
FK: Right. Which is how they’re designed to be.
ELM: Right. So that’s what I want. I want more people to be more…cynical and realistic.
FK: I think I want that too, but, but I—[ELM laughing] no, but I want that too, but I want it also like, specifically in order to help people also see the…you know, more about, like, what’s good about everything else, too. You know what I mean, to like fully value all the different things that—that people do in the fan space. Because I really do still, I mean, it’s kind of Pollyannaish to say it—I don’t know. “Pollyannaish,” is that the right word? It’s sort of like naive to say it, but like—fandom is beautiful! Making fanzines is beautiful. Writing fanfic is beautiful. Making vids. It’s cool! It’s really wonderful. You meet all these people and you do all these wonderful things, there’s so much good that comes out of this stuff that’s, you know, I mean, it’s not good because of the stuff that it comes from. It’s good because the people who, like, come together over it. So you know, I want people to—while not ignoring the problems—to also like fully appreciate that, and you know.
FK: I don’t think that that’s, I don’t, I don’t know how much that’s possible when the focus is on a corporation giving you the thing.
ELM: Totally. I feel like it makes me think back to my early days in fandom when it really did feel like that, because you assumed the corporation was like, gonna give you things you had to fix.
ELM: Weren’t very good, it’s this big corporation. And somewhere along the way that really shifted.
ELM: To a portion of the people in my fannish spaces thinking the corporations were gonna give them what they want, and I’m not just talkin’ about like validating your male/male ship or whatever, you know? But obviously that’s a part of it, right, like—but this kind of idea that what Marvel does is more valuable than what your, like, favorite fanfiction writer does?
ELM: More valuable! Well, to you, what’s more valuable to you? You know?
ELM: Like a story you want to read 17 times and, like, touched your soul? Or like, a movie you just sorta like…you know? I don’t know. You know?
FK: I do know.
ELM: But it made a billion dollars, so…whatever.
FK: All right. So that’s our hopes for the coming year.
ELM: Yeah. Not really bettin’ on these but that’s fine.
FK: Me neither, but whatever, it doesn’t hurt to put out good intentions into the world.
FK: I will say that it really is a delight making this podcast with you, Elizabeth.
FK: Like, genuinely. Like—we fight all the time but we always end up, I mean, I don’t know that we end up solving all of our problems but like it’s a good relationship and we figure it out.
ELM: We don’t fight all the time, honestly, I don’t think we do.
FK: We have very different, like, concepts—we have different levels—you are a—you are a higher-conflict person than me.
ELM: Yeah! Fight! Let’s fight!
FK: [laughing] You are, you are! So you’re like “we don’t fight much,” I’m like “I fight with you more than any other human.”
ELM: Ah, is that true?
FK: It is actually true.
ELM: Wow, you let Nick win all the arguments, huh?
FK: We just don’t have that many arguments!
ELM: I don’t believe it! [FK laughing] Fight! Fight! Fight! Yeah, you know what? I hope she doesn’t mind me blowin’ up her spot on the podcast but I’m training someone at work right now and she described me as a “compassionate hardass.” [FK laughs] I’m gonna put that in my LinkedIn bio.
FK: You are! That’s a really good, that’s a good LinkedIn bio thing.
ELM: Right? Right now it just says “writer and editor” or something. Nope.
FK: Compassionate hardass.
ELM: Up it goes, yeah.
FK: It’s true. Well anyway it’s wonderful, I’m really glad that we’ve been doing this for four years and I’m looking forward to the fifth.
ELM: Aw, me too!
FK: Aw! OK Elizabeth! [ELM laughs] All right. So if you have not previously supported us, or if you do support us right now but you’re considering…I don’t know, supporting us a little more cause it’s our anniversary, this is a great time to do it! Because we are going to introduce a new happy anniversary gift!
ELM: Anniversary gift!
FK: For you and not us!
FK: Woo hoo! So we have been looking into making little pins.
ELM: Enamel pins, all the rage.
FK: With a fan on them.
ELM: Our logo, the fan.
FK: Yeah. And we’re going to be introducing these and because the cost of materials, anyone who pledges at the $5-a-month level or ups their pledge to the $5-a-month level or more, you’ll get one of these! As soon as we have them.
ELM: So all right, so just to clarify: Anyone who pledges $5 or more right now, you’re gettin’ a pin. Pin’s comin’ to you.
ELM: Anyone who’s currently pledging at $1, $2 or $3 levels, if you have a couple extra bucks a month and you are toying with the idea of pledging, get in here now! Cause if you bump it up to $5 or more you get that pin, and…
ELM: This is the perfect time if you’ve been thinking about pledging to come on in. Not only do you get a pin, but you get your name in the credits, which is like obviously worth spiritually more than a pin, right? Because everyone gets to hear your name every week.
FK: We can also shout out your fandom if you really want us to.
ELM: That’s right! We only have two right now and there’s other fandoms out there that could be shouted out too, so.
FK: There are.
ELM: You could say, like, “You, on behalf of the blank fandom,” also, if you wanna be greedy and have both.
ELM: We’d do it for you. So.
FK: We would.
ELM: But anyway, pins are really cute and just for, for reference if you’re already a Patron or if you’re bumping up your patronage for this, it probably will be September when we’re able to send them out. Just based on the production.
FK: Cause there’s a little production time, we’re still, you know, sorting out a couple of things. But. But.
ELM: They’re coming.
FK: We’ve committed to doing it and we’re really excited about it.
ELM: And also while we’re talking about this, it’ll probably be before September when our $10 patrons get their Tiny Zine because we are at work on that right now.
FK: Woo hoo!
ELM: So, that’s patreon.com/fansplaining, if you have any questions about this just let us know, but one more time: $5-a-month, you’re currently doing it or bump up to it or you join at $5 or more, pin to you. So we would love it if people had a few extra bucks and they wanted to jump to that level.
FK: Yes. And if you don’t have a few extra bucks, it is still definitely possible for you to help us out. So one of the best ways to do that is to rate us on iTunes…
ELM: Or wherever…
FK: Or wherever your podcasting, whatever your podcasting platform, or tell people about us. That really really helps. Because you know, it’s better when we have more listeners and then, you know, more conversation, et cetera et cetera, you know why.
ELM: Not just listeners!
ELM: Also don’t forget readers. So we have all these articles and we just put one out that’s a conversation I did with Gretchen McCulloch, the author of Because Internet, the book about internet linguistics. We talked about—what did we talk about? Memes.
ELM: We talked about AO3 comments.
FK: AO3 comments! —I’m just echoing whatever you’re saying here. Like a tiny echo.
ELM: No you’re like my hype man!
FK: I’m your hype man.
ELM: Here you go. Britpicking.
FK: Britpicking! [both laugh]
ELM: We talked about fanfiction, language, informal and formal language on the internet…
ELM: Brand–fan interaction, all sorts of stuff. She’s so fun, and so you should go to fansplaining.com/articles and you will see that and all of the other articles. And actually we’re, we’re editing another article right now that you wrote that hopefully will go up within the next few weeks about our Shipping Survey, the perspectives on non-shippers.
FK: We are.
ELM: So yeah!
FK: And, another way that you can, you know, show your support, is if anything that we’ve said here or in any of our episodes strikes something in you, you can contact us! Send us an email, fansplaining at gmail.com, or call us, 1-401-526-FANS is our phone number. You can just leave a voice mail, we promise we won’t pick up, you won’t have to have a social interaction. [laughs]
ELM: Sometimes I’m on the, I’m, like, I have the window open, when someone calls, and I panic every time.
FK: Really? It’s never happened to me.
ELM: It’s happened to me like six or seven times!
FK: Whoa! We have complete—I don’t know! Anyway.
ELM: Oh, I keep my email browsers for all of my accounts open at all times in three different browsers.
FK: Well this would explain some…one of the many differences between you and me. In any case you can do that, or you can send us, like, our Tumblr ask box is on, anon is on in there, we’ve also got Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, wherever you wanna contact us, I mean, you know. Email is better for long questions, but send us your thoughts, send us your questions, we do these ask box episodes every once in a while so that really helps us. Hearing from you guys.
FK: All right, is that it?
ELM: Well…I mean, gotta say happy anniversary, Flourish.
FK: Happy anniversary, Elizabeth!
ELM: I thought you were gonna burst into song there!
FK: Totally. OK. I’ll talk with you later, Elizabeth.
ELM: All right. Not gonna fight with you. Bye!
FK: [laughing] Bye!
FK & ELM: Thank you to all our listeners and readers, and especially Amelia Harvey, Anne Jamison, Bluella, Boxish, Bradlea Raga-Barone, Bryan Shields, Christine Hoxmeier, Christopher Dwyer, Clare Muston, Desiree Longoria, Diana Williams, Dr. Mary C. Crowell, Earlgreytea68, Fabrisse, Felar, Froggy, Georgie Carroll, Goodwin, Heidi Tandy, Helena, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Jay Bushman, Jennifer Brady, Jennifer Doherty, Jennifer Lackey, Jennifer McKernan, Josh Stenger, Jules Chatelain, Julianna, JungleJelly, Katherine Lynn, Kathleen Parham, Lucas Medeiros, Maria Temming, Menlo Steve, Michael Andersen, Molly Kernan, Nozlee, Sara, Secret Fandom Stories, Sekrit, Stephanie Burt, StHoltzmann, Tara Stuart, Veritasera, Willa, and in honor of One Direction and Captain James McGraw Flint Hamilton. 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 those of our employers, or our clients, or anyone’s but our own.