Episode 36: There’s No Place Like Home
Elizabeth and Flourish reflect on the ways that reboots and never-ending sequels have changed the experience of being a fan alongside an extended (and hopefully successful!) metaphor about relationships with family over time. Topics covered include reconciling or moving on from problematic texts, the trajectories of some franchises versus others, and an extended segment about “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” (If you haven’t seen the movie yet and intend to, spoiler alert!) Plus—register your surprise—continued discussion of the US Presidential Election.
[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel” by Stefsax.
[00:09:55] Alanna Bennett wrote a great article about this!
[00:16:20] The Southern Poverty Law Center has a great guide to speaking with your family about racism.
[00:16:50] The music is Kevin MacLeod, “Off to Osaka.”
[00:21:58] Whether the movie has any scenes that are supposedly in Harlem or not is apparently more up for debate than we thought! Dicta points out that Pottermore said the speakeasy was in Harlem…but later it said that it was in the Village. (Around the release of the movie, a bar near Washington Square Park transformed into a magical speakeasy.) So while Harlem isn’t exactly fanon, we stand by the idea that the movie actually depicts a speakeasy somewhere in the Village.
[00:26:03] Elizabeth’s article about DON’T CALL IT FANFIC is here.
[00:36:49] Incredibly adorable Niffler by kyecheng.
[00:41:31] The music is Kevin MacLeod, “Off to Osaka.”
[00:55:37] Your filter bubble is destroying democracy.
[01:04:27] The music is Kevin MacLeod, “Faster Does It.”
Flourish Klink: Hi Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi Flourish!
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom.
ELM: Episode 36, entitled “There’s No Place Like Home.”
FK: There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!
ELM: I should have known that this would lead to that.
FK: I…it…sorry. [laughs]
ELM: All right. So this, I feel like we’ve, when we talked about this episode we threw around a lot of ideas. Can you kind of summarize what we’re gonna talk about? And this is just the two of us by the way. Still in our post-election general rage, despair-fest. We’re still in the space of just talking to each other. We hope to have guests coming back on in, hopefully our next episode at least, right?
FK: Yeah, I hope so. We’ll see what happens. That’d be good, you know, but we’re taking it slow. Processing. So one of the things obviously there was the election which is still, the hangover…
ELM: Wait wait wait, what election?
FK: The US election. The Presidential election.
ELM: Oh was there one? [FK laughs] Can I just say today, one of my Twitter friends, well, I actually know him in real life, was doing a poll on Twitter, so now that Thanksgiving is over, what’s better: canned or homemade cranberry sauce? And I;m gonna let you guess what I voted for and honestly it was as close as the Presidential race, and I have not felt this tense about an election result since the Presidential race.
FK: I really don’t know what you voted for.
FK: I don’t, I’m gonna guess homemade.
ELM: UGH! PODCAST CANCELED!
FK: I like canned too! I’ve also made homemade and it’s never as good as canned.
ELM: Go vote, I will send you the link afterwards because there’s still like 15 hours left.
FK: OK great, because it’s ideal, especially if it’s the jellied kind and it comes out of the can and you can still see the ridges—
ELM: And you leave it in the shape. Yes.
FK: And then you cut it and you just leave it in the shape! And then you cut the…
ELM: [sighs] Podcast back on. Also, not only did I say, not only did I vote for that—reveal—I tweeted back at him “I wish that polls weren’t anonymous on Twitter because everyone who voted for homemade should be treated with extreme suspicion.”
FK: [laughs] Un-American! I have a British friend who was on Facebook talking about what are the right American things to do for Thanksgiving cause she lives in the US now, she spent a bunch of time working on that and it was funny, it was fun, it was pleasant, she posted pictures of her first Thanksgiving living in the United States, and then she apparently had a friend, they found Easy Cheese in the supermarket and this was a big thing, was that somebody brought out Easy Cheese, put it on Triscuits and all her British friends were like “DOES THAT REALLY EXIST? IS THAT REALLY A THING? I’VE ONLY SEEN IT IN COMEDY!” I had to come in and be like, “Fuck yeah it’s a thing, it’s a thing from my grandma’s kitchen and it’s delicious.”
ELM: That’s amazing.
FK: So she’s apparently going to bring in the remainder of the Easy Cheese to our office so that she can watch me literally squirt it into my mouth because I am a disgusting American.
ELM: That’s a beautiful story, Flourish.
FK: And Easy Cheese is kinda good, by the way.
ELM: I don’t mind it! I love cheese, wouldn’t be my top cheese choice, but total respect.
FK: But for a thing that’s gonna survive the apocalypse…
ELM: Yeah. And cranberry sauce. [laughing]
FK: OK OK OK. But this is not actually what our episode is about, although this is the best thing, these are the best things.
ELM: I was about to tell you about my experiences as an American living in Britain on Thanksgiving. Lemme just tell you.
FK: Tell me.
ELM: The first time—can I tell you this whole story?
ELM: As an aside.
ELM: We’re recording this three days after Thanksgiving, so clearly this is on our mind still. No, two days! I don’t even know anymore. It was a couple days ago.
FK: Thanksgiving was Thursday. Today is Saturday.
ELM: Thursday, as it always is. So the first year that I was abroad for Thanksgiving I was studying abroad, this was more than 10 years ago now, and I asked all the Americans I knew if they wanted to do Thanksgiving and they were like “No, not really.” Eh, some people just don’t like it as a holiday and if you don’t have to do it, it’s just a Thursday for them. For there. And I asked my British friends and they were like “I don’t know, I’m not really interested in that.” And I was just like, OK, I guess I’ll do it by myself then. [FK gasps sadly] BUT, I don’t know if I ever told you about my experience studying abroad, but I was reading history at King’s and it was really really fuckin’ hard, basically he would set you a paper and then you’d have like 10 days to read like 10 books and then write a paper and the papers would have topics like “Charles James Fox: Discuss.” You know? And you’d just be like “OK!”
ELM: I am incredibly irresponsible, so I would not start the reading till the day before and I wouldn’t start the writing till the night before. So I did an all-nighter for literally every paper, a straight up all-nighter, I switched from diet Pepsi to tea around 5 a.m. and watched the planes come into Heathrow. And so I went and turned in my paper on Thanksgiving delirious, as you are after you pull an all-nighter, and had to defend my paper. This guy was just like “What is wrong with you?” and I was like “Here you go!” OK. And I just wandered around town, I literally was delirious, I kept handing out pound coins to random people asking for money, just being like “HAPPY THANKSGIVING!” No really, I went over the edge. [FK laughs] So then I went to Sainsbury’s to try to buy all my ingredients, I took the bus to a giant Sainsbury’s cause all I had was a shitty small one. And I told these elderly English women working there that it was Thanksgiving and they acted like it was my freakin’ birthday. They were like “Oh, dear! Oh, happy Thanksgiving! Oh goodness!” And they were so excited, they were like hugging me, and then I bought all the ingredients including canned cranberry sauce which comes in a jar from Ocean Spray there.
FK: In a jar? Hold up, hold up, a JAR?!
ELM: Same exact consistency but it’s in a jar.
FK: But how do you get the ridges?!
ELM: You don’t but you scoop it out. But it’s still the same. Don’t worry about it. It’s as good as it gets. Look, when you’re living in another country you take what you can get. And then I went home and I cooked the meal and then I sat in my little dorm room and I watched Muppet Christmas Carol all by myself.
FK: [gasps] SPEAKING OF THINGS THAT HEM HEM CERTAIN MEMBERS OF MY FAMILY WILL NOT DO hem hem watching the Muppet Christmas Carol hem hem I’m so jealous.
ELM: Do you have something wrong in your throat?
FK: No I’m just making hem hem noises at Nick over there.
ELM: I got it. I don’t know if you remember this from last year but I’m going to England in a week and guess what I’m doing when I get there?
FK: What are you doing when you get there?
ELM: Going to a Muppet Christmas Carol singalong.
FK: [gasps] OH!
ELM: With mulled wine and mince pies.
FK: OHHH. That sounds so delightful and Christmassy.
ELM: Literally the greatest thing that could possibly happen. I did it last year and I’m doing it again.
FK: I’m so jealous. Well, I’m sorry that your sweater is not gonna be ready in time for you to go to England.
ELM: That’s OK. The Harry Potter sweater…
FK: Yes, the Harry Potter sweater. There was very little chance and yet I still feel like I have missed a deadline, so. I haven’t even bought the yarn yet.
ELM: Really don’t worry about it at all. You know what’s extraordinary? I just told a really long story about my first British Thanksgiving, my first of four, and six, seven minutes ago we were gonna talk about what this episode is about.
FK: That’s true, and what this episode is about is actually kinda related to that story in a lot of ways! And I’ll come up with them! Shortly! As we talk about this!
ELMb: My unbridled generosity in the streets of London? “You have a pound coin!” I probably gave away like 10 pounds! Really!
FK: That’s a lot of money!
ELM: I was goin’ wild! And every time I gave one and shouted “Happy Thanksgiving!” Every single dude was like “Happy Thanksgiving to you too!” I feel like, any British listeners or any other foreign listeners can attest to, I think there’s a lot of confusion about what Thanksgiving is? And I’m happy to take it. I’m like, “You can treat it like it’s my birthday, that’s fine!”
FK: That’s cool, totally cool! Well, we do all collectively sort of just drop every—like it’s the one holiday where Americans don’t really work, I feel like. People work through all sorts of other things. But at Thanksgiving you have to get drunk and argue with your family. That’s the nature of it.
ELM: Unless you’re one of the millions of Americans who work in retail stores that are now open on Thanksgiving.
FK: That’s true.
ELM: Or, you know, emergency service professionals, or…
FK: That’s true.
ELM: Lots of people do work. But yes. It is a holiday where many Americans…
FK: I would say there’s a shockingly large number of people. Out of all the holidays it’s probably the one that most people, I think maybe, don’t?
ELM: Christmas? I think a lot more businesses are closed on Christmas.
FK: Hmm. That might be true. I don’t know.
ELM: I feel like any Jewish listener who goes out on Christmas could probably give me a better picture of that cause I don’t go anywhere on Christmas, but.
FK: But they might be neck-and-neck, which is a lot.
ELM: Either way, those are the two holidays we don’t do things for. We do do things. We talk to our family.
FK: However horrible they may be. If they voted for Trump, we still talk to them, usually.
ELM: I don't.
FK: Fair enough. Good choice. [ELM laughs] But this actually gets back to the point of the episode, right?
ELM: Quick, before I start talking about Donald Trump, why don’t you tell me the point of the episode.
FK: OK. So in combination with Thanksgiving happening, we went together to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And as every person who listened to this podcast before today knows, this is a shared fandom that we have, Harry Potter. And, we had a lot of thoughts about fandoms that we had in the past, and returning, this has been a year of soft reboots and revivals like Star Wars, Harry Potter obviously we just said that, X-files, Gilmore Girls is out now if you’re a Gilmore Girls person, Twin Peaks is coming back, right.
ELM: Star Trek on TV is coming back.
FK: Star Trek, yeah, and there was another film which a lot of people felt like was more true to the Star Trek style. So there’s been all of these going on, and there's something about our relationships to old fandoms that maybe…fandoms that we spent a long time with, that maybe, I don’t know, metaphorically relates to being home for Thanksgiving and being like…I don’t know. Everyone here is exactly like they always were and yet I have a different perspective on it, or maybe I still have the same perspective on it but I still have to be back with you because I kinda have to because I’m compelled because I’m a fan…I don’t know.
ELM: A fan of my uncle.
FK: A fan! [laughs]
ELM: All my problematic faves! [laughing]
FK: You know what I mean, though, right? I feel like at a certain point fandom feels like it’s something like family, in that there will never be a Harry Potter thing that I don’t see—even if I loathe it—or maybe there will be, but I’ll probably ultimately have a mixed feeling about the fact that I don’t see it, you know what I mean? It’ll be a conscious choice. And it’ll be weird for me, anyway, and it’ll be a thing. Or if you cut out an old fandom, it’s a little bit like cutting off someone who’s really toxic in your life, which is a completely reasonable thing to do, but I think a big choice.
ELM: Yeah, and tied up in that is the fact that a lot of these fandoms are probably ones that you encountered when you were significantly younger. And the world has changed and probably your perspectives have changed. We both read Harry Potter, well I did anyway, when we were a little bit older, but I hear from a lot of people who were 8, 10, 11 when they first read the books and now approach them with adult eyes, and I don’t wanna frame this as a sort of “Back when I was a teenager I was ignorant and racist, and now I understand things!” No, cause I think that that inherently is gonna frame it around being a white teenager, for example. I don’t wanna make it as reductive as that, cause I think there’s a lot of different ways that your world-views can be broadened.
FK: Right, completely. So for instance we were talking about this a little bit ago and I was mentioning that a lot of people I know really don’t like C.S. Lewis now, once the penny dropped that it was all about Jesus. When you’re a kid you read it and you enjoy it and then you read it and you’re like “Wait, shit, this was all proselytizing to me.” And obviously as two Episcopalians we are totally the target audience for C.S. Lewis…
ELM: I didn’t start going to church till I was 20.
FK: Huh! OK!
ELM: And I self described as an atheist, or kind of a…
FK: I was raised atheist also, did you know this?
ELM: No, I didn’t know that! What kinda Mormon are you?
FK: I’m the kinda Mormon whose great-grandfather got literally kicked out of the church and then became a staunch Communist and insisted he was atheist to everybody even though he really wasn’t, we all knew.
ELM: I’m just the child of a lapsed Catholic.
FK: Right. But you see my point though, right? [laughs] I don’t have mixed feelings about…I have a little bit of mixed feelings about C.S. Lewis, God damn you Horse and His Boy, but not for that reason, not for the Jesus reason.
ELM: Yeah, I never felt betrayed for the Jesus reason as a lot of people I know have. I definitely tried to read them again and had to stop at Horse and his Boy, I was like “I can’t go on” and you're talking to someone who spent all of college studying the British Empire and specifically studying colonialist literature. It really felt like…it’s weird, actually, because I don’t have that reaction, I’ve read a lot of racist books in my trek through Victorian British literature, right? Particularly the ones that are explicitly meant to be colonial texts. The H. Rider Haggard, the garbagey Dean Koontz of 1895.
FK: [laughs] She is really a remarkable book of just distilled…
ELM: Extraordinary. But you know, I think there’s, just in the same way there’s value in studying some…I don’t know. [laughs]
FK: No no no, I totally feel you on this. As I think you know I did the Chromatic Characters Fic Exchange and I got A Horse and His Boy and I was just like, “What do I do what do I do what do I do.” And I wrote something and it was well received by people, so I think I got it OK? But it was definitely the moment where I was like, “OK, here’s this thing.” But this is beside the point.
ELM: But I’m trying to figure out, and I read it in college, I tried to read them all again, and I’m not sure why at that point I was just like “Whoo no, wait a second!” You know? It’s an interesting reaction. I don’t know why that took me so aback when other texts were, I’m not like “Oh, stop, I don’t wanna do this anymore!” Cause it’s not like, it’s definitely not the most racist book I’ve ever read. That’s grim.
FK: Right. Totally.
FK: I think there’s something about, especially if you read it before and you didn’t have that reaction to it, whether it’s about that or whether it’s about the Jesus thing, or whatever it’s about, with last episode I talked about The Girl Who Owned A City and I was really relieved when I read it and I was like “This is entirely objectivist propaganda,” but then I was like “Oh but I can just cut those pages out.” But I think that there’s something about the feeling of betrayal, either when you read something that you used to like and then now you see new things in it that you don’t like so much, or if, like, there’s new canon and you really don’t like the new canon, right? I think they’re actually kind of similar feelings. It’s weird. It’s a little bit like when, you know, when a beloved relative says something that you’re just like “Oh God.”
ELM: You can’t see the look of horror that Flourish is making right now.
FK: You know when someone just drops something and you’re like…
ELM: But I think one very valid critique of the “Oh no,” there’s been a lot of discourse about this over the last week on social media, saying “Oh no I have to talk to my racist uncle at Thanksgiving,” it’s like, you already know he’s your racist uncle, right? Why are you saying “oh no” right now? Maybe you were saying that two years ago, but…it’s kind of an indictment of the things that we let slip until it becomes too much.
FK: Totally. The election did not suddenly turn anybody, give anybody…nor do things like Fantastic Beasts. It’s not like all of a sudden…
ELM: It’s not like they were pristine, the Harry Potter world was some pristine unproblematic text and then she went off the rails. Though she really…ugh. We’re gonna, can we talk explicitly about Fantastic Beasts for a little bit at some point?
FK: Why don’t we do it now?
ELM: Right now? You wanna do it right now?
FK: Yeah, let’s do it right now. Or do you wanna take a break and then shall we talk about Fantastic Beasts.
ELM: Yeah, let’s do that.
FK: OK. We’ll take a break, we’ll be right back, and then we’ll talk about Fantastic Beasts.
FK: All right, we’re back. So. Initial thoughts upon seeing it in reference to your own personal Harry Potter fandom.
ELM: Mmph. Uhhhh. [laughs] I think I said this, cause I was just re-listening to the special, the first special episode which was about Cursed Child. And at the end of that episode we were talking a bit about what’s been going on in the franchise this year, and I was saying that one thing that strikes me and, you know, as someone who’s spent a while living in the UK, and spent a lot of time studying British literature, I felt like the Harry Potter books reflected a problematic racist society, and other problems too, not just racism, but they also, they feel true to Britain now, Britain at that time. It’s nothing, you know, the sidelining of character of color, the—can’t even say sidelining of queer characters, you know. The centering of—
FK: Queer villainous…
ELM: Of straight, of of certain kinds of quote unquote “Britishness.” It’s definitely problematic and definitely worth critiquing strenuously, but it’s something, it doesn’t feel disconnected with reality. Like, nothing about…Fantastic Beasts didn’t feel connected to any reality. And it was like, I don’t know. I feel like this is maybe a weird rabbit-holey way to frame this, so maybe I could try to walk myself back out of it. But all of the discourse we’ve been having, aside from the “Magic in North America,” which, in case anyone somehow managed to miss that story, Pottermore released this four part history of magic in North America that was like, super super racist and culturally appropriative, Native American mythology, and histories, stories of mythology and magic, right. And it was super…is paternalistic the right word? The whole “Only Europeans had wands but Native Americans had spirit magic,” that kinda thing.
FK: More in the way it was framed than the, like, concept, right? It was very specifically in this framing of the wand as being the better tool.
ELM: Right. Oh, of course. Important European technology is much better. You know. Than the people that they were coming to [sighs] displace and murder. But all of that wasn’t even like, none of that was in the movie. You know? At one point someone was saying to me “We don’t know that’s gonna be in the movie!” Well, that doesn’t mean it never existed. They still chose to make that this official thing that they put out. So that doesn’t erase it. But it is true that it doesn’t have anything to do with the movie, right?
FK: Right. There’s no hint of it whatsoever.
ELM: But like—
FK: Which is a little weird.
ELM: I know! I know. You’re gonna suck and it’s not even for the foundation of your story? You just decided to just…
FK: The only thing is the existence of a thunderbird.
ELM: And they mention the school.
FK: And they mention the school once. But there’s nothing…which is one of the funnier things, which is that I don’t believe that, you know, it doesn’t seem to me…if that was what was in the movie I don’t know that there would be such an issue except for all of the additional content that was released. I don’t know that people would have had such a big problem with it. Not to say that—I mean about the “Magic in North America” issue specifically. Not to say that there aren’t issues with the use of a thunderbird or what have you, but it’s not touched upon enough, right. You know what I’m saying? There’s not enough information.
ELM: Except for using a thunderbird, which is a…do you know what region or what tribe that comes from?
FK: I’m gonna get it wrong if I…
ELM: I don’t wanna put you on the spot.
FK: I looked it up at one point but I don’t wanna say something that would be radically wrong.
ELM: Just guess! Don’t worry about it. That’s not offensive in any way. [laughs] I didn’t know that that was, what animal that was. Did he say it was a thunderbird? I completely missed that.
FK: He said it was a thunderbird.
ELM: He was busy showing me sixteen thousand other creatures and I was like, “Ooh, shiny.” So.
FK: Yeah, he called it a thunderbird at one point.
ELM: Anyway, all of that aside, all of the other discourse that we’ve been having—we as a fandom, and we as a broader fannish community or pop culture focused community talking about the casting, talking about, I don’t know where this got started if it was from an official source or speculation that it was going to be set in Harlem, where like…I’m still seeing people talking about this, even though the movie has been out and a lot of people have seen it. They’re like “Well, it was set in Harlem, and there are no people of color in the movie!” It's like, OK, it’s factually true there are almost no people of color. The extras are, it’s shockingly white, white crowd. They also don’t go above whatever the Central Park Zoo is. 90th Street maybe, max.
FK: The Central Park Zoo is like…
ELM: It’s lower? 70s?
FK: It’s way lower. It’s not even as far up as the Met, so it’s like the 70s.
ELM: Right. So they don’t go north of there. Right? I can’t think of a scene that goes…
FK: No, they really don’t. And even when they’re in the 70s it’s Central Park.
ELM: Right. Most of it is set…
FK: And there’s that jewelry shop, which is probably…
ELM: The jewelry shop is probably around 47th Street, in the diamond district?
FK: Probably so. It wasn’t clear to me entirely, but probably yeah.
FK: I’m just trying to think of what order it happened in, you know what I mean, and where they were, but this is beside the point. This is New York inside baseball.
ELM: Regardless, it’s not set in Harlem, they don’t spend any time in Harlem whatsoever, it should have been diversely cast wherever you set it in my opinion if they were going for historical accuracy they still utterly failed. It’s completely stripped of any white ethnic groups, which had such a massive presence in the city at that time. Obviously I was mad that not even the criminal goblin was Italian, not a single freakin’ Italian—not even the criminal, which usually we can count on the criminal to be Italian.
FK: It was a little interesting to met that Kowalski is opening a pastry shop or whatever and then there’s no, there’s no form of like—it just looks like a French pastry shop, which was a little bit strange to me. I was like, what? Was his name Kowalski? It is Kowalski, isn't it? I don’t even remember.
ELM: Something Polish sounding.
FK: It was Polish.
ELM: And everyone’s talked about there’s these protagonists with Jewish surnames, but there’s no indication beyond, it’s just giving them names.
FK: It was interesting because we even see the Goldsteins cook a meal in their house, you know? And so it’s like…interesting. So we’re in a house, we’re watching a meal be cooked, there’s not, it would have been really easy to do some kind of set design or something, you know what I’m saying, that had some nod in this very intimate space to that. But there just wasn’t. It didn’t exist.
ELM: Right. So…
FK: I mean I’m not saying the kitchen has to be kashered or something, but you know. [both laugh] Even, I just rewatched Eyes Wide Shut and in Eyes Wide Shut there’s even a set design bit where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s house has a menorah in this, and there’s this question—I mean I’m just saying. C’mon.
ELM: Right, but it doesn’t, it feels as empty as her saying “Of course there are Jews at Hogwarts. Anthony Goldstein!” Wait, are they also named Goldstein?
FK: No, they’re named something else. I don’t even remember the names of the characters!
ELM: Are you sure?
FK: No, I think they actually might be.
ELM: [whispering] Are they related?
FK: Actually now that you’re saying this I’m pretty sure they are, because I think that I saw it and I was like, “Oh I wonder.” I’m googling it. Yes! Porpentina Goldstein.
ELM: I mean they very well could be related. The one Jewish wizarding family in the Anglophone world. I mean it could be deliberate choice. There could be meant to give another connection between the wizarding world we know and the new one.
FK: Mm-hmm. Oh, look at that. Yeah. Anthony Goldstein is listed as a distant relative on [ELM laughs] on this wiki, so.
ELM: All right, well, my observation then comes to fruition.
FK: There can be only one.
ELM: Fine. Fine. Yeah. It as empty as that. It’s as empty as saying Dumbledore is gay. What does that mean?
FK: To me this kind of relates to my initial feeling about it which again I’m struggling to—obviously all the things you’ve just said I, you know, yeah. But my initial feeling about it when I left the theater was that this was a different kind of fanfic, and I do mean that in a negative way, and here’s what I mean it in a negative way as: in the way that there’s certain characters that have to be reused to create a connection to canon when you’re telling a story that maybe—
ELM: WHY ARE YOU CALLING IT FANFIC DIDN’T YOU READ MY ARTICLE?
FK: I don’t mean it in that strict and literal way, and I’m not really calling it fanfic in—
ELM: I think that’s a very irresponsible way to describe it and I think you know better, Flourish.
FK: I don’t—
ELM: I don’t think that fanfiction is the only literature that needs to set those foundations. I think all of literature does this, but some does it in a lazier way than others, and this is lazy!
FK: I’m not saying…OK. When we talked about Cursed Child, you said that it felt like fanfic because we have heard this story before. Because we have seen these stories written in fanfic before, specifically things like Voldemort’s daughter, etc.
ELM: I didn’t say that!
FK: We totally talked about this!
ELM: I did not say that, you can listen to that episode again. I never said that. Everyone else said that and I argued with them. It didn’t feel like fanfic to me at all because most fanfic I’ve read in my entire life is better, but also I explicitly argued—
FK: Well, because it wasn’t concerned with the things fanfic is generally concerned about, which is the interior life of the character, which by the way, in this way I agree that Fantastic Beasts is also mostly like this. The good points in it are when it starts getting into the characters’ interior lives, which is very tiny bits.
ELM: They have interior lives?
FK: Newt is not afraid to do the Erumpent dance, which was charming.
ELM: [sighs] It was charming.
FK: Right? Just think about the Erumpent dance.
ELM: No, I'm still mad that you were putting words that I despise into my mouth. That’s absurd! I think that is genuinely irresponsible! I’m almost as mad about this as the election of Donald Trump, as you can hear from my shouting!
FK: I agree that those words have been used in irresponsible ways, but I don’t think that in every respect it is irresponsible to say that fanfic has produced a lot of ideas about where the story could go. Right?
ELM: [skeptically] Mm-hmm.
FK: And in this one respect I think this is one of the issues with Cursed Child, because we’ve seen all this done and done better, right? We’ve seen all of this done and done in more idiosyncratic ways. We’ve seen things, for me, the thing about this was, I felt like I had read people writing about a United States wizarding school with these ideas, that were more…culturally…framed! You know. That felt more true in the way that I think you’re trying to get at right?
ELM: We read such different fanfiction I would literally never, you would have to pay me money to click on a story about American wizarding school. And you’d have to pay me money to click on a story about Voldemort's fuckin’ daughter. I’ve never seen any fanfiction with any of this shit. I’m sure it’s there, but I would never read it. I could not care less what an American wizarding school is like.
FK: I don’t particularly care either but there are a lot of people who would.
ELM: I have noticed this!
FK: I’m just saying, I think there’s a lot of people who do, and I don’t think you get to call that not fanfic, and I don’t think that all of those stories are entirely horrible.
ELM: Those stories are fanfic, sure, if it’s explicitly meant to be fanfiction.
FK: But what I’m saying is one of the problems with this was that the flaws within it, which I agree are many…
ELM: But that’s, no, Flourish, you could probably find Star Wars fanfic that’s better than any of those movies.
FK: Mm-hmm, absolutely.
ELM: You could probably find Star Trek fic that's better than those episodes. I just think that’s not a useful argument.
FK: The way in which I find it useful for this is from thinking about the idea of how far can any one author take a story. Right? An author can tell a story from their own perspective, they can tell a story from other perspectives, but I do think there’s a point at which maybe when you’re trying to tell a global story, or truly have a global view of something, then maybe it can’t be a single-authored thing. Maybe you need other people with other perspectives to either collaborate or to, to take it on, right?
FK: That’s where I’m trying to go with this.
ELM: Yeah, but I don’t know…where you wound up isn’t really where you started.
FK: No, I started off talking about how one of the problems I was seeing with it was I see other people trying to take on similar stories to this in fanfic and this made me think about how this is sort of like that, but it doesn’t hit all the right notes—not that all those stories do either, by the way. But then thinking about, should this be singly authored?
ELM: I don’t know.
FK: If there’s a goal for a truly international wizarding world, can it all come from J.K. Rowling? I don’t know.
ELM: Well, that the answer is 100% not.
FK: Right, but then we get into this question of multiplicities of universes and how to create something that feels true, and I think one of the benefits of fanfic is that it allows us to…it allows lots of different people’s perspectives to get injected into a world.
ELM: Definitely. But that’s not gonna happen, so now we're stuck with 100,000 movies in this arc, Lord only knows…is Newt Scamander gonna be in all of them? He barely felt like he was in this one. It felt like he didn’t even belong in this movie, you know? It was like two different movies smushed into one very poorly. I don’t care about any of the characters, maybe him a little bit, and all of the extraordinary, really tense, well-built political elements of the original books is utterly lacking in a time when you’re supposed to be showing this point of political tension, where for anyone who hasn’t seen it the American wizards have a different approach to their relationship with Muggles, I’m not gonna say fucking “no-majs,” and they are self-segregating, very strict, there’s a no-intermarrying rule, which as our friend we saw it with pointed out that’s a fairly problematic construction to suggest if you’re trying to draw this American, this is an American story they have segregation in marriage and whatever, right. But it’s somewhat irresponsible to say that that was the imposition of the minority group, right? And I agree with that.
FK: Yeah, I see that point. I didn’t…when I was first seeing it I was just grateful that there was some attention being paid to a Muggle having feelings about the existence of the wizarding world, but…
ELM: I know you’re really interested in that.
FK: I am really interested in that.
ELM: You’re a regular Arthur Weasley.
FK: I’m a regular Arthur Weasley, that’s me. [ELM laughs] But hold up. I think that there’s something…it is interesting with this though, because this isn’t the only way this could go. Look at Star Wars, which a lot of people feel like is a incredibly positive step forward in that series. Look at The X-files, which is basically exactly what you expected. I mean I think that’s what most X-files fans I know thought about. They were like “Hey! It doesn’t suck as bad as the second movie and it sucks in all the way the old stuff sucked, so hooray! More Mulder and Scully looking like they wanna kiss all the time! Great! And also some casual racism just because Chris Carter doesn’t know when to stop.” That has always been part of it, it’s exactly the same. Not that it’s good to have that repeated, but it definitely is in the category of like…
ELM: Still transphobic, I hear.
FK: Here it is. I mean here it is. It’s more of what ya had before. It’s not new. And then thinking about things like Twin Peaks, which I feel like a lot of people feel really excited about, I mean, I do, but I think a lot of the lead-up…they’ve released a novel and there’s plenty of things that are edging on weird in Twin Peaks, all the way to weird—not just in the eerie sense—but nevertheless it feels like a lot of people are excited about that reboot. The novelization gave a lot more context for a lot of stuff. It’s not a novelization, it’s a novel in the world. So, all I'm saying is it doesn’t have to be this way, right? Some fandoms are getting different experiences of the reboot than Harry Potter is.
ELM: Right. So great. That’s great for them.
FK: [laughs] You're just saying this because none of your fandoms have had the great reboot yet.
ELM: Yeah, I mean, the last fandom I was in hasn’t finished.
FK: Yeah, that’s true.
ELM: So that’s gonna end. That’s fine.
FK: Speaking of fandoms that you’ve cut off like the person who’s just too difficult to talk to in your family.
ELM: I recced a Sherlock fic that I remember loving back in the day in the newsletter yesterday.
ELM: Yeah, so I'm happy for everyone in fandoms who feel like the source material is evolving. I think that, I mean, let’s bring this back to the Thanksgiving analogy: I have, I don’t wanna talk about my family, I feel like that’s, I don’t wanna put them on the spot.
FK: But you’re gonna.
ELM: I definitely feel like we’ve had a lot of fights, we’re all liberal but we have different feelings about things. And I feel like we are coming, they are inching towards me. My mom’s gonna listen to this and I’m not sure what she’s gonna say. But I basically feel like I’m having a lot of fights with people in different parts of the left right now, which I think is, you know, getting my white brocialist friends to acknowledge that fixing economic equality will not fix racism and sexism and that kinda thing, getting them to come around to these points, it feels like small victories, you know?
FK: Yeah, totally.
ELM: But, yeah. I don’t know. I guess it doesn’t always have to be this kind of awakening, “Oh, no, my childhood faves actually super problematic,” or “Oh no my childhood fave keeps putting out shitty content that gets more and more problematic.” It can be “Oh good, they’re evolving with the times and they’re listening to conversations and they are becoming something that I’m proud to be a fan of as opposed to one that I’m increasingly ashamed to be a fan of,” J.K. Rowling, are you listening to this? No. No, she doesn’t listen to any of this.
FK: She’s not listening to this.
ELM: She’s really not listening to this.
FK: Hate to break it to you. No, but I think there are things also we can be fans of and have mixed feelings about, exactly like we can love our families, right? [ELM laughs] I am not gonna lie to you and say that I did not come out of that movie just like everybody I'm sure wanted me to, wanting nothing more than to own a Niffler. I really need a Niffler, Santa.
ELM: Flourish you are so basic.
FK: Santa please please please bring me a Niffler. That thing was so cute. I just wanna hug it forever. And you know what I don’t care that that was exactly what was intended. I came out of it feeling like that. So fine. Great. Whatever. I can be basic. But—
ELM: You’re like, someone, I think it was one of us maybe who afterwards compared it to a theme park. It did feel a lot like going to Universal Studios.
FK: Yeah that’s fine and it worked great.
ELM: And you walked into the gift shop and you were like [truly awful voice] THAT’S THE CUTEST! And now you want it, and you bought it.
FK: I have not yet bought it. But as soon as I can I probably will. My point is though, it's not [laughs] To some degree it’s like, there is relationship going back and forth between this. Am I gonna write fanfic about this? I don’t know, probably not, but maybe I will, and if I do, how am I gonna address that?
ELM: It’s just…
FK: Is it gonna be fix-it fic? What’s gonna happen? In the same way as, well, what am I gonna do with my family, what am I gonna do with my hometown, what am I gonna do with people in my life who I need to deal with. And I’m sure everybody of whatever situation, everybody has this. This isn’t just white people going home for Thanksgiving and having the difficult talk thing, any more than a fandom is just about, seeing things in an old fandom where you’re like “eh” now, that’s not just about race. It can be about lots of other stuff too. There can be all sorts of stuff in there.
ELM: I think plenty of people, I was very very cognizant my entire experience and this is partly why I came to fanfiction while reading Harry Potter, of how queerphobic they were. So it’s not like it was all sunshine at the time, in fact I was pretty pretty mad with some of the decisions she made right as I was reading them.
FK: And it can be about that, and obviously that’s on our minds hugely right now and all the time for that matter actually—
ELM: Why right now? Just right now?
FK: Well, I was gonna say with the election, Fantastic Beasts, et cetera. It seems like right now this is particularly being discussed broadly in addition to it always being, like, there. But, but there’s also like—
ELM: Oh. I don’t, I don’t see a big difference between now and 15 years ago.
FK: About queerphobia? I meant about social justice issues in general? 15 years ago it seemed like there was a lot less discussion of this in Harry Potter directly.
ELM: I don’t know. You don’t think that every slash ship is not some kind of statement? I don’t wanna make it too highfalutin, be like “Oh it’s some great political act to write slash,” cause as we discussed…
FK: No, I mean it, was it was at the beginning, I think, when people were first writing slash within Harry Potter there were tons of arguments about this.
ELM: That’s what I noticed! Even just reading the comments and not being involved in any discussions.
FK: I meant in the broader non-fanfic fandom, though.
ELM: Non-fanfic fandom I never had anything to do with.
FK: Fair enough, but this is my point—
ELM: Why would I hang out with those losers? No, I’m kidding.
FK: I feel like at this moment there’s a lot of discussion about these issues that have always been there, but they’re particularly highlighted—not just right now, but they’ve been increasingly coming into public discussion or broad discussion. But there’s other reasons why people also—now we’re way off of what I was originally saying.
ELM: This is your fault entirely, so.
FK: No, what I was gonna say is this is not even, it’s hugely about that but there’s also other stuff. We like things when we’re young—or even just not when we’re young but just in the past, and then we look at them later and we’re like “That was a bad story. I don’t know why I liked that cause it was shittily written,” or it was poorly done, or whatever. I went back and it turns out that all the special effects were horrible. You know?
ELM: That’s something I think you have to let go of critiquing, you know.
FK: Probably! But there is sort of like a…I don’t know, I watched The Two Towers the other day—
ELM: I was just gonna say the first Lord of the Rings movie! Yeeaaah.
FK: It was The Two Towers and the Styrofoam blocks that really got me. I still love it, but dude, those were some Styrofoam fuckin’ castles.
ELM: I remember going to see the only one I actually saw in theaters, cause I didn’t watch the books or read the—[laughs] watch the books. Read the books or watch the movies till I started college right when the third one was coming out, right? 2003? And so I watched the third one, and then I went back and watched the first two, and I was just like “whoo!” They really made some strides! Even between the first and the third.
FK: Oh completely completely! In terms of modeling of the armies and stuff? And the troll looks like, now looks like he’s from a video game completely in the first one. It’s like “Ohhh, honey.” [ELM laughs] But yeah, so I think that there’s a lot of reasons why you might have mixed feelings going forward about fandoms and a lot of them are political and some of them aren’t at all, I don’t know. How do we deal with that?
ELM: I have all the solutions. I’ll tell you after the break. How does that sound?
FK: Sounds good! [both laugh] We will solve your problems in a moment.
FK: Yeah, the wrap-up topic: How do we solve these problems of fandoms that we once loved and still kind of love?
ELM: I’m gonna tell you that just like Donald Trump, I said I was gonna solve all your problems but actually I’m just going to solve zero of them and just give you new problems. [FK laughs] Have you been following this? All the “What, he said take away Obamacare!?” Did you see this in the Times today?
FK: I did.
ELM: It’s one thing if you were genuinely tricked by his promises, but he explicitly said he was going to get rid of Obamacare, right? That was one of his platforms.
FK: It was a pillar. It’s as though your fandom said “Guess what! In 10 years, we’re gonna do a reboot and you’re gonna hate it!” And then you were like “What, I’m gonna hate it?”
ELM: I think…that metaphor didn’t make any sense to me, but I’ll run with it if we’re trying to bring it back to fandom, I just wanna bring Donald Trump back into it.
FK: [through laughter] It didn’t make sense to me either! It didn’t make sense while I said it.
ELM: OK! Oh my God. [laughs]
FK: You know, the mouth just started going, and the sense did not follow.
ELM: OK. So, I don’t know. I think some of this is reconciling with the fact that, I don’t know. I think it is important to kind of be real with yourself about how much of your experiences with texts that you liked when you were a kid or a teenager were partly tied up with when you were encountering them. And sometimes I think you just need to leave it at that. I’m not saying that if you and you were like…you can confront that. But if it’s just a matter of it doesn’t really hold up, I think it’s…
FK: But even if you do confront things, I feel like there’s something about…you can value the emotions you had with it and also let it go. You know what I’m saying? There’s a time at which you can be like, like with family members, you can be like—no really! If somebody is too, if you can’t keep them in your life, you can say to them, “Hey, I love you, I’m grateful to you, but we can’t talk anymore.” That is a thing that people can do for their mental health, right?
ELM: Sure, sure.
FK: And for the sake of the world. And for some fandoms that’s it. And for other fandoms that’s not it and you keep going back to your racist uncle talk at Thanksgiving.
ELM: I don’t know, everyone I don’t need in my life anymore in my family, I don’t have any fond memories of either. And I did try to talk to at least one of these people and that didn’t go well, so. This was before the election. I did my part. I did a very small part. This is not much of a part.
FK: But you did that much of a part anyway.
ELM: It was more like asking a fervent Trump fan to have a little empathy and he was like, “FUCK YOU!” He didn’t say it like that, but that was kinda the takeaway, and it was like, “All right, well, goodbye. See ya.”
FK: But you get the metaphor. Even if you do not personally have this situation in your own life, and I actually haven’t cut off any of my relatives so I don’t have direct, you know, experience with that, but you get the metaphor, right?
ELM: Yeah, totally. It’s hard. I don’t think it should be overstated at that, like…well, I don’t know. I was gonna say “Oh, you know, that’s family vs. your just fictional universes,” but I don’t wanna diminish fandom. I think it’s pretty important part of people’s lives.
FK: Well, and it can be formative, not just when you’re a teenager or a kid but even when, when you’re older too, right? It can be something that’s part of your life and that helps you and that is really deeply central to your identity, in a similar—not exactly the same as family is, but you know, in a way.
ELM: Absolutely, sure, sure.
FK: So then, saying “so long to all that” can be hard, or even like finding that you’ve grown out of something, right?
FK: As much as Harry Potter is always gonna have a special place in my heart, I’m beginning to wonder if I haven’t moved on past it in a certain way.
ELM: Well, as someone who is actively in the fandom right now, I have no interest in engaging with either Cursed Child or any of these Fantastic Beasts movies ever. Beyond seeing them, I don’t wanna see that movie again, the man behind us kept yawning and I was like, I’m right there with you bro. Honestly. I found it tedious, and that was very sad to me. It was like, I’ve never…there was a split second and our friend was sitting in between us and she said she felt like both of us knew it right when the Warner Brothers logo game on, we were both kind of like “ohh!” Cause I felt this sort of “oh, maybe!” Maybe it’ll come back!
FK: Yeah. I felt that hope that it was gonna be the same experience. And I don’t think I was as bored as you were, but I also didn’t feel the magic in the way I’d hoped. And other people did and that’s fine, but…
ELM: Also FYI, anybody who doesn’t live in New York or hasn’t spent time in New York, I’ve seen people saying that it was a good depiction of New York. [FK gasps] Yeah. I saw a comment today and she was like, I saw it with some native New Yorkers and they said it was a really great depiction of New York and I was like—Flourish just looked so offended! [laughs]
FK: I’m not a native New Yorker and, ooh.
ELM: I’ve literally never seen a film that feels less New York-y. A historical film that feels less like New York than that film. I can’t think of a single one. Go ahead. Name one. The Feivel movie? The Feivel one. An American Tail, do you know that one?
FK: I don’t know it, I don’t know it.
FK: I don’t know it!
ELM: Flourish, are you from the 80s?
FK: Not really, I was born in 1987!
ELM: You’re familiar with the immigrant mouse movie. Right? There was a first one where they emigrated from Europe, and then a second one where they went west. Feivel Goes West: An American Tail.
FK: I don’t remember this at all.
ELM: Jesus Christ. The parts in New York, that was better. Gargoyles…Gargoyles did a great depiction of New York.
ELM: I’m just gonna name all the cartoons that got it better so.
FK: Whatever. I mean, to me it felt like…something that I wondered while I was looking at it was was there an idea that by creating these things that were broadened, or things like the bakery being like super cutesy and everything, that this was somehow making it more magical? Making it the magical version of New York, whatever? And that didn’t work for me, because it felt like…I don’t know exactly why. But it really didn’t work for me. But I wondered if some of these problems stemmed from this idea.
ELM: The bakery isn’t meant to be magical. It’s his Muggle bakery.
FK: Right, but it’s cute and he makes all of the like…
FK: Sorry for all the people who haven’t seen it. I guess it’s shocking to find out there’s a bakery.
ELM: He gets the bakery. [laughs]
FK: But anyway, I wonder if this didn’t progress from some of these ideas of how to make New York magical. And whether maybe it wasn’t right in going the way it tried to go in making New York feel magical. Whatever that is. But I don’t know, I think I actually need to see it again in order to have some more thoughts on that. But it was not like New York.
ELM: You can see it again and report back, let me know.
FK: OK. Maybe I will. But OK, feelings about fandom and…you’re in the fandom, and you have no interest in engaging with this, but you still feel like you’re in the fandom as much as ever.
ELM: I actively rejoined it and am writing fanfiction, although I stopped after the election even though I was working on one, and it would be nice to find the spark to start writing them again, as we discussed in the last episode, I still haven’t had any…I don’t think I’ve posted anything fandom related on Tumblr since the election. And the, you know, I mean, I am still very active in our secret seltzer fan club on Facebook…but…
FK: Seltzer fan club, right?
ELM: Between that and Pantsuit Nation, I’m just heartin’ and wowin’ every post. There was a period where I saw all my friends posting political stuff and I just used that little angry guy over and over again, but now my feed is almost entirely Pantsuit Nation and seltzer…are you in Pantsuit Nation?
ELM: Do you look at the posts?
FK: Not only am I in Pantsuit Nation, I invited YOU to Pantsuit Nation.
ELM: Flourish, I’m sorry, I forgot!! Do you get them in your feed? Cause they have colonized my feed now.
FK: I actually stopped seeing as many in my feed because there were too many in my feed.
ELM: Did you say “show me less of these?”
FK: Yes. [ELM laughs] I love them but there were too many in my feed. OK. So what’s the moral in this episode because we should begin wrapping up I think.
ELM: I don’t know. I honestly, part of the reason I wanna talk about this and we barely even touched on this is that I, and this is partly spurred by conversations with my friend Dicta—shoutout to Dicta!—we’ve been talking about this a lot since the election, the idea of, I think it’s pretty irresponsible to talk about fandom as a safe space, you know, or a place of escape. Or a place that you can go home to, when for a lot of people it never has been, whether because of the source material or the fans or both…so it just gets really tricky, especially right now at a time when it feels like a lot of people need to take that moment to escape from an especially fraught time in the outside world. I don’t know. Is this too far afield?
FK: I do think that, I might not frame it as ever saying fandom is an escape is wrong or problematic, because I think that for a lot of people it can be or maybe the objects of fandom can be? Right? We talked with Ebony, one of our early guests, and she talked about how Anne of Green Gables was an escape for her when she was a kid. And I think that’s totally valid, but the fact that it can serve as an escape doesn’t therefore take away, make it a safe space entirely. Or take away any political aspects of it. Right? It can both be an escape and be contested, and be problematic, and all of these things. You can’t…you can’t take politics out of things, right?
ELM: But what…
FK: But it can still function that way for you…
ELM: But I think there’s a lot of presumption there. If you look at fans of any of the 16,000 shows that killed off queer women this year, or, look at Harry Potter itself, you know? You could say “Oh I just don’t wanna think about it.” I don’t know. I think that it’s tricky to say the object of fandom…yeah, sure, it can be an escape, but it’s like…I’m not sure you can universally say that any text is gonna be an escape, because something’s gonna…there’s gonna be something that will probably bring you back into the real world.
FK: I was talking about, hmm. So I was talking about, people can use texts in different ways, right? Someone, even someone who is directly impacted by things in a text, right…you can read a text that is sexist or racist or whatever, and in certain ways you can decide that you’re going to, that you’re going to elide that in your mind, right. A lot of people have said this about Harry Potter, they’re like “Yes of course it’s racist, the way lots of things are racist, of course it is. Naturally. And yet I…” and I’m not talking about white people here. Let’s be clear. “And yet it can be an escape for me, I can escape to Hogwarts in my mind.” So what I’m saying is you can choose to use something as an escape even knowing and acknowledging its problems, but that doesn’t mean its problems don’t exist and that doesn’t mean other people don’t get to point those out if for them it’s not an escape.
FK: You can choose to use a text the way you want, but the moment you bring fandom into it, you bring in other people with their own perspectives and takes on things, so some of them are not gonna agree with you. It’s not gonna be like, the text wasn’t a safe space, and fandom’s not gonna be a safe space either. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it as an escape, but it means you’re gonna have to deal with that. You’re gonna have to accept these people and their opinions and their viewpoints and their ways of using the text or engaging with it.
ELM: Right. I mean, the flip side of that obviously would be that you can find the people who see the same problems as you. Or you can find other people who elide the same things, and want to bury their heads in the sand about the same things also. It can go either way. It doesn’t have to be so black-and-white either.
FK: Right, and the same text can do the same…you can treat the same text in different ways even within a short period of time, I think. Or many people can. So I think that’s what’s…that’s what really bothers me about this narrative of escape and safe space versus NOTHING IS SAFE, YOU CAN NEVER HAVE THIS. Yeah, but actually people can flip between these things and should, probably, in order to maintain a healthy balance of feeling about the world. But it’s really hard to find that balance.
ELM: Absolutely, and I think it’s especially precarious in fandom if you are doing that switching, you know. You may wind up on the same…we could be having different feelings about it…I could be going “OH THIS PART OF HARRY POTTER OH NO” and you could be like “I’m just trying to be like…” I just painted you to be the head in the sand person right now, sorry.
FK: No, you can paint me. I was defending the escape side. Go ahead.
ELM: And the next day we could be on the same page, right? And that’s hard, because then I think we can get very cloistered, where we only…try to find people who…that just made me think of people being “you need to love Trump supporters” and that’s not what I’m saying at all.
FK: No, but there is a filter bubbling thing about it. I can filter bubble myself out of anybody who has problems with things in a story I love, I could do that. And that might not be good for me. But it also might not be good for me to, like, you know, maybe I do need an escape and so I shouldn’t feel like I can’t have that…but…there’s also this other stuff.
ELM: Right, but am I doing the wrong thing? Am I doing the wrong thing by cutting out people out of my social media right now who are not on the same page as me? I’m not talking about fandom anymore. I’m talking about politics again.
FK: Actually I think that they are relevant to each other. They’re not the same thing, but they're relevant to each other. Similarly, this is also along the lines of, I don't know, I was in Sleepy Hollow fandom and the Ichabbie and Ichatrina people and, on the one hand—I don’t know if people who don’t remember this, it was like…a horrifying war in fandom that brought in race and every possible thing and it was just, it sucked, right? And then there was like, “OK, are we not gonna debate this? Cause it seems like there’s some racism going on here that maybe we should talk about, but at the same time, do we really wanna just troll each other’s tags and yell at each other?” I don’t know. Do you filter bubble, or do you just…what do you do in that situation?
ELM: Right, well, that’s the problem though! Cause if you build spaces where you find a lot of like-minded people, then to find people who are disagreeing, you are gonna be trolling the tags. Just as occasionally I look at the replies to various prominent journalists to see which person with “deplorable” and a little picture of a frog in their Twitter handle I can first report and then block. The report…I’ve been doing a lot of reporting. Do you report on Twitter?
FK: [laughing] I do report on Twitter but I’ve been on Twitter so little lately, I’ve just completely lost my taste for it all.
ELM: I’ve been so much on Twitter. I feel like I’m framing this like a great public service, but I’ve been explicitly going to threads where I know there’s going to be a very alt-right sort of response, which usually involves some pretty violently anti-Semitic imagery, we’ll just say. And so I’ve been doing a lot of reporting, because now they’ve changed the thing so you can say it’s targeting a specific group based on race, gender, religion, et cetera. I’m not sure that’s gonna come to anything, but at least we can get their accounts shut down.
FK: I don’t know. But, you know, I mean…
ELM: It feels like I’m trolling, I’m trolling their tags, but I feel like I’m doing the very tiny service by being, like, “NO!” You know?
FK: Yeah, but I don’t know if it’s…
ELM: I don’t think it’s necessarily analogous.
FK: Maybe my metaphor, this is my metaphor and I think it’s now completely broken down.
ELM: No no no, I turned this into a thing about, you know, neo-Nazis when you were just talking about a ship war. I don’t know.
FK: With…I mean, with a lot of race issues involved in it. But yes, a ship war, fundamentally.
ELM: There may have been some neo-Nazis too.
FK: I don’t know about that. I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t…I don’t know that I ever noticed any alt-right activity around Ichabod and Katrina? There might have been, I just mighta missed it. But. I’m gonna pretend that isn’t the case. OK. So how did we get from “fandom is like your family going home for Thanksgiving and there’s no place like home,” to filter bubbling? [laughs] Story of our episodes.
ELM: Everything has lost all meaning to me these days. “There’s no place like home” meaning, I think to a lot of people, there’s nothing as kinda complicated as families. Especially in fandom where I think you have a higher proportion of queer people. I think that can be, that can be very fraught, but “there’s no place like home” meaning…I don’t know. Meaning that it’s complicated.
FK: It’s complicated.
ELM: No! We can come up with a better conclusion than that.
FK: I don’t know that we can come up with a better conclusion than that because unfortunately it’s complicated is kinda the situation.
ELM: That’s grim.
FK: The world is grim!
ELM: Some people are paying us five dollars a month for our opinions! We can do better than this.
FK: Well how’s this: I think one thing that comes out of this is fandom is as personal as family, which is not to say that there are not, like, moral rights and wrongs that you can have in your relationship to either family or fandom, but that everybody has to work that out for themselves, and…that can become tough when we’re trying to work that out in community, also.
ELM: Mm-hmm, sure.
FK: But it doesn’t make it a lot easier.
ELM: Against the backdrop of external factors that you don’t really have much control over.
FK: Right, exactly.
ELM: Like the Harry Potter fandom is massive and multifaceted and people have very different opinions and it, you know, then she's hittin’ us with new stuff all the time and we’re like “AHH!” You know? Or, alternatively, a horrible orange fascist could be elected President. External factors you can’t control.
FK: Right, right. Or even just things like, we have relationships with our friends or whoever, right? And the way that we treat our fandoms or our family or whatever is in relationship to them, that may look different to them. They may be, you know, you can do something and be like “Oh, I’m just, I’m just talking with my uncle, who’s like…” you know, we’re using this racist uncle term, right? But you can be like “Yeah, I was just having this conversation and I’m trying to reach out to him?” And your friend can be like “How can you reach out to that Nazi because I’m Jewish and you just told me he said all these anti-Semitic things, do you agree with him?” And you can be like…I don’t know, it becomes complicated because you have more people involved now.
ELM: Flourish, how can you be talking to your anti-Semitic uncle, Flourish?
FK: This is a metaphorical anti-Semitic uncle.
ELM: Man, this racist uncle is getting a lot of airtime in general in the entire media, he’s out there.
FK: It’s like Plato’s forms, you know, the form of the racist uncle. [ELM laughs] We see him in the shadow of the cave.
ELM: Aw, come on, what about…who’s this racist uncle’s children? Who are they? Why aren’t they dealing with this? That’s the real question.
FK: I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t have kids.
ELM: He’s your racist bachelor uncle?
FK: Maybe that. We’re thinking way too much about this. Anyway…
ELM: Racist uncle fandom.
FK: I think that’s the conclusion we can come to. [both laugh] Racist uncle fanfiction. I’ve gotta write that.
ELM: Uncle Vernon.
FK: Uncle Vernon! His kid is Dudley.
FK: And that's why he’s not dealing with it.
ELM: White MIllennials voted for Trump.
FK: Because they were too busy playing their five video game consoles.
ELM: Yeah, do you think Dudley would have voted Leave? Definitely Vernon and Petunia…well, I don’t know. If he takes a, we don’t know what happens to him after the books. You read that really great fic that Gav recommended that was POV of Dudley's wife?
FK: There’s a lot of good fic that’s Dudley…you know…we’re way off topic.
ELM: And he’s like “I guess I was abused too, it was emotional abuse” and you’re like “DUDLEY I have SO MANY FEELINGS FOR YOU.” I mean this is a totally fictional narrative, he probably did vote leave. He’s probably a bad dude.
FK: Yeah but there are a lot of Dudley redemption fics.
ELM: He’s someone's racist uncle now too. Mm-hmm. [both laugh]
FK: On that note, [Elizabeth continually chortles] We have just completely beat this metaphor to death. It is a dead horse that we are beating right now. So maybe we should be done. OK. All right.
ELM: All right. Let's wrap this up. Next time I talk to you I will be IN ENGLAND!
FK: [gasps with pleasure] So exciting!
ELM: It really is though. I can’t wait to go to fascism island. I’ll report back about the coming world war.
FK: Fascism island. OK.
ELM: It’s real!
FK: Well, I wish you a good time in Fascism Eng—
ELM: Thank you!
FK: [laughs] Fascism England, Fascism island.
FK: I hope that you have a magical Christmas, I want you to take a lot of pictures…
ELM: I’m gonna talk to you before Chri—I’m gonna talk to you in like a week. It’s November!
FK: It’ll be Christmassy!
ELM: OK, sure, a magical Christmastime.
FK: Just to note to everybody, Elizabeth right now is sitting in a room with a Christmas tree with all the lights up and everything, so I think it’s valid for me to talk about the Christmas season.
ELM: That’s because my family gets their Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. Like good Christmas lovers.
FK: Like good Christmas lovers. So have a magical holiday season in general.
ELM: Thank you.
FK: And send me lots of pictures and maybe we can post a couple of them.
ELM: Specially if I do anything fannish.
FK: To show how magical it is.
ELM: Absolutely, I will.
FK: And we’re not sure what we're gonna be talking about yet, are we?
ELM: Maybe something British.
FK: Maybe something British.
ELM: We’ll see. OK.
FK: OK. I guess I’ll talk to you later, from far far away.
ELM: From thousands and thousands of miles away. Go to Los Angeles so we can be like, 15 hours apart.
FK: I will actually be in Los Angeles for a little bit of time in that span.
ELM: God Flourish why? It’s not 15 hours, it’s 8 hours, but that’s miserable, thanks.
FK: It’s also only for like two days, so we’ll probably record not then.
ELM: OK great.
FK: OK. I’ll talk to you later Elizabeth.
ELM: OK BYE!
FK & ELM: Fansplaining is brought to you by a lot of Patreon supporters and particularly earlgreytea68, Lindsay Smith, Elliot Byrom, Chloe-Leonna Steele, Clare Muston, Christian Gossett, Menlo Steve, AR, Katherine Lynn, Clare Mulligan, Heidi Tandy, Megan C., an anonymous Patron, Maria Temming, Anne Jamison, Jay Bushman, Lucas Medeiros, Bradlea Raga-Barone, Jules Chatelain, Georgina, Goodwin, Amelia Harvey, and in honor of One Direction! The opinions expressed in this podcast are not those of Chimera Media Group, Chaotic Good, or our clients, or employers, or anyone’s except our own. This week’s Creative Commons licensed music is by Kevin MacLeod. Find him at incompetech.com.