Episode 48: Con or Bust
Elizabeth and Flourish talk to Diana Pho, a Tor editor who runs “Beyond Victoriana,” and Mark Oshiro of “Mark Reads” and “Mark Watches.” They’re both board members of Con or Bust, an organization that raised money to help fans of color attend conventions. Topics covered include the philosophy and the practice behind Con or Bust, Diana and Mark’s congoing experiences, racism in both physical and digital fandom spaces, and why why cons should care about appealing to a broader group of attendees. They also discover the one show that Flourish’s very liberal parents and Mark’s very conservative ones would allow them both to watch.
[00:00:00] Intro music, as always, is “Awel” by Stefsax!
[00:01:07] Our episode with Tanya DePass was “Fresh Out of Tokens”!
[00:01:22] Our episode of Fresh Out of Tokens, Tanya’s podcast!
[00:02:20] Interstitial music here and throughout the rest of the episode is “Charity” by Jahzzar.
[00:03:29] Mark Does Stuff is Mark’s site!
[00:06:27] Beyond Victoriana is Diana’s blog!
[00:07:00] Con or Bust!
[00:07:34] RaceFail on Fanlore.
[00:09:22] The Carl Brandon society.
[00:09:36] Zen Cho, board member!
[00:13:15] It’s possible that this was just a debate among the interns in the admissions office. It was also many years ago. Please don’t take this as some statement on Flourish’s college’s policies or anything.
[00:26:30] Our episode on “slashtivism.”
[00:35:14] The Geek Social Fallacies!
[00:41:07] Racialicious is gone, but Moff’s Law lives on at Know Your Meme.
[00:55:11] The musical interlude is Jahzzar again!
[00:57:29] Flourish is totally wrong, it doesn’t actually switch between North America and elsewhere, but it does move around to more places than Europe.
[01:03:02] The outro music is - yet again - Jahzzar!
[Intro music: "Awel" by Stefsax]
Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish!
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom!
ELM: This is Episode 48, entitled “Con or Bust,” which is the name of the organization that we’re gonna be talking about today. They raise money to help fans of color go to fan conventions.
FK: Yes! And specifically we’re going to be talking to Mark Oshiro, who you might know from “Mark Reads,” “Mark Watches,” all the billion conventions that he does, and Diana Pho, who is an editor at Tor and also does a lot of work on decolonizing steampunk. So I’m very excited to talk to both of them.
ELM: That’s awesome. We were put in touch with them by Tanya DePass, who is a board member along with them at Con Or Bust. You might remember her from maybe six episodes ago or so.
FK: Yeah, it was a while back now.
ELM: She does I Need Diverse Games and also hosts “Fresh Out of Tokens,” a gaming podcast. Which actually I don’t know if we ever said, we were on, so if you wanna hear us talk on someone else’s podcast…I don’t know, we'll put a link in the show notes. Go through many tweets ago and you can find the information.
FK: No no, we’ll put it in the show notes.
ELM: So I’m excited to talk to these guys. I feel like I’m no longer allowed to say that I am new to conventions now that I’ve been to…you’re shaking your head. I’ve been to several.
FK: You’re definitely not allowed to say that you’re new to conventions anymore, Elizabeth.
ELM: It’s true, because I love San Diego Comic-Con so much, because it’s such a ridiculous place. Oh my God, that’s just around the corner! That’ll be our two-year anniversary.
FK: Can you believe it?
ELM: I genuinely can’t, considering the number of times we almost jokingly or seriously threatened to cancel this podcast.
FK: Well, we’ve made it this far.
ELM: Yeah! We’re just gonna keep going.
FK: OK OK, should we talk to Mark and Diana though?
ELM: Maybe we should just do some soul-searching about us and our podcast.
FK: Let’s talk to Mark and Diana instead.
ELM: [laughing] OK, let’s do it.
FK: All right.
FK: All right, I think that it’s time for us to welcome Mark and Diana of Con or Bust to the podcast! Welcome, guys.
Diana Pho: Hello!
Mark Oshiro: Hello!
ELM: Hi guys, thanks so much for coming on!
MO: Thanks for having us.
DP: Thanks for having us!
FK: All right, so our traditional first question to guests on the podcast is, what is your fannish story? How you got into fandom, what you do in fandom, you know. What’s going on with that?
DP: All right Mark, you did the facepalm.
MO: I did.
ELM: A literal facepalm.
MO: I mean, I have the most ridiculous story which is that I was unspoiled on the internet, and the whole Harry Potter fandom found me on the same day. It’s kind of amazing, but basically on a bet I started a blog called “Mark Reads Twilight” where I read Twilight, one chapter at a time, without knowing what it was, which led to me then reading Harry Potter and then, yeah, the Harry Potter fandom found me in the middle of Book Four and lost their shit. It was amazing. And so I basically have been reviewing books and television since August of 2009 in the exact same format, one episode or one chapter a day, completely unspoiled. So basically I’m constantly surprised on the internet. It’s a lot of fun! Yeah. That’s my fandom story.
ELM: That is the most unusual! That fandom found you and not the other way around.
MO: Yes, yes.
FK: So how were you unspoiled for everything, Mark?
MO: The easiest explanation for it is that I grew up in a very conservative Christian family, and my mom believed everything was the Devil, so I wasn’t allowed to read and watch pretty much anything if it wasn't either very explicitly Christian, or the few exceptions which were The X-files, The Twilight Zone, and Silence of the Lambs. Which are three very weird exceptions that I…one of them has actual demons on it! But I don’t know.
ELM: That’s incredible!
MO: I’m sort of reliving the childhood I didn’t get to have.
FK: This is so amazing because my mother didn’t let me watch TV because she was too liberal, but she thought The X-files was feminist and let me watch that.
MO: That’s beautiful. That’s…Scully.
ELM: This is fascinating.
ELM: How does The X-files work for all these parents? I don’t understand.
MO: Mine, my mom, even though she was super religious, she was secretly a huge science fiction fan. So that was her exception, “OK, we can watch this, you know what, Star Wars is OK…” She had watched Star Trek, I never got to watch Star Trek until I’m doing it now, but those were her secret things, and so she would just every once in a while let us take part.
ELM: That's fascinating. All right, Diana, that’s a high bar that you have to top here. You gonna have a… “I love things! And I became a fan!”
DP: [laughs] I don’t have as entertaining a discovery as Mark, but I’ve been in fandom since I was a young teenager. I started off with Animorphs and then I moved to Harry Potter, and technically I know you, Flourish, from that, because I used to write fanfiction. Woah! The editor admits the truth. Yes. [All laugh] So I used to write this moderately popular fanfic which actually the second book of is forever unfinished because I rage-quit the Harry Potter books after the seventh book came out.
FK: Good call.
DP: At the ending!
MO: Good call.
DP: I was like “There is no justice in this society!” And I returned the book the next day. [all hoot]
ELM: Oh my God!
FK: You went past me!
FK: Oh my God, wow.
DP: So I left fandom for awhile, specifically because of Book Seven, and then I came back through steampunk. And I’ve been super involved in that since 2008, 2009. I started up a multicultural steampunk blog called “Beyond Victoriana,” and that got tons of attention, and also I’m into science fiction and into publishing, and eventually because of steampunk it got me attention from Tor.com, who asked me to be a blogger for them, and then after grad school when I was looking to return to publishing for a full time position Tor had a spot open and I’ve been with them ever since as an editor. That’s my fandom story.
FK: OK, so that’s your fandom stories, now what is the story of Con or Bust, the organization that you guys are here representing?
ELM: And also, how did you guys both each get involved? Cause neither of you were involved in founding it, right?
DP: No. Both of us are on the Board of Directors, which is relatively a new thing, just because Kate—she was the one who actually founded it, and she’s our treasurer, and it started in 2009? No, it started in 2010 as part of the reaction to this huge fandom conversation, I guess is the best way to put it, called RaceFail 2009. [laughs]
ELM: “Conversation” is a very nice way to put it. [MO laughs]
DP: Yes, exactly. It was a discussion between fans, authors, editors, agents, all across the interwebs, about the meaning of representation in the genre. And a lot of issues came up that hadn’t really gotten as much attention and part of it was the levels of…I guess levels of privilege certain fans had and didn’t realize that they had in order to participate in fandom. And one of them was financial: going to cons can be very expensive, cause of the hotel, the membership, the food, travel…all that stuff. But not only is fandom integral to participating in the community, but especially for science fiction and fantasy, in other genres too like romance and mystery, it can also be used for networking. So Kate, I should probably say her full name, Kate Nepeau, realized that it was important to create funding for people from historically disadvantaged backgrounds who may not have the financial means to go to these conventions. So she came up with the idea of Con or Bust.
It started off as an auction. “We’ll raise a bunch of money, and redistribute it, totally for fans to request to attend—specifically for fans of color.” You don’t have to have any other qualifications other than filling out this application, and you have financial need to go. She did that as an immediate response, and then she kept running it as a yearly program in conjunction with the Carl Brandon Society, which is an organization for people of color in sci-fi fandom. Only recently did Con or Bust become its own separate legal entity, away from the Carl Brandon Society, which is why when she set it up, it’s an official nonprofit, she decided “I can’t do this by myself. I should have other people as a board of directors to help advise and consult about the various issues that can come up.”
She reached out to several of us, us two included, the other two members are Tanya DePass and Zen Cho, who participate as part of Con Or Bust’s first board of directors. Once we became a legal entity we established rules, we incorporated ourselves, and we have all these bylaws and stuff like that, so “Yeah, now you’re a board of directors, here are the rules, here’s what we do.” But we basically are kind of her partners and overseers. Eventually, Kate won’t necessarily be always associated with Con or Bust, so she wanted to make sure there was a foundation in place so it could run completely independent of her.
MO: So I got involved in Con or Bust fairly recently, I would say within the last two years. I had met Kate through…I’d known of Kate online and they’d reached out to me. We’d exchanged comments and whatnot and I’d been following their blog and whatnot, and I met them at Arisia in Boston. The year that I met them was very interesting because something very specific happened, which, that was the year N.K. Jemisin was the guest of honor. About four panels into my schedule myself, Daniel Jose Older, N.K. Jemisin and my friend Victor Raymond who also helps run the Carl Brandon Society realized that Programming had put the four of us—who are all non-white—on all of the diversity panels together.
And so we had this running joke that we were like, “Oh, it’s the four of us, we’ve been put in the diversity ghetto again!” And it was something that we ended up bringing up to the convention and saying, like, “You have to put us on programming that isn’t about race. We have a billion other things that we’d love to talk about.” So I was on a bunch of these diversity panels and I, just postulating, I think that is a large reason why Kate asked me to be involved. Not just that, a lot of what I do for “Mark Reads” and “Mark Watches,” the websites that I run, in my reviews I talk about fandom through the lens of social justice. So the concept of diversity, representation is very important to me and it’s something I write about frequently. So when she asked me to get involved it was kind of a no-brainer.
We joked before the podcast began that I had had a number of very interesting public incidences at conventions and in my time in this community, but despite that I have found a lot to be really fun about going to conventions. I know that I wouldn’t have gotten a publishing deal if it wasn’t for being able to network at conventions. So that kind of stuff is really important to me. I want other people who are maybe just starting out to be able to have the chance to go to conventions, to meet agents, to meet editors, to meet their peers, to meet friends. Those sort of relationships are what can lead to something later, which isn’t to say it’s an A–B relationship: go to a con, get published the next week. That’s not how it happens. But I want people who have not historically been able to have access to these spaces to find a way to do that and Con or Bust has been doing that.
I’ve actually made friends from people who got Con or Bust sponsorships. Got money to go to a convention, didn’t even know, I didn’t even know they were a Con or Bust person. So even on a personal level I value the organization, because it’s allowed me to meet people who I couldn’t imagine not having in my life!
FK: First of all, that's amazing. That’s delightful. It’s all working!
MO: YEAH! [all laugh]
FK: This actually brings up something though, it’s interesting hearing you talk about Con or Bust that way, I used to work in my university’s admissions office and one of the big debates was I went to a very small college in Portland—which is, as we all know, a very white place, and my college was an extremely white place, and there was always a lot of push for diversity at the college and there was a debate in the admissions office about how much this was a good thing. On the one hand, of course we want diversity, diversity is a good thing, but on the other hand is it a disservice to people who are gonna come into this space that is in many ways really hostile to them, even unintentionally hostile, but still hostile, right.
I guess I’m curious about the way you guys think about that with the variety of instances that have happened at different cons. We know it’s not a safe space, of course nowhere in the world’s a safe space, but we know that particularly bad things have sometimes happened, so what’s your guys’s thinking on that, I guess is my question?
DP: Well, for me, I think Con or Bust’s mission partly is to help set up a framework in which we can create longer lasting change. To me, it’s better to have people have the opportunity to go even if there might be other issues that affect them at a convention. I don’t want finances to be one of them. That’s where I'm coming from. It’s not like financial assistance can be a be-all end-all solution to anything, but at least it gets people in the door, where they can actually see things, experience things, and then create change themselves. And I also know that Con or Bust works a lot in conjunction with other conventions as Mark mentioned they donate memberships, with other publishers like Tor we’ve donated items to be sold through the auction, and these are not just short term band-aid solutions. Sure, it’s great that we donate stuff, but it’s also that we are aware that these are greater issues. I think in order to tackle stuff that goes beyond finances, we at least have to have some awareness of what the community is like, what the issues are, and then how can we motivate this conversation to change things.
FK: So basically, you’re saying that you’re moderates instead of revolutionaries who wish to tear the entire system down and, you know, build new better cons.
MO: [laughs] Both of us are like “Well…”
DP: I would tear some down! Because it’s like, for example, there's nothing preventing us from sponsoring and supporting other conventions that are not already established conventions, for instance. If there was a convention that came up to us and said “OK, we’re all people of color, we want to offer sponsorships so other people of color can go, help us, this convention, it’s our first year,” yeah! There’s no reason we wouldn’t help them out as equally as we’d help people who go to World Fantasy or Worldcon or any more established conventions.
Also, when looking at the role of privilege, I think it’s also good to be aware of how you work your allyship. I think in some senses you can be radical by helping someone start something fresh, entirely new. You can be radical by helping someone who would never have a chance otherwise unless you stepped in. You can be radical by supporting those people who would go to a space and speak out who have been shut out from those spaces previously. It’s just one of many ways, I think.
MO: I think of it in two ways. I think of it as the personal way that we can effect change through Con or Bust, but also, what you’re also talking about is a structural issue. The community issues that are at hand. So I agree with Diana, part of it is I think there is a way that we can empower individuals which is very important, because people can realize that this…there is a place where they can be fannish. It’s not just about networking. Some people just need to find a place where they can find other people who enjoy the thing that they enjoy.
We talked about, earlier, my upbringing in a sort of right-wing Christian household. Being a fan in that household was very lonely. I didn’t have exposure to other fans because I wasn’t supposed to talk about these things that I liked or whatnot, so I loved the idea that we can—on just the very base level—provide someone with the opportunity to be in the space where they can talk about being a fan and they can talk with other people about this thing that they love.
In terms of larger structural issues, what I like to think that Con or Bust can do is by opening the door, starting to question, starting to get conventions to think about this. We mentioned that now conventions are actually just straight up offering free memberships, which is awesome. That is not something that was there in the early days. So conventions will approach us and say “Hey, we’d like to ensure that we’re doing some part to make this,” not even necessarily committing to making it a safer space, but saying we want to promote our convention to people who we may have historically ignored. That is a huge thing for a lot of conventions to realize!
I’ve been going to conventions as a fan…it’s weird because I straddle this line between fan and professional, but I would say I started going to conventions in the science fiction fantasy community since 2012. That would be my first one. I go to some conventions where I have been the only non-white person there. Completely. And I don’t mean like there’s a few of us…like zero. None. At all. And some of these conventions don't care. They don’t wanna try, they want to just promote to the same 800, 900 people who have come and then their small circle of friends, and it can create these really bizarre atmospheres, especially if you’re someone like myself who writes about racial justice in fandom…that scene can be very awkward.
I don’t know that there’s necessarily anything we can do to those sort of conventions who don’t want to try, but what I like about what Con or Bust can do is the conventions which are starting to ask these questions. Starting to examine how they promote themselves, how they promote their event, their programming and whatnot, I like that Con or Bust for many of them is sort of the first step. We’re not the answer, we're not the thing that’s going to…they’re not going to say “Hey, we have five memberships to give!” and then 300 people of color show up that year. [all laugh] It’s the start of the process. But it’s cool! Seeing conventions who last year were like “Oh, we offered up one membership,” and then they come back the next year, “actually we have 10, we want to offer up 10 memberships, we want to keep this relationship going,” and promote it to their own crowd. We promote to other people, so through us they can reach people they probably could not have reached before. So yeah, I don’t know that it’s a solution so much as the start of things.
DP: Right, and if you think about the history of conventions, going back to the first Star Trek, Star Wars, back in the 70s and 80s when people started getting together about these things, all fans were expected to pay for everything from the get-go. Even if you were on staff, even if you were involved here, unless you were a guest invited by the con or specifically a guest of honor, you had to pay. You had to provide your own resources in order to go. And so to have recognition nowadays that being part of a fandom isn’t supposed to, or participating in the convention scene shouldn’t be considered a privilege, I think that is the core effort that Con Or Bust is trying to promote in its mission. That anyone who demonstrates financial need can still apply and get assistance to go.
I think one of the evolutions I’ve seen in the community, I’ve talked with a lot of older fans who've been in fandom for 40, 50 years, they keep making interesting comments about how different it was back then compared to now. I think part of it is convention organizers being more aware. How can we open up these doors? How can we realize that it can’t just be us, this small circle or small group of people, who have the resources to be able to do this? How can we open up our fandom to make it a more inclusive space?
MO: That’s actually something that’s quite difficult to bring up to a lot of older people in fandom.
ELM: That’s what I was gonna ask about.
MO: It’s very difficult to bring this up! And I don’t even, if we put aside the racial component, which I don’t like to, I like to keep it all…these things intersect and they combine to create things…but just purely from a class issue, or a class perspective, a lot of these science fiction fantasy conventions are volunteer run and in order to volunteer for them, or not necessarily in order to volunteer for them but they cost a lot of money on a con-running side, and then if you want to attend and you’re not local that adds an even bigger cost.
So when you want to…some of these conventions have been around 70, 80 years. They’ve been around a lot longer than I thought. And as I’ve started to meet people who've been in the science fiction fantasy community for a long time, I hear the same thing, which is “I never thought of it this way. I thought you just showed up and you did your part.” So for a lot of them, the money issue was never on their mind. Then when you add on top of it, hey, not only is it kind of expensive to attend a convention for three days, especially once you add in all the travel, you add in “Hey, maybe there's a reason why this certain group hasn’t been able to afford it.” It’s like their brains are like, “That’s too much. That’s too much information.”
So a lot of times I explain it to conventions, because I do want conventions to reach out, to say “What can we do for diversity, what can we do to attract younger people, what can we do to attract more people of color, more queer people,” more women sometimes too, some people you just have to explain it to them on a business level. And say, you have X amount of…let’s just use a number, 100. You have 100 people who go to your convention every spring. That number is probably not going to get bigger if you’re only promoting to those 100 people. So when we talk about “There are things you can do to make your convention more inclusive, there’s stuff you can do internally, but a lot of it is what is the message you’re sending out to people and who are you sending it to.”
So there’s a convention I went to, it was in this city in Texas, I’m gonna be somewhat vague about it but you’d probably be able to figure out what it is if you do some research, it was for many years in a historically Black neighborhood. So when you outside of the convention most of the people weren’t white, and that was the convention I was at where I was the only non-white person in the room. I never went back there because of many other weird, awkward issues, but I was like, “You literally could put signs in the library. The local branch of your library!”
FK: There are definitely some black nerds in this community!
FK: There have to be, just by numbers!
MO: But then you say “Why have you not promoted to this very available set of people who would probably love to come and nerd out with you, talk about Doctor Who, or anime,” or if it’s a hard sci-fi convention, there are people of color who are into hard sci-fi! And a lot of it was “Oh, well, it’s strange. We don’t know who they are, we feel uncomfortable.” And it’s all of these excuses, so I break it down to numbers: if you aren’t promoting it to anyone outside of that 100, that 100 is going to continue to shrink. It’s not gonna get bigger. How are you gonna attract more people that can keep this convention going? How are you gonna pass the torch to a new generation of people to run it if you’re not promoting to anyone else? So even just on a business level, a lot of times that’s how I’ve had to explain it to conventions is, “You’re gonna die out unless you do something to get people to come to your convention.”
ELM: Right. I’m wondering if you get…that’s not exactly pushback, but that’s kind of like, they’re not saying “Oh, we don't want any of these local Black people coming into our,” but they are saying it. Just not explicitly.
MO: Sure, they’re doing the “It’s too hard, it’s too challenging.”
ELM: “And I like it the way it is.” I’m wondering if it’s usually like that, or if you ever get explicitly “I don’t want any of this PC nonsense” or whatever.
DP: That happens.
ELM: Can you talk about any of the pushback you get, or…?
DP: On a personal level or on an organizational level?
ELM: Either one.
DP: I’m actually really glad that Con or Bust as an organization has been supported throughout its entire existence very enthusiastically, but I also know that we appeal to a certain part of fandom that specifically is like, “Well, we have to go help support this fundraiser.” It’s been hugely possible from the generosity of tons of fans across the country and around the globe. So as an organization, I haven’t experienced direct pushback. I’m sure Kate probably has stories from the early years.
MO: She does. She has a lot of them. [all laugh]
DP: But on a personal level, being a person of color in fandom, stuff happens. And I have, I know many fans of color who just don’t go to conventions at all. Because they’re like, “Well, I don’t wanna feel like I’m the only one,” or “I don’t want any awkward incidents happening that I hear about on the internet that happen at these conventions,” and there’s also big stigma for people of color in their own communities about being a nerd, and how they think stuff like science fiction and fantasy is for white people, so why would you like it? I think that also is a whole other level that fans of color have to deal with.
ELM: I’m thinking back to, we had a few academics on talking about…well, we were talking about fan activism. It was our slashtivism episode. And Lori Morimoto, who was one of our guests, was talking about an academic paper and I wish I could remember the author. It was a black woman in fandom and she was saying that for black women in fandom, you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was saying whether you’re going to get invested in a black female character and watch the way the fandom treats her, or watch the way the show treats her, it’s a kind of double edged sword: everyone is going to treat you and her terribly. So I’m wondering, and this kind of gets back to Flourish’s question about her college admissions perspective, it’s like, going into a space where you’re always in the back of your mind wondering when that shoe is gonna drop. If that is just something you push past or…a con for a lot of people is already a stressful thing! You’re like “Holy shit, this is a lot going on right now,” you know what I mean?
FK: Whenever, whatever race, gender, et cetera you are, you just have a lot of people.
ELM: I’m a fun extroverted person and at a con I’m like “All right, Jesus Christ.” [all laugh]
MO: So I…oh boy. Yes. Part of it is…
ELM: Sorry to put you on the spot!
MO: It's a good question! We’ve been vaguely dancing around the fact that I’ve publically written about a number of incidents. I would say a good 75% of them I’ve never talked about online. It is a thing, especially the more outspoken you are, the more you try to establish your own identity and your own presence within the larger genre community, it’s sort of like, yeah. You’re always bracing yourself. When am I gonna get the next shitty thing said to me? When is someone going to ignore me? When is someone going to give me, make me hyperfocus of attention or whatnot?
It’s weird because when you ask the question, too, about what sort of pushback are we getting, I think one of the most common things that we see on an organizational side and then on a personal side is that the work we’re doing is inherently anti-white. And that any of these attempts at addressing racial justice mean that we’re thereby oppressing all of the white fans. That is the most common thing I hear just across the board, is that by doing any of this, it means we’re excluding someone else.
That is often the most insidious and the hardest of all of these things to deal with if you’re trying to change the community. On a personal level it’s like, that’s something that you hear and then you just laugh in their face, because it’s so absurd. It’s such an absurd idea that by saying “Hey, can you treat me with respect while I’m at your convention?” that doesn’t mean I'm inherently…that means we have to then take what you are gonna say and then apply it to a white person? I think they imagine there’s some weird transference, like “I was gonna insult you but now I can’t, so now I have to go insult a random white person.” [all laugh] Or something. So…yeah.
FK: Although actually, if that were possible, for the sake of justice, I guess, we could all set up a nice little round thing so that we all got insulted about the same amount, you know? It would be delightful. Why doesn’t the universe work that way if we’re gonna have to deal with this? That’s a science fiction story right there, can I just say!
MO: Someone write that! Someone, Fansplaining, one of you listeners! So yeah, for the issue of waiting for the other shoe to drop, I think it’s a commentary on the culture. What is the culture that’s developed in the space? And the culture that’s developed is these people, it depends what group it is of course, but a group of people in this community have not been around or exposed to people who are different from them. So they are used to a normal, what is normal to them, quote unquote “normal” sense of rapport, normal sense of jokes, normal sense of this is how we conduct this.
I’ll give an example: so I was at a convention, I had never been there, I was invited to be on programming, I was not a guest of honor but it was very early in my Mark Does Stuff career and I was trying to promote myself a lot. So I was like “OK, if a convention invites me and I can get there relatively cheaply I’ll do it.” So I went to this convention, second panel I was on…so here’s the thing: I knew no one at this convention. I had no friends, I was like “I’m gonna do something risky, I’m gonna try this, it’s a new audience, yes! I’m gonna be wonderful and courageous!” So I went to this convention, second panel I made some joke or whatever, and this guy turned to me and said “Wow, you’re a real fruitcake.” And I was like “OK, if we had known each other and this was a rapport, maybe that would have passed. But adding that it’s on a panel and in public and I just met you like 10 minutes ago, I feel like there are multiple rings of this that are awful and why would you call me a fruitcake.”
So I went to the Ops afterwards and was just like, “Hey, maybe you should let this person know that they shouldn’t call a gay man a fruitcake, it’s kind of weird.” Their response was “Oh, he’s just joking, that’s what he does all the time.” And it was very clear that was the culture. That was established, this is what they do, this is how they joke, this is how they relate to each other. But in doing that, not examining what their culture is…I never went back. I checked out. I did my panels, I did the best that I could, but I mentally was not there for the remainder of the convention because I was like “This community doesn’t care. They don’t care at all.”
Obviously it was not the most momentous thing, I’ve been called way worse things at conventions, but it was enough that I was like “Man, maybe you should think about how you’re treating other people.” And how you refer to people who are strangers, who are newcomers, who…I mean, I thought I was giving a genuine effort to try to be a part of this community, putting in the legwork to be on panels, to contribute to conversations, and that kind of stuff when it happens can be incredibly alienating.
DP: Yeah, and on top of that, a lot of geeks tend to think “Oh, I have a geek identity, I’ve been bullied in school, I know what it feels like to be a person of color, or to be queer, or to be differently abled. I know what oppression is like.” And it’s not the same. And it’s really hard to have those type of conversations, because they’ll justify their behaviors in various ways. For example, as Mark said, “It’s just the culture, it’s just how we are, we’re just joking around, we don’t really mean it,” or “You’re too sensitive,” or “Well, what about stuff that happened to me because I like Babylon 5 and people made fun of me for it in school?” That’s not…it’s a false equivalency! But people latch onto those emotional touchpoints and kind of use it to justify whatever behavior they’re contributing to without, as Mark said, examining the roots of it.
FK: It seems to me like that’s…that gets into the bigger problem of why some cons can be really insular, which this is only a small part…well, it’s not a small part of, it’s a big part of, but this is only one part of, right. Weirdly the last con I was at, Boskone, I was on a panel where somebody was pulling this out and I was like…“Wow, cause I don’t remember ever feeling like…”
ELM: Pulling what out?
FK: Pulling this idea that geeks are all oppressed and that’s why we should be together. It was like, “Well, I didn’t feel that way particularly,” you know. Of course I was a kind of awkward kid, but…actually this is not the shared thing that we should be forming our geek identity around, right? Cause that’s not…
MO: I would say that it’s not that there is an untruth there.
MO: There was a stigma for being a nerd, and I think many of us who are older than 25 can remember a time when liking Marvel movies, liking Blade, was not a cool thing to do, which by the way—fuck everyone, those movies are awesome! [all laugh] And I remember it too! I remember growing up and the fantasy nerds or the sci-fi nerds, you were a nerd, and if you were a nerd you were an outcast and you were ostracized. The thing is being ostracized in a social setting like high school or in a local group of friends is not the same thing as being systemically ostracized by the government. [all laugh] By social services that are available that are available to you or, I should say, that are not available to you. Being a nerd is not going to get you profiled by the police.
FK: There was never a Chinese Exclusion Act for nerds.
MO: Yeah! There you go, there you go. Oh Lord. I hate you so much. [laughing]
FK: What, because you’re thinking of a Nerd Exclusion Act?
MO: Just exclude nerds. No. Can we exclude all the nerds at Marvel who are ruining Captain America? Is that a thing we can do?
ELM: I don't think we can kick Spencer out, I’m sorry. He’s here to stay.
FK: I think what you’re looking for is a People I Don’t Like Exclusion Act. [all laugh]
MO: Have we talked about the Geek Social Fallacies before?
FK: Oh!!! I don’t think we have!
ELM: Is this an official thing?
MO: This thing we’re talking about is one of them!
ELM: Tell me more.
MO: OK. I’m going to blow all of your minds who are listening to this and some of you who are on this. If you google “Five Geek Social Fallacies,” it’s the first thing, it’s on a website called PlausiblyDeniable.com, it’s the first Google result. So basically it’s five fallacies that people in nerd society cling to, which create problems. And they are: ostracizers are evil; friends accept me as I am; friendship before all; friendship is transitive, which is all friends should be friends with all other people; and friends do everything together.
A lot of these behaviors are rooted in these ideas. It’s awesome, you should read it, because they give very very specific examples of all of these fallacies. But I’ve seen this at almost every convention I’ve been to where people, if you want to talk about these things, they say “But we’re all friends here. Why aren’t you friends with them? Why should we do anything about this serial racist, serial harasser, he’s been my friend this entire time and never done anything to me, why should we change the rules of this convention and have a safe space when we’ve never had an issue with it before?” It’s this idea that because you were ostracized, and because you had to create your community, your community A, has no problems, or doesn't, B, reflect the greater social problems of the outside world as well.
ELM: I wonder if you encounter this too, for context Flourish is much more in the mixed-gender geek world than I am where I am more in the, I am in the fanfiction world, right. Or fanfiction spaces where it’s almost exclusively women or not cisgendered men. And I’m thinking of the kind of arguments you get in fanfiction fandom when we start to talk about racism and…
MO: Hoo boy.
ELM: This was illustrated to me at a largely white convention I was at last year. I was on a panel talking about slash and feminism, and we were saying very critical things of slash. It was an all-white panel because it was a mostly-white convention, and we wound up talking about race for awhile, and we were like “Disclaimer disclaimer we know we are all white women but fandom is really racist and it’s awkward but is it better than not, to avoid talking about it?” And this girl in the front row was like, “Yeah, but this is my space to relax and to not think about the world and this is my joy” and like…I’m wondering how often do you get those same “This is my joyful space.”
DP: Like “Don’t harsh my squee?”
ELM: Yeah, exactly, right? And I have to wonder if the room hadn’t been mostly white people, if she would have felt comfortable saying that. If we had been a panel of people of color. So that’s another problem with it just being a very white space, obviously. But then, people are still thinking it, so.
MO: Man, is this a big thing for me. And it is because I write about fandom and social justice issues so that means often I’m talking about an episode of a show or a chapter of a book and I come across something and I’m like, “This is garbage, here’s the reasons it’s garbage and why I don’t like it,” and I lost count—I don’t know, five, six years ago, how many times I heard “Why are you ruining this thing that I love, this is the thing that I watch or read and it makes me feel good and now you’ve made it feel bad.”
So my answer to that, years ago I figured out, is, “Is the thing that you love the thing you love at the expense of another person?” And it all matters, about how public your actions are. Because the thing is, let’s say you're super into, what’s a super problematic garbage thing…
ELM: Iron Fist?
MO: Iron Fist. Let's say that you’re, for some reason, that gods only know, Netflix’s Iron Fist show is your favorite. And it makes you feel awesome. I am not interested in going into your house, stealing your Netflix password, and not letting you watch Iron Fist. You can watch Iron Fist as much as you want. My thing with fandom is, well then what are you doing in the fandom and how public is it. Are you writing your own fanfiction and posting it? That’s a thing you can do, everyone should be able to post the fanfiction that they want. Some of them might get a response, but I wouldn’t say you’re not allowed to write fanfiction.
Are you, however, going to someone’s blog where they are being critical of Iron Fist, and saying “You’re not allowed to do this”? “You can’t respond to a fannish thing in the way that you want in your own space”? And my issue is more, what are the ways that you are trying to shut down other people from having a conversation. Because the thing is, a person saying “I don’t like this thing and here are the reasons I don’t like it” doesn’t inherently affect you. It doesn’t! You can still like the thing and enjoy it! Usually what’s happening is, they realize the thing you’ve pointed out is true, and now they have to think critically about it and it makes them uncomfortable, so they do the whole transitive thing, which is “I like this thing, wait, this thing is racist, oh, I must be racist.” And they lash out. And they think that you’re saying “You’re a huge racist.”
Which, people who lash out like that usually are, just spoiler alert, but it’s this thing of they feel so personally attacked even if you’ve never mentioned them or brought up their name or anything. So I think that we have to have this conversation about being critical about how we consume media and how we produce fanworks, and it becomes very uncomfortable when people have this sort of trump card of “Well, I enjoy it and this is the thing that makes me enjoy the world more, so you’re not allowed to do anything with it.” It’s very possessive. “This is the only way you’re allowed to react to this thing.” And that just—ugh, I don’t know, feels weird to me.
DP: It’s, have you heard of Moff’s Law? Cause you basically described Moff’s Law.
ELM: Moff, M-O-F-F?
DP: Moff, M-O-F-F.
FK: We’re all learning about internet laws today. Explain, Diana!
DP: I think it was coined on Racialicious. I’m not sure that the website is functioning anymore, but I know they still exist on social media. It’s a community that critiques the role of race in pop culture and one of the commenters named Moff, basically, was saying how, exactly your point. Critique of a form of media, calling it racist, that is still a valid critique. Just because you like something doesn’t mean you can’t be intellectual about it, doesn't mean that you can’t analyze it, because that’s what you often hear: “Why are you thinking about it so much? It’s only a movie!” Or “It’s only a book,” or “iI’s only a game. Why are you investing so much time to critique it when you could just have fun?” And Moff was like “I’m not gonna take that shit!” [laughs] And hence Moff’s Law. So.
MO: I love this.
ELM: So I guess, thinking about that and thinking about this largely…it wasn’t an all-white convention but, the one I was at last year, I did find the fanfiction spaces were very very white. To tie it back to Con or Bust, do you think that just having more faces of color in the audience…faces of color in the audience, that was a weird way to say it. The faces of people of color in the audience, more people of color on panels…do you think that…that does seem, I mean, maybe this is a very obvious point, but more so than on the internet it feels like being in physical spaces, I think people…I don’t know. What do you guys think?
MO: It’s complicated, and I think we’ve done a decent job of explaining some of the hazards of being visibly nonwhite, visibly not straight, visibly not-cis at conventions, it’s a problem of hypervisibility. Especially when you’re in these spaces and you’re one of the only ones of this specific group and you’re easily identifiable as that group, you often are the targets of all of these sort of ramifications of being hypervisible, which is a shitty thing. And it’s the same thing where I don't think Con or Bust is the answer, the stop-gap, this is the one thing. And why I like talking about it as a start is that conventions—I’ll be specific this time because it’s a positive thing and the entire internet won’t crash on me—I am a big fan of Wiscon.
I went to Wiscon last year, to Madison, Wisconsin, and it’s a fairly explicitly feminist oriented science fiction fantasy-ish…it’s a genre convention. And one of the reasons I wanted to go wasn’t just because I had had this huge blow-up about another convention that was the same weekend, but that they advertised things like, “We have a safe space for people of color.” We have what they call the PoC Dinner, which is a dinner the first night for only people of color to attend.
And so what that said to me just initially was, “Hey, you won’t be the only one. There are enough people of color here that we can actually have a space that you can be in.”
ELM: A whole dinner!
MO: I mean, a whole-ass dinner!
FK: Literally means more than five people because you have to have a banquet table.
MO: So here’s the thing: my boyfriend travels with me to these conventions and I remember when I took him to his first convention ever, it unfortunately was ConQuest, which was the one where I got horribly, terribly harassed. So at that point by the time we got to WisCon the next, yeah, the next year, he’d been to like 10 different conventions and was like “This is wild. I don’t know how you do this. You must compartmentalize this experience a lot, cause you somehow make it through all these conventions.”
And we got to WisCon and I remember the end of the first night he was just like, “I don’t know what to say about this convention.” He’s like, “I saw like five whole black people! In the first five minutes I was there! And they came up to me and they talked to me and they invited me to panels and they invited me to come to this thing and hey we’re doing this dance thing you should come to this thing on Saturday or Sunday night,” and he said it wasn’t that the convention was all people of color because it was a majority, the vast majority of people who go to WisCon are white or identify as white, and it was a thing of “I was able to have moments where I didn’t have to think about my skin color.”
He said, “I went entire hours not waiting for the other shoe to drop.” He said it much more colorfully than that, I should say. And that’s the cool part about having conventions deliberately building spaces like that, is that for periods of time, we can drop this wall that we’ve built around us to protect ourselves and we can start getting this experience that other people have by default. Where they’re not thinking about these things. And to me, those are the best conventions, where I don’t…I forget that I’m at a convention, I forget that sometimes conventions are not great for queer people of color like me.
Tying that back into Con or Bust, that’s why just on a very basic level it’s so important. It’s about hopefully, if a convention says “Hey, we have five sponsored memberships for people of color to come,” those five people now have a shared experience. They have the ability to talk with one another. They have the ability to hang out with one another; if something happens they at least know there’s probably a sympathetic ear nearby. And hopefully if it’s a good experience, word of mouth. They can get more people that will come to the convention. Cause they can be like “Hey, I went to WisCon and had an amazing time, you should come too,” and maybe if they’re not going to a convention alone they can split a hotel with a friend and then that cost that was so prohibitive before is not so prohibitive anymore.
DP: Yeah, exactly. I just think having more people in the room from all sorts of backgrounds, just helps contribute to what goes on in that room.
I was thinking about the, last weekend I was at the International Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati. I’ve been going to that particular convention three times before, it’s my fourth year going. I love going to it, and it’s just fabulous because I do see more and more people of color actively going to that one specifically and just tracking it through the years…I remember I was a guest of honor first year, and I can count the people of color on one hand. And then going this year, at least 10% were people of color. They were like “Oh my gosh, people here that I didn’t know!” And one of the other guests, Maurice Broaddus, he was talking like “Yeah,” it was his first year, “I’m really surprised about how many black people are here.” I’m like, “I know, right?” But it’s all about outreach, it is totally possible to diversify your spaces as long as you try, and I see Con or Bust as an asset towards doing stuff like that.
ELM: Sure. It seems like it would be a snowball effect then, too. If you're in a space where you don’t feel welcome, you’re not gonna tell your friends. In fact, you may tell strangers on the internet it’s not a very welcome space, which will have a negative effect on diversifying your con. But they deserve it. That wasn’t meant to be a critique, they should be called out.
FK: [laughs] No, no, probably a good thing!
ELM: You know what I mean.
FK: OK, given this excellent snowball effect… One thing I recently discovered, not that recently, last year at WorldCon I couldn’t go at the last minute and I discovered I was able to donate my membership through Con or Bust. It was a super delightful surprise, I had no idea that that was a way I could contribute to Con or Bust till I was in that bad position. So what are all the different ways people can support Con or Bust? Literally all of them, because there’s obviously more than I knew about.
MO: Yes, there’s so many more! I mean, we have the auction, which I believe will have completed by the time that this is posted, but the auction does a huge service to us and funds a great deal of people’s travel and hotels or accommodations and the actual badges itself, and now that I think about it that’s actually the first, that’s how I got connected with Kate is I offered up a set of signed Mark Reads books. And then people bid on them and…it’s such a simple context, er, simple idea, which is that creators in this field offer up all the awesome stuff they have and then we use that money to send people to conventions, which is why it’s the part of it that works the best for us.
ELM: I was just gonna ask, I saw…I can’t remember what author it was. It was like a well-known science fiction author, and it was something like, you could be written into the story or something like that!
ELM: It’s not just like, “Have a signed copy of my books,” it’s like, “You get to name a background character”?
DP: Yes! The concept is called Tuckering or Tuckerization, when “Oh, I can name-drop my friend into this story that I'm publishing, and you can auction that off as a Con or Bust item.” Yeah, people are really creative when it comes to that stuff. They’ve also made specialty items, of course they’ve donated fan stuff, I’ve had editors…I’ve done this in the past myself, I’ve donated editorial critiques, like I will look through the first three chapters or something. I didn’t do it this year because I was just too busy, but some of my other colleagues have done that. And of course donate memberships, conventions always come to us and say “We would like to donate memberships,” which has been super helpful.
I think word-of-mouth. Spreading the word that we exist is super helpful. Because it’ll only help us get support for the coming year and additional funds. It will also just help get appropriate attention to, for fans who’ve never heard about Con or Bust, you know. It’s just an amazing opportunity. We also have a newsletter, it’s like a tiny little thing that comes out twice a month that not only gives people updates on the organization but “Hey, here are some other scholarships!” You know, “that I’ve heard of in science fiction fantasy that are coming up that you should apply!” Or “here’s some writing-related prize that maybe people can enter!” Stuff like that.
ELM: And then, and you can donate, what is this? Donating your membership that Flourish was saying?
DP: Yes. You can contact us directly if you’re a convention organizer or if you’re just a fan who had bought a membership and realized they couldn’t go, you can email us and say I would like to donate my membership and we would work out with you and the convention organizer saying “Oh, what’s the process that we could use this badge and give it to someone else?”
ELM: Transfer it. Are most con organizers open to that kind of thing? If I suddenly couldn’t go to a con and it was too late to sell it or something?
MO: Yeah, badge transferring is super common. So a lot of times we’re reaching out to just be like, “How do you do this?” Cause sometimes the person can just change it themselves on the online form, sometimes it’s a process through the actual convention, like, the concom or whatnot. So we might facilitate just the initial part of it rather than we’re the ones changing the name. But yeah, we can act as a go-between to reach out to the convention and say “Hey, this person would love to donate their membership that they’ve already purchased, how do we go about doing this?” I don’t think we’ve ever had a convention tell us “No, we don’t want your people.”
FK: Right, cause speaking as a convention organizer, you’ve already spent that money, so you really don’t want to have to do a refund or make someone mad because they can’t.
ELM: What about the super big commercial cons? What about San Diego Comic-Con and stuff?
DP: Yeah, it’s illegal to sell your badge for San Diego, for New York Comic Con, so I think for any of the big huge commercial for-profit ones, I don’t think you can necessarily do that, but at least for fan-run conventions there’s always a way to figure it out.
ELM: Do you find that the big guys like San Diego and stuff, do they work with you guys at all or they’re just these big corporate entities doing their—whatever they do?
DP: Well, the optimistic side of me would say “Not yet!”
FK: Not yet, not yet!
ELM: Yeah, sure!
FK: That’s a good answer!
MO: I also wonder if New York Comic Con or San Diego Comic-Con need to diversify their conventions. I remember the first time I went to San Diego Comic-Con I was like “What is happening!” I was used to a much different group. I was like “This is wild.” I was also gonna add, one thing you can do is tell other fans, friends of yours who are non-white or people of color, about it as well! Because we want more people to apply all the time. The approval process is very streamlined. We have multiple people reviewing the applications we get, we just wanna help as many people as humanly possible.
I think a lot of people focus on promote the auction, promote the existence of it, but just if you have a friend who’s into nerdy stuff but maybe has never even heard of conventions, tell them “Hey, Con or Bust exists and sometimes they can pay for everything and sometimes if it’s a local convention they can get you a badge.” It’s, we want more people to apply as well. We want that to be a part of the process.
ELM: And people shouldn't think there’s any reason to not, right? I can see people being like “Oh what if I don’t get picked,” but there’s no reason to not apply, right?
DP: Yeah, there’s no reason to not apply.
ELM: It’s enough to be a fan, that’s it.
DP: Yeah. Right. Fill out an application.
ELM: You don’t have to write an essay or be the best fan ever or something.
FK: All right!
MO: And that was very important. We didn’t want it to feel like a college application.
ELM: Like a scholarship contest.
MO: No no no. It’s not daunting! It’s not “prove you’re worthy of this” kind of thing. It’s like, “You’re worthy of it cause you’re just who you are. We want you at a convention!”
ELM: That’s wonderful!
FK: That’s so wonderful. That’s…that’s a perfect note to end on, I think. It is so heartwarming and…thank you guys for coming on!
MO: Thank you!
ELM: Thank you for all your work on this, fantastic.
FK: All right, talk to you guys later!
MO: Bye, Fansplaining!
FK: As I feel like I say every time we have a guest, but it is always true, that was delightful.
ELM: Someday we’re gonna have a guest and you’re not gonna say that and you’re not gonna sound enthusiastic and they’re gonna listen and they’re gonna know you didn’t find the conversation delightful.
FK: [laughs] That day is not today.
ELM: You’re setting a high bar. It was a delightful conversation. It was fantastic to talk to them.
FK: It was really great, I'm actually really excited cause lately I’ve been spending some time…“spending some time.” I just recently have been in the Middle East, in the United Arab Emirates, and I just got introduced to the guy who runs the Middle East Comic Con over here, so I’m excited that soon we might be able to do sort of…not quite a companion episode, but another episode about conventions and going to conventions and all of this, that focuses on a completely different area of the world. So I really enjoyed our conversation, I felt like it was really US-centric in a lot of ways, and I'm super stoked that we had it and I’m also excited that we might get to shore it up in other places too. So.
ELM: Though I know they have WorldCon memberships available, people donating their memberships, and that’s in Finland, right? This year?
FK: Yeah, and that does genuinely move all over the world.
ELM: Well, doesn’t it move between Europe and the United States? Or does it go to other, do you know?
FK: I believe that it goes to other places than Europe.
ELM: And the US.
ELM: OK! Or North America.
FK: I believe it’s in the US one year and then it’s somewhere outside the US the next year.
ELM: That’s a little ethnocentric. Why not rotate all seven continents.
FK: The penguins really wanna go to Worldcon.
ELM: I mean, if there was a con in Antartica wouldn’t you want to go?
FK: If only to cuddle the penguins.
ELM: I actually don’t think penguins are cuddly.
FK: Those are false lies.
ELM: Look at their…their bodies seem kind of firm. Silky.
FK: Like a pillow to hug.
ELM: I just don’t think that they would be, I think you think that, I know why you think it… Seals, on the other hand…a seal, I think you could hug.
FK: But what about a teenage penguin when they’re kind of molting and they’re fuzzy?
ELM: OK, now I’m just thinking about it.
ELM: Really nice.
FK: I saw the saddest penguin ever at the Central Park Zoo, because they had all these penguins that were adults and they were normal and happy, and then they had one Emperor penguin who was a different breed from the others, and the Emperor penguin was a teenager and was molting and kind of brown and fuzzy, and it just stood there looking like “I am so humiliated.”
ELM: Oh my God, why are you anthropomorphizing this guy. You don’t know how he's feeling. Maybe he’s feeling, “I am so glad I’m not one of those loser penguins. I’m a little uncomfortable because I’m molting.”
FK: He was also being kept in a little pen so he was around the other penguins but he couldn’t wander around among them.
ELM: OK never mind, I don’t feel great about this situation anymore.
FK: Right? I think there was some reason in terms of his socialization and, his or her socialization and life that he had to be in the pen, she had to be in the pen, it had to be in the pen, but…
ELM: [laughs] You’re going on a complicated gender journey with this penguin! Try “they.” They.
FK: How do you determine gender? How do you determine whether…you can’t ask the penguin.
ELM: Yeah, that's true. I mean, I don’t know if animals have gender.
FK: [laughing] I feel like this is a discussion for a podcast that is not our podcast.
ELM: Maybe for a, yes. That’s accurate. [laughter] Let’s do the final business before we wrap up.
FK: OK OK. Final business: One is that our next episode, I think we’re gonna be talking about the Fanfiction Definitions Survey!
ELM: Have a nice time analyzing those results. I’ll just jump in at the end and offer my commentary.
FK: Oh my God, it’s overwhelming. It’s so much. I am very grateful to everybody who did this but we’re gonna see how far I get because wow, there’s a lot of data.
ELM: So next time you do a survey with dozens of long form answer boxes, maybe be less excited when you have 3,500 respondents. [FK laughs and wails] So we’re gonna somehow talk about those results and we’ve also been getting a ton of, we’ve gotten emails, we’ve gotten asks on Tumblr, people’s further thoughts, so we’re gonna find a way to…maybe we’ll just go through them or maybe we will consolidate them all into a post of some kind and talk about highlights. We’ll figure it out somehow.
FK: Somehow everybody will be responded to. One way or the other.
ELM: And it’s not too late. If you have more feelings just send ’em on in.
ELM: So that’s first order of business. Second order of business, as always, Patreon.
FK: Yeah! I was gonna say, if you have questions, comments, negative feelings, or some nice positive feelings…you can send them to us in an email or Tumblr ask! If you have really positive feelings you can donate to our Patreon.
ELM: Why are you telling people to send negative feelings to Tumblr?
FK: If they have them I’d rather know.
ELM: Oh my God. Send them to Flourish’s Twitter, @flourish.
FK: Go ahead guys, at me.
ELM: Just Flourish, not me. You don’t need to CC me on that. [FK laughs] So Patreon, thank you to all the new Patrons we’ve gotten in the last month or two, we got a whole bunch. We should be doing another special episode soon. I know that we’d wanted to talk about Twin Peaks, which is actually coming out very soon.
FK: It’s coming out very soon, we need to get that sorted.
ELM: I gotta watch it. So maybe that will be the next one and we’re working on the spring tiny zine so it shouldn’t be much longer. We will definitely get it to you while it is still spring.
FK: You have a lot of faith in us, Elizabeth.
ELM: I am a professional magazine-maker, I think it’s fine. I think we’ll sort it out.
FK: OK, I am going to replace all my faith in myself with my faith in you and then I’ll have more faith.
ELM: That’s great! That's great. And then the final order of business is iTunes. Since we last asked we got a bunch of new ratings and a few comments. We would love some more if you are a regular listener, or if you’re not and you just enjoyed an episode or two, we would love for you to leave a comment or at least give us a five-star rating, would be ideal. [FK laughs] It’s the more ratings and reviews we get, the more likely we are to catch people’s attention on iTunes. So.
FK: Yes! Please and thank you to everybody who’s already done it.
ELM: Please and thank you!
FK: Please and thank you.
ELM: That makes me think of Ron Swanson, always. “Please and thank you.” Yes, I think that’s it. Definitely.
FK: In that case, I should go and bury myself in survey results again!
ELM: You know you're gonna bury yourself in Harry Styles’s tunes.
FK: OH, HIS NEW ALBUM THOUGH. OK fine.
ELM: And I’m gonna bury myself in muting certain terms on Tumblr and Twitter.
FK: [laughs] Good luck, Elizabeth. Good luck.
ELM: [laughing] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s a shame that Harry has the same name as the main character of the fandom that I’m actually in. It’s really bad. Everyone who tags it just “Harry” for either fandom, PLEASE STOP. They have surnames, please use them, how can I get your posts off my dash [over Flourish’s helpless laughter] I want this to be a nice space for everyone. Just sayin’.
FK: Ohhh good luck with that one, Elizabeth. I will talk to you later. [still laughing]
ELM: OK goodbye Flourish!
[Outro, disclaimers, and thank yous]