Episode 55: Happy Anniversary #2
Flourish and Elizabeth once again welcome back the guests from the past year to talk about what’s changed in fandom, on a global level, a personal level, or both. Global topics included the recent crop of Hugo winners, Marvel’s Secret Empire storyline, and the intersections between fandom and U.S. politics. The more personal included the intersections of fannish and professional identities and the experience of aging in fandom. To round things out, Flourish and Elizabeth share their own perspectives, discussing whether fandom ever really changes—or whether it simply repeats the same patterns over and over again.
[00:00:00] As always, our intro is “Awel,” by Stefsax.
[00:02:44] Our previous anniversary episode was Episode 28, “Happy Anniversary #1.”
[00:07:21] The music for this and all future breaks in this episode is “Freaks,” by Jahzzar.
[00:12:24] If you have missed the Secret Empire discussions, you can catch up here. (Please note, neither Elizabeth nor Flourish being a comics person, we can’t 100% guarantee that source - but it seems a complete explainer to us.)
[00:17:17] If you have missed Milkshake Duck, be enlightened.
[00:17:25] Swapna Krishna (@swapnakrishna) and Preeti Chhibber (@preetichhibber) were in Episode 51, “Desi Geek Girls.” The article about Marvel editors getting milkshakes scandal is here.
[00:22:13] Lori’s Fan Studies for Fans Patreon is here!
[00:22:26] The Fan Meta Reader is amazing. Check it out!
[00:27:40] @fandomtrumpshate was in Episode 41, creatively entitled “Fandom Trumps Hate.” They actually raised over $32,000.
[00:29:41] You guessed it: the “action” sideblog is at @fandomtrumpshateaction.
[00:43:11] Emily Roach was in Episode 37, “Queer YA And Beyond.”
[00:52:48] If you really wanna look at what Flourish said about this on Twitter, be our guest. It all flows from this initial comment thread by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas.
[00:53:33] Maia Kobabe (@redgoldsparks) is our frequent artist-collaborator. One example of eir work is the cover of Episode 44, “Mary Sue.”
[01:08:00] The outro music is that same Jahzzar song, “Freaks.”
Flourish Klink: Hi Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi Flourish!
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for and about fandom!
ELM: Episode 55, “Happy Anniversary #2!”
FK: Woo! Second anniversary time! Party. I can’t believe we’ve been doing this for two years!
ELM: I know. Think of all the times you almost quit.
FK: Think about all the times you almost quit!
ELM: That was zero times. [FK sighs] If you go back through our chat logs, you will see it’s almost exclusively you being like “I just don’t know if I can.” [FK laughing] So dramatic. And I’ll be like “Why don’t you take a walk around the block and maybe eat an apple” and you came back and you’d be like, “I can. I was being silly.”
FK: It’s true that I have a lot of blood sugar problems when I don’t eat.
ELM: Also, is alarmist thinking the right term? Like, [FK laughing] you’ll forget a comma in a thing and I’ll be like “Flourish, don’t do that again” and you’ll be like “I’m garbage and I should not be a part of this podcast anymore” [FK laughing] and I’ll be like “NO it’s, no, just…make a note, don’t do that again.”
FK: You know there’s some possibility that you know me too well Elizabeth.
ELM: Look, I’ve figured it out at this point, so…
FK: [laughing] OK. So next episode we’re going to, we have a bunch of reader mail and stuff that we want to go through, thank you everyone who has written in and sent us things about stealth fandom and about Sean Stewart, who lots of people got really excited about, our last episode with Sean Stewart—
ELM: Rightly so!
FK: About ARGs.
ELM: He’s pretty exciting.
FK: Yeah! So we are going to cover those things. We are not going to cover those things in this episode, though, cause this episode is our anniversary episode and it is sacred.
ELM: Wow OK, I don’t know if you need to sanctify it, but it is the Lord’s day, so that’s fine.
FK: We’ll be covering those things next episode. And Elizabeth is also going to be talking a little bit about that Sherlock game that Sean Stewart made and that she will be playing and telling us about how it is to be a non-game-player enjoying a…
ELM: That’s right.
FK: Narrative game.
ELM: Stay tuned for my review.
FK: OK. But today we are doing something else entirely.
ELM: Which is?
FK: We contacted all the people who have come on Fansplaining over the past year and asked them to take part in the anniversary episode by sending us some of their thoughts about the past year in fandom.
ELM: We did the same exact thing for the first anniversary, so…
FK: Shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone who’s been listening. This is not…
ELM: I feel like you framed it like “We had this new great idea!” No, this is what we do in the anniversary. We asked the same questions we did last year!
FK: It’s only the second time, so this is a…it’s now a tradition. But it wasn’t before.
ELM: Yeah, I also, the best part was I thought it was going to be a tradition and you didn’t, so a few weeks ago you were like, “Yeah, so what are we gonna do for the anniversary episode?” and I was like “I thought we had set this last year! This is our thing!” But it was only a thing to me. It only meant something to me.
FK: But now it means something to both of us though. [ELM laughing] You have to know that this is not, I’m bad with anniversaries in general. I have forgotten my own wedding anniversary many many times.
ELM: OK but it’s like, this is not like what you do for a wedding anniversary. Unless maybe some people do, have like, a specific tradition.
FK: Have you never seen those jars that people put advice into? At the wedding? And then you take one out every year and read it, or like a note, at your wedding?
ELM: No, I’ve never seen that at a wedding, though I do know…I missed the bus, so I missed my friend’s baby shower, but my mother went, and she told me that they played this game where they were each given a year...oh no, it was a wedding shower, what am I talking about! It was a wedding shower. And they were each given a year, yeah! That's the thing! But each guest was given a year and they had to write a little note. Is that what this is like?
FK: Sort of, except I've seen it where there’s just a big jar or something for people to write notes in, instead of a guestbook. And then every year you pull out one or two and read them for your anniversary.
ELM: So this was you were tasked with a specific year…
FK: A specific year.
ELM: So you had to guess the state of their marriage seven years from now, or twenty-five years from now.
FK: Holy shit. That’s a lot.
ELM: Since I missed the bus I missed it, but I assume the best way to do this game, regardless of the couple, would be to assume everything was gonna go well! [both laugh] Ten years in: “Mmm, maybe you’re not feelin’ it.” Statistically you’re probably not feelin’ it.
FK: Oh my God. [laughter] “You probably have kids by now! I’m really sorry if it turns out you can’t have children and this is incredibly incredibly distressing to you!”
ELM: That’s why it sets it up poorly, right? I don’t know!
FK: Well, we don’t do that, fortunately, for this podcast, we just ask people from the past year to give their thoughts. This is much better. A much better idea.
ELM: Can you imagine, the first episode we contacted a bunch of random people and were like, “Give us advice we can read out on our first, second and third episodes. Or feedback in advance.” That’s kind of what you’re doing in that game.
FK: Oh my God, feedback in advance. It is. But we’re not doing it. We’re not doing it. We’re not doing that.
FK: What we did ask people to talk about though was, I think like we said, sort of how fandom has changed in the past year, and we asked people to answer personally or on a broader level.
ELM: I feel like, did we use the word “change”? Definitely people said things about change, and I remember this happened last year.
FK: We did use the word “change.” I wrote the email and we used the word “change.”
ELM: That was your fault. I think it was more like, I don’t know, I feel like this question too is also like…I feel like it’s different, we’ll obviously talk about the answers individually, but it’s one thing if you are a journalist and you’re looking at trends over the year, it’s another thing if you’re just coming at it from an “I’m in fandom and…” If nothing specific happened in your personal fandom, it can often feel like we’re doing the same shit over and over again. You know? So it’s a tricky question. Last year, because we had had, there had been so much focus, a big concentrated conversation about race in fandom, that was obviously something that people could talk about, there was that flashpoint and then a lot of people talked about it, but it’s not like racism in fandom was a 2016 story, you know what I mean?
FK: Yeah, absolutely.
ELM: So it’s that kind of thing. I definitely feel like I can tell you some of the things I’ve been feeling in the last calendar year in fandom, especially entering a new fandom, but nothing’s new. In fact the point where now half of my response to this is “Oh, people just replicate patterns.”
FK: Yeah. Well, I mean, the good news is that none of our guests took this attitude toward it, and they all had really good answers.
ELM: I know, but I’m just saying that it’s a tricky question.
FK: It is.
ELM: And it’s interesting that none of our guests did do that. You know? Because I feel like maybe that would be the way a lot of our listeners would feel.
FK: Yeah, I don’t know.
ELM: Especially if you’re not professionally analyzing fandom or something, and you’re just talking about what you’ve observed, just being a fan throughout the year.
FK: Yeah. Well, we’ll talk about our own feelings about this at the end, how’s that? Should we listen to the responses we got first?
ELM: “It’s all old and it’s all patterns,” I already said it.
FK: Let’s listen to our guests first, OK? And let’s first take a break and when we come back let’s listen to Diana Pho, who is the first person.
ELM: Perfect. Let’s do that.
FK: Who responded to us.
ELM: So we got 10 responses, and actually they kind of split fairly nicely into people who focused more on a global level and people who focused more on a personal level, and so I thought it would be best to start with the global level. Obviously both groups have elements of both in them, no one’s just like “me me me and I love Harry Styles,” which would be yours, Flourish. [FK whines] No, that’s not true.
FK: Thank you.
ELM: [laughs] Diana Pho is a good place to start because she sets the tone, I think, talking about the intersection of real-world politics with fandom politics. Diana was one of our two guests, along with Mark Oshiro, from Con or Bust, which was only a couple episodes ago, maybe that was more than a couple episodes ago.
FK: It was more than a couple episodes ago, but we’ll let it go.
ELM: It was within the last four months.
ELM: Time blends together! And she is one of the board members of Con Or Bust, which is an organization that helps send fans of color to conventions, and also works as an editor at Tor. And so I will say in advance, this one audio clip had a few technical issues, so I just want to say in advance the audio clips will vary, just bear with us, because we wanted to play this one regardless because she has great stuff to say.
FK: Cool, let’s roll it.
Diana Pho: Hello, this is Diana Pho. I am part of the board of directors for Con or Bust, and I’m here to talk about what I think has changed in the science fiction and fantasy fandom in the past year, which is I think a lot. One of the major things that happened in science fiction and fantasy book fandom recently is the Hugo Awards, which has been undergoing a huge culture clash the past few years. I’m happy to say that this year’s nominees are representative of this new generation’s talented and diverse voices in many ways. A majority of the winners are women, and N.K. Jemisin won for Best Novel second year in a row with her incredible book The Obelisk Gate. Also thrilled that Uncanny Magazine also won for a second year in a row, they do really fantastic short fiction, after being moved to tears during Amal El-Mohtar’s reading of her story “The Seasons of Glass and Iron” at WisCon this past May, I’m just so so happy to see that story won too. But all the winners are just amazing people and I’m so happy to see that our fandom is really recognizing all this really great talent.
But overall, I’ve been seeing my peers in science fiction and fantasy take louder and firmer stances against the rise of white supremacy and fascism growing in the world today. So many of us were hurting this past year, especially those of us from the queer community who also identify as people of color who also identify as being part of the disabled community, and other marginalized communities, and every day I see people that I consider my coworkers, fellow agents, fellow authors, and other publishing professionals, speak out, and actively fight against this type of hatred, so I am very proud to consider them part of my community. And I think that is the biggest change I’ve seen in fandom this past year.
FK: Well I can say one thing about this, which is I so agree with Diana that it was so refreshing to have good Hugo winners. I mean, Hugo winners always have written good things, but to not have a slate that was tainted by the Sad Puppies this year. If you told me three years ago that we would have this slate of Hugo winners I would have been like, “Really?”
ELM: Yeah. It feels like a very quick turnaround. It was just two years ago that I was getting harassed by Milo Yiannopoulos’s followers for saying something negative about the Sad Puppies.
ELM: In an article.
FK: Well, good job SFF fandom for kicking those jerks out.
ELM: I mean, good job to all of us for making sure Milo Yiannopoulos can’t send a bunch of his followers to attack me online.
ELM: Thank you everyone. Thank you. [FK laughs] Cool.
FK: So the next person we have who wrote us this time is not an audio file, it’s someone who wrote in, it’s Evan Narcisse, who is a comics reviewer and writer and also writes about video games, has written on Kotaku, and he was in actually one of the very earliest of our episodes from this past year, he was in Episode 30, we interviewed him for an episode called “Games and Fandom.” But what he had to say was all about comics.
ELM: You wanna read it or do you want me to read it?
FK: I’ll read it, I’m talkin’ now, right?
ELM: Go for it. Go wild.
FK: OK. Evan writes, “One of the biggest stories in mainstream superhero comics over the last year has been Marvel’s Secret Empire storyline, the one that turned Captain America into a fascistic villain who’s in charge of Hydra. I’ve been struck by the angry fissure between fans and Marvel editorial over Secret Empire, because the story's bones are very familiar: trusted good guy becomes a horrible autocrat. A lot of the outcry has centered on the idea of responsible stewardship of a character who’s been used as an aspirational symbol. It’s been interesting to watch, as someone who’s been a comics critic and is now writing comics. I think there’s a responsibility to be aware of the wide swath of fandom interpretations, without necessarily being beholden to any one iteration. This awareness can be a sixth sense that sharpens the work. Even if you’re going against the current, you can find a way to do it in a way that’s provocative without being dismissive.”
ELM: This is a very, there’s a lot that's been said about this “Captain America is a Nazi,” and I think this is a very thoughtful take on it. Notably thoughtful.
FK: Yeah. I think that the point that the story is really familiar is…I’ve seen people talk about that, but not as often as maybe it should be.
ELM: Well, what I’ve seen a lot of from older comics people, usually white men, is “if you knew anything about comics, you’d know this is not out of the ordinary, you’ll know that it'll be retconned or Jossed or whatever,” and all this stuff, and it’s usually pretty dismissive, it’s done in a kind of gatekeeping way. “If you actually knew anything about this,” you know.
FK: Right, but this is taking it from a different point…
ELM: But also one of expertise. But one that understands why people are upset, also.
FK: Right. Because it can be familiar in that way and it can be important to recognize that, but also it’s pointed, right? Who it’s calling out in a certain way is, I mean who the story is calling out or threatening…
ELM: I think we should say, for anyone who isn’t really even tangentially connected to the comics world, I know that at the neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, people were wearing Hydra shirts.
FK: Yeah, absolutely.
ELM: Which is, uh, you know, kind of seems like…
FK: That’s a lot!
ELM: It kind of seems like it sort of validates the, people were not exaggerating when they were upset about it!
ELM: Cool. Nazis.
FK: K. Let’s roll someone else now so that we can be less depressed about the state of the world and the fact that Captain America as a Nazi is coming true in some ways.
ELM: I am not sure that any one clip is gonna make me forget about that. But. [FK laughs] The next person is Bob Proehl, also one of the early ones from last year, we talked to him before the election, I remember. It was just after New York Comic Con. So it was just before the election, when we had hope. Bob is the author of A Hundred Thousand Worlds, which is a really beautiful novel about comic-cons, but also about a Gillian-Anderson-type figure, and an X-Files-type show. I’m excited to hear what he has to say about the past year!
FK: So am I, let’s roll it!
Bob Proehl: Hi, this is Bob Proehl, the author of the novel A Hundred Thousand Worlds, and I just wanted to say congratulations to Elizabeth and Flourish on two years of Fansplaining, and to talk a little bit about what I think the last year in fandom, fandom in general…it feels to me like a bit of a watershed year. It feels like the sort of, the demographic shift in fandom that we’ve all seen and we’ve all known about has finally been recognized and acknowledged by the companies that put out the things that we love. I get the sense that finally these companies are coming to terms with the fact that they may have to ditch the sort of small, whiny, let’s call it “white straight male contingent”—which is not to say all white straight males, I happen to be one myself!—in order to pursue a wider base and really put out stuff made for and made by other audiences that have been there, other audiences and other creators that have been there, and that marketing to this small difficult-to-please demographic is kind of going the way of the dinosaur.
And it’s great to see that. And it’s great to see companies starting to and not getting there yet, get on board with that. And I think as that moves forward, this stuff that’s available to us as fans is hopefully gonna get broader and more diverse and that brings more people to the table and that’s, that’s sort of, for myself, that’s what I wanna see in fandom. I wanna see it be accessible to everyone, as that’s how it ought to be. And this year, again, felt like it was a big step towards that, and here’s hoping that it continues. And here’s hoping that you guys continue, and thank you all for asking me to be part of this, and all best in your third year!
ELM: I really liked this comment too. I think, it’s interesting, did you follow the milkshake thing?
FK: Do you mean like, milkshake duck?
ELM: [laughing] Not milkshake duck! No, not milkshake duck!
FK: I evidently didn’t, since all I can think of is milkshake duck, so no, I didn’t.
ELM: I’m so let down by milkshake duck. The article where I read about this was by Swapna Krishna, who was a guest of ours who actually is traveling and could not record something, unfortunately, but if you missed that episode definitely check it out. Swapna and Preeti Chhibber are the hosts of “Desi Geek Girls.” Apparently this was about a month ago, in July, a bunch of Marvel editors who are all women took pictures of themselves drinking a milkshake and that led to them…not drinking one milkshake, they all have their own milkshakes. And that led to a dudebro harassment.
ELM: Cause of course it did.
FK: Of course. You can’t exist as a woman without dudebro harassment.
ELM: In Swapna’s article, “Comics culture can be very toxic and is fully on display in the responses she received as a result of this photograph,” the Marvel editor. “They accused her of being a fake geek girl who hadn’t worked in comics before, despite the fact that she’s been in the industry for 4+ years. They accused her and others in the photograph of infecting and ruining Marvel comics and held her singly responsible for Marvel’s plummeting sales.”
And so in response a whole bunch of people posted, in the comics world, posted pictures of themselves drinking milkshakes. Or drew comics characters having milkshakes. And it was a hashtag and stuff. But this article made me think of Bob’s comment, because it’s entitled “Marvel and DC need to join the fight against toxic fan culture.” And basically Swapna’s thesis is, “Yeah, it’s great that everyone can draw their milkshake pictures in solidarity, but these voices are, these whiny man-baby voices are still too loud.” I think what Bob’s talking about to some degree is them turning away from them, and I think that you do see some of that in the past year, but I don’t think, I don’t think you see enough of it.
FK: I don’t either. but just coming from inside the industry, I think that people really recognize the business argument for it more than they have in the past. I’m not saying that means that everything is solved or perfect, or that things are fixed, but I’ve definitely heard a lot more comments from a business perspective saying “Well, we can’t do X because then we will lose women, we will lose people of color, we will lose…everybody who’s not a white man.”
ELM: Yeah. I mean, obviously that makes me feel sad, that that’s the only reason that that would convince them, but I also understand how capitalism works.
FK: Capitalism, capitalism dance! [singing]
ELM: Right. So.
FK: Yeah. Sorry.
ELM: 2018, you have to, at your job, continue the fight for more ethical business making decisions in this realm.
FK: I am prepared to shoulder this responsibility, although I can guarantee no results.
ELM: OK good. But otherwise, I love Bob’s comment in general, I’m just coming up with this example is not saying that what he’s saying is untrue. I definitely think…that…
FK: Yeah, I think he’s right.
ELM: And it feels like, I mean, there have been some big movies this past year that did not center white men or were not made by white men that have been very successful, and it’s nice finally seeing the flip-side of the coin of “If your lady superhero movie is garbage there’s never gonna be another one for 15 years,” right. It’s nice to see that if it’s not garbage then people will open their…I was gonna say checkbooks, but that’s not how you make a movie. With a checkbook.
FK: Checkbooks! [both laughing] I mean, in my experience there tend to be wire transfers involved when you are putting money to make a movie like that.
ELM: Millions of dollars.
FK: In my experience of this there are wire transfers.
ELM: In my mind everything is done at a poolside bar in Los Angeles, a hotel pool bar, and someone in a breezy suit that you could not wear in New York City pulls a checkbook out at some point.
FK: I’ve never seen a checkbook come out, but I have been to a meeting, not just at a poolside bar, but in like a…sort of booth in the back of an outdoor seating area with hedges around it, so that people can’t hear what you’re saying. It was super Hollywood.
ELM: That’s so good.
FK: It was amazing. I felt the most Hollywood of my life when I had that meeting. Anyway.
FK: Let’s listen to someone else, let’s listen to Lori Morimoto, who also came on the podcast pretty far ago. Far ago?
ELM: Yeah, pretty far ago.
FK: Pretty far ago. [laughs]
ELM: Pretty early in this calendar year that we’re setting up. Probably one of the first episodes of this last year. With Rukmini Pande, talking about slash and activism. One of our most popular episodes, I would say, of the past year. Got a lot of response. And talking about the way that activism and push for representation can be conflated with people’s desires within shipping culture and fandom and a lot of the blind spots that that exposes, particularly around race and racism.
FK: Yeah. And Lori is a acafan.
ELM: She is.
FK: An acafan.
ELM: An acafan! A acafan! Oh man, Flourish.
FK: She is an acafan and she does a lot of incredibly great work in this area, and she’s running a “Fan Studies for Fans” course.
ELM: Yeah, we tweeted about it, but we should put a link in the show notes. For as little as a dollar, it’s being run via Patreon, and if you’ve enjoyed Lori’s work, one thing that Lori also runs is—she just restarted it, the Fan Meta Reader, so Lori basically has these two ways she wants to bridge the gap between fandom and academia. One is helping fans access fan studies spaces, which is the course she’s running, the other one is helping academics access the fan world in the sense of showing academics that fan writing is, can be very rigorous. So the Fan Meta Reader, she pulls various metas from Tumblr with the permission of the writer and publishes them. Some are fandom specific and some are about pan fandom topics, like racism or misogyny or any of that stuff. So definitely check that out, because she just started publishing there again with some great new stuff.
FK: Well, let’s hear what she has to say!
Lori Morimoto: I’m Lori Morimoto, I’m acafanmom on Twitter, I was on Fansplaining with Rukmini Pande a while back talking about race and identity and transcultural fandom, which is my personal specialty, or where I tend to do most of my work as a quote-unquote “acafan.” It’s not a term I’m entirely in love with. So in the past year, that tends to be what I notice in any fandom or fan space, is how people are communicating across cultural borders if you will. How those borders are weakening and what’s the result of that.
It’s been interesting looking at all of that within the context of a Trump presidency, because at worst—and I don’t mean to suggest that it’s all bad or that I see this all the time—but at its worst, sometimes transcultural encounters tend to play out very much like a sort of Make America Great Again kind of thing, where it’s Make Fandom Great Again. Rebuild the fourth wall. Go back to how it was during the days of LiveJournal, that kind of thing. To me, I think that those things have pretty much passed. I don’t think we’re gonna get any of those things back in the same way, as the United States is a different place that it used to be. It’s certainly not the idealized place some people like to hold it up as. When people are going on about the golden days of online fandom, I don’t think it was quite entirely this sepia-toned wonderland that people sometimes like to paint it as.
And both of these things, the Trumpism is far more virulent, and I don’t mean to compare it in terms of intensity, but I see commonalities in terms of things getting closer and closer without much of a cultural context to know how to deal with that closeness. So that once, in fandom, for example, where it was once sort of you met people at conventions, you communicated by mailing—literal mailing lists and zines and things like that, and so you had effective borders, today we really don’t. Anybody can find anybody, anybody can interact with anybody. Our lack of even a kind of experience of that sort of transcultural encounter leads to some interesting problems and also solutions. I’ve been really excited when I see people trying to communicate across those borders. But I’ve also noticed that even in fandom, we tend to cling a bit to a past that we idealize, I think.
So that’s sort of all over the place, but that’s pretty much my observations of fandom for the past year. I’m interested to see what the future will bring. That’s about it! Thank you.
FK: So one of the things that most strikes me about what Lori said, is that idea of the golden old days of fandom not coming back, and also that the golden old days may not have been so golden. I think that the comparison between sort of toxic nostalgia for the United States that never was before, you know, a time before globalization or whatever, which is obviously really false…
ELM: Make Fandom Great Again.
FK: Right, it’s the Make Fandom Great Again thing, and I think that’s really a smart comparison.
ELM: MFGA [pronounced “mehfuggah”], that’s not gonna work.
FK: No, MFGA will not work. Let’s not ever go there again.
ELM: [laughing] No, thank you, I’m sorry.
FK: I can’t believe you did that to me.
ELM: And now I’m picturing the hats.
FK: Oh my God, OK, we need to scrub this from our brains [laughing] because we only have one more thing in this section! One more statement in this section.
ELM: Yeah, do you want me to read it because you read the previous one?
FK: Yeah, why don’t you?
ELM: OK! So while we’re talking about Donald J. Trump, the President of these United States, I’m sorry. [FK laughs] You just kind of made a face. It’s true, Flourish, it’s true. At least until this episode comes out. I'm willing to bet he will be President.
ELM: Maybe not the next one. No. Probably the next one.
FK: Read, read, read, go go go.
ELM: So this is from a group of people, it’s from Fandom Trumps Hate. We talked to two people from Fandom Trumps Hate in January, just round the time of the inauguration, this was a fan project that was put together when a lot of people were feeling like they wanted a…more targeted way to donate to various non-profits. So this was a fandom auction, people bid on various fan writers to write them works or artists and there were crafters, there were betas, all sorts of fanworks people. And they raised, it was tons of money. It was like something like $35,000. Wasn’t it?
FK: Yeah, it was a lot of money!
ELM: I pulled that number out of nowhere, but that feels right to me.
FK: We’ll find out! Check the show notes to see what they actually raised.
ELM: Great. So we wanna check in with them especially because, sometimes I wanted to talk to them because I do feel like some of the broad energy that was happening around in January I feel like has…it’s come and gone over the last…it’s exhausting, a lot of people burned out fast.
FK: Yeah, but I don’t know, I mean, speaking as someone who was in Boston yesterday and observed the gazebo of white nationalists being completely surrounded by anti-racist activists…
ELM: That’s why I said “rise and fall.”
FK: I feel like we can still make things happen!
ELM: I said “rise and fall,” I didn’t say “wane.”
FK: True, fair enough.
ELM: Also it shouldn’t be, it shouldn’t be just flashpoints. It’s hard! Some of this stuff is very long term, drip-drip kind of stuff. Anyway, Fandom Trumps Hate, wanna see what they were up to. So they write, “Congratulations to Fansplaining on their anniversary, and thank you for letting Fandom Trumps Hate be a part of it!
“What have we been up to this past eight months? Well, we’ve seen a bunch of amazing fanworks come in of course, with more on the way! You can check them out in our AO3 collection. We’ll be running another auction this winter, and are hoping to raise even more for these worthy causes. We’ve also been occupying ourselves with a few side-projects: the first auction went so well we put together a collection of open resources for anyone trying to run smaller, single-fandom versions. And because we believe activism needs to be ongoing and not just yearly, we’ve started a side blog called Fandom Trumps Hate Action that gives activities and information for people looking for more ways to be involved.
“At a time like this it can be easy to lose hope. But we have seen the strength and love created when fans work together and we’re so proud to be part of this community. There is no single, best way to be an an activist, and it will take all of us, going forward, to make real change, to fight fascism and work towards justice.
“Follow our main blog FandomTrumpsHate on Tumblr, and consider joining us in our activism endeavors over at FandomTrumpsHateAction. Keep an eye out for information on the next auction!
“Thank you again to Fansplaining and to everyone who participated in Fandom Trumps Hate! We love everyone in this bar.”
ELM: A good fannish meme at the end there! So that’s great to know, and I’m really glad to know, that actually literally spoke to what I just said about it being hard to sustain.
FK: Yeah and I’m really glad that we can sort of, as the last global fandom thing, have some kind of a call to action cause I feel like everybody was like, “Fascism, guys. Ack.”
ELM: I’m not sure that a fanworks auction is the best tactic for fighting fascism. But, it’s a great tactic for raising money to fight a lot of other things or to support a lot of other things!
FK: Yeah, and also just a thing that, I guess to me I feel like sometimes small actions—relatively small actions can help de-freeze you, when you’re feeling like that normalization or paralysis from everything being on fire at all times.
FK: If the thing that gets…I know that sometimes there’s been something that’s kicked me out of a moment of paralysis, and it’s been like, I could definitely imagine being like, “But I really want to commission that piece of fanart through this auction,” and…OK, that’s a tiny thing I can do, and then…
ELM: I’m not saying, this is very valuable for right now and fighting fascism isn’t the only thing that we’re doing right now! [FK laughs] Also people are having, our health care is still not safe, our environment’s completely fucked, poor people and marginalized people are at more risk than ever, and we need to be raising money for the organizations that have the resources to help. But I don’t think we can take our fanfiction to the rally and be like, “Fuck you Nazis!” Right?
FK: Oh my God, can you imagine.
ELM: No, I can’t because I don't think they care! They’re Nazis!
FK: I don’t think they care either [both laughing] but I’m just so amused…
ELM: I’m just sayin’ there’s a lot of fights to fight right now!
FK: Yeah, yeah.
ELM: But you wanna go do a live fic-writing fest at the next rally…
FK: I don’t!
ELM: But I think you shouldn’t… [laughing]
FK: This shit has gotten silly, I think we need to take a break. [both laughing]
ELM: All right, let’s take a break!
FK: All right!
FK: OK, we’re back [laughing] and we’re on the other side of politics in general now, although not entirely because the personal is political.
ELM: Yes, that’s true.
FK: And now we’re talking about some of the responses we got from people with more personal perspectives on what’s been going on this past year in fandom!
ELM: OK. The first person we heard from was Teresa Nguyen, who is a cosplayer, makes really intricate exquisite gowns, when did we speak to her, maybe in the spring?
FK: Ah, let’s look! She was pretty recent actually, she was Episode 45, so that was like maybe…
ELM: Five months ago. The spring, Flourish.
FK: Oh that wasn’t that recent. The spring. You’re right.
ELM: As I said, time flies. Like, it’s like, I know we’re not supposed to talk about this anymore, but in the Trump era I do feel like every day’s a year, but also I’m like “Holy shit what just happened the last eight months?”
FK: That's true. So five months ago we talked to Teresa, talked about cosplay, the practice of it, what you get out of it, all this, and if people go check out what she’s been doing since then, she’s been making even more amazing costumes. I know she just got back from Costume College, which is a sort of costuming fest where she made a bunch of different costumes. So you should definitely go and look at all of her social, cause they are beautiful. And she did some with her daughter, some matching costumes that are so cute.
ELM: Oh my God, that’s really cute.
FK: Should I read it or shall you?
ELM: You read it.
FK: OK. Teresa writes, “I don’t know if this is a change in fandom, more like a growing trend. I have noticed the past year that more people are interested in being creative…and that makes me SO happy! Fandom is a catalyst for creativity. I have never seen so many people excited to create: drawings, one-of-a-kind items, paintings, poems, literature, song, costumes…all for their love of a fandom. I have personally picked up books and comics that I probably never would have considered, solely based on a fabulous costume or piece of art I came across at a convention. So much thought, appreciation, and passion goes into fandom, I think these are things our world needs, and probably lacks, on average.
“Even for a person who considers themselves a non-artist…do you know what I mean? The person who vehemently exclaims “I can’t…!” (Insert draw, paint, sew, write, sing…make art of any kind.) Fandom has a special place for these “non-artists.” Because it just doesn’t matter if you create the art as long as you appreciate it. If you see a stormtrooper Snape walk by and you get that…congratulations! You appreciate art, and that makes you human. Art is what makes us human. Not just creating it, but enjoying it.”
ELM: Oh my God, that’s, that’s so lovely.
FK: It’s wonderful, it’s lovely.
ELM: It’s making me feel emotions!
FK: I also think it’s kinda true, actually. One of the things that I have realized in my work is that the number of people taking part in creative fandom has grown over time. It is more normalized, more people do it, and that’s just, there are actually literally more people doing it.
ELM: That’s great. I feel like it’s partly like, maybe, I was gonna say if there’s a stigma around being fannish or being geeky or whatever—I hate using these words, “fannish” I like using, but “geek” and “nerd” are very annoying words to me—if that stigma is lowering and the barriers to entry are lowering, cause it seems like doing something creative within fandom is the most…that’s the most you can possibly put yourself out there.
To be like, “I created this, look at it,” that takes a lot of courage. Right? So if the barriers to entry are lowering and the stigma is lessening, then it makes sense that more people would be like, “I’ve always wanted to do that, and now I don’t feel like that's the weirdest thing I could possibly do.” That’s fine.
FK: And I think people know that it exists. They see other people do it, “I could do that too.” In a way I think it can be hard to outside of fandom. As we know, who wants to read your short story that is not attached to a fandom? I mean a small group of people, your writing group, whatever, but it can be hard to find an audience for that, whereas it can be a lot easier if you’re writing something fanfic-wise.
ELM: Yeah, but that’s…that’s more of…I have…you said that in a positive way, but I did not read that statement as positive.
FK: Well no, or like costuming, I mean, there’s some groups of people who like to do historical costuming or whatever, but if you do a costume that is a fannish costume, then people appreciate it—maybe not in the same way as someone who’s a costumer would, but you have a built-in audience, right?
ELM: Sure, that’s true, that’s true.
FK: That’s how I meant it, sorry if it didn’t come off that way at first.
ELM: I kind of wish that even within fandom it wasn’t like…you know, some people are writing AUs that are essentially straight-up original, they have literally nothing, these are characterizations that you or the fandom has created—but they won’t touch original fiction, and it’s like, “Well, if I just changed the names in my original fiction to Steve and Bucky, would you read my story?” I picked those names out of nowhere, I’m not. “If I changed the names to Harry and Draco, would you read my story?” Know what I mean?
FK: I did pick up A Little Life in the bookstore the other day…
ELM: Oh my God, Flourish.
FK: And thought, “What if I bought this book and crossed out the character names and changed them to the Marauders. What would happen.”
ELM: Then I would murder you, you would be disrespecting a book that I love. [FK laughs] They’re nothing like those characters!
FK: I didn’t read it at all, I was just like “Oh there’s four of them, what would happen if I did this?”
ELM: Spoiler, there’s not actually four of them.
FK: There’s more than four of them?
ELM: No, it’s just that…it’s well documented, it’s written about a great deal, but it’s a fake-out, the first 400 pages you think it’s gonna be a post-school, these-four-friends novel and then it’s not. The remaining 600 pages are not about the four of them.
FK: Maybe I should actually read this book.
ELM: We could talk about it later.
FK: OK. Let’s listen to Zan Romanoff, who’s the next person on our list, how’s that.
ELM: Zan! OK. Speaking of novels, Zan is the author of Grace and the Fever, which is a novel about Flourish, a One Direction fan, who falls in love with Harry Styles/Zayn… [FK laughs] Right? This is your autobiography.
FK: Uh, keep going…
ELM: [laughing] This is a YA novel, and it’s about a One-Direction-like band and a fan who’s also a conspiracy shipper who believes two of the band members are in a relationship. Not unlike certain ships in certain fandoms. And it’s a very, I love it, you loved it.
FK: I did.
ELM: So I know that, I mean, Zan’s isn’t, Zan is kind of straddling the personal and professional of fandom, so I’m curious to know what she’s gonna say.
FK: All right, let’s listen.
Zan Romanoff: Hi, this is Zan Romanoff, the author of Grace and the Fever, and I think the thing that’s changed for me, or…well, you said what’s changed in fandom, and I can only speak to what’s changed for me in fandom, because what’s changed for me is that I’ve been much more outside of it than I’ve ever been before, which has been really interesting and different.
I’ve put myself in this position of commenting on fandom and writing about fandom and sort of trying to be some kind of fandom ambassador [laughs] I guess, someone who’s from the country but can live outside of it and speak to people outside of it, which is a, oof, a lot to think yourself capable of! Anyway, and I guess the feeling that that world is available to me and to other people—Elizabeth obviously very much included—is a big change in fandom. You know, that we’re increasingly dealing with. Like, how are we being seen, and how do we want to represent ourselves, and who gets to represent us, and what the hell is us, and all of that stuff.
So yeah, I feel like that’s the thing that’s certainly, in my experience of fandom. But I will also say that even recording this little thing has made me think “Oof, yeah, I gotta get back in there!” [laughs] I miss just dorking out on stuff and not thinking analytically all the time, being like “How can I pitch this, how can I position this.” So hopefully I’ll have an answer from the inside next year for Fansplaining Year Three! Hell yeah.
ELM: It’s interesting, I appreciated being name-checked in this, because I could definitely relate to everything she was talking about, and I also think this kind of calls back to when we talked to her in May. I was asking her about the ambivalence around fandom that she portrays in Grace and the Fever. You remember this conversation? I thought that was one of the best parts of the conversation.
FK: It was a great…
ELM: And she was saying, “Fandom is wonderful and fandom is fucked up and it is what it is.” Actually, there was a quote, I remember, did we talk about this in the episode or we just talked about it IRL? After the Supergirl Comic-Con fallout when the actor scoffed at the idea of queer ship that people liked? And someone, there was a thread that I really appreciated where they were saying, “Look, fandom is not good or bad, fandom is just a force of nature.” You know?
FK: Yeah, it’s like a tsunami.
ELM: Oh, it was in our AMA!
FK: It was in our AMA!
ELM: Yeah! So in our AMA I called back to that, and again I'm referencing this tweet that I will never find again, and I said, “Creators sometimes think they can harness or control the weather and they get surprised when their house blows down in the storm or whatever.” But I think that Zan does a very good job portraying fandom in this way, that it is what it is and there are good parts and bad and you can often feel the sort of pressure when you’re acting as an ambassador between the two spheres—even though it’s not a binary like that—to present a, to put on a good face.
FK: For sure.
ELM: And that can often cause these very big disconnects, especially if you’re seeing hurtful behavior in fandom, if you’re seeing bigotry in fandom, right, and you’re like, over here trying to be like “Don’t make fun of fanfiction people!” and then you’re like “But I also wanna critique these people!”
ELM: So it kind of takes you out, it can take you out of really enjoying fandom, especially if you’re not caught in the throes of something new like I am right now.
FK: For sure. I completely agree with that, and I have things to say about it in my own thoughts, so I’m gonna let it be.
ELM: You wanna save that for later? You don’t wanna say it right now?
FK: Saving it for later.
ELM: Shit, I can’t wait that long!
FK: OK, you can wait that long. We’re gonna save it for later.
ELM: All right, fine. So you read the last one, I’ll read the next one, which is our friend Emily Roach, who we talked to in December about queer YA. Emily is a writer and academic, she’s studying queer YA. I met her because she was the incredible moderator for a panel I did at Leviosa last year on feminism and slash, that perennial ambivalent topic.
FK: Oh my God.
ELM: And had such such smart things to say, so when I was in England last year I was actually traveling to visit her, and I was like, “We should definitely have her on to talk about one of her areas of expertise.”
FK: Yeah, and we recorded with you guys in England together and me back in the United States!
ELM: We were in England together but we had to be in separate rooms! [laughing]
FK: To record, yeah.
ELM: Yeah, which is funny. Anyway, so this is what Emily wrote. I wish Emily had recorded it so we could have her really solid English accent, but just imagine this in an English accent.
“I obviously enjoyed chatting to you about YA fiction for Fansplaining’s episode on queer YA, because I ended up shifting the focus of my latest big academic project to deal specifically with that genre, and I’m planning to spend more time than I had initially envisaged on trans YA fiction as part of my PhD on emerging trans literary voices, so thank you Elizabeth and Flourish for making me want to delve into the subject in even more depth.” [whispering] You’re welcome!
“Because it’s impossible to think about anything without circling back to fandom, my research on contemporary YA has led to a lot of thinking about the impact history has on present-day LGBT identity. That of course led me to wonder how that works when the canon offers no queer framework at all and we then ascribe queer identities to characters in fic. Hello, Harry Potter. Retcon aside, it’s always been a really open playing field in terms of addressing what it means to be LGBT in the Potterverse, and there are a multitude of ways of handling it, from ‘it’s all fine because everyone’s magic’ to ‘it’s definitely not fine because everyone’s an asshole.’” [Elizabeth laughs] It’s true!
“I’m planning a long writing project which uses a cross-generation slash ship to explicitly give a queer historical context and framework which impacts on the characters, the way they perceive the wizarding world and their place—and the place of their relationship—within it.”
FK: I;m just really excited about the project, it sounds really good!
ELM: It does! “I’m fully aware this is hardly revolutionary and loads of people have done this before, but I really don’t feel I have in my own writing, so it’s a project I'm excited about taking on. On queerness in Harry Potter, or lack thereof, I’ve also been working on two book chapters where I give my thoughts on reading The Cursed Child as a coming-of-age teen romance, Invisibility Cloaks, and the closet under the stairs, among other things. Since we spoke earlier this year, I’ve been trying to get used to the ever-shifting platforms in Harry Potter fandom and have taken that time to look at both the canon and the transformative works I write through a critical lens.
“In other fandom news, I’ve dived into the world of RPF like it’s a cocktail bar and someone’s about to make me do karaoke. I’m obsessed with BBC Radio One DJ Nick Grimshaw, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, or any combination of the above. Not only is it absolutely delightful being a fan of Harry at the moment, but from a critical perspective it’s got me thinking about RPF, slashing and shipping real people, the fourth wall and all of the ‘big ticket’ fandom discussion topics that have different nuances in an RPF context. It’s also led me to research other pop music fandoms, bandom and K-pop, and led to a brilliant tangent off into articles on post-Stonewall music and LGBT identity, where I discovered an academic whose fieldwork involved going to clubs and chatting to lots of shirtless men, which suggests I’ve been doing academia wrong.
“The other new shift for me has been getting rapidly up to speed with Tumblr, as my other fandoms have been predominantly journal-based and I didn't interact too much on my Tumblr before falling down the 1D rabbithole. I’m not sure I have anything terribly new to contribute discussions about changing fandom platforms or RPF, as I feel like those discussions have been going on for a while, but I’m enjoying the hell out of getting up to speed and formulating my thoughts.” Good times, Emily, that’s really solid in there!
FK: Yay! That’s such a, that’s such a cheerful…man.
ELM: It was also great cause it’s like, “I’m doing all this critical work! This critical thing, this critical thing, and it’s like a cocktail bar and someone’s making me do karaoke!” This is ideal.
FK: I do feel like, “Six shots, right now.”
ELM: Is that how you feel in the One Direction fandom?
FK: Like I’ve dived in that way? I mean, yeah, I guess! I just need all of it.
ELM: But do you feel like you’re at a karaoke bar?
FK: I mean, One Direction fandom literally did get me to sing in public for the first time since I was, like, 10.
ELM: When you were singing, when you were reading your fic out loud.
ELM: This was the first time you read a story about mpreg out loud since you were 10 as well, I bet.
FK: I think that when I was 10 I was not reading stories about mpreg out loud. The mpreg did not freak me out. Singing in public did.
ELM: Aww. You were very good, don’t worry.
ELM: Really. I know you have psychological hangups about this.
FK: Thank you for saying that to me repeatedly.
FK: The you are good part not the psychological hangups part. Anyway. [both laugh] We should move on from this topic. We should read what Lauren Orsini said. Is it “Or-SINI” or “OR-sini”? “Or-SINI,” right?
ELM: An Italian would say “Or-SINI.”
FK: Great, let’s say it that way!
ELM: An Italian-American would say, “Or-SEEN.”
ELM: Just sayin’. Lauren is the Otaku Journalist, is the name of her platform, what she tweets from, and she’s got a newsletter. She’s an anime journalist.
ELM: But she's American and not Asian-American, and so she kind of writes from that lens of being a white Western anime fan.
FK: Right, and she came on to Fansplaining for the episode “Fansplaining!!! On Ice,” which I think has misled some people to think that we do episodes that are about particular fandoms. In this episode we talked with her about how anime makes the jump between Western fandom—I hate the term Western fandom, I’m using it anyway—American-ish fandom? Fandom that is not Japanese fandom! And we used Yuri!!! On Ice as a lens to look at that, but it was not really about Yuri!!! On Ice. So should I read it?
ELM: Yes please.
FK: OK. “A little after you both did me the honor of inviting me to the Fansplaining podcast, I turned 30. I am officially a 30-something who still watches anime, plays video games and writes fanfiction.
“I wish I could tell that to 13-year-old me. I recently found my middle school diary. At the time, I was very active on a forum for chatting about the Final Fantasy video game series, and I wrote in March 2000: ‘There is a grown man on the Final Fantasy forum. He is 23, and STILL plays Final Fantasy! I wonder if I will still like video games when I am 23.’ I’m still participating, but I’m also trying to do one better and make fandom a better place than it was when I found it.
“I have spent a lot less time consuming fandom, and a lot more time creating resources for fans. I have presented a panel at every anime convention I’ve attended this year. I launched an archive project called AnimeOriginStories.com in which I have spoken to 100 fans around the world about what got them into anime. I have tried to be a good role model for younger fans by agreeing to be interviewed for multiple fandom-focused school projects. I finally started donating regularly to Archive Of Our Own. In general, I have tried to give back to the fandom community, which has been there for me for two-thirds of my life.
“As we get older, it’s up to us to make fandom a welcoming space for the young teens who are just discovering a place where they belong. I think Fansplaining has done a great job of helping to shape that positive environment. Happy birthday Fansplaining, and here’s to many more to come!”
ELM: Thank you! Oh, it’s so positive.
FK: Oh my God, I also turned 30 this year and I really…oh.
ELM: Yeah, but I bet, Flourish, you…
FK: That story!
ELM: You the 14-year-old hanging out with all the 40-year-olds at the cons was never like, “I wonder if I will be that loser…” she didn’t say loser. “Who’s still hanging out here at 23?” I bet you have a singularly weird perspective on this, cause you were like that one teenager with a bunch of adult-adults, not 20-somethings but adults.
FK: Yeah. I mean…a lot of them were 20-somethings at the time, actually. I can do math.
ELM: Oh, were they? You know what I mean though. Not like 20-year-olds.
FK: No. Like, people with real jobs.
ELM: People with jobs.
FK: Adults with jobs and their own apartments.
ELM: That’s what I mean.
FK: That’s true. However, I will say this, that even though I saw, I witnessed with my own eyes that there are many adults who are still engaged in fandom, I didn’t really totally believe it till after I had finished college and found that I could continue to do this as a job. I sort of thought that it was always going to be a secondary thing in my life, so.
ELM: Oh, well, I don’t know how you could have thought it could be your job since it’s not…your job is a new job.
FK: Yeah, but you know what I mean. I knew it on one level but I don’t think I had fully processed it either, even though I saw that there were adults, I couldn’t put together that I could be one of those adults.
ELM: Yeah. That’s interesting.
FK: She was actually way more advanced that me in that respect, because she was thinking about this. I was just like “doop-de-doo.”
ELM: That’s fantastic, though, and also, this is a really great take, I feel like the ageism conversation and the mixed-age conflicts that you see, I feel like that’s something I actually have seen increase in the past year. And this is a very positive framing. The idea of like—and this is actually always how I felt about adults as a teen, obviously I was lurking so it was a little different than if I had been on forums with adults—but I always felt like there’s a framing in the ageism conversation right now where it’s like, “Do you know that there are minors in here and you with your disgusting stories are corrupting them?” And for me, I always felt like it was the other way around, it was like, “I’m gonna lie and say I’m 18. Not cause I need your disgusting stories or whatever, but because I wanna be a part of this community.” I never centered it on myself, thinking, this was 14, I was like, “Oh no, these are…I don’t know how old these people are, but they’re obviously adults because they’re writing these great stories.” Although some of them were probably 16. So. You know what I mean?
FK: Yeah, I totally know what you mean, and that was my feeling too. We actually, just last night I got tagged in a mega-conversation about this by people who knew me when I was a teen and were like, “Come talk to us about the teen experience, Flourish!” I got a bunch of people being like, “Why doesn’t Fansplaining cover this?” Maybe we could go hunt down some actual current teens.
ELM: Oh, you wanna talk to teens?
FK: Let’s talk to teens!
ELM: I was worried that they were gonna want you to talk about being a teen, and I think we need to not…
FK: I am fine to talk about my experiences as a teen, but we should center actual teens.
FK: Current teens. Not people who were teens 15 years ago.
ELM: Right, right. OK, so resolution for the next year, let’s find some teens.
FK: Find some teens. OK. We should roll the last person.
ELM: All right, so this is—
FK: Which is…
ELM: Maia Kobabe, who has not been a guest, but is our favorite artist. I think we can go out there and say hands-down our favorite artist. Maia did the cover illustration for the episode where we talked to Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, my newsletter partner, about fic preferences, right?
ELM: Also illustrated my Mary Sue article, and then we used that one for the cover of our Mary Sue episode, that was in the spring, and also completely uncommissioned, unbidden by us has drawn fanart of us multiple times.
FK: Yes. We can’t. So it was really cool. We realized Maia was a really important part of contributing to our podcast, for not just the past year, but for basically as long as e’s been listening to it, so we had er send us in er comments. Shall we roll them?
ELM: Let’s do it!
Maia Kobabe: Hello Elizabeth and Flourish, this is Maia Kobabe AKA redgoldsparks on Tumblr and Instagram. Long time listener, first time caller. Actually seriously though, I started listening to Fansplaining in January of 2016 and I found about the show because I at that time was in a Sherlock fan meetup group and Destination Toast was one of the other members, and she mentioned being interviewed on this cool new podcast called Fansplaining, and I was like “Oh that sounds awesome, I’ll check it out!”
It was through Fansplaining that I found other podcasts, the first one being “SRSLY,” the British pop culture podcast with Anna and Caroline, and then I can’t remember, either that podcast or yours introduced me to “Witch Please,” and then one of those three introduced me to “Another Round,” and I went from being a person who pretty much never listens to podcasts to a person who obsessively keeps track of 12 to 15 podcasts per week, and it has really become a big part of my life, and I feel like I have you guys to thank for that. Your guys’ podcast has just meant so much to me, and I realize this has gone on very long but I really love what you’re doing and I hope you keep it up, I hope there’s 50 more episodes, you two are both charming and delightful people and I really appreciate getting to sit in on your friendship! All right. That’s all for now, bye!
FK: It makes me very pleased that we have introduced somebody to the woolly world of podcasts.
ELM: Yeah, I mean, I feel like we don’t listen to that many podcasts. Do you?
FK: No, I definitely do not.
ELM: I listen to NPR 15 hours a day, so some of those people call them podcasts, but.
FK: I pretty much only listen to podcasts when there is a specific episode of something I want to listen to. Because my job involves talking on the phone with people all day and talking to them and hearing from them so…
ELM: Doin’ biz. Yeah.
FK: I mean, not all of it. I do a bunch of research as well but even then sometimes that’s like…putting your head together with somebody.
ELM: I just like to imagine you doing biz.
FK: Yeah, there’s a lot of biz.
FK: We have created podcast listeners that are better podcast listeners than us.
ELM: Yeah that’s really, that’s really, I feel like we can’t take credit for that.
FK: I feel very good taking credit for all sorts of things.
ELM: You really would. That was a wonderful comment, I really appreciate that so much, thank you Maia.
FK: And so incredibly heartwarming, ahh!
ELM: That’s a great note to end, so thank you so much to everyone who sent in their thoughts.
FK: OK, let’s take a quick break, and then let’s talk about us.
ELM: Can’t wait to talk about us…
ELM: All right, we’re back. We’ve already hinted at, slash went on and on about, how we felt, but now is our actual time to shine and say how we felt. These two questions are now yours. Changes, trends, feelings about fandom on a global level and also on a personal level from August 2016 to August 2017, go.
FK: OK. On a global level I think the biggest thing I’ve seen is the expansion of fandom, which I’ve touched on before. The fact that fan cultures get bigger, that more people know that they can enter fandom and find their way in. I’ve definitely seen that even just in this past year, as far as the ways that totally non-, people who don’t have a fannish history start engaging with cosplay, start engaging with con culture. That’s been really prevalent for me.
Kinda related to that, this is also the year that for the first time I felt like I went to a fan event and it was a work event for me. Purely.
ELM: Which one?
FK: I went to San Diego Comic-Con and I really felt like I was no longer attending that at all as a fan.
ELM: I didn’t feel like I was there as a fan.
FK: OK, maybe that makes me feel a little better, but in past years I at least made it to a couple of things that I was there fannishly for, and this year I was like “I can’t do it, because if I do, then that’s gonna get sucked up into my work life,” right?
ELM: I was there as your, I was there for the lulz and as your hanger-on. It was wonderful. [FK laughs] I went to the Maritime Museum for all day Saturday instead of going to any panels!
FK: That was a very fannish thing. One thing that changed for you this year is that you got into Black Sails.
ELM: Hey wow, you tryin’ to steal my thunder? That’s my answer!
FK: Tell me about what changed for you!
ELM: No, tell me on a personal level! Tell me how you felt. Because I feel like you were maybe a little too fannish this year.
FK: About what?
ELM: About what.
FK: About Harry Styles?
ELM: About Harry Styles. I’m kidding. It wasn't too much but it was definitely a lot, it’s undeniable.
FK: It was a lot. I’m kicking myself now, because while I will soon get to go and have the pleasure of seeing him play in Boston, I didn’t get tickets to Radio City Music Hall, and I’m kind of disappointed in myself for that. Even though I got tickets for three Harry Styles things like a year in advance. Yeah. Uh, I don’t know, I mean, I guess I felt really fannish in that space and I felt less fannish at SDCC than I have in the past and that was an interesting change for me.
ELM: I wonder if part of it is because you are in a music and RPF kind of fandom, and there’s not really any space for that at San Diego Comic-Con.
FK: Yeah but I'm also reading all of the Star Trek novels and yet I did not feel…I mean I wanted sort of to go to the Star Trek: Discovery panel, but I didn’t really feel like I could in that context, because I felt like if I go then I’ll be there at this work event and it’ll be a work thing and it just felt like it would all get stuck together. So. I look forward to going to smaller conventions that are not there for work and experiencing Star Trek fandom that way.
ELM: It’s interesting, I wonder if part of your One Direction thing too…I know Britta wrote about this when someone was asking her if it was hard, because she gets all these asks about, you know, the pro-to-fan, fan-to-pro transition and if that’s hard to manage. And there was one, and I remember she said that part of one of the reasons she was into One Direction, Harry Styles, was that it was not…she’s not in a television fandom. And that makes it a little bit easier. Cause it’s different, it’s an adjacent world, it’s a different world. And I wondered if maybe that’s part of it for you too…
FK: Yeah, for sure, and not even subconsciously.
ELM: Oh, it’s conscious, cause you don’t know…you know how things work in Hollywood but you don’t see the inner workings of the music industry.
FK: Yeah exactly. I don’t need to know. But I wanna hear about your stuff! Tell me about Black Sails fandom. Elizabeth!
ELM: [laughing] Yeah!
FK: Tell me all about it!
ELM: On a personal level, Black Sails is the only thing that matters. On a global level, really, I think that Black Sails might also be the only thing that matters. [FK laughing] So that’s basically the answer! And I’m sorry to everyone who wants this to become just a Black Sails podcast, because I agree. Flourish is the bad one here. Flourish is Woodes Rogers, just trying to ruin everyone’s fun.
FK: I do not think we need to be a Black Sails podcast. But what about globally, because earlier on in this podcast, this episode you were saying that you felt like fandom was sort of a repeating cycle in a certain way. Have things changed this year?
ELM: Yeah I feel like a lot of the things I’ve seen this year have just been things I’ve already seen. So it just feels weird to be like this is happening now…and it’s gotten harder and harder for me as the years go on to not just see everything as one big pattern. You know, there are even some things in Black Sails. I have my eye on various corners of the fan community that maybe don’t necessarily interact a massive amount, just different ways of consuming and talking about the show. But I definitely see some things that I think are kind of frustrating fandom patterns, and they feel like patterns to me. You know? A lot of people being like “Maybe it’s this one thing about the show or this one thing,” and I’ll be like “No, this is like this thing I have observed in this fandom, not in this fandom I am in.” So that feels a little, it’s a little depressing, it just makes me feel we’re never gonna stop doing some of the things that I wish fandom would…I think that definitely people are making progress but still. I don’t know.
FK: All human history repeats itself, fandom is fandom, it’s a tsunami.
ELM: I know, but it’s like, how many times can you talk about stuff without it getting better? And it’s like…especially when faced with canonical…some of the things that people blame on canon, “Oh, it’s all white guys anyway, so it’s not really me,” that kind of thing. I’m not just trying to make this about shipping preferences or whatever. But even the way people talk about media, it’s like, the more diversity we get on our screens, the more varied storytelling we get on our screens, the more things we get that aren’t just the “Oh well that’s the way that shows are and that’s the way that Hollywood is,” the more fandom kind of shows its hand doing the same things it always does…you know.
Or, we’re gonna have my friend Lilah who’s a television writer on in the next episode, and I know that she wants to talk about the ideas of fandom still, still tends to be much more permissive to the big…you’re much more permissive to Marvel and you’ll be like “Oh look they had a steamy gaze, so this is a queer movie,” than to smaller queer creators creating queer media, you know. There’s a bunch of big examples in the last year of that. So it’s like, we give people praise for crumbs, but when people give—smaller creators and often women, often people of color, offer whole cookies or whole cakes, you’re like “I’m gonna set that cake on fire.” We can talk all about it but if we can’t actually enact it, it’s hard for me to feel hopeful about fandom fixing itself.
That’s incredibly depressing. I love Black Sails. That’s what I’m happy about in fandom. That’s all I care about. [FK laughing] That’s all I care about and I’m so grateful that my ability to be a fan, to hearken back to Zan’s comment, has not been utterly destroyed by A, some bad fan experiences in my last fandom, but B, mostly, I feel like you know this too—when you are doing it for work and you have to think about it analytically at a global level all the time, it can make it really hard to just kind of sink into it, so I am just super grateful.
FK: Getting to sink into it is the best.
ELM: It’s great! Yeah! Even though I have in the, running…not even at a subconscious level but I have one level of my brain thinking, “Well, I am going to look at this through the lenses which, I’m going to look at it from a media critique side. Looking at the way that people are engaging with it.” That’s never gonna go away, but it’s nice to know that I can do that side-by-side with being like, you know. “It’s all about Thomas Hamilton.”
FK: I do know.
ELM: Just my feelings about Thomas Hamilton. You don’t know who that is.
FK: That is a much more cheerful note on which to end…
ELM: Just end on Thomas Hamilton.
FK: …than what you were saying before. Let’s just end on Thomas Hamilton.
ELM: T. Ham.
FK: T dot Ham. As always, we have a Patreon, patreon.com/fansplaining, you can get in contact with us through fansplaining.com, which is a Tumblr with an open ask box, firstname.lastname@example.org, there’s also a phone number on that Tumblr that you can call to leave us a message, which we like the best. We love audio messages.
ELM: The person who left us that abortive message never called back, so you’re still encouraged to call back.
FK: Please come back!
ELM: I don’t know what you’re gonna say, but I’d love to hear it! So our Patreon, we are about to start our pledge drive soon. Before we do that, we are right now putting our finishing touches on the overdue quarterly tiny zine, and a thousand apologies to our patrons for the delay on that—but it is coming to you. And then we’re gonna do our pledge drive, we’re gonna have a new special episode, new tiny zine just back-to-back, we’re now weekly tiny zine producers. So. And all sorts of stuff, and if you have $1-a-month that could make a huge difference to us, it really does add up, no amount is too small. Though less than $1 is too small, I don’t think Patreon allows you to do that.
FK: Right. But we wouldn't turn it down, just Patreon requires us to.
ELM: Right. You could send us, you could pay us 99 cents if that’s what you desire to do we’ll take it.
FK: If that’s what you desire.
FK: OK [laughing]
ELM: So stay tuned to that and we’re not sure what we’re doing a special episode on yet, but we will find something fun to talk about, I’m sure.
FK: We will!
ELM: But Flourish, Flourish, it’s been a challenging year on a global level, I know that after the election I feel like we were a little unsure about whether we wanted to keep doing this, but I’m really glad. I feel like we found lots of ways to engage with a broader world while still maintaining fandom as a space for people to also…fandom can also be an escape when you need it. And I feel like this podcast has also kind of reflected that. Over the last year or so. So I’m really grateful for that.
FK: Me too, and you’re gonna make me cry if we keep talking about this, so I’m just gonna say HAPPY ANNIVERSARY ELIZABETH.
ELM: Yeah, happy anniversary Flourish, I’m trying to make you cry again like I did after the election!
FK: Oh my God, goodbye Elizabeth, I can’t do this, I can’t cry on our podcast!
ELM: BYE FLOURISH, go cry off the podcast!
FK: Bye Elizabeth! [both laugh]
[Outro music, thank yous and disclaimers]