Episode 56: Ships and Showrunners

Episode 56’s cover: Lilah mugging for the camera.

Elizabeth and Flourish talk to Lilah Vandenburgh, a long-time fan who is now a writer, director, and showrunner for film and television. They discuss how shipping culture has evolved in recent years, the pressures on showrunners and other entertainment pros to interact, and the ways that structural inequality shapes fan behavior. Also Elizabeth reports back with her review of Sean Stewart’s narrative game, “Sherlock Holmes: The Last Breath.”


Show Notes

[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel,” by Stefsax.

[00:00:44] Lilah Vandenburgh is on Twitter

[00:01:54] If you missed the Sean Stewart episode, it’s Episode 54: Is This The Real Life? Is This Just ARG?

[00:05:52] Clara’s work is extensive, but at least one of her academic papers on Sherlock Holmes games is online for anyone to read!

[0:06:53] This interstitial music, and all following, is “Circles” by Jahzzar.

[00:14:07] Lilah’s show “Uncle” isn’t available to stream in all markets, but here’s a link to its Wikipedia entry in any case!

[00:15:08] Our Crossover Event with the YAWriters subreddit is here!

[00:30:46] Steven Universe has been at the center of several flareups, from a fanartist attempting suicide after backlash to her work in 2015 to the incident we discussed in the episode, where SU storyboard artist Lauren Zuke quit Twitter after harassment over retweeting fanart.


A meme in which a tiny lizard is depicted looking unthreatening with the caption “He protec,” then holding a pushpin like a sword with the caption “But he also Attac".

[00:41:18] #NoConfederate has been amazing to observe and participate in. The Daily Dot has a good rundown.

[00:59:56] C’mon, you know you want to go to the Episodic conference!

[01:02:17] Patreonnnnnn? *bats eyes*


[Intro music]

Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish!

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

ELM: This is Episode 56, Ships and Showrunners.

FK: Yeah!

ELM: I said that channeling Mrs. Potts.

FK: Aww! [laughs]

ELM: [Mrs. Potts voice] Ships and showrunners!

FK: Oh my God I love that. We are…actually, that’s sort of relevant, because we’re speaking to Lilah Vandenberg who is from the United States but is currently in the U.K.

ELM: I love that that was relevant.

FK: It’s relevant! She has, OK, look, there’s an accent you’re using, it’s totally relevant, get over it. OK. C’mon. Let’s…it’s relevant. Fine.

ELM: [laughing] Sure, great transition. [FK laughs] So Lilah Vandenburgh is a director, writer, showrunner, I met her at Leviosa last year on my “Slash and Feminism” panel.

FK: Yeah and I’ve never met her, although many people I know love her, so I’m very excited to have this conversation.

ELM: Yeah! So we’re gonna talk about her career, which is, it’s got some fan-to-pro elements going on, or simultaneous fan-and-pro things. And I think we’re also gonna talk about specifically shipping stuff, because I know she has a ton of thoughts about that, as do we, of course.

FK: Always. But before we get to her…

ELM: Always? [laughing]

FK: Always! Every time we have lots of thoughts.

ELM: We were just talking about Snape, before we got on the air, for like 15, 20, 30 minutes…

FK: So now that word just comes to my mind.

ELM: You can’t say “always” without me just being like, “Oh Flourish, come on.”

FK: Oh God, OK.

ELM: So good.

FK: First we have to talk, however, about Sean Stewart, who was on the podcast a couple of episodes ago.

ELM: Yes. He was.

FK: Because, first of all, we got a ton of amazing comments from people saying that they had either played his ARGs, or they didn’t know what ARGs were and were now obsessed, and that was really heartwarming. We aren’t gonna read all of them, but if you sent that in, know that you’re not the only one. There were like, it was a huge response. It was delightful.

ELM: Yeah, and I didn’t realize that we would have such crossover between listeners for whom his work 15+ years ago was so foundational! So that’s really exciting.

FK: Yeah, and there was also somebody who knew his novels from before he did ARGs and was like “OH, that’s what happened to him!” So that was cool. But the other thing is, on that episode Elizabeth promised to play his Sherlock Holmes narrative game. And she has.

ELM: And I did! I did!

FK: What do you think of it?

ELM: I really enjoyed it!

FK: Yeah! You're a gamer after all!

ELM: I mean, OK, see, I feel like I’ve misrepresented myself. Beyond the “Candy Crush” thing, which you know, I understand that it’s a game, I’m not…you know. I have played “The Sims” for years. And I play “Roller Coaster Tycoon”! I love building…I don’t love building the roller coasters, I love putting pre-built roller coasters on plots of land.

FK: Do you ever build a death coaster?

ELM: No, I hate building roller coasters. Just like in the Sims I hated building the houses. I just like to manage their lives.

FK: Right. We’ve had this conversation before, and it is a way in which we are different. But what was Sean’s game like, because I’ve actually never played it, still?

ELM: OK, so, I believe he said “if you enjoy crossword puzzles, this will be a game that will be your speed,” right? Or something like that, it was like, it’s not a first-person shooter game, it’s more in the…that sort of thing. And so it’s a Sherlock Holmes story, like a pastiche, you basically are going…it’s presented as a comic and it’s revealed in a nonlinear way. So you pull out different clues and you might get the clue for one panel and then it’ll take you to twenty panels later, and then that’ll remind you of one that you saw thirty panels before that, and you go back and fill in that word. So you’re going back and forth and you kind of have to remember what you’ve done and assess where you are and what you can deduce, to use a Holmesian word.

FK: And so you’re filling in the words? Like, they’re word puzzles that you’re solving?

ELM: They’re not puzzles, they’re more like…you’re supposed to pull out the most relevant word. But the words don’t repeat as far as I can tell. I haven’t finished it. So different words will unlock different things, and some of them you can get from context, but some of them you can’t, and you’re kind of just guessing. But it’s based on the visual and the textual clues. So I don’t know if this is a good explanation, but there’s a tutorial, it’s not that confusing when you’re doing it.

FK: It does sound like a good enough explanation that I think people listening to it will know if they are interested in this kind of a game or not. Probably.

ELM: Yeah, I think if you enjoy Holmes stuff, definitely I would recommend checking it out. Cause it’s not like…actually, I did play, the BBC put out a Sherlock game. They actually had Martin Freeman and Cumberbatch record some segments for it. And this was in the height of my fandom, so I paid money and played it all the way through. I don’t know, this is more enjoyable than that, is what I would say. And…I’m a terrible salesperson for games. But all Holmes games are gonna involve some sort of mystery solving or deduction or things like that, and so if you’re already into that, I would definitely recommend it. And if not, I would recommend it just if you’re curious, cause it’s not like…you know, it’s a narrative that also…it is an interactive narrative, but I don’t feel like it’s, it’s not too much, you know.

FK: Cool.

ELM: It felt accessible is what I would say.

FK: That’s wonderful! I think that that is the review we needed to hear. Was it accessible? And it’s accessible.

ELM: All right, great. Maybe I’m gonna become a game reviewer now. I’m done with books.

FK: [laughs] I don’t know about that, but if you wanna talk to somebody about Sherlock Holmes games, my friend Clara Fernandez-Vara is a game designer who’s, one of her deep career things has been studying Sherlock Holmes games, so.

ELM: Interesting.

FK: She has a lot of thoughts on that BBC one.

ELM: Oh, does she like it?

FK: They’re not all positive.

ELM: Yeah, I mean, it was the kind of thing, do you know when you’re really deep in a fandom and you’re like, “I’ll take it”? [FK laughs] That’s how I felt about that. Also, it was the fact that there was extra footage that they filmed new footage, and I was like, [gasps] because this is a show where there’s [laughs] not a lot of footage.

FK: I fully understand what you’re talking about.

ELM: Oh, memories, back when I still had positive feelings about anything involved with BBC Sherlock.

FK: [laughing] Well, on that note…do you think we should call up Lilah? Because… [laughing] I don’t know where to go from there. I really don’t. It’s just like, [sad noise].

ELM: It’s fine, I was just gonna sit there in my sadness. Um, yes. Also, you know, that’s a good connection, because Lilah is in the U.K. and so is Sherlock.

FK: [laughing] Perfect connection! [ELM laughs] Let’s call her up!

[Interstitial music]

FK: All right, I think it’s time to welcome Lilah to the podcast! Hey, Lilah!

Lilah Vandenburgh: Hello!

ELM: Hi Lilah, I’m very excited that you’ve come on!

LV: Hi, me too!

ELM: All right, so, why don’t I ask the opening question this time Flourish?

FK: Oh my goodness, yeah, go ahead.

ELM: OK. Do you want me to do the Flourish spiel, “so we usually ask our guests the same question,” blah blah blah?

FK: Yeah! Do the spiel! We need the spiel.

ELM: My Flourish impersonation.

FK: OK, do it!

ELM: We do usually ask our guests about their fannish history, but since you’re kind of a fan-to-pro or a fan/pro, I’m wondering if you could talk a little bit about both of that, like, your fandom history and how that intersects with your career and if that’s kind of evolved over time, the relationship between the two, that sort of thing.

LV: Sure, absolutely. So I would say that I grew up kind of in a fandom family. My mother was part of the original Star Trek: The Original Series fandom when it was airing on TV. [FK squeaks] Yay! She was one of the original letter writers to keep it on the air; she read zines, she started going to cons as soon as cons were a thing, and I was hearing about this even as early as the 80s as sort of like…the good old days of Star Trek fandom. Did I mention, she taught me about slash fiction in the 80s. I knew that concept.

ELM: Wow.

LV: Shipping was not really a term yet, but I understood the idea of Kirk/Spock. My mother’s also a Celtic fiddler, so I was very involved in the Renn Fayre scene, I often like to tell people I basically grew up at a renaissance festival, so I was around the SCA people, the Society for Creative Anachronism, who were doing medieval fantasy cosplay. So this was all very normalized for me. And I was a pretty obsessive kind of intense fannish kid.

I remember being kind of like, into anime very early, as soon as it was being localized and Westernized for an American audience, early Voltron, Gatchaman which is also called Battle of the Planets or G-Force, and eventually things that were kind of hybrid like ThunderCats and SilverHawks, which were made by Rankin-Bass. I was really big into My Little Pony, I was really big into Transformers and G.I. Joe, I did a lot of the things that Flourish describes that were like childhood LARPing, so going on quests…

ELM: Did you get adventure lunch? Did you have adventure lunch too?

LV: Oh my God, did I get, I had the adventure lunch! [all laugh] I had dried jerky, always a good one. Hard cheese, it has to be hard. The hardtack, crackers…I had a rabbit fur pouch that I kept it in [FK gasps] and I had my mom’s silky bathrobe that I would tie in a very elaborate Grecian style and…

FK: That’s elaborate Adventure Lunch!

ELM: Yeah, seriously!

LV: My best friend and I, we had weapons and we would call it “J.” We would be like, “Do you want to play ponies or J?” And “J” was for “Journey.”

ELM: Oh wow. Oh wow.

LV: And this had long elaborate ongoing plots, and lots of traumatic shit happened, it was all super serious.

ELM: Incredible.

LV: Then I was huge into The Muppets and anything Jim Henson, I was a huge couch potato so I basically did nothing but watch TV and movies, there was this kind of really formative period that I remember, it was Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire came out in ’87, Roger Rabbit came out in ’88, and Do the Right Thing came out in ’89, and those three films together, I think, solidified my interest in becoming a director. I became aware of the film director as an author of material. The genre elements, the kind of social activism elements, the awareness of tropes across those three films, activated something in me.

And then I had this period, it was sort of a year I think, ’89-’90ish, where I read all of Madeleine L’Engles’ books, all of the Green Gables series, I watched Twin Peaks live as it was going out, and was super fannish about it, and that was a really big deal. Even kids at school were talking about that and adults were talking about it and it was on the news. So.

ELM: Wait, Twin Peaks was on the news?

LV: Twin Peaks, they would do puff pieces where they would go interview fans…fans would go to diners and watch it at diners…

ELM: Oh wow.

LV: And eat the pie and dress up like it was, it was a kind of national event that people were really taking seriously, and it had kind of filtered all the way down to kids were watching. It was such a big deal. And because it was week-to-week and it was a connecting—you have to remember it was either ’89 or ’90 that it came on, but there was not that much long-arc television. Almost everything was pretty episodic and self-contained, and it was this thing you had to watch in order.

FK: What’s really freaky to think about with that was that Twin Peaks, even though it was famous at that time, still did not have that high of ratings compared to the really high-ratings things, but it still had higher ratings than anything that is on network TV now.

ELM: That’s incredible to think about.

FK: It had more people watch it than even the highest-rated things on network TV now.

LV: It also stuck, because when I was even at film school people were still mentioning it, which was years later. So yeah, I was really into Twin Peaks, that same year I got sort of deep into Marvel Comics, moved to Texas, got into choir, I got into show choir, musical theater, I ran a sketch comedy troupe with other friends in high school which evolved into a theater troupe, and I shot a bunch of sketches, then I went to film school. Grad film school. I made a short in grad school called “Bitch” which got into Sundance and did very well on the festival circuit.

I moved to the U.K., which is a long story, but I ended up becoming a music video director for Ridley Scott's music video company Black Dog, which is part of RSA. And then from there started getting, started to really realize that what I was interested in most was genre storytelling and trying to find a way to fuse my fannish interests, which had been more curative to that point, with my writing, which I was feeling was quite joyless. So I sort of redirected my interest into understanding tropes and learning storytelling mechanics from a genre point of view.

My writing partner and I, Oliver Refson, wrote a pilot, a comedy pilot called Uncle, which got picked up by the BBC, and we have for the last three, four years done that show and that just finished this year. We were the writers, co-showrunners, and the directors of that. So currently I have to say one weird thing, which is we don’t have much of a transformative fanbase for that show Uncle here, but in China it's got a massive…

FK: What!

LV: Fanbase! And I can revisit this later, but we basically don’t have access to them because of the Great Firewall, but occasionally people will contact us through social media and we’ll be like—they’re like “You have no idea how popular this show is here!” and we’re like “We don’t! Try to make us understand!”

FK: “Please tell us!”

ELM: Fascinating.

LV: And a lot of it is kind of focused around the teenage boy on the show, who’s got a lot of moe things about him that the Chinese women really love. [all laugh] So what has happened for me recently, I’ve written for The Flash, I’ve sold a few pilots in the States which are in development and a few here in the UK which are in development. I am also a moderator for the YA writers’ subreddit, which is a subreddit for professional and aspiring authors of YA. Which you guys very graciously did an AMA in recently, which is why I’m calling this podcast “The Crossover Event.”

ELM: That’s right! X-over!

FK: It was delightful by the way, the AMA was great.

LV: Yeah, I had a really good time! And I thought you guys delivered some really useful information. I will say that my current fandoms are Marvel Cinematic Universe, DCU, which I’ve had to pull back a bit from since writing for The Flash. I think it’s a little harder to be involved in it once you’ve actually been involved with the canon. And Voltron: Legendary Defender. [laughs] The current Voltron, in addition to loving the old Voltron. Anime in general and Yuri!!! on Ice specifically.

ELM: All right!

LV: So my spiel is done.

ELM: Incredible.

FK: It was a good spiel! It was an intense spiel. One thing I liked about the spiel is that you, inadvertently as you did it, illustrated one of the things that goes on in the entertainment industry that sometimes I struggle to explain to people, which is having 500 projects all in development, none of which you can say much about when they will ever go or happen, and that are at varying levels of doneness. [laughs] So that was cool.

LV: Yeah, absolutely.

FK: Thank you for revealing that.

LV: You can get a pilot script order, or you can get a whole series-writing greenlight, or you can get a production greenlight. So on various projects we are at different stages.

ELM: The entertainment industry’s really complicated, you guys.

LV: It’s a lot of moving parts.

FK: Sorry, I find publishing that complicated too, so.

ELM: It’s not that complicated. [LV laughs] There’s an agent, they make a book.

FK: It’s mysterious to me, it’s like a big black box.

ELM: It’s not mysterious! [shouting] How is it mysterious to you!

FK: I don’t know! [incomprehensible squawking]

ELM: [laughing] What? What words did you just say?

FK: I squawked. I think the term is a squawk.

ELM: OK. So there’s a bunch of different things that I was thinking about, not about that, as you were talking. One of them that I think is interesting is you talking about how in your youth, your relative youth, your fannish experience had been curatorial mostly. And then, correct me if I’m wrong, this is what I’m remembering, in film school it sounds like maybe you put that aside but then you re-embraced it, you re-embraced fandom a little later on. But maybe it sounds like more in a transformative way, but also on a professional level, which is an interesting additional layer. Is that a fair characterization?

LV: Yes. I think to some extent I didn’t know, as a kid, that transformative fandom really existed. I was around a lot of people that were cosplaying and doing transformative fandom; I think living as if you are in the middle ages—or fantasy middle ages, depending on how historically accurate—is transformative fandom. But I perceived it as sort of cultural background noise, as part of my life. I knew that there were people writing fic and doing fanart, and I knew people that were doing it, but I don’t think I ended up becoming connected to those communities. I was doing transformative behaviors, but I didn’t recognize them as such.

I did write some what is in retrospect Twin Peaks fanfic, for myself, where I did things like make Dale Cooper…I guess in the modern context he would be intersex? Or genderqueer, or something? But I was not, I was like…using the word “hermaphrodite,” I didn’t know what I was doing, I’m sure it was all very problematic. Something about that was interesting to me, and I had no idea why. [laughs] I think I would headcanon a lot of things about animes, like I was headcanoning and shipping things in my head, but not writing it down. Or the way it was converted, I think, because I was thinking so early from a professional standpoint, is “If I was in charge of this franchise, here’s what I would do with the material, here’s the kind of pilot I would launch, or the reboot I would launch.” And I think that stuff skirts the line between transformative and professional-aspirational.

ELM: Sure. For sure.

FK: It sounds to me like some of that may have to do with the prevalence of the internet. Internet fandom being less prevalent when you were sort of, initially when you were a kid, and then sort of coming into it today. I wonder what that's been like with Voltron, cause it sounds like that was something you were into a long time ago and now here’s Voltron! Here it is! It’s a big fandom with lots of discourse!

ELM: Lots of discourse!

LV: Lots of discourse. And it’s really interesting, because it’s also funny when people speculate about twists and stuff, and I’m like, “I know what twists are coming because I can see…” I think the writers have done an amazing job, and these are a lot of people that worked on things like Young Justice, which had a really fannish audience, and then Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender, and they’ve synthesized the best things they recall from the old show, which are better than the way the old show was actually localized. So GoLion had this terrible American edit and American dub that is totally nonsensical, and yet it’s very close to my heart and I love sentai tropes, but if you…you know, I rewatched it again 10 years ago on Adult Swim, Toonami or whatever it was, and it’s like…it is not that good.

But they’ve taken the best parts of it and synthesized, I think, a more coherent story, at least for a Western audience. I don’t know how it plays overseas. But I can understand all the fannish things in it that attract an audience, build discourse very quickly, some of which I think is very valid stuff—I always think it’s important to point out racist patterns in shipping and structural patterns in shipping—but I also think that you have a lot of very young people that have learned social justice buzz lingo and thoughts, but they have internalized it very quickly without understanding that there’s a whole body of knowledge behind social justice activism that people get degrees in it, and people that can’t even afford to get degrees in it will spend years studying it, internalizing it, and going to primary sources. And that you have…and I don’t want to typify, it’s not all kids, but it is a lot of kids that have picked up, they’ve cherry picked up a few of the phrases and are deploying them upon other people in fandom to police ships, but even beyond that, to kind of just win arguments.

And I am often seeing people justify that with saying, “I’m an oppressed and marginalized person, and I am just going to assume that you’re less so. And so it’s OK for me to attack you in such a way.” And I think a lot of what people think they’re doing is punching up, and they’re actually punching laterally. So what I see in these young, these young fandoms, especially in anime fandoms on Tumblr—and this is not all of Tumblr, but specifically, I feel like most of the kids there are LGBTQ identified. In some way. And may, a lot of them may be disabled or neuroatypical. So that’s a baseline, even. So that can’t be used as, like, “I can say whatever I want, because I have these marginalizations and you probably don’t.” And I’m like, “Probably the person you’re arguing with also does!”

And the assumption that it’s OK…where I think this is such a huge issue is when I see fandom people going after, kind of egging on voice actors and creators to participate in shipping discourse at a really granular level and to pick sides, to not be agnostic about ships or to say that all ships are great and be a multishipper, and finding reasons why what they’ve decided upon is problematic, and then saying that “OK, well, now we’ve reached a point where I can say anything to this person because they deserve it, so death threats in this case are OK because they’re ideologically pure and this person is trash. It’s okay to send them death threats even though I’m a nice person, but if they come back at me, and call me out, then they’re…then they’re hurting me and I’m a minor so nobody can criticize me.”

ELM: Yeah, that’s the extra layer that I love.

LV: What I see, how do I put this, it’s… “Won’t somebody think of the fictional children?” So you’ll have “You can’t ship this.” [laughs] I don’t even know if I’m allowed to say this, because it feels like I’m picking a side, and I actually feel really agnostic about a lot of these ships, and I’m such a multishipper that I’m kind of like “all ships are great!” and I’ll retweet art for stuff that I’m not a shipper of because I just like the art style. But in Voltron fandom, I’m probably in what would be considered the “good ship,” and I don’t know what that is really, but the one that people find less of a problem with. But the one that people do find a problem with, the way they’re framing what’s problematic about it, I think is very problematic. [laughter] So saying sort of like, 18 with 25 is child abuse, that…and keep in mind, this is not real people, this is fictional characters, this is animated fictional characters voiced by adult actors. So there are no actual children involved.

ELM: Nor would there be with an 18-year-old and a 25-year-old human…

LV: Right. So what happened was, there was so much discourse around this that I feel that the Powers That Be were compelled to publish canon ages. And they were very careful with the canon ages to kind of make sure that none of the ships were that bad—like OK, where you’ve got an 18 with a 25-year-old, they’re both adults. You’ve got an 18 with a 17-year-old, they’re within a close age spread, it’s 7 months or something like that, and approximately everyone is kind of late-teens, early-20s. But the fandom rejected those canon ages, because the episode writers had not written it themselves. So even though it was the official guide, it was rejected as unofficial, because they could not continue to keep complaining about this. And say this, and I am not a Sheith shipper, I am a Klance shipper, and I’ve been in love with Lance since I was like four, so I’m not gonna have anybody be like “You’re a gross old person, you can’t love Lance anymore.” I’m like, “Look, I loved Lance since Lance was older than me. And he’s always gonna be…”

ELM: Is he the 18-year-old?

FK: The same age. [laughing]

LV: He’s like 17-and-a-half now, according to official documents.

ELM: So problematic.

LV: [laughing] I know, I’m so problematic. But again, all these people are cartoon characters, and all voiced by adult actors, so there are no actual children involved. But here’s the part where I get very troubled, is actual teenagers will be sort of destroyed on Tumblr by other teenagers for defending fictional ships. So while we’re protecting, the protect, the “protect my small son” comes into play, and we’re always protecting fictional characters, and I think, which I think has so much to do with people being very emotionally invested in a particular ship, overidentifying with a particular character, that we are going after real people, sometimes kids, sometimes I think oftentimes kids that have disabilities, developmental issues, are neuroatypical, often queer, often people of color, who are finding refuge in shipping. And they’re being, as they’re learning social justice they are sort of being publicly destroyed before they can even, you know, and constant receipts are being pulled on people to show that they’re the most problematic people, and you can build the case against anyone using cherry picked receipts, so no one is allowed to be just a complex person with some problematic ships.

And I actually wanna sidebar and say, I am not talking about racism in shipping and I think that deserves a special place where we can talk about that as a structural problem. But I think sometimes when we’re calling out things that are problematic in shipping, we are picking on people who are not being structurally oppressive, they are at the bottom. They don’t have any power, they’re not the people who have the keys to the kingdom, they’re not the people that are generating media at a top level, they are making fanart, they are reblogging, they are writing fic, or they are making very cheap indie stuff for themselves and, you know, the small audience that wants it.

FK: So this brings up something that I would really love to hear your perspective on, which is about the response of creators, the response of public…you know, people who are the Voltron team, or whoever. And the way that people in that position interact with fans and fandom, because obviously there’s vastly different ways that people do that, and...

ELM: You’ve listened to this podcast so you know that Flourish and I disagree on this.

LV: Yes.

FK: Sometimes.

ELM: Well. I mean. Do you disagree that we disagree?

FK: No, I think we disagree…

ELM: You agree that we disagree.

FK: Yeah. So I guess, I guess I’m just curious because it seems that, and Elizabeth please tell me if I’m wrong, Elizabeth feels like creators should sort of just stay out of it, basically as much as possible, and I feel like that’s a nice idea, but not fundamentally how the entertainment industry is gonna work, so I have some different ideas about that.

ELM: To respond to that, I also…

FK: No no no, if I’ve gotten it wrong, please please!

ELM: I don’t understand why it’s impossible, if you’re the showrunner tweeting about your show, why do you need to say anything about shipping? Why?

LV: Well, that’s a good question, Elizabeth!

ELM: Yeah, tell me! Why!

LV: I think we’re at a crossroads. Previously, all nerdy creators, even if they come from a fan background, even if they come from a transformative fan background, tended to engage, I think, in a more curative way. They’re used to not having a lot of fan interaction. Social media has changed that. Most showrunners are not young people, they don’t come from a female, generative fic community, they’re older guys and their way of engaging with nerdy stuff is to just have people tell them how cool the stuff is. And now you’ve got a much more interactive fan base.

I think there is a certain level at which creators kind of have to ignore the bulk of it and just get on with their job, because I think as much as people want a kind of collaborative medium, at the end of the day they’re the people who have to write it, and they have to have their brain space be not completely overwhelmed by a million thoughts. I do think there’s a certain level on social media where it becomes impossible, especially with very fannish properties, with shippers constantly engaging with the question and asking the questions of the creators and of the performers, for them to constantly—

ELM: But why? Why do they need to answer? Just ignore it!

LV: It depends on how the question is framed! But let’s say for example, and I hate to only bring up the Voltron fandom because I think it’s an issue in a few different fandoms at the moment and kind of, it is becoming a more rapidly exploding discourse like on a few shows, every couple weeks or a couple days there will be a new online blowup, cause Yuri!!! On Ice has some of these features as well.

ELM: Steven Universe?

LV: Steven Universe.

ELM: There’s one.

LV: I think there’s a few things at play. I think the lack of canon fannish queer genre things that hit all those buttons, that fandom hits, are rare, and so when we find a canon property that activates enough of those things, you will get very intense fandoms. And I think sometimes the people that are involved with the shows are fannish people themselves. And so learning that they cannot suddenly engage when they were people that did engage previously is difficult, but I think sometimes you can get in trouble for literally retweeting stuff that’s not even “this is a canon thing I endorse” but “I like this art.”

FK: Thinking of Steven Universe from a year ago, that was a big debacle, right?

ELM: I wish I could remember who wrote this, if anyone remembers this Twitter thread from the Steven Universe last summer…someone retweeted some fanart that was for a ship, and I haven’t seen Steven Universe, but I understand that it’s a very poly-ish show and everyone is queer and it’s not about these two versus these two. Right? Is that…have you seen it? I don’t…

LV: Yes, I’ve seen loads of it, and I would also say: keep in mind that this is all backgrounded because it’s also a children’s show about a little boy learning how to become an adult. I think one of the best things about this show is actually a little boy has a family group, a poly family group of women who are teaching him, and he listens to all of them. This is the main takeaway for me from this show. He listens to them and he always believes them!

ELM: Such a good boy, aww. So it’s not something where you’d want a ship war, right, if they’re all in a poly…

LV: No, I mean, I can see why…this just happens in shipping dynamics. People get their faves and people get, I think, where that “protec”—I call it “protec,” in quotes.

ELM: Protec and attac?

FK: Protec and attac!

LV: Where protec and attac comes from is that people will get really, I think first of all it’s the lack. It’s just the total overall lack of this kind of media in a mainstream sense. So when these shows come along, people heart them in a really intense and not always healthy way. And I have been one of those persons, so I don’t say this from a completely exterior position, but like…that you get overinvested in a ship, because you get really overinvested in identifying with a particular character. And so any threat to that ship, if you’re not a multishipper, becomes a personal attack on your psyche. And you feel existentially threatened. So I see it is absolutely textually queer, but it is not a show with any sex, because it’s a children's show, it’s all kind of done through the magic of melding and kind of emotional interactions. So it’s like…

ELM: It’s just…what do you mean, regular humans meld, I don’t know what you're talking about. We’re all gems. Don’t worry.

LV: It is about lesbian space rocks, I will say that. But the intensity of these animation fandoms, especially when they’re for kids, seems to be especially beaucoup.

ELM: Yeah.

LV: I think that there is absolutely nothing wrong with a fanartist, with a professional artist from the show just drawing side-canon, side-headcanon for fun and I think that…

ELM: I don’t think, I think she was retweeting someone else’s art, wasn't it?

LV: I thought it was original art, but regardless.

ELM: We could fact-check this one. Let me go back to the thread that I was trying to quote, though. There’s a widely-tweeted thread, and this woman said…Flourish, you remember this thread that I was talking about?

FK: I don’t think so? You haven’t given me much to go on so far.

ELM: Remember this thread from last August? [laughing]

FK: That thread? The one that you got really het up about, Elizabeth?

ELM: 2016, back when Barack Obama was president, do you remember that time? [LV sighs] Yeah.

FK: It’s too painful to remember. Go on.

ELM: I shouldn’t have brought that up. And it was something like, it was exactly what you’re talking about, in terms of always being ready to attack smaller queer creators and giving the big guys, embedded in that is the big straight guys, a pass. And I remember specifically one of the things she said in this thread was “I saw your gifsets from Captain America and I assumed it was this great romance with the way you all talked about it. Then I saw the films and you guys are getting excited over scraps.” And I remember that was the word she said, “scraps.” And I don't want to diminish any subtext or any importance that anyone gets out of anything like Captain America or any of these big-budget, I’m over here in Harry Potter fandom, I’m not trying to diminish any subtext you get out of Harry and Draco. But that being said, the MCU is pretty queerphobic, so it’s just like, the idea…it’s true, we celebrate, they gaze at each other once and you’re celebrating it like it’s some great leap for gay rights or something, and then you have a smaller creator who is actually just depicting a canonical queer couple and they get death threats cause it’s not exactly in the way you wanted it to be. Right?

LV: I think some of that is access. You cannot get at the corporation, you cannot get at HBO, you cannot get at Marvel, in a way that is impactful and that they really listen, whereas the Tumblr ask for the queer fanartist who’s doing her online comic is something that you can actually access. And so all of the frustration and rage you feel about across fandom and across media representation can be sort of funnelled into…and what I said, I think it’s punching laterally. It’s like, this is a person who is actually quite similar to you. And you are imagining that they are some sort of power differential that makes you have permission to be abusive to them. And I feel like that’s kind of the way people treat voice-over artists. And I [sighs] I hate to keep bringing up just Voltron fandom, because I feel Yuri!!! on Ice has a lot of this same discourse, where there’s a shipping differential, there’s an age differential between characters that, were they a straight canonical pairing in a het anime, would be normal. It’s just a normal kind of, like…

ELM: Also that’s not a canonical—

LV: Two-year age difference.

ELM: I mean, I don’t dispute it’s shippy, but—

LV: Everything on the show is, it’s an anime so everything is both textual and not textual, it is intentionally very fanservice, it’s liminal, it’s a sports anime, it’s not specifically about romance but it is romantic. So…

ELM: Yeah but Viktor and Yuuri, that’s pretty obvious, but…

LV: Stuff has come along since. There has been additional art from the creators that is sort of…but the thing is, creators are just gonna do what they’re gonna do. They don’t really care what the Western discourse is on this show and it’s not problematic to them, they’re just like “This is what we wanna do in the show.” And I think one of the pairings, I like all the pairings on the show, I just like everything about the show. But I think people partly feel that if they ship something hard enough and loud enough, they can actually move the needle and get it to be canonical, now.

ELM: For sure.

LV: And they can get the creators to listen. And I think as you guys have said, and this is my experience of working in rooms and stuff, people are not going on Tumblr. There might be one person in a whole building that is a Tumblr user, but the writer staff is mostly, like, middle-aged, and middle-aged men who are on Reddit if they’re gonna be on anything internet-nerdy, and they’re not engaged with this discourse at the same level. So you cannot, you cannot love something hard enough or loud enough to make it canon, and you cannot quiet and squash other ships in order to make sure that they don’t become a distraction to the canon you want to happen. With a few rare exceptions, I’d say. Because there are fan creators and engagers that do engage that way, but it’s not the norm.

FK: I was gonna say, generally speaking the most you can do is get people to take notice of the fact that you’re really loud and then therefore use you for more interactions, which are only gonna create more discourse because the people who are running the social media accounts, it looks good when they have more interaction, and then they’re, of course, you know.

LV: And this is my feeling on it. You can feel that a ship is problematic, and I think you can write discourse about it, and especially, I think, along a structurally oppressive axis, if it’s actually structurally oppressive, but I think that using the language of social justice as a shield to do ship wars, and justifying death threats to the artist, to fan creators, to voice-over artists from a show, is totally crossing the line, every time. There isn’t a grey area for me. Death threats are not acceptable, and things that are kind of verging on death threats or rape threats like “you should die,” “you should get raped,” “you should kill yourself,” creates a terrifying and hostile environment, and I worry about marginalized creators who are coming up, who wanna break into mainstream storytelling, who are afraid that this is what they have to look forward to, that it’s just something you have to live with now if you wanna move into this space.

And I wanna see TV shows that don’t just have gay best friend characters and side characters and queer subtext, or the gay characters that get together really quickly and there’s no shipping dynamics and it’s not hot, they’re just there to be rep. I want to see more centered-but-shippy queer content within the framework of being centered in a genre show, the kind of thing that everybody says they want. But I am afraid that the people that will be most in a position to make that stuff will be too burnt out on fandom by the time they’re in a position, and it takes years to get in a position to be a showrunner.

ELM: Well, I think that puts a lot of pressure on marginalized people, though. The fact that, oh, Marvel doesn’t ever have to fix themselves? You know?

LV: I’m saying it's not Marvel, I’m saying if you’re going after the artist of Check Please, you’re projecting your [inaudible] in the wrong place. I think that going after Marvel, going after corporations that own IP, that are not repping people, is exactly where your energy should be spent. A great example of a campaign that I think was incredibly well run and is still ongoing, and I urge people to engage with it, is the #NoConfederate campaign, which is a bunch of adults, women who are all film critics and filmmakers, they’re all active Twitter activists, but they’re all people that are very educated about social justice. They’re not just using it to win ship wars and abuse people and punch down. They are talking about a pattern, something that is structural, on a show from very powerful creators who have a history of treating people of color a certain way along all their material that they’ve made, treating women and violence towards women and sexual violence a particular way, and they’re like, “Are these people the stewards that we want in charge of this slavery narrative? Do we need to see women of color brutalized in this particular way? Because we know what these writers are canonically interested in.”

FK: Right, and I think one important thing about it also is that from everything that I’ve seen, there’s a lot of interest in the Amazon show which is written by people of color and is taking a very different tactic on the same general concept.

ELM: Do you remember the name of the Amazon show?

FK: Oh gosh, I can’t think of it right now.

ELM: All I know is the concept is that after the Civil War, freed slaves were given several southern states to start a new nation as reparations, and so it’s like…that’s what I remember about that one. And that one has been in development for awhile too.

LV: Longer.

ELM: But they said they moved up the date…

FK: It’s sort of in that traditional thing that happens when you have parallel, you know, parallel…

LV: Pitching…

FK: But the point is, I don’t think anyone can say that #NoConfederate is a censorship situation, the point is not “let’s never talk about this,” the point is “let’s talk about it in a way that’s…”

ELM: And there’s something about the #NoConfederate campaign that I’m trying to put my finger on, and I feel like…you and I, Lilah, have talked about this before, but somehow activists with the loudest voices are managing to express how personally hurtful it is in a way that it feels totally different than saying “you didn't make my ship canon.” …I don’t wanna diminish shipping here at all, but something about the way they’re doing it manages to make it simultaneously personal and also on a broader scale. It’s historical, it’s like all these things at once. It’s so well done, this campaign. And I’m wondering what it is exactly that’s lacking from some of the other discourse I see in fandom.

LV: First of all, I think—and this is, again, a broad generalization, because like you said, a lot of people on Tumblr are actually adults—but what I would say is this feels like it’s run by adults. These are women in their 30s and 40s, they have been around and they’ve seen patterns and they are educated in social justice concepts, they haven’t just picked up the concepts.

ELM: Some of them are historians, too, so even better, right?

LV: Historians! But also people with film degrees and understand kind of the visual language of oppression, and how white supremacy can be reduplicated constantly in storytelling, and it’s also about who’s telling the story. And I have also seen them holding the creators of the competing Amazon show to a standard where they’re saying, “OK, for now we’re very excited about this, but you have to get women on your stuff…”

FK: “Don’t rest on your laurels.”

LV: “Don’t rest on your laurels.”

ELM: You don’t win just because you’re not them.

LV: You have to get women of color, especially black women, onto your staff, you have to talk about Native Americans because indigenous folk are never part of the conversation when we’re talking about rep, typically, they…

ELM: Very rarely.

LV: Almost none on television at all, never mind indigenous queer rep. Where is that show? And I apologize if that show exists and I don’t know about it, but.

ELM: Tell us about it if it exists, anyone who’s listening!

LV: Yes! I would like to know about it and I would like to see more of that. And there’s some other campaigns that I’ve seen run like that. And also they all got together. They all talked about it. They talked about a platform, they kind of put a piece forward that there are certain executive function and educational…I don’t want to say privileges, because I don’t think any of them are privileged, but they are at a level where they have access to a kind of language and a kind of thought process where they can put together this really organized campaign. And I think if you’re young, and I don’t mean like “a child,” but just young and angry and in love with this fandom and you’re in your feelings…and I think you guys have talked about this previously, that angry, very intense discourse kind of rises to the top, above things that are more nuanced and more rational.

ELM: Sure.

LV: So you sort of get this echo chamber of the kind of, lashy-outy-est voices, and like I said, MCU, go for it, HBO, go for it. These are all companies that I would like to work for, but they all are part of capitalism, they all have structural problems, and any structure is going to be partaking in white supremacy, in structural sexism, structural queerphobia. And absolutely we have to hold these companies to account, we need to…we need to say something every time a stupid movie gets cast and it’s whitewashed, or something is localized to death like the Death Note film, there was no reason to…it’s been localized to the point where it’s not good. They took everything that was good out of the manga [laughs] and I think those are the kind of things that we have to absolutely keep talking about. I want to draw a line and say, “I don’t even think it’s ambiguous, that is not the same thing as, like, attacking a fanartist who did a pairing you didn’t like.” In fanart! We’re not even talking about canon. [laughs] You know what I mean?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: I saw the other day people I know in the Yuri!!! On Ice fandom complaining because a prominent artist with a Patreon said she wasn’t going to draw one of them bottoming and one of them topping.

LV: Well, that’s her preference.

ELM: And a bunch of people canceled their Patreon support because they were like “how dare you.”

FK: Well, if they don’t wanna see her art, so cancel their Patreon support, then I guess fine.

ELM: I guess fine, but really? Really?

LV: It’s also their choice, but I feel like…

ELM: It’s true, you can do whatever you want with your money, but all right.

LV: I think that’s the thing, like: am I angry about a thing that’s actually structurally oppressing me, or am I annoyed and in my feelings about it? [laughter] And if I’m annoyed and in my feelings about it, I might unfollow somebody. If I’m like, “Actually the things that they tweet kind of upset me and make me feel anxious and hurt…but this is not actually, like, oppressive.” And being able to distinguish the difference.

I wanna make it clear, you know, when I see top-to-bottom gay, white, male, cis creators, who make big projects, multiple shows, are the showrunner on multiple things at a time or in a succession that have a very fannish audience, and they do a little bit of something fanservicey or a little bit of canon queer shipping, it’s just like “Ahh, I love everything about this!” And then when the only actors of color on a show are the people that get all the abuse from fandom, I think that that’s structural oppression, still. I think that that is replicating the systems of oppression. I don’t think that’s calling out and trying to fix things that are grassroots level. Because I think it’s the machine that we’re…social justice concepts were designed to take down systems, not individual people, especially not marginalized people. And everybody is like, at a different level of wokeness and learning, and it’s a process.

And gentle call-ins and education and, you know, even calling-outs that I think are measured, intelligent, well-written think pieces, meta on fandom discourse, the racism in fandom all need to be written, we need to be listening to marginalized fandom people more, and they need to be—and they are—leading the discussions more and more. And I still think that that’s different than the kind of picking on other people that I think happens sometimes in fandom, where you’ve convinced yourself that you’re the oppressed party and your marginalizations give you permission to be abusive. And that’s a different thing, but it looks maybe on the surface like you’re actually fighting the good fight, and it feels righteous, and it gives you a rush of adrenaline to kind of stay in this angry space and kind of whip it up and continue this fight. But you know, sending death threats to only the people of color and the young queer voice-over artists on the show is not fighting that fight. That is replicating oppression.

ELM: That was very well put. This is all very well put.

FK: It is all very well put.

ELM: I also like the, I really appreciate that you are…this is a tricky thing to talk about.

LV: Yeah. I’m…I can say personally I’m scared. I am scared to bring this up, because I think this is reasonable, but I think people will also be like, “you’re primacing one ship over another,” and I’m not. I actually, I kind of like all ships. You know, it’s like…there are really problematic ships, but I don’t think any of the ones we’ve talked about are genuinely that problematic, but I feel like within a bubble they’re hyper-problematic. So…

ELM: I don’t know anything about half these ships, so I’m not that worried about it.

LV: I’m just kind of, I’m in support of all of them, I want people to be writing fic, I want people to be making fanart, I want those people to get professional jobs, I want more of those people in the industry, I want a takeover from the inside of Hollywood of these people so they can tell their stories, but I don’t want them to be arrested in this process because their anxiety is so bad because they can’t interact with the internet anymore. And I know this chilling effect has happened among fan-to-pro YA writers, and queer artists, where this is happening to them now. And sometimes there are structural fallouts, like an artist…I have a friend who wanted to use an artist that they’re not allowed to engage with, because Tumblr is too angry at them.

FK: Wow.

LV: And whether this person’s art is problematic or not is up for debate, but also, people contain multitudes, and I think we’re all problematic, but…does a person deserve to be in, especially a queer female person of color deserve to be in ideological jail forever for one piece of fanart?

ELM: Ideological jail, oh my God. It’s true though.

FK: I think we have to end on ideological jail. [laughing]

ELM: …on ideological jail!

FK: It’s too perfect.

ELM: In my mind it’s like, the Monopoly board. Like you’re in the corner.

LV: Yes!

ELM: You’re stuck there in the corner.

LV: Oh my God, copyright that now, “the social justice Monopoly board.” [all laugh]

FK: Oh my God perfect. Perfect. Yes. OK. It’s copyrighted, we’ve just said it’s copyrighted, that’s how that works, right?

ELM: That’s how it works! Lawyers, don’t worry about it.


ELM: Lilah—

FK: Lilah, this has been a delight. Thank you.

ELM: Thank you so much, this was wonderful.

LV: Thank you! I’m really glad I bought a mic for this. [all laugh]

FK: I’m glad you did too!

ELM: You’ll use it again, don’t worry.

FK: You sound great!

LV: 100%.


FK: Talk to you later, Lilah.

LV: Ok, bye!

[Interstitial music]

FK: It was great to hear from Lilah. It was really interesting, because she’s in a really different part of the entertainment industry from me, to hear her perspective.

ELM: It was that different a part?

FK: Yeah, I mean I feel like she has a very…I mean, not very very very different, but…I could definitely see she was living in a different space than I was.

ELM: Gotcha. Yeah, I thought that was a really fantastic conversation. And, I mean, I…what’s the expression? Distinction…you know, [laughs] the expression where it’s actually not that different, but it’s…

FK: Oh, a distinction without a difference?

ELM: That’s how I feel about the two of you, but I understand [laughs] you work in different parts of the industry.

FK: No no no, I totally get why you would feel that way, I just, from my perspective it’s cool to sort of…

ELM: Yeah, yeah, no, totally.

FK: Who knows, maybe our listeners will be like you and be like, “Eh, whatever, they’re the same.”

ELM: Entertainment industry, you’re all the Powers That Be who are also fans. So I don’t know, it was interesting, one thing I would be curious—and I want Lilah to come back if this happens—but she’s a fandom person and understands shipping and ship wars, has a lot of experience with that as a fan, as a creator she hasn’t had a ship war happening in the fandom of her thing. And I’m wondering, you know, I’m wondering what that perspective would be like. Not that I want her to become the target of a terrible fan–creator ship war where people are sending threats or anything, obviously not. But I’m curious if her perspectives will change on that.

FK: Yeah, although I wonder whether she would feel comfortable talking about it at that point, just because of how much pressure she would be under, you know what I mean?

ELM: I love that I just created this terrible hypothetical where she won’t feel comfortable talking about online harassment! [laughs] I don’t know, because it’s also sort of like…one thing I’m really excited about with Lilah’s work is that she understands how starved people are for good varied queer representation, right? It’s not just…you can’t hang so much on so few characters and so few relationships, right? And I think Lilah understands that instinctively.

But I also feel like what I’ve observed is, even when you do get better queer rep, people still do the same things. And even when we’re not talking about queer ships, and we’re not talking about ships with components of race and racism, right, there are some high profile het shipping wars that are…

FK: I was gonna say, ask me about the Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione wars! [laughing]

ELM: Well, that’s…right! There are some that are a bunch of straight, I mean, whatever. But straight…

FK: At the time everybody thought they were white.

ELM: Straight white people, or like Twilight, well, they’re not all…

FK: Well though, that’s interesting, because of course Jacob is Native American, but that didn’t come up as an issue in that conversation. Right? Like, this is something that I’ve noticed a lot in het shipping wars, and at first was thinking what if, maybe why het ship wars are such a big deal is because there’s a race aspect, and people are starved for good representation that way too. But then I’m like, “Wait, that didn’t even come up.” I mean, I’m sure someone brought it up, but it’s not like it was the central part of the argument, between Bella and Edward and Bella and Jacob.

ELM: Were people arguing about who would be better for her? Is that how it would go down?

FK: Yeah, yeah. I mean that was my experience of it. Again, it’s not like people didn't talk about the representation of Native people in that book, or Jacob’s representation, but it wasn’t the central part, it wasn’t a “We need representation in this relationship” argument.

ELM: Interesting. Yeah, I just feel like, though, I think it’s definitely true that when there are marginal intersections, marginalized identity intersections within these conversations, I think that…I’m not hopeful [laughs] that more diversity in source material is gonna solve some of the behavior that we’re seeing. And that’s very pessimistic, but…

FK: I mean, I agree with that, and you know, obviously we all have…I think it was clear that we all have different perspectives on this from our conversation, but…it’ll be interesting to see how it all shakes out in the next few years, right, as I hope there will be more representation.

ELM: Well, I mean…I think next few years is very generous to, say, Marvel or…I don’t, I don’t think that the big guys are gonna fix themselves in a quote unquote “a few years.”

FK: I was more thinking of a broader, as new, as, for instance, new TV shows get greenlit and so forth. I actually do think that there’s a little bit more pressure for representation within there, as I’ve said many times before, so I'm not thinking so much about the big guys, I’m thinking a little bit more about…as new crops of things come in and become, begin to get picked up and…

ELM: Yeah, although I wonder if part of it, though, is…at least with representation stuff, and representation in shipping, the longer it goes with things like Marvel, the MCU, just continuing to not seem to care, particularly about queer rep, I think that they…it seems like they’re making strides with more diverse racial casting…I mean Black Panther can’t solve everything, but…

FK: Yeah. Well, from a movie perspective, I’m pretty sure that that has to do with international box office issues.

ELM: Flourish, they always say this, but how often can you blame China for Hollywood's biases?

FK: I can blame capitalism and the amount of money you have to make globally in order for a movie like that to be, a movie with that size of a budget to be profitable. I can, I’m not saying that that’s right thing to do, I’m not saying that’s the right movie to make, but I’m just saying that yeah, I think that that is…and I think it’s foolish to say that’s not a factor. And that’s why I’m not counting on it getting fixed anytime soon.

ELM: Yeah, OK, that's funny, neither of us are counting on it, but we’re coming at it from different angles.

FK: [laughs] For very different reasons.

ELM: I just think it’s very convenient that Hollywood has come up with some sort of backwards Other, you know, to be like, “Oh, well, these people over there are the intolerant ones, and they’re the reason why no character is allowed to be gay in our massive movie ever.” You know?

FK: Well, I mean…I, you know, what I would say about that is you can feel how you wanna feel about the backwards Other, but until you’ve encountered China's censors, like…I mean it’s…

ELM: I'm saying that the people in Hollywood are also backwards Others.

FK: Oh yeah for sure! I mean you know me, I’m not saying that people are, I’m not saying anyone’s pure as the driven snow, it’s quite the opposite. I’m saying that people will take opportunities to not do the right thing if they’re granted them by capitalism, but I still think it’s a real barrier in addition to being one that people are pleased to take.

ELM: All right.

FK: I don’t know that we’re gonna come to an agreement on this, so maybe we should sort of close this on a “We still have fundamental disagreements about this issue but it’s OK.”

ELM: [laughs] All right, fine!

FK: We don’t always have to agree on everything!


FK: [laughing] And we never will, so it’s all right!

ELM: It’s true, we never will. OK OK. Let’s do final business, first of all, I’m going to be speaking at a conference.

FK: Yeah! You’re gonna be speaking at a conference!

ELM: What enthusiasm! So yeah, my main job is for a company called Storythings, and we are running a conference called Episodic. It’s October 20th in London, so this is really mostly a message for anyone who listens in the U.K. So actually, I think it’s really, neat and I’m sorry that you can’t come, because I think you would probably find it very interesting. The name of it is Episodic and it’s about episodic storytelling, narratives that extend, serialized narratives. And so the speakers include, like, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie who did The Wicked and the Divine, which is a really popular comic, or Starlee Kine, who is involved in Serial and S-Town, those are their really popular narrative nonfiction podcasts. So I think it’s gonna be really interesting and actually I think a lot of people in fandom are really interested in this form as well. Maybe that’s a little bit of what I’m gonna be talking about. Fanfiction is often serialized narratives.

FK: And fandom is often about serialized narratives, right, I think that it’s much more common.

ELM: And engaging over…

FK: Engaging over time. That’s cool! I really wish I could go.

ELM: You should just fly on over!

FK: So where can people sign up for the conference?

ELM: I think if you go to storythings.com/episodic that should take you there, or Google. We’ll put a link in the show notes. I definitely think if you work in the media, get your job to send you. There’s gonna be a lot to learn. So I think this is gonna be great!

FK: Awesome. So other business, by the time this episode is in your ears, the spring Tiny Zine will finally be in the mail. It’s fall. Sorry. [Elizabeth laughs] We are, however, going to be following it, hot on its heels, with the summer Tiny Zine.

ELM: [laughs] That’s also fall.

FK: Yeah, well, it is also fall for the summer one, but we’ve already covered that. [laughing]

ELM: Well, if it goes out before the 21st of September…

FK: Then it’s still technically summer.

ELM: It is still summer.

FK: Point being, though, one Tiny Zine is coming out, it’s going out to everybody who was pledging $10-a-month as of the end of spring. We will have the summer zine out after that and then fall very quickly so you know, if you want to sign up, then sign up and get some zines! You still have time.

ELM: Yes. Patreon.com/fansplaining, and while we were putting the finishing touches on this zine, we also plotted out our next special episode. So I feel like we should be able to have that out within the next few weeks probably, right?

FK: I think so, so yeah! All good reasons to sign up for our Patreon. As always you can get in contact with us on Twitter; on Tumblr, there’s an open ask box; we’ve also got a phone number on our Tumblr, and we love getting messages, we have one that we need to play at some point but this episode was getting kinda long so we’re gonna keep going…yeah!

ELM: Yeah?

FK: Yeah!

ELM: [snickers] Yeah.

FK: OK. Should I talk to you next time, Elizabeth?

ELM: Uh, yeah! Let’s do it. Next time.

FK: OK. [laughs] Bye!

ELM: Bye!

[Outro music, thank-yous, and disclaimers]