Episode 58: Flourish Goes To A Concert, Or, Elizabeth Agrees To Talk About Harry Styles For Half An Hour
This episode does exactly what it says on the tin. The morning after Flourish attends a Harry Styles concert in Boston, they discuss the concert itself, differences and similarities between music, sports, and media fandoms, how the fans you interact with affect your behavior in fandom, and the experience of being in a crowd totally focused on one thing. They also discuss a listener voicemail about, amongst other things, clashes around age in fandom.
[00:00:00] As always, our intro music is “Awel” by Stefsax. The cover is courtesy Alex!
[00:16:58] Here, if you really have to see it, is mpreg Clippy in all its glory. Less horrifying isthe Track Changes episode about Clippy as a product.
[00:17:52] Interstitial music here, and throughout, by Jahzzar.
[00:19:39] It was actually GQ, not Teen Vogue, that said that Harry Styles made multiple rings a thing. Sorry Teen Vogue, we have totally impugned your name.
[00:27:55] Parry was in Episode 57, “Nerf Herder.”
[00:33:34] The title of this article is, no joke, “Quit Making Fun Of Teen Girls, They Probably Think You’re Lame.” 💯💯💯
[00:36:20] Correction: het Harries aren’t necessarily het themselves, although they are widely assumed to be by not-het-Harries. Flourish apologizes for making assumptions about the sexual preferences of each group of people that make assumptions about Harry Styles’ sexual preferences.
[00:47:10] More interstitial music by Jahzzar.
[00:51:31] Lilah was in Episode 56, “Ships and Showrunners.”
[00:52:46] This article about Carly Rae Jepsen by Jo Livingstone is literally titled “Grow Up,”which is basically the perfect clickbait for people like us whose natural response is NO NEVER.
Flourish Klink: Hi Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi Flourish!
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by for and about fandom!
ELM: All right. Episode 58, it’s entitled “Flourish Attends A Concert, Or, Elizabeth Agrees To Talk About Harry Styles For Half An Hour.”
FK: YES. [ELM laughs] YES. YES.
ELM: [not as excited] Yes. [FK laughing] Oh wow.
FK: I am just filled with glee!
ELM: It’s really a lot actually.
FK: I’m filled with glee! I mean I am filled with glee because the concert in question was just last night, so it has not even been 24 hours since I have been blessed with the physical presence of Harry Styles.
ELM: OK. So, do you wanna, I mean, this isn’t just…we don’t often talk about objects of fandom. Our objects of fandom. On the podcast at length.
FK: No, we really don’t.
ELM: I mean we both have talked about Harry Potter, and I think that’s probably because it’s one thing that we share and also it’s something that we both had for a very long time.
ELM: So there are a lot of examples within it.
FK: Yeah, yeah.
ELM: To contextualize things that we’re talking about, you know what I mean?
FK: Right. But in this case, I know you know this, I don’t know if our listeners know this, this is my first ever band fandom and when it was like…I guess I was starting to go through the process of, almost learning what being in a bandom…“bandom.” Is that still a term people use? Being in a music fandom is like. And experiencing going to a concert through that for the first time. This was literally the first time I ever went to a concert for a band that I felt really fannish about. So I think we thought that would be interesting to talk about, even though it was a personal fandom, because it probably has relevance to other things also. I think it does.
ELM: OK. So, do you wanna start there?
ELM: Like, back up. Before the concert, talk about two years ago, did you imagine that you would be in a music fandom? Or five years ago, or whatever. Probably not.
FK: No, absolutely not. I never, it just was never a thing for me. RPF was never really a big thing for me.
ELM: Well, you like Gillian Anderson/David Duchovny.
FK: I mean, I didn’t hate it, but I don’t…I don’t think I even have any fics of that bookmarked. You know?
ELM: OK, but you still were reading it and you thought about it.
FK: Every once in a while, but not really. It was not…I knew about it and it was funny and it was a whole thing, but it wasn’t…I would never say that that was a major fandom. It was more something that people in my fandom also did so sometimes I ran across it, right. The way that you might, if you’re into Supernatural, you might run across J2, Jensen and Jared slash, without being into it, right?
ELM: Sure, sure.
FK: Yeah, and also just, I had friends who were involved in popslash fandom, which was largely *NSYNC people that I knew, and all this, and I had known people who were really into boy bands and stuff, but absolutely none of that clicked for me until I guess just about two years ago and I don’t know. I just totally fell headfirst for One Direction. And especially for Harry.
ELM: What does that mean?
FK: I don’t know, I watched the music video for “Drag Me Down” and I was like “GOD DAMN THIS. WHATEVER THIS IS I WANT MORE OF IT. GIVE IT TO ME.” And then, you know, next thing you know you’re reading some fanfic and watching all the music videos obsessively and being really upset when they go on hiatus and writing a hundred thousand word novel and then…you know… [ELM laughing] Suddenly you’re, suddenly you’re on a plane flying over the Middle East while concert tickets are on sale and you’re having a panic attack because you just have to trust in the goodness of your fandom that someone’s gonna buy you concert tickets and you can repay them and you land and discover they all had your back and then you’re like, ready to cry! I found a beautiful community, Elizabeth.
ELM: What a journey! [laughter] OK. No. Go back though. Because it’s like, all right, I remember right when I got into Sherlock. A fandom I don’t like to discuss.
FK: But you’re discussing it now.
ELM: I know. And I remember having a very conscious…I was like, “Should I read some fanfiction?” Which is not something, you know, because I’ve had so few fandoms, cause I’m very loyal, and I was like, “Am I doing this?” And I literally had this moment of staring down the rabbit hole, being like “Should I? Should I just go in head first, maybe? Or feet first?” [FK laughing] It was this very conscious, conscious letting go. But prior to that was because I had been at that point in, just Torchwood and then Harry Potter before, but still. Those were very mentally consuming. So I had those specific patterns, because the television show and book series, those are not that different. That is very different to me from a band, a music band. Just saying I just wanted more a bit, I need more information.
FK: I don't know! I think that it sideswiped me a little bit, you know what I mean? I didn’t, I had been really into X-files and then Harry Potter and those were the two all-consuming fandoms I was a part of. But then I hadn’t really been in Harry Potter fandom for a long time, and I’d sort of played around in different fandoms and gotten my toes wet, but I hadn’t had that all-consuming obsession, you know what I mean, where you’re like “YES. MORE. THIS. PLEASE. ALL OF IT. EVERYTHING. ALL OF IT. NOW.” You know? [laughing] I hadn’t had that in years. Even while I’m writing novel-length fanfics and things for other stuff, it just wasn’t the same. It was more like, it was more like I was participating in fandom but not with the same deep emotion that some other people were having. So this, I didn’t expect, you know what I mean? And there it was, it was just like “Oops, I didn’t know that was there! I might have chosen not to step into it if I knew that I was in danger, but now, here I am!”
ELM: Would you have chosen not to step into it?
FK: No, I totally would have, I wouldn’t change a thing! [laughter] No, but it was really interesting cause there were a lot of things in this that were things I knew about a little bit, but didn’t have the same visceral experience of—things like the tickets. Buying tickets on Ticketmaster and freaking out to try and get the tickets that you desperately need, right. This is a ritual that I knew about, but I never had experienced myself.
ELM: I mean, did you have a desire to see the Harry Potter films at midnight, or…
FK: Yeah, but it wasn’t…I knew I would be able to see the Harry Potter films at midnight, you know what I mean.
ELM: Yeah, but it felt very important to see them as quickly as possible.
FK: It did, it did, for sure. For sure.
ELM: I skipped school to go see Chamber of Secrets in, what year is that, 2002? Junior year.
FK: Yeah, totally.
ELM: High school. A mature decision I made.
FK: Yeah, I mean, I’d had those feelings about…obviously I’ve gone to midnight things and done stuff, but I had not had the experience where you’re like, “There are a certain number of tickets on TicketMaster and I’m gonna sit here and refresh and we’re gonna see how many tickets can I get, am I gonna be able to, I want to so I can give them to people who were not lucky enough to get them who I know, who I know are great fans, so that people who I know and love can get the opportunity to see this with me, and we’re all gonna be trying to do this together as a group.” And there’s a super limited number, so there are going to be disappointed people who are not going to be able to go, and not because they don’t have the money to do it but just because they weren’t lucky. And this would be the stampede, right.
ELM: Sure. That’s interesting. I feel like, so, in TV media fandoms, I love how I’m just turning this into not about Harry Styles at all but just me getting you to compare it to other kinds of fandoms, but the scarcity issue…is not necessarily an inherent part of your fannish experience. So you are gonna get your copy of The Deathly Hallows. It’s not a worry. Maybe you won’t get it immediately. Likely you do plan so you can be at that midnight release or whatever. But…
FK: But at worst you just have to wait 12 hours and then you get the exact same experience everybody else gets, basically, except not having been at the midnight thing, which maybe is bad, but…that’s about your experience, it’s not…
ELM: Right. So within Harry Potter fandom or whatever, there were certainly experiences of scarcity, like if there was...I mean this was very rare, but JK Rowling did do some events, like three events total ever. I mean, that would be a huge long shot. It's not like she was going on tour and playing stadiums.
FK: And also people…some people care…I don’t care that much about meeting J.K. Rowling. Of course I would love to, it would be great if I did, fine. I’m not saying I hate her. But that’s not something that’s gonna…I am completely obsessed with Harry Potter and I care so much about Harry Potter, but J.K. Rowling, eh, you know what I mean? Whereas with this, you can’t…I think it’s really tough to be, if you’re that into Harry Styles, maybe there’s somebody who can take or leave a live show, but I think that’s a bigger stretch, you know what I mean?
ELM: Yeah, that’s what I'm wondering, if there are people who are in music fandom who are not interested in…cause it kind of brings me into thinking about not just in fandom, but also we talk a lot about this, and I’m not gonna bring up academic things, but when I was in grad school studying digital museums and talking about materiality, right, and saying “What’s the difference between going to a space and seeing the actual object”…
ELM: Seeing a physical item from the Holocaust versus looking at it on the screen, this was a big question about the way people engage with stuff. And for some people, objects or present, being in physical space, is really vital. For others it isn’t. And so I’m wondering if it’s inherent in music fandom, if that’s key, or…you know what I mean?
FK: Yeah, I don’t know, and part of this is also I was surprised to find the level of interest that I had in a lot of different things around this, because I just, again, I’d never experienced that. I didn’t ever have the need to go…
ELM: Did you go to the Harry Potter Experience when it came to Times Square? Or the Wizarding World, the Studio Tour in London.
ELM: Which is fun, I really enjoyed it, but it’s like, these are the costumes from the movies, and it’s not like “Holy shit I’m in the same room as the costumes from the movies!”
FK: And I think that there are people that have those reactions.
ELM: Totally. I saw them.
FK: And I guess I had never…I had never really had that. I mean, I did with the theme park for Harry Potter. I went to the theme park and I was like “Holy shit that’s Hogwarts” and I started to cry. But that was definitely more of, like, I was really immersed in the fictional world somehow in that moment, despite being in Orlando Florida? [laughs]
ELM: I feel like, also, if you suspend your disbelief when you’re at Disney World or whatever, you’re like…it’s MAGICAL. I’m doing it! Even though it’s like…
FK: It was totally that. The disbelief was just fuckin’ out the window, and there I was in Hogsmeade.
ELM: I feel like you kind of have to to enjoy it, otherwise it’s gonna be…I say this as someone who did a lot of music competitions at Universal Studios and Disney World, so I’ve seen the entire back of all of them and it’s the most depressing thing you've ever seen.
FK: Oh, I’m sure.
ELM: You will be like, “I have to forget this ever existed or I am just not going to enjoy any of this.”
FK: Yeah, I saw a bunch of the back of Universal Studios myself also and I agree that it is. You have to just shut it away.
ELM: Literal dumpsters, here we are.
FK: Yeah, it’s true. Point being though, there were other things that I was really surprised, right? For example, yesterday I got one of those…because now I’m friends with lots of people who are fans, and word gets around the grapevine where your fave is. So I came into possession of the information—not having asked for it—that Harry was taking a class at SoulCycle near my house, right.
ELM: Oh my God.
FK: I was shocked at how hard it was for me to not go there. I was amazed that it even occurred to me that I could literally fuckin’ go stalk Harry Styles at the gym. I thought about it. I’m not proud of this, but it occurred to me to do, and I had to have a conscious thought of “But I’m not a person who would do that, because I’m not that, that’s not who I am, I choose to not make that choice and to instead not do that. I won’t. Goodbye. Not today, Satan.” And I was actually shocked that I had that feeling. I was not prepared to have that…reaction? Because I’ve never particularly had that.
ELM: Wait a second though, when we had Zan on, Zan Romanoff, we discussed this very topic and the both of you were saying it was hard when you had access to information to not want to go, and I was like “I guess we’re different.”
FK: Yeah, well, no, I mean…but I guess this was a different, this was the most clear situation I had been in, you know what I mean. It was just like a very…crystal clear. And I was surprised at the strength and the fact that I was like “nope.”
ELM: Yeah, well, good job.
FK: Thank you.
FK: I actually feel really proud of myself for not stalking him. I know that is a gross thing to feel proud of yourself for, but I feel proud! But anyway, I don’t think I would have…I think that if you had asked me about this five years ago I would be like, “That’s absurd, I would never feel like that,” you know.
ELM: Can we unpack this a bit? I'm curious if there’s something within, not necessarily your fannishness, but the fandom, to separate those two things out. I’m not saying that you’re being influenced by your fellow fans or whatever…
FK: No, I might be!
ELM: I wonder if that’s part of it.
FK: I think so! It definitely feels like a different set of feelings and expectations. I guess I feel this way, also, even within Harry Potter fandom there’s different groups of people who value different things in that fandom, and I think a lot of why I liked the things I liked in Harry Potter and cared about the things I cared about was because I was with other people who were primarily interested in the stories, not so much the movies or J.K. Rowling or whatever. I think if I found a different context of friends it might have been different.
ELM: Yeah, I think that’s true. Thinking back, have we ever talked about this on the podcast at all? Last year when I was at Leviosa how in my room, Leviosa the Harry Potter convention, I shared a room with our friend Aja—who is obviously a fanfiction person–and a cosplayer, and a Quidditch player, and some of the conversations we had it was like we were from different fandoms. We’d all read the same books.
FK: And you all cared about them.
ELM: Yeah. At one point Aja and I were talking about something and one of our roommates, I think it was the cosplayer, both our roommates were fantastic, they were amazing people, but she was like “I don’t know what words you’re saying right now, cause you’re just using fanfiction-y terms.” And I thought that was really funny that there was such a disconnect there.
FK: Yeah, I met up with…so on the way to the concert I met up with someone I knew online, and she’s been in One Direction fandom for years and years and years and has seen them a bajillion times. We were having a conversation and the topic of mpreg came up, and she was like “Yeah I know some people think mpreg is ethically problematic…” and I was like “Wait, ethically problematic?” and then I realized “Oh, she’s thinking it’s ethically problematic because you’re writing real person fiction.” And people maybe have a different idea about what topics are OK to write real person fiction about.
ELM: Is that what she meant?
FK: Yes it totally is what she meant, we talked about it. I was like “Wow. You’re absolutely right, I see why someone might draw…I don't draw that line there but I see why someone could draw that line there,” and that was just the way that she thought about fanfiction, first as RPF. That’s fanfiction. And then there’s other kind of fanfiction too. So that was astonishing. I was like “Woah.”
ELM: That’s interesting. As an aside, last night I was at a party and mpreg came up—and this was not a fandom party, so it was a little bit of worlds crossing. Oh, it was because someone expressed their interest in Clippy.
FK: The Microsoft Word thing?
ELM: “Can I help you write a letter?” That little guy.
FK: No, Clippy, you can never help me write a letter.
ELM: So then I started saying serious things about Clippy as a product, cause one of my other gigs we had had the man who oversaw the creation of Clippy from Microsoft discuss it. And then it was like, very interesting from a product perspective. And then someone else was like “Yeah, how about that Clippy mpreg thing?” Cause there’s that fanart of Clippy pregnant. Have you seen this?
FK: Oh my God, no I have not.
ELM: So someone pulled it up, and I was like “Yep, there’s that too.” I had seen that as well, it wasn’t just my serious conversation about enterprise software. But also, yeah. So that’s great. Mpreg’s out in the world beyond fandom, is what I’ll say.
FK: Maybe we should take a break, on that note.
ELM: Clippy’s pregnancy?
FK: Think a little bit about Clippy’s pregnancy and then we’ll be back.
ELM: Is Clippy gendered? He's also a paper clip.
ELM: I mean, I don’t know! Why is it mpreg? He’s just a clip! I'm callin’ him “he,” though, you know.
FK: You know, I do know about your…about all these struggles with gender and inanimate objects and, it’s a big thing. Let’s take a break and come back and talk about something else for God’s sake. [laughter]
ELM: OK, that’s fine.
FK: All right, we’re back. And is it time for me to talk about how beautiful Harry’s suit was?
ELM: Oh. Is this, is there a moratorium on me making snide comments about how Harry Styles did not invent gender non-conformity?
FK: I mean, you can make whatever comments you want? I don’t think there’s anybody who disagrees with you on the line with us right now?
ELM: [laughing] On the line with us!
FK: We could take a caller! [all laughing] For you to argue with! I just wanna talk about his beautiful canary yellow suit, which was beautiful.
ELM: For context we have had this fight before because there seems…no, no, I’m not saying…! I feel like sometimes you want to defend him and then you’ll be like “Oh no, that’s dumb.” Teen Vogue does this a lot, the one that got a huge amount of traffic, derision, recently said that he had invented wearing multiple rings on a finger.
FK: That was ridiculous.
ELM: Right? And particularly in that one cause people kept naming all these black rappers from 20 or 30 years ago, because obviously it had a racial component to it. But also I think people were probably wearing two rings on one finger prior to the invention of rap.
FK: I feel like there are some portraits of Queen Elizabeth that might have something to say about that.
ELM: Two on one finger Flourish?
FK: Yeah, I think so!
ELM: Yeah, probably actually. Shove ’em on. Don’t worry about it. So you’re saying that Harry Styles is single-handedly bringing back Tudor fashion.
FK: Oh my God, of course, of course.
ELM: Next time, ruffs. RUFFS.
FK: I find this fairly mockable too, although I also am glad that he…I like that he sometimes does slightly gender non-conforming things. Occasionally I’m like “but it’s great” but also you’re right God damn it.
ELM: Also it’s like…the egregious one was not about him, it was about Zayn, and what’s her name?
FK: Gigi Hadid?
ELM: Gigi Hadid. You saw this article, right? It made me wanna die.
FK: Oh, yes. That one. The one where it was like “They wear each other’s clothes, it’s so avant garde!”
ELM: And they were like “I don’t know, it’s not really about gender, it’s more about shapes,” and then just went to town. The article had the dumbest framing, because they said that they were making statements about gender, when really it was just like…they wanted to wear each other’s clothing, and they weren’t thinking anything other than that.
FK: Which is great, but yeah.
ELM: And I was so offended because the writer framed it around Orlando, which is a book that’s so important to me that I named my cat after it, and it was the dumbest reading of Orlando that I’ve seen in my entire life. So that’s fine. Fine!
FK: I don’t have any control over—I hate to tell you this, Elizabeth, and I think you probably already know it, but I need to say it, for the record: I have no control over bad Teen Vogue articles about this, but I do have control over my reaction to Harry’s beautiful yellow suit last night. That’s wrong. I don’t have control over that either. That’s a completely instinctual “Holy shit, it was so good.”
ELM: Oh my God, oh my God, OK. So do we want to talk about the concert itself, what that experience was like?
FK: I mean I want to. I don’t know if YOU want to.
ELM: [laughing] As the title says, I agreed to discuss this.
FK: So here was something that really, when we talked about this beforehand I was like “Oh, I’ll try to put my thinking cap on instead of just completely being sucked up into the collective joy of the concert.” What was funny about it was, I was totally sucked up into the collective joy of the concert, it was super delightful, I really liked the opening act as well so that was great, but once Harry came on everybody in the Wang theater was like, completely focused on Harry. Which was so intense.
ELM: Relatively small venue, right?
FK: Yeah, it’s a very small venue and it was…I mean, I had pretty bad seats. I was almost as far back as you could get in the top balcony. But it didn’t matter.
ELM: It’s a theater, it's not like you’re at Madison Square Garden.
FK: No, not at all, it was not at all like that.
ELM: Where you would see a play or orchestra concert or something.
FK: If I held out my thumb at arm’s length, that was how tall Harry appeared to be to me. Which was pretty good. I did not need binoculars to see him. What was interesting, though, was how much, I was surprised at how distant that small venue actually made me feel from the music and from him.
ELM: Wait, really?
ELM: Tell me more!
FK: So, one thing about One Direction in general is there’s so much candid photography and intimate stuff, like the YouTube videos that they shot years ago, people’s stories about them, everyone who’s ever had an interaction with them has written about it, right? All of this stuff on Tumblr. Everybody talking about it. Things like one of the other members, Niall, has this Snapchat that basically looks like your dopey boyfriend is snapchatting you pictures of himself. He’s like your sweet dopey boyfriend and these are your private snaps. He’s a master at Snapchat. It’s delightful. I never cared about him till I saw this Snapchat, and then I was like “Oh Niall,” he’s like your dopey boyfriend, it’s so endearing.
ELM: I wish there had been video of the expression of your face just there.
FK: [laughs] Point being though, you feel really intimate in a lot of ways, and even though you know that that’s not true, it’s a big part of the appeal. You’re walking around and the voice is in your earbuds as you go through your day, as you go through everything. When I’m deadlifting in the gym I listen to it.
ELM: Wait, that’s incredible, you lift to One Direction?
FK: YEAH I lift to One Direction!
ELM: That’s really good.
FK: I lift that weight for Harry. My deadlifts are dedicated to “the bullets, the bullets.” Anyway.
ELM: I kinda felt like when people were weightlifting they’d listen to hardcore music only.
FK: That’s what Spotify thinks, but Spotify is wrong.
ELM: Is that true? Did I pick the right genre?
FK: Spotify always has these “Hardcore Lifts” and it’s all really horrifying, and sometimes there’s Nickelback, but there’s also lots of screamy…that’s not what I do. And in fact there’s a lot of charming “weightlifting to pop songs” stories. There was a Reddit thread about this guy who apparently always lifts to Britney Spears and lifts for Britney. Anyway.
ELM: That’s really good.
FK: Point being, though, it’s really intimate and it’s an everyday part of your life all the time, and you can see it, and you get updates from some of the members of One Direction literally on your phone as though they’re texting you all the time, or snapchatting you all the time, and then you’re in this theater—and even though it’s a small theater and you’re more physically close to this person than you ever have been, you also know that they’re on a stage, and you’re not on the stage, and you’re not gonna get to interact with them at all, and they’re there performing for you and it’s lovely. And you feel their appreciation, but you’re within a crowd of 4,000 other people who are having the exact same experience as you. So suddenly you’re like “Oh yeah, actually, I don’t have any kind of an intimate relationship with these songs or this person. Not only do I not know this person, I don’t know them to the same extent as these 4,000 other people who are with me equally not knowing this person.” Right? [laughs]
ELM: That’s really interesting that you wouldn’t feel that way online, when you’re amongst thousands—if not millions—of people who similarly do not actually know these people, or do not actually have an intimate connection.
FK: Totally. And it’s not that you don’t, I shouldn’t say “you,” it’s not that I didn’t know that, it’s just like…wasn’t as visceral, you know what I mean?
ELM: You can also hold the thoughts in your head at the same time and still not really, you’re like “Of course I know that,” but may not…you may not even feel that, even if you intellectually know it.
FK: Right. You never have to, there’s nothing that ever forces you to put those two things together. But it felt like that meant, weirdly, that made me feel like I suddenly actually was more a member of the fandom, then. I felt like “Oh, this is something that all these people must know.” Maybe that’s not true, but I know a lot of really reflective people in this fandom and they must also have had this experience, where they were…the gal I was having drinks with beforehand was talking about being at a venue in Orlando years ago where they thought 4,000 people would show up and 15,000 people were there, twelve hours before the gig was supposed to start, because it was a non-ticketed thing. And being part of basically the running of the bulls to try and get to this amphitheater.
ELM: That’s actually, I’m surprised no one died, but OK.
FK: She talked about how she literally, she was like “I saw a 12-year-old girl trip and stumble and go down and I just kept running because I didn’t think I could help her and not get trampled myself.” It was scary. But then I’m like, “Wow. Other people in this fandom have been having these experiences and understanding themselves as a tiny speck in these giant stadium tours and everything. So that must be an aspect of the fandom I just never had until now.”
ELM: I wonder if that is something that people feel across music fandom? I'm thinking about our conversation with Parry last episode. And talking about, when I erroneously brought up One Direction fandom when I was really just thinking about…I was thinking about that in comparison to rock bands.
ELM: Right? You know? And so I don’t think…I have no idea. So if anyone is a fan of these groups, let me know, but if you are, I mean I guess fandom takes many forms, right? I don’t know why I’m thinking of the Beatles, cause it’s not, like, a band that’s around right now. What’s a rock band that plays right now that people are really into?
FK: Well, like, Phish, right? So Phish still plays, shockingly enough.
ELM: Phish! Flourish. [laughing]
FK: No, but it has huge…I’m bringing it up because they’ve got a huge fandom and I think that it’s different than this. I think people, people love Phish, but they really love the community of people who show up.
ELM: No, Phish is an absurd example because it’s so much more about the community than the music.
FK: That’s the point, right? Is that it’s different!
ELM: No, but there’s nothing analogous to Phish. Like, OK, so…
FK: The Grateful Dead would have been analogous to Phish, but they’re gone forever.
ELM: They were the precedent.
FK: They were the proto-Phish.
ELM: Probably the same people. Some of the same people.
FK: Almost certainly.
ELM: I was in my hometown last Fourth of July and I took my friends who were visiting to the state park, and I was like…it’s a very large, it’s a large state park, you know, considering the size of the town. And I was like “Why are there all these white people with dreadlocks and why does it smell like weed?” And then I realized it was Phish concert weekend and they were everywhere. Everywhere you turned in the woods there’d be another Phish person. [FK laughing] Everyone was peaceful and nice, but I was like, “This is kind of ruining this nice walk in the woods, cause everywhere you go there’s a young hippie.”
FK: Yeah, yeah. Well, the only other experience that I’ve really had being this close to music fandom, other than people who are sort of writing popslash and so on, was I had a friend who followed, friend of a friend really, who followed the prog rock band Porcupine Tree around the country. He drove in his car and went to all their shows.
ELM: I've never heard of the prog rock band Porcupine Tree.
FK: They’re not super famous or anything, I don’t think they get a lot of radio play. I mean they’re fine, I went to some shows with the friend I had in common with him and I enjoyed their stuff, it was fine, it was prog rock so if you like that then go for it, sure, there it is, right? [ELM laughs] But I think that also was a little different because it was a smaller, much much smaller sort of band, and…
ELM: All right, I’m just thinking of—and I think it’s very telling that I can only think of older examples. But I feel like what I’m thinking of is a pop thing versus other genres. And I actually don’t know about rap and hip-hop and stuff, if there’s a lot of thinking about the inner lives of various hip-hop artists. Right? I don’t know if you know anything about this? The same…you know, the way that you would think about the inner life of Harry Styles.
FK: Versus whether it’s more like the quality of their rap or how, you know…
ELM: Yeah. If you’re a huge fan of, I don’t know. Chance the Rapper. He’s a rapper. Is it similar? Maybe this is a stupid line of questioning because I have no idea. I’m not in music fandom at all.
FK: I guess my few times that I’ve encountered people who were big hip-hop heads or whatever, or big rap fans or especially battle rap fans, it seems to be more of a technical thing, like being really into the technical fireworks.
ELM: And the music itself.
FK: Their particular styles, not just the music but especially in battle rap, how viciously someone owns someone else. It’s like you're getting sort of more into…
ELM: Like a sports team.
FK: Yeah, almost! I mean I don’t know if that’s true everywhere, but I definitely have noticed a little bit more of that. But there’s some of that sports team stuff in pop music too, right, just look at whenever there’s a vote for who your favorite band is, thing.
ELM: Well, but that also exists in media fandoms as well.
FK: Yeah, you’re right, that’s a common thing.
ELM: People like votin’ for their thing.
FK: Everyone loves to vote for their thing.
ELM: You know those tweets that’ll be like “pick one”? Or the snail race, and you pick a snail?
FK: I want my snail to win.
ELM: I always vote for those. I’ve noticed that C always wins. Which is silly, you’d think people would notice this and start voting for other things, but.
FK: Well, if you wanna vote for a winner.
ELM: I want the other snails to do well!
FK: [laughs] Anyway.
ELM: Back to Harry Styles.
FK: That was my biggest takeaway from the concert—apart from the fact that, I am sorry to have to report this, but his hairline is worrying me.
ELM: Flourish, why.
FK: He has a widow’s peak, it’s getting bigger, his beautiful hair is receding, that’s OK, but it’s a little distressing.
ELM: Why are you so superficial?
FK: Ah, it may just have to do with my attachment to his lovely curly hair.
ELM: He’ll still have it, it will just start farther back.
FK: It already starts farther back than it did. He’s 23, it’s gonna be going real fast at some point.
ELM: Oh no.
FK: I KNOW, RIGHT.
ELM: I know. He does have nice hair.
FK: It’s great hair! But that’s OK, Harry, it’s all right, we’ll still love you even if you go totally bald.
ELM: That’s false, I think a lot of people will abandon him if he goes totally bald.
FK: It’s hard to think about.
ELM: Yeah. I mean I…it’s nice that you will stand by him.
FK: I think I’ll stand by him, we’ll see, if push comes to shove. [laughing]
ELM: Oh my God, Flourish! [laughing]
FK: How shallow I really am! But…so the other thing I was thinking about, which was really present on my mind, was—did you read that article that recently came out that was like, “Teen girls probably think you’re lame, so stop judging them for the music they like”? Did you see this article going around?
ELM: Is this the one we put in “The Rec Center”?
FK: Oh yeah, you did see it, cause you put it in “The Rec Center”! Yeah yeah yeah. It was basically a bunch of teenage girls slagging older male fans and being like, “Boys don’t know good music, they don’t know any of the lyrics when they come to shows, they should be more proud of themselves and actually learn the lyrics for the bands they supposedly like.”
ELM: That’s incredible.
FK: Boys suck.
ELM: That’s so good.
FK: And also old people suck. [laughing] One of them said, and I quote, “I don’t even understand how old people find music anyway.”
ELM: That’s fair! How do they find it?
FK: How do they find it?
ELM: I have noticed that there’s a certain demographic of, I’d say, Gen X men, in my sphere, who seem to rely on Spotify Discover.
ELM: And they’re like “I wish it was better!” and I’m like, “I know it’s hard, because you feel like you’re losing your youth, but it’s not just gonna happen through a better algorithm that you can stay connected to the hip new tunes, gentlemen.”
FK: I will say that, as a person who does genuinely listen to Spotify algorithmic playlists, that is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard, that you would find all of your music through Spotify Discover. That’s a lot.
ELM: Great. I’m glad that we’ve subtweeted people that I work with. But.
FK: Oh my God.
ELM: They’re not listening, don't worry!
FK: Anyway, I was thinking about this because I was like, “Who am I gonna see at this show? Who’s gonna be there?” And it was interesting. It was a very young and very femme crowd. I guess, sometimes when you hear about this on the internet, I guess maybe I was expecting a more visibly queer crowd. Especially because the opening act was MUNA, which is a super queer band. And it wasn’t super visibly queer and it was very very very very female presenting anyway.
ELM: That’s interesting. Do you think this is kind of disproportionate, outsized, in the same way that people where it’s like, “Oh, fanfiction, it’s all slash.” And you’re like, “Actually, technically it’s mostly…it’s majority het.” If you do an overall stats for all the archives.
FK: Yeah. I think maybe so. I mean I don’t think that…it’s hard to say, because who can judge someone just from their outsides, right? Of course. I don’t know.
ELM: Definitely don’t do that.
FK: I really don't know. But it definitely, it was striking to me, compared to how much people I know online talk about this fan…talk about especially Harry parts of fandom as very very queer friendly and queer spaces. But then again, it’s not like there aren’t, people call it the het Harries, right, people who are het and into Harry, so it’s not like there’s no recognition of this. So it was an interesting thing. It was also interesting that it was so young and female. Again I can't judge anybody’s ages. I don’t know exactly how young. I don’t know, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, and…
ELM: Well, if you had to estimate the dominant… OK, like, so I went to a One Direction concert in two thousand... eleven? Twelve? Have we already figured out when it was? Our friend Allyson can tell me where it was, it was at Madison Square Garden.
FK: She can definitely tell you.
ELM: And I would estimate the average age of a member of the crowd, there were two groups, one group I would estimate ages 7-12 and not older than that, and the other group was 30-plus and they were parents.
FK: So that’s interesting, this was definitely, I would say definitely a college students kind of a crowd.
ELM: We’re talking about five years ago, too.
FK: We’re talking about five years ago and they’ve aged into it. And this is in Boston at the beginning of the school year, so I guess that’s not surprising.
ELM: That’s interesting though.
FK: There were actually noticeably fewer older people than I expected. I expected there to be more women of my age or older, but it didn’t seem like it. It seemed like most people were younger.
ELM: See, I never would have thought that, based on my experience. I told you this, right, I went to get a beer—first of all, it was like $10 for Bud Lite cause it’s Madison Square Garden, and I was just like “No, I need it. I support young women’s right to scream as loud as they want…” [FK laughs]
FK: OH YEAH.
ELM: It’s brutal. I was like, “I’m gonna die.”
FK: There was a moment where I genuinely thought I could see the sound waves. It was echoing in my brain. The scream was so loud and so prolonged and it was just echoing. And yet somehow it was never any quieter! It was just a different quality of loud!
ELM: Wait, did they do the thing—one thing I loved at the One Direction concert I saw was the screaming was happening when no one was on stage. I was like: “Ladies! Save your voices, let us have a moment.” It’s fine! I’m not trying to scream-shame, I’m just saying it was a lot. Anyway so I’m buying my $10 beer, cause I was like in my mid-20s, you know, so I think it was clear that I was not someone’s parent, so the guy who sold me the beer at Madison Square Garden was like, “Heyyy, what are you doin’ here?” You know? And I was like “Great.” I was the only person he felt comfortable flirting with, because I didn’t have a seven-year-old child with me. And I was like “Eh. Like, thanks, sir. Fine. FINE.”
FK: Yeah, it was totally different experiences. I got aggressively carded for getting mine. [ELM laughs] I was like “OH MY GOD. Thanks, I think?”
ELM: That’s really funny.
FK: Yeah. There was some aggressive carding going on to buy, like, yeah, your $10 Bud Lites, and the Polar! Fizzy water fandom represent! When you’re at a Boston venue you can pick between regular Polar seltzer, pomegranate Polar seltzer or lime Polar seltzer.
ELM: Great choices! I’d pick lime.
FK: I think, solid! I ended up with pom.
ELM: Hm, I don’t love Polar pom.
FK: Eh. I didn’t see the lime until it was kinda late and it was like, eh.
ELM: I hope our listeners are ready for the episode we have where we only talk about Polar seltzer, and I am not kidding, we are actually going to have one.
FK: Well in any case, it was just, it was an interesting experience to see what the crowd was and also to feel definitely like, yeah. Definitely like that article was speaking directly to me. And the people I was with at that moment.
ELM: So I guess, if I were to ask you a wrapping up question, I’m sort of curious about how you see your relationship with this fandom evolving? In light of your experiences yesterday? This is, you’re gonna go see him again, right? You have more than just the one ticket.
FK: Oh yeah. Well, so, next year for the stadium tour I did not get lucky in the…well, that was when I was on the plane to Dubai. So I sort of was like, a beggar at that point. And I was lucky because I had friends who had bought tickets and gotten single seats in good positions for the stadium tour. So I think I may actually have better seats, closer seats, the closest you can get without being in general admission for the stadium tour, and I’m planning on seeing him at least at TD Garden and Madison Square Garden once, and I’m still debating whether I should go to the second Madison Square Garden show. But for those I’m gonna go alone. I didn’t get tickets for more people.
ELM: Three more!
ELM: These are how, when next year? Like a year from now?
FK: A year from now.
ELM: So…has it crossed your mind that you may not feel the same way about him?
ELM: That you do now? OK.
FK: [laughing] I might not, we’ll find out! I’ll report back on it, you know?
ELM: I was just thinking about it, explaining to someone, I was in England a couple weeks for work last week, and I was explaining my enemy ship with Benedict Cumberbatch, you know. You know how we’re enemies.
FK: Yeah, I guess he could go Benedict on us. That could happen.
ELM: I’m not necessarily saying that, I’m just thinking more the way…not that I was in the Cumberbatch fandom, but I was like, you know, I was just getting into Sherlock for the first time, I was excited about him cause he’s the star and I was excited to know what he was doing, I watched other things he was in—which I do, right now I’m watching Toby Stevens’ whole back catalog, you know. But if I had purchased a ticket for a play…if I had purchased a ticket for Hamlet when they went on sale, cause he did that Hamlet that everyone made such a big deal out of that I heard was not very good? I would have had to sell it because I was so mad at him by the time that actually came around, you know? And that wasn’t even a full year.
FK: I’ll cross my bridge when I get to that? If it comes, right. It’s not like there was gonna be the option, there was not gonna be an option to buy tickets later, you know?
ELM: I guess, I also like how I framed that as “I guess he will become your enemy” whereas it’s possible, maybe you just won’t feel as passionate. I wonder what that would be like.
FK: Right? Especially going on my own.
FK: I think if that does come to pass I may actually be glad about it, because then it would be a situation where I could…I guess thinking forward and imagining, if I still feel the same way it’s gonna be great. And if I feel less invested, it may be great in its own way, because I can go and have whatever experience I wanna have.
FK: Also, if I don’t want a ticket any more at that point, there will be…which I think is extremely unlikely, as we’ve noted, I have written 100,000 words of [laughing] fic about this.
ELM: Ethically dubious mpreg!
FK: Yep, ethically dubious mpreg about this guy. I don’t, it would be startling to me if it changed. But if it did? I could…
ELM: It happens though!
FK: It does happen, and I could make somebody very happy, you know? These are great tickets, I would definitely sell them for face price to someone who was more excited than me, if I was no longer that excited. I think that would be the right thing to do even, if I were not as excited about it I might go trade it with someone who has nosebleed seats or something, right, so they would have the opportunity.
ELM: That’s nice.
FK: It seems like it’s the right thing to do, right?
ELM: Yeah, totally! Well, I'm not trying to doom your fandom here. I hope that doesn’t seem like that. But it is something…it’s a different kind of…
FK: No, it’s good, because in what situation do you have to commit a year out?
ELM: Yeah, right? That’s fairly rare. I guess, I wonder if the kind of sports fans who get season tickets, at that point you’re a lifer, right. That’s the way I feel about sports teams. I’m gonna be a Bills fan forever, even if I’m never gonna watch another football game in my life…
FK: It’s true.
ELM: Based on what a garbage fire that whole thing, being any number of the problems the NFL has.
FK: Yeah, there’s…yeah, exactly. There’s also the family piece on that, right? I don’t know. You've heard about my “It’s hard to be humble when you’re a Husker” onesie.
FK: Then you’re sorta doomed, right. It’s like, shit, first article of clothing I put on.
ELM: It’s funny for me with the Bills because actually, it is something that’s been a part of my dad's family, he’s got a bunch of brothers, and my dad and I went to one game just the two of us, but the first time I went it was a whole, you know, me and all these thousand men in my family, you know. We won, we beat the Dolphins, fuck the Dolphins, that’s what I have to say right there.
FK: All right.
ELM: But we’re kind of, we’re a little bit estranged from some of them right now, and so that element is gone, but they’re still my team.
FK: Right, for sure.
ELM: I don’t know why I'm giving this example because it’s not like if I lived in Buffalo I would get season tickets to the Bills, but I do feel like with season tickets it’s sort of like, “This is just who I am, this is part of my identity, this is not changing, I’m just gonna be with this team whether they let me down or not,” and some part of that is very geographical, right. “This is the city I live in, they’re my team.”
ELM: You’re not gonna have almost…you wouldn’t have that for a music fandom or for a movie, TV fandom or anything like that. This is just inherent in who I am, that I’m a Harry Potter fan, you know what I mean. It doesn’t feel, it feels different to me.
FK: Maybe. I think there are people who feel like that, but I think it’s rarer.
ELM: Yeah, but I mean, it’s also like…I don’t feel like you're born into it in the same…I know some people talk about Star Trek that way, but it really doesn’t feel like the same thing because the general population’s relationship with…
FK: To it, yeah, is different.
ELM: With sports is a lot different from all the other stuff.
FK: I agree. You can be born into it in the sense that your parents can name you Arwen and you can be born into it and grow up in it, but it’s not like…
ELM: That would be a lot if that, if your parents did that to you.
FK: I know some Arwens! I totally know some Arwens.
ELM: Oh wow. But there’s no Lord of the Rings section of the paper, you know.
FK: Right, and there’s not a bunch of other people that you’re growing up with who also have this.
ELM: If you wore your Lord of the Rings jacket to school, you would…people might make fun of you or they might ignore you, but it wouldn’t be like, the boy in the next row also has the same jacket. Like you would get with the three New York football teams in my class.
FK: And also, that their dad had also owned that same jacket with the other boys in his class years before, yeah.
ELM: Right right right.
FK: You might all wear the same jacket with Captain America on it or something, because that’s hot right now, but it’s not the same…maybe that's a bad example because that one is kind of generational, but…
ELM: Yeah, I feel like this is changing but I also feel like there’s a little apples-and-oranges between sports and everything else.
FK: Well, we got kind of off-topic, but it was an interesting off-topic.
ELM: Football’s back, we have to talk about it.
FK: That was quite a rabbit hole, it was quite a productive rabbit hole and a very interesting rabbit hole…
ELM: Productive rabbit hole.
FK: It was! Maybe we should take one more break, and then I think we have a voicemail that we need to listen to.
ELM: We do, so that sounds perfect. Let’s do that.
FK: All right.
FK: All right, shall we just launch right into this and play the voicemail?
ELM: Yeah, for context, we said multiple times that someone had tried to leave a voicemail and it got cut off after 10 seconds, and that person was Lucy, who called back! Thank you Lucy! I’m really glad you did. So we’ll play it!
FK: All right, roll it!
Lucy: Ah, hi Flourish, hi Elizabeth! My name's Lucy and I am the person who tried to call you a couple weeks ago and it cut out so we’ll see if this works. I just kind of wanted to say thank you so much for your podcast. I work in a pretty mentally and emotionally exhausting job and I drive all over my state multiple times a month and I just really enjoy listening to you all and your podcast as I’m driving places and…not always agreeing with the things you all say! But I just love feeling like I’m a little bit more part of the fandom even though I’m a grown-up and I have a grown-up job and all that stupid stuff.
I wanted to mention a couple things as per some of your many episodes, I’m working my way through. But stealth fandom, stealth cosplay stuff, I totally wear earrings when I’m having a bad day that are my secret Harry Potter earrings, because that was my first fandom and my still biggest fandom and so I feel like they give me strength if I’m having a bad day.
And I really think that the conversation with age and fandom is something that’s gotten bigger and more prevalent this year, and I would really enjoy listening to you all and listening to a conversation and a discussion about that, because I was in fandom when I was under the age of consent, and I just lied about my age. Because I don’t know. Not because it felt like it was a grown-up space, but because there were things that people were talking about that I wanted to hear, and because I really enjoyed reading fanfiction and having friends in fandom and stuff like that. And there were some people who were like “Ooh, protect the little child!” But a lot of people were like “Oh, well, I mean, you’re lying about your age and you’re writing the things you’re writing…then I guess we don’t really need to worry about you.” So I don’t know. I’d love to hear y’all’s thoughts and conversation about that. Thank you and I hope you’re well! Bye!
FK: OK, Elizabeth, what are your hot, hottest takes?
ELM: Um, I’m offended that you think I deliver hot takes. You said this on Twitter the other day.
FK: This is why I love saying it to you, because I love it when you get offended. [laughing]
ELM: What did I say?
FK: I said this on Twitter and you freaked out. You said, “My takes are not HOT.”
ELM: I said…
FK: They may be PASSIONATE and WELL ARGUED but they’re not HOT. [both laugh] Well, in any case, what are your thought on this voicemail?
ELM: My thoughts. Well, I think there’s some good observations in there and the, obviously the open question is the one about age, which—it’s fitting that we got this in time to talk about how you were the oldest One Direction fan, oldest Harry Styles fan.
FK: I was not the oldest. There were other people who were older than me. But it was mostly much younger.
ELM: You were struck by the relative youth.
FK: It’s true.
ELM: That’s interesting, I feel like this isn’t the only time we’re gonna talk about this, and we actually discussed having maybe a young person come on.
FK: Yeah, we should find a youth.
FK: Here, youths!
ELM: No. We’re creepy. [laughter] But it’s interesting, and I don’t know if we discussed this when we were talking about it with Lilah, one thing I’ve felt in a new fandom that I’ve been very grateful for is that it doesn’t actually seem… I get the sense that most of the people I’m engaging with around Black Sails are adults. And that definitely changes things. And I know, I’m not trying to walk back saying that I feel like multi-generational fandom should be a multi-generational space, and I think it’s really valuable that when you’re a teenager, to be in the same space with especially adult women, queer adult women in particular. I think it’s been valuable for so many people. But I also…I don’t know. Maybe it’s not that the fans are adults, but everyone on the show is an adult, and I think that’s a part of it.
So we’re talking about Yuri!!! On Ice and pedophiles and stuff like that and it’s about cartoon teenagers. And I’m just like, “I’m too tired for this, honestly.” Maybe that’s it. It’s not the fans. It’s the fact that all the characters are grown-ups and very much so. Everyone’s at least 30. You know? So I don’t know. You know what I mean? These are some rambling thoughts I’m having, go ahead, your turn.
FK: I do know what you mean. I think there’s a combination of, this is also reminding me, remember that awful article that was like “Why are adult women obsessed with teenage girls in their fiction?” You remember this article? It was so bad.
ELM: That was my looooong sigh. Wait, are we talking about the one about Carly Rae Jepsen?
FK: So there was, I think that we’re getting a little bit into that territory, but I do think that it’s…
ELM: No that’s different though, because her argument, this was by Jo Livingstone in The New Republic, and her basic argument was that adult women were fetishizing teen girls and teen girl culture and that was, I don’t know. How did she frame it? That we needed to “put away our childish things.” And I think there was a weird conflation of this idea of sticking up for teenage girls and fetishizing them? And also, Carly Rae Jepsen fans that I know got really mad at that article because there were some suggestions—and I don’t think it was just in this article—that Carly Rae Jepsen’s themes were inherently teenage, about having crushes or questioning sexuality or having an ambiguous space. And the idea that that’s isolated to teens is absurd, and I think that’s a very bad take.
FK: Yeah. I agree. I mean, unless you’re of the opinion that all thought and growth ends when you become an adult, which it seems like some people think that’s true.
ELM: Yeah, some people do think that’s true.
FK: And I find that incredibly distressing. And I actually, I mean, I guess one of the things I was thinking about also was people who…this is the constant debate on Tumblr. There are people who are like “Hey, adults, get out of this fandom this is clearly for teens,” and there are adults who are like “Hey no this fandom is not clearly for teens, and also let me teach you some things about the history of fandom,” and then they fight.
FK: I don’t have an answer to this either, because the other thing is that, I think, that online space as a space for play, and experimentation as a young person, is something that was brought up in this voice mail and that’s also something that’s tough to talk about. What does the online space mean today as opposed to what it meant in the past? Cause I feel like, when I was younger and I was experimenting, the online space was in many ways a lot more anonymous.
FK: You had this pseudonym, you were told that people would axe-murder you if they found out who you were.
ELM: [laughing] Yep.
FK: Why, I don’t know, but you certainly believed there was gonna be an axe murder if anyone ever found out.
FK: So then there was this not-unproblematic identity play that went on all the time, right. And now I feel like there’s more of our lives online, we have professional presences, and so on, and so maybe there’s a different relationship to the online world.
ELM: Who’s “we,” though? I mean, yeah, you and me, and our peers, but on Tumblr?
FK: Yeah, no, you’re right.
ELM: Most people still have pseuds, Tumblr has built-in anonymity functionality that other platforms don’t, you know, the fact that you can just click a box and all of a sudden you are literally anonymous, not just creating a sockpuppet account on Twitter or something.
FK: Yeah, I’m not talking about…of course people have pseuds still. But those people who have pseuds probably also have real-life-identity social media. Right? They probably have a pseud that they’re keeping separate from their real-life identity cause that’s almost, if you have access to the internet it’s very hard to not have a Facebook account, right?
ELM: I’m not sure how this plays out for teens. I do know that teens right now are back into Facebook. There was like a, a brief period where young people were like “no Facebook,” which I feel like we caught part of too, and I know that teens definitely are really into closed groups right now on Facebook, that’s really popular, I mean, as am I obviously, our seltzer group is a closed group. But other than that, I mean, teens aren’t on Twitter.
ELM: And if they are, on stan Twitter, it's probably also a pseud, you know? It’s not the same as if you’re in your 20s or 30s and you’re like, “Here’s my Twitter handle @myname and my Instagram is @myname,” you know? That kind of culture isn’t universal.
FK: I guess what I mean is that there’s awareness of that culture existing, and I wonder if that changes it. Because I don’t know, I had no awareness of, of course there was a previous internet, before I was ever on it, the internet, that was much more…and you, I think. It was much more real-name focused. Right? It was at the time when internet was pretty much only available if you were at a university, it was tied to your university name.
ELM: 100% real name, because you’d be, it was literally just people who had access to that academic space and in the government.
FK: Right. So there was that, and that’s still, there were people who still had experiences of that around, and even things like the WELL and so forth where people had a lot closer…there were some pseuds I think on the WELL, but people had a lot closer tie. But by the time I was a teenager on the internet, that was not a thing I knew about. Right? Maybe there was one or two very, like a professor, with a website, but I didn’t know that anybody would do that on a personal level ever. Whereas now I think teens do know that people do that on a personal level. Maybe they don’t, but they know that someday they may have to, and…
ELM: But like…
FK: We’re talking about teens with no actual teens, by the way, we should stop this.
ELM: In the life span of the internet, too, it’s a little weird to talk about, like, when we were teens on the internet versus now, because the internet has gone through like seven different iterations.
FK: It’s true.
ELM: When I say quote unquote “the internet” it’s also even just like, one fraction of the stuff that’s going on around. You know what I mean.
FK: Right, totally.
ELM: I don’t know, I think that it’s obviously…also too it’s hard to say “Well, if you got online in whatever, then you have these perspectives, so that’s how you’re approaching this,” because there’s definitely people who are our age who joined fandom a couple years ago.
ELM: Who’ve only ever known fandom as it is right now, but who are also adults, and so I don’t necessarily think that there’s this kind of…easy binary, of like, “You knew the web of circa 2000 and you’re an adult now, or you’re a teen now.” You know what I mean? That’s not how it works.
FK: You’re totally right. You’re absolutely right. I mean, yeah. Witness a variety of my relatives who have gotten online recently and I’m like “Whoo-who-hoo! Oh man.”
ELM: I just don’t see this getting any better. And that’s the depressing thought. I don’t wanna go back to subject matter…
FK: When you say “getting better,” do you mean their coming to any kind of an agreement about what ought to happen or how things ought to be?
ELM: Yeah, literally every day I see people yelling about this. And I see people saying genuinely cruel things. And I think that there’s just gonna be another show or another fannish property that especially, and I’m curious to know if people agree with me on this, that this tends to be more acute when the subject matter is more teen-oriented. I’m curious. Do you agree with that? Like Harry Styles too.
FK: I think that more teen-oriented spaces create, when the subject matter is more teen-oriented it creates a perfect storm of people of a variety of ages being interested, because if you get something that’s older, then teens are not always as interested. Like Black Sails or whatever.
ELM: New Star Trek. Yeah. Those are all adults, right? Are teens gonna get in there and be like “You can’t ship these two because you’re a pedophile,” you know?
FK: Right. There are teens in the fandom, but there’s not an argument saying that this was primarily made for teens, I don’t think.
ELM: That’s the thing. It’s a made-for-teens, that's exactly what I’m thinking of. So it’s like, I feel like that’s…people are gonna keep making media for teens.
FK: Yeah. I can report that from the entertainment industry perspective, there will definitely continue to be media made for teens.
ELM: You heard that hot off the presses. Secret insights! [FK laughing] Teen media will continue to exist! I think that there is something, there have been a number of articles about this over the past few years, not just the one you just brought up by Jo Livingstone, there have been a number of poorly thought out “Why do adults read YA?” And I do think this is a trend that’s growing, and I think that it’s something that as a culture we need to get better at talking about. Because I don’t think the answer to “Why are a bunch of adults so interested in stories about teens,” the answer I think needs to be a little more than “why not.” Which is often the response to that, right. “Grow up, read something about adults,” and you’re like, “Make me! I wanna read what I wanna read.” And I don’t necessarily think it needs to be justified, but I also think the conversation needs to evolve beyond that. Because I think it is interesting that this is something that’s just growing, you know. I mean, the fact that YA is predominantly purchased by adults is very interesting to me. And it’s partly also, is there something happening within the YA space that isn’t being satisfied in the adult, quote-unquote “adult,” stories-about-adults media landscape? Maybe that’s part of it too.
FK: I personally think that there is, and we probably ought to talk about this at some other point, but I was having a conversation with somebody recently about it and he was like “Woah, YA is really well written now?” And I was like, “Yeah, there’s a lot of great really well written YA books,” and he was like “Woah, in the past,” and this is a much older person, he was like, “I always assumed that YA was not very high quality.” And I was like, “Well, it’s really high quality and the only thing is that it’s often also very accessible, in the sense that there’s a plot that I can enjoy and…”
ELM: Generalizations, Flourish. There are many bad YA novels.
FK: That’s true, but you know what I’m saying, the top level of it.
ELM: It’s not all bad.
FK: It’s not all bad, and the top level of it is great.
ELM: Just like any other genre, there’s great stuff and there’s bad stuff, and then there’s a lot in the middle.
FK: Right. Anyway, I think there’s something about accessibility of…and we should talk about this at some other point. Because I’m not actually sure. I don’t know.
ELM: I’m just curious. I mean, yeah. This is not to be a referendum on the prose stylings of YA writers. But like… [FK laughs] I just feel like there is something to this, and I feel like it’s only gonna snowball because the people who, a teen writing an angry post or…often I think a relatively young adult, some of this comes from, people in their early 20s, and I think embedded in that is some anxiety about your own future decrepitness at age 26 or whatever you see, or past 30 or whatever…there’s a tweet going around that I keep seeing on my feed being like, “Who the hell do you think, if fandom isn’t for people over 30, who do you think organizes the conventions or whatever?” [FK laughs] Or can afford to back the Patreon or the Kickstarter or whatever? It's true. I feel like this is only going to grow, because I think there’s some anxiety in that realization too, that it’s not necessarily something that people age out of.
FK: Yeah, for sure.
ELM: The more especially women put aside that sort of…self-loathing elements of it, to say: what is lauded amongst the J.J. Abrams of the world isn’t something that should be used as a weapon amongst predominantly female communities? I feel like that’s something that’s gonna keep being a point of major tension. So that’s my depressing prognosis.
FK: I agree with you, and I also think that we’re just about out of time, so maybe we ought to wrap up.
ELM: I feel like I didn’t let you actually talk about Harry Styles as much as you wanted to.
FK: That's OK, I feel like I would feel if I did that, it would be a many-hours-long podcast and it would be intensely boring to a lot of people.
ELM: I feel like we should, so, at some point—and I don’t know where we’re putting this out—Gav and I are gonna record a special podcast about Black Sails. Maybe you should do, maybe we could put it up for this and you’re not a part of it, and then you could get someone who loves Harry Styles. Like our friend Allyson Gross.
FK: Oh my God, I’m not sure I could deal.
ELM: Very clearly only for people who are already in the fandom of this? But like, maybe that would be delightful actually.
FK: Maybe we should do that. We will discuss this possibility. [laughs]
ELM: This part where we part ways so we don’t have to just talk at the other person about something that only we like.
FK: Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.
ELM: Yeah. All right. All right. Speaking of special episodes, before we go, I’ve been traveling, tell me how this pledge drive has been going!
FK: It’s been going really well! We’ve got a bunch of people who, a few new signups, right, several new signups.
ELM: A number!
FK: So in the month of September, which was mostly during our pledge drive, we went up $41 in pledges and we got 12 new patrons.
FK: YAY! That is wonderful.
ELM: Thank you so much!
FK: Yeah. It’s great. So we’re super happy with that—of course, we would love to continue getting more new patrons and pledges, we still have not yet reached the level at which we can get more consistent help with the podcast, but we definitely made good progress.
ELM: So it’s not too late to pledge. Obviously we would always love your pledges. So the stuff that we’ve put out in the past few weeks, we had a special episode that was about Buffy.
FK: And it was great.
ELM: All right, well, if you do say so yourself. That’s for a $1-a-month pledge. Prior to that it was the Cursed Child episode was your $1, so we wanted to mix it up since it’s been more than a year since that one came out. And so the $3-a-month pledge you get access to all of them and future ones. We should have another one coming out within the next month or so. And you also sent out the tiny zines to $10-a-month patrons.
FK: I did! They featured a beautiful collage by you, Elizabeth, and a poem by Stephanie Burt, and a short short short story by Verity! So.
ELM: And cover art by Maia!
FK: And cover art by Maia! Cover art by Maia Kobabe who is our favorite artist.
ELM: Yes. Accurate.
FK: So they were great.
ELM: By the time this comes out, those will probably be in people's mailboxes, so we didn’t spoil anything for anyone, right?
FK: I don’t think so.
ELM: And we’re actually, now that we’re back on track we’re putting together the next one! I’ve commissioned a drabble from an author you probably know. So yeah! If you have some money to spare, that would be incredibly helpful. And then our final Patreon related special thing coming out in the next week is an article about WIPs by Caroline Crampton, who’s a fantastic writer and talked to a ton of people in fandom about their experiences writing and reading WIPs. So.
FK: I can’t wait to read it! I still have never seen it, you’ve been editing it, it’s gonna be a great surprise for me as well as for the rest of our audience.
ELM: That’s right! What enthusiasm. I wish that—in normal editorial circumstances people will say things like “Well, I just can’t wait to see it.” Not “Where is it.” [laughter]
FK: I can’t wait to see it! I can’t wait to see it!
ELM: Yeah, I mean this is a more low-key operation than my normal jobs.
FK: Much more low key. So. Before we go the Patreon is patreon.com/fansplaining, our website is fansplaining.com, that’s a Tumblr with an open ask box, you can send us things anonymously but please don’t be mean, there’s also a phone number on it if you want to leave us a voicemail like the lovely one we got this time. We loved that, thank you so much Lucy for calling in and please everybody…
ELM: Calling back!
FK: Yeah, calling back! And everybody please call in, we love voicemails more than anything. More even than emails, but we like emails too! At email@example.com. And I think that’s it.
ELM: Uh, Twitter and Facebook.
ELM: We don’t do anything on Facebook. We post the episode but it’s not a place for discussion.
FK: If you like to get updated through Facebook you could follow our Facebook. Which is fansplaining. And on Twitter we are fansplaining. And we do things there. So.
ELM: Yeah. You know, it’s a shame though, I wonder…I feel like because so much of fandom, so many people are not using, to come back to our conversation, are not using their real names, because I’ve been experimenting with groups on Facebook and we could create such a fun group.
FK: We could.
ELM: I don’t know, if people are on Facebook and they’d be interested in that, I’d love to hear if there’d be people who’d want to talk with us.
FK: Cool. Well, we’ll look forward to hearing from everyone.
FK: I hope that you have a great coming week, Elizabeth. I know I will, because I’m floating on air just thinking about the fact that I breathed the same air as Harry Styles.
ELM: Well, I’m gonna have a good week because I’m going back to England, even though I literally just got back, like, three days ago.
FK: Oh yeah, your favorite place in the world!
ELM: I’m gonna be in the same room as Toby Stevens.
FK: Well I look forward to hearing about that experience.
ELM: Let’s do a whole episode only on Toby Stevens.
FK: I guess I have to say yes, now that you indulged me. [ELM laughs] I’ll talk to you later Elizabeth!
ELM: OK, bye!
[Outro, thank-yous and disclaimers]