Episode 6: The Meme Librarian
In this episode, we interview Amanda Brennan, AKA the Meme Librarian. Topics covered include candle fandom, archiving the internet, why people tag their Tumblr posts with whole long sentences, and tweenage Hanson fanfic. We also respond to a listener comment from Elsa, who has some concerns with the way we’ve been talking about the interactions between fans and major media companies.
[00:00:50] The one other person we know: Ebony!
[00:07:02] The Atlantic is not covering Kenny Goldsmith (who is an avant-garde poet who did some racist stuff). That’s the New Yorker and the New Republic. Flourish is toooootally on top of things, guys.
[00:07:02] The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
[00:10:00] This is a real thing. Turns out people loved Chuck!
[00:14:36] If you missed it, Amanda is @continuants on Tumblr!
[00:14:37] “What Do You Do With A B.A. In English?” is from the musical Avenue Q.
[00:17:00] The train musical is real! It IS by Andrew Lloyd Webber and it’s called Starlight Express.
[00:20:58] Yes, “Avril Lavigne is dead” is a fan theory.
[00:30:25] Trenderman in all his glory!
[00:46:29] @clarabeau is the one who started it all.
[00:49:52] Here’s the promo in question:
[00:56:16] “It’s hard to be humble if you’re a Husker" is a reference to the Nebraska Cornhuskers, a college (American) football team.
Flourish Klink: Good morning, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth L Minkel: Hah. Good afternoon, Flourish.
FK: Ughhhh, it is indeed 12:40 p.m. on a Saturday [Elizabeth laughs at Flourish’s tired voice] and our lazy butts are bringing you Fansplaining.
ELM: Welcome to the… six? Number six?
ELM: Sixth episode of Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom.
FK: This podcast is, this particular one is titled “The Meme Librarian,” and we are going to have the eponymous Amanda Brennan as our guest, and she’s the last member of our San Diego Comic-Con panel for us to interview!
ELM: And after that I don’t even know who we’re going to talk to! We don’t—that’s the only five people we know. [laughter] Or six?
FK: We’re going to talk to some wonderful people! Our next is going to be Ebony Elizabeth Thomas and we’re really excited about that. But, first—
ELM: —all right, we know one other person.
FK: Amanda. [laughter] But actually even before we get to Amanda, we had our first reader audio comment! Listener audio comment. They’re not readers.
ELM: Flourish is literally rubbing her hands together in joy right now. Or possibly—
FK: Oh, I’m so happy!
ELM: Evilness? I don’t know what that is.
FK: Joy! It’s joy!
ELM: OK, joy. Joy. Cool! Yeah, I really liked it.
FK: OK, so let’s play the comment for our lovely listeners and then talk about it.
Elsa/buffer-overrun: Hey. I’m Elsa, buffer-overrun on Tumblr. I’ve really been enjoying your podcast, but there’s a couple things that I keep chewing on that I wanted to talk about. At one point in the first episode, Flourish seems to be saying that there’s a straight line between corporations seeing fandom works as “earned media,” as market research and free advertising, and the end of the Harry Potter-era cease and desist letters, and more broadly the end of the massive copyright overreach of the 1990s and 2000s.
And on the one hand, the free advertising idea has been around for awhile, particularly in terms of peer-to-peer, social network based sharing of media, and it seems to have gotten a lot more traction than the noncommercial “fair use” argument. And it probably is true that the flourishing of fandom spaces has had much more to do with corporate self-interest than any legal victories by the OTW. But I don’t think that’s something to be celebrated! It actually feels very precarious.
And then in Episode 2, Meredith Levine was talking about the production cycle of media, and basically that consumerism like fans buying stuff is how we get canon, which we need in order to get fanworks. And maybe I’m being utopian here, but it feels like fanfic is an ecosystem that’s really not that dependent on the canon. I mean, to write good fanfic the author needs to be really engaged with the original canon, and if you really love a show or a book or a song I think you have to pay for it and probably also buy copies for all your friends, because that’s how the people who are making commercial media get paid.
But as a reader, I don’t need to love or even necessarily to watch Supernatural or Teen Wolf or any of the Marvel movies to appreciate the fic, particularly when you’re talking about a lot of the common AUs and tropes. All you need are a few good gifs of cute boys looking longingly at each other, and that’s enough to launch a thousand ships. But I feel like what Meredith is saying is that if we don’t participate in advertising, or making ourselves available for data mining for mega-media companies, then they’ll shut off the tap of angsty homoerotic bromances, and then the well of fanfic will run dry, which I don’t think is true. Thanks!
FK: Oh my God, it’s such a good comment! Oh my God, I was so happy with this.
ELM: [speaking at the same time] So good.
FK: OK, so there’s two parts to the comment, let’s go in order.
FK: First one was calling me out.
ELM: I kind of felt like all of it was calling you out.
FK: [squawks] What?!
ELM: [laughs] Yeah! She clearly hates you and thinks that I’m great, even though she doesn’t acknowledge that we have the same perspective.
FK: We should, we should run a poll: which of your two lovely co-hosts do you like better? [laughter] No, but actually I thought that that was—I thought that she was making a good point. I also actually agree with her. It’s very precarious that fanworks pretty much are not legally challenged just because corporations see them as beneficial. I think she’s right. It’s precarious and it sucks.
ELM: The symbio—the positive symbiosis between fans and media corporations right now is kind of predicated on the fact that, I don’t know, everyone’s playing nice. Say that, that stuff that whatshername, Snow Qu—Snowy Icedragon or whatever—Snow Queens Icedragon I believe? [FK laughs] Um, E.L. James, had written Fifty Shades of Grey and Stephenie Meyer was deeply offended by BDSM. That would have been such a different story if that had, and you know, had sued her.
ELM: The thing that we talk about with fanworks, we talk about them challenging or being unconventional or taboo or whatever, that hasn’t actually come up against these media corporations. So everyone’s just playing kind of nice and vanilla with them.
FK: Not in a big way, and I think that, um…
ELM: You said not in a big way?
FK: Yeah, it hasn’t come up in a big way. And I think that—
ELM: Oh! Yeah, yeah, yeah.
FK: I think that we are maybe headed in that direction, but in order for that to happen I think among other things we would need to see, like, we would need to see a literary elite take fanworks more seriously, in order to publish the more challenging fanworks. Right now the things that are getting published in fanworks are like, Sexy BDSM Sexytime and—
ELM: [laughs] Put that on the cover!
FK: My Date With One Direction, which let me tell you, I love My Date With One Direction, I would go on a date with all of One Direction, preferably at once, but, but—
FK: No one’s going to publish the more challenging stuff that really does sort of go against norms until, until you see people taking it seriously as literature and publishing…
ELM: Yeah, but I don’t think it even has to be that. All right, so we had Wattpad talking about contests that movie studios want to have with their fanfiction, what happens when people start writing stories that really offend them? I mean, I feel like we talked about this a lot—
FK: But they already do that!
ELM: For their contests?
ELM: Yeah, I mean, I guess cause that’s, there’s no power there.
FK: That’s it.
ELM: Submitting it isn’t making money.
FK: And that’s why I’m saying that the day that somebody writes a fanfic that really truly challenges—I mean, this is the Wind Done Gone issue. The reason The Wind Done Gone was a big deal is that The Wind Done Gone was a literary work that had a powerful publisher behind it, a direct challenge to the literary estate of Gone With The Wind. And when we see a fanfic, you know, on the front page of the Atlantic, in a discussion of like—
ELM: When does, when does the Atlantic publish fiction on the front page?
FK: No, I mean, a discussion about it the way that Kenny Goldsmith’s poetry is getting debated—
ELM: All right.
FK: —in the pages of the Atlantic. When we see that happening, when we see that conversation happening, then that’s when we’re going to have a fight. There has to be some kind of, like, cultural power behind fanfic that’s more than just people on the internet.
ELM: That’s giving too much, too much credit to the publishing industry and the literary establishment. I think that this could happen just as easily with movies and television. I don’t think this has to have anything to do with books.
ELM: I don’t know.
FK: But I’m not actually sure that we’re like building up to the first ever—because like I said, The Wind Done Gone is a great example of something like this happening.
ELM: Hmm, sure, but it’s—that’s not a part of modern networked media fandom, either.
FK: It’s not, but… It’s not. That’s true.
ELM: [laughs] Score!
FK: Anyway, I think the summary is that we agree that this is a precarious position, I’m naturally inclined to be a pragmatist more than anything, so—
ELM: You mean a capitalist. Because you love money.
FK: I do love money. God I love it so much. [laughs] I’m more inclined to be a pragmatist than some people, perhaps than Elizabeth, so—
ELM: I thought you were about to subtweet me and then you just said my name out loud.
FK: I don’t need to subtweet you! [laughter] So that’s my, that’s my response to that.
ELM: To that part of it.
FK: To that part of it, because then there was the other part, which was about what Meredith was saying.
ELM: I was really pleased that Elsa brought this up. Because—and I think I mentioned this, and I don’t think Meredith would mind me saying this, because I think she knows we come from very—actually, I said this to Meredith on Twitter the other day: “I think you and I come from the exact opposite ends of the spectrum, and we can both learn by meeting somewhere in the middle,” I think that’s an adult way to describe that. But when I was editing the Meredith episode, the whole time I was like, “Why didn’t I say anything?! I disagree with everything you’re saying.” I remember at one point we were pushing back on something and she was like, “Well, you guys come from fanfiction, and that’s a big, big, but you know, it’s not everything.” And she was kind of saying, because we were coming from the fanfiction perspective, we didn’t have a full sense of the kind of perspective that she was coming from.
FK: Well, I do think that she comes from very much more the video end of things, so I don’t think that I share the same perspective as she does…
ELM: It’s true, the one part that we did cut out was the part where she talked about her history with Harry Potter and it was so completely different from mine or yours—
ELM: The way that she interacted with those books… I encountered this too when I went to, say, GeekyCon, the way that a lot of people there was engaging with the books was very different than the way people who were in transformative fandom [do]. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different.
FK: The big, the big question that came up with that was she seemed to be saying, Meredith seemed to be saying we as fans needed to continue to give our money to mega-media conglomerates in order to receive back the stuff we’re fans of, and I thought that Elsa’s point was really nuanced, because she was saying that there’s a difference between writers and readers and how much they’re reliant on canon. From my perspective, I don’t know that I would say that we have to give money to big mega-media corporations in order to get canon, because I think that there’s a lot of things that are smaller that can produce canon. For instance, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
FK: I mean, that was not a mega-multi-million-dollar-media conglomerate. It’s not the Avengers franchise. But, I do think that there have to be source texts that a lot of people are familiar with in order for fandom to foment, right, because in order for readers to be showing up there—you may never have watched Supernatural, but you know what it is and that’s why you know to look for fanfiction about it.
ELM: So you agree, we both agree with Elsa on this point, right? I feel like there’s so many people who, who join fandoms with a distant connection to the source material. Because you get so invested in the fanon, right?
FK: I agree with her on that point, I just think that there has to be a critical mass in order for there to be a fandom.
ELM: Yeah, but I definitely—not me, personally, but I’ve definitely encountered a lot of people who will read a good story in any fandom and they don’t care about the source material.
FK: All I’m saying is that I think that, I think that for writers there needs to be a community around the source material that’s large enough for them to keep engaging.
ELM: I don’t think it has to be incredibly large. It doesn’t have to be—
ELM: —the size of Supernatural or Sherlock or One Direction.
FK: No, not at all, but there does have to be some amount of foment. So it doesn’t necessarily have to be a mega-media conglomerate, but I do think there has to be some amount of… it can’t just entirely be one-to-one, because then it’s no longer…
ELM: I just started, you know, it’s interesting, because I just started rereading one of my favorite Torchwood fanfiction authors. I follow her on Tumblr but she rarely posts, and two days ago she posted a new story.
ELM: She’d barely written anything in the last few years because that show ended, and a lot of people left.
ELM: That has nothing to do with the production cycle. That show’s done. Even though they didn’t officially end it, it’s over. I think that consumerist fandom is obviously huge, and when I went to Comic-Con I was like “Oh, here it is,” but it’s like, it appeals to me as someone—to study it, but not to participate in it.
FK: I see both sides. I see Elsa’s point, but I also feel like again, you cannot make an Avengers movie without a huge budget, and in order for that huge budget to be justified, you have to have a lot of people buying into it, paying for it. And that means fans giving their money to mega-conglomerates. Save Our Show campaigns means going out and buying—what show was it, was it Chuck that went to Subway and bought—like,
FK: Chuck! Chuck fandom! Chuck! They did a Save Our Show campaign and they, like, went and bought Subway sandwiches because Subway was the major advertiser, and they got another season of the show, right? Like, it’s completely… I think that’s what…
ELM: But I don’t want another….
FK: That’s what Meredith’s talking about.
ELM: I don’t want another season of the show. I don’t want another season of Torchwood. [They’re] going to fuck it up again. [laughter] I just want really incredible fanworks. By the time the seventh book—
FK: This is like, this is like my feelings about The X-Files where I’m like on this constant rollercoaster—
ELM: Yeah! Do you want that?
FK: “Oh, it looks so great! Oh, it looks so terrible. I don’t think I want this! But it’s here and I love it…” Aaaaaaah!
ELM: [laughs] By the end of the Harry Potter books I was like, “Ack, no, you’re frustrating me! And all these people [fans] are engaging me! And I still respect you and I thank you for these books,” but the conversation that had sprung up around it was so much richer than the actual text at that point. OK. I think we probably need to get on to Amanda, but, um, I feel like we could talk about this for like eighteen thousand hours.
FK: We completely could. Thank you so much, Elsa. It was a wonderful, wonderful question.
ELM: Yeah, we really appreciate it. And the recording too! Very, like, very well intoned!
FK: [laughs] And I didn’t have to, like, make guesses at your intonation because you actually sent it! So if people have questions, comments, just topics they want to talk about, please send in more recordings, we love you for doing that!
FK: So let’s welcome Amanda Brennan!
Amanda Brennan: Hello!
ELM: Hi, Amanda!
AB: How’s it going?
ELM: Good, how are you doing?
AB: I’m excellent.
ELM: I’m so glad you could join us, finally!
AB: I know! Our schedules are so crazy.
ELM: It’s true, it’s true. So Amanda is the meme librarian.
AB: That is true.
ELM: That’s like your branding like, always, right, that’s not just the name of your job? That’s not the name of your job, is it?
AB: No, it’s not the name of my job.
ELM: [laughs] That’s too bad, I’m sorry.
AB: Yeah, when I got my first job I was like “Hmm, I need a personal brand, what should it be?” And in librarianship, there’s like the Sketch Librarian, and the Wine Librarian, and the Inked Librarian, so it’s this kind of meme inside librarianship.
ELM: Can you go back and just tell me all those librarian names again? Wait. Inked Li—is that like a tattooed librarian?
AB: Yeah, she’s really into tattoos.
FK: Inked Librarian.
ELM: And the Wine Librarian?
AB: She’s really into wine!
ELM: A drinker.
AB: She’s not a librarian of wine, though.
FK: Oh, see, I thought, I was thinking—cause you’re kind of a librarian of memes…
FK: But she’s not a librarian of wine. She’s not, like…
AB: No, she just really likes wine. Although I’m sure there is a wine librarian somewhere.
FK: Right, and they’re probably really angry that she took their personal brand.
ELM: Catalogin’ that wine.
FK: “She just likes wine! I have to catalog it!” [All giggle]
ELM: All right, so, go back. You are a librarian. Can you tell us about your, like, trajectory, you know, I know you went to library school and studies really interesting internet things.
AB: Mm-hmm… I actually, this whole thing started in 2007. I was at Drew University for my undergrad and I was supposed to go into linguistics, which is why my handle is “continuants”: it’s a fancy linguistic term for vowels. So I was like, yeah, I’m going to be this cool linguist, and I’m going to write about literature, so I’ll take this handle and make that my personal brand! And then in the September of my senior year of college I broke my leg in half. I ended up having to drop my thesis in linguistics and it completely changed the trajectory of the rest of my undergrad career. After that I decided that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life with this English degree, and… I feel like a lot of people go through that feeling.
ELM: Mm-hmm! That’s why you get an English degree.
ELM: To have a crisis, like—
FK: [sings] What do you do with a B.A. in English…?
AB: So true.
ELM: Is that a real song? Is that a song we could play on the show?
FK: It’s from a Broadway musical…?
ELM: You know I don’t see those.
AB: [laughs] I have never even seen that musical. But I know the song.
ELM: What musical is it? Is it—
AB: It’s Avenue Q, right?
ELM: OK, that was going to be my guess, yeah. No, that’s funny. I’ve seen Cats…
AB: Never seen that.
FK: [laughs] Which is also relevant to both of your interests! Cause you’re a cat expert—
ELM: Look, we’re going to get to cats later!
FK: —at least an internet cat expert, right Amanda?
AB: Yeah, and it’s so silly, because I’m obsessed with T. S. Eliot. My undergrad degree was in modernism because of T. S. Eliot.
ELM: Wait, that’s silly? Why? That just seems fortuitous! Like, it all comes together!
AB: Wellm I’ve never seen Cats!
ELM: Stop it. What?
FK: How have you never seen Cats?
ELM: You’re from New Jersey! How did you not have that one special weekend where you went to see Cats?
AB: Not really a musical person.
ELM: Look, doesn’t matter. They’re cats! [laughter] All it is is cats!
AB: But it’s weird people-cats!
FK: Oh, they are very weird people-cats.
ELM: No. Don’t insult Cats.
FK: Cats is so weird. The only thing that’s weirder than Cats is the train musical.
AB: What is that?
FK: Everybody’s on roller skates! It’s really big in Germany. Everybody’s a train.
FK: Yes! It’s a thing!
AB: That’s so weird.
FK: It’s a musical about trains!
ELM: Thomas the Tank Engine?
FK: No, it’s like, it’s by—oh God, who is it? It might even be Andrew Lloyd Webber! And it, like, was a total failure everywhere except Germany where apparently still is a big, big, big deal.
ELM: They do love trains there.
FK: And all of the actors are on roller skates.
AB: That sounds terrifying and amazing.
ELM: Yeah, I would like to see that.
FK: It’s exactly the same as Cats, where all the actors are in furry suits.
ELM: No, it’s not the same! Do trains climb all over the balcony? No. Trains can’t climb like that.
AB: [intrigued] How do you know?
ELM: Wait, OK. So you didn’t know what you were going to do, and so then you went to library school?
AB: Yeah. So I was working in the mall for about a year and a half and one of my friends was like “Oh, I’m going to go to library school,” so I was like “All right, I’m going to apply, if I get in I get in, if I don’t I don’t,” and I got in and I was like “Uh… what am I going to do? I don’t want to work in a real library!” [general laughter] No offense to real libraries, because I love them! It’s just I didn’t know what I wanted to do, except I knew I didn’t want to do that.
ELM: And you went to library school. That was the only thing you knew you didn’t want, was to work in a library.
FK: And you went to library school anyway. And so then you had to be an internet librarian.
AB: Yeah, well, that’s the thing! I love data, I love information, I have an incredible passion for putting things in their place when it comes to information—[giggling from FK] Not like putting people down! But like cataloging! Cataloging is my favorite thing, although I did not take cataloging in library school.
ELM: Wait, really, you didn’t have to?
AB: Uh… um… no…? I mean I, I took like metadata and stuff like that. But I didn’t take traditional cataloging because I was focusing on internet stuff.
AB: Yeah, and it was great, because I had really progressive teachers who were stoked about social media, and I got to study under Mor Naamen, who is a big researcher in Flickr tagging. His work is so cool on, like, why people tag and the things people tag about, which influenced my work. In 2009 I did the first research on why people on Tumblr use sentences to tag instead of actual metadata.
FK: Why do people use sentences to tag?
ELM: Yeah, what’s the answer? We need to know.
FK: Cause we use sentences to tag!
ELM: Sure do.
AB: Yeah, so when I wrote the paper, Tumblarity was still a thing.
ELM: Wait, so what’s Tumblarity? Cause I didn’t join Tumblr till like 2012.
AB: OK, so Tumblarity was this formula—I don’t know what it was, it was never public. But it was just this weird number given to your blog and it was like your engagement number. And you could have the highest Tumblarity in New Jersey, or the highest Tumblarity in pop-punk, and there were big directories. It was very competitive in the pop-punk category.
FK: Of course it was.
ELM: Were those the categories that you were in? New Jersey and pop-punk?
FK: The Avril Lavigne is Dead people were like, “We need to get up to #1 so everybody understands that Avril Lavigne has really been replaced by an actress!”
AB: Ha! I wish. No, it was 2008-2009: it was all the people who were like, “New Found Glory isn’t pop-punk!” The Ramonescore or go home, people.
FK: Anyway, so, Tumblarity—
ELM: No! We actually had you on to talk about the pop-punk fandom only, so you can just go on that for the next 45 minutes.
AB: Oh man, I could talk about that forever.
ELM: Yeah you could.
AB: But yeah, so, my thesis was that if you had a higher Tumblarity—if I recall, it was public. It wasn’t like follower count, which is not public. But my thesis was that the more you use these sentence tags, the higher your Tumblarity would be, because it shows that you’re more engaged in the community. It wasn’t really anything I could prove, because halfway through the paper they removed Tumblarity, and I lost all those numbers.
ELM: That’s so sad, that’s the saddest story.
AB: Yeah, I talk about it a lot. I still was able to conduct research with people and instead correlated it with the number of followers, so the argument was that if you’re using these tags you’re more likely to be embedded in a community and therefore will have a higher follower count. And I got statistical correlation!
FK: Woo hoo!
AB: It was slightly significant. [laughter]
ELM: Do you think it’s changed over the years, though, because I feel like sometimes, I’m creepy, sometimes someone will reblog something from me and I’ll be like “Oh, I’ll click on your blog,” and I’ll look and I can’t tell, but it doesn’t seem like someone who has a lot of followers, and they’ll write, like, giant sentences. Like, if it becomes a part of the community and so that kind of link may not exist anymore. Because everyone knows that’s what you do.
AB: Yeah, exactly. Now it’s, I mean it’s a much bigger community. I think people really started joining Tumblr in 2011; that was two years before. Every single class I had, I had to explain what Tumblr was. To my group of master’s students. And we even had a couple of PhD students in there.
ELM: Amanda, do you know that I was at a publishing conference mostly for publishing students two years ago in 2013, and a professor said to the class that Tumblr was “experimental.”
AB: Oh dear.
FK: Wait, what!
ELM: 2013! Oh, he was the most useless. He was like “Well, you really need to be on Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr and Pinterest, those are pretty experimental.”
AB: Oh my goodness.
ELM: I don’t know. And I was just, I was sitting in the back just like seething. I was like NO! WHO LET YOU TEACH THIS, SIR?
FK: I would have been laughing.
AB: Yeah. I would be laughing and angrily tweeting about it.
ELM: Yeah, I was mostly just mad cause he taught in the publishing course, which was a part of my—the information studies department, which is where I was getting my masters. And I was just very frustrated with the idea of the publishing course existing or being a part of that. But that’s another issue for another day.
Let’s go back to your… I want to, can we just go chronologically through your trajectory, because I think it’s really interesting.
AB: Oh yeah. So while I was in grad school, I found Know Your Meme for the first time. I think it was my first semester. And I was like, ‘Wow, this is everything I want to be doing. I want to be an internet scientist.’ So I just sent them a cold email, and I was like, “Hello. My name is Amanda. I am in information science school”—I kind of, like, left out the librarian part, because I thought it would sound cooler, and I was like, “I really love the internet. I love memes. I don’t know if you need an intern or anything, but…. [laughter] I would love to intern!”
And I interned there, and it was such a magical experience. I remember it was the summer Antoine Dodson had happened, and we sat around in a room talking about why it was so important that it was remixed by The Gregory Brothers, and why it was so important that this remix was getting played on national radio. We also thought really critically about it, and like, Antoine Dodson was the biggest peak in this trend of local news stories with black interviewees going super viral for saying something weird.
AB: It was also the summer of Sweet Brown, if I’m correct.
FK: Yeah, yeah. And the Oakland “Whoop whoop!”
AB: Yeah. So just thinking critically about why these things become memes, why do we love them, and is it a problem that we love them. Are we making fun of them by having these memes happen?
ELM: OK, so you worked for Know Your Meme and then after that I know you went to work for Tumblr, which is where you work now, and we should just clarify you are not speaking on behalf of Tumblr.
AB: Yeah. I’m here as a person. [laughter]
ELM: That’s right! You’re not a corporation, even though they are people, too, my friend. [laughter] Like it’s such an interesting history to think about, especially because it’s like, I don’t know, I was just, as I said, in an information studies school, and the librarians were there, and they all wanted to, like, stroke books from 800 years ago, you know? [laughter] I mean I know you’re not supposed to stroke them! But…
FK: MY PRECIOUS! [laughter]
ELM: Very carefully lift them over with the thingies, and the things that you put that pages down with, and all that crap…
ELM: Sorry! I shouldn’t—no, it’s very important! I love you, librarians. It’s super funny, and there was like one librarian who was interested in any digital technologies, and they were like, “He’s weird! He’s technical!” [laughter] It’s like, oh, OK.
OK, here’s a question: I think that people…and this could happen with memes too, and I wonder if you, this isn’t meant as an attack or anything, but like, there’s a bazillion memes that happen internally in every fandom right now, especially with Tumblr.
ELM: And obviously there’s the big ones that would get tracked on Know Your Meme.
AB: Mmm hmmm.
ELM: And I wonder if there’s an inclination to say, well this is what everyone’s talking about, when things are happening on so many levels simultaneously. I think that’s one of troubles of Know Your Meme, not that I’m attacking it or anything, but I just feel like that’s general interest, big internet, and there’s a lot of numbers there, but it’s a big internet, basically is what I’m saying. And you know, how would you…does that feel like an attack on the meme study?
AB: No! I mean, I totally agree that since I left Know Your Meme they kind of…Tumblr memes fell to the wayside. And there are so many memes that get submitted about Tumblr that just don’t get looked at by the mods, and just kind of don’t ever get updated, because…
ELM: Wait, why not?
AB: A lot of the commenters don’t take Tumblr seriously on Know Your Meme.
ELM: Well, what internet do they hang out on? Like, the lame internet?
FK: The boy internet.
AB: Yeah, the boy internet. I just…I mean, I love Know Your Meme, don’t get me wrong, it is one of my favorite websites on the internet, but I feel like the community is not as broad as it should be. And, like, the moderators have their spaces on the internet, and they don’t really go out into everything else.
FK: It sounds like one of the issues is there are so many different communities, there are so many different internets—
FK: —where different things are important at different times, that it’s almost an impossible ask for one, you know, you can have one site that tracks only the things that get the absolute largest, absolute most traction, you know, just purely out of numbers, or that get picked up by national media or something like that.
FK: But then like, those may not be very important to me, because I’m over here in Carmilla fandom, and in Carmilla fandom, this thing has been a meme. No one else knows what it is, but all of my friends know. It’s almost an in-joke.
ELM: Is Carmilla a thing that exists, or is that your random word?
AB: Oh! Have you not seen Carmilla?
ELM: No, what’s that?
AB: You need to go watch it.
FK: It is Carmilla as a web series, and one of the things is—the reason that, part of the reason I know about that, their own little subculture, is because it turns out that second-person fanfic is really, is like a thing that—
ELM: I knew you were going to find a way to get it in, Flourish. Jesus Christ.
FK: Get it in….
ELM: Oh stop! No! Jules isn’t on anymore. Amanda doesn’t need your double entendres.
FK: She infected me. [laughter] With her tentacles.
AB: But no, I mean, that’s why I love Meme Documentation so much. Because it’s made for Tumblr users by Tumblr users. And it’s why I loved Encyclopedia Dramatica because it was made for that weird part of the internet by that weird part of the internet. And it has its own language. It had its own way of speaking about things that the rest of the internet didn’t understand.
And I think that is super important, that communities should be self-archiving. It’s your local library. Every community on the internet needs a local library to go to and find their own history. Know Your Meme is amazing, but it’s also the Library of Congress, and they’re not going to know what this tiny town in Internet Land is doing. I want to stress the importance of communities to realize that everything is fleeting on the internet, and something can get deleted really quickly, and you lose a whole thread of whatever history you’re looking at.
I’m currently working on this project on Slender Man. I was trying to find the history of Trender Man, have you ever seen that? So in 2012 someone took a photo of a seated mannequin and it was, like, dressed in some J Crew kind of white button-down shirt and his fancy brown vest, and it’s just a mannequin without a face, so it looks like Slender Man, and…
ELM: Like a puffy vest?
AB: No, like, uh, it’s more like a brown cardigan.
FK: Oh, like a cardigan vest! Those things.
AB: Not a—it’s not a vest at all, actually. [laughter]
ELM: You led us astray.
AB: It’s just a cardigan.
FK: Anyway, it’s a mannequin dressed, maybe, active-basic—
ELM: In a preppy way?
AB: Very normcore, yeah. And the original caption was, “Slender Man’s casual day off,” or whatever. And as it got reblogged through Tumblr, someone coined the term Trender Man, Slender Man’s sassy gay brother, and it took on a life of its own. If you google Trender Man, you get all these ask blogs, where it’s like, “Ask Trender Man for fashion secrets!”
ELM: That’s funny.
FK: Oh my God.
AB: Yeah, but both of those original posts have been deleted.
FK: That seems—that sounds a little bit like how the other day, in fact, for Jules, for our Jules episode, I had to, I was, like, trying to look up some of the wanks that she was referring, and I discovered that Fandom Wank is actually gone from the internet.
FK: Yeah, it’s gone.
AB: Since when?
FK: It was news to me! But I wandered over to JournalFen and there is no more.
FK: I had to go on the Wayback Machine, and it was really distressing, actually.
AB: That’s what I had to do for the Slender Man post, because I had the links, the links from the Know Your Meme article.
FK: Exactly. It’s easy enough to find links to all the fandom wank posts about things, which, I have to say, as an old member of fandom I never thought I would see the day when I was like, “Fandom Wank! I wish it was still online!” But I do! [laughter]
AB: No! I never thought I would have those feelings either, and here I am, having them.
ELM: That’s funny. I’m curious to ask you about this, because I know you’re not speaking on behalf of Tumblr, but you are a very active Tumblr user and also I think you come from a different perspective, fan-wise, than Flourish and I do. I know you’re not really historically into, like, fanfiction.
ELM: Not that you’re down on it, but you don’t come from that corner.
AB: No, I don’t come from that background.
FK: Yeah, that wasn’t your fannish birth. You didn’t crawl out of the same primordial ooze.
ELM: Literal ooze that we crawled out of.
AB: To be fair, I did write fanfiction when I was 13. I had—
ELM: Wait! About what?
AB: Uh…[laughs] I owned the AOL handle “Hansonfanfic,” because—
[Flourish gasps and Elizabeth laughs uproariously]
AB: Because that was my fandom! [more dying of laughter sounds] I’m just going to be real with you guys, I wrote a ton of Hanson fanfiction when I was 13.
FK: Oh my God. Oh my God.
FK: I’m so happy.
ELM: Was it gen? Were they having, like, a three-way brother-cest?
AB: No, no. [laughter] It was a Mary Sue…
ELM: Self-insert, you and the boys—
AB: …Doctor Pepper obsessions, like…
ELM: It was just them hanging.
AB: Yeah, just hanging out, being like, “Oh! I’m going to be your tour manager. And you’re going to fall in love with me.”
ELM: That sounds like Flourish’s fanfiction.
FK: Totally. [laughter]
ELM: That’s amazing.
AB: I feel like that’s a pretty common trope, not gonna lie.
FK: I’m basically you when you were 13, except with the benefit of some college writing classes.
ELM: Mmmm. That’s it.
AB: The writing was atrocious.
ELM: No, but that’s funny though, because it’s like—yeah, that’s what everyone’s story is, but maybe not, because you wanted to be their manager, too.
ELM: Gettin’ things done.
AB: I was a professional.
ELM: Yeah that’s right. [laughter]
FK: You had enough self-respect to have a career in addition to your love affair with one or possibly more Hanson brothers?
AB: It was just one.
ELM: Which one?
AB: [laughs] Which one do you think?
ELM: The cute one.
AB: Who do you think?
ELM: I don’t know, maybe… the… the…
FK: Who’s the cute one, Amanda?
ELM: Yeah, who is the cute one?
AB: Taylor. Clearly.
ELM: OK, Hanson aside: on our panel, Jules said some stuff and she kind of reiterated it last week about how, it’s nice that all the platforms are now welcoming instead of like being jerks to fans, but she said “We’re just using Tumblr.” I don’t know if you remember, Flourish, if those were the words. Like, “We’ll use whatever we’re given.”
ELM: And on one hand, I appreciate that because I do think some of the platforms that are now very welcoming can be like, “Oh, aren’t you impressed with us? We embrace fans,” it’s like no, I’m just like, “Thanks for not being mean like you used to be?” So there’s that, but coming from the other perspective, I think her saying that does dismiss—or maybe gloss over, or just doesn’t approach—the kind of idea that the platform really does shape the way that people communicate and the way that a fandom grows and changes and, you know, does its thing.
And I’m wondering if from your perspective as someone who hasn’t been in the very, the old traditional, whatever-we-think-is-traditional, you know, random archives to LiveJournal to Tumblr kind of trajectory with fanfiction—you’re coming from a different perspective but you see fans, you know what I mean? …None of my questions are actually questions! They’re just rambling statements.
FK: No, your question was very clear!
FK: Your question was “Do you agree with Jules that fandoms use platforms as opposed to platforms being, like, the seed of or attracting fandom?”
AB: In my experience as a fan, I used LiveJournal not for fanfiction but, like, to find people in my communities that I loved. My favorite LiveJournal community was Jersey Emo, cause that’s where all the nerds posted shows. And yeah, sometimes there was discussion, but I don’t think I have a place like that anymore, and it went away with LiveJournal. Like, yeah, there’s Facebook groups, but it’s all attached to your real name, like, there’s no real mystery behind like “Oh, who is packagethief? I don’t know who they are!”
ELM: And also it’s attached to your real life, even if you don’t mind that people know, right?
AB: Yeah, everything’s attached to your real life, and it’s like “Oh, I don’t wanna participate in this community where people can trace down who I am.” Like, just going back to my personal stuff, I’m very active in, like, Instagram cat fandom. And that’s attached to me, but no one is really watching it, cause who actually looks at what other people like on Instagram? [general laughter]
AB: But, I have a secret Reddit account. I do all of my Reddit stuff on something that’s completely unattached to me because I don’t want that kind of fan activity that I do on Reddit to be traced back to who I am as a human being. I don’t know if this is really answering your question, but I use different platforms for different types of fan activity and I want them to be exclusive. And I know, like, the stuff I do on Reddit I just want to happen there, I don’t want to look at that stuff in other places… This is gonna sound like really shady, like I bet you’re wondering what my Reddit fandom is, um…
FK: It doesn’t, it doesn’t sound that shady.
ELM: No, I don’t think it’s shady—
FK: Most people have a Reddit burner account. Who doesn’t?
ELM: I don’t.
FK: Why would you ever have a Reddit account that was attached to you-who-you-are? That’s the weirdest thing.
ELM: I have zero Reddit accounts. I want nothing to do with Reddit.
AB: I used to and it was bad. It was so bad.
ELM: Are you actually a PUA?
AB: Yeah, basically. That’s how I’m here. I just used pick-up lines on everyone. [general laughter] But yeah, like, the platform kind of defines the fandom because of how you can interact with each other. Like, I can’t reblog the stuff I like on Reddit, because there’s no place to do that.
AB: There’s no profile where you can be like, “Oh, here’s the list of things that I liked today on Reddit!” It’s just very, like, fleeting, and you look at it once and I guess you save it, you can have a conversation but are you really gonna go back to it? On a place like Tumblr you can collect and you can archive and you can, like, tag things and sort it by tags, and you can have a lasting impression of what you like. And when you don’t like it any more, you can delete it and start over. There’s always gonna be a new platform. There’s always gonna be a new experience, and fans will move on and have different fan experiences in those places and that’s OK. You don’t have to be tied down to one place.
ELM: I sort of feel like now, in a way, it’s fragmenting. I think people like to compare LiveJournal and Tumblr, but the web was very, very different seven years ago than it is now.
AB: Yeah, totally.
FK: Yeah, and LiveJournal was a lot broader in certain ways. I mean I still have friends on LiveJournal who are in the hacking community and, you know, I mean, there they are, I don’t fully understand why they’re still on LiveJournal but they all are, and…
AB: Sometimes communities just get really attached to the way they’re interacting, and the way they’re interacting is based on whatever platform they’re using.
ELM: So one thing I also find really interesting in your examples cause I’ve heard you speak a lot this summer too, is the way that you talk about the word “fandom.” And so I’d be curious to ask you about this. Because you put media properties side by side with like the candle fandom or like the, you know—
AB: I do!
ELM: And I think there are people who would say those are apples and oranges or like candles and Supernatural. [laughter] Which is I hope the new expression that everyone’s gonna use. “It’s like candles and Supernatural!”
FK: There are candles in Supernatural.
AB: There are!
FK: But there’s not an apple hiding in an orange.
ELM: So, one thing that we actually talked about before you came on in this episode was, we had our first audio listener comment—
ELM: And she was responding to some things that previous people had said, Flourish and Meredith, about cycles of production, and about, you know, getting new canon and how that affects fanworks and all this stuff. But that’s not an issue in the candle fandom. In a way I wonder if there are people who would say, “Oh, well, if it’s not like, you know, a text or images and people engaging with some kind of story,” you know what I mean? Like how do you define–
FK: Yeah, are they different kinds of fandom?
ELM: What does fandom mean to you? Like,
FK: You know I wrote my master’s thesis on this.
ELM: On this topic?
ELM: I don’t care, I want Amanda’s opinion and nothing of yours.
FK: That’s why I’m gonna be quiet now.
ELM: All right, I’m ready.
AB: I hope that you don’t judge me too harshly for my opinion, Flourish!
FK: I won’t judge you at all, I won’t judge you at all!
AB: I, I really believe that if there’s a group of people who feel so passionately about a thing that they are making things about it, that’s a fandom. Have you ever looked at candle haul videos?
ELM: No, what’s that?
AB: Go to YouTube and type in “candle haul,”
ELM: Candle hall, like H-A-L-L?
ELM: Haul! Haul.
AB: Or candle empty videos. Cause there are people who just make videos of their empty, like, their burned candles. And then they review them, and how they burned, and they get incredibly detailed about it. It’s not fanfiction, and people aren’t writing about their Bath & Body Works x Yankee Candle ship, but…
ELM: Why, why are they not doing that?
AB: I don’t know! Dude. Yankee Candle’s social, amazing.
FK: This could be a Yuletide fandom, couldn’t it. Nominate for Yuletide, guys!
ELM: Today’s the day! Put candles in.
FK: Nominate candles for Yuletide.
ELM: I will write you a candle fic. We’ll both sign up. I know that’s against the spirit if we like talk about it in advance, right?
AB: Yeah, it is.
FK: Can I also say that one could think of writing a candle fic in a variety of ways?
AB: Oh gosh!
ELM: I don’t understand that reference. Maybe you all can explain it to me. [AB & FK dissolve into ribald laughter]
AB: It’s all good. We’re gonna move on and I’m gonna say, yeah, so all of these people are connecting over their love of something. And I think that’s a fandom! It’s the same way I feel about, like, the bathtub fandom. People are going out of their way to search for these really eccentric looking bathtubs and creating whole blogs about it. And I think that’s a passion, and they’re spending time on it, they’re putting energy into creating something about this thing that they love. To me, that’s the definition of a fandom! Like, when people gather around a thing, spend time and energy creating something based on the thing that they love, it should be considered a fandom. Whether it be like I’m spending time and energy writing Supernatural fiction, or I’m spending time and energy making videos about this candle that I bought.
ELM: Yeah! All right, Flourish, was that the tagline of your dissertation?
FK: No, I actually totally agree! My master’s thesis was about anti-fans, and it was basically saying that like Twilight haters come all the way around and really, like, ought to be considered [fans]… It was more about identity formation and so forth and the fact that… uh, it wasn’t a very good master’s thesis.
ELM: Did you pass? That’s all that matters.
FK: Yeah, I did.
ELM: Great! Congrats. So that’s the thing, right, I mean, I feel like whenever people—it’s not like I’m saying what I think, right, ever.
AB: You’re just exporting an idea.
ELM: Yeah, and I feel like if people were to ask me “When, how do you join,” like “Oh, I like that show but, like, I’m not in the fandom,” like, what does that mean? I’d be like, it’s like a self-identification thing where you say, “Well, I’m joining this fandom.” You know, “I want to be a part of this group. I don’t want to be an individual who just likes the thing.” Right? So I guess that’s the same thing then. Right? It’s people coming together.
AB: Well, I mean, you can buy a bunch of candles.
ELM: I have! I just bought one.
AB: But are you in the candle fandom? Like, how passionate, do you want to share your passion with others?
FK: But this is a little like when, you know, someone asks like “how 1D are you?” Like…
FK: Or like, “are you a real Harry Potter fan?” It gets into this weird territory where it’s like…
ELM: You gonna use the word?
AB: Fake geek girls?
FK: Fake geek girls! Like, how do you police the—
ELM: I’ll say it now. Gatekeeping! It’s our favorite word.
AB: Yeah, and I feel like that’s the difference between these fandoms for weird shit. Like, who cares? You’re just celebrating something you love.
FK: Nobody gatekeeps you out of candle fandom?
ELM: So what’s endgame in the candle fandom, right? Do you think it’s queerbaiting? [all laugh] Flourish look at your face. Yeah. I mean I can’t believe, like, the creators are not listening to the candle fandom.
FK: Oh my God.
ELM: They just keep making candles and not what the fans want.
FK: Oh my God what do fans want?
ELM: Actually, they, no, because—
FK: [giggling as though she is saying something very funny, which she is not] The fans want candles.
ELM: The candle fandom has very good fan/creator interaction because of the Mountain Lodge thing.
AB: Which is like my favorite thing in the world.
ELM: Should we… if any of our listeners live under a rock?
FK: Explain the Mountain Lodge thing.
ELM: Yeah, let’s explain it.
FK: Actually it doesn’t have to do with living under a rock. I’m 100% certain we have many listeners—
ELM: Living in a mountain lodge and so they don’t have the internet, right? [laughter]
AB: All the lumberjacks.
FK: Being not involved in this…
ELM: OK, for anyone who’s not on Tumblr, go ahead, Mountain Lodge: Amanda, it’s all you.
AB: [laughs] Uh, so, a Tumblr user made this post and is like, “Drop everything, go to Yankee Candle, and get this Mountain Lodge candle because it smells like Chris Evans is your boyfriend.” And it got hundreds of thousands of notes as it was reblogged, and then in the reblog tree—
FK: And it does smell like Chris Evans is your boyfriend.
AB: It really, really does.
ELM: I gotta smell it.
FK: It captures the essence of Chris Evans’s brand.
AB: Yeah. Come to my desk. I have one on my desk.
ELM: Oh I will.
FK: So you can just have a Chris Evans pick-me-up any time you want. Just pick up that candle and—
ELM: When do you want—schedule a meeting for me I’m going to be right there.
AB: I will.
AB: But yeah, as it was reblogged through the network, people added their own experiences, like, “Yeah, I saw this post, I dropped everything and went to Yankee Candle.” Yankee Candle embodies their brand so well they found the post, reblogged it, they were like, “We love you, our fandles.” Uh—
ELM: Oh my God, fandles.
AB: Yeah! Fandles.
ELM: That’s so good.
AB: Coined by Yankee Candle. Amazing. [laughter] They really, like, owned it, and now there are signs in the stores that are like, “You’ve seen it on Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest, here’s our boyfriend candle.” And they just totally embraced it.
I think it’s a really interesting comparison when you think about blogs like Denny’s, or Totino’s, where they have, like, this really cool person who runs the blog, like ‘we get our users.’ But Yankee Candle gets it in a totally next-level kind of thing, I think. [laughter] Their posts, like, if you search for Yankee Candle anywhere on the internet, the content created by the brand looks exactly like the content created by their fans. They’re so there, on the level of their fans.
ELM: So, that actually brings up a really interesting question, because I feel like one thing over the last year or two that I’ve thought a lot about and talked about with some of my aca-fan friends—
ELM: Academic fan friends, is they’re not necessarily brands because it’s like networks. And the kind of social media presence they have and the way they’re engaging with their regular old fans. And the kind of hits and misses on that front. And I wonder if it’s analogous or if it’s not the same when you’re—I mean, you’re not trying to sell a product, you’re trying to sell your show, but not really at that point, you’re trying to, you already have the fans so you have your customers, they’re gonna keep coming, it’s about how much bullshit they’re willing to put up with from you.
FK: But that’s such a funny perspective because that’s not ever the perspective that people are coming into. When people are doing—
ELM: Who do it on the other side! This is the question.
FK: Who do it on the other side, absolutely not. Because when, when you look at a show’s social media presence, it’s almost always framed as marketing, meaning its goal is to get new people to come and watch the show. It’s not framed as PR, which is getting people who already know and care about the show to feel good things about it. Which is, which is what I think fandom sees it as.
But the way that, not always but almost always, those accounts are run by people who are in a marketing department, or they’re being given targets to hit that are about like growing followership and so forth and not to do with any like increasing community interaction or—you know, like, if they were being judged on like how many conversations they were having, or, you know, how much conversation they were encouraging, you know, increased conversation by the same people, if that was rewarded, I think we’d see better results on both sides. But it’s just not. It’s completely—
ELM: Maybe I’m just thinking of a bunch of exceptions to that. And maybe that’s not useful, because that’s not the norm.
AB: There’s a really good example of this happening right now in Supernatural fandom, there is a promo clip that was tweeted out by all the actors. And it was uploaded to Vimeo and YouTube under like this really weird name, and word on the street is that it was created by Supernatural post-production for fans. And it looks totally different from the CW promos, it has a completely different feel, it’s darker, it’s more, it’s more haunting! And it’s—
FK: It’s a really good promo.
AB: It’s beautiful!
FK: It really gets the show, and it gets what we care about in the show.
AB: Yeah, and it gets it in a, like, the CW promos are there for your passerby watchers, the people who are gonna just turn it on because there’s nothing else on TV. And this promo is built for fandom. And you can tell the difference watching them next to each other! And I think you’re right on the nose with marketing vs. PR, marketing is there to get new people in the door. And it’s good when they create stuff for fans, but that’s not going to be the marketing team’s priority.
FK: And I think, by the way, that it’s not, I think you probably are Elizabeth thinking of things that are exceptions because those are the things that fans actually like and engage with and continue to engage with.
ELM: Well, and it’s also I mean like, so my ostensible fandom that I’m in, Sherlock, there’s no new content, but the BBC—freakin’ BBC 3 Twitter account!—is every time they play a rerun they livetweet it, with Johnlock references! You know? And it’s like—
FK: But in part that’s because they’re identifying it as maintaining interest. Because they’re in a hiatus they want to maintain interest, and somebody there has realized “Oh, we can maintain interest if we do this.”
ELM: But that’s the thing, they don’t have to. And they’re not trying to get any new viewers in the—like, it’s a very loud fandom that can pull in anyone who’s interested in a tall dark haired man and a short blond haired man ship, cause everyone loves that ship. I don’t know if they want to convince some—everyone in England has seen it! So it’s a weird example, because, like, there’s no other television show with such enormous gaps and such an overwhelming, like, literally everyone in Britain has seen it.
FK: Well, and it’s also a fundamentally different—I have no idea the way they’re structured, whereas I have a pretty good sense of, like, how a CW show’s promos get made, you know what I mean? Like, I have a pretty good sense of what happens when you have a movie coming out with Warner Brothers, I have a pretty good sense of who’s writing the Twitter account if there even is one for that matter.
ELM: I’ll be curious because when they start the, they do a lot of, they kind of create these stunts. Like, they drove a hearse through central London and they got everyone tweeting these hashtags, right? And it feels a little bit, like, orchestrated, but it also feels like people were like “YEAH! I’m so excited this is coming back. Hashtag, hashtag.” Even fans who were cynical about it were like “I don’t care! I’m desperate at this point.”
FK: Which is great, good on them, they’ve achieved their goal.
ELM: But I’ll be curious to know in the coming months, because the new episode’s coming out. So we can explore this in the future. Yeah. And I have one more important burning question.
FK: Then ask it.
AB: What is it?
ELM: How was the Supernatural convention?
AB: It was, it was a very interesting experience. I mean, I’ve been to plenty of cons but nothing like this.
ELM: Have you ever been to a show-specific con like this?
ELM: OK, cause I haven’t either.
AB: It was a very strange crowd, and like, the kids asking questions were all asking weird hypotheticals, like, “If you could play any other character on Supernatural, who would you play?”
ELM: Wait, is this the one where they asked what’s-his-name, like, it was basically a fanfiction prompt and he said in response—
AB: Yeah! He said, “I’m not writing your fanfiction for you!”
ELM: Yeah it was like “Well, what if X happened to this character at this time?” and he was like, “You figure it out! Jesus!”
AB: Yeah, Mark Sheppard—
ELM: Is that who it was?
AB: —was, yeah, he plays Crowley on Supernatural, he was the most phenomenal person I’ve ever seen do a panel like this. It was just like, they get announced and there was a line of people around the convention center asking questions. And Mark camed out and he walked around the whole crowd, he was interacting with people as he was answering the questions, and he was just shutting down the questions that he didn’t feel were valuable. Which I thought was really badass.
ELM: He’ll be like, “Yeah, that’s not a question! Stop. Goodbye.”
AB: The thing that surprised me the most was that no one asked about the Darkness. The Darkness is like the Big Bad that’s coming. But like, no one asked! Everyone was more concerned with “Oh, would you play Crowley? Cause everyone else wants to play Crowley on the show.” Every single person was asked “Who else would you play?” The questions were very very weird. I expected a lot more.
ELM: It was like they were more interested about the actors than the show itself, does it feel like?
AB: I mean, a lot of them [the questions] were show specific, but like, the actor’s opinion of the show. Like “Who would you save that’s been dead?” or “If you could replace one character with another character, save a dead person and kill someone off, who would it be?”
ELM: This is something that frustrates me a lot because I feel like—oh no, I don’t want to talk about Sherlock again…! People do put a lot of stock in the actors’ opinions of these characters and it’s like, they’re not the writers!
AB: They’re not writing!
ELM: Yeah yeah, they need to interpret some things, but I don’t want his random opinion on some plot point that he wasn’t involved in you know? They’re smart, but they’re not geniuses. I dunno. It annoys me.
AB: Other than that, though, watching J2 on stage was just magical. They are so happy, and like—
FK: You sound exactly like Samantha talking about 1D in our Wattpad episode!
AB: Oh dear.
ELM: I think she did say “magical.” “Magical,” yeah.
AB: It really is a magical experience! You see these people on the internet and on TV, and on their socials now that Jensen is on Instagram and everything, but to see them in a room interacting with each other, interacting with the other people, the fans, it’s like, “Oh yeah, these people are human! And they’re actually really cool!”
ELM: That’s awesome.
AB: It was an amazing experience.
ELM: So usually Flourish is the one who has to say “it’s time to go,” but I’ll do it this time. I think we’re out of time. So we just want to thank you so much for coming on, it’s been fascinating.
FK: Thank you, Amanda.
AB: Thank you for having me! This has been the most fun. You guys are the best.
ELM: You are too.
FK: You are too for sure.
ELM: All right! So, any quick, instant thoughts about all memes that we didn’t learn about?
FK: We really didn’t learn about many memes, did we.
ELM: But, I think it was still a very interesting conversation, despite the lack of very specific meme examples.
FK: I agree. I’m especially interested in something we just touched on but didn’t really get to which is what is fandom? Is candle fandom fandom? I’m sure we’re going to get into that a lot more in future episodes.
ELM: Only candle fandom, though.
FK: Only candle fandom.
ELM: We’re not willing to talk about anything else. We did coin a new catchphrase!
FK: We did!
ELM: “It’s like candles and Supernatural.”
FK: [laughing] We’re gonna make that the official catchphrase of this podcast. So instead of saying “The podcast by, for, and about fandom,” we’ll say, “the podcast that’s like candles and Supernatural!”
ELM: Like two completely disparate things. But yeah, I think that that’s a really interesting set of issues. And I think that one thing that I’m learning as we do this podcast more is you and I, despite having apparently no common experiences whatsoever in Harry Potter fandom, are coming from a very similar place, even if we appreciate different things. Amanda was coming from a very different place, in terms of her fannish experiences and how she defines fandom.
FK: Completely. And I think that that’s something we’re going to explore, hopefully, with later guests. I think that we should have some people on from sports fandom, from different kinds of music fandom…
ELM: I mean, I guess we already had Meredith, she was the opposite of me!
FK: But she’s also coming at it to some degree from—y’know, from a history with Harry Potter fandom…
ELM: Yeah, but completely different!
FK: Yeah, but not as different as, like, sports fandom! Not as different as “It’s hard to be humble if you’re a Husker”!
ELM: I’m also a sports fan, I understand that! I just think of it as something completely different except when I have to write angry articles saying why do you let sports fans rip off their shirts and pound their chests when you won’t let women do the same. Even the shirts part.
FK: Yeah, but that means that we do have to compare them to each other and relate them to each other, and hopefully we will.
ELM: Yeah! We will! So basically the reason I’ve thought about this, I feel like a lot of the feedback we’ve gotten is from people who are coming from I think our perspective. And if there’s anyone out there who is listening—you know, not necessarily from our perspective, but kind of from the same realm, speaking the language we speak.
FK: From fanfiction and fan—
FK: Yeah. Fanvids…
ELM: Yeah. So if anyone’s out there listening and doesn’t relate to any of what we’re saying ever, record a comment, send it in!
FK: Yeah, send us a challenge!
ELM: …or yeah, you know, tell us how to shift our worldview. That’s what we’re here for. Sort of.
FK: Totally what we’re here for. Worldview-shifting.
ELM: All right, all right. Flourish, who’s next week?
FK: Next week we have Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, who is a fan who now teaches college and works on diversity in YA literature, and she’s hopefully gonna be talking about fandom and representation and another angle on who gets to be a fan or who we consider to be a fan.
ELM: And the kinds of things that you’re allowed to say without the internet piling on you.
ELM: Not to make everything political or something.
FK: And the things that favorite fan texts enable or don’t enable in terms of identifying with people and…
ELM: Oh, you mean like the tall dark haired guy and the short blond haired guy?
FK: The older man and the younger man. [all laugh] So that’ll be next time.
ELM: Tune in two weeks from now, and we’ve got a bunch of great guests lined up for the rest of the year, now that we’re done with our Comic-Con panel, and as always if you’re not already following us, Fansplaining on Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, maybe someday Pinterest…
FK: No, never Pinterest.
ELM: It’s experimental. I know. It’s too experimental.
FK: Yeah. Right. [laughs] All right. We’ll see you guys next time
ELM: Bye Flourish!
FK: Bye Elizabeth!
FK: The opinions expressed in this podcast are not those of Stratus Media Ventures, Chimera Media Group, Chaotic Good, or our clients, or our employers, or anyone’s except our own.