Episode 64: The Year In Fandom 2017
In “The Year In Fandom 2017,” Elizabeth and Flourish talk about…the year in fandom! Sticking to tradition, they start by recapping their 2016 list and seeing how those trends have evolved over the past year; then they dive into a new list of trends and themes from 2017. Topics covered include the limits of fandom mainstreaming, shipping and social justice activism, and fandom and the #MeToo movement. And they wrap up with a discussion of their personal years in fandom, which means, unsurprisingly, sad pirates and Flourish’s perpetual mission to connect all things to Star Trek.
[00:24:04] Our interview with Henry Jenkins is available here: part 1, part 2, part 3. Elizabeth also recently wrote an article in our Medium that recounted this anecdote, “The Year of Loving Things Again.”
[00:27:59] The New York Times article we’re discussing is by Jonah Bromwich, “Who Do You Ship? What Tumblr Tells Us About Fan Culture.”
[00:34:45] The New Statesman article we’re discussing, about adopted-by-a-celebrity Wattpad fic, appears to have been removed from the internet! It was, however, by Amelia Tait.
[00:37:21] Go listen to our episode with Lilah Vandenberg; you won’t be disappointed!
[00:43:37] The More Perfect podcast, Elizabeth’s favorite.
[00:48:24] The Broadly article, by Diana Tourjée, is called “The Shockingly Convincing Argument that Severus Snape is Transgender.”
[01:02:06] Anna Leszkiewicz, who has been a guest on this podcast, wrote a good article about the Harry Styles and #BlackLivesMatter situation in the New Statesman.
And finally, our fandoms of this year…
[Intro music: "Awel" by Stefsax]
Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish.
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom!
ELM: That was quite quiet. Nice.
FK: Yeah, you gotta shake it up sometimes.
ELM: Nice soft end of the year, ease us on out of the garbage year. This is Episode 64, Year in Review 2017. [sic]
FK: Can I just say that I just, you know, looked through our last episode, our last year in review episode...
ELM: Did we call it a garbage year then too?
FK: Oh, we were SO excited to have 2016 gone.
ELM: Remember those...? Yeah, that was a meme. And then some people were like why are you excited about this year ending? Next year's gonna be worse.
FK: Well. You also...we'll talk a little bit more about this actually but you also had a dream for this past year, Elizabeth. You dreamed that because the world was on fire, fandom would stop having as many controversies. [Elizabeth laughs] You said this!
ELM: I remember this!
FK: We got it on tape! And it was a nice belief, it was a nice idea.
ELM: The Trump nonsense can sometimes be a bit of a background hum.
ELM: Which sums... I think fandom returning to its controversial self is possibly a little bit problematic and a broader scheme of things, us being not maybe as alert as we might have been at this time last year about the federal government.
FK: Yeah for fandomers outside of the United States, I mean, you are presumably also concerned about what's going on with us so I don't know what to say.... [ELM laughs] I was going to be like, we should have expected that you all would carry on with your controversies, but like... No actually, no.
ELM: To be fair lots of other countries have, no one else has Donald Trump, we are number one, [chanting]USA USA! But lots of countries have had I think tumultuous politically so.
FK: Fair point, fair point. [laughing] So if you've never listened to one of our year in review episodes before, we look at what we are doing at this time last year, recording the 2016 year in review, we talked about what we said then, and then we talked about what 2017 has been like.
ELM: Yeah, I mean, it's not like we've been doing this for a decade or something. So, our first...
FK: Well there's been two, so.
ELM: Our first year in review was 2015, and we basically picked a few themes and trends that we thought really were notable in 2015. And then in 2016, first we looked back at our 2015 themes and saw how they continued or evolved or...whether they faded a little bit in 2016. And then we talked about the big stories for 2016. So. Now we'll do that for 2016 and into 2017 [sic].
FK: Right. So we didn't have, sometimes we have a clear list and we didn't quite have that, but one of the first things we talked about last time was the backlash from diversity showing up in entertainment properties. We were talking about how there were more entertainment properties that were having some more diverse characters, for example Star Wars.
ELM: Ghostbusters was a big story of last year I think too.
FK: Yeah, Ghostbusters, and that fandom was kind of...not always behaving its best with regard to that.
ELM: [laughs] Yes. I don't think that story went away. I feel like while I don't want to diminish that story this year, I do feel like it may have been a little more present in the entertainment media sphere last year. I think Ghostbusters in particular, the harassment of Leslie Jones for example...
FK: Right, that was also the year that you had Nazi Cap happening.
ELM: Right. Thank you for reminding me of that one. And I think also, last year really marked... I really think that there was still this kind of collective gaslighting that was going on throughout most of the year where you could be like, "this is all connected." Gamergate, alt-right, they stole all our frog memes, all this stuff. And it wasn't until after the election that I feel like friends who were outside of the "internet culturesphere," the media sphere or whatever, vaguely heard of Gamergate but didn't actually know what it was. They were like "woah, this is a thing? The alt-right's a thing?" And I was like bro! Right? It kinda took the election, I think, for some of my friends who don't spend a lot of time in these spheres to really accept it and I kinda feel like that's seeped more into the mainstream now of understanding.
FK: Yeah, I think that it's really changed the mainstream narrative about what fan backlash to diversity efforts is about. I'm not sure that that's always true, I mean, obviously we still have things like Star Wars and Finn/Poe vs. anything that is about space nazis, right. These things are not necessarily alt-right conspiracies, some of them are...
ELM: To clarify, when I'm talking about diversity backlash I think that's my shorthand to be talking about the sort of broad fandom space where you have...
ELM: Reactionary, often people of privilege across the board, so not to generalize so often "straight white men," which isn't to diminish...
FK: Right, right.
ELM: ...bigotry or systemic bias within the fandom places you and I spend most of our time in.
FK: But only to say that I think that now people see those kinds of backlashes in the greater context of internet culture and all this. I completely agree with you.
ELM: Yeah, though, I mean, I still, if we're gonna narrow the lens a little bit and not be talking about angry man in your mentions who hates the new Star Trek or whatever and shift the focus to the spaces that you and I spend time in and frankly the ones that we spend most of our time really analyzing here, right, which is the kind of fandom we participate in, so transformative media fandom, female dominated, blah blah blah...I'm not sure that we've made...I mean, I don't know. There hasn't been a kind of massive pan-fandom flareup, inter-fandom conversation, the way there was around the Star Wars and racism and shipping, but that's not to say that I think that things are solved.
FK: Yeah, completely agreed. Completely agreed. I think this actually relates to a couple of the other things we talked about last time.
ELM: What else did we talk about?
FK: Well one of them was, we talked about the existence of things like Magic in North America, Dr. Strange, Iron Fist, Ghost in the Shell, this was all related to things coming, in addition to there being a lot of movement forward with diversity there also being a lot of whitewashing and bad portrayals. I have to say I've been watching Star Trek: Voyager for the first time and I was complaining about its portrayal of Native Americans but I think Magic in North America might be even worse.
FK: I don't know what to say about that. At least Voyager has the excuse that it's set in the future, so I don't know, maybe there's a weird pan group set of people on a...
ELM: Pan? Pan group?
FK: ...on a colony. Yeah, like a group of multiple tribes or something that have gotten together and formed a separatist colony that has a weird pan-Native American colony. Maybe! Whatever, it's the future. At least you have some excuse. You don't have ANY excuse, Magic in North America.
ELM: As opposed to taking actual history and also living practices and folding it into your Harry Potter story.
FK: I'm not defending Voyager. It's more of an astonishment that anything could be more misguided. [laughs]
ELM: Yeah, I'm trying to think of what were the biggest, over the past year, the biggest controversies around. Because I don't think that Hollywood...can you think of any major? In the same way of like, Ghost in the Shell and Dr Strange and the other ones that were really massive for whitewashing, big whitewashing conversations last year.
FK: Yeah, well, no, and I think one of the things about it was that Black Panther and the excitement for Black Panther has been so big, that that has been sort of illustrating to people maybe, you know.
ELM: And Wonder Woman!
FK: And Wonder Woman! Illustrating to people how...yeah, Wonder Woman is actually a good example of good depiction of a Native American character, right?
ELM: Uhhh, there was some discourse.
FK: There was some discourse. But the discourse I saw overall seemed to tend toward the positive.
ELM: I saw some negative, but I obviously...
FK: I think there's always both.
ELM: It's not a monolith of opinions.
FK: Separate from that though we should get someone on to actually talk about this.
ELM: I would love that. That's a really good idea for 2018, we should start to talk about it now.
FK: There we go! That can be one of our resolutions.
ELM: I think, and I mean you're the one who works in Hollywood so you tell me, but obviously you've talked about it in the past about how people in Hollywood are aware. It's not like they can't see people being like "hey stop whitewashing." It's very hard to miss.
FK: I think that after 2016 there's a very strong financial argument towards don't do that dudes that people are actually listening to, you know. Not that there hasn't always been financial arguments or whatever, but I think that there has been a lot of very clear examples.
ELM: As depressing as it is that it only takes, that only financial arguments move the needle, like...if they move the needle, then they move the needle. So.
FK: Hashtag capitalism. [laughs] OK, so the other thing that we talked about and this is sort of a slight, less of a big topic, but we mentioned that Check Please with its giant Kickstarter and Yuri!!! On Ice were huge in 2016.
ELM: So figure skating fandoms, was that what we were talking about?
FK: The joke was that you needed the dark haired man and the light haired man and they needed to be really into ice skating.
ELM: I'm not gonna lie, every time I see Viktor/Yuri fanart on my dash I think it's Harry/Draco. You could just erase their names. Just leave it. You'll get more reblogs. [FK laughs] It's fine.
FK: I mean, I...both those fandoms are still going strong! I think it's a little bit less of a, you know, as you might imagine they haven't had new canon or Yuri!!! On Ice hasn't anyway.
ELM: Neither has Harry Potter!
FK: So it's a little less splashy.
ELM: I don't know what you're talking about. There hasn't been new canon since 2007.
FK: Thanks, thanks.
ELM: I think that maybe we brought up the Check Please Kickstarter because it was extraordinarily successful, it was hundreds of thousands of dollars, and I don't know if we've seen any massive breakout crowdfunding hits in that way in the kind of, amongst this sort of fandom.
FK: No, not really, and some of the other massive breakout crowdfunding hits have been things that were...I know that your eyes always glaze over when I say this, but things like Star Trek fan films and so forth.
ELM: GLAAAAAZE. That's my eyes. Describing the emotion out loud.
FK: But these are older and they're also not in the same category, they're not new things.
ELM: Not to draw hard lines, obviously someone could want to back a Star Trek fan film and also want the hardbound Check Please book, right.
FK: [laughing] There's at least one of us!
ELM: I think there are probably thousands of people who fall into both categories.
FK: Yeah, but they're different categories of thing also. Check Please is despite being very enmeshed in slash fandom, I think, is definitely an original story as opposed to a fan film, so.
ELM: Yeah, so I'm not sure how we assess that story in the light of 2017. Obviously Yuri!!! On Ice, we'll talk about them in our 2017 stories but Yuri!!! On Ice continues to be quite popular. I know that two of the top ten ships on Tumblr were Yuri!!! On Ice ships.
FK: Yeah, Yuri!!! On Ice ships.
ELM: Let's not touch that yet.
FK: Yeah. So we also talked about how fandom was forming into, I guess, bubbles of awareness, people in one bubble of fandom and another bubble of fandom, maybe. Someone who would for instance complain about...I don't know, the kind of person who would complain that Loki being pan is a problem for them, who is a Marvel fan, versus someone who is like Loki being pansexual is canonical and important to me, and those two people may not be realizing that there are huge huge huge numbers of people behind each position.
ELM: Wait, we said that was a 2016 trend?
FK: We didn't use the Loki being pan example, but yeah, we said that we thought that fandom was getting more bubbled in its different segments.
ELM: Is this because we felt compelled at the end of 2016 to talk about bubbles?
FK: [laughing] I think it MIGHT have had something to do with the conversation about filter bubbles.
ELM: OK, first of all, have you seen the cartoon of Loki, the Mother's Day cartoon?
ELM: I just saw it today. We'll put it in the show notes.
FK: Was he giving birth to a horse?
ELM: So apparently in the original mythology Loki is genderfluid, right?
FK: Yeah! And is the father of some beings and the mother of other beings.
ELM: So at one point while he was...does he become a lady horse? I think he turns into a horse.
FK: Yeah. He's a lady horse.
ELM: And then he is impregnated and then gives birth to an eight legged horse.
FK: Yeah. FUCKIN' SPIDER-HORSE.
ELM: So the cartoon...
FK: [singing] Spider-Horse, Spider-Horse. Does whatever a Spider-Horse can.
ELM: So the cartoon was the cutest little, eight legged, adorable eight legged horse and Loki - Tom Hiddleston Loki in that outfit - holding a Mother's Day card and it was like happy Mother's Day!
FK: HOLD UP HOLD UP HOLD UP HOLD UP SPIDER-MAN IS NOW BACK IN THE MCU so you could have SPIDER-HORSE.
FK: You could have Spider-Horse, the product of Spider-Man and Loki! No one has done this yet?!
ELM: I don't know how to stop what you're on right now. OK first of all, Spider-Man is a man. He's a two legged man! He's bitten by a spider.
FK: WITH THE POWERS OF A SPIDER. You don't know what that did to his sperm!
ELM: OK. So you want Loki to turn into a female horse and then be impregnated by a man.
FK: [laughing] This is less funny and more squicky...
ELM: Walk it back! Walk it back!
FK: NO. You can take my crackfic away from me over my dead body!
ELM: Alright, in my fic, it's gonna be the actual horse that Loki had the baby horse with. Not Peter Parker.
ELM: Which I just, I don't think it's a romantic story.
FK: How do you know that he's not a stallion? [laughing]
ELM: See, this is why we don't actually talk about the objects of fandom. This is what happens.
FK: OK OK OK. So another thing we talked about was how there were a lot of queer people who died on TV in 2016.
ELM: Queer women specifically.
FK: Yeah. I believe you put it as "fandom responds to dead lesbians," and then corrected yourself and said "fandom responds to dead queer women I am not biphobic."
ELM: I cannot believe that I had to apologize for my hastily written email one year, and then you literally read it again [FK hooting with laughter] despite knowing that I said the first time around that I had written it quickly!
FK: It's because I think that it's funny and I'm not offended!
ELM: Also in that email I described the backlash to diversity in fandom as "Gamergate 9.0." FK: "Fuckboys trying to ruin fandom in Gamergate 9.0" It's true, that's the tone. And actually you also said "fandom is racist and talks about it" was another of your points there, so.
ELM: I think I summarized it quite well.
FK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But it's true this is something we talked about, this year it feels like we had a fairly queer-lady-dying-free year.
ELM: So you've worked in television so you can speak better to this but I get the sense that because the television writing cycle is much shorter than the movie production cycle, so you complain about whitewashing in movies or whatever and obviously casting decision being made right now, people are culpable, but there are things that have been coming out in the past few years that have been in the works for years.
FK: Yeah, for 10 years sometimes people have been attached to star and you're like "welp."
ELM: Right, and that's a shitty excuse but that is their excuse. Whereas in a television show...
FK: It's not an excuse but it's a reality, so you have to look at it and be like alright there it is.
ELM: But on TV, so you're a TV writer and you witness massie backlash and you listen, properly, last spring, when one show after another was doing this and fans were really unnerved by it, so you go into the writers' room right then and so your fall TV or whatever, you're like I'm not gonna do that.
FK: Yeah I think people knew about what was going down in that space and made better choices.
ELM: That's great. So, I mean, I think that we...I'm trying to think of other examples but I do feel like there's, aside from Rosa coming out recently on Brooklyn 99 as bi, I'm trying to think if there have been other popular on TV anyway... that's like the antithesis of killing queer women.
FK: But there's also been people...like Wynonna Earp being very female queer friendly. I mean, even things like having in Westworld having Evan Rachel Wood be very very vocal about being a queer woman. And the portrayals of women and female sexuality on that show not being centered necessarily but having people talk about them and having it be framed, I feel like there's been some things that have, you know. Again, it's baby steps and it's still small stuff, but at least everyone's not dead.
ELM: Sure! Or at least...
ELM: Not everyone's not dead necessarily but at least it's not being used in that kinda cheap way. I often come down on the side of, I don't think there should be one kind of story. And so to say that no queer characters can die ever I think is, I personally don't agree with that and I totally respect people if they do feel that way, but with the...it's a scarcity problem. Obviously we're like a broken record on this but if you have one queer woman on your show and then you kill her and she's the only one who dies, like... no. That's not great. So.
FK: Yeah completely.
ELM: So that's why you should just watch Black Sails because there's lots of queer women.
FK: So I hear!
ELM: So if one dies...
FK: [laughing] Then there's a bunch more!
ELM: Many many to live on!
ELM: I will say no more about this.
FK: ALRIGHT I'll watch it I'll watch it!
ELM: I'm sorry, you literally, we were gonna record an hour ago and then we spent an hour talking about how youare going to watch Black Sails so you can write an Outlander/Black Sails crossover.
FK: Not just Outlander! Excuse me, I am talking about a massive multi-sea-story crossover with a multigenerational aspect to it so you've got your Hornblower, you've got your Master & Commander, you've got your probably Pirates of the Caribbean, you've got your...
ELM: Master & Commander is set almost a century after Black Sails.
FK: I know! That's why it has to be multigenerational, Elizabeth!
ELM: Jesus Christ.
FK: Don't you understand what I mean when I say multigenerational?
ELM: I just want to make sure you understand that the Napoleonic Wars and the Golden Age of Piracy were fully one hundred years apart.
FK: I fully understand this that's why I need MUL-TI-GEN-ER-ATION-AL.
ELM: I need to seasplain this one to you!
FK: Multigenerational! Multigenerational!
FK: A long, a tapestry.
ELM: A sea tapestry.
FK: A sea tapestry. Ok. Whatever. Let's get off this topic. Let's discuss something else.
ELM: So she pretends she doesn't care about what happens in Black Sails, but she's literally going to watch it to write fic so she obviously cares.
FK: Yeah I'm not in it yet but I do care a lot about historical fiction about the ocean. I just have been hiding it. Cause Elizabeth's been so into it. OK. [laughter] That actually kind of covers everything...except for your prediction that we would all be less controversial this year.
ELM: Yeah, I mean...
FK: I kinda wish you were right. We should all be more freaked out about politics and less...
ELM: I'm sort of torn about this. I really feel like especially for the first few months of the year, so much of it is out of our control and I feel like a lot of people were making themselves even physically ill. At the very least mentally taxing themselves. Being super super hyper worried over every single thing that was happening in politics. And I think while I do think that we maybe have normalized, as we all worried we would, I think that's a normal human response. Cause you can't keep living in... it's really hard to keep living in panic mode.
FK: The time to get back into panic mode is gonna be around the next set of elections.
ELM: Right. I mean, well, who knows. But so in a way it's like I'm really glad that people have been able to restore some balance to their lives when maybe 9 months ago it really felt like...I felt like in January and February I was like, there's no way I'll ever feel normal again. And you know, it's really not sustainable if I don't...how are we gonna go to work and pay the bills if we're paralyzed by fear with every tweet? So it's a trade off. Obviously this is not necessarily about fandom... but I also think we found, I mean, you and I both when we recorded this it was like shortly after the election and we both were feeling very unfannish.
FK: Oh my GOD.
ELM: Deeply so. But I know DestinationToast based on what we were saying was curious and did some research, researched some fic production stats, and found that actually fic production went up in November compared to previous years at the same time. You know? So a lot of people were using it as a coping mechanism, and I think just cause our experiences aren't like that doesn't mean that people...you know what I mean?
FK: Good point.
ELM: I like how I just literally trailed off in the middle of a sentence and said "you know what I mean?"
FK: Yeah, but I do know what you mean. And I think our listeners will too.
ELM: You know what I mean!
FK: Shall we take a break now and then talk about what was going on in 2017?
ELM: The Year of our Lord 2017.
FK: Let's do it.
FK: So we have sort of three broad topics. I feel like there's a lot of stuff that hangs under them, that is all related.
ELM: Do you wanna lead up to the big one? I think we should do that one last.
FK: Yeah. So. OK. First off, we've talked in previous years about fandom mainstreaming and this year I think we both felt like the limits of how much fandom can mainstream were kinda getting hit. People were beginning to broadly know about fandom terms and fandom things but maybe not really understand what they mean.
ELM: Should I tell the little anecdote I wrote about in our interview with Henry?
FK: Go for it.
ELM: So for context, we gave this very long interview to Henry Jenkins, the aca-fan, and we'll put links in the show notes but one of the questions...he was asking about the state of journalism and fandom and journalism, and I was like let me tell you a little story that illustrates, really illustrates where I feel like we're out right now in terms of this stuff. A lot of my work over the last five years has been about this mainstreaming and trying to help explain stuff, or when fans are being thrown under the bus by someone in a position of power sticking up for fans, as fans are being exposed. Obviously you do this too in a different way in your work.
FK: Right, but you're, yeah.
ELM: Mine is like, literally explaining to the people of the internet. So as everyone who listens regularly knows, because we've done an episode based on it, I spoke at a conference called Episodic in October and when I started the talk there were maybe 150 people in the audience and I just kinda wanted to get a sense of where everyone was at. And my basic remit was to explain fandom, basically. Because we thought a lot of people would be coming from the creator side.
ELM: So to start the talk I did a quick poll of the room, right, so the first question I asked was who here considers themselves in fandom? Of the 150 people or whatever it was like, three people who raised their hands. And I was like, okay. And then I asked them how many people knew what a transformative work was? It was the same three people who raised their hands, literally it was the same three people.
FK: Oh man.
ELM: And I asked how many people knew what fanfiction was, and almost everyone raised their hands. And I asked them how many people knew what shipping is, and the same. Almost everyone. I thought that was really striking, that everyone knew what fanfiction was but hadn't heard the term transformative works. Obviously there are probably people in the fanfiction world who haven't heard that term, I don't want to gatekeep, but I also think a lot of people are just tossin' "fanfiction" around without really...I think that's more indicative not of like...
FK: I think it's mostly interesting that an adult in the media industry would say they know what fanfiction is and not a transformative work. If you're a teenager or somebody who's not in the media industry or whatever, anybody whose job it is is not to necessarily to interface with ideas about copyright and transformation and all this stuff, OK sure, but...
ELM: Right, but I also think in the media industry...it's not like it was a room full of people who are transmedia professionals. It was broadcasters and journalists and things like that, so this is part of the limits of the mainstreaming. They've heard "fanfiction" and they have a rough idea of what it is but they don't actually have very much knowledge of it and so...and afterwards it was interesting because a few people came up to me and they were like, you know what I didn't raise my hand when you asked if I was in fandom but the more you talked I realized I was. Cause I don't really speak up or anything so I didn't feel comfortable saying that. I thought that was interesting because I felt like people were gatekeeping themselves out, basically, thinking they needed to do some specific set of behaviors to count. So that's one side of the coin, that's the generous side.
The ungenerous side is I really do think a lot of the misunderstandings and the bad assumptions that I'm now seeing from my vantage trying to look at the mainstreaming question are people being like...I mean I see people on Twitter and they'll be like, "Shipping is blank." And it'll be something that I know, you know. People debating whether shipping canonical ships counts as shipping. And it's like what do you think shipping is?! You know? And I'll see people stridently explaining it and it's clear they learned the term within the last few years and it's like...
FK: Right, and that's not uncommon! I had a, it's funny, I against my usual better instincts talked to a New York Times reporter who was talking about the Tumblr...by the way it turned out fine, I liked him, I thought he was doing a good job, but what was interesting was he said...
ELM: Aside! That article, which was our friend Amanda the Fandometrics person, for the article she explained the top ships of the year? People made fun of that article because they were like "hey 1996 called and wants its article back" or whatever...I like that gesture you just did!
FK: It was the "hello, how do you do fellow kids?" gesture, was what I was making.
ELM: For me it was kind of a [sings] "Hello my baby, hello my honey" kind of thing. It looked like you were the Warner Brothers frog or something.
FK: Aw man, I aspire to be the Warner Brothers frog. Go on.
ELM: People were mocking it for that, but like, I'm sorry, this is the best the New York Times has EVER DONE. Literally ever.
FK: Yeah! He literally went, he was like "I'm goin' up the chain and arguing that we can't use the word 'fanfiction' if you won't let me spell it without a space, and I'm going to fight about not using 'shipping, with an apostrophe ahead of it." I'm not kidding, he was like "can we use an apostrophe in front of shipping," and I was like "if you were in 1996 possibly," and he was like "OK that's what I thought but our audience would understand it better" and I was like "you will have to make a decision, between you and God, about whether your audience will understand it better or about whether you will use a word in a correct way, the way everybody who is in this culture uses it, and everybody who's not in this culture uses it." and he was like "alright" and they did not have the apostrophe, God bless
ELM: That's great!
FK: God bless, right?
ELM: I appreciated it! And he linked to your shipping, where you looked at the etymology?
FK: It was kinda ours, you had a LOT of editing hand in that.
ELM: Oh thank you, it's true! I did have a very large editorial hand in that piece. [both laugh]
FK: You always do. Anytime I write something, for what it's worth readers, you should just assume Elizabeth has come in and been like WHACK.
ELM: With the prose on the page that is true. For the research though I think for almost all your pieces you do the bulk of it.
ELM: That's not an aw, I'm being factual, you do the bulk of your research for your own pieces. Take it.
ELM: Anyway I cut you off because I just wanted to compliment that Times piece.
FK: [laughs] All I was gonna say was even in that piece, one of the things people were making fun of was that he said that lots of people assume that shipping can only be non-canonical pairings. And lots of people in fandom were making fun of that. But I was like no! That is a brain wave to a lot of people, that shipping can include canonical pairings! It is, and this is part of the fandom bubbling thing. Silly as it may have been that we talked about being in bubbles and not knowing about the broader world, just because it was the end of 2016 that was the conversation, I do think people forget the mainstream conversation about this does not...
ELM: 100%. Yeah, and I think alright, imagine you're some random person and you're just learning about shipping within the last year, two years, something, and it's explained to you via people rooting for Steve and Bucky to get together or people loving the idea of John and Sherlock together. And you watch these movies and these shows and you're like "yeah I could see it. I could root for these guys." But if no one ever gives you an example of "and then it happens," especially if shipping is framed to you as queer but particularly male/male relationships where there's very little canonical validation...
FK: Right, right!
ELM: Amongst these big ships. So if people aren't saying shipping, like Steve and Bucky OR Ross and Rachel...if you don't give them this guidance of it's just rooting...
FK: For a couple.
ELM: And honestly it's not just rooting for people to get together too.
FK: It can be not really wanting them to get together but also being into it, it can be all sorts of stuff.
ELM: Some guy was making these bad assumptions recently and another fannish journalist I know was taking him to task and I jumped in and I was like yeah, I think your definitions of shipping are too narrow for what's actually happening in practice. I said, for a lot of fans a ship is a lens through which the text is read that can be wholly divorced from whether you are concerned about it being canon or not. Not to bring it back to Black Sails all the time but there are scenes in Black Sails, especially in the final season, if you ship one ship - cause I have read the posts! - then literally the scene completely changes. They'll say "oh he was saying that because of this reason" and I'll be like "No, there's no way!" Because I don't ship that. But for them that's the lens through which they're viewing those scenes, and that definitely affects your textual interpretation.
ELM: If you don't ship that's a really hard one to explain. If you don't kinda just feel it, cause I think people can intellectually understand "aw, I was rootin' for Ross and Rachel!" or whatever. I don't know, that's a very cliched one, but you know what I mean.
FK: Right. There's something about the idea of taking it as...yeah, as a critical lens, that people have a hard time conceiving of, partially because of how not-hifalutin' shipping seems to an outsider, you know what I mean. "I'm rootin' for this couple," that doesn't seem very hifalutin at all.
ELM: Or "I just wanna smush their faces together like they're Ken dolls," that kind of attitude.
FK: Right. When you see that discourse I think people assume there's no...they're like oh yeah, they're just taking a very face value interpretation of the text and reading it that way and there it is. But no, actually, people who ship are aware that there's...
ELM: Well it depends, there's definitely Ken doll face smushing shipping.
FK: Well, there's both.
ELM: No judgments on, I mean I'm not giving a blanket pass for fetishization, but.
FK: There's also both. Some people are like "I both face smush and also I see it through this lens."
ELM: Yeah. I feel like we may have reblogged it or it was in our queue, there was a good very short Tumblr post about this where it says something like "a ship is an argument about the text," it's two characters put together to make an argument about the text, or something. I can't remember the exact phrasing, I'll try to look it up but I thought it was a really...and obviously I don't, again, shipping, multivaries? Is that a word?
ELM: Multifarious! [laughs] I have an English degree from a fine institution!
FK: You have to fix my prose all the time!
ELM: That's fine, fine. So predictions for 2018 on this guy, I don't really see this getting better. Because I think that some people are kind of digging into their definitions. I even feel a little, I don't want to say hopeless, but to be frank, recently the publication where I used to write a lot of explainy kind of articles published an article that was basically like LOL...what was it? It was Wattpad self insert adopted by celebrities.
ELM: Charming subgenre of Wattpad celebrity self insert fic.
FK: Charming and interesting!
ELM: Yes and quite interesting! And the article was basically just LOL look at this, and it wasn't mean but it also was kind of just gawking at people's fic.
FK: Right, it was look at how pure they are.
ELM: So that's, I liked that element of it but I didn't like the kind of just quoting...probably relatively young people's fic, and being like look at these pure babies. A little patronizing. This was in the same, from a writer I respect in the same publication where I toiled for years just trying to splain. And it really made me feel like the journalism that I did there...not to say didn't matter, but it made it feel like less. You know? Even at my own fuckin' publication where I wrote for years and wrote these pieces, and this is...The stuff that I would, in another publication I might take them to task, in that publication, and now you're doing this after I leave? So it's like, I know there's still people out there, journalists and fans, trying to explain, but I also just see people not listening. So that's kind of a depressing prognosis.
FK: Do you wanna get even more depressing? Because I felt like the stuff we were talking about before you got to the depressing stuff, the stuff about shipping, I thought that was a good transition into our next point, which is that this year there's been a lot of moral panic around shipping.
ELM: Why are all our points so depressing?
FK: I don't know.
ELM: There were good things in fandom this year too! We'll get to those.
FK: Most of my good things in fandom were enjoying the entire run of Deep Space Nine. Ohhh Sisko be my space daddy!
ELM: Don't erase your Harry Styles obsession.
FK: That was also good but had more problematic things to do with it.
ELM: OH NO EVERYTHING IS BAD. OK.
FK: NO. Deep Space Nine is GOOD.
ELM: That's pure, that's pure.
FK: It is so pure.
ELM: OK. Moral panic.
FK: Moral panic, especially in Yuri!!! On Ice, you see it in Voltron, lots of anxiety around what we ship, how we ship it.
ELM: I just wanna say I'm the one who brought up those two fandoms when we were planning, and I really do not want to single them out because it's not just them.
FK: It's not but also, like...I will say to my friends in both those fandoms, you know that it's true. [laughs]
ELM: They are quite large vibrant loud fandoms and fandom discourses.
FK: Full of moral panic.
ELM: Yeah, and we had Lilah Vandenberg on a few months ago and she's active in both these fandoms, particularly Voltron. I think if anyone missed that episode I'd highly recommend it because she can speak from in the fandom experience. But this isn't about calling out those fandoms, I wanna clarify.
FK: And it's true it's not just that. Speaking of Harry Styles a moment ago there's been plenty of moral panic around, he just hosted a late night talk show and made a joke - an anti-Roy Moore joke - and the fandom flipped out about it.
ELM: Anti-Roy Moore? That seems good.
FK: Yes. The problem was the fandom felt he was taking the issue of sexual assault too lightly. This is not a moral panic around shipping issue, but it's another moral panic situation.
ELM: I wanna be careful with tossing around the term "moral panic," because I feel like that...it's tricky.
FK: Maybe I'm associating that with Harry especially because of his album and people having issues with some of the lyrics on it...there's just been a lot of these things, I'm trying to say there's been a lot of concern with the morality of everything.
ELM: So here, we've said this before and I think we need to actually dedicate a full episode to this, and not just the two of us, I think it might be useful to get someone who, maybe an aca fan who's studying this or something like that. That's a 2018 goal, to center this conversation in an episode. But basically I think what we're talking about is there is a lot of conversation particularly on Tumblr about whether fanworks should be censored, whether it's OK to write things like noncon, rape, sexual assault, pedophilia.
FK: And pedophilia with a very very broad...
ELM: Actual pedophilia, which technically means prepubescent children being preyed upon by adults, and then you get into the realm of the fandom broad definition of pedophilia which means "underage characters."
FK: I was gonna say, which means my entire high school dating life, I'm sorry [laughing] I don't know what to say! I have some strong opinions on this because, I'm sorry, I can't.
ELM: Yeah, I mean, you're seeing all sorts of...this gets invoked in all sorts of ways. So maybe it is a 15 year old and a 25 year old, maybe it's a 16 year old and an 18 year old.
FK: Right, and the discussion's not all the same, we're not trying to say every single person who has a problem with X also has a problem with Y, just that there's a consistent concern about this that is coming up.
ELM: And the other thing I would characterize about this is, also going hand in hand in this is I guess the way I would characterize it is people treating shipping as activism and using marginalizations in bad faith. Using them as, we use the term in our interview with Henry "weaponizing" marginalized identities to fight people in shipping wars. We revisit this episode a lot, but it's still because it's one of my favorites and I think it's a lot of our listeners' favorites too, our Shipping & Activism episode with Rukmini Pande and Lori Morimoto, just kinda talking about the real limits of your ship is not actually doing the work here. And often I think it gets really muddy, right? Because there's definitely systemic bias within fandom. There's definitely misogyny, there's definitely racism, there's definitely ableism, there's definitely, I don't know.
FK: Yeah, and to go back to that pedophilia conversation, there's definitely the reinstatiation of patriarchal ideas about, you know, sexually attractive young people and heterosexist...I mean I'm just saying it's not, there's roots of these things in every, in all of this. It's not that it doesn't exist.
ELM: Right. But I feel like it's reached kind of a fever pitch on Tumblr in particular.
FK: Yeah, I've really...I've tried to resist being the person who, we talked about this in the fandom history episode that we did. I've been trying really hard to resist being the person who's like "I was around when, and you don't know!" But the thing that really got me was seeing a circulated post where people said "Did you know that the whole reason the Archive of Our Own was created..."
ELM: I've seen this post!
FK: "Was because...!"
ELM: So many times!
FK: "It was because LiveJournal didn't want pedophilic content and fans, those assholes, decided they wanted to keep it." [laughs] It's just like, oh my God.
ELM: I think it was said in a little more concern trolly way. I think it ends with like "Yikes."
FK: Right, and it's just like...from someone who was there can I just say what an incredible incredible misrepresentation of the actual events that led to this that that is! And I don't even know. I can't.
ELM: I wanna divorce that a little bit from the, and I feel like let's not get too deep into it because we are going to talk about this in an episode...
FK: Fair enough.
ELM: Divorcing that from the fandom history, because I think there's a limit to people who were not in the room where it happened - Hamilton reference! [FK laughs] when AO3 was founded, I think there's a real limit to "you weren't there you don't understand why AO3 was founded that shapes what it is today." I think that divorcing it from fandom history, the morality trials of the 20th century are just as instructive to what we're seeing right now as anything within fandom.
FK: You're quite right.
ELM: I just feel like there's something about the sit down and shut up and listen to your fandom grandma kind of vibe that I don't think is going to...and I feel like we've often talked about this sort of thing and I don't wanna tone police...
FK: Yeah, that's why I've been restraining myself, but maybe you're right that the better way is to separate this from fandom history and to talk about the history of free speech [laughing] you know?
ELM: This is happening at the same moment when actually I and maybe you too have teetered towards arguing limiting speech. Right? I am not a free speech absolutist, because I feel like...I went to this debate about this, I think I told you.
FK: You did.
ELM: It was my favorite podcast, More Perfect, which is about the Supreme Court, and they were having a debate about the limits, whether free speech should be limited. One half of it was government and the other half was on the internet. And the government one was murkier for me, the internet one not so murky. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, the AO3, first of all it doesn't protect speech on a private...AO3's not a privately held company, I think a bunch of those are publicly held companies but on a corporately owned platform. The first amendment doesn't protect your right to say whatever you want on Facebook. When you have nazis sending people holocaust imagery and you have white supremacists sending black people pictures of lynchings, I'm not gonna sit here and argue for free speech absolutely. That's really tricky.
FK: Yes. I would say that the...I think that I am more of a free speech absolutist than you are, but I'm not an absolutist. I would say that I think that there is some complication when we begin to see corporations that really are taking over the role of what should be the public sphere in certain ways. If our internet access is being so limited by the existence of things like Facebook etc. and that's fundamentally where public discourse is happening, that doesn't mean that I think people should necessarily be free to say literally anything they want at any time to anybody, I don't think that. But I do think that there's something more complicated happening there. But the other thing I would say about this is that...
ELM: Wait, go back though. This is an age old question that is not settled, whether Twitter for example is like the phone line, or whether it's a broadcasting...you know, broadcasting platform.
FK: I'm just saying I think there are questions about that that need to be resolved before I can make...you know what I'm saying?
ELM: And to reiterate what we were saying in the last episode, these corporations are not good and they're trying to have it both ways with this stuff.
FK: And with net neutrality as a concern I think this is a very real concern.
ELM: My God.
FK: I totally agree with you if we're in a...
ELM: You can't talk about net neutrality when we're recording this and this is gonna come out after that's decided.
FK: OK, but... point being though...
ELM: Wow I can't believe how that turned out!
FK: Yeah! [both laugh] Anyway, but you see what I'm saying.
FK: I think there's something murky there and I think there's also something about the Archive Of Our Own has a...in terms of personal messaging or use of individuals' names or something like that I think there's an argument for it. I think in terms of disturbing themes in a fanfiction that no one is forced to ever click on and that is correctly warned for? I think that there are...I mean, if there was suddenly a giant neo-nazi group of people I think that it's good that they have the option to not let that, but I think that there's, I think it's a little bit murkier.
ELM: It's really murky.
FK: If I were in charge of the AO3 I might say look, I don't want anyone to be harassed directly on this platform, but on the other hand I do...you do want to allow for the existence of fanfic that covers even things that we don't currently think are great because who knows what we're gonna think of next. Not nazis, probably, but like...there's a lot of other things that people, it's a slippery slope argument potentially. We can argue about this more in another episode.
ELM: Definitely. To center it back more, this is the thing though - now we're talking about actual "problematic content." Some of the moral panic elements are people just kind of...the 16 year old 18 year old ship, saying that's pedophilia, kind of stuff. Right?
FK: But that's us drawing a line, right? I mean, those people would say that we are the ones in the wrong here.
ELM: They probably already hate us so that's fine.
FK: I'm not worried about it but I'm just pointing out that the moment you create the stick it can be used to beat you.
ELM: That's true. So it's all connected, it's not that far but just kind of recentering back to it, the other thing...so I brought this up as a separate theme but then you were like it's two sides of the same coin. I thought it was interesting to frame it that way but I agree. I think that there has been a trend towards particularly fanfiction where we already saw it in fanart, a trend towards maybe social justice kind of work or really explicitly using fanworks as a place to try...I don't know if I wanna frame it as to try to correct canon's lack of diversity, I mean, obviously slash one could argue that was an aim of slash writers for decades, right. Though obviously we think there are limits to how progressive slash is, right. We've discussed this at length. But I do kind of feel like, do you know what I mean? Maybe it depends what fandoms you're looking at. I've seen this in Harry Potter fandom and one of the reasons that I don't love it is I kind of feel like it's happening at the expense of...I don't wanna tell anyone to give up their fandom, right? But I also think that the trans Snape discourse, for example...
FK: Oh man.
ELM: That, alright, first of all, I can't. There was a, there are some people who headcanon Snape as trans, and OK fine. And then there are some people who were doing this sort of "proving my headcanon" textual analysis stuff. Right? And then Broadly, I believe, wrote an article being like "these people have proven that Severus Snape is trans!" And everyone on my Twitter feed just lost their shit. [FK laughs] The reason why, I think people can have whatever headcanons they want as long as you're not actively harming another human.
FK: Right, and I can imagine a good trans Snape fic.
ELM: Yes. But one of the best critiques I saw of this was, you are spending...and I don't want to single out Harry Potter in particular but I say this as someone who has spent quite some time in the Harry Potter fandom...you are lingering with this deeply undiverse text at the expense of supporting trans artists or texts with trans characters where it doesn't have to be your headcanon, where you don't have to read between the deepest cracks of the lines and spaces, to try to pull out...right? It's the difference between a headcanon and saying "it must be in the text, here's all the proof that Harry is not white." And it's like...
ELM: Definitely headcanon Harry as a person of color, but don't also retroactively try to suggest that these books are more progressive than they are, and maybe at a point...I would make the same critique of Marvel too. You know? We can sit there and squint and try to find queer subtext in Marvel, or you could support queer media. It doesn't have to be an either or - AND you could support queer media. And I'm not saying that fans don't do this, but I just feel like this is all connected. What do you think? I gave a long speech, I'm sorry.
FK: I think that a lot of people find pleasure in the correction or the changing.
ELM: Yeah, oh, I don't disagree with that.
FK: And I find pleasure in the correction and the changing, the tension that is held when you have something that you love but you wish it were different and you're like "I'm gonna change it and fix it."
ELM: Wait, go back. I read and wrote Harry Potter slash for quite some time. Right? More than a decade. I love queering that text! I love pulling out queer subtext in that text. But I am under no impressions that that text was meant to be queer or that she has a single good opinion about queer characters. Single!
FK: Yeah I'm not saying anything about your opinion or feeling about this! I'm just saying that I think that for a lot of people it's compelling to have a text that's wrong and to want to fix it.
ELM: I'm asking about you! I'm saying there's a difference between queering the text and actually the text is queer. So I'm asking what you're saying, because you're saying...
FK: I'm saying that even the people who are saying "actually the text is queer" are engaged in a... "self delusion" is the wrong way to put it. Maybe the way to put it would be "engaged in a fight with this text which is not particularly that way."
ELM: I feel like...
FK: In a desire to engage with it and force it into that space.
ELM: I'm the one engaged in that fight. No! I'm fighting it! They're misinterpreting it! I'm like fuck you book, you're anti queer, so I'm gonna make you queer! We're fighting, me and the book. But me saying oh book actually you're good because you have all this secret queer stuff...that's not fighting. You know what I mean?
FK: More like rationalizing, you're saying.
ELM: Making excuses for!
ELM: Do you disagree with that?
FK: I don't disagree with that but I do think that even for people who are rationalizing their love of Harry Potter or trying to say yes this was always a queer text and here's why, I think that one of the reasons why people don't engage with a text that's really queer has to do with the enjoyment of that frustration or the secrecy or the "I'm gonna find the truth within this thing."
ELM: That's true.
FK: I think there's an enjoyment of that sort of agonistic relationship with the text and the feeling that you've conquered it and learned the true thing. And I don't wanna hate on that, I love a lot of things that require me to read them in torturous ways for me to enjoy them. But...
ELM: I just feel like that sort of stuff, I mean, this kind of leads nicely into our final topic. I think that...
FK: Yeah, that your faves are problematic?
ELM: Your faves are sexual assaulters! Right? This is bigger than that. It's not that they said a few problematic things. So the big #1 that I thought we should save for last was, it started before Weinstein. We were talking about Johnny Depp last year, and that's one of the biggest ones within fandom spaces. Because, and now it's been resurfaced with her...
FK: How many people were really into Pirates and now are not.
ELM: Pirates of the Caribbean?
ELM: I don't want to watch those movies again, and I enjoyed...well, I enjoyed the first one. Actually, and I enjoyed the second one! Even though it's bad!
FK: I mean they were fun!
ELM: They were fun.
FK: They were bad and fun.
ELM: I thought you meant pirates in general and let me tell you.
FK: I know you're still into pirates.
ELM: Let me tell you the good word.
FK: Anyway. Yeah! But absolutely. The Johnny Depp conversation started in the past but it's come back and back and back and back and back.
ELM: So you see how these are connected in a little bit of a way. I feel like you can make excuses for your favorite book, and I feel like a theme of the last few years as people become...and I say "people" and by that I mean the people in nonmarginalized identities across the spectrum. So you know. I don't want to sit here and say, I think you might be discovering that your favorite book was kind of racist? You the white person. And then your friend of color is like...
FK: I was gonna say, some people knew that all along.
ELM: "I literally knew that when I was seven" and you were like "what a fun story!" and they were like "THERE'S NO BROWN PEOPLE IN THIS BOOK so..."
FK: I do think, I don't think it's exactly that simple! I think it can be complex in a variety of ways, I think I've told this story before that before all the Hollywood sexual assault allegations came out I was like "I've been incredibly lucky, I've had very few problems like this in my career" and then after they came out I was like "I've had very few problems that I chose to define that way because I chose to completely ignore things that I felt like I couldn't change, so I just decided that I was going to not think of them in those terms, and that that was going to make it all okay."
ELM: I think that's a very human instinct, right? And when you're talking about something that you love in a fannish way, obviously an instinct is to try to talk it away. Be like "are you sure the accusations are true?" I feel like I'm in a very privileged position because none of my faves have been exposed as monsters. I mean, when we're not just talking about fandom. I listen to WNYC the radio, public radio, constantly, like every day.
FK: Which has been havin' some stuff.
ELM: Four men from WNYC in particular now have been suspended or fired or were already forced to retire and now are exposed, that was the reason he was forced to retire. Some of these allegations are still pending and they're in investigation and stuff, but these guys, these are the men that I would shout at my radio when they'd say something that was sexist, or lowkey racist, lowkey sexist, lowkey homophobic literally every day and I'd be like "are you fucking kidding me?!" at my radio, right? [FK laughs] It's not like my beloved Brian Lehrer and if anything comes out about Brian Lehrer I'm just gonna move to the woods, I'm gonna stop existing.
FK: Oh no!
ELM: It would just be like I was talking with my friend about this over the weekend. It would be like Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks is great. He's fine. I enjoy You've Got Mail.
ELM: I don't dislike Tom Hanks.
FK: Who could dislike Tom Hanks?
ELM: I don't know. I'm sure people dislike him. But if he turned out to be...
FK: He just seems so non-offensive.
ELM: Yeah, and he seems so nice! And if he turned out to be one of these guys, it's not like I would be like "oh no Tom Hanks," I would just be like, what? You're obviously, you're like a psychopath! You were literally, you were lying so blatantly.
FK: If something ever came out about Mr Rogers.
ELM: Yes! Exactly. You'd be like EVERYTHING IS A LIE.
FK: My entire world has been destroyed. There is nothing good in this universe and I should just go move to a desert island and never speak to another human again because they, none of them are good.
ELM: Give up, give up. Right. I'm not putting any stock in any individual man but it's more like a lot of these guys I think kind of...
FK: No, we have parasocial relationships with people right? We really do. Celebrities come and speak to us through the radio or in our formative years through TV or whatever and we have deep relationships with them, however one sided.
ELM: So what I was gonna say is the reason I would say I'm in a position of privilege listening to these monster men on WNYC is that I disliked all of them already. It's a very inane thing to say, "Oh I thought he sucked anyway," right, "and I'm glad he's gone," that's a dumb comment to make about this, but I also haven't been in the position of actively loving something or someone in that parasocial, in a fannish way, and learning the truth and being asked to give them up and to disavow them. I really was into Gary Oldman for a few years, but by the time he gave the interview where I was like "I can't engage with this man ever again" because it was so deeply anti-Semitic I was like no, I was like ugh, goodbye. But it wasn't...I didn't think twice about it. It didn't hurt me in any emotional way, and that's not...a lot of people I think are hurt emotionally when they have to reorient or sever their ties with the celebrity they love.
FK: I think so too but I will say that it was interesting because when Joss Whedon's ex-wife made all of the allegations she made about him and then quick on the heels of that his Wonder Woman script circulated, which did not cast him in a good light, to be mild, many of the people I know in the entertainment industry were like "Holy shit, what is the, what are his fans thinking right now?" And I was like "actually, people aren't happy, people are depressed and sad about this, but it's not like it was a giant surprise." You know?
ELM: I saw some Joss Whedon defense on the internet.
FK: There was some Joss Whedon defense and so forth but in general, with Whedonesque shutting down, etc., it seemed like overall most...I guess what I'm trying to say is that in a lot of cases it's not the sort of sudden surprise, always, particularly if you were very very closely following somebody and this is where you get maybe into that whisper network question. If you're unlucky enough to not be part of the whisper network and to not know then it can be an incredible shock.
ELM: Bringing it back to Harry Potter, a lot of people are making this argument, plenty of people on my feed being like I'm sorry, you see it right in the books! She's got pretty regressive politics! Which is, I mean, obviously that's people's...not everyone agrees with that reading of the books, but there are plenty of people out there who are saying that.
FK: All I'm saying is that I think there's a more...you're right, but there's also something that I've noticed, that people assume that fandom is purely uncomplicated and I think there's a much more complicated negotiation with people who...everybody is problematic, and it's a complex question, right. And there's a thing that can tip you over from saying "I'm a fan of"... it can still be horrible, even if you knew, when something happens that tips you over the edge. Right? Even though you knew maybe, you were over Gary Oldman, but there's still, you read that interview and you were like "and now it's OVER."
ELM: Yeah, well, that was more like...I don't know, I'd obviously heard him in a lot of interviews and I was like, seems a little conservative. And then he gave this interview and do you know when like conservative celebrities are like "you can't say anything anymore?" And then he was like, you can't say anything anymore... LIKE X, and then he said the problematic thing. And then he was basically like "Cause it's true!" And it was like, YOU DUG THE HOLE AND THEN JUMPED INTO IT AND THEN QUICKLY COVERED YOURSELF IN DIRT, you were like...you can't say anything anymore any truths like this incredibly anti-Semitic thing or this super racist thing! NO. It's one thing...I don't need to agree with every celebrity but if they're gonna be spouting bigotry, I just...it's not that hard to be just like nope.
FK: But I do think though that there is a different, maybe not different, but I think that there's a broader conversation now about that kind of parasocial relationship, not just "never meet your idols," but more broadly, in what way are people your idols? In what way do you like people? What part of their persona do you like?
ELM: Do you want to talk about Harry Styles right now?
FK: I mean sure, I actually think that people who...there's a wide variety of people liking Harry Styles in different ways, right?
ELM: But I think this has been a big narrative within the last couple of months or so, the whole controversy about him not wanting to say Black Lives Matter?
FK: That's true. So if anybody hasn't been following this, Harry has...unlike when being in One Direction, over the course of his current tour he's been very very queer friendly. His opening act is a bunch of queer ladies. He brings a rainbow flag up on stage, people care about this a lot, so when he...after he left the North American leg of the tour, he went to the European leg, some fans brought Black Lives Matter signs to his gigs. You know, he often calls people out from the stage and says "good job," whatever. And he continually did not engage with those signs in a way that by the end of that leg of the tour felt incredibly pointed and people had a lot of critiques of that. He posted a picture of the Black Lives Matter sign on his instagram and said something like, you know, love to all of the signs, which people thought was sort of the bare minimum of acknowledgement that he could do. And there's been a lot of conversation about, you know, how curated...
ELM: And he said, at one point he said "I love all of you, black and white," or something like that. It was like "black or white, straight or gay," and people were like "well he said black, but then he immediately said or white..."
FK: So there's been a big conversation right because one of the things around One Direction fandom was there was this idea that once One Direction ended all of the members would be able to go and be their true selves, and Harry to some degree fed into that by having all of this queer representation and everything, and then... but oh. He's not going there. So there's been this moment where the manicuredness of his persona became this huge conversation point.
ELM: I think he's not going there is a slight misrepresentation. His "true self" is what was constructed by the fandom. Right? So it's like, he's gonna go and become his "true self" that we believe him to be?
FK: Right, and the thing that his "true self" is is manicured. It's not actually becoming his...right. His true self is in air quotes. He left One Direction and he's created this persona which is, who knows how much of his true self it is? But it's very manicured towards what people like about him in a lot of ways.
ELM: Right, but still in a very just dipping his toe in. The bare minimum, you know. Like you're saying.
FK: Yeah. So I think that a lot of people were maybe surprised or initially thought it was more of a movement towards some kind of a truthfulness...I mean, it would be hard not for it to be, to be honest, after being in a boyband like that, but it's been a really interesting conversation it's true. Anyway.
ELM: Obviously Harry Styles does not belong in the conversation of men fired for sexual assault.
FK: Right. The good news is so far my pure smol son...
ELM: Knock on wood!
FK: Has not, knock on wood, has not been That Dude. So.
ELM: But it definitely, I thought that was an interesting conversation about the projections. About what we think we see and how that narrative can get shattered.
FK: Well, on that note, now that I've talked a little bit about what my year in fandom was like, do you want to take a break and then I want to hear about your year in fandom.
ELM: I like how I made you talk about your year in fandom, was like you having to explain Harry Styles not actively supporting Black Lives Matter.
FK: Don't worry I'm going to talk about Star Trek too after the break.
ELM: ...I gotta go. Let's just end it right now.
FK: After the break, Elizabeth.
ELM: [laughing] K.
FK: Alright, so your year in fandom, Elizabeth, involved you learning the true meaning of Christmas again thanks to Black Sails.
ELM: Are you fansplaining to me? Are you fansplaining my year in fandom?
FK: I'm just saying what my interpretation has been!
ELM: There's no Christmas in Black Sails actually, I was just thinking about that.
FK: Maybe you need to write some Christmas fic.
ELM: I don't actually know...so much of our conception of Christmas comes from the Victorian era, so...
FK: Yeah, I don't think that there would be that...
ELM: I don't think there would be that much to it in 1715.
FK: Someone might go to religious service.
ELM: Yeah, might as well just write an Easter story at that point.
ELM: Fine. Good. That was a good aside. Yes! I, yeah, you thinking about it now? Thinking about historical Christianity? Cool!
FK: Yeah sorry alright! This is, we've found the point where our fandoms intersect once more.
ELM: OK. Religion aside over. [chanting] BLACK SAILS BLACK SAILS BLACK SAILS.
FK: I don't know, I also have been enjoying a semi-nautical fandom which is STAR TREK which is TOTALLY SEA STORIES except in SPAAAAACE.
ELM: I thought this was my opportunity to talk about my fandom and you turned it immediately to Star Trek.
FK: OK, talk about Black Sails.
ELM: You wanna go first?
FK: No, go ahead! Black Sails!
ELM: What am I supposed to be talking about here? Well, alright. Alright.
FK: You learned the true meaning of Christmas, you enjoyed having a new fandom for the first time in ages.
ELM: That's true. I was pretty excited last year because I felt like I had rediscovered the old fannish feeling, but it was in Harry Potter, which was a bit of a redux. Right? This was the fandom I had been in for a long time, particularly reading Harry/Draco. While a ton of great stuff has been written since I left that pairing in 2002, lots to discover...also very active, that was the nice thing about it, right. But it didn't really feel like, I don't know. It felt like, it kinda wore thin pretty quickly cause I was like oh yeah. There was a reason why I drifted away from this, you know?
So it was very exciting to actually feel those feelings for a new show. And one that caused me a lot of physical and emotional pain! Like, so much emotional pain that it caused me physical pain.
ELM: It's a really fuckin tragic show. Yeah. Bet you can't wait to watch it now, huh? It will make you want to set the world on fire.
FK: It will be a nice palate cleanser from Star Trek Voyager, which is like...
ELM: God, you're just waiting to turn the subject.
FK: I'M NOT I'm just genuinely watching Voyager and it's fine, but it's definitely like...alright.
ELM: What's it like?
ELM: Alright? I don't know what, I can't interpret that. But alright.
FK: It's like...it's not not Star Trek.
FK: But it's a little bit like...here's slightly weird alternate Star Trek that's not actually that...it's not always that great, but then there's individual characters and you're like OH YEAH. Janeway! Look at me like Katharine Hepburn!
ELM: I don't really know what this is like cause I've never been in a fandom where it's...is multiple iterations the right term? I was in Sherlock fandom but I wasn't interested in all the adaptations. I was abstractly interested. I wouldn't say no if you were like "let's watch Basil Rathbone" or something.
FK: Right, whereas in Star Trek, Chakotay in Voyager was sponsored to go to Starfleet Academy by Captain Sulu from the original...
ELM: I guess, it's one big universe right?
FK: ...series, it's a generational story, it's a huge universe.
ELM: Yeah, cause it's, I guess you could say the same thing about Marvel or...the interesting thing about Star Trek is that I feel like it seems like the different versions, the different shows, are somewhat different. They're all made at different times and they kind of reflect not just what the people making it are thinking but maybe the time in which they're made.
FK: Absolutely and they have different ideas about what the show should be like. Which includes Discovery! Discovery is quite different, it's not as episodic as previous shows had been, it has characters that are a lot more morally grey even than in Deep Space Nine or previous shows, so...anyway yeah, it's interesting. I'm finding it a very fruitful time to be a Star Trek fan and I really wasn't a Star Trek fan until I foolishly embarked on this idea that I was going to consume all Star Trek content.
ELM: Really? You didn't decide to do this reading all the books plan before, because you were feeling fannish?
FK: I think I was feeling fannish but I don't think I understood quite what feeling fannish about Star Trek would mean.
ELM: That's interesting.
FK: I was fannish, I liked the characters, I'd even read fanfic - I like a lot of Star Trek fanfiction, I read it before I started this. But now I feel like I have a completely different understanding of what being a Star Trek fan is.
ELM: The kind of analogy, for some people starting a new fandom is you fall head over heels in love, you feel like you're kind of drowning in it. But it sort of sounds like for you this was more like a love that grows over time, you're like "I'm married to you!"
FK: I was going to say a boil the frog situation [laughing] because I am currently PUTTING UP WITH SOME SHIT in Voyager right now!
ELM: This is your marriage to these books for the year!
FK: But it's absolutely true, it is like that, it's like "here I am." Someone on Twitter today compared it to Stockholm Syndrome.
ELM: So Harry Styles and Star Trek, that was your year in fandom?
FK: That was my year in fandom. And yours was Black Sails and some Harry/Draco still, yes?
ELM: No, I stopped reading Harry/Draco long before...I was working on my Harry/Draco story in November 2016, so you can guess what day I stopped working on that one.
ELM: And then I didn't really have any desire to continue and I do feel a little bad because I think some people may have discovered this podcast while I was kinda deep into it and particularly discovered the rec center while I was getting really into it, so now I'm like "goodbye. I like these pirates more." It is what it is. I don't think anyone's following us because they agree with our fandoms.
FK: Well, I can promise you one thing, which is that I am planning on very soon finding a lot of Voyager fanfic and sending it all to the Rec Center because...
ELM: Will you do a list for us?! We so rarely get full author guest lists these days!
FK: Well I haven't dived into it yet but I can already tell you I'm in Season 2 of Voyager right now and THIS SHIT NEEDS FIX IT FIC. So. I'm gonna go FIND IT.
ELM: I'm trying to think of anything else fannish happened for me this year? No, it's just all Black Sails.
FK: It was really all Black Sails. You spent Comic Con at the tall ships museum!
ELM: It's not the tall ships museum, it's the Maritime Museum and they have a variety of ships and boats.
FK: I stand fuckin' corrected.
ELM: I went on the, I went on a Soviet submarine which I regret going on because I have claustrophobia and it was quite unpleasant. I'm not meant to be...I always think this when I go on a ship in general, like, I couldn't actually do this because I'm quite claustrophobic.
FK: I'm never gonna make you see Das Boot.
ELM: I mean I can watch things that are claustorphobic. It's just being there, so. No, I could do it.
FK: Das Boot almost, Das Boot almost gave me a panic attack and I'm not claustrophobic. You're never watching it.
ELM: Yeah, when I was in 8th grade my Earth Science class went to Canadian Space Camp and at Space Camp, at least in Canada, you sleep in these little pod bunks.
FK: Not good for you.
ELM: I tried to do it for one minute and I was like "I'll die here." So I had to sleep in the nurse's office the entire time, three or four days, it wasn't like two weeks or something.
FK: Still, poor baby.
ELM: I couldn't do like half the stuff because I was too triggered by my claustrophobia to even spend a minute in any of the capsules or whatever.
ELM: But, but, on the bus ride to Canada, we watched Apollo 13, and I watched Ed Harris in his little seersucker or his short sleeved, you know, the short sleeves of the 60s, you know, chainsmoking, and I was like "that's what I wanna be!" And so at Space Camp we split into teams and we had to do a mission, so I had to stay on the ground, so I was like I'll be the Ed Harris figure. And we won! Out of all the teams we did the best mission.
FK: Well good job to you in Space Camp! I think that it's possible...
ELM: Canadian Space Camp!
FK: Canadian Space Camp, pardon me, Canadian Space Camp.
ELM: Don't be a cultural imperialist, it's Canadian space camp.
FK: OK. I think we're pretty much to the end of our year in fandom then, and that means that there's only one other thing to talk about which is that PATREON ROLLED BACK THEIR BAD FEE IDEA!
ELM: Yes, on the day that we released the episode complaining about the fees, Patreon fixed themselves.
FK: Let's take credit.
ELM: So I'm not...I mean, yeah. It was definitely us who did it. It was our voice. They listened to the podcast and then they wrote the letter. I don't think they get a full pass, because as far as I know I don't think that too many people canceled with us. I know that some creators were pretty severely hurt by this, and if you did cancel your pledges I'm hoping that you'll repledge to anyone that you might have canceled to. If you canceled for this reason. If you canceled for other reasons obviously that's [laughing] within your right. But I believe, what I said today is I'm going to take their apology in good faith in which they said that we didn't listen to you and we're gonna start listening to you. We didn't really understand how people were using our platform. Which seems foolish, seeing as they have the numbers. And so we'll see, but I think that it's definitely something we should keep an eye on.
FK: Yeah, I mean, I guess, good news? Not totally convinced yet, gotta walk the walk as well as talking the talk.
ELM: Yeah, and I think if another platform emerges that really makes more sense for us I think that we should try to switch. And again, I would love to hear any of our Patreon subscribers, if you have strong feelings about Patreon please let us know because we are...your financial support is invaluable to us and we don't wanna just blindly stay on this platform or blindly do something. We don't want to be the Patreon of our relationship where we're not listening, basically. How is that for a tortured metaphor?
FK: It's a good one. It's not that tortured. It's fine. So given that, if you want to repledge to us, our Patreon is patreon.com/fansplaining.
ELM: Or pledge for the first time!
FK: Or pledge for the first time. As always you can contact us, go to fansplaining.com, there's a phone number there, you can leave a voice mail. It's also a Tumblr with an open askbox. Anon is on. Please be kind to us. You can email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. You can Tweet at us @fansplaining - we really love hearing from people and we look forward to hopefully being able to share lots of peoples' opinions and thoughts and feelings about this past year in our next episode.
ELM: 100%. Actually, if people, I would say if people want to write a post on Tumblr and tag us that would be awesome. People talk about their year in fandom, we could reblog some of them.
FK: Yeah, we'll repost, link, whatever.
ELM: Yeah. And then obviously if you don't have financial resources to pledge to Patreon, one thing that is free that is very helpful to us is rating on iTunes and maybe leaving a review. Maybe! I said that too casually. Please leave a review!
FK: Leave a review!
ELM: Pleeeeeeeeease! That's the Alan Shartok.
FK: Alright alright. Or just spreading the word always helps! Alright. Well. I think that I'm probably gonna talk to you...well I'll see you at my annual New Year's party, but I think I'm gonna talk to you in the new year, Elizabeth!
ELM: You're gonna talk to me at your New Year's party, that's in 2017. Yeah, I'll talk to you via Skype recording our podcast in the new year, that's true. But don't erase me from the narrative of your New Year's party. I can't wait. I can't wait to get into the...here we go: 2017 is so terrible. 2018 I bet is gonna be really great. [laughs] I had to get that on the record.
FK: Hope springs eternal in the human heart, Elizabeth. I will talk to you later.
ELM: OK happy new year! Thanks for doing this podcast with me this year.
FK: And thanks everybody who listens.
ELM: Yeah, thank you so much.
FK: You mean the world to us.
FK: Alright, bye!
[Outro, thank yous and disclaimers]