Episode 65: Fandom and Capitalism

Episode 65’s cover: the fan logo superimposed over a pile of money.

In Episode 65, “Fandom and Capitalism,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss exactly what it says on the tin: fandom and capitalism, from a variety of different angles. First they read a thought-provoking listener letter about how market pressures spur more diversity on our screens—and whether fans’ own “corrective” ecosystems might be doing harm by cutting off that feedback loop. Then they consider the case of Marvel’s recently-announced “Create Your Own,” a comics creator platform with an equal-parts hilarious and worrying terms of service.


Show Notes

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

[00:06:51] Dreamwidth is at dreamwidth.org, and if you miss LiveJournal, it is a great and very ethical replacement!

[00:08:30] Our episode “Con or Bust” is highly relevant here!

[00:09:44] If you aren’t familiar with the Racebending campaign, go check out their site! They’re still active.

[00:12:50] In case you aren’t familiar with the laundry list of campaigns we just mentioned, here are links to articles explaining #NoConfederateLGBTQ Fans Deserve Better, and the campaign to get Sense8 a finale.

[00:15:31] Regarding really bad shit going down in Silicon Valley, just take Uber, for instance…

[00:21:21] The Rec Center intro Elizabeth is talking about is here!

[00:22:47] Forbes wrote an article that summarizes what went on with “Bright.”

[00:24:41] Here is the Tumblr ask about Johnny Depp and Fantastic Beasts.

[00:28:02] Interstitial music is “Shake It!” by Jahzzar.

[00:28:58] If you don’t remember Kindle Worlds, here’s an article to refresh your memory. Also, check out the Marvel Create Your Own TOS, and friend-of-the-podcast Casey Fiesler’s article about it!

[00:31:41] The Verge article we keep referring to is by Kaitlyn Tiffany, and it’s here!

[00:41:35] Suzanne Scott wrote a really good paper about the Battlestar Galactica video maker toolkit, “Repackaging fan culture: the regifting economy of ancillary content models.”

[00:56:48] Elizabeth’s article is “The Year of Loving Things Again.”

[00:57:40] You know you want to donate to our Patreon, because it gets you access to us talking about THIS:

Jake Peralta and Terry Jeffords from  Brooklyn Nine-Nine  skipping through the office.


[Intro music]

Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish!

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

ELM: This is Episode 65, first episode of the new year.

FK: Happy New Year!

ELM: Entitled “Fandom and Capitalism.”

FK: Just easing our way into the new year with some light topics.

ELM: CAPITALISM. We have to give credit for the title, that was the subject line of an email we received that we are going to be discussing at length from Persephone Garnata.

FK: Indeed. We always love discussing capitalism though, don’t lie.

ELM: ’Cause you love it!

FK: Uh, I love it so much.

ELM: And I love mentioning that you love it! [FK laughs] It’s true, though, you know it!

FK: Uh, yeah! Totally. That’s it. That’s the summary. That’s all of it.

ELM: Do we need to preface anything or should we head right into this email that I enjoyed so much that I said at one point, “YES” out loud while reading it? Which was a surprise to me? Not “yaaaas,” “Yes.” I don’t say “yaaaaas.”

FK: Why don’t we just plunge right into it because I feel like that sets up the whole conversation today.

ELM: OK. Do you wanna read it or should I?

FK: I can read it!

ELM: OK, cool.

FK: “Hello Flourish and Elizabeth! Great work with the podcast. Your latest episode, ‘2017 Review,’ had some stuff in it which gave me Thoughts about Fandom and Capitalism.

“First thought, regarding creators finally waking up to calls for diversity because they’ve realized they could make more money…it seems a shame when people will only do things for money, but here's the beautiful thing about capitalism in its pure form—if people respond to financial incentives, then we have a way to make them do the right thing. It ain’t perfect, but it’s better than having bigoted creators who won’t budge even in the face of financial realities.

“Second, much less positive thought, regarding using fanfiction to queer the text (or otherwise correct elements of canon). The problem here is that fanfiction isn’t monetized, and so the signal of ‘we want more representation’ isn’t getting back to the creators. Instead, fans continue to consume problematic franchises and then churn out ‘corrective’ fics and headcanons. Meanwhile more diverse books, shows, and movies often struggle to find an audience, and their creators struggle to make a living. The reality of capitalism is such that, if you want these things to exist and thrive, you have to pay for them. I’ve previously thought of fandom as a lot less progressive than it thinks it is, but listening to your latest show was the first time I realized that it could be actually holding things back in the real world, when fans write and read one billion Destiel and Johnlock fics instead of supporting a show with actual queer characters. Thanks for reading my thoughts, keep up the good work. Seph.”

ELM: All right.

FK: Oh man this touches on so many things, so many things, I love it so much.

ELM: Right. I mean, it’s not like Pandora’s box, it’s like we’re looking into the gates of Hell here and we’re ready to dive in.

FK: Well why don’t, with the name Persephone it’s perfect.

ELM: I did not even mean that and now I feel really proud that I just said that.

FK: Dad joke! OK. Where did you shout “yes”?

ELM: The second part, and I will say this is really hard. This is really fraught. And I know we’re gonna get, there’s some people who are gonna push back against this, right?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: [laughs] God, I don’t know. Don’t make me start! You start!

FK: OK, well, I felt similarly about that segment, but actually the part that I thought was interesting was the point that fanfiction isn’t monetized, so the signal isn’t getting back to the creators. One of the things I’ve had the most conflict with people over, especially aca-fans, is that my entire career, my whole life is based on the idea that fandom should be in some ways monetized, that there should be people selling their fanfic and rubbing the serial numbers off, that there should be fans getting into professional creation, that actually we should break down some of those walls. And this is the reason why.

ELM: Yeah.

FK: Because I think that the only thing that makes people really pay attention is money, and one way to get people’s attention is to be able to say look, look at this fanfic with ten million views, don’t you want to make this into a movie that will make a lot of money and then we’re going to…you know? And push it forward in those ways, right. So that’s something that is obviously super controversial. But the fact is, in my opinion, we’re not going to see a lot of change unless we speak in the language that our society understands, which is money money money.

ELM: I suppose one way someone might counter that is to say that it’s not all about…I feel like this is the hard thing, because it’s not all about changing the source, right? I wasn’t writing Harry Potter fanfiction thinking I was going to change her. I was just writing critical response. And any critical response, I don’t expect to change, if I were to review a Harry Potter book or write a monograph or whatever about…my goal wouldn’t be to change the writer. So that’s tricky, because I think criticism is still really important, and I don’t think that should ever be the goal of criticism. I mean criticism in the literary criticism sense, not in the “I’m criticizing what you’re doing.” That’s different.

FK: Right, and I think another criticism could be that the purpose of the fanfiction community is to create a community, a space for people to have ideas and to feel community and to be comfortable with each other and to exist, and that that doesn’t necessarily have to impact anything beyond its walls. As long as fanfiction continues to be the space that it is then it’s already doing its job, and why should we try and ruin that for the sake of making some sort of larger cultural change? And I think that’s actually also a fair point.

ELM: I think that might be a bit hard to say in 2018, and now I have to say in 2018 not 2017.

FK: Yeah, you do.

ELM: On a few different fronts, one being we’re talking about queer characters. It’s not the year 2000, it’s not 1963, and so the idea of creating separate spaces in which queerness can be explored or celebrated I think is…could be somewhat outdated. Walking that back, obviously I think that it’s important that there are queer spaces for and by queer people only. But I do think that the way that slash in particular was thought of decades ago, that feels outdated, right?

FK: Right. Well, and the other thing is that as long as fans are continuing to use and engage with platforms that people are using more broadly, corporate platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, as long as fans are doing that, they’re in that mix. Fandom is visible in those ways already.

ELM: Sure. Just to some degree. Depends on where, right? There are corners of Tumblr or…you know, Dreamwidth is still quite active?

FK: Oh yeah, absolutely!

ELM: I didn’t know this, but the way that Medium counts Dreamwidth hits is by individual Dreamwidths, so it will show individual journals, so it’ll show referrals from Tumblr as one bloc, it’s not people’s individual Tumblrs. So for the most recent piece I wrote for our Medium it was just a long list of random people’s Dreamwidths and I was like “Oh!”

FK: Oh yeah! But Dreamwidth is not a corporate platform. It’s run by…

ELM: I’m saying these spaces exist though. It’s not like every conversation you have is out in the open, is very visible.

FK: Oh, sure.

ELM: They’re not hidden, but…

FK: If things are on Dreamwidth or AO3 that’s one thing, but it’s another thing if you’re on Twitter and Tumblr and having these conversations. The nature of the internet, the way the internet has developed leads fandom to be more publicly available unless fandom’s very careful about staying private and not everyone is. Not everyone wants to be.

ELM: The other thing I was gonna say too, in addition, while I don’t think that creating spaces to queer the text is the same as it might have been a few decades ago—or 50 years ago when people were writing K/S for the first time is something that I think we’ve covered at length, the idea that within these spaces it’s not particularly progressive beyond depicting cisgendered men. Sorry, cisgendered white men. These spaces are still not very open to a full range of diversity.

FK: For sure, and that’s one of the things that also the internet has changed, not entirely but has made more open than it was before. I think. I get the impression that it has been the case. Because people who would not otherwise have been welcomed into spaces now have the ability to find them and be like “Hey guys, what up?” You know?

ELM: Right. That’s a very, that’s a very kind way to say…people aren’t always like “Hey guys, what up.” Rightly so!

FK: Yeah! Just sayin’, knowing this stuff exists at all. For a person who would not have easily been able to find, like, the con culture or something like that.

ELM: Absolutely.

FK: Or who would have immediately looked at that and been like, “All right, look at all these people who are nothing like me, goodbye.”

ELM: Totally, exactly.

FK: I think that it is interesting that when I see people in fan culture talking about these issues, it can be so contentious, and it can also be really…I don’t know how to put it. Sometimes it can be really tough because people don’t know what the levers are. People know there are levers that they can press to change things, but they don’t know what the levers are.

ELM: What are you, can you explain that?

FK: People making petitions for “change X on this show” or “change Y on this show,” you know what I mean?

ELM: Oh, you mean the levers of the things that they want out of the show. Ok. I got it.

FK: Out of a show but also out of culture more broadly. There have been some very effective campaigns, I think for instance the Racebending campaign, which is not what racebending means anymore, but if you recall this…do you remember this?

ELM: No, I don’t.

FK: So when Avatar: The Last Airbender came out, the M. Night Shyamalan movie, people were really…

ELM: That was a M. Night Shyamalan movie?!

FK: I think so!

ELM: I like how I completely missed all of this. I remember people were upset because it was whitewashed.

FK: Let me double check that it was, but I’m pretty sure…

ELM: M. Night Shyamalan. Man, what happened to him?

FK: Didn’t he just release finally a good movie for the first time in years?

ELM: Really? I didn’t see it.

FK: Yes. He did release what was apparently a good movie for the first time in years.

ELM: What was it called?

FK: It was called Split, and it was the movie that starred James McAvoy as a guy with multiple personalities that came into a lot of discourse into mental illness and so on.

ELM: I heard this discourse. It was well reviewed?

FK: It was apparently a good movie, and it was also a standalone sequel to his 2000 movie Unbreakable, which I think was probably his best movie up to that point. And it wasn’t marketed as a sequel, you wouldn’t know unless you had seen both of them. So. The word in the film industry is that he needs to have lower budgets and he becomes good again. But this is all a big aside.

ELM: That’s really funny.

FK: So Avatar: The Last Airbender was whitewashed and at that time the term “racebending” was not commonly used. In fact, it may not have been used at all.

ELM: Really? Even in fanfiction fandom?

FK: Yeah, I don’t think it was. I think that “racebending” as a term came out of this campaign, and now it means something different than it did in the campaign.

ELM: Interesting.

FK: ’Cause in the campaign, the campaign was called Racebending, like Avatar: the Last Airbender.

ELM: I was gonna say, like ten years ago you never saw “genderbend,” you’d only see “genderswap.”

FK: Exactly. So this campaign was basically about “stop whitewashing.” And it was I think actually really effective. I believe that it introduced the term, I haven’t done all the research to prove that, I should do that. Maybe I should write an article about it!

ELM: Sure, you should totally do that!

FK: That would be great. Let’s do it!

ELM: She’s gonna write an article about this, you’ll see that soon.

FK: So it got people thinking about this issue and they did a bunch of different things, but what’s important about it is that that’s one of the few fan campaigns I can think of that actually moved the needle on a major social issue over a long term.

ELM: Obviously this was within the last year and a half, so I don’t know if you can say long term yet, but we’ve already talked about LGBT Fans Deserve Better, which I definitely think made a difference in the last television cycle, last year of television writing, right?

FK: Yeah, that’s true. I guess…

ELM: Maybe not necessarily that campaign, but that was a centralizing hashtag, and there was a group behind that. And then we also discussed the #NoConfederate campaign which as far as I understand is quite effective, I think that show’s on hold now.

FK: I’m not saying there’s never been any fan campaign…

ELM: I’m just naming some other good ones!

FK: There’s also campaigns for other things, like whatever, your campaign to bring your show back or your campaign to get the Sense8 finale, Sense8 got a finale because fans loved it. But what I think was important about Racebending was that it wasn’t based off an existing cultural thing. It was like, fans had a problem with it, it wasn’t already in the zeitgeist. #NoConfederate is happening at the same time there’s a lot of discussion about racism, things have already moved forward a long way by the time we get LGBTQ Fans Deserve Better. But at the time of Racebending, obviously there have always been people talking about this, but it doesn’t seem it had the same cultural engine behind it in the wider culture, and yet it was the seed from which things grew.

ELM: Sure. OK. Wait. So you started talking about this because you’re saying sometimes fan campaigns move the needle but on the whole…

FK: So with Racebending, one of the reasons I think it moved the needle was it effectively…because it was going from television to film, and film has so much to do with how many actual ticket sales you make at first and how excited the fans of it are to get other people to come. So basically the way that that campaign succeeded I think is by getting Avatar: The Last Airbender fans to think about this and changing their opinion of this movie. Or maybe not changing for everyone, I’m sure there were people who already felt this way about it, but making sure that you couldn't have an Avatar: The Last Airbender fan who didn’t know about this problem.

So then, it’s not that any individual ticket sale mattered. It’s that every single one of those fans then was saying, “Don’t watch that movie. Here, watch the actual thing,” instead of “Yeah, it’ll be awesome!” Which ultimately I think made a huge difference in how well that movie did.

The thing is though it was very targeted around a specific thing that happens to work. But a lot of time fan campaigns aren’t. They’re more vague, or they’re like “Let’s do a petition,” or they’re like “Well, don’t tune in on this day,” but it’s not a moment that’s a good leverage moment. It’s classic stuff. There’s very few people who are…I mean, I’m not a great strategist this way. I never would have thought of this. I’m just commentating. So it’s interesting and it’s tough, I feel like sometimes that can get very frustrating from a fan perspective, when you’ve seen a lot of these campaigns not move the needle. “What’s going on?” You know.

ELM: Right. Tie this back to the letter.

FK: You tie it back to the letter! I was just soapboxing for like ten freakin’ minutes!

ELM: WOW. I mean, tying it back to the letter, you’re already tying it back in the first part of the letter, saying that…and I, this is hard. I like capitalism a lot less than you do, because you love it. I got in a fight with a friend not long ago, what was this? I think this was over Silicon Valley in the spring, there was a rash of high-profile exposes of the really bad behavior going on inside these companies, in particular the sexism and racism.

And we got in this weird conversation, a very good friend of mine, and he was saying that capitalism and corporations…they’re under no ethical obligation to do good. And I was like, you know, I’m making a sad and…sad thinky face right now. Sure, if you could say…I mean, maybe this is getting into economics and I don’t, that’s not my area of expertise, but I do think that that doesn’t absolve, even if the system doesn’t reward it that doesn’t absolve you of an ethical obligation to do the right thing. But a corporation, it’s the system itself, could be inherently amoral in the sense of it’s divorced from morality. You know what I mean?

FK: To me the issue is simply this: capitalism as a system doesn’t care. What capitalism as a system cares about is “Well, will people still buy your stuff? Are you still gonna be able to get the employees that you need to work at your company?” So if everybody holds companies to a high moral standard and refuses to do business with companies that they don’t like, and all of this stuff…

ELM: Yeah, but they won’t, because people are bad.

FK: Then it works out. But they won’t. Not just because people are bad, but because people are tired, right? I have too many things to think about to keep track of what companies I should be boycotting because they use sweatshops, you know? I try, but come on. And if I don’t have time, certainly someone who’s a single mom working to keep her kids, they don’t have the time.

ELM: Yeah. But I, there’s…I agree with that, but to a point. Everyone knows what happens at Uber. Maybe not everyone, but most of my friends know. So we’re just gonna go with that. And a good portion of them still use it. They’re like “Eh, you know, it’s just a lot more convenient for me.” It’s like, “OK, take a subway also so you can support the whole system…” But I don’t buy that to the extent. It’s the same way, I think we’ve already talked about this. It’s the way some people use the term “self care” when what they really mean is “selfishness.”

And I’m not trying to say, I’m not on some moral high horse here, but I also do think that a lot of people just are not particularly concerned with making ethical decisions. And I’m sure there’s plenty of things that I do where I’m supporting companies that aren’t ethical, and I agree that the system doesn’t concern itself with that, but that doesn’t mean that you…

FK: Well this is why I, despite being the person who officially loves capitalism on this podcast, this is why I don’t actually support that as a system particularly, so. [laughter] I was just gonna mention how funny it is that I’m apparently the person who loves capitalism.

ELM: You said from the very beginning! You love money, that’s the thing. Maybe you don’t love this system, but you, if there was an oligarchy and you could be one of the guys in the room, you’d love it, cause you’re a money lover.

FK: [laughing] I mean…

ELM: I have this on the record from the very beginning! It’s not capitalism, it’s cash. [laughing]

FK: I think that what I would say is that given the system that exists, I am willing to work it. However, that doesn’t mean that I think the system is a good idea.

ELM: No, no, this isn’t meant to be a referendum on capitalism! I guess what I would say is, tying this back, it was this conversation that upset me a great deal, that was like “Oh, well, they have no ethical obligation.” It was really depressing to me. I think Persephone is right in the first half of this letter in saying it sucks, but it’s the system, and if the only way that we’re gonna get more diversity and the only way they’ll stop making stupid decisions is with dollars…right? And that’s gonna clue them in? That’s incredibly sad. And I think that…but I think it’s true.

And I think that’s also an indictment of who’s holding the purse. Because I do think that there are particularly…there are definitely straight white dudes who care too, right? But in particular I think that there are people from various marginalized groups who aren’t just saying “Oh, well, black audiences like this, so it’s gonna make cash.” Or “Women like this, it’s gonna make…” You know. “So we should have a female lead.” I definitely think that there are creators who, I could give…I don’t need to rattle off the list, because we know who they are, they’re very high-profile, you know what I mean, who have reasons beyond the financial for pushing more diverse stories.

FK: Right, and then there’s also people who have reasons beyond the financial for not pushing more diverse stories. People who don’t care, who haven’t thought about it, who…

ELM: Yes, right. I thought you were going to say… I think, it’s a low key bigotry, it’s a bigotry of erasure, but I think a lot of it is indifference. I mean who knows.

FK: Or even more simply completely non-conscious. Right? Just like, I don’t identify with that person so much, so therefore I don’t like it so much.

ELM: Women aren’t funny, so, you know, I’m not really…I’m not really, who am I gonna relate to if the main character’s black, I don’t really…if the main character’s black, I don’t really. You know.

FK: Exactly, exactly. That kind of thing. Where it’s easy to sort of…it’s the thing that’s easy to subsume until a financial argument becomes so huge that you cannot ignore it. That’s the kind of thing that can go on forever unless there’s a massive massive financial upside to doing something different. Then that’s where you get the argument. This is one of the ways in which people say, “We hate the producers, we hate the suitsm because the suits are telling us you need to do X to make money.” Obviously sometimes the suits are wrong, sometimes they want you to have the girl be a blonde with big boobs instead of the right actress for the part who doesn’t have those, you know what I mean. Sometimes it’s bad. But sometimes it’s good, and people still get mad, because it’s interfering with the creative process.

ELM: Right, right. Sure. OK. So let’s go back to the second half of this, because I do think this is a controversial statement. I’ve actually said this a bunch. I remember very early on in “The Rec Center” I wrote a long outro about this, I believe it was right when the “Magic in North America”/J.K. Rowling situation came out. I think that was why. And I was like, you know what, frankly this really gives me pause for many reasons, not least one of them it makes me feel like spending so long…and to be frank, the only diversity that the fanfiction I was reading and writing added to the Harry Potter series was queerness. In particular, cis male queer men. It’s not like I was rewriting everyone. It was like a ship. A slash ship.

But did the time I spent doing that, and living in this kind of alternate universe of Harry Potter where everything was a bit better, actually cause harm? I’m metaphorically taking back, but I’m not actually talking back to her. I’m talking to my fellow fans, I’m talking to myself, and I don’t wanna talk to her. But am I creating harm by saying “Oh, well, I think there’s this fantastic, there is a fantastic world of Harry Potter, but it exists in the fandom alone?” Because I genuinely think those books are chock full of problems.

FK: Well this is, I mean, this is obviously we’re coming at this from the question of ethics and diversity and so forth, but this is actually also a broader question about things, like…so recently the Netflix movie Bright came out, and a lot of people said they hate-watched it, and yet it’s been greenlit for another movie, for a sequel. Because of how often it was watched.

ELM: Can I just say though, I would be interested to know…I was seeing friends over Christmas and it was a married couple, a man and a woman, and one of them mentioned it and I was like “Ugh, that movie” and the guy was like “Oh, I liked it,” and I was like “Uh, I bet there’s a lot of guys like Mike who watched it and were like ‘yeah, I liked it.’”

FK: When I first heard about it someone I know saw it at Comic-Con and said it was great. I was like “Ooh, urban fantasy, that sounds cool!” I haven’t seen it still.

ELM: Don’t see it! Don’t support Max Landis.

FK: I don’t know whether or not I will see it.

ELM: Nope, don’t see it.

FK: But I’m reserving judgment, not having seen it, but it seems like there’s a lot of problems with it, so. My point is, though, that there’s that, there’s also things like the new season of The X-Files which everybody I know who loves The X-Files is certain is gonna be mostly bad. There’s lots of people who have been watching The X-Files for years, who keep watching it continuously, myself included, despite not really enjoying it at a certain point—or only enjoying very small parts of it. There’s this moment at which you have to think, “Wow, I’m really in this fandom, but is it really giving me back anything at this point other than Gillian Anderson’s face?”

ELM: At what point can we just keep, we can critique it to death, but if it’s not gonna change…

FK: Right. And I don’t, I’m not saying that because…I’m probably not gonna stop. I love it despite hating it. And I think that this has come up for many people with many fandoms, with many many many things. And for many reasons. Reasons that are to do with diversity, reasons that are to do with just “it’s become bad,” you know? All sorts of stuff. I think it’s a fundamental problem with fandomers, that we get really attached to a thing and then it’s like, “Hello, here we are.”

ELM: We just had an ask about this that kind of ties in nicely. On our Tumblr a listener wrote in to say that they were really upset about Johnny Depp’s casting in, continuing to be in Fantastic Beasts, and I actually…we got this awhile ago, I’m not sure if we got this before or after J.K. Rowling put out that miserable statement being like “he’s fine.” That wasn’t exactly what she said, but I’m sure everyone is familiar with what she said. And you know, I answered it yesterday and it was like, it’s really hard, and we were talking about compartmentalizing, right? And saying that I think it’s totally possible to continue being a Harry Potter fan and not see this film.

And frankly you brought this up and I think it’s true, it’s also possible some people will see the film and compartmentalize out Johnny Depp’s participation, which I don’t know how—literally he’s the title character of this film, so good luck. But people will do it! And the franchise…and I clarified too, I said financially or socially. You could boycott this and still be a very active Harry Potter fan, you know? It kind of all adds up.

FK: It’s funny. I think that while the Johnny Depp question in specific, it’s a big issue right now, but I think that almost the meat of that ask has more to do with “when do I separate from a fandom” even more than the specific situation of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts, right. I agree with what you’re saying…

ELM: I think that’s what we think that it is, but they asked specifically…

FK: Oh, they were specifically asking about that question, but I’m saying almost the thing that I thought was interesting about that was this question of, “well, when do I let go? For whatever reason, how do I let go? And in what order do I let go?” If I’m consciously uncoupling from a fandom, that’s difficult.

ELM: Consciously uncoupling. Flashback.

FK: Consciously uncoupling, hey Gwyneth.

ELM: I feel like when we were talking about it yesterday, you read what I had written so far and had all these additions. I said I wasn’t going to see it and…you’re not going to see it either, right? I said you probably weren’t.

FK: I don’t know. I don’t think so. I don’t have plans to.

ELM: I didn’t say this in the thing, and I mentioned this in the last episode too, because I think saying “I didn’t like that guy anyway” is a really inane response to when some guy goes, gets fired for sexual assault, but I thought the last movie was not good! And so it’s not a massive sacrifice to say “Well, I’ll boycott this one,” because if I was yawning through the last one, it’s not a great sacrifice. So it’s hard for me to answer. Obviously I can’t include that in my answer and be like, “Well, you should just boycott it because it’s gonna suck!” Because a lot of people liked it. And I’m not gonna sit here and say that you shouldn’t like it, because it’s totally up to everyone’s individual preference.

FK: Well, I haven’t made a decision yet. I don’t know. I may see it just in order to be informed about it because I talk so much about all of these, I’m so frequently asked to have opinions about—especially Harry Potter. But we’ll see.

ELM: ’Cause you changed your name to Flourish.

FK: ’Cause I changed my name to Flourish.

ELM: Yeah. This is tricky, and I feel like we’re gonna continue talking about these things in the second half, but we want to shift the conversation a little to another fandom and capitalism element.

FK: Yeah, so let’s take a break and then let’s do that.

ELM: OK, cool.

[Interstitial music]

FK: All right, we’re back and if you guessed that this episode would have something to do with Marvel’s comics-creating platform, you guessed right!

ELM: Who wants to explain this one? All right, I will. [snickering] Over the holiday break Marvel announced a new platform, do we know the name of it?

FK: Marvel Create Your Own.

ELM: Create Your Own. OK.

FK: Create Your Own.

ELM: So here’s what I understand. I'm gonna summarize it, correct me if I’m wrong. This is the Kindle Worlds of Marvel Comics. They’re gonna provide you with all the tools you need to make your own comic. So the little strips and characters and speech bubbles and things. And you type in the text and you put it together, right. You’re…

FK: That’s the impression that I have, although of course…

ELM: We haven’t seen it yet. So fine. Fine. Good so far. Seems like a light, fun, everyone enjoyed creating their own Mad Men character and their own Powerpuff Girl.

FK: Oh yeah.

ELM: Then you read the Terms of Service and there’s an extraordinary list of the things that they would like you to not talk about. And they own everything you create. So Marvel lays claim to the “perpetual, irrevocable, exclusive royalty-free and fully transferable and sublicensable right for the full term of copyright protection available…” This paragraph is too long for me to read. Oh! No, sorry. “Including renewal terms to use, reproduce, transmit, communicate to the public, print, publish, publicly display, publicly perform, exhibit, distribute, redistribute, license, sublicense, copy, index, comment upon, modify, adapt, translate, create…” This list goes on for literally 200 more words. So basically they own whatever you create on the thing.

FK: Right. Some of that stuff, some of that stuff is similar to what’s in the Tumblr terms of service, et cetera.

ELM: Interesting, really?

FK: Yeah, because they have to in order to serve your work back to other people. They have to have some of those rights.

ELM: Gotcha.

FK: I’m not saying that they’re not going to do that thing, maybe they will do that thing, it seems like it gives them the right to do that thing, but I don’t think that we should assume based on that existing in there—and hopefully one of our many lawyer friends will come and comment on this so we can be sure.

ELM: OK. So we’re not sure how they’re gonna use this stuff, if they’re gonna take your idea and turn it into a movie or just make a little site…

FK: So it’s promoted as it’s going to be shared with a community of fans, and there’s sign-ups required, so presumably they’re going to try and create their own archive of these comics.

ELM: But there’s nothing in, the legal language sets it up so that if you came up with a great storyline, they could turn it into a comic or a film.

FK: I think so, and I think legally they probably have to do that in terms of, I mean, because… Here’s the thing, otherwise I would imagine they would run into, again, I’m not defending them, I don’t know that I would write anything under this, but I think that this is one of the problems. If somebody creates something like that on there, and the original creator holds, maintains all rights completely, and then they came up independently with their own idea which was the same one, that could be a problem. So I think this is…

ELM: These are the problems with officially sanctioned fanworks platforms! All right, so. Here’s the list from the Verge of the things that Marvel says you can’t write about. Are you ready for this list? It’s such a list.

FK: I’m ready for the list.

ELM: OK. “Content that could frighten or upset young children or the parents of young children.” Who are these sensitive parents? “Prescription drugs, over the counter medication, vitamins, dietary supplements, contraceptives,” some of these seem relatively innocuous and then you’re like, “contraceptives, huh?” “Suggestive or revealing images including bare midriffs, sensationalism,” this is my favorite one, which is not defined but elucidated with examples “killer bees, gossip, aliens, scandal, et cetera.” Gossip! “Obscenity, banter, offensive language, noises related to bodily functions,” here’s the big one, “no politics, including alternative lifestyle advocacies,” hello 1995. I can’t. “Death,” all right. “Misleading language, a copy or parody of current or past Marvel advertising creative, any controversial topics including social issues, double entendres, amusement parks that aren’t Disney amusement parks, any movie studios that aren’t affiliated with Marvel, and guns.” That’s a list.

FK: It’s a list. So what was funny to me in reading this list is that I immediately thought, “Oh, I know why they put all these things on here.” They don’t want people to make advertisements for prescription drugs and post them here. They don’t want their rivals to come and promote their theme parks or their characters or whatever. They’re thinking, “It’s a comics maker and most comics makers like this up to this point have been marketed at the educational market,” so they’re like, “Let’s protect children.” Right? Now, I think this is extremely poorly thought through…

ELM: “Alternative lifestyle”?

FK: What about NAMBLA? What about NAMBLA. Right? Someone thought…

ELM: Oh, Flourish! What about NAMBLA!

FK: Someone thought “alternative lifestyle,” they thought the National Association of Man-Boy Love, and they wrote that in there.

ELM: That’s a flashback to 2003 Daily Show, the NAMBLA reference, thank you.

FK: I’m not saying, again, I think all these things are definitely a stick to hit fandom with also, I’m just saying I totally can imagine the lawyer who knows nothing about fanworks and doesn’t really care and is highly conservative because they’re lawyers and that’s what they do, writing this thing. And it’s so bad.

ELM: I think that it’s…no. I think that’s, to say “alternative lifestyles,” they could have easily indicated “don’t show relationships that are illegal.” Like child molestation, like pedophilia. But to call it “alternative lifestyle advocacies”?

FK: They probably don’t want polyamory in there.

ELM: Yeah, and that’s shitty. Because that’s legal.

FK: I agree.

ELM: Obviously you can’t have polyamorous marriage, but you can have a polyamorous relationship, it’s not illegal!

FK: Obviously I’m not saying this is good, I’m not endorsing it, I’m just saying I read it and I was like “Aw, you guys really…your lawyers need to learn more about this!” I find this pretty frustrating, just because I don’t think there’s something fundamentally wrong with there being a comics creator that is not targeted towards the fanfic community. But I do think that anybody who had thought about this and thought about what the, what people who are interested in creating this stuff have…you know? Like, it just seems like they didn’t think through it.

ELM: I don’t think that this is targeting the fanfic community.

FK: It’s not, that’s what I’m saying. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with something that doesn’t target the fanfic community, I think that’s fine. If they wanted to make it and say “Hey, this is a kids-friendly space, so we’re gonna try and keep out these things, even things like political speech and so forth…” I don’t love it, I wouldn’t use it, I think it would be very boring in lots of ways. But I don’t think there’s something fundamentally wrong with it, I just think the way they’re presenting it is not thoughtful.

ELM: Getting into that though the idea that children should be protected from “politics” is quite problematic.

FK: I mean, I don’t necessarily agree with that idea either, but I can… [sighs]

ELM: Yeah, I know.

FK: Again, I feel like it’s a… I think that a few of the takes I’ve seen on this have been like, “Marvel hates fanfiction and doesn’t understand what’s good about fanfiction!” Well, I don’t think they understand, but I don’t think it’s that they hate.

ELM: They might hate it, but this isn’t an indicator that they hate it.

FK: Exactly. I think this is just “Wow, you really didn’t think through what the reaction of every one of your fan communities would be to this. You just didn’t think about it at all.”

ELM: Does that matter?

FK: To Marvel?

ELM: Do they have to think through the reaction of every fan community? It’s not for you or me. I mean, we’re not Marvel fans either, but I never once in my entire life have been interested in engaging with a creator-sanctioned platform for creation. I literally cannot imagine ever, I feel like…oh, you haven’t watched The Good Place, but…I said “literally” so much like Chidi, that was kind of upsetting to me. I love him. Anyway, you know what I mean? And there are opportunities for us to…of the kind of fanfiction, the kind of fandom that we participate in, there are fanfiction competitions.

FK: Yeah, and also…

ELM: Not interested.

FK: Also, Marvel doesn’t, they don’t crack down on fanfic. They really don’t crack down on fanfic or fanart to my knowledge. That has not been their MO, ever. So. And the answer is I don’t know that it matters. I don’t. I think the way that it matters is if it becomes sort of a rallying cry in broader Marvel fandom. Right? The only way that it matters to Marvel, I think, is if fanfiction writers are pissed off at it and then it gets picked up by everyone saying “Look at all this stuff that you’re banned from doing on this platform. Look at how dumb that is.” If it trickles up into…

ELM: I think that’s already happened.

FK: I think so.

ELM: And I think it doesn’t look great with an organization that had a not-so-good, very bad year when it came to all sorts of things. Like they had the scandal with the editor in chief pretending to be an Asian man, who’s white. There were all sorts of things this year, and this wasn't even the year of Nazi Captain America—though I believe they did feature Nazi Captain America in a campaign this year as well, this past year rather. So, doesn’t look super good. They have so much good will building for Black Panther after being seen as an anti-diversity kind of company.

FK: Well, I don’t know. I’m not…I don’t know enough about the structure of the company to understand, A, whose initiative this is, is this the initiative of the movie side of things? Is it the initiative of the comics side of things?

ELM: Sure. I don’t know how those relate either.

FK: For instance, with Nazi Cap, the reason that no one ultimately, nothing ultimately ever came of that, that nothing ever changed, is that the comics side of the company—as many people talked about, unless they see change in the number of physical comics that people are buying and reading, and to some degree digital comics but largely physical, they don’t care. And they didn’t see that with Nazi Cap.

ELM: Oh wow, we’re coming right on back to people only feel compelled to change…

FK: We are!

ELM: With money.

FK: The thing about this in particular, I think, that could become problematic, depending on whose project this is if this is the project of people who are doing the comic books I would think that one of the problems would be the censorship argument. People who like Nazi Cap and hate censorship probably don’t love the idea that there’s things you can’t talk about in here. I don’t know. It’s hard to say, and this is exactly why the lever problem is difficult, right?

ELM: That’s an interesting Venn diagram, people who love Nazi Cap and hate censorship.

FK: I think there’s a lot of people who at least say they hate censorship and love Nazi Cap.

ELM: Oh, 100%. I can pinpoint this exact person. Yeah. But it’s an interesting intersection.

FK: But the thing is neither you nor I, I don’t know whether their editor in chief being outed as having been pretending to be an Asian dude, I don’t know if that made any difference to their bottom line, at least not to the comics line. I genuinely do not know. And I don’t know whose project this is or where the funding comes from or what the purpose of it is in their organization’s mind, and without those things we don’t know what impact it’s gonna have or whether they care.

ELM: Hm. So you don’t seem too bent out of shape by this.

FK: Well, I mean, I don’t love it. I’m not going to use it. I would be interested to know what their organizational idea of the purpose of this tool is.

ELM: Yeah, wait. Go back. Would you ever use a creator-sanctioned creative tool? Or…

FK: Depending on what it was, I could imagine a world in which I would use something…I could imagine a world in which I would use something like this to make, you know, the cover of an episode for us. Or to make a little tiny comic.

ELM: Then they’d own it! We can’t do that.  

FK: Right. I mean, I could imagine something. I don’t think I would invest many many hours into writing a…

ELM: How would you do that when you couldn’t write about queer killer bees gossiping?

FK: I didn’t say I’d use this one.

ELM: Polyamorous queer killer bees who upset the children with guns. With guns!

FK: It’s an alternate universe. Um, killer bees are pretty polyamorous, right? There’s only one queen, there’s a lot of drones.

ELM: Does that count as polyamory? I guess so!

FK: Sure, if they’re intelligent killer bees. If it’s an AU in which everyone is a killer bee.

ELM: This is supposing that bees have romantic structures for their relationships.

FK: Actual bees might not, but if it’s an alternate universe with the characters as bees, then they definitely do.

ELM: This idea is so much better than your fic where Peter Parker fucked a horse.

FK: I’m glad, I’m glad. I’m improving. Anyway, do you see what I'm saying? I can imagine using something like this with a different terms of service. Sure.

ELM: Interesting, yeah, I can’t.

FK: I don’t think it would be where I would spend my heart’s, spend all of my time, but…

ELM: [laughing] Making awful comics every day using this tool! There definitely are people who will.

FK: Also, there’s other ways that creator sanctioned things can happen. So for example the famous case, I guess it’s not that famous, when Battlestar Galactica released a bunch of images of…

ELM: How famous.

FK: Well, OK. People in aca-fandom wrote about it.

ELM: Sure.

FK: Battlestar Galactica released a bunch of images of all the starships and stuff, right, for people to make fan films with. Of course people who make fan films want these, but people who make fanvids want images of the characters, which they did not release. So that was a case where sure, probably there are some vidders who used them, and I would use that stuff, right? Sure! If Marvel released a bunch of, if Marvel released a bunch of character images they said “go for it” with, of course I’d use those, right?

ELM: Yeah, that’s interesting, but that’s different to me than creating a platform on which they want you to create. That’s just giving you resources, it’s not dictating the structures. And to me that’s similar to fanfiction competitions or fanart competitions, because it’s not “take these resources and go make fanart,” it’s “bring the fanart back to us,” and that’s the difference I see.

FK: Yeah, I mean, I don’t have a problem with competitions in that I think with competitions you know exactly what you’re getting, and it may be something that’s fun for you, if you already like it. Often.

ELM: I have a problem with competitions in the sense that they are getting a bunch of people to create, oftentimes people aren’t compensated when they win. It basically just feels like they’re trying to capitalize on fannish enthusiasm to avoid paying people to create art. If in the competition you are paid, or…

FK: You’re talking about specific types of competition, like “here’s a competition to create art that will become a prop,” or a logo or whatever.

ELM: Yes, which is totally a thing! Undeniably.

FK: I don’t like those either. I think there are structures of competition that are fine. So in my opinion, here’s an example, a random example based on whatever. If The X-Files ran a competition that said—

ELM: How random. Wow. How ever did you think of that fandom.

FK: Not that random!

ELM: Continue.

FK: If they ran a thing saying “You can win this prop, and submit a,” whatever…

ELM: Go back, that’s compensation.

FK: Right. But I don’t care about that, if it’s “Here’s a fanfic competition, we’re gonna announce the winners, the person at the top who we like the best gets a prop and it’s a fill-in fic,” you know what I mean?

ELM: That’s different. That’s fine. If the objective is to give fans an opportunity to show off their work. But there definitely is a kind I’m critiquing, the kinds where they’re essentially getting free labor.

FK: That, exactly. The thing is that they’re already getting free labor to some extent—if it’s a fanart competition they’re gonna share it, right? They’re getting stuff to use on their social media, to promote it.

ELM: Yeah, it’s true.

FK: If it’s a fanfiction competition they're doing the same thing. But I don’t have a problem with that, because among other things they’re going to share fanart and fanfiction anyway and I think that that’s to be expected at this point. And, that’s one of the things about when you write fanfiction or draw fanart. You know that that’s part of what you’re putting it out in the world, that it might happen to. So all I’m saying is, I think there are some competitions that are good and some that are bad but I don't think that they’re all bad. I think that there can be good ones, and there are good ones.

ELM: Sure. And people participate in them, so it’s not like it’s pullin’ teeth to get people to engage. I just feel like sometimes they feel exploitative and I often feel that fans participate in things that exploit them because the content creators are taking advantage or the rightsholders are taking advantage of fannish good will or enthusiasm.

FK: Right. The other thing I find that is often a problem is when you have rights creators trying to create a walled garden for fanfiction, even if it’s a very permissive walled garden, even if it doesn’t have the negative aspects of “you can’t write about gay people” or “you can’t write about this” or “you can’t write about that.”

ELM: It’s called “alternative lifestyles,” okay? [FK laughs] Yeah, it’s the ’90s.

FK: When we create any fanfiction archive, we create expectations about how people are going to read and write fanfiction, what that’s gonna be like. Or when we create a fanart place to distribute it. DeviantArt has certain things that it emphasizes; it makes it easier to find certain kinds of art. Archive Of Our Own makes it easier to find certain kinds of fic and encourages certain types of things. Same with Wattpad. We can see the differences when we look at these different sites.

ELM: Sure.

FK: To me the problem with a walled garden is not just the “limiting” of what speech can be said or even the fact that by having it in a corporately-owned, by the original creators’ space you have to sign away some of your rights, it’s also that then their ideas about what is important to their own world are going to get at least subtly incorporated into this.

ELM: Oh, 100% yeah. Totally.

FK: I don't think that’s awful, but I don’t…it just doesn’t seem ideal to me. I think it’s much better, and I’m not opposed to them, to rightsholders getting involved in these things, I just think that it’s better for there to be some kind of a partnership or a support of existing sites or something like that that’s not as controlled.

ELM: Hmm. I’m curious to see how this is going to pan out.

FK: Yep, for sure.

ELM: I enjoyed making fun of it, which is really what I was there for, and I’ll continue to make fun of it.

FK: I guess, I hope that…

ELM: Gossip. I’m not over that. The fact that that was listed. Gossip!

FK: My prediction on it is that it’ll turn out that what they really wanted was to get the space maybe for kids, very young people. I think they won’t enforce most of those rules.

ELM: Kids totally gossip, just FYI.

FK: They do, but I don’t think they’re going to enforce that. They’re gonna selectively enforce it on stories they don’t like or things they don’t like, which I don’t think is great as a community moderation policy, but…it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

ELM: This is tricky, coming back to we talked about this last episode, what if a Neo-Nazi wants to create a really explicit white supremacy comic, right? There go my arguments about what the limits should be, right? So…um, I’m a hypocritical mess, that’s fine. That’s fine.

FK: Well, suffice to say...

ELM: Tie this back, though, to the first half of our conversation. What can we tie back?

FK: Well, I think that my comments on this all have to do exactly with this question of capitalism, who is it making money for, what is their organizational idea of what this is for.

ELM: But bring it back to the idea of when we create our own, we’re not actually pushing back. I’m trying to pick up the thread because I feel like these are connected.

FK: Well, one thing that this does illustrate is that when we create our own, obviously people are watching it. It may not be as effective as all that, right, it may be more effective to engage with actual creators, actual stories that center people of color, actual queer creators, whatever, but things like this project show us that people know about fanworks existing, have thought about their existence, and have specific things that they would like to see in fanworks and would like to not see in fanworks. And I think that while I agree with the email we got, it’s also too much to say nothing that we do in fanfiction matters to anybody who creates this stuff.

ELM: They’re not saying that, and I don’t think either of us are either.

FK: I don’t think they’re trying to say that but I think if I read it and I was in a bad mood I might be like [in a weird voice] “None of this matters.

ELM: [laughing] That is a really terrifying voice and you should do it more often thank you.

FK: [in the same voice] Oh, yeah.

ELM: I feel like that, though—how do you not feel like that?! And specifically, I think Persephone wrote this email after listening to us talk about this in the context of Harry Potter, and I don’t want to harp on Harry Potter, but it’s something I've been thinking a lot about as we’re getting these Johnny Depp messages and I have to think about how I feel about the series. I do feel this way, and I feel culpable. And I feel bad because I love the fanfic that I’ve read and I’ve written, and I think that there’s so much good that’s created in this community, and it’s given so many people so much joy and feeling like they are seeing themselves in…with the characters they love, but actually in stories. But I still agree with it.

FK: I don’t disagree with it, but I do think that in terms of long-term change, we shouldn’t deny ourselves the things that we love just because they’re…you know? How can I put this.

ELM: Are you about to invoke “eat your vegetables,” Flourish? Don’t do it.

FK: I wasn’t, but now I could!

ELM: I love vegetables! Let’s just put this out there. I got an Ottolenghi cookbook for my birthday…

FK: [gasps] I love Ottolenghi cookbooks, they’re so good.

ELM: Please come over! I just cooked from it and it was delicious. All vegetables.

FK: They’re always great. In the one that I have, it’s got this herb salad and I was like “How can a salad be that great? Why would you follow a recipe for a salad?” I was wrong. It’s perfect.

ELM: Are you in love with him? I read his descriptions and I am like, “You are the greatest man.”

FK: I made his meringues and I was like “Ohh.”

ELM: Anyway, go back, go back.

FK: What I was gonna say is the goal is not to…I don’t think either of us has the goal of eat your vegetables, read things you don’t like, I think the thing is that there’s room in everybody's life for both things. It’s fine to…I think it’s fine to like things that are problematic or to continue to spend energy on something. I think that when you’re a fan and it’s totally all-consuming that can feel really lopsided, but I think that realistically most of us read and watch a lot of things. And I think that if we’re mindful we can come to some kind of a balance. And I don’t think the solution is to be like, “I feel so depressed about this thing that I am attached to,” and then to mire yourself in misery over it.

ELM: I don’t either, but I don’t know. I’m so torn. And I also think it doesn’t have to be an either–or. I try not to feel, really really fighting this. But being in a new fandom that is more canonically diverse, I’m not gonna lie, I have felt pleased, right? Cause it’s not flawless. It’s still got problematic elements, but it’s better than some of the other stuff I’ve liked.

FK: But that’s fine! That’s OK. It's probably a good instinct.

ELM: It’s not an either–or…it’s a good instinct so I can be like “Aha! Look at this show with all these queer characters!” But it’s like, it is, I feel…A, I love vegetables, I think they’re delicious, but it’s also not vegetables in any way.

FK: This is how I felt about Deep Space Nine. I was like “Oh, this is such a delightful show in so many ways! I feel so good about this and I’m really into it!” But now I’m into Reylo. So this is how I feel like we can probably bring balance to the world.

ELM: Oh man, this would have been such a different conversation a week ago.

FK: Yeah, it would be.

ELM: Obviously I’m not gonna sit here and be like, you…I don’t know. I’m so conflicted.

FK: Well, I’m thinking about it a lot too, so maybe, I think that we’re planning on talking about some of these issues next time.

ELM: We are?

FK: Next time, aren’t we?

ELM: Are you sure next time?

FK: [long pause] Yes. Yes. OK. So.

ELM: Pregnant pause! [laughs]

FK: For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter, I fell deeply down a Reylo rabbit hole which I had been resisting for many years.

ELM: To be fair, after The Force Awakens, when I was talking about how everyone was into Finn/Poe and joking about Kylux, little did I know how that would turn out—cause I thought Kylux was a hilarious ship, but you know. You were like, “Oh, everyone on my feed is into Reylo!” And I was like “Well, we know different people.”

FK: Right and then I said that I’m not clicking because I know that I will fall into this head first. [ELM laughs] And then I didn’t click for like three years. And then I clicked. And now it’s all over. So. This has been causing me to have lots of feelings and also thoughts about morality and shipping, but also about things like the way that different directors take franchises in different directions…

ELM: And the structure of storytelling and expectations in storytelling.

FK: Yes. And so I’ve been inflicting these thoughts on Elizabeth, and she was like “We should do an episode about these thoughts.” And I was like, “Are we sure we’re gonna do something about my Reylo obsession?” And she was like “No, it’ll be fine.” So I’m working on a probably extremely long meta, right now the outline is 11 pages long.

ELM: That’s extraordinary.

FK: I wanna die. And I will I think have it written by the time that we record our next episode, and we’ll talk about it, the ideas in it, but more broadly how they apply to wider fandom things. I promise it will not be an entire hour of just my Reylo feels. It won’t be.

ELM: It won’t be because I’m going to be in the conversation, so it’s not like…it’s not like “two Reylo fans sit and discuss their love of Reylo.”

FK: It also won’t be an hour of you mocking me for my Reylo feels.

ELM: [laughs] No no! I mean, I’m not trying to judge…um…

FK: I wish people could see your face right now.

ELM: I’m just saying the caveat that you need to know—and you know but everyone needs to know—is that I was saying this to my friend Tasha yesterday, I was like “I care about Kylo Ren less than anyone I know,” and she said, “Surely not less than me!” And I think that’s really good. It’s just the two of us together. Also, I saw it with my friend Morgan and she turned to me afterwards and she was like “That was a bad movie except for the scenes with Kylo Ren and Rey,” and I was like “No, Morgan.” And Morgan is Gav’s podcast partner and so Gav was like, “Did you hate it too?” and I was like “No, I thought it was great, but I am stressed out by how everyone likes Reylo.” And Gav is also not on the Reylo train. So…I just feel like I’m surrounded.

FK: Sorry.

ELM: It’s important that you know that I strongly dislike Kylo Ren.

FK: OK. Well. I look forward to next week in which you help pull me back from the Reylo precipice of not talking about anything but Reylo, but we still talk about some larger issues that my new obsession has brought up.

ELM: And then we’ll do a side episode where I can just talk about Domhnall Gleeson’s absurd accent in this movie. It’s one of my favorite things.

FK: It’s pretty good. It’s pretty good. There’s some scenery, he’s just like a little beaver chewin’ on it.

ELM: It’s so over the top! I just really was delighted, actually I kinda feel like they all do this except for Kylo Ren, but everyone in the First Order is like…and actually, this is ironic, because I’m the one who has all these critiques of when you turn genocidal monsters into cartoon villains, then people are unable to actually see this in the real world and all this, blah blah blah, and that Nazis aren’t cartoon characters…but they are all doing such hardcore cartoon villain Received Pronunciation delivery, it’s impeccable. I contain multitudes of critiques and delights.

FK: More on this next time, Elizabeth. In the meantime…

ELM: OK, we gotta do wrapping up. Let me do the wrapping up, cause you always do the wrapping up!


ELM: Wrapping up number one, medium.com/fansplaining, right before the end of the year I posted an article that Flourish did a lovely job editing, that is about…what’s it about? Do you remember? It’s been so long now! It’s about the different reasons that you fall out of fandom, and so it’s got stuff about ageism and stuff about politics and life events and then it talks about giving yourself permission to come back to fandom. And how you could feel like you won’t, which is something I think that we’ve both struggled with and based on the responses to the piece it sounds like a lot of people struggle with. I think especially in the past year. If you’re not feelin’ it, you could be like, “Well, maybe that’s it for me,” and it’s probably not, and you just have to let yourself acknowledge that it’s OK to rejoin and it’s OK to drift away. Do you think that was a good summary?

FK: I think that was a great summary.

ELM: Point two, patreon.com/fansplaining, we have our Patreon and we have released a new episode for $3-and-up patrons on Brooklyn 99, which you had never seen.

FK: Correct.

ELM: And now you feel…

FK: Happy!

ELM: Oh my God, that is such an undersell.

FK: I like Brooklyn 99. It is fun.

ELM: OK, she’s more enthusiastic in the episode.

FK: I am more enthusiastic, I’m just…eh!


FK: Here we are.

ELM: We also talk about Reylo in that one too, because you’re obsessed.

FK: Sorry.

ELM: So if you are interested, it’s actually quite an enthusiastic conversation, and we’ve talked a lot about the con episode and depictions of fan culture in pop culture. And now I’m gonna do the actual business places. This was, I think, a controversial topic, and I bet people are gonna have thoughts, because whenever we talk about monetization…

FK: There are so many thoughts.

ELM: Right. So you can write to us on Tumblr, we have an open ask box with anon on. Please don’t shout at us or be quietly cruel. Just you know. Almost all of our messages are respectful, so thank you for doing that, because we…we have feelings. You know?

FK: A lot of them.

ELM: [laughs] Too many! Whenever Flourish makes one small mistake it’s literally like the hairshirt goes on and she’s just beating herself.

FK: Can’t help it. Don’t know what to say.

ELM: It’s incredible. We got in this fight recently cause I was like “Making a mistake isn’t a moral failing,” and she was like “IT IS!” And I was like “It’s not!” [laughing]

FK: Uh, it’s possible that some of us are perfectionists but not very good at being perfectionists, so I don’t know what to say to you.

ELM: All right. So don’t make Flourish cry—or me, I’m Italian so I’m quite sensitive. We also have Twitter, that’s /fansplaining…or @fansplaining, rather. Facebook, fansplaining on Facebook, fansplaining@gmail.com, and if you go on our Tumblr there’s a phone number and we love voicemails because we love hearing your voices, we love a diversity of sounds.

FK: And then we can play it on this podcast so it’s not just us yakkin’!

ELM: Right, and also if you’ve ever written to us and we’ve read your email and you’re sitting there like “that was a poor reading,” there’s only one way to fix that. You can read your own email to us. It doesn’t have to be off-the-cuff-sounding thoughts.

FK: Totally.

ELM: The final thing, which we don’t say enough, is one way for people to find us is through iTunes, so leaving us a rating is really awesome, five stars especially awesome, and even better a review. Our reviews are so thoughtful, so if you’ve enjoyed it and you don’t have any cash to spare, that’s a really great way to support us.

FK: Indeed.

ELM: Did I do a good job?

FK: You did a good job.

ELM: With a spiel?

FK: You did a great job with a spiel, Elizabeth. Maybe next time you can do it again.

ELM: Thank you for that permission. You’ll be curling in a ball in shame and joy, because you’ll have just talked about Reylo for an hour, so I’ll have to do it again.

FK: That’s pretty much the case, it’s true. OK. I’ll talk to you next time, Elizabeth.

ELM: OK bye!

FK: Bye!

[Outro music, thank yous and disclaimers]