Episode 69: Fan Tourism

Elizabeth stands in front of an enormous English building.

In Episode 69, “Fan Tourism,” Elizabeth and Flourish consider the different ways that people travel to experience their fandom, settling on a spectrum of fan tourism, spanning immersion into a fictional place to craft-focused television set visits. They also discuss being a fan of a source material set in a culture or time period other than your own, the differences between Disney and Universal Studios, breaking the (traditional theater sense of) the fourth wall, and whether Elizabeth is a teaboo.


Show Notes

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

[00:01:46] If you haven’t heard our episode on stealth fandom yet, now is the perfect time!

[00:03:17] Every good tourist takes snapshots of the sights they see, but Elizabeth adds a concordance so you know why she cares about each of them - amazing.

[00:12:09] Conlanging is a thing in Africa just like everywhere else in the world! In addition to a variety of African auxlangs, there is a canonical Wakandan conlang - find out more in this Twitter thread.


Elizabeth standing in front of the Torchwood fan shrine—a wall covered in Torchwood posters and so on—in Cardiff

[00:19:51] Yes, Game of Thrones films in Croatia, and fans have documented the filming locations.


Elizabeth knocking on the door of 221B Baker Street.
Elizabeth lying on the beach, as in  Sherlock.

[00:27:31] A teaboo in the wild (well, OK, possibly this is a joke, but we want to believe!)

[00:29:33] The music is Bach’s Italian Concerto. Elizabeth wants to let it be known that this several decades too late for Black Sails. Purcell is a better bet, at least for the flashback era!


[00:31:19] Jameela Jamil’s excellent post is here and it is indeed excellent (and in support of a celebrity hashtag campaign that, for once, is not annoying as hell.)

[00:31:52] What, you haven’t listened to our The Good Place special episode yet?! Go pledge to our Patreon and listen!

[00:34:32] If you want this full story, about fans sending actors to read sides, go listen to our episode on ARGs!

[00:49:06] Dogs: cute but massively annoying sometimes when you want to have a life or whatever.

Pepys the dog, who is very small, black, with white markings on his face and greyhound-like ears.


[Intro music]

Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish!

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

ELM: [laughing] This is Episode 69… 


ELM: [laughing] Wait, it’s not “noice.”


ELM: Are you Jake Peralta?

FK: I guess! It just seemed like the way to say it.

ELM: Yeah…I always think of it, when I see it, I think, “niiiice.”

FK: We’ve found out about our different mental meme voices.

ELM: Yeah. “Nice.” I’ve actually said this aloud, I like how I’m just gonna derail this right now, but one time I was listening to the radio, and he said “the temperature is 69 degrees” and I said “nice” out loud to my radio.

FK: Good job.

ELM: That’s brutal! Anyway, it’s Episode 69, “Fan Tourism.”

FK: Fan tourism! Because you have just come back from the U.K. where you indulged in some fan tourism.

ELM: I sure did! [laughs] Let me tell you!

FK: Of certain types.

ELM: Are you asking me to talk about my experiences with fan tourism in the last few weeks?

FK: Yeah, let’s enter into this conversation from that perspective!

ELM: All right. Well, I think somewhat following on from our "stealth fandom" episode, what I engaged with over the last month is along those lines, right? So my favorite character in my favorite television show, the Starz pirate drama Black Sails, [FK laughs] my two favorite characters…well, three favorite characters. I really like a certain trio who have a backstory in London in 1705. One is a naval officer, and the other two are aristocrats. So my dear friend Veronica, who’s a historian and knows a lot about the history of London, has taken me on a bunch of tours of those spheres from that period.

FK: So, coming from Boston, all I can think of is the Freedom Trail. [ELM laughs] Which is… 

ELM: It’s the Thomas Hamilton trail!

FK: All the tourists coming and it’s like, you stop, you eat a cannoli, then you go and you look at where the Boston Massacre happened, and then you go and you eat another cannoli… [laughing]

ELM: No. So I would say that these, probably because of Veronica’s expertise, are a bit more about social history, so if you were to kind of…obviously there’s different ways of going on historical tours. But if you were to position yourself in a certain class in a certain period, and you were to understand what were the events for these people that would have happened in the years, if we’re thinking about 1705, in 1698 Westminster burned, the palace of Westminster burned. It was a massive event in that sphere. So it’s partly an architectural tour. A lot of these buildings were built because there was a fire in this place. And there were… 

FK: So it’s more like you’re going through the city and imagining people’s references, what they would see but also what their references would be…?

ELM: Yeah, a little bit. She also has taken me on a few tours—I hope she doesn’t mind me going into this full thing—she’s taken me on a few of these tours that aren’t related to anything fandomy, like I had a friend visiting when I was living there who worked in finance, and so she took us on a tour of the history of credit. So it was all through the city of London and showing the different sites and saying, “In this period this was developing, this was where they would come, these were the exchanges, this was happening in this market,” or that kind of thing, and it’s sort of simultaneously chronological, historical-chronological and also embodying place. They’re really wonderful tours! So she’s great and I’m pimpin’ my friend right now. [laughs]

FK: No, this is really interesting, because I think that one of…this is one of the different fan tourism things that people do, and it's like, what’s the most immersive...not quite “immersive,” though, right? It’s like you’re learning about and seeing places as compared to, like, going to New Zealand and seeing where Lord of the Rings was shot and closing your eyes and imagining that you are in Edoras. Right? Or, like…which is you’re seeing a place where they filmed, but I think…I’ve never done this but most people seem to be, “Yeah, but I’m imagining that I’m in Middle Earth right now.” As compared to going to Canada to watch Supernatural being filmed and being like “Yeah, this is all about maybe getting a hug from Jared and…” 

ELM: And actually watching the process. OK, but it’s tricky, because I feel like this example that I’m giving with Black Sails is…because it’s based, it’s somewhat of a historical fiction show. So the tricky thing, I think, for comparing it to something like going to the place where The Hobbit was filmed or whatever…I like how I picked The Hobbit. Lord of the Rings, you know.

FK: [laughing] No one goes to the place where The Hobbit was filmed, sorry Peter Jackson, those movies were not great.

ELM: Yeah, but the difference is it’s this idea of…and not everyone does this I think, when they engage with source material, with character, but if there is a real setting, there’s different ways of reading the text, but one thing you could do is say “I wanna study it within the context of this show.” Another thing you could do is say, “This is a character, and imagine if they were real in the real world,” right. So. And I imagine it’s something you could do for Outlander. I know that Outlander tourism is massive, but it’s like, “Well, imagine I lived in 1750 in the Highlands or whatever,” is that when it’s set? 1750, right? 1740s.

FK: Outlander is set over a long, long period of time, so yeah.

ELM: The Jacobite bits. 1740s or whatever in the Highlands.

FK: Yeah, 1740s.

ELM: So you can go there and say “Oh, I recognized it from the show,” or you can think, “Imagine if this character was real, what would their life be like if you added that layer?” It’s a different way of pulling out character and engaging with historical fiction.

FK: I see what you mean. So it’s almost like…this is funny, because you were just telling me earlier today about how you had been at King’s Cross Station, casually going through London, not as a fan tourism thing, just as an “I need to physically go and catch a train.”

ELM: My train yesterday arrived at King’s Cross at quarter past 12.

FK: Right. So what’s interesting is, when you say that about thinking historically what things would be like, I think about the first time I went to King’s Cross—which was, again, just because my train was literally going to St. Pancras and I walked outside and there was King’s Cross, right. I was struck by “Oh, this is actually pretty similar”—I don’t know for a fact this is true, but I was like “Wow, is this what the street that Harry and Hagrid were walking on looks like? It’s nothing like I envisioned it.” And then it’s like, “Oh, that’s interesting. There’s all this stuff about Harry’s life that I don’t know about,” because I was not very much, like, “let’s think about British culture and history.” I was the classic American fan where I was like, “I’m really more interested in the Wizarding world and the stuff that’s in the fiction about this.” So it seems like that might not be purely a historical thing. It could be for other things too.

ELM: Also cultural things, yeah, exactly, I totally agree with that. For me, also having been a Harry Potter fan at that time, it was a few years after I got into the fandom that I first moved to the U.K. And I, you know, I wouldn’t necessarily say that being there I was walking around…I don’t think I ever had the feeling of “Oh, I’m in the place where Harry Potter’s from!” But definitely, obviously living there and I have these conversations with British Harry Potter fans a lot, the social constructs that you…that Americans in particular kind of miss.

FK: Yeah!

ELM: They’re very British books, in my view. So yeah, it’s not just historical but also cultural. It’s a place that is somewhat foreign to you and whether you want to embody that, I don’t know how many people travel to the U.K. with the intent of, like, understanding the cultural context in which Harry Potter and the Dursleys exist or whatever, you know? Are there tours of suburban Home County life?

FK: My God.

ELM: I don’t think so!

FK: I don’t know, but we had someone write in who was from…with the opposite way. Was from Europe and was really into The West Wing and ended up moving to Washington D.C. and thinking about that context. I think we might have her on at some point. It might not be common, but I guess it does happen, right?

ELM: Right. So then that would be the question. If you’re from, you could be American too. If you’re fascinated with The West Wing, when you’re going to visit, so you travel to D.C., are you thinking “Oh, I want to understand the world that these characters occupy, this is what their lives would be like in D.C.,” or are you like “I love being right here, from what I can see on the show, this is the steps of wherever where Toby was talking to Sam,” you know what I mean? It’s not necessarily a binary choice, obviously. You can feel these ways at the same time.

I think that the Black Sails thing is hilarious to me, because while the flashbacks are set in London, it’s not like, I mean, it’s kind of…most of the show is set in the Caribbean! It’s about pirates! So it’s like, I’m really takin’ a deep dive into a particular domestic historical context. Domestic meaning England. Right?

FK: I mean, this is a little bit like the chunk of Outlander that’s set in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which let me tell you they did NOT do a great job of depicting on the television show! [laughs] But I mean, it seems like it’s about that much of a slice. Yes. They were there.

ELM: I mean, it’s not that…obviously, it’s a post-colonial show, and so my study of the British Empire was about…this is going into way too much detail. [FK laughs] Basically I spent years studying the British Empire, studying British literature, trying to read the postcolonial in the contemporary British literature, so reading Jane Eyre with a postcolonial lens. So sometimes reading what’s on the page, sometimes reading what’s between. So I don’t think you can have a show that’s about colonialist things [FK laughs] and the British empire without also thinking about the colonial power.

FK: Right.

ELM: This is a big aside.

FK: Whereas in reality in Outlander the only reason that they had to be in Cambridge was that Claire has to become a doctor and Bree has to grow up. So they have to do that somewhere, why not.

ELM: This is relevant. But it’s also, it’s a little bit like the stealth fandom thing too in that there are directions you go down in your fandom path that may be unrecognizable to someone who’s just like, “Oh, I love that show too.” Then you’re like, “I got really into studying the Whigs!” What are you doing! And there’s a path that I took, but it’s not necessarily…I’m not sitting here saying you need to understand Whiggish politics from 1704 to truly understand this pirate show. You do not. But it’s exciting to me, because that’s what really sparked, that’s what sparked me as I went down this journey.

FK: This may be a little bit of an aside, but for work I’ve been looking at a lot of constructed languages recently…a topic that might be interesting for us to do a podcast on someday! And one thing that’s been really striking me is how much, there’s a combination of “Oh, I enjoy language, but also this immerses me into the world and also it helps me see the worldview,” right? Klingon, for all we like to make fun of it, there are things encoded in its grammar about the way that a society is. So if you learn Klingon and maybe you learn more about what those, not just what the characters are like, but what the fictional society is like and how that exists. You can embody it better. I wonder if it’s…it’s not the same but maybe it’s related.

ELM: As an aside, because this is somewhat topical, did you see that thread from black conlangers…conlangers? Is that the term?

FK: Conlangers!

ELM: Conlang people? Who…it was talking about Black Panther, which uses real African languages. Right? And talking about how, while that was great, historically there have been black conlangers who have constructed a Wakandan language.

FK: Yeah!

ELM: And what that is too…it was a really interesting thread. One isn’t more right than the other, and they were doing very specific things with this kind of pan-African, taking from specific regions that meant specific things and all this and I think that’s awesome. But also, it was really interesting how this specifically black fan cultural practice that people have been engaging in over the years of Black Panther fandom…that also could have been interesting!

FK: We should definitely talk about this in the future. I think I have a good guest for us. But I think we should put a pin in it, because we need to have an entire episode about this!

ELM: Yeah, obviously this is something that we should have tackled a long time ago! But yeah, I definitely think it’s different with historical fandoms. But it’s also something like, what do you want out of your fannish experience? And what character means to you? If I really wanna spend time with characters, I think about their whole lives. People do this all the time. They make playlists, say, “What will my character listen to?” They make outfits. “What would my character wear?” So it can also be where would my character live? People play “The Sims” to create a physical environment for their characters. So if you wanna, and this doesn’t necessarily have to be a historical thing, but for me… 

FK: Yeah, this is making me think about how the year before I moved to New York, and right when I moved to New York City, I had been writing this Elementary fanfic, and Elementary is a very New York show in a lot of ways. I mean it’s not like, about New York, but it’s definitely…it’s filmed on location… 

ELM: Is it more New York than Law & Order SVU?

FK: No, no, but in a similar way it’s filmed on location all the time, they go to Think Coffee in Washington Square Park and Joan is definitely—at least in the early seasons, I haven’t been watching lately—but Joan definitely wears all the stuff that people of her class and age and so forth wear. When you walk around and you see, like, particular trends in New York that are not showing up elsewhere.

ELM: Do you mean like Eileen Fisher clothing?

FK: That’s now, it was Rag & Bone then.

ELM: Gotcha. [laughing]

FK: She probably wears Eileen Fisher now! I have not been watching it. But it was really interesting moving, especially cause I moved to the neighborhood that they shoot in a lot and being like “Oh, now I understand this in a different way.” But I think that that was because of fanfic writing. I think writing is something that really brings that into relief for me. I wonder if that’s the same for everybody else?

ELM: Obviously I don’t think that if you really wanna dig down into a character, it doesn’t necessarily have to be to write fanfic. Obviously that’s just one way. But like, all the things I was just saying—they don’t have to be in the service of writing a fic. You can make playlists, you can make outfits, you can do virtual maps, there’s all sorts of ways that you can kind of embody the character. And then taking the full step, if you are able to travel to the place, to actually walk around and think about the world through their eyes. For me, that is an act of embodiment that helps me write, but I don’t necessarily think…you know, because it really, especially for something…I’ve never been in a fandom that is so distant from this world. Harry Potter fandom and then Torchwood fandom and then Sherlock fandom and all three are in contemporary Britain and definitely the first time I went to Wales… 

Oh yeah! Didn’t even talk about my Torchwood fandom journeys! But I lost my shit. It was raining. Of course it was. It was December. It was pouring rain. I have all these pictures, I’ll post some of them in the show notes, I have these pictures of me just looking like, gleeful, standing. Cause they film on location in the Millennium Center and the bay in Cardiff, right? And it’s very much that physical space is very much a part of it. And Cardiff is very much a part of the show in a way that, that’s one of the characters of the show essentially right.

FK: It really is, yeah.

ELM: You’ve seen Torchwood.

FK: Yeah.

ELM: Oh, I didn’t know you’d seen it.

FK: Yeah. It is!

ELM: So that was also kind of just me being like, “OMG I'm here! I'm here where they are.”

FK: That’s really interesting, though, because it’s filming on location, which means you can go back to that place and be in it in a way that I think with historical stuff. or even, I made the… I talked about Lord of the Rings, and it’s true that some of the natural beauties of New Zealand, you can go and see it and it’s just the same, but there’s not the Golden Hall of Meduseld on top of that rock, you know what I mean?

ELM: There’s not? They did build a hobbit village, can’t you go to that?

FK: They built a hobbit village and that has been maintained but, like, they haven’t maintained everything. I can tell you for a fact that Helm’s Deep is made out of styrofoam, and you can tell if you watch it in HD now, and it’s… 

ELM: Oh no.

FK: It’s still great! But it’s a little silly.

ELM: I felt like when I… So, when I watched the third movie, and I had gone back to watch, this was like 10—no, not 10 years ago, 15 years ago, right? And then I went back to watch the first one and you could…there’s a clear technological leap.

FK: It’s true. Oh yeah, absolutely. And the third…a lot of it still looks pretty good, I’m not saying it destroys the movies for me, but the third one is definitely like… 

ELM: They kinda made them all together, over this period of, like… 

FK: They were shot all together.

ELM: But the CGI was… 

FK: Done later.

ELM: Yeah. But this is the thing. Filming on location versus the stuff that I’ve been doing over the last two weeks, it’s kind of…it’s different in the sense of restoring historical fiction to its reality, in the sense of, you know, I don’t think it’s wildly historically accurate in the show, but also it’s very easy in something like this, and Queen Anne’s London and early Georgian London is still…it actually was kind of wonderful, because I was going through areas that I’ve been through a million times, but you never really look up, and you never really know what you’re looking at. So you’re just like, I can identify certain periods very clearly, but there’s other ones where I’m like, “I don't know. It’s old.”

FK: It’s an old thing! [laughs]

ELM: And you know, my friend is really knowledgeable, by the end of the day I was looking up, like, “I can tell that’s from 1700, that’s from a bit later,” because she was so helpful in explaining all of that to me. But in a way that restores some of the…it’s not necessarily for everyone in how they wanna engage with the source material. Do you want to boil it back down to, if it was a real thing, what it would be?

FK: Oh yeah, but you know that we are the same in this. The Elementary/Sleepy Hollow crossover in which I went deep on New York history and Tarrytown history and was like, “But we need to fix it! We need to explain why this supposed Quaker is not speaking like a Quaker!” Yeah.

ELM: Your eyebrows just went up and down like a cartoon character, that was incredible. It was so good.

FK: They’re very expressive. But yeah, I feel you.

ELM: And I’m not a historical fiction purist, but I also think it’s really fun to be like, “Well, what is the actual truth of this?” And it’s very interesting in a television fandom to see that. Because it actually feels a lot different than what you would see on TV. When you can actually physically embody those spaces. In a way that I don’t know…I don’t know, I feel like if you’re something like Outlander, probably, wouldn’t feel that way, because if they’re filming in fields…or like Game of Thrones. They’re filming in fields in Scotland and it’s just supposed to be in the past, that’s different than…or Northern Ireland, or wherever they film Game of Thrones. You know what I mean. That’s different than… 

FK: They film Game of Thrones…yeah. They film it in, someone I know went actually to a city where they film it, as a fan tour thing.

ELM: They film it in Northern Ireland, don’t they?

FK: Some of it, but they also film some of it in Eastern Europe… 

ELM: In Croatia or somewhere.

FK: Yeah, I think it is Croatia. And actually that's really cool, because all of the ruins are real ruins, all of the cities are actually just real ruins that are there that they just shoot. They didn’t make it up.

ELM: But there’s something a little bit different to me, as opposed to, like…I don’t know. I can’t really articulate why. But yeah, so prior to this, I’ve been engaged in fandoms—because they are contemporary—that I was basically able to visit locations. And that felt a little different to me, cause I wasn’t walking around like “How would Sherlock Holmes feel walking down this street?” ever. But I was thinking…oh, I had a bunch of friends who were in the fandom pass through while I was living in London, and I would take them down North Gower Street where they film the exterior of their house. Because there’s no way you would have a house like that on Baker Street, right? [FK laughs] Wildly unrealistic, cause that’s not what Baker Street looks like these days. If anything you would need to live in a chain retail store, basically, if you wanted to live on Baker Street. Baker Street looks just very different.

FK: That would actually be hilarious. You know how sometimes people take over…so I know some people who have done this, they’ve taken over a space that was originally zoned commercial, and they just bought the building when it got rezoned residential, but instead of knocking it down they were like, “we’re just gonna live here."

ELM: You’re saying that Sherlock should buy an old Gap.

FK: Yes, and live in it, and be like “here is the weird situation I live in cause I’m weird.” I think that would be great. You can pay me later, BBC.

ELM: I’ll call Mark Gatiss and let him know. Don’t you worry about it. So yeah. Something that’s very different, it was exciting to be like, “Oh yeah, this was the scene”...and especially because all that was stuff that was very much in my daily life. UCL is literally a block from there, and they film in Russell Square or whatever or Bloomsbury Square, I can’t remember which one it was. Places you walk through every day if you’re living there.

FK: Completely. Seems like there is a…we’re sort of talking about how, if you travel someplace as a tourist, and you come in there intending to either immerse yourself just emotionally in “this is what it looks like and I’m imagining being the character and walking around,” or “I’m gonna learn all about this and imagine what the character thinks,” the contextualization piece. That’s one thing, but I guess I’m also interested in…I wish I knew what it was like…I could know what it was like to have your, a city you’re very familiar with or live in appear on screen. I could know this because Lady Bird came out and I still haven’t seen it.

ELM: Are you fucking kidding me?

FK: And it’s all about Sacramento. I’m not kidding you, I still haven’t seen it.

ELM: I saw it with a friend of mine from Sacramento, and it was interesting how he didn’t, his immediate reaction wasn’t like “Oh, so relatable, I recognize all those spots” even though he was like “yeah I do,” but he wasn’t like “whoa, my space!” You know?

FK: Yeah, I heard too much discourse about it on Facebook from all the people I went to high school with, and it kind of…it didn’t sour me on it, but it made me be like “Yeah, OK, I could see it.”

ELM: Did people get mad that they were being called, living in the wealthy neighborhoods or whatever? Was it class stuff?

FK: No, well, there was a little bit in that…it wasn’t that people were mad that they were being called, that they were living in the wealthy neighborhoods. It was that they were trying to figure out what she thought was not wealthy in that area. So she’s like, in the movie, as I understand it, not having seen it… 

ELM: I’ll tell you.

FK: She has to be living near to where I grew up, and the big debate was…it’s a very mixed class area. So there’s very wealthy pockets and there’s very poor pockets. Not desperately poor, but… 

ELM: Lower middle class.

FK: Significantly lower middle class. And you can have those two things literally two blocks away from each other, it’s really… 

ELM: I think that’s made pretty clear in the movie. Her walk home from school, she stops in front of her dream house and then goes back to their small home and at one point I think the mother says “This was supposed to be our starter place, we never thought we’d be here 20 years later, and this is kinda heartbreaking that we are.” But the fact that that was her walk home from school suggests that those two places were relatively close.

FK: They’re not very far away. So lots of people were like “none of that’s that bad,” and it’s true it’s not that bad, but it is, like, actually pretty mixed. Although I will say I don’t think that anyone would say you’re from the “wrong side of the tracks.” Somebody said that, I don’t know whether it was in the movie or somebody just said it about it… 

ELM: It is.

FK: And there is a literal railroad track, but there’s lots of things on both sides of it!

ELM: She says that and there’s literal tracks and it’s a really awkward moment because it's repeated explicitly...

FK: There is actually a railroad track there, and railroads are a big thing in Sacramento, so I understand why it’s in there, but like… 

ELM: I think it’s meant to be a joke, and then it’s not a joke when it’s used in the wrong context, where the boyfriend is like, “Oh, it’s the wrong side…” I don’t know.

FK: Not having seen it, I can’t speak to it.

ELM: I love how now we’re discussing Lady Bird, class, et cetera. Anyway.

FK: In any case I mean, all of this aside… 

ELM: Sacramento!

FK: Sacramento. But what I wonder is, that also is a little different, because it literally is by somebody who is the same age as me and my cohort who's like, making a movie literally about our teenagerhood, as compared to… 

ELM: It is in fact my age, not your age.

FK: We were…I mean… 

ELM: I don’t know about Greta Gerwig, but the protagonist is exactly my age.

FK: Yes.

ELM: We’re in different generations, Flourish. [all crack up]

FK: The great gap of two years, especially given that I skipped a grade and so it’s one grade. One grade!

ELM: Yeah, but you don’t really act that age. You belong… [laughing]

FK: Oh man, but we can all agree that Dave Matthews Band “Crash” was central to all of us. Anyway.

ELM: When I was 12. Yeah.

FK: In any case… [laughing] When, I have to say that when I found out that that song was featured centrally in there, I was like “Oh, I feel so called out!”

ELM: Yeah, I mean, look, it’s vital that we engage in this. And we can’t…that came out in the ’90s, didn’t it?!

FK: But it was on, it was played in Sacramento at least, it was like, on, constantly played.

ELM: All of America, I’m sure, because the other coast it was also constantly played.

FK: OK. In any case, that’s like, a very realistic story that’s supposed to be about your own thing, but I wonder what it would be like if something was…I wonder what it would be like if something that was more aspirational or fannish or whatever was set in my city. That would be…has this ever happened to you, have you ever read a book and been like “Oh, this is set here, I walk around and now I see my city in a different way”?

ELM: Well, I was living in London while I was in the Sherlock fandom, so there’s that.

FK: I see. So that was that.

ELM: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t necessarily think it altered my view or made me remap the city in any way. I feel like it gave me an advantage, maybe it was a disadvantage actually, because I would be reading fanfiction and the geography would be nonsensical and it’s like, this is not…we can just use Google Maps for this! Or it would be like, they would have characters doing things in places that made no sense. They would clearly have just picked a neighborhood where something would happen. “John Watson lives in blank,” and I’d be like “on what planet?!” Not even sensibility-wise, income-wise there would be no chance, not residential in any way, that kind of thing. So maybe it just made me more pedantic I think.

FK: This happened to me recently with Reylo fic set in New York so yes, I think we’re both pedantic and awful.

ELM: Fine, fine, great. I don’t know. It’s hard for me to say now, because I’m in a historical fandom, but I definitely think that living in the places where my things have been set, or having…I guess look at all my fandoms, almost entirely I’ve been in the U.K. So maybe that’s problematic. Maybe that makes me a…do you know that expression, teaboo?

FK: Teaboo!

ELM: It’s like weeaboo.

FK: It’s weeaboo except teaboo! You are totally a teaboo!

ELM: No, no I’m not! That’s offensive! No! Because then it would be like “I love British shows,” and… 

FK: OK, maybe you’re not that, but you’re a little bit!

ELM: No, not at all!

FK: Can I at least call you an anglophile? I did call you an anglophile the other day.

ELM: No! My friend very kindly had me for dinner at the high table at her Oxford college where she teaches, and I was talking to an elderly British woman who was like, literally the greatest woman ever, can you imagine—she’s 91 and she was like…she was wild. She was incredible. So we’re making conversation and I told her that I had lived in the U.K. for a while and that, it was some reason why I mentioned it ,but I said that I had studied the British empire. I don't know why but it wasn’t like I pulled it out of nowhere. And she was like “Oh, are you an anglophile?” I was like “Oh no, I wouldn’t say that!” But I also felt really awkward, cause that wouldn’t necessarily be what follows on from “I studied the British empire!” If I had said I studied British literature I could see that, but the empire? And what was I gonna say, “No, you colonizing monster!” Which is not how I feel either, I have very nuanced…I studied history, right, so I wasn’t gonna yell at her, but that was I thought a weird question to ask and I also felt kinda bad at how vehemently I was like “I AM NOT AN ANGLOPHILE!” so that’s fine. She was great. I don’t know her name. But it was magical. Just like Harry Potter, sitting at the high table.

FK: Well, on that note, maybe we should take a break, and then we should talk about the aspect of fandom tourism that we haven’t quite gotten into yet, which is set tours.

ELM: Yeah, let’s do that.


[Interstitial music]

FK: All right, we’re back. Second half of fandom tourism!

ELM: So, the obvious progression from going to visit a specific on site location is visiting them while it’s happening, Setlock is a famously documented one, that’s where people would come very respectfully and the crew worked with them and everything. Because Sherlock is often filmed on location and because it’s so public now, it’s like a tricky prospect, right.

FK: Right, or Supernatural fandom does this, X-files fandom… 

ELM: Do they film on location, Supernatural?

FK: They film in Vancouver on lots of locations. And same with X-files. X-files was also filmed up in Vancouver and they would be out and about.

ELM: Random places, yeah.

FK: Yeah. “Here’s a field that we’re gonna say is in Missouri.”

ELM: Sherlock’s challenge is that it’s always very urban places, and I know that’s gotta be hard for them. They’ve definitely had people photobombing their shots, famously. “Famously.” Like, if you’re in the fandom and you interrogate every scene in this show which has one episode total. Now it’s more, I know, but it feels that way. What’s the joke? Tahani’s joke?

FK: I don’t remember Tahani’s joke about this.

ELM: She shows Eleanor… 

FK: Oh, yeah! She shows her the BBC show and she’s like… 

ELM: “Oh, there were four episodes over sixteen years!” or something. [cracking up] Oh… 

FK: Thank you, BBC, for your super super super useful and helpful way of making television.

ELM: Also, also, aside about Jameela Jamil, did you see the incredible post that she did today? She’s wonderful.

FK: I did not see what she did today.

ELM: She went off, there was some post where it was like, they guessed the weights of the Kardashian and Jenner women and posted them over their heads like “what do you think, accurate?” And she just went off on it, and it was a really wonderful woman-empowering post. Like, there’s literally no sense in talking about women this way.

FK: That is wonderful. I will go and look at it when we’re done talking. We’ll put it in the show notes.

ELM: I just wanna say I’m a big Jameela Jamil fan.

FK: One thing I will say is our special episode about The Good Place… 

ELM: I didn’t just set it up for that, but you could.

FK: Well we did, we just made a special episode about The Good Place, so if you want to hear us talk more about The Good Place, go become a patron on our Patreon and you can listen to that.

ELM: And you'll hear about Flourish’s ship! [FK sighs exasperatedly] I thought about you yesterday, because The Good Place was a choice—you know on planes they only give you like one or two sitcom episodes, and you’re like “Oh fuck it, whatever, I’ll watch it?” So they had episodes 2.1 and 2.2. 2.2, my favorite episode. If you’ve seen it, you maybe know why I love it so much, but I thought of you. I was like “Oh, that is Flourish’s dog!”

FK: Yep. My soulmate. OK.

ELM: Oh, now it’s a self-insert? Of course it is. You always do that.

FK: OH MY GOD. Let’s get back on topic, though, because I think it is significant, the difference between “Oh, I went on location to see where they filmed and imagine myself into the world, or learn more about the real world aspects of it,” versus “I went to set to watch them filming,” and I’ve never done the…I’ve never been to set. I mean, I’ve been to set, but I’ve never been to set for something I’m a fan of, so I don’t know what that’s like.

ELM: Is that something that you have the desire to do? Cause I don’t think I have any desire to do that. I don’t wanna see the artifice stripped away if I’m feeling really emotionally attached to something.

FK: I think that I could, you know.

ELM: I could, you wouldn’t have to hold a gun to my head, it’s whether or not I want to.

FK: Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot because of Star Trek, and because of the ways that it is so obviously constructed, you know. It seems to me like maybe there’s different…with The X-files and Supernatural, I definitely would have gone, back before The X-files betrayed me, I would have gone to set and I would have been thrilled because it feels like…because it was so long-running, maybe, it seemed like almost the production became its own kind of character in the drama of fandom.

ELM: Yeah, it seems like Supernatural feels that way. That’s what I’m saying about Setlock too, that definitely is like…it’s a major fannish practice within that fandom. There’s specific experiences that happen there. And it means different things to different people. To some people it is also part of the detective process of “We’re gonna crack this, they coded this show by seeing the things they do…”

FK: Or getting spoilers! “I wanna go on set and see what’s happening and see if I can divine what’s gonna happen.”

ELM: Right, which is massive, and especially for Sherlock where there’s huge gaps. That’s a huge fannish practice. I’m gonna try to guess what happens in advance.

FK: This is making me really think about what, I can’t remember if it was Sean Stewart or Adrian who told this story…I know Sean has told me the story before, not on this show, not on this podcast…but the story about the ARG where all of the people who were following along with this television show, they were gonna win like a million dollars if they figured out what was gonna happen, sent their actor fans to read for all the parts… 

ELM: I remember that. Was it Sean? Cause both Sean and Adrian Hon talked about ARGs a lot and some of the same ones, so I can’t remember.

FK: I just know that Sean has told me this story a lot. So it makes me think about that, cause I’ve never…that’s the only time I’ve heard of fans organizing to that extent, and I sort of wish that people did it more. [laughing]

ELM: That’s a level of access…do you, do you wish that? That kinda gets down to like, I’m thinking about how Sherlock people would look at the casting calls, they would look at—I’m sure people do this in other fandoms, but this is the one that I’ve seen most recently. They’d look at, once it was cast, who was chosen and why, what the role said, whatever. I don’t…there’s two things going on that don’t appeal to me on a personal level. One is, I’m just gonna watch it. Obviously I have a lot of anticipation. Not for this show anymore, but I did at the time, you know. But I also, you know, long years of experience trying to predict what happens in the next Harry Potter book and then being like “Ah, for fuck’s sake,” it’s not that rewarding to me any more to try to guess in advance, so I’ll see.

But the other element of it is the idea of whether you’re invested in the deconstruction of your text, as a show. Do I care about the behind the scenes stuff? Do I care about what the actors have to say? Obviously it’s not all or nothing, right. I might care about the actors’ motivations or the writers talking about the backstory or the set people, there’s all these things, but maybe not. Maybe I just wanna see it as a text and a finished product and then engage with it.

FK: Right. There’s two things this is making me think of. One is, I’ve been going through all our back episodes trying to pull interesting quotes from them, and I was amused to find out that in one of our earliest episodes I was like “Yep! Spoilers! I love ’em!” and you were like “Oh God, no, oh God, oh God.” So this may just be a difference between us. But also I think that different fandoms…you’re saying about Sherlock, I think different fandoms have different levels of interaction with that or interest in it. With Harry Potter, it seemed like for a long time fandom didn’t have a lot of investment in that, partially because the actual movies were pretty hard for American fans to find anything out about. If you were… 

ELM: Oh, that’s interesting. That didn’t even occur to me, thinking about Harry Potter.

FK: They had pretty good security, but also if you weren’t in the U.K. you couldn’t find out about it, and I think a lot of American fans might have gotten more into it if it had been shot somewhere they could access.

ELM: Well, but, I’m talking about there’s multiple reasons you might wanna do it. One is to get closer to the actors or to just really see where all the magic is happening, and the other thing is for investigative purposes, and with Harry Potter films… 

FK: RIGHT. Because they were all already books. You’re right, that’s true. In any case, I think maybe because of that, yeah, it wasn’t such a big thing in Harry Potter, whereas in Star Trek—for example—most people agree that the best Star Trek film is Galaxy Quest, which is the Star Trek film that is about Star Trek fandom and not actual Star Trek. So.

ELM: Obviously people…there’s definitely things I like where it’s about, I love meta stuff, you kinda see the working parts. I loved Black Panther, by the way, my favorite Marvel movie ever, and I’m fairly critical of Marvel. One thing that I find fascinating about all Marvel movies, including Black Panther, is the kind of way that you can see the structures of the MCU and the structures of…you can see them, kind of simultaneously watch them as artistic products and also as part of this corporate media structure that has different priorities and where those clash and where those work together. You can even see it in Black Panther, which—unlike some of the other ones—it didn’t distract, but I also just think it was a better film, too, so. There are definitely some things.

But I don’t feel fannish about the MCU, so me saying “Well, I know these actors have these deals and this is their plan and this is how this movie slots in, these are the structures of Marvel and Disney and all that stuff,” that’s just interesting to me on a media criticism level, that’s not really on a fannish level.

Whereas on the stuff that I really feel fannish about, I am not as invested in that. I don’t really, and while I appreciate all the craft that goes into set design or cinematography, things like that, that’s not really my scene. I’m very much text focused, as you know. So being in TV fandoms, obviously I love to look at my faves and watch these gifs over and over again—cause I fuckin’ love gifs, as you know.

FK: Right, but you’re not gonna be like, “…and then I learned all about how the puppet actually worked they used for this monster in the thing, and this is how they made it work!”

ELM: You think that there are puppets in Black Sails?

FK: No no no! [ELM laughing] I was just trying to come up with some complicated prop that… 

ELM: Right, or the meaning of a decoration or what the…obviously that stuff is, or the costumes or whatever. I obviously appreciate it aesthetically, but because it’s not really an interest of mine on a fannish level, it’s not something that I really pursue, the behind-the-scenes stuff.

FK: It seems like those are almost two…I don’t wanna say they’re opposed to each other, cause I don't think they are, but I was thinking about the way that Disney approaches theme parks versus the traditional Universal Studios way of doing it, one of them being about movie magic and the other one being about immerse yourself into this world.

ELM: That’s funny, because I was just gonna say I thought that that was what Universal did too, because I have been to the Wizarding World…is it called the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

FK: Yeah, but the thing that was special about that was that that was the first time they’d ever really done that.

ELM: Really?

FK: You go through the parks and you go through some of the segments, there are pieces that are set up to look like a backlot, and that’s the draw.

ELM: That’s true. It’s funny to me, even more so than Epcot, the little regional sections, the little New York bit, feel like a New York movie set. They don’t feel like a cheesy Disney version of New York, which is what everything…I fuckin’ love Epcot, by the way. It’s so cheesy, and I would go, if you said “let’s go on a plane right now and go to Epcot,” and we would go very slowly through every country, and I would be like, “this is cheesy and I love it.” Such a, such goofy stereotypes of all these countries, you know!

FK: I know!

ELM: Do you love Epcot too?! We’re doin’ it! Don’t worry about it! You’re like, walking around the little France bit… 


ELM: This is absurd! And maybe offensive. But it’s fine, it’s Epcot, it’s celebrating the world’s cultures possibly in an offensive way, a stereotypical way.

FK: Right. Whereas Universal Studios does actually pretty much look like a backlot. You go on, I've been to a bunch of backlots, the Fox backlot for instance, pretty much is like: you walk down a little street and they’ve put up a bunch of buildings that you could reuse as a brownstone in a lot of different places.

ELM: And you’re thinking about it in a very meta way. “This is the magic of the movies. Let me get excited about movies.”

FK: Right, and it’s special when I’m in there and then it’s even more special when I see how they did it. “How did they do that?!” You know.

ELM: Whereas the Harry Potter, I was genuinely surprised when I walked in. I genuinely spun in a circle, 360.

FK: The Harry Potter Studio Tour?

ELM: No no, sorry, the… 

FK: The Wizarding World.

ELM: Universal Studios. I was just like “whoa!” One thing, it really feels like you are in the movie, it doesn’t feel like you’re in…I didn’t think “Oh, I’m in a magical place.” I was like “I feel like I’m in the movie.” It was “This is like being in Diagon Alley,” it was like “I am in the first movie.”

FK: Yeah, in it! In that space. Suddenly it’s VR 3D movie time and there’s things.

ELM: Yeah, which is funny because, as opposed to—I’ve also been on the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and you feel simultaneously closer and farther away from the movies, cause you’re there, it’s the real stuff, and there’s something about that materiality that’s interesting, I’m literally looking at the costume they put on their bodies. But you don’t really feel as immersed, so they’re exciting in different ways from a fannish perspective. It’s interesting that I’m calling them “exciting,” cause I just said I wasn’t interested in behind-the-scenes stuff, and you would think that then I would prefer the theme park, because I feel like I’m in it, I’m with my characters. I’m gonna sit on Sirius's motorbike, pretty exciting.

FK: [snickers] Sit on his motorbike, huh? [ELM cracks up] Sorry, I’m sorry, I know you didn’t mean anything like that, but then I… 

ELM: I’m gonna sit on this motorbike, that Hagrid also rode… 

FK: Oh my God, we’re going down a weird path here.

ELM: Harry rode Sirius's motorbike… 

FK: We’re going down a weird, weird path.

ELM: I’m going down a normal path, talking about a vehicle that several characters transported themselves on. [all laughing]

FK: Thank you, thank you. But I think that’s a really good point, and I think something that’s interesting to me, over a long period of time working with people in the film industry, is I think that maybe…I don’t know whether it’s because people who are fans of things, who are interested in that movie magic side, naturally go into the film industry, or the TV industry or whatever, or whether it’s that people in the TV industry happen to be like this. I don’t know which is the starting point. But I think that people are a lot more comfortable with fans who are interested in the movie magic aspect of it than in the immersion aspect of it in general.

ELM: That’s interesting. Can you articulate, can you expand on that or do you not really know…?

FK: No I can, I mean, the thing that got me thinking about this was how I realized after a while that everyone I’ve worked with is like, “Oh yeah, I’ve got behind the scenes stuff." BTS, as sometimes it is called, behind the scenes.

ELM: Isn’t that a famous K-pop band?

FK: It is also a famous K-pop band, and that can be confusing when you’re talking to somebody who cares about both these things.

ELM: Sure.

FK: Which is it? What do you mean? I don’t know? [laughs] But I think to some degree, maybe it’s because it’s easy to get behind-the-scenes footage, you’re already shooting a movie, so you might as well send someone around to get behind-the-scenes stuff, and then you can send that to fans, and fans in their experience are happy with that. I mean, most people are, right. I’m happy when there’s behind-the-scenes stuff. But then sometimes it’s like, that’s sort of where it ends. We’re making a movie and that’s the output and that’s the only thing there is for you to immerse in, so…it’s just interesting to me.

ELM: I wonder if some of this gets a little bit at the…not necessarily, as we’ve said, at length false binary of the affirmational/transformational thing, but maybe the kind of…the acquisition of facts, acquisition of materials, the sets, there’s something very…obviously you can get excited about them, but there’s something a little more cerebral in a sort of… You can say “Well, I understand the working parts and I’m excited about the technical aspects,” right? And there’s something maybe slightly…does it stress people out? Do they find it embarrassing, the idea that you say “I wanna be in it. I wanna live in this world”? Is that too much?

FK: Right, or it’s very quantifiable to say “I want to understand how the costumer goes about this and where each of these articles of clothing comes from and how they were…” You know what I mean, it’s one thing to be like that and to be like “I care about how she distressed this piece of clothing,” versus being like “Yeah, but I wanna understand the fictional tailors.”

ELM: Or, “I wanna wear that outfit so I can pretend to be, I wanna cosplay as this character so I can pretend to be the characters,” is really different than “I’m interested in the costume.” Obviously there’s overlap, many people feel both.

FK: Right. Cosplay, great. Saying “I wanna cosplay because I’m interested in the way that costuming works” is one thing, and I think that’s more acceptable, absolutely. Whereas the other kind, “I want to embody that character,” unless you're doing it in a very careful actorly way, right…if it’s like, “I have pleasure in embodying this character,” that’s scary.

ELM: If you’re like “I am this character” that does stress some people out.

FK: Or even just “I enjoy pretending to be this character.” That is also stressful, as opposed to “I am honing my ability to do impressions by pretending to be this character.” OK, maybe that’s all right. Maybe now we’re in the world of technical skill.

ELM: I feel like this is playing into some anxieties about divisions between fact and fiction, too. It’s interesting to think about where we draw those lines and that… 

FK: You still haven’t read Madame Bovary, have you.

ELM: I was supposed to read it for class and I only read 25%.

FK: I know. Several years ago on the podcast, in the first couple episodes, we talked about Madame Bovary and you wouldn’t let us spoil it.

ELM: Don’t spoil it, don’t spoil it!

FK: I won’t spoil it, but I will say this is very relevant to Madame Bovary and you should read it.

ELM: Ironically, maybe it's not ironically but coincidentally, one of the books I brought with me on this trip, cause I was just traveling for work the last three weeks, was James Wood’s How Fiction Works, which is one of my favorite books of all time, and he spends a lot of time doing close reads of Madame Bovary and it just reminded me what a bad fiction student I was—cause I literally was supposed to, my professor won’t listen to this, but I was supposed to read it for fiction class, not for an English class, on a craft level, and now James Wood is like deconstructing it, talking about what great examples and how it invented close third person and the modern novel blah blah blah, and I’m just sitting here being like “I shouldn’t be allowed to be either a book critic or a fiction writer.”

FK: Well maybe I should read James Wood’s book and you should read Madame Bovary and we should do a special episode about this.

ELM: Ooh.

FK: Right?

ELM: OK. Clarify. It’s James Wood… 

FK: I’m sorry.

ELM: Not James Woods, who’s a monster.

FK: Oh my God. [laughing]

ELM: I just need everyone to know that I would never, I in fact have blocked James Woods on Twitter cause I can’t see his garbage thoughts anymore. Not James Woods the actor. James Wood is a fiction critic.

FK: In any case, I think you’re right about there being this tension between the ideas of fact and fiction and the question of how it’s OK to like fiction and what is OK to like about fiction.

ELM: If you think about…I’m thinking about Guillermo del Toro. I don’t think he’s drawing these lines. But thinking about…I liked The Shape of Water, I know that some people are shitting on it this morning, it’s the day after the Oscars. I don’t know. Did you see it?

FK: No.

ELM: Did you see any of these Oscar movies? You saw Get Out.

FK: No! I saw Get Out. That’s the only one that I saw.

ELM: OK, well, I have strong feelings about a lot of them… 

FK: I didn’t go to the movies much and then I got this dog who finally can be left alone, but… 

ELM: Yeah, you can’t sit for a whole movie.

FK: It took like two months for him to be left alone, and in those two months, no movies. I haven’t seen Black Panther yet because certain dogs… 

ELM: Go see that before any of these movies, is what I would say.

FK: I will! I’m looking forward to it.

ELM: Some of the ones people were looking forward to, I hated, and I have remained very silent, cause I didn’t wanna be that guy being like “Actually, I think this one’s terrible.” [FK laughs] But people were kinda being, a lot of people were trashing Shape of Water this morning, admitting they hadn’t seen it, and that kinda annoys me.

FK: I hate that. Of course I just talked about Lady Bird for a bajillion years, so you know.

ELM: Shape of Water is kind of, there is some…maybe not fanfiction-y elements to it, but I don’t know if you know the origin story of it where he said—when he was a child and he felt like kind of a monstrous…he talks, he’s really interesting about the monstrous and the self and the other and things like that, and the internalized monstrousness of the other within yourself, all those themes. Which are really complicated when you study monstrousness within fiction, right. So his, very early when he was a child, he was six, he watched The Creature From The Black Lagoon and didn’t understand why the monster was stealing the woman away, and he didn’t understand why the monster was the bad guy and the smiley blond white guy or whatever…I actually haven’t seen Creature From The Black Lagoon, I'm just paraphrasing what he said. He’s the hero and rescues the girl. He’s flipping that and there’s something kinda fanfictional about that.

FK: It’s similar to things like Phantom of the Opera and so forth, except it’s a dude saying he identifies with the monster as opposed to a woman saying the monster is sexy to her.

ELM: This movie is also the monster is sexy… 

FK: Yeah, I understand that, I just meant in the story, the way he was talking about it.

ELM: And so consensual! I keep saying [laughing] that this fish sex is super, super about consent. I don’t know why it needs to be said, but I feel like it’s a really relevant point. Anyway, Guillermo del Toro is an interesting case cause he’s fascinated by these actual creatures, he has this whole separate house full…and he’s obsessed with the making of movies, and I was talking to my coworker about this movie, and he was like “I think every filmmaker gets their one movie that gets to be about movies.”

FK: [laughs] Yes! Everyone gets one.

ELM: And this has a scene where—it’s not much of a spoiler, but the monster—“the monster.” The fish guy and the protagonist do a Hollywood dance number. But he’s a fish man.

FK: [laughs] He’s a fish man!

ELM: She’s wearing a nice dress and he’s just a fish man dancing! So it’s very clearly about this love of movies and this embodying that love of that fiction, while also simultaneously he’s very interested in these technical elements and that artifice, and I think that’s interesting. I think it’s kind of rare—from what I've seen of a lot of filmmakers—that they love all of it, because I do feel like a lot of filmmakers are more interested in the technical ends of it. I don’t know if that's unfair.

FK: I don’t think it's unfair. People can be interested in both but better at technical ends.

ELM: Directors aren’t the writers always, so.

FK: Exactly.

ELM: There’s difference there, right. But I don’t know. I love how this was supposed to be about fandom tourism and now we’re doing this deep dive into… 

FK: I think we may have gotten off topic and it’s about time to wrap up, almost.

ELM: Yeah, that’s fair.

FK: Maybe we should wrap up on this saying, “OK, fandom tourism.” Here’s what I think. Can I recap a little bit of what we talked about? Fandom tourism, we started off and we ended up talking about sort of three types of fandom tourism almost. One of which is the sort of learning about a place in order to understand more about things that aren’t in the fiction, right?

ELM: Or, or… 

FK: But that you couldn't fully understand… 

ELM: Just trying to literally embody the fictional world. That’s the far extreme here, right? I think this is a spectrum.

FK: Right, and then somewhere in the middle of the spectrum you get to the place where you’re like, “I’m imagining myself as the character and imagining being in this space,” but it’s not a deep…it’s an emotional experience, not an emotional-plus-intellectual one? Is that… 

ELM: I don’t know if I wanna draw those lines, cause I feel like… 

FK: It can be both. Why not both?

ELM: I’ve been called out on this before, when I was doing this Fandom 101 talk back in the fall, and I said that fannish capital—for a lot of transformative fandom—is affect and emotion, and fannish capital for affirmational fandom is all about acquisition of knowledge. And someone came up to me afterwards and was like, “I think that people…there’s a lot of emotion involved in this knowledge acquisition space too.”

FK: OK, so maybe there’s three, there’s the knowledge acquisition of the fictional world, the knowledge acquisition of the set world, the making-of world, right… 

ELM: What I would say is, basically the three types that we’re talking about here are the spectrum basically: how much are you invested in keeping up that fourth wall? Essentially.

FK: Inside yourself, yeah.

ELM: So me going and trying to walk the streets of Thomas Hamilton’s London is very much: lemme imagine Thomas Hamilton is a real person, and what would he have been standing on? What would he have been thinking as he looked at this? That is full immersion fourth wall. I’m visiting the Kit Kat Club and imagining that these would be contemporaries. You know. And even the Kit Kat Club, imagining what they would be thinking as they were meeting and going about their business, right? And this involves keeping that fourth wall up very strongly.

FK: Embodying yourself into the fiction as much as you possibly can through the magic of being into a place and really building…building, almost wrapping it like an armor around yourself. Versus the other extreme being: “I am going to go to set for Supernatural, which is definitely not in Iowa or wherever they say it is, and I know this because I flew to Vancouver and I went to the place,” and it’s all about being on the set… 

ELM: Cause I love the actors too.

FK: “I love the actors, I wanna understand how they get the car to do the thing, and I’ve seen it but I don’t really comprehend it yet, so I’m gonna watch as they shoot it and it’ll be cool.” Right?

ELM: I kinda feel like if you are on the other end of the spectrum, you can’t—the spectrum I think does have to exist, because if you are watching them film on a set, you are deliberately breaking that fourth wall. Right? You are there, there’s no wall. Right?

FK: I don’t think that it eliminates some sort of frisson of immersion, right? I think that even if I were in… 

ELM: Frisson of immersion.

FK: Right. If I were to go and encounter Baby the car, and sit in it, even if I knew it was a dead car that didn’t move because it’s just on a set and…I think I would still feel like “Oh!” you know. “I’m immersed!”

ELM: I think that’s a bit different, though, because you’re still gonna know that this is the car they’re using…that’s a materiality thing, in addition. Would I be more excited if I encountered Sirius’s motorbike to ride in—it’s based on a Triumph motorcycle, it’s a real motorcycle, it’s a British motorcycle from that period. From the mid 20th century. If I saw one of those in the wild on a random street, where I could imagine it being…that’s really different than me going to see the…being able to sit on a replica. Stop smiling, it’s a vehicle, there’s no metaphor here…! [laughing] Sit on a replica of it in a theme park, where I feel like I’m immersed in the world, or to sit on the one that they—I love how I’m sitting on it in all these… 

FK: While they’re shooting it, yeah. While they’re shooting and you come on set.

ELM: I think that some of this inherently—obviously I don’t think it means you’re one type of person or another, but I don’t know if you can have those same experiences at the same time. If you are doing anything that engages with breaking the fourth wall, seeing behind the scenes, I don’t think that you can do the full immersive, “The fourth wall is up and I’m, this is real to me.” Something that’s magical, Star Wars or whatever, you’re never really gonna be able to…there’s no way to actually immerse yourself. If it’s based in the real world then you can do that, but otherwise you’re gonna have to, there’s gonna be some level of it that is that fictional. Acknowledging that it is a fiction. Whereas I can just pretend that it’s 1705. It smells so much better than it would.

FK: I was gonna say, I think that it has to be contemporary too. But in any case I think this was a good summary of all the things we talked about. Other things we talked about, we’re going to do a special episode about Madame Bovary.

ELM: Oh my God.

FK: So that’ll be great once we do it someday, once we’ve both read it. I need to reread it. I mean. I’ve read it before, but.

ELM: I got it on my shelf, so. There it is.

FK: Should we do our wrap-up stuff now?

ELM: Yeah, I think we’re all set, but I would love to hear people’s feelings about this broad arc of the spectrum that we’re doing, and you know, especially if people engage in fan tourism that is the stuff that…it sounds like you would be really into visiting sets, and that’s not really my scene, so maybe we are covering more of the spectrum.

FK: I like both. Why not both? [laughs]

ELM: I’m not saying, none of this is mutually exclusive, and even when you’re in the same fandom, some days you may wanna say “I am Sherlock walking around” and some days you may wanna see the set as it’s happening. It can go either way. But I’d be curious to hear people’s experiences, if they had thoughts about how they think about that kind of fictional world—vs. the artifice sort of stuff. Really interesting to me.

FK: It is. So if you want to send us your thoughts about that you can get into contact with us in many ways. Fansplaining at gmail.com is our email. Fansplaining.com is a Tumblr with an open ask box, anon is on, please don’t be a jerk. We also have a Twitter which is @fansplaining, a Facebook which is just Fansplaining, you can contact us through either of those if you really want to. As always, patreon.com/fansplaining is how you can donate some of your hard-earned money to keep us going. There’s lots of really wonderful ways that you can be rewarded for that, including by getting to listen to the special episode about Madame Bovary—or one that has already been done, which we just said, about The Good Place, so go, you know.

ELM: Not just The Good Place! For $3 a month you get access to all the special episodes,. For some reason we’re now doing every Michael Schur show, so the last two have been about The Good Place and Brooklyn 99 respectively. We also do, we’ve done some on fanfiction, individual stories. We’ve done one on Buffy. They’re our space to talk about pop culture, which is something we don’t really do here unless it comes up, explicitly talk about the source material—as opposed to talking about the way people engage with it, or the way it’s made, or riding Sirius’s motorbike.

FK: Yep. So if you have money you can do that. If you don’t have any money, sending in your thoughts is a great way to show your support. Also, you can rate us on iTunes.

ELM: Yes!

FK: We believe we deserve five stars; you can put whatever you think we deserve on there, but it helps other people find our podcast, so please be kind and do that for us.

ELM: And a review! Reviews would be really really wonderful, if you have five minutes to write a couple sentences. But not mean ones. Please don’t be mean.

FK: OK. I think that that’s it.

ELM: [laughing] No flames!

FK: No flames, no flames. OK. Elizabeth I will talk to you later and I promise I will not flame you.

ELM: Don’t flame me!


ELM: OK bye!

FK: Bye.

[Outro music, disclaimers and thank yous]