Episode 75: Bad Fans

 
 
Episode 75’s cover: the characters of ALL IN THE FAMILY.

In Episode 75, “Bad Fans,” Elizabeth and Flourish discuss Emily Nussbaum’s concept of the “bad fan”: people who read against the expectations of the source material to celebrate the bad behavior of characters, from anti-heroes to villains. They then discuss a listener letter about the concept of redemption: what makes a character redeemable? Do all characters deserve to be redeemed? How does fandom grant redemption? Finally, they discuss alternate universes—yes, again.

 

Show Notes

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

[00:01:40] 

@nataliereed84 tweets: “Im coining a new word: ‘fansplaining’. When a fan condescendingly explains the basics of an industry to a professional who is already comfortably established within it.”

[00:02:55] Emily Nussbaum wrote about the concept of the “bad fan” in The New Yorker several times, first in “That Mind-Bending Phone Call On Last Night’s ‘Breaking Bad,’”then in “Fandom’s Great Divide” and “The Female Bad Fan.” 

The episode in which we discuss the Great Szechuan Sauce Debacle is #70, “Our Most Passionate Fans.”

[00:16:34] The “Reylo episode” is actually #66, “The Humanizing Turn.”

[00:19:26] Rukmini Pande speaks at length on the issue of which villains get to be complex, interesting characters (in fans’ eyes, at least) in Episode #29, “Shipping and Activism.”

[00:20:30] The interstitial music is "Urbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix)“ by spinningmerkaba featuring Morusque, Jeris, CSoul, and Alex Beroza, used under a CC-BY license.

[00:31:51]  

An animated gif of a cat wearing a tiny construction helmet, pressing a red glowing button.

[00:35:11] NPR has covered restorative justice many times. One thoughtful segment from All Things Considered is “After Assault, Some Campuses Focus On Healing Over Punishment.” (TW sexual assault!) In The Atlantic, “When Restorative Justice in Schools Works” by Emily Richmond covers slightly less traumatic ground. The New York Times also covered it in “Can Forgiveness Play a Role in Criminal Justice?” (by Paul Tullis).

[00:44:21] "The Two Crucial Filmmaking Elements Causing All Your Movie Feuds” is by Film Crit Hulk (yes, the joke Twitter personality) in the Observer.

[00:48:11] The interstitial music is "Urbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix)” by spinningmerkaba featuring Morusque, Jeris, CSoul, and Alex Beroza, used under a CC-BY license.

[00:48:41] We’re discussing Episode 72, “Alternate Universes.”

[00:50:02] The Aaron Burr fic is “Between Our Words” by notevenyou. The Kuroko no Basuke fic series is Designation: Miracle by umisabaku.

[00:50:22] If you want a pro gamer AU, the one Flourish fell into is “Play To Win” by Enterprisingly.

[00:51:55] Anarchy in the UK is by Yahtzee.

[00:56:50] Lori Morimoto introduced us to the incredibly useful concept of “contact zones” in Episode 71!

And the outro music is  "Urbana-Metronica (wooh-yeah mix)“ by spinningmerkaba featuring Morusque, Jeris, CSoul, and Alex Beroza, used under a CC-BY license. Again. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Transcript

[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 75, “Bad Fans,” 75, kind of a big milestone I guess? An arbitrary milestone, but a big one.

FK: It’s not totally arbitrary. It’s like, three-quarters of the way to 100.

ELM: Yeah, but why is 100 important?

FK: Why is any milestone important, Elizabeth?

ELM: I’m saying it’s all arbitrary and obviously it’s been given meaning. That’s how tradition and ritual gets meaning. That’s how rituals are created. I took anthropology, Flourish! I know how these things work. Religious anthropology in fact!

FK: [laughing] Wait, there was a course called “religious anthropology”? That’s amazing!

ELM: It’s a whole subfield of anthropology!

FK: I think this is about as much celebration of this, I don’t think that we’ve decided to make this a big milestone. But it still felt like we had to mention it.

ELM: Sure! 75 episodes. That’s really exciting! I mean, obviously I’m just gunning for 100, cause it’s the most important arbitrary… 

FK: Can we have a cake when it’s 100?

ELM: I think we should have a party.

FK: Let’s have a party when it’s 100.

ELM: We’ll get a cake for the party.

FK: Yeah. This is a plan. All right! Also important today, if anybody has joined us because of the tweet in which somebody said they coined “fansplaining,” a term for people who explain a field to a professional… 

ELM: Who mansplain, ’splain it.

FK: Right, at a convention.

ELM: Like if I’m at a comics panel and I raise my hand and I’m like [silly voice] “Well, the way that comics actually works…” to a bunch of comic book artists, that’s “fansplaining.” It’s a fine definition, not thrilled that this tweet went viral with the name of our podcast, but people tagged us in it and that led to a bunch of people following us, so if you just found us that way, we’ll take it!

FK: Yeah, sure, why not, right? [laughing] To be fair, I’m not sure what we decided “fansplaining” really…other than that we're explaining fans, I think it’s just…we were just being cheeky. We weren’t trying to seriously declare this as a term for a thing.

ELM: Yeah, I mean, there’s obviously a lot of reclaiming the ’splaining. There was “femsplain” as well, and… 

FK: Yeah.

ELM: So yeah, this is not that. Kind of fansplaining. To clarify.

FK: No, it’s not.

ELM: So welcome. We’re gonna be talking about bad fans, but not what you might think that means.

FK: What do you think people think that means? Is an important question for me! [laughing]

ELM: We’re taking this title from a series of articles by Emily Nussbaum, who’s the TV critic for The New Yorker, and when she first wrote “bad fan” I assumed, and this is what I think other people assumed, we were talking about kind of the Rick and Morty fandom debacle that we talked about a few episodes ago. The “I’m gonna murder a McDonald’s worker because I didn’t get some sauce.” That’s a bad fan. That was referencing that show.

FK: I’m gonna scream at the writer for not doing the thing I want them to do.

ELM: Threaten a showrunner because they didn’t make my ship canon. That’s some bad fan behavior, certainly! Or inter-fandom. I’m going to be [laughing] vocally racist to other fans about certain characters or whatever. That seems bad behavior within fandom and bad personal behaviors. But this…should I summarize Emily Nussbaum’s arguments? These are from a few years ago.

FK: Yeah do it, because you’re the one who sent them to me, so you should be the one to summarize them.

ELM: As an employee of The New Yorker I get the great privilege, sure. And your reax.

FK: R - E - A - X, thank you.

ELM: My favorite use of the word “reax” is we’re in this seltzer group, Now Fizzing, we both are, we really enjoy it. And regularly people will say something that's sad, like “Oh no there’s no more fizz at my store,” and then they write “Sad reax only,” and I always get great pleasure in hitting the sad face on that one. “That was what I was gonna react with, yes, agree!” Anyway, Emily Nussbaum, 2013 I think she wrote the first post, this was a blog post about Breaking Bad, and that’s where she first invoked the term “bad fan.” For context, I haven’t actually seen Breaking Bad, I don’t think you have either.

FK: No! I’ve, I mean, I’ve seen like three episodes, but.

ELM: But we know the basics. He’s a chemistry teacher who’s diagnosed with cancer and starts cooking meth.

FK: Yeah, because we live in the United States so people don’t get health care. So he has to cook meth to take care of his family and shit.

ELM: He’s, I don’t know, is he a psychopath? Is he…he commits…great violence.

FK: As far as we can tell, he seems to be a person who has a bad idea and then becomes a seriously fucked up antihero person who murders a lot of people at different points.

ELM: And commits really atrocious acts.

FK: Yeah, my understanding of it is it’s kind of a narrative of maybe a slippery slope of moral decay, a little bit? Please at us if you actually have watched this.

ELM: Let’s start our spinoff podcast, “Flourish and Elizabeth try to summarize…”

FK: [laughing] Things they’ve never watched!

ELM: “…famous television shows they haven’t seen.” It’s fine! It’s not unique amongst, I think it’s the gold standard of the murdery antihero on quote-unquote “prestige TV” in the last 15 years. Tony Soprano was the ur-murdery antihero star.

FK: Completely.

ELM: But I think this is pretty common. To be fair, one of my favorite shows ever, Black Sails, well, it’s not just the main guy. It’s basically everyone.

FK: I love Hannibal. We’re all in for a murdery… 

ELM: Sure. And they’re not murdering without cause on Black Sails.

FK: Hannibal totally is. [laughing]

ELM: There’s a few minor characters who murder because they seem to be like, just, you know. Amoral psychopaths or whatever, and they’re like… 

FK: Hannibal murders people he doesn’t like. He does have reasons for murdering people or not. They’re just not reasons that cohere with [laughs] morality or reality… 

ELM: Anyway! So Emily Nussbaum was talking about Walter White, she was talking about Breaking Bad fans’ reaction, saying that he’s an antihero and he’s committing these atrocious acts and people revere him for it. And so they are the bad fans. They are interpreting it in a way that…it’s supposed to, a violent antihero is supposed to show you how you should not live your life, and instead if he’s being celebrated then are you a bad fan? Because you’re a fan of a bad thing and that’s bad. Right? I’ll say “bad” like a hundred times in this.

FK: Right. Instead of understanding the show as a cautionary tale [laughing] you’re understanding it as “Yeah! Let’s go do that!”

ELM: Right. So that’s where she coined it, this caused a lot of stir. Then the following year, 2014 I think it was, she wrote a longer piece in the magazine that I would highly highly highly recommend everyone read, regardless of their take on this, because it was so relevant to what's going on right now on TV. It was about All In The Family because there was, a book had come out that she was reviewing. I believe it was called Sitcom. And it was talking about All In The Family which, should I summarize All In The Family a little bit? If we have… 

FK: Yes please.

ELM: OK. So in the early ’70s, we were not there, our parents and some of our listeners were in the midst of great social change in the U.S. A kind of big sea change with everything shifting. And Norman Lear, who was a liberal Jewish Hollywood guy, created All In The Family, which was a sitcom starring Archie Bunker, who was a bigot, I think is the simplest way to say it.

FK: He was the dad. That’s not the actor who starred in it, that’s the character. [laughing]

ELM: Yeah, no, Archie Bunker… 

FK: He’s the bigoted dad and he represents sort of the old ideas that you’re not supposed to think, or, right?

ELM: Yeah, and in an era, not to say that everyone falls into the big generational categories, but these would be our grandparents’ age, and with the prime demographic at that time being our parents, who are Baby Boomers. Not to pigeonhole everyone into these generations. So he had all these bigoted ideas and thoughts and said them out loud and he would use slurs, not the most extreme slurs notably, ones you could get away with saying on TV at the time, that kind of thing.

FK: In other words he’s not, like, a KKK member, he’s… 

ELM: Well, that’s even a little extreme.

FK: He could have a Confederate flag flying on his bumper maybe, is that even the right comparison?

ELM: That’s too far I think, he wouldn’t say the N-word, but he would say racist things against black people. Obviously it’s a spectrum and racism is still racism or whatever, also.

FK: Right. But the pitch or the type of racism is, I think, being absolutely painted for us.

ELM: So this article is great, cause it really digs into it in talking about the—Norman Lear’s intent was to say that this bigotry was absurd. And not something to be feared, but laughed out of existence. “Look at this dinosaur, with his terrible backwards ideas, he’s the butt of the joke, and we just need to excise these sort of attitudes rather than hide them.” I understand that, but I also understand the response of saying, “Well, it didn’t exactly work.” This is just a man saying a bunch of racist and homophobic shit on television! And, the way that it backfired is that a lot of people related to him and thought of him as this hero.

The article speaks so much to our current time that it actually is almost alarming to me that we could be in such a similar position 40+ years later in terms of the way the culture talks. To the point where it makes me feel slightly hopeless. [laughing] But that aside, the bad fans in that scenario are the people who saw Archie Bunker, instead of seeing him as an absurd racist who should be laughed at, as someone who was tellin’ it like it is, just sayin’ what we're all thinking, that kind of thing. So that was not Norman Lear’s intent, so they’re the bad fans. Right?

FK: Right. I find this really interesting because so much of what we talk about, you and I specifically often, is about reading against texts and reading something into it that was not intended. I’m not…please don’t take this as me being morally relativist because I do think that some people have bad attitudes towards the world and want to do bad things, but if you’re just going to critique the mode rather than the content of…you know what I mean? It’s a question of the mode that people are using to read into this is the same mode, into Archie Bunker, is the same mode as queer people have used to read into Disney villains for ages.

ELM: Ooh well no no no, I would disagree with that, because Archie Bunker…it’s [laughs] his bigotry is not subtext!

FK: OK, fair enough.

ELM: I understand where you’re going, but I don’t know if that is exactly the right… 

FK: They’re not precisely the same thing. I mean, I think there’s also something interesting too which is that in the Archie Bunker case holding those beliefs is itself the problem, so by valorizing Archie Bunker you are already doing the thing that Archie Bunker does. Literally. You are engaged in the same thing. Whereas in the Disney villain case you’re, you know, maybe you’re “Yeah, I don’t care, that is a really amazing swoopy person and I think they’re awesome, so fuck you,” and it’s not exactly the same thing, and also if you go over to Walter White, saying “He’s awesome and badass and murders people like he just doesn’t care” is not the same thing as going out and murdering somebody. Right?

ELM: Yeah. I think that drawing comparisons like that is kind of removing the structures and the structural inequities from these conversations. So reading any kind of queer subtext whether it’s a villain or whether it’s a hero, is different than taking what’s meant to be either the butt of the joke or a cautionary tale or a model of bad behavior and saying “No, but that’s actually how I want to be.”

FK: But don’t you think that Disney villains are supposed to be models of bad behavior in certain ways? I feel like that’s one of the things that they function as within there.

ELM: What have they ever done wrong? [FK laughing] Ursula? Don’t worry about it.

FK: No, but you know what I mean. One of the, in Disney villains one of the things about it is, you’re supposed to watch Ursula and be like “Yeah, she’s awful because she’s fat and she’s over-the-top and she’s got this crazy hair and all this…”

ELM: Literally modeled on a drag queen, right.

FK: Those are supposed to be the reasons you don’t like her. It is literally teaching you: don’t be that person because that’s bad.

ELM: But she’s so good!

FK: I agree! Which is also what someone would say about Archie Bunker if we had different attitudes!

ELM: But this is too much moral relativism! This gets too deep too fast.

FK: No no. I’m not saying those people are not bad fans. I’m saying the reason that they’re bad fans is not because of the fact that they are taking the story in a way that it was not intended. The reason they’re bad is because I find them morally repugnant.

ELM: Yeah, but maybe the idea of a bad fan in general is a flawed one, because it’s kind of a double meaning here too, right? Is the badness because they’re not reading it in the way that Norman Lear intended, or is the badness that they’re reveling in someone’s badness? The final big article she wrote about this was about Sex and the City and it was about the female bad fan. She wrote about it a bunch actually in talking about how Sex and the City set a model for this sort of female antihero. Saying that female protagonists, single-girl female protagonists that were before Carrie Bradshaw were people like Mary Tyler Moore, and for any of their flaws they were also charming and likable.

FK: Fundamentally you’re supposed to, yeah. They were supposed to be someone you could even aspire to be.

ELM: Yeah! They weren’t flawless…I’m not sure, and I think Emily Nussbaum knows her stuff, I’m not sure I wholly agree. I think that, how do we characterize Roseanne? How do we characterize Murphy Brown? There are female…but of a sort of, more romcom-y sort of… 

FK: You could never call Roseanne an antihero.

ELM: Well, now you could.

FK: Yeah well, OK. OK. Move along, move along, move along. [all laugh]

ELM: I wish we could give it a different name so I could think of it as a different show. Don’t get me started. But you know, yeah, that’s true actually. That’s fair. They were female protagonists who were meant to be flawed in some way, they were challenging complex protagonists.

FK: Right, but that’s different than an antihero.

ELM: OK. All right then. Unimpeachable. She seems correct. And it was talking about how that lays the, she’s written about how that lays the foundation for characters like the characters in Girls or The Mindy Project or anywhere else where—maybe even Liz Lemon to some degree too. That kind of female character.

FK: I think she makes a really good point in that article where I think she’s talking about The Mindy Project when she says that it’s distressing when fans get upset with Mindy for doing things that are not good. It’s like, “Yeah, that’s the point.” She’s a flawed character who, and it’s not supposed to be endorsing everything she does. The show does not endorse everything Mindy does.

ELM: But I think that brings some of the structural stuff into it too because when it’s a woman, particularly when it’s a woman of color, and I think you find this with any protagonist of color or queer protagonist or whatever, there’s that structural inequity and that weight on that character. I want to love all of you but also maybe you’re letting the side down, that kind of thing. It’s hard because no one is flawless. Right? And no one is gonna be a perfect model person. Who even wants that out of their fiction, either?

FK: Absolutely. I will say that I think that sometimes…as we talked about in the Reylo episode. “The Reylo episode,” we didn’t call it that. “The Humanizing Turn”! The episode where I fell down a Reylo hole and we all talked about this. [laughs] As we talked about in that episode, I do think there’s something about the heightening vs. the day-to-day aspects. The Mindy Project, fundamentally, she’s making mistakes and doing things that are slightly heightened versions, but they’re everyday mistakes, whereas when you get up to something like Westworld where you have…I don’t think that anybody finds it a spoiler to say that lots of people are getting killed, sometimes by women…and I think it’s OK then, sometimes, when you’re like “Yeah, that character is a, they’re making terrible moral decisions, but I also want to see them kill all these people cause it’s a delightful revenge fantasy,” that’s OK. Beatrix Kiddo in Kill Bill, yeah, you bet we’re cheering for her to kill everyone. Because it’s so far away from reality, and I think that one question is, is Walter White that far away? How do you think of Walter White, is he that far away from reality or is he something that feels like reality to you?

ELM: I think that that’s one of the troubles that some people have with shows like that and The Sopranos, where it’s people who exist in the world, and it’s meant to be not that far from reality as opposed to, like, yeah. Black Sails is supposed to have some element of realism to it, but also, like, well, it’s in the past, you know? Situation’s real fucked up in this town, so…don’t worry about it. [FK laughing] You do what you have to do, friends.

That’s why I think sometimes it’s harder for people with something like, say, All In The Family or The Mindy Project or something, where you have a protagonist who's either bigoted—or with some of the female protagonists that are listed in this antihero list, deeply selfish, acting in ways that you would never want to emulate, harmful on a personal level but just…emotional harm, not killing someone, just [FK laughing] this selfishness. You see that with male protagonists too obviously, but obviously we have more to say… 

FK: Like Don Draper or somebody, right. I think he’s a great example of someone who’s constitutionally very selfish and… 

ELM: Right, and it’s like, well, is a protagonist meant to be someone you idolize? I don’t think so, but it’s also complicated when a character’s so fundamentally selfish and they’re the driving force of a show. You know? Then what are we supposed to…how are we supposed to reconcile that, and what does it mean to be a fan of that character?

FK: I do think that there’s a lot to do with race and gender in terms of how people are perceived and what our reactions are and how much we can sink into that catharsis, too. Even though I used the example of Beatrix Kiddo as someone who’s in a heightened situation, I think that there’s still something under that. Who gets to be the person that we cheer on in that respect? Versus who has to be a good role model.

ELM: Well, if you would like to see a diverse cast murdering people, can I recommend Black Sails, the 18th century pirate show.

FK: I think that you have, many times.

ELM: Let me just say once more: it’s a great show if you wanna see people commit some crimes! [laughing] It’s fine. It’s fine. This is funny, because the impetus for this episode, we haven’t even read the letter we received yet. Maybe we should take a quick break before we read it, but spoiler, the letter is about redemption and redeeming characters who have committed crimes, and we’ve basically so far just talked about liking characters who commit these crimes. So I think that’s kind of a funny flip side of the same question.

FK: Well, let’s take a break and then read the letter, and then we’ll try and get on the subject of redemption.

ELM: Who needs to be redeemed? Don’t worry about it!

FK: All right!

ELM: OK.

[Interstitial music]

FK: All right, we’re back!

ELM: You gonna read our letter?

FK: Yeah OK. So this letter is from Jennifer. “I was watching Killing Eve today and was reminded that I meant to send you a question after I listened to Episode 66. You talked a little about the difficulties in a ship like Reylo, because Kylo Ren isn’t really a redeemable character. Since I’m also doing a Xena: Warrior Princess rewatch, and watching to the ‘Xena Warrior Podcast,’ I’ve been thinking some about what makes a character redeemable, and I would like to hear your thoughts on that.

“You talked a little about the necessity to humanize the characters, or make the ships meet in the middle, but not really about what makes a character redeemable, other than the fact that Kylo is probably past redemption. The entirety of Xena is about a journey of redemption. Can any amount of good works ever truly make up for the sins of the past? Is there really any way to make up for murdering thousands of people?

“The conclusion Xena: Warrior Princess seems to reach is that it is possible, but it ultimately results in her death.” Spoiler! Sorry guys. “I was reminded of this question while watching Killing Eve today as I thought about what it would take for Villanelle to have a happy ending, either as a character or a ship.” And just to note, Villanelle is a character on Killing Eve.

ELM: The blonde woman.

FK: I guess so, yeah.

ELM: You think so? Or Sandra Oh’s character.

FK: No, she’s not Sandra Oh’s character so she must be the blonde woman. Hooray! We solved the problem! Sorry Jennifer. We have not watched Killing Eve, obviously.

ELM: We both really want to. It seems like everyone’s really really into it. But we don’t have BBC America or cable so that’s that.

FK: Yeah, we can never possibly buy this à la carte. [laughing] It’s just not possible.

ELM: Someday, someday, it’s fine. Maybe they’ll put it on Hulu.

FK: That would be nice. So one thing I just want to note, so that my fellow Reylos don’t come for me, is I’m not sure that I believe that Kylo Ren is completely irredeemable, I’m just not sure that it’s gonna happen in the films and I have a hard time seeing how it could be achieved, like…I think individual characters could forgive him. I don’t know that that’s the same thing as being redeemable. But I wanna make it clear, because I have been on Reylo twitter too much in the past three months now.

ELM: Oh wow Flourish.

FK: There’s too much going on. I don’t want to misrepresent my opinions cause that way leads to people yelling at you.

ELM: So a few things strike me. One is really serious [laughing] thoughts about JESUS. You know?

FK: YES YES.

ELM: I immediately start thinking about Christianity! [laughing]

FK: Do you want to go down, we can go down a Jesus rabbit hole about this!

ELM: Good ol’ Jesus rabbit hole!

FK: For those who might have joined us and don’t know, we’re both Episcopalians and have feelings about Jesus [laughing] but we try not to bring it into the podcast too much except when you ask us a question that’s literally about redemption, sorry guys, we’ll stop.

ELM: Look. So what would Jesus say? He would forgive you.

FK: [laughing] Yes! I feel pretty certain.

ELM: [laughing] I mean it’s kind of on you, if you needed to be redeemed, you have to ask for forgiveness, right. You have to want the forgiveness. And then Jesus is like “You got it buddy.” That’s in the Bible. [both laughing]

FK: Yeah, thank you for that great paraphrase. But on a fandom level I do think that the question about what makes a character redeemable is at least partially, one of the things we were talking about before the break when we were talking about “bad fans” has to do with this question of…it’s not just, this question is not about “Can you write a story in which someone forgives someone else?” Right? It’s not, to me that’s not what this question is about, this question is partially about community ideas about what people think of as redeemable, or what “redeemable” even means.

ELM: Who deserves it.

FK: It’s very socially determined. Again, I’m not a moral relativist, I’m not saying that all these answers are correct, but I do think that different groups of people will come up with different answers if you ask that.

ELM: Yeah. And the other thing that strikes me from this message, I realize how we framed the Reylo conversation…not necessarily completely, but it was relatively focused on the idea of redemption happening via a ship, and I don’t disagree that that’s a big thing, and I also think it's one of the functions of shipping—can be to do this sort of work. But I also don’t want it to seem like the only way that you can redeem characters is via a second character, either forgiving them or teaching them to not be a bad murderer or whatever.

FK: Yeah, I mean, I agree and I disagree. I think to some extent yes. But if people are never challenged by others, I’m not talking about romantically or sexually, if you’re a human and you exist with no one around—and we’re assuming that God is not speaking to you—then…you’re not going, I don’t know why you would change your mind about things. Maybe you just think about it and you think differently… 

ELM: Seriously? You don’t think people can experience, this is going to get into the conversation we have literally every time we talk about morality and ethics and conscience. But that suggests to me that people only commit good works due to external pressures and only regret bad works due to external pressures, where I think for a lot of people there is an internal struggle there.

FK: I’m not saying that internal struggle doesn’t exist, I’m just saying I think that if people already have the seeds of those ideas, if they already have the seeds of those ideas then perhaps they change their mind in time, but I don’t see if there’s nothing…if there’s no new inputs, right? And there’s nothing at starting… 

ELM: Who is this hypothetical character living in the fortress of solitude?

FK: All I’m saying is I think there is something about interactions with people. We learn through our relationships with people, they don’t necessarily have to be sexual or romantic. They’re almost always sexual or romantic in fanfic.

ELM: Not almost always! No no, we’ve seen the stats. It’s something like a third of all fic is gen.

FK: That’s still mostly not gen.

ELM: It’s a third versus two-thirds. Those are big numbers.

FK: Yeah but like…I am a married person, I can guarantee that as much as I love my husband it’s not two thirds of my life is centered around everything him, it’s not… 

ELM: That’s a weird way to, this is a weird way to interpret the AO3 stats I just gave! [laughing]

FK: I’m just saying two-thirds of everything is about romance? I’m not sure that’s true!

ELM: I think that 95% of your life revolves around your husband.

FK: That’s from your perspective.

ELM: Your job and I split the other 5%.

FK: [laughing] Oh my God, what about Pepys? My dog Pepys?

ELM: He’s just like a background in all of it.

FK: I can tell you that my dog Pepys is not a background.

ELM: He’s literally licking her nose right now.

FK: It’s really cute.

ELM: Sure. You know what else he licks with that tongue?

FK: [laughing] Oh I know all about it. I watch him do it all the time. He’s probably gonna turn around right now and lick his genitals cause that’s how dogs do.

ELM: So by the transitive property… 

FK: We just live with it.

ELM: Fine. [FK laughs] Anyway, OK, so what’s your point. You’re saying…so the way I’m trying to frame this shipping thing is to think of it not as “you need to redeem characters via shipping,” but the other way around. There’s a lot of things that shipping can do, and this is one of them.

FK: Right. And it’s also I think, sometimes shipping is a thing that motivates people to want to redeem another character, because whatever, for Reylo… 

ELM: Oh, just for one example.

FK: Just for an example, ha ha. [ELM laughing] “Oh, great, I want her to bang Kylo Ren, but I love Rey and she’s my soft favorite pure little being, and so therefore Kylo Ren needs to get his shit together in order to be with her.”

ELM: Sure. This is how I feel about Jared and Richard on Silicon Valley. Do you watch Silicon Valley?

FK: I have not.

ELM: Jared is the purest angel and Richard is an actual monster, to the point where many people believe that he’s actually the villain of the show. He’s the protagonist, he’s the main character, but Jared is so good and Richard is so bad and everyone who’s seen it agrees with me. And anytime someone says “I ship them,” I’ll be like “Do you know how much work Richard is going to need to do to deserve Jared!” and they’re like “I KNOW.” Anyone who’s seen it will understand. You should watch the show. You’ll understand.

FK: [laughing] You know, first of all, I’m sure that I will understand. I’m not sure when I will watch the show. But if I do, then I believe that I will understand.

ELM: You can watch a whole season in like three hours.

FK: You always pitch shows to me this way.

ELM: Sitcoms are so quick!

FK: What I will say, however, is that I think that it is interesting that even though a lot of shipping does get tied up into redemption arcs, when you have a villain and a hero together or whatever, often it’s about the redemption arc for the villain, there’s no reason it has to be that way. It’s not like you can’t write stories where no one gets redeemed, right? Or vice versa, you can write a hero going over to the bad side and have catharsis, right?

ELM: Is that cathartic?

FK: Possibly, I don’t know what they’re doing, maybe it is. Maybe if they’re, if you feel really angry and you’re like “Yeah fuck it let’s just be evil,” maybe it is.

ELM: Sure. But I do think that there’s a reason why redemption arcs are such a powerful part of our storytelling. Obviously it’s a metaphor for our own struggles, and we likely haven’t been a mass murderer, but if we feel like we suck, and then we see someone either growing or someone else accepting us, that’s the way we can feel redeemed ourselves. Or we can just find Jesus.

FK: [laughing] I was gonna…if you didn’t go there, I was gonna. All right. [both laughing] I think that this is interesting in context of that question of the bad fan, though, and the celebration of a character who may or may not actually be redeemable in our vision, or maybe we can’t envision… 

ELM: What character isn’t redeemable? As someone who reads a lot of fanfiction, that is willing to do the work. My first ship was Harry/Draco, and canon Draco’s a piece of shit. And the fanfiction either decided to interpret him…painted a better Draco, maybe not a better person, but a more complex and interesting and less useless sad-sack Draco. Sorry, people are gonna come for me right now. I don’t care. Draco’s not great in the books, right. But the ones that took him at face value in the books had to do a lot of work, obviously your Harry Potter ship, Snape, you have to do a LOT of work.

FK: Yeah, I was gonna say we are probably not the right people to ask both from a religious and a narrative perspective. I think that [laughing] all people are redeemable! Maybe there’s literally no human who can forgive them, but.

ELM: Yeah, I mean, and this gets complicated, and now I’m thinking about Archie Bunker again, and something that’s a lot less life and death than Kylo Ren hitting kill on a whole planet or whatever, right?

FK: I’m just envisioning a big kill button. BAM.

ELM: I also just imagined a button. It was more like a thumb going down on the button than a whole fist, but that’s what I just thought of.

FK: I was thinking of, I don’t remember what the commercial is, the button says “EASY.” Bang.

ELM: Oh yeah! That’s exactly right. It probably says “EASY” on it too, so. But I’m thinking now about what, thinking about the controversy around Three Billboards, that’s one of the films that was a critical favorite or an awards show favorite this past year. I actually didn’t see it, mostly because of the discourse about there’s a cop who’s racist and sort of I believe forgiven in a way that’s sort of swept under the rug. I’m trying to think of examples where I actually have seen it…can you redeem someone who, say I’m writing a novel set in the South in the 19th century. Can I redeem someone who was a slaveowner? And apologizes and feels guilty? There are a lot of people who are not gonna, never gonna want to read that story, and that’s a hard question to say well, “Oh, we could redeem everyone. Sure.”

FK: But isn’t part of the point of redemption…redemption doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone forgives you. And I think that that’s a big piece and I think that’s something that in fandom often gets lost, is that actually, just because…and also even if you do forgive someone, that doesn’t mean that you have to want to interact with them ever again, or read stories about them! Or do, you can make that choice and just be like “No.” That’s an OK, that’s OK.

I do think that sometimes people…I think the dangerous thing, that someone’s irredeemable, is that it fundamentally is dehumanizing, and I think that this is…I have no problem with people feeling angry. I like catharsis. I totally want, on Westworld, to shoot all of the terrible men who have been abusing all of the robot women forever. I want them to die on that show. But I don’t think that in real life it’s best to…and to some degree even in fiction it’s best, to think that a person is completely irredeemable, because at that moment it’s like you’re saying “…and therefore it’s OK for me to do anything I want to them.” And it’s not OK.

ELM: That’s really really complicated. People don’t agree. And I don’t think there is one right method. People don’t agree on the death penalty, people don’t agree on whether vigilante justice…obviously it’s dangerous from a societal level, but there are people who have individual disagreements. If someone has committed you a great wrong am I the one to judge whether you…I mean, obviously we have laws and stuff. But. It’s also sort of like “OK.”

FK: Right, and I’m not saying everybody feels consistent on this issue. Right? Someone threatens my dog, and yeah, I want to punch ’em! I have not historically ever done that, but in the moment, are you kidding? Absolutely. I don’t care that you’re a human. You’re a stranger who I’ve never met before, and I don’t care about you at all in that moment. I feel some things that in a calmer moment I don’t think are right to feel. We’re not all of one mind about this all the time.

ELM: Absolutely. This is the thing though, I think your point about people don’t have to agree is really important. I’m thinking now about, so in real life, what you’re saying about “different people get to decide what they feel.” People get to decide who they can forgive, what they can forgive. One of the things I find really interesting is restorative justice, which is where someone has committed a crime, maybe killed one of your loved ones, and they would like to atone and apologize to you directly. You are asked, “Would you participate in this?” It’s up to you. They’re not going to force you to sit there while the murderer of your son is like “I’m sorry” and you’re like “fuck you!” You have to be open to it too, and people who have participated in it often say it’s extraordinarily life-changing.

Everything I’ve heard about this…obviously it’s somewhat self-selecting, because if you do have this anger you can’t let go and you don’t want to sit down with someone who has caused you so much harm, you know what I mean. On a personal level, I had someone who was very close to me killed by someone who was—not to go too much into it, but he was in the country illegally and he was driving illegally. And I listen to these people at the Republican National Convention with similar situations, and they are full of vengeful rage, and they want to vote in Donald Trump. Not to make this…this got really serious really fast, I’m sorry, but… 

FK: No, but this is a serious issue. I think that people are working through these ideas through their fandoms.

ELM: Yeah. Absolutely. So it’s my feelings and my circumstances, and the reason that I might be able to forgive someone are probably different, and probably we have other friends, my friend who passed away, and we probably have mutual friends or family members who don’t feel the same way that I do. Who may never be able to forgive this guy. He made a mistake, and I can’t sit here and just hold it against him forever.

The thing where I think it gets tricky in fandom is I think those differences exist. So I might be like, “Here’s how I could see forgiving Draco Malfoy,” not to make it too goofy. The problem is that everyone is not always completely…“honest” isn’t the right word, but I could easily say “Here’s why Draco Malfoy’s fine,” and by doing…to do that I would have to actually erase his behavior. Right? Or “Here’s why Snape is fine,” “Here’s why Kylo Ren is fine,” and in my fanon version of these characters I’m saying, I’m handwaving, I’m saying…“He’s just a little bit racist, don’t worry about it.” For someone else, it’s like you’re not working with the same character. Because character is so subjective. And what I choose to ignore… 

FK: Right, and if that…maybe it doesn't matter if someone chooses to ignore those pieces, to them, because whatever—this is not a hot-button issue for them, whatever the issue is that it’s around, or this person doesn’t…they like the things that they like about them more than they dislike the things they dislike and it’s fine. But then the moment that you introduce someone else into this who feels very personally about the way this character is a jerk…right? 

I’m not trying to make it sound like “Oh, that’s just personal.” Personal in a good way. Who really has an opinion on this that’s different, then it begins to feel like, I think, not just a question of “Oh, we interpret the character differently,” but Person One is somehow dismissing or rejecting or not paying attention to Person Two’s real complaints and their emotional response to this, which is not rooted in the story—it’s rooted in real life.

ELM: But that’s really hard! There’s so many times when I feel like fandom conversations get toxic because someone is taking it incredibly personally, but it’s also really hard to say you shouldn’t. And I feel like we talk about this when we talk about identity politics. “Why do you care so much about this character?” “They’re like me, they’re this race or this sexuality, or whatever.” But people do this with characters all across the board. You may be like this straight white character, this straight white male character or whatever, and I’m not those things, but I feel like their actions speak to something deep in my soul, and then other people are like “They’re irredeemable,” and you’re gonna be like “Are you saying I’m irredeemable?” It’s not a rational thing, and it’s not necessarily saying the person who relates to the character is right, either. Not that anyone’s right and wrong, but just because you relate to a character doesn’t mean the character is suddenly unimpeachable, or that your behavior is above reproach just because you see yourself in that character—you know what I mean.

FK: Fundamentally, I think the issue is we’re talking about different interpretations of the same text, and therefore people can be right or wrong—but people can also, we can take a text and people can read into it things that are right or wrong. People can choose to look at a text and say “I have this backstory about this, in this direction,” and other people can take it in the other direction. 

So ultimately, I think to me the real problem comes not when people do this—because if you and I have differences in this area just the two of us and we’re just talking about it, we can have a conversation about this, and we’re friends, so presumably we’re going to assume that the other person is arguing in good faith, and we can talk about the roots of why we feel this way, and maybe ultimately we decide that we are not gonna talk about this character, because we just have too different reactions to it, and then we can go on and be friends in some other way. But when it’s one person and the entire internet… [laughing] And when you feel like making yourself angry you can troll that tag, whether it’s the anti tag or the positive tag, you can just go, and it’s a constant rage stream you can work yourself into.

ELM: And some people acting in, there are people in that situation acting genuinely in bad faith.

FK: Absolutely.

ELM: That’s typical, and they’re doing the same thing as people who maybe feel like, you know. “That character is an abuser,” or “That character is whatever, so I’m gonna yell at you,” as opposed to some of the people who are just like…I’m gonna bring everyone down. Cause there are people that do that. It’s really complicated though!

FK: I think there’s also an element of this which is to do with the way that we talk on the internet. Because I don’t know if you, I notice myself doing this and I've actively tried to stop, which is the “All right, people, gather round and listen to what I have to say about this.” You know that attitude people take when they get on the internet and have an opinion?

ELM: Do you think, I don’t think I do it that way.

FK: You don’t do it either very much, but there are a lot of people who do it a lot.

ELM: Oh yeah.

FK: And occasionally I’ve found myself tempted, I’m like “I wanna say this thing!” and then I type it out and I’m like, “I’m not gonna say this thing!” Cause I don’t…it’s like I’m throwing out to the winds the desire to have this conversation, but then the people who come and engage with you in that conversation may or may not be the people that I really wanted to argue with.

ELM: I think this is why, I know we’re trying to not be so fanfiction focused, but one of the reasons I love fanfiction—go ahead, how many times am I gonna say this on this podcast.

FK: Ten million.

ELM: The millionth anniversary of me saying “One of the reasons I love fanfiction is…” But really good fanfiction can show its work with character interpretation in a way that I think almost nothing else can. Because you literally have the space of a novel to explain your interpretation of a character, but actually showing, though their behavior, through their words. I just don’t think there’s another fan practice that can ever get as deep, because I think there’s nothing as good as narrative prose. But that’s just my own personal bias.

FK: I don’t disagree with you, but I do think there is something to be said for the fact that that’s showing your interpretation. It can be making an argument about it absolutely, but I think that the real problem comes when people reject the basics of your argument and they’re like “I see it in a completely different way,” and then you fight.

ELM: So how does that usually wind up in a story? I can be like, I’m reading a story and I’m like “Oh, this feels super OOC.” Unless I really love the story, which is rare cause this is a prime component for me, but usually that’s why I…one reason I’d back out is if it’s grammar that I can’t, you know, on a sentence level, I just can’t, I’m sorry. Some people can and so, cool, enjoy the story. There’s a lot of things that I’m just…I’m just digging myself a hole right now. That’s fine.

FK: Keep diggin’!

ELM: But that’s number one, and number two is when I think something’s out of character. It’s never “Oh, that plot decision is wild.” I’m like “Sure, that’s fine! Don’t worry.” I’m, “That’s a deus ex machina that you didn’t mean, but I don’t care.” You know. But it’s so…if I disagree with it. But I’m not gonna get in their mentions and be like, “I thought the way you interpreted this character is dumb and surfacey and foolish,” or “It didn’t even feel like the character in any way,” why would I do that? I’d just be like “Not for me!” and walk away. There’s a flip side of no critique in fanfiction. It means… 

FK: The good side! [laughing]

ELM: If you feel bad about a story, you just feel like “Eh, not for me! I don't read it that way.” Whereas I feel like short text posts on Tumblr? Where I say one paragraph about what I think about X character? And then that’s just a lightning rod for people to be like, “I gotta yell at you!” You know?

FK: I actually recently read this article that was super super interesting, and I think that this might shed some light on what's going on with this, so this article has the incredibly clickbaity title of “The Two Crucial Filmmaking Elements Causing All Your Movie Feuds,” and it’s a lot better than the title.

ELM: What are our movie feuds?

FK: Apparently when you disagree with your friend about whether a movie was good.

ELM: I guess I’m having constant movie feuds.

FK: I guess so. I don’t have movie feuds either, it’s a bad title. The article is saying there’s two ways a film has to function, and one is the texture of the film has to be right. So the film has to feel like…it has to feel awesome. For instance, people who really like Christopher Nolan love the texture of his films. Right? They love The Dark Knight Rises because it is definitely fuckin’ dark and gritty people saying dark and gritty things to each other being dark and gritty, and they believe, as long as they’re in that mode, they can believe whatever dumb shit he throws at them.

ELM: But that script, that script is so flawed!

FK: But it doesn’t matter how flawed it is as long as you’re into the texture.

ELM: Marvel is a good example.

FK: Yeah! Or even things like Speed Racer, the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer, that’s a very controversial texture. Some people love the texture and some people are like, “This is way too much.”

ELM: I feel like that is how everybody feels about all their films, or almost all of them, right?

FK: Some people think it’s too much and some people love it, yeah. So the other possibility, the other thing that’s important in a film is the text, and the example that is used here is amazing, because it’s the Star Wars prequels. That’s really badly written dialogue, and the texture of the films doesn’t feel very good, but you understand the reasons why all the characters want to do the things they’re doing. It’s badly communicated in a lot of ways, the texture is really bad… 

ELM: I haven’t seen these movies so I can’t relate to this.

FK: I can tell you that it’s true. You understand that there are blockades, there’s politics, the text makes sense.

ELM: With bad dialogue.

FK: But then it has Jar Jar Binks, and it’s like, “Can we have something other than Jar Jar Binks making sense in this way?” And the dialogue’s bad, right. So my feeling on this is, fanfiction fixes bad text. Bad texture? Not so much.

ELM: Mmm, but… 

FK: Sometimes it can, but I think usually fanfiction springs from films especially that have really good texture but the text is wanting.

ELM: Yeah but I mean, I don’t disagree with that, but I do think the term “texture” is too…is very broad.

FK: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. It is, it is.

ELM: I think that's why we zero in on character so often, if we feel like a character is complex. But obviously also… 

FK: Text also doesn’t literally mean “the text” either, so neither of these words mean the things they should mean if we were talking about them in a serious way. We can come up with different terms. I just thought it was insightful, and the reason I thought so, and I thought it was relevant to this, is I think one of the things we’re saying is that people add a lot of text. People like the texture of something and then they add a lot of text to it, and the text that they’re adding is their interpretation, it’s the stuff they’re putting in to fill those problems. I think maybe Force Awakens has great texture and maybe not great text.

ELM: I think that’s how I would describe all Star Wars films.

FK: I don’t know, I think this was right about the prequels. [laughing]

ELM: Oh, I haven’t seen those, so.

FK: Right. But so you know. And in filling that in I think that’s part of where we run into these issues because what we choose to fill in has so much to do with everything else we’re trying to work through in our lives.

ELM: That is interesting. OK. I wanna read this article. So we, I feel like have talked in extraordinary loops in this. [FK laughing] Not bad loops! Just… 

FK: Loops.

ELM: Loops! But we have one more letter that we wanted to get to before we go, and I actually think it follows on nicely from all of this. So should we take one more quick break and then do that?

FK: Let's do it.

[Interstitial music]

FK: OK, we’re back! Do you wanna read this letter?

ELM: So, this email is from Anne and this is about, more stuff about AUs. So we had an AU episode a few times ago, and then last week we read a few listener letters about why they like AUs, and so Anne has some more reasons! So. “Hello! I’m just writing in because I really enjoy AU fics, but not for any of the reasons that have been shared, so I thought I would share mine. I enjoy AU fics because they offer some of what I love most: the characters’ dynamics, and opportunities for new, well-defined worlds. Those are really two things, so I’ll be addressing them separately.

“First, characters and their dynamics. More than just seeing it, I love watching it develop, from beginning to (subjective) end. I want to see the characters I love meet and then grow into friends or enemies or anything in between. And I want to see them do it again and again, in a thousand different ways, in a thousand different worlds. During the fall of the Roman Empire, during the Crusades, during the Roaring Twenties, in the military of the modern day, and in a spaceship a thousand years in the future.

“Second, the opportunity for new, well defined worlds. I am a huge SFF fan. One of the things I adore in any form of media is the building of new systems and worlds. Even in books like The Dresden Files, an urban fantasy series that takes place in our world, has systems that the author built into it. Magic works a certain way but not others, different creatures exist, and how it all works together is just fascinating. And magic is just super cool. I automatically an interested in seeing, for example, how in a modern day AU Aaron Burr navigates being cursed to always tell the truth,” there’s a link there that we'll include in the show notes. “Or how Kuroko and co. (from sports anime/manga Kuroko no Basuke) work with being human experiments.” Also links to that, we’ll share it in the show notes. “The more time the author spends building their own world, the more delighted I am.

“So those are my reasons! I hope you both have an excellent day.”

FK: That’s a delight! Those were good reasons!

ELM: Great reasons, great reasons. I’m not just saying that because I fell down that pro gamer Reylo AU that everyone loves. I know I was sleepin’ on it, so. Now I’m in my dumpster fire over here. Yay!

ELM: It’s too much, Flourish, Reylo and esports? It’s like… 

FK: I know.

ELM: If only they were in an arranged marriage, that would be that. And one was a professor and one was a student. I’m gonna write the ultimate Flourish fic for you.

FK: Someday.

ELM: Yeah, I think these are both great reasons for AUs! I mean, sure! I felt like I was gonna have more to say. [laughing] I do have more to say!

FK: I think that one thing about this is that these are great reasons to like really good AUs, especially the worldbuilding. I think a lot of the complaints we had about AUs had to do with lazy worldbuilding, where it’s like “We’re just gonna shove ’em into this…” At least the complaints I have about them are often, “I don’t believe this world, it’s lazy, you’re just shoving people into a bunch of tropes.” But I think Anne is right that when the worldbuilding is great, that is a pleasure.

ELM: For me still, and this continues, and I’ve read even more AUs than I had the last time we talked about this, for me still if the…you could build an extraordinary world, but if I feel like you just stuck the names of my faves on different characters, it’s not gonna be for me. And I actually recommended a story in “The Rec Center” that I thought was on this spectrum, I think that it was one of the royal AUs.

FK: Yeah, you mean the one I recommended to you!

ELM: Yeah! Oh yeah, I wouldn't have known about it if it wasn’t for you. because it was taken out of the X-Men tag, because it was pulled to publish, as they say, because the author changed the names to two different characters, and it’s relatively distant from the source material, but I think it’s a fantastic…I really enjoy it as a story. I reread it to rec it and I was right back in it, just like “Oops, the Archbishop of Canterbury!” I actually genuinely felt tension and worry, and I had already read it once, which I think is a sign of a good story.

FK: I know!

ELM: You know?

FK: I know!

ELM: So that was an exception for me, and I felt like I needed to mention it in my rec. “FYI, just said I wasn’t usually into this,” and I do clarify that I’m not…it’s not like I never read these things. Actually, I read them plenty, and I usually nope out of them or I go, “At this point, this doesn’t have much to do with the original characters which is why I came here, so it has to be a really compelling story to me if it’s so distant from the source material,” you know what I mean?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: But that, I think for some people, sounds like Anne and maybe you, if the world is really well drawn, that’s not as much of an issue for you. I think it’s just a personal preference thing.

FK: If it’s really good! Yeah, I think it is a personal preference.

ELM: That’s just where I’m at, that’s where you’re at, that’s where Anne’s at. So yeah, this was a great letter. If we have yet to talk about why, if you love AUs and you haven’t been, [laughs] you haven’t heard your perspective represented yet, feel free to write in.

FK: Yeah yeah yeah, and the other thing you should write in about is, we’re still seeking people’s strategies for finding fanfiction, so remember we had an ask that we read last time that was asking how other people found fic? We’ve had some incredible responses to this, including strategies that neither of us have ever thought of… 

ELM: Wait, give me an example!

FK: There was the person who said that they…I don’t have the list in front of me! I promise you there was one that I hadn’t thought of.

ELM: All right, I’ll believe it when I see it. I’VE THOUGHT OF ’EM ALL.

FK: In any case, even if someone's already said it, I think it would be nice if people wrote in and said “Yeah! Like so and so, I also find fic this way!” Because it’s one of the things that’s interesting, finding out how many people have commented to say that they find fic in this way versus that way.

ELM: Yeah, say “this is my method” or whatever. So.

FK: And we’ll make a little post about it sometime soon. So send in your thoughts.

ELM: Yeah! Please do! So how can they send in their thoughts, Flourish?

FK: Well, if it's long, the best way is probably an email to fansplaining at gmail.com. You can also tweet at us, send us a message through Patreon, send us a message through Tumblr, our ask box is open and anon is on.

ELM: Fansplaining.tumblr.com.

FK: Right, yeah. We’re fansplaining on everything. You can find it. We’re on Facebook too!

ELM: What if you google Fansplaining and all you get is that viral tweet?

FK: Oh no that’s bad. We need to protect our SEO.

ELM: [laughing] I think we’ll be fine. We’ve had 75 episodes!

FK: Yeah it’s true, we have had 75 episodes. Oh! And we’re on Stitcher now, so that’s good, finally! Thank you everyone who has told me to get us on Stitcher, we finally are, so there you go.

ELM: It just took three years.

FK: [laughing] After 75 episodes we’re finally on Stitcher. And TuneIn, which is a thing now? Wonderful. Solved. Hooray!

ELM: If there’s anywhere you think we should be, please tell us. There are a lot of different podcast places and it’s hard to know, you can’t chase every single one of them cause some of them don’t stick around that long, but if there’s somewhere you think you’d like to see us, it doesn’t hurt for us to try to get on any service.

FK: For what it’s worth, we’re trying to get onto Spotify, but they closed their podcast submission for awhile, but they’re supposed to open soon, so.

ELM: Spotify podcasts is a tricky kettle of fish. Can of worms?

FK: Can of worms.

ELM: Bucket of fish and worms? [laughing]

FK: Anyway, if you want to support us in our quest to be more accessible to everybody in terms of where we are and also what we put out and everything else, you can donate money to us, that helps.

ELM: Yes! Patreon.com/fansplaining.

FK: And there's great rewards for that. So do it. Or, if you want to help spread the word, you can rate us on iTunes, especially helps. We believe we deserve five stars, you can give us whatever you think we deserve, but please leave a written review because that apparently helps a lot.

ELM: So yeah! Get in touch! Obviously this is kind of a complicated, this episode really—took a turn is the wrong word.

FK: It’s serious!

ELM: It swept an arc! It started in one place and wound up in another place, shoom.

FK: Like you were scything.

ELM: Yeah, just like that! [laughing] Any thoughts on this topic, character is so subjective, but maybe unfortunately it seems to be at the heart, disagreements about character seem to be at the heart of so much bad behavior, to bring it back to actual bad fans, bad behavior in fandom, you know.

FK: It’s true.

ELM: And to bring it back to these contact zones, to quote Dr. Lori Morimoto who we had on a few episodes ago, the different ways you interpret character and the ways that causes friction or the ways other people do. It’s complicated, and so we’d love your thoughts.

FK: All right. So I just found out that one of the fics I’m following updated, like a few minutes ago. So I need to go and read that.

ELM: Were you checking your email while we were recording?

FK: [laughing] No! I found this out before, but I was holding it in my pocket. I found this out before we started recording.

ELM: And you couldn’t wait to tell me you had to go read that Reylo fic.

FK: That’s why I have to go. To read some more Reylo fic.

ELM: Well, I’m going to go read…actually, I’m going to go do my job. I was gonna say I was gonna go read some fic. I wish. I’m jealous.

FK: For what it’s worth, I should be doing a lot of other things, but instead… 

ELM: [laughs] Good! So for the record, Flourish needs to be redeemed because she’s just gonna go read fanfiction, Reylo fanfiction. I need no redemption because I’m doing my job.

FK: [laughing] Until I die. OK, I will talk to you later Elizabeth.

ELM: OK bye Flourish.

FK: [laughing] You’re pure as the driven snow. Bye! [both laugh] 

[Outro music, thank yous and disclaimers]

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