Episode 81: Happy Anniversary #3

Episode 81’s cover: Elizabeth hugs Flourish enthusiastically.

As they do every August, Flourish and Elizabeth welcome the past year’s guests to talk about what’s changed in fandom, on a global level, a personal level, or both. Topics include the increase in fandom’s visibility, fans attacking creators, purity culture, and the dangers of treating politics like a television show. Flourish and Elizabeth then share their own perspectives on the past year, exploring how corporate structures underpin our fannishness, and developing new perspectives on what fanfiction is and what it can do.


Show Notes

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

[00:02:15] Adrian Hon is @adrianhon on this here website, and he was in Episode 62!

[00:05:45] Rian Johnson has sadly deleted his tweet, but we still have Mark Hamill and John Boyega’s responses:

John Boyega tweets, “Great points. Hope it’s okay to make a final point…” and then a solid wall of 😂. Mark Hamill replies, “Agreed. But let me add” and then a solid wall of 🤣.

[00:06:43] “How Do You Like It So Far” is here! So far Flourish has found every episode she’s listened to very thought provoking.

[00:08:50] Aja Romano is @bookshop on this here website, and you can read their work at Vox.

[00:09:34] God bless you, Twitterer.

@Jay2_ tweets “Idk who shiro is but I’m glad he’s gay”

[00:13:24] Our “Reylo episode” was actually Episode 66, “The Humanizing Turn.”

[00:17:27] Lilah Vandenburgh is not on Tumblr, but she’s @lilahv on Twitter, and was on Episode 56, “Ships and Showrunners.”

[00:22:54] Know Your Meme will tell you all about protec and attac, which lead to delightful variations such as this one:

A meme of a cat: “He doesn’t protecc / he doesn’t attacc / but most importantly… He constantly meow for additional snacc”

[00:26:30] Ted Scheinman is @ted_scheinman on Twitter, and he was on Episode 76, “Camp Austen”!


An animated gif of Michael Jackson eating popcorn, from the “Thriller” video.

[00:29:41] We’re talking about our episode “Nerds For Her” here!

Also, #wife Twitter.

Chris Hayes tweets, “Best written episode so far…”

[00:33:32] Our musical interlude is “A Drop of Water in the Ocean” by Broke For Free.

[00:34:14] Britta Lundin! @brittalundin on this hellsite, and our guest from Episode 73, “Ship It.”

[00:38:20] Lori Morimoto is @acafanmom on Twitter and was in Episode 71!



[00:42:20] The piece about how everyone should go back to Tumblr is here, if you really want to read it. Elizabeth wailed on it for literally 48 hours on Twitter. It’s…that kinda thing.

[00:44:01] Stephanie Burt is @accommodatingly on Twitter, and was in Episode 67 AND Episode 68!

[00:51:35] We talk about capitalism a lot lately, but the really big one was Episode 65, “Fandom and Capitalism.”

[00:51:58] Elizabeth’s piece about Comic-Con: “You’re Gonna Love This Franchise”!

[00:53:26] Aja’s (and others’!) crowdfunded dramatic podcast is Kaleidotrope!

[00:55:49] Our Alternate Universe episode was #72.


[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 81, “Happy Anniversary #3.” Happy anniversary, Flourish!

FK: Happy anniversary to us! I can’t believe we’ve been doing this three years and we have not yet murdered each other!

ELM: To be honest, let’s be real, if one of us was gonna murder the other, it would be me murdering you.

FK: I think you would try and I would kill you in self defense.

ELM: I don’t wanna peddle in stereotypes, but I am an Italian-American.

FK: You’re right, you would probably not take the direct approach.

ELM: I’m glad this is all on the record now.

FK: Just so everyone knows… 

ELM: It’s gonna be in a deposition.

FK: If I die by poison, investigate Elizabeth. [laughter]

ELM: Good! That’s a good start to our anniversary episode, who would murder who and how, great.

FK: I am very grateful for the three years that we have shared on this podcast together.

ELM: Likewise. So the thing that we’ve done for the last two anniversary episodes that we are continuing today is, we got all of our guests from the last year to send us either audio or text to talk about, what are the two questions we asked them? How has fandom kind of changed in the last year or grown, evolved, maybe not changed, just the state of it over the past year, on a fandomy level, on a personal level, or both.

FK: Yes indeed. So we didn’t actually hear back from every single guest, but we heard back from several of them. So.

ELM: We had fewer guests than in previous years.

FK: That’s true.

ELM: By design. I requested a few [laughing] a few fewer guests cause they are harder, it’s harder to edit a bunch of… 

FK: Poor Elizabeth.

ELM: Many-track audio. So hopefully everyone’s OK with that. I think we got seven of our former guests wrote in? Or called in?

FK: Yes, seven! Correct.

ELM: Cool! So we're gonna either play or read what they had to say, and then we will discuss their contributions a little bit, and then at the end we’ll talk about our own takes on this question.

FK: All right, so the first guest that I think we’re gonna hear from is Adrian Hon!

ELM: Adrian is one of the founders of Six To Start, they are the creators of “Zombies, Run!” amongst other things, that’s a really popular game that you’ve done in the past, right?

FK: Yes, yes, and it has quite a fanfictiony and fanarty fandom. It’s about zombies that are chasing you as you run.

ELM: It’s like a fitness app that’s also a game.

FK: Yeah it's a fitness app. And you get a story.

ELM: We had Adrian on at the end of last year, not long after he and I were both speakers at the “Episodic” conference, and I think we had a great conversation. And also, we’ll include links to every episode our guests were on in the show notes for quick reference, if you wanna go back and revisit any of them or listen to them for the first time.

FK: Absolutely.

ELM: All right, we got that out of the way, let’s listen to Adrian.

Adrian Hon: Hey, this is Adrian from Six To Start and “Zombies, Run!” I think from a personal note, the way that fandom has changed in the past year has really been about how tight the loop is in terms of time and in terms of sort of communication on places like Twitter and Reddit and blogs between creators and fans. I’m a big fan of Westworld, I watched that show a lot, and just seeing how the creators are communicating and trolling and joking with and reading all the comments on Reddit about that show is just kind of extraordinary. Creators have always talked to fans on the internet, over the last ten, twenty years, but seeing that in one of the biggest TV shows in the world is really unusual.

Of course that can go really bad, I think we’ve seen that in so many different ways this year. And I feel like we’re slowly trying to crawl our way towards a sort of point where people understand the difference between and the sort of subtleties in communicating with large numbers of people in a way that feels kind of personal on social media.

So that’s all a bit woolly. I guess I’m saying some things are getting worse, some things are getting better, but people are talking more and more on the internet and it’s just amplifying behaviors. Maybe in ten years’ time, twenty years’ time, this will all seem normal and we’ll be all arguing about augmented reality fandom or something.

FK: I like the idea, the fantasy, I think, that augmented reality is really gonna happen. Because I don’t believe it. That’s my big takeaway from this.

ELM: That was your takeaway! OK.

FK: I want augmented reality, but I don’t believe it’s gonna happen!

ELM: First of all, side note, augmented reality—I saw people the other day who were involved in augmented reality in the past saying they couldn’t in good faith engage in augmented reality, they wouldn't feel comfortable doing something like that now with the current climate around QAnon. I thought it was interesting to say “What is the ethical,” at a time when things are reaching a fever pitch about everyone thinking we’re living in some mass simulation.

FK: Right.

ELM: Do you want to add to that? …that’s a real aside though. The point of that, Adrian’s audio was not about… 

FK: No!

ELM: ARGs. I thought that was a great comment to start on. I agree, I feel like the loop has tightened this year.

FK: I agree too. I think that there’s been a noticeable, and I think the point of Westworld is well taken. That was a very very significant place where we saw people getting more involved in their fandom and really closing that loop. But even just in the big stuff, even in Star Wars, right. Seeing, whatever, Rian Johnson and John Boyega making fun of people’s zero-woman fan edit… [laughing] Separate from any questions about that story and who made it and all that, that was a tight loop from zero, to the media cover it, to Rian Johnson and John Boyega mock it to…you know, back around.

ELM: I feel like there is a way we could have said similar stuff the last few years, but I think it’s just increasing every year. I think we’re heading towards, maybe not a saturation point, but just more and more every year I feel like five years ago not enough people would be on board or understand. You know? On the creator side in particular. I really feel like we’ve just been moving steadily towards more of a saturation of the percentage of people involved actually being on social media and engaging. Of course, there’s a retreat too, as people get burned too many times and they…or, you know, literally harassed off, et cetera.

FK: Yeah, but I also think there’s something about the media therefore covering more of it and one of the reasons I say this, I was listening to the first episode of Henry Jenkins’s new podcast “How Do We Like It So Far”—and I don’t know how I like it so far, I haven’t listened to the entire thing. But they had a researcher on who was talking about some of those Star Wars cases and about how things fans were saying became immediately sensationalized by people reporting on fandom, and then that leading to people responding to the sensationalized stuff and then actually getting worse.

So for instance, some of the #BlackStormtrooper stuff, apparently he pulled all of the statements about the #BlackStormtrooper stuff, and at first it was relatively un-racist. The general idea of “What’s up with a black stormtrooper?” You could say that’s naturally racist to even ask, but there’s actually fandom reasons you might ask that question—are they, like, clone troopers? So it was relatively non-harassing, and then the media hopped onto it, and then actual harassers joined the tag. So I think there’s also this element of once it’s gotten to a certain size, and people are looking for ways to make things sensationalized, it’s not that things don’t then get bad, it’s just that sometimes it creates a negative feedback loop, and I’m really interested in thinking more about that in the next year.

ELM: I think that Hypable is one website that I would point to for being pretty guilty of pushing things…I think with shipping stuff. There’ll be a hint of something in a conversation or an offhand comment and then Hypable will literally hype it. A lot of that’s very crowdsourced writing, very little editorial oversight it seems like, and then that becomes the story that then the rest of the media reacts to, and then it gets, you know what I mean? I think saying “the Media,” with capital M, is too broad.

FK: Yeah, that’s not quite right, but I haven’t thought about it enough, how to distill it. You certainly have better ideas probably even just coming in.

ELM: Yeah, I think this would be something that’s actually worth talking about, the kind of different…it’s a big ecosystem and there are kind of different types of, I don’t know why I just thought of fish. There are different types of sea creatures involved in these circles. [laughing]

FK: All right, let’s talk about the sea creatures in a future episode, and I think that we should listen to another guest’s comments.

ELM: Yes. Who’s next?

FK: Aja Romano! Who we just had on.

ELM: Our most recent guest, Aja Romano, internet culture reporter at Vox. Also someone who probably has a lot of thoughts about what we were just discussing. Yeah, Aja came on to talk with us about real person fiction, RPF fanfiction, and will probably be back again to talk about some other fandomy thing, but I’m curious what they had to say.

FK: Cool, let’s listen to it!

Aja Romano: Hi, Fansplaining! Hi Elizabeth, hi Flourish! Happy anniversary! I hope you guys are doing well and I’m really happy to be recording this for you. About the question “how has fandom changed in the last year…” You know, I was thinking about this and the thing that kept coming back to me was that viral tweet that went round about a month ago that’s like “I don’t know who Shiro is but I’m glad he’s gay.” [laughs] 

I think to me that sums up so much about what I see as the overall trend toward mainstreaming of Tumblr culture that we’ve seen over the last year. It’s been kind of a running joke lately that Twitter has started to discover these four- and five-year-old Tumblr memes and they’re going viral and they’re reaching a whole new audience, but Tumblr culture, these things have been so embedded in Tumblr culture for so long that we take them for granted, and then suddenly they’re out in the wild in a new way, and we sort of have to contend with the evolution of Tumblr culture and fandom culture away from the moments where those memes were begun and where they were originally created in our culture.

I think it’s really interesting to think about fandom and especially through the lens of Voltron—which is what would otherwise be a very niche fandom I think—that has just ballooned and ballooned, in part because of the mainstreaming of Tumblr culture and fandom culture within this larger more mainstream audience pool. And I think that what we’re really seeing through that is an ongoing sense of dissemination, an ongoing sense that fandom is no longer something that is embedded within a specific platform and within a specific subculture of the internet that is being dominated by the ways and means of that specific platform. We can no longer say that fandom really solely exists as an entity tied to Tumblr culture the way it previously existed as an entity tied largely to LJ culture—and of course I’m talking about transformative fandom.

But I think, I’m not really sure if that’s a net gain for us. If so, I think it’s probably a net gain just to be more aware of how mainstream fandom has become and how fandom memes are shaping the culture. Obviously how fandom’s push for queer representation is shaping the culture. But I think overall that’s where I’d say the last year has brought us. I think it’s just brought us a very very wider understanding of fandom ways and means and fandom language and awareness of fandom ships and trends. 

I guess I could rant a little bit about what we might call the purity culture that's sprung up, especially over the last year, but I also think purity culture has always been with us, and the fact that we’re seeing it so much more intensely now is not necessarily something new, but rather I think a reaction to the ongoing extremity that we’re seeing in the culture wars at large. So I think probably the less said about that the better.

Overall, I think pretty good year for fandom, and definitely a good year for Fansplaining! Thanks for letting me do this. I will talk to you guys soon. Happy birthday!

FK: Aw, Aja’s so sweet!

ELM: Yeah! …gonna talk about purity culture.

FK: Yeah, that’s something we’ve sort of said we might do things on, and we’ve never really done an entire episode about that.

ELM: People have asked me recently what purity culture is and I feel like I should have a boilerplate…anti culture… 

FK: Yeah, the idea that people…should…hold a particular set of…sometimes political beliefs, but also like certain ships, because they’re tied to political beliefs or ideas about the world…and that you need to be… 

ELM: I think that the latter of what you’re saying is the actual reality, but I think that almost always it is couched in, like… 

FK: It’s couched in the former reality, yeah.

ELM: So the idea of, some of it is about censoring content that is problematic or, you know, immoral, or illegal, or all these ways that we can discuss whether it’s underage or non-consensual stuff. Some of it is about ideas of very very broad use of the word “abuse.”

FK: Yeah. So for instance we had our Reylo, our episode in which we were talking about Reylo, and that ship is one that’s…Rey and Kylo Ren from Star Wars, is one that a lot of people feel like “that’s abusive,” and then people will say “Oh, of course that should be shut down, you should never talk about that and never have that ship.”

ELM: It seems like a lot of enemies, enemy ships are slapped with an “abuse” label. And yeah, I mean…enemies often abuse each other…but I feel like it just gets thorny. It’d be interesting to talk about this for a full episode, because I really, I think we’ve mentioned this before, but I like to contextualize it less with fandom history—and I think I brought this up before on the podcast, contextualizing it with the morality trials.

FK: Yeah, absolutely.

ELM: Around literature in the mid-century, morality trials, I think it’d be really interesting to do a deep dive about this kind of idea of censoring content…and also we’re having this conversation a week after the creator of Insatiable…did you see this?

FK: Yeah, oh my God.

ELM: [laughing] Insatiable, a Netflix original show, in which they put a thin actress, teenage actress—well maybe she’s not a teen—in a really bad fat suit, and the plot of the story is that she’s overweight and then she punches a homeless man because he tries to…did you? I read some reviews.

FK: She punches a homeless man because he tries to steal a Snickers bar or something like that?

ELM: He tries to steal her candy. Garbage from start to finish.

FK: She has to have her jaw wired shut, she gets skinny, the entire show goes from there and it is apparently very not great.

ELM: So the creator came on and she was like, “This is like censorship, everyone’s being so mean about my show,” and everyone was just like “…are you serious?” But I kind of lost it because A, first of all, very grateful to all these reviewers who actually sat down and watched this show and said, “Hey, it was kind of a garbagey concept but also the show was quite bad from start to finish. Poorly executed, poorly written.”

FK: Yeah, you know, actually the review of it that I thought was most interesting was a review that was like “I know that I could forgive all the fat suit stuff, because I do it all the time in better shows, even though I think it’s bad, but this show was also terrible, so two reasons you shouldn’t like it.” As compared to, I think, there are obviously people who have critiques that are good critiques of various enemy ships and things that are taking things in a nuanced direction, so… 

ELM: Oh yeah, you’re trying to tie it back. The point of this was someone saying “I don’t like your, people are being mean about my thing so it’s censorship,” so bringing in all these ideas right now about what the difference between critique and censorship, and what it means to actually…one of the things that set me off about the Insatiable thing, every time that you cry censorship when people are negatively critiquing your shitty work makes it really hard for people to genuinely do stuff that’s pushing against boundaries. If you drag that out as an excuse, saying “I’m being censored because I’m trying to push against taboos,” then what about everyone that’s doing real serious good work that’s trying to push against taboos? You’re just muddying the waters in a way that doesn’t help us use art or entertainment to grapple with the hard stuff.

FK: I agree, but I think there’s also another sort of…on the other side of the coin I think that we do have to talk about practices of shunning and practices of people being ostracized. I’m not saying that about Insatiable, I’m not saying that about any individual thing, but I do think there’s a question to be had here about when you get to that point within a purity culture space—again, not necessarily saying that’s what’s going on with Insatiable, but is there a point where critique becomes purity culture which becomes a shunning practice which is not great either.

ELM: I mean, what's shunning? This is a whole thing, freedom of speech means you have the right to say whatever you want. Freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences.

FK: Of course, for sure.

ELM: This is complicated. Let’s not get too into it. Back to Aja though.

FK: Wait wait wait wait wait, I think that we need to hear the next person’s statement, this one’s a written statement that got sent to us, because it’s super relevant to this.

ELM: Oh, OK, which one is this?

FK: This is from Lilah Vandenburgh, who came on for the episode “Ships and Showrunners.”

ELM: One of the very, it was about a year ago I wanna say. It was one of the very first episodes of this current, this past Fansplaining year as it were. Lilah is a TV writer and director…director of music videos as well, I believe, a lot of music videos…who was the writer and showrunner for the BBC3 series Uncle and has writing credits on Arrow and some other shows…I feel bad that I can’t recite Lilah’s entire CV right now. But also, still very involved in fandom, and I think one of the best guests we’ve had ever on the podcast, really really being able to represent that both sides of the fan-creator divide in a deep way. So, not to…everyone who’s done that has been great on the show, but I think Lilah is kind of still deep in fandom in a way that maybe some of the creators we’ve had on aren’t currently still. They may have been in the past, so.

FK: OK. So why don’t I read what Lilah had to say and then you respond, since I just interrupted you.

ELM: Yeah absolutely. I like your…I like it when you read. I just get to sit here.

FK: OK. So Lilah says, “Welp. Here we are a year later and it’s not better! Only worse. The world is worse.”

ELM: Good.

FK: “Extremism and abuse generate too much revenue for platforms to completely quash them. And we have to face the reality that owners of social media platforms might not just be greedy, or overwhelmed by security demands, or apathetic, but perhaps are, themselves, supremacists, bigots, and abusers, hiding behind ‘free speech’ and the ‘free market.’ And they actively want us at each other’s throats.

“It’s the era of fake news and digital disinformation. Entire countries can be hacked. Not just physically, but emotionally hacked. Out of context receipts can be used to destroy anyone. The Great Cancelling will come for us all. And the speed of fandom discourse, dogpiling and calls outs feels more frenzied than ever, in keeping with the increasing frenzy in all things.

“The urge to attack and cancel especially female, Black and PoC, and LGBTQ creatives and journalists first and most aggressively is hard to miss. The showrunner of that old chestnut, Voltron, was in the middle of a fresh round of death threats a couple weeks ago. I can’t find a way to describe a motivation that sounds rational to me, but essentially she didn’t seem to show enough respect (to her own character), according to this portion of fandom, and by continuing to not make a particular ship canon, she was being homophobic (in their eyes).

“A couple days later, fans (possibly some of the same?) heaped praise on her for revealing a character was canonically gay. This is a huge moment in the history of children’s animation and yet—I just felt weary thinking of the terror this woman and her collaborators have had to endure for the last several years while trying to make this show. I gather this news, in some fans’ minds, opens the doorway again to that ship, and if this doesn’t go their way, the outrage will return. If you know anything about TV production schedules, this decision to have a gay character has been in the works for months (possibly longer), but I fear the takeaway will also be: if you threaten creators long enough and violently enough, you can bend canon to your will.

“So what do we do?

“Stop. Breathe. Think slowly and try not to act on impulse. Ask yourself, ‘Does this post/platform/website/blogger have my best interest at heart? Do they want me calmly engaging with this in a measured, nuanced way, or are they unconsciously or consciously trying to make me outraged, anxious and unable to log off while they generate ad revenue off my suffering?’ Read carefully and in full. Don’t be baited by clickbaity bylines or anxious tweet spirals. React to online discourse slowly and with measure.

“And don’t let the success of Get Out or Wonder Woman or Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians or Love Simon lull you into thinking greenlighting, casting and financing diverse, representative stories is now an open floodgate and creators are just stubborn and hate you. Some are insensitive and problematic, and some are trying hard to get good rep and to make you happy and also fight studios without losing their jobs. Despite all financial receipts to the contrary, Hollywood is still glacial in understanding previously untapped markets. And the only thing they respond to is market pressure, not empathy. Don’t stan corporations, even if they make product you like. Corporations will never stan you back. Keep demanding improvements from them.

“With regard to creators and your fave characters, between the poles of hard stanning and canceled forever, lies something—with nuance. Love everything you love by all means, but please, please don’t attack real people to protect fictional characters or ships. You aren’t making the world safer. These characters don’t need your protection. They live in your head and a thousand other heads. They’re immortal. But all that outrage and passion and obsession you feel, yes! Great! The real world is on fire right now and badly needs your help!

“Go use your protec and attac to stan in real life human rights! Your favorite characters would be proud.”

ELM: That was “IRL,” Flourish, “IRL.”

FK: IRL. OK. That’s what Lilah had to say.

ELM: Do you think Lilah will let us publish this?

FK: Yeah, totally.

ELM: And make it very rebloggable?

FK: Lilah was very worried that this would be too incendiary, and I was like “Nope, it’s gonna be fine!” This is great, it’s a delight, it actually is a delight.

ELM: It is a delight. Everything here, I hard agree on everything here. I don’t even know what to say in response to it. I feel like that’s that.

FK: I actually don’t, the mic was dropped by “use your protec and attac.”

ELM: That’s p-r-o-t-e-c and a-t-t-a-c. That’s a slightly older meme, it’s nice to see that one again.

FK: Yeah, yeah!

ELM: I haven’t seen that one in a few months.

FK: Delighted.

ELM: Yeah, it’s really good. Voltron seems to be coming up a lot.

FK: What a fandom.

ELM: I don’t know what to do about this. It’s not even…whatever. No difference between cartoons and flesh people…what are they called? [laughing]

FK: Live action? I like that you started with cartoons and then you got to FLESH PEOPLE.

ELM: [through laughter] But there’s something to me, you know…

FK: Like you’re an alien!



ELM: This might be my own bias against cartoons, but the whole “don’t threaten real people’s lives over fictional characters” for me is more extreme when it’s even cartoons. Something about it. When it’s live-action stuff too, people get involved with the actual…actually that’s not true, because people are coming for the voice actors of Voltron as well, right.

b: True.

ELM: Voltron and… 

FK: Steven Universe.

ELM: Yuri!!! on Ice, people involved in making it… 

FK: Absolutely. People come for all the people who are involved behind the scenes. But I do think there is something about live action where the actors are…because they’re often physically, in their daily lives they’re usually physically very similar to their characters, unless they did some sort of massive transformation for the role.

ELM: Like in our favorite show, Netflix’s Insatiable?

FK: Oh my God. Let’s not bring it back to that. [ELM laughing] But yeah, those things blur together a little bit more, I feel like even with cartoons it’s a little more separate.

ELM: Yeah. So I mean, I don’t wanna be dismissive of… 

FK: Oh, I’m not dismissive! I just think it’s a different thing. It’s one thing to… 

ELM: You’re gonna threaten people’s lives because one cartoon character you don’t like the way that they’re…you know what I mean? It’s like, guys, come on.

FK: Yeah, although… 

ELM: No, Flourish.

FK: I just meant that it’s never OK to threaten someone’s life, but I would say that feeling very passionate about a cartoon is no surprise to me.

ELM: This is why I’m not trying to denigrate cartoon fandoms. But it just makes it more stark when it’s like, “I will threaten this real showrunner’s life.” Something about it to me, it’s like, “Over an animated character?” Exactly what we’re saying, feels even more extreme to me because there’s not a human body there. You know what I mean? But regardless, any threats because of your ship or your individual character, et cetera… 

FK: Yeah, what the fuck are we doing. [laughs]

ELM: No. No. So. Everyone please pass Lilah’s words along, take them to heart.

FK: Yeah. We agree. We co-sign. OK.

ELM: Co-sign. So we have a second written one, I think that comes next, do you want me to read it?

FK: OK, go for it.

ELM: And I think this is the last one we’ll do, and then we’ll take a break.

FK: Yep!

ELM: Carrying on from that, this is Ted Scheinman, who is the author of Camp Austen, who we had on no more than two months ago, does that seem right?

FK: Yeah, that seems right!

ELM: So Ted is a writer and an academic who attended this “Jane Austen summer camp,” as they call it, which was this space where academics and laypeople as it were, just Jane Austen fans, mingled in the same space and participated in a lot of the same things. Academics doing things that I think of as fannish, essentially cosplay and reenactment and things, while the fans as we know fans do plenty of work that either is like or mimics academic work, this kind of deep textual reading and analysis sort of stuff. So that was really interesting to talk to him about those intersections. I like how I did the big bio, and I’m gonna read the thing.

FK: I was happy to do it, but you just started going into it and you were doing a great job, so why not?

ELM: I steamrolled you.

FK: OK, go for it.

ELM: Ted writes: “DON’T WASTE YOUR FANDOM ON POLITICAL PERFORMANCE. I’ve been bummed over the past few years to watch as more and more Americans seemed to funnel their fan energies into politics, usually not in productive ways. I could be wrong: It’s possible that the vast and ever-expanding universe of fanfiction literature valorizing Robert Mueller will mobilize voters in the midterm elections, but it seems unlikely. I get it: U.S. political life has turned into a nonstop TV show, and everyone on social media is now a TV recapper, so things are bound to get a little weird.

“But the tendency to treat politicians as pop artists is not just embarrassing and gauche but also politically deadening. When MSNBC addicts treat a corporate greenwashing event like it’s the new Coachella, one struggles to avoid the conclusion that the culture is truly fucked. To such people, I will merely advise that mixing pop enthusiasms with political commitments tends to impoverish both. Your fandom is sacred; please put it to better purpose. My own fandom is in fine shape, and currently concentrated around hip-hop. I will happily raise a lighter for Playboi Carti and Lil Uzi Vert. Not for Tom Steyer.”

FK: Yeah!

ELM: This touches on something that we talked about a lot, I feel like.

FK: So when I first read this I was like “Ooh, Ted, are you calling out literal fanfiction about this, I don’t know, bro.” But then I was like “Wait, hold up.” This is about literal fanfiction sometimes, but it’s also about the treating of all of this…as he says, it’s about treating all of this as a TV show, as entertainment, as opposed to real life, and then engaging with it as a TV show where you’re getting mad about things. I think that’s interesting, because it ties back to what Lilah was saying where people are mistaking—or maybe not mistaking, but who are taking TV shows as seriously as if they were real life, and you know… 

ELM: And this is treating real life in a more frivolous way.

FK: Like a TV show, yeah.

ELM: I think that’s really interesting in parallel. And totally true. Just the way some of them do it on Twitter, some of the journalists, they’ll be like “Scoop coming at 4 p.m.!” And you look at their…and first of all, I know they’re trying to drum up hype, but also you are turning this into a thing as much as Trump does whenever he does the rose ceremony with his new nominee for something. [FK laughs] 

But they’ll be like “Scoop coming at 4 p.m.!” And you look at the replies and they’ll be like the Michael Jackson popcorn gif, and everyone’s like “What’s it gonna be, what’s it gonna be?” And then the scoop comes and everyone goes “Whoa!” And then it’s literally over within 45 minutes. Even though in another era that would have, it would be news that had fast repercussions, but if you just treat it like this quick hit “What’s happening on this episode…” It’s really really hard.

FK: Yeah, I was reading today an article which was like “…and then Trump’s daughter-in-law…yes, you need to know the whole family now!” And I was like “Ph great, so this is also…the cast of characters is ever expanding.”

ELM: Like…oh yeah, the #wife, that daughter-in-law?

FK: Yeah.

ELM: [laughing] I’m not over that tweet. #wife! I’m sorry, I’m doing what this is about! It’s interesting though, thinking about some of the stuff that we were working on during the election, some of what he’s calling out right now is actually stuff that we were hoping could be harnessed, the work of Nerds for Her, hoping could be harnessed to actually make people give a fuck and vote. You know. I don’t think that the people who are glued to…valorizing Mueller and, I think most of those people are gonna vote. I think it’s really muddy. I don’t think Nerds for Her or the Obama one that they did before that, I still don't think it was a bad idea. I think there are a lot of millennials in particular who are super checked out and super apathetic and don’t necessarily, are busy saying that cartoon characters are the pinnacle of the gay rights struggle. You know what I mean? How do you channel that enthusiasm into real change?

FK: Right, absolutely. But I do think that there’s something at the end of those, Nerds For Her was about encouraging people to identify themselves with a political party and engage with something and then encouraging them to vote in a very very specific way. I think that there is a question of…I kinda disagree with you, I think a lot of people are not going to vote who are glued to the Mueller stuff. I think a lot of people feel helpless. None of this is actually… 

ELM: Hard disagree, and I’m sure we can actually get some stats on this.

FK: It would be interesting to find out.

ELM: I think that a lot of people who don’t vote are low-information, a huge portion of the American public are low-information, to use the official term. They’re the people, when they go out and do CBS-Rasmussen polls, you’re like “Do you know who Robert Mueller is?” And they’re like “nope,” or “maybe I’ve heard of him.”

FK: Maybe you’re right.

ELM: The people who know who he is are the people who are valorizing him on the left and the people who think he is the devil incarnate on the right, but if you look at those polls, you’ll find a huge portion of people in the middle who… 

FK: Who have no idea.

ELM: Who have maybe heard of him. Those are the people who are not gonna vote. But I don’t think that people who feel passionately on either side, I don’t think there’s much danger—except for people I would say who are so far to the left that they’re like “This whole system is complete garbage and it’s pointless.” But I think despite the volume of that side, it’s a relatively small group.

FK: It’s a small proportion. Well, maybe that actually points the question back to Nerds For Her. Part of the point of that was encouraging people, maybe who are low-information, to say “Hey, this candidate is connected with something you do actually care about, so you should support them because it’s connected with this thing you already care about, and it’s a way of expressing your identity that direction.” And that’s something that the Mueller obsession… 

ELM: I like how we’re all about Mueller now.

FK: No no, but it doesn’t necessarily connect up that way, right? It’s targeted to people within the conversation, or people within the conversation talking to each other.

ELM: Yeah. And I think that talking about this kind of conversation about very very high-information, super clued-in people, especially on Twitter, as a fandom, is a good one cause there’s a bit of a gatekeeping element to it as well. Not necessarily that they’re deliberately gatekeeping, but there’s so much information. 

Sometimes I feel like I have more information than I want, you know. I’ll be talking to someone who’s like “I just turned off all my social media.” I do know a few people like this. I’ll be like “You know this thing that happened when he did this?” And they’ll be like “I can’t.” You know what I mean? I feel like…it’s not necessarily “gatekeeping” isn’t the right word, but it is a gatekept space in terms of, there’s a high barrier to entry for even understanding what’s going on.

FK: And you have to be also willing to commit to accepting not just the actual important information, but also sifting through a lot of information that’s about whether Melania Trump is sending a message with her clothing or not, and so on, which gets us back into that sort of spectatorship space.

ELM: It’s a daily show. It’s like a soap opera, every single day, and the storylines are linked, but if you miss one you gotta tape it, you know? So you can catch up. Yeah. It’s complicated. This is really interesting, I feel like we could talk about this forever, so maybe we should come back to politics at some point, especially with the midterms coming up.

FK: All right, let’s take a break and then let’s listen to the rest of our guests.

ELM: All right, let’s do it!

[Interstitial music]

FK: All right, we're back, and I think that the next guest to listen to is Britta Lundin, who…I think we talk about her all the time. [ELM laughing] How much of an intro does she need? We talk about her all the time!

ELM: Britta, Britta is a writer on Riverdale and she is the author of Ship It, her debut YA novel, which came out earlier this year, that we both really enjoyed. And I highly recommend that conversation and that book. Simultaneously. So, yeah! That’s right. Let’s hear what Britta has to say.

FK: All right.

Britta Lundin: Hi! It’s Britta Lundin. I am calling to let you know that I have had quite the year in my own personal fandom experiences. My book Ship It, which is about gay fanfiction, came out this year, and that has been truly a remarkable experience, because I have learned exactly which of my friends were secretly in fandom the whole time and never told me.

I also have gotten to meet lots of readers, people just basically coming out of the woodwork to tell me that they relate to my book, that they see themselves in the book, which is phenomenal. I wake up in the morning to Twitter to messages like this. This is in all caps, by the way: “I JUST FINISHED YOUR BOOK AND ASKJAJAJJAJA I NEED MORE NOW PLEASE AJAJSJAJAS. THIS IS ME ON THE FLOOR DEAD.” Which is exactly the reaction I was hoping for when I wrote it.

My own personal fandom, I’ve found that the more I work in television, the harder it is for me to be in television-based fandoms, which is most of what I enjoyed growing up. And so I’m reaching out to other areas, because it’s more likely for me now with TV shows to know people involved in it, or have worked with the actors before, or somehow have insider knowledge that makes it less fun and awe-inducing to watch a TV show. So I’ve really doubled down on One Direction fandom and its members. I saw Harold Styles twice in the last year, I saw Niall twice, and both of those experiences were so much fun. They’re so passionate and enthusiastic and the crowds are huge and diverse and fun and they’re giving their entire hearts and souls to the experience of seeing somebody play that night, it’s just so far been one of the most rewarding fandoms that I’ve been in.

Anyway, I love you guys, keep up the good work with the podcast, I love everything you’re doing, and I’m looking forward to hearing you guys tell me what changed in fandom over the last year, cause I don’t really know. [laughs] I look to you for my fandom analysis! OK, great. Can’t wait to listen to the podcast. Bye!

ELM: Britta’s great.

FK: Oh man.

ELM: A++.

FK: Also great was, she left this as a Google Voice voicemail, and so the transcriptions of that are always very funny.

ELM: Oh, it was so good.

FK: It starts with “Hi, it’s brittle and Dean.”

b: Here I am on the corner of Brittle and Dean!

FK: I just think it's great, I can’t.

ELM: It’s “Hi, it’s brittle and Dean. I am calling.” All right, Google, really?

FK: Thanks, Google.

ELM: Good try, Google! [FK laughing] To Google’s credit, “which is about gay fanfiction,” here, no space in fanfiction!

FK: Good job Google on that one!

ELM: Good job Google. Yeah. Better than the dictionary.

FK: I thought this was great, I felt like I really sympathized with some of that “I need to go find things that no one I know is involved in” bit. Probably not a super common experience to everybody, but I sympathized, so I was like “Britta!”

ELM: I think that is relatable to a small group of people. [laughing]

FK: Well, I found it relatable!! Whatever.

ELM: But that’s great, and I’m really glad, yeah. I definitely saw a lot of commentary around Ship It talking about the excitement of seeing their experiences, you know, various fans’ experiences represented. And that’s great, because I feel like there have been a number of fandom YA novels in the last few years, and we’ve talked about a good number of them, but not a single one of them can represent everyone’s experience, and I think the more and more that come out, even better. Because fandom is a big messy place, full of different perspectives and people.

FK: Agreed completely. OK. Definitely. I think that next we should listen to Lori Morimoto’s message, because she was also talking a little bit about her personal fandom life. Lori, if you don’t recall, is a fan studies scholar, she’s been working a lot on especially fans across different contexts and the way that people’s different cultural contexts—not just meaning national contexts—intersect with each other. So.

ELM: All right, let’s play it!

Lori Morimoto: So the question is “how has fandom changed in the past year?” And I can’t really speak for fandom in general, but I can speak for how it’s changed for myself, and it’s changed in a couple of contradictory ways. 

On the one hand, I’m not as involved in Tumblr fandom as I used to be, and I couldn’t say why except that I don’t know. For some reason I fell off Tumblr and I’ve had a hard time getting back into it. It’s not any specific thing, although I think the sort of upheaval in one of my fandoms a couple of years ago might have been a contributing factor, but at the same time I’ve found myself with less time and really interest in following some of the more convoluted turns of Tumblr fandom, and so a lot of my fannishness has shifted to Twitter, and there it’s more sporadic and kind of spur-of-the-moment. I’m not making long fandom posts, I’m not engaged in creating much right now. But I do keep up with what’s happening in my fandom on social media largely through Twitter.

But I’m also involved right now behind the scenes in the second year of a fan con for a specific show, Hannibal, let’s be real, and if you can come, please come! It’s in October, talk to me! I would love to have you there! Also best show ever! And so that’s given me a whole new sort of experience of fandom that I hadn’t had before, and I’m finding that especially interesting. In a good way! That sounded like it was bad. It’s not bad! It’s really interesting, but it’s, like I say, completely different experience of fandom than what I’ve been used to.

One of the interesting things there is that I’m a fairly fledgling vidder on a good day, and I can’t work with lyrics cause I get too literal, but I was asked to do a promotional video for the convention, FannibalFest, and that was a really interesting experience. I had never done a promotional video before. It’s a completely different experience of fandom-related vidding that I never had before. I think a lot of my meta energy has gone into scholarship, so I’m kind of left with actually meeting people in person, engaging more with fan creations—not just fanfiction, which is sort of an unchanging perennial, I’ll never let it go. I mean, it makes me so happy.

But in that sense, yeah, I’ve kind of withdrawn a little bit from active daily fandom, and I’m putting in a greater degree of energy into a smaller number of things than I was before. So for what it’s worth, that’s how fandom has changed for me this year, and I don’t think it reflects anything broadly—although I have heard talk of people moving away from Tumblr, I don’t know if that's true or not. It may just be the fandoms that I’m involved in. But I do find that the people I knew on Tumblr I also know on places like Twitter, and so it’s easy to keep in touch.

ELM: Oh, leaving Tumblr?! In the week of the piece about how everyone should go back to Tumblr, that I mocked for multiple days on end!

FK: Yeah, there was a very bad sort of—I guess thinkpiece, maybe, would be how to describe it? About how people… 

ELM: I think that’s the correct way to describe many things on that website.

FK: About how people should go back to Tumblr, first assuming that people were not on Tumblr still, and then second being very basic about it. It was quite a piece.

ELM: He was describing a specific Tumblr subculture that I was actually a participant of maybe five years ago. A lot of people in the media and a lot of novelists and stuff were on Tumblr and creating little spheres and it was, you know, it was a nice space, it was a calm little space. That was simultaneously at that time, people were migrating from LiveJournal and Dreamwidth onto fannish bits of Tumblr, and that was happening at the same time but often in disconnected ways.

It’s frustrating to me when people talk about social media platforms and the communities on them as monoliths. “We all do this on X platform,” et cetera. I’m sure I’m guilty of this in passing, but I also wrote my dissertation about these different spaces [laughing] and actually Lori, when I was talking about this article I referenced Lori’s work because I think the “contact zones” idea is really really helpful for talking about the different ways that communities butt up against each other. And not just different affinity groups, but there are other ways that you could define communities on Twitter, on Tumblr, on any of the new spaces…you know what I mean?

FK: I know what you mean. I feel like you actually have been saying what you mean very clearly. You asked me that as though I was gonna clarify, but I think you did it.

ELM: I’m haunted by 10 minutes ago when you said “I’m gonna disagree with you!” And I was like “No! We’re supposed to aggressively agree.”

FK: Well, we do both things. Hey, let’s listen to our last contributor who sent us something, which is Stephanie Burt.

ELM: Stephanie Burt, who was one of our most popular guests this year I would say? I mean, again, I feel like I’m pitting guests against each other, but people had a lot to say about those two episodes, cause she talked so much that we had to turn it into two episodes!

FK: I think people really enjoyed the fact that she’s a professor at Harvard, and having her talk about fandom and fanfiction was a very…what’s the word I’m looking for? Satisfying, maybe? Or…people felt like that was a great endorsement, I think.

ELM: Sure. So she is a poetry professor, she’s also one of the poetry editors of The Nation, and she has been involved in fandom for a long time and has some really interesting things to say. We talked a lot about taste cultures, we talked a lot about high and low culture and the way we engage with it, so I highly recommend those two episodes, and I’m really curious to know what she had to say about the past year.

FK: All right, let's listen!

Stephanie Burt: Hi Flourish, Hi Elizabeth, hi listeners! I’m calling to leave a message for the year in fandom episode, and the question is what has changed over the past year. When I look at the fandoms and fan adjacent enterprises and social groups that I’m part of, I am seeing three things.

One is just for me, that I am getting more out of fan communities and horizontal non-commercial ways of making and sharing transformative works than I ever would have thought possible for me a few years ago, and it’s kind of great. I knew that these communities could be super sustaining for others, but I didn’t realize how important they would become for me.

The second thing is that multiple communities that I’m part of that I would call fan communities—although there are definitely pros in them—have shown an ability to recognize and talk about and…“fix” is too strong a word, but ameliorate or alleviate problems about inclusion and privilege and white privilege, whereas some of the high-culture communities that I value that I’m part of that aren’t fandoms are talking about the same problems, but not going as far to solve them, and I think that’s because the science fiction book fandoms and the comic book fandom that I’m part of have a history of making things clear and explicit and not relying on assumptions and nonverbal communication and subtle conventions about what’s beautiful, or what’s accepted, and the drive to make things explicit I think helps solve problems once they’re recognized.

The third thing, which I think I said on the podcast about X-Men—but it’s true in general—is that when I became more heavily involved in more fan communities, I knew that I would learn more about trans and queer communities, which you know, that’s me. I did not realize how much I would be learning about the social construction of disability, or about how to think about neurodiversity, and that community-based learning process, that just listening to people I know through the fandoms I’m in, being more deeply in more fan communities, has helped me think more and get more input from people at more different places in their lives about neurodiversity and about disability and disability activism, and that is really cool. And I think some of it’s specific to the fandoms that I happen to be in.

I’m also just seeing the comic book fandoms I’m in change and expand and more stories by pro creators—not necessarily procreators, but professional creators, yikes—stories that I wanna read. I’m seeing not direct response to what my friends want, but indicators that comic books that I’m reading and the communities around them are moving in a really good direction. I wanna see more of those directions.

I’m sorry to be vague and emotional, I hope it’s helpful! And thank you for bringing me on to the show! Bye!

FK: That is extremely heartwarming actually, and it makes me feel good to end this, to have sort of…it’s not the end of the episode, but it’s the end of our guests speaking, to have someone remind us that there’s a lot of good things going on in fandom also.

ELM: I know, I’m so cynical, and it’s like “Yeah, you know what?” I feel like it can be overstated sometimes, “Oh…” I feel like since we started this podcast, since we started engaging with people being really critical about it, my cynicism towards fan creation has grown exponentially. Prior to starting this podcast, I always thought, “Oh, fanfiction is telling the stories that don’t get to be told, blah blah blah.” And then I talked to a few black academics who were like “I’m sorry, what are you talking about?” And that’s my own ignorance and my own being taught, you know.

So now I feel like often when I look at fanworks on a whole, I’m still looking from that kind of…not even cynical, but definitely critical lens of “What are the bad parts of our collective biases that are continuing to be upheld?” And I think that often leads me to diminish—especially I’m seeing this more and more in newer fanworks, broader diversity of queer and trans experiences, a broader engagement, exactly what Stephanie’s talking about, broader engagement with various kinds of disability and neuroatypicality and things like that. I think that fanfiction has a long way to go on race still, I genuinely do. I think it’s harder to racebend than it is to dig in, to queerbend as it were. Maybe that’s problematic as well, I don’t know. But yeah, I feel like this helps to push back a little bit against my…“cynicism” feels like maybe not the right word, but.

FK: I think that something that happens for both of us is that both of us love the fan space very deeply, and we like to critique this thing that we love because we feel like it’s not responsible not to do that—but then sometimes that leads you down this space, and I think that Stephanie is maybe rediscovering some areas of fandom that she hadn’t been involved in before, and so seeing that is a real corrective. Which is wonderful.

ELM: 100%. And it makes me feel, I mean, it’s also too, I don’t know what it would be like to not have been in the…cause we’ve been consistently in the fanfiction world for like 20 years now, which is quite upsetting to think about. So sometimes when I think about the tropes and the ways people engage with stuff in 2002 or whatever, I’ll be like “Oh, I’m really glad that people have moved on!” [laughing] But there’s so many tropes that I just feel like the culture has moved on, and I’m really glad that fanfiction has been pushing, leading the way on some of that. But again, yeah. I don’t know what it would be like to come back after a long time away, or to be coming to it relatively recently.

FK: OK, but that leads me to the question of what has your year in fandom been like.

ELM: Oh, is it my turn?

FK: Is there anything that hasn’t been mentioned so far that you feel like is a change in fandom? It’s your turn.

ELM: I have to go first?

FK: You have to go first because I got there first!

ELM: So much of what people discussed here is stuff that rings true to me. I feel like the work that we’ve been doing about, discussions we’ve been having about capitalism are some of the most…“revelatory” might be overstating it, but some of the most formative in terms of my current thinking. 

One thing that I was writing about yesterday, actually, in my piece about the way that the big guys seem to look at fans and talk about fans at Comic-Con in Hall H and in the Exhibition Hall with the merchandise, someone I know from Sherlock fandom reblogged my piece, cause we were posting some of our stuff on Medium just kind of re-upping it. And they said “This was really neat for me to look at, cause I’m never gonna go to something like this.” And I was like, “I’m just gonna hijack this, because tons of people I know are never gonna go to SDCC for a variety of reasons, whether it’s financial or about accessibility or agoraphobia or they really have no interest in engaging with this, but one thing I wanted to say”—and this wasn’t about this person who responded at all but a general thing—“is the stuff that they’re saying in Hall H, it…just cause you’re sitting on your couch, you're not disconnected from it.”

I feel like there’s a big trend in the digital fandom, the online spaces that I’m in, to act like we are disconnected from it. But if you’re in Captain America fandom…even if you’re, almost all your fannish activity is within this transformative fandom gift economy sphere, you’re not disconnected from what’s happening at the corporate level. Right? And obviously not every fandom, you can be a fan of something that’s wholly disconnected! But even then.

FK: You can be a fan of something that is not part of this corporate machine.

ELM: Complete indie creator…look, Aja is, and earlgreytea, are producing an original podcast, a fiction podcast right now! If you are a fan of “Kaleidotrope,” their podcast about this college campus where everyone lives their life in tropes, which I don’t think we actually talked about in Aja’s episode… 

FK: We totally didn’t.

ELM: That’s Patreon funded… 

FK: But you can be a fan of that, yeah.

ELM: You are pretty disconnected at that point from the big capitalistic structures! So I think that’s what, on a fandom level, I really wanna keep digging into. Cause that’s not a judgment. But that’s also saying, let’s be real about these structures, and I think too as becomes more and more apparent to me how, I think the Disney-Fox merger has really gotten in my head. [laughing] You actually work in the entertainment industry, so maybe you don’t wanna say any more, but just, even just being at Disneyland a few weeks ago and being like “JHoly shit, they own all of these things.” You know? You turn the corner and you’re like, “Oh, that’s right, they own Star Wars.” Then you turn the next corner and you’re like “Oh, I forgot they own Pixar.”

FK: The House of Mouse.

ELM: It’s something you don’t often think about, cause you’re not thinking about these big corporate structures when you’re just like “I love my guy” or whatever, Guardians of the Galaxy, I don’t know what you love in this scenario. So that’s a big fandom level. I don’t know if you wanna talk about your top-level fandom or if you wanna talk about, like, your pan-fandom observations, or you wanna talk about your personal stuff.

FK: I actually don’t have pan-fandom observations quite in the same way, I think that my personal stuff is related to my feelings about fandom and maybe a little bit related to that sort of disconnect question. One of the things I’ve really found myself questioning this year is, as you know, for a long time I’ve been very very focused on the idea that fanfiction is a particular kind of art form that’s involved and invested in critiquing an existing thing, and if your fanfiction could have the serial numbers rubbed off it, it might be a good story, but I’m not sure that it’s really the kind of fanfiction I want to write.

And I’ve found that crumbling a little bit this year. I’ve been thinking a lot more about the ways that stories inspire us and the places in which “here is a critique that is very tied into an original story” shades into “here is an original story that is more inspired by these characters but not actually…maybe fanfiction but maybe not actually fanfiction”! I’ve really been struggling with this as a writer, thinking about my own personal work.

ELM: Did you think if you were…as a reader, I think, we talked about this in our AU episode, I think, you are much more…“permissive” isn’t even the right word, but you’re not wholly disinterested in this kinda stuff, where I’m like “This feels like it has nothing to do with any of the stuff that I like in the fandom or the source material.”

FK: No, I read pretty catholically… 

ELM: What do you mean by catholically, define that, cause I think that term gets used sometimes and people do not know it in that context.

FK: I read pretty much everything. I read, for me it’s more about is the writing quality something, is it on a sentence by sentence level something I enjoy and is it well plotted. It can be pretty far away from the original characters and I can forgive all of that for a good story.

ELM: Well, are you even forgiving it? It’s like, you’re saying…I think for a lot of people there’s nothing to forgive, you know?

FK: That's what I’ve been questioning. I always framed it before as “I’m forgiving it,” and now I’m like, “Am I really forgiving it, or is it just that I’m enjoying good stories, so obviously…” And also wanting to write good stories. Something I’ve been doing is looking through my old, I have literally five half-finished fanfic stories that have never seen the light of day, partially because they were stories that I felt like were not tied in enough to the original source material that I didn’t want to finish because they weren’t—and I’m looking back at those and going “Should I finish these? Should I rub the serial numbers off of these and finish them as original stories and keep that inspiration in my head?” I don’t know. I’m figuring it out. But that’s a big change for me personally, and it’s unrelated, I think, mostly to these larger trends in fandom.

ELM: Well, you’re making me think about that letter that I’m still fascinated by that we got after our AU episode, talking about the person who was worried that they were doing fanfiction “backwards” or wrong, and I think we clarified many times there is no wrong here, it’s just your preference, where they said that they searched by trope and they often didn’t care or didn’t even know the source material, and one of the things we said in response to that was “You’re not wrong, you might be out of step with the majority of people, but I don’t think this is a massive…” I think there’s plenty of people. I think it’s a minority of fanfiction readers, but I think it’s probably a pretty large group of people who read this way, and this is something that’s relatively new, because realistically it would be very hard to do this in the way you can now, pre-AO3. Just because of pure information architecture and the way fanfiction lived on the internet.

Also, I feel like fanfiction, it’s not set in stone what it is. Obviously all your work with the survey to put definitions around it showed there was a huge variety of opinions and approaches. And some of that changed with when you entered fandom, the whole…it’s kind of the “your music taste solidifies at age 14” or whatever it is.

FK: What fanfiction is for you solidifies at age 14! [laughs]

ELM: That might be it for a lot of people! You’re gonna carry those initial impressions of what the world was like, I’m over here talking about how glad I am that we’ve moved on from things we were seeing 15-20 years ago, but my ideas—and I think yours too—about what fanfiction is are heavily influenced by those two decades. That doesn’t make us any more right or wrong than someone who’s come in in the last five years. So maybe it’s freeing yourself to kind of, you’re like some old person who’s learning about…I was gonna name a current music artist but I couldn't think of any that wouldn't mark me out as out of touch. I was gonna say “Cardi B” and then I was like “Is that person still cool? How do you do, fellow kids?”

FK: I don’t know if Cardi B is still cool or not, but I like Cardi B, so.

ELM: The only person I know is Grimes.

FK: Grimes is not cool. [laughing]

ELM: And I only know, you know why I know Grimes. Who’s the one who barricaded, Azealia Banks?

FK: Azealia Banks, who previously up to this point I just thought “all you wanna do is start shit,” and now I’m like, “…but you’re starting shit with people I think it’s funny for you to start shit with, so.”

ELM: Funny shit! All right. I think that’s interesting, because while it’s personal I think it works on a broader level too. All right. Thus concludes our third anniversary, three whole years.

FK: Three whole years, man, I can’t believe it.

ELM: Man.

FK: I am incredibly grateful to everybody who came on the podcast this year.

ELM: Mm-hmm! And everyone, these are just our guests but everyone who wrote in. I don’t know, I was just looking through our Tumblr ask box about the future questions, we’ll do another ask, AMA episode to follow up from our last one, I’m so…stupid man with Tumblr being dead or whatever. All these people engaging with us! I don’t know. Makes me, I’m very emotionally moved.

FK: So am I! I’m gonna not get soppy right now. But. I too am very very grateful for all of our listeners, everyone who contributes, everyone who talks to us, genuinely though—actually I don’t think that I could have imagined three years ago that we’d be where we are today, so.

ELM: Yeah, when you came to me at that bar and said “Let’s do a podcast!” And I thought “LOL. Yeah right.” That was my thought.

FK: Guess I taught ya!

ELM: Yeah, and then you found me the next day and you were like “No, here’s the thing!” I was like “Oh gosh she’s really serious! And really aggressive!” [laughing] No, in a good way! In a good, aggressive is good! Don’t worry, don’t worry.

FK: Yeah, well, it’s the one thing I’ve ever been proactive about in my entire life, so you got that.

ELM: Says the person who owns their own business.

FK: Yeah, but I’m not good at being proactive—anyway.

ELM: Let’s do wrap-up stuff. Because our anniversary, we always say this but the Patreon, we started that on our first anniversary, so this is two years of the Patreon now, really steady support, and we can’t tell you how much we appreciate it. But if anyone’s been listening and maybe their financial situation has changed, we would LOVE a couple bucks a month. As little as $1 a month!

We have been highlighting the writing that we’ve done and that we’ve commissioned on Medium, the way we pay for the writing and some of the art there is through Patreon pledges. That’s our really only source of funding. So if you’ve enjoyed any of that writing, I can’t, I was gonna say “I can’t beg you enough,” but begging sounds so desperate. I can’t encourage you enough to consider pledging to our Patreon, even if it’s a small contribution it still really helps. So that’s Patreon.com/fansplaining.

FK: Absolutely. Some good ways to help us out if you don’t want to or can't get involved with the Patreon, you can send us questions, send us your thoughts, you can rate us on iTunes, we think we deserve five stars, you can give us whatever you think. But really getting in contact is a great way to contribute, so that’s fansplaining at gmail.com or fansplaining on Tumblr, we have an open ask box, and anon is on. You can tweet at us, you can send messages to our Facebook page if you really wanna do that. Our doors are open to you.

ELM: Yes! So please let us know your thoughts. If you wanna talk about how fandom’s changed, as I said, we’re gonna do another AMA episode and so…any sort of questions or things that you wanna bring up that you think might make a good discussion topic, definitely send them our way, we can chat about them a little bit, it’ll be awesome.

FK: Absolutely. I think that’s it!

ELM: OK, Flourish, it’s been a real year.

FK: It has been a real year. I will talk to you next time.

ELM: Happy anniversary!

FK: Happy anniversary!

[Outro music, thank yous and disclaimers]