Episode 95: “Back To The Fans”
In Episode 95, “Back to the Fans,” Flourish and Elizabeth discuss director Jason Reitman’s recent comments—that the upcoming Ghostbusters film would give the franchise “back to the fans”—and contextualize them in both the morass that is online Ghostbusters discourse and the ways that people in the entertainment industry frame “fans.” They also untangle the conflation of fan entitlement, critique, and transformative works, and they answer a listener question about queerbaiting, shipping, and TV writers.
[00:01:27] The article Elizabeth was reading was “I’m Already Sick of This” by Beth Elderkin.
[00:03:00] Last episode was #94, “Save Our Show (It’s A Metaphor).”
[00:07:17] Our episode with Javier Grillo-Marxuach is #84.
[00:08:15] The controversy over the 2017 SDCC Supergirl panel was significant enough that it is covered on Know Your Meme, so.
[00:20:21] The sexist outcry against Ghostbusters (2016) was so loud that The Atlantic covered it, and that at one point, Vanity Fair referred to Milo Yiannopoulos as “the troll who helped torment Leslie Jones off Twitter.” The events are detailed in an article in The Cut. We talked about it in Episode 38, “The Year in Fandom 2016.”
[00:21:57] Melissa McCarthy’s three Oscar outfits were a DELIGHT, and People was smart enough to lead with the tracksuit (the “elegant” and “bunnies everywhere” outfits are there too and also deeply enjoyable).
[00:36:24] Javi’s books (Flourish is talking about Shoot This One and Shoot That One) are available on his website!
[00:38:32] Bo Burnham talked about choosing to make Eighth Grade about a girl in an interview with IndieWire, amongst other places: “I didn’t want to make a nostalgic movie. I didn’t want to make a movie about my past experience. I wanted to make a movie about what I was currently going through. … Being [about] a girl really isolated me from being nostalgic and projecting my own experience. It was really great to be able to look at something like eighth grade, which is so familiar to all of us, but to be like, ‘I actually know nothing about this, so I have to research and try to experience this for the first time with her.'”
[00:41:16] Specifically, J.J. Abrams told Entertainment Weekly that “Star Wars was always a boy’s thing” and expressed that he wanted to change that. Elizabeth’s article pushing back, in the New Statesman, was “No, J.J. Abrams–Star Wars was never ‘a boy’s thing’.” He later clarified on Twitter:
[00:42:52] The Daily Beast article we’re discussing is “Movie Fan-Boy Armies Rage On in the Era of Trump” by Nick Schager.
[00:46:55] If you really need to see what the last scene of The Departed is, here you go. The Kickstarter we’re discussing got shut down, but don’t worry, someone edited the rat out already and you can see it for free on Twitter. As for the cost of rebuilding Five Points for Gangs of New York and why Flourish is so annoyed about minor errors, read the Guardian’s coverage of the moviemaking process to get a flavor.
[00:48:22] The piece about why A Star Is Born needs content warnings for suicide is by Andrew Todd in SlashFilm. (CW: suicide for that piece, also, needless to say.)
[00:50:43] Flourish is wrong—the recut Star Wars movie featuring zero ladies was The Last Jedi, not The Force Awakens. The cast hella mocked the edit, but the text surrounding the actual original upload seems kind of fishy.
[00:51:50] Gavia Baker-Whitelaw tells you everything you need to know about the “black elves” hoax tweet.
[00:54:29] Flourish’s X-Files recommendations are now only accessible through archive.org, praise the Wayback Machine!
[01:00:55] Bird-feeding is now banned in Central Park. Here’s WNYC’s coverage.
[01:04:43] THE GLARE!!!
Flourish Klink: Hi, Elizabeth!
Elizabeth Minkel: Hi, Flourish!
FK: And welcome to Fansplaining, the podcast by, for, and about fandom!
ELM: This is episode number 95, quote, “‘Back to the Fans.’” Unquote. [FK laughs] It’s a quote.
FK: It is a quote. So we have quotes in the title.
ELM: Yeah! I want those quotes to be, like, they’re kind of ironic.
ELM: You know? Back to the “fans,” you know. [FK laughs] I just did a little verbal air quote.
FK: There’s not multiple quotes. There’s not also air quotes around “fans.” That’s not—we’re not doing multiple quotes.
ELM: Back to the quote-unquote “fans.”
FK: Yeah we’re not—we’re not—that’s not it.
ELM: So, this, this is about the recent comments by the director of the upcoming Ghostbusters, the all, all-male Ghostbusters movie that apparently is coming out. Jason Reitman, who is the son of the original director. He said he was going to hand the movie back to the fans, which is, uh…a whole lotta statement, right there.
FK: Yeah. Some interesting questions about the construction of what the fans are, what that means…
ELM: Right. Right.
FK: So. Yeah. Lots to dig into there. [laughs]
ELM: Great. Good times, I’m sorry we’re gonna talk about Ghostbusters. There was an article I was just reading by Beth Elderkin who was saying, like, “Oh my God, are we really talking about this again?”
ELM: And it was very cathartic to read, cause I was like, I cannot believe we do have to talk about this again. But that’s fine. Good times.
FK: Well…we’ll try and talk about more than Ghostbusters. This symptomatic of a larger thing.
ELM: It’s like…it’s like, that was from 2016 too, and also now we’re like fully into, like, rehashing the primaries even if the candidates are mostly very different.
FK: It’s, yeah. It’s a little bit like being caught in Groundhog Day. Except it’s, like, a period of three years.
ELM: And it’s not, it’s not, like, fun.
ELM: Do you not find Groundhog Day fun?
FK: Actually…the movie…?
ELM: Do you find that trope frustrating?
FK: I enjoy it as a, uh, as a fictional, you know, trope. I don’t think that I actually would enjoy reliving a period of time again and again, no.
ELM: Right, but, OK, but one of the pleasures of it as a trope is that you know the person is gonna get it right at the end.
FK: Yeah yeah yeah, you know what the resolution is. For sure.
ELM: And so that’s, that’s kind of fun, and I think that’s one of the reasons why people have gotten a little frustrated with The Good Place, is because in the beginning the reboots were fun and now you don’t feel 100% confident that there is gonna be resolution. Because they just keep pivoting.
FK: Oh, that’s interesting.
ELM: I didn’t mean to turn this into a Good Place analysis episode, but we can do that instead!
FK: Let’s, let’s hold that for a special episode sometime in the future. Let’s, before we get into Ghostbusters, we have some other stuff to talk about, right?
ELM: We have a litter from a listener…I was gonna say “unrelated” but it’s all kinda related because it’s about fans and creators and expectations. But this was a question about our last episode, the “Save Our Show,” about fan petitions. So it’s from an anonymous listener who says:
“Hey Fansplaining, I have a question about fan–creator interaction that the petition discussion brought up. Something I see in some shows that seems like a trend to me is a ship getting big, and then the characters involved in the often-queer ship, getting less screen time together, or sometimes shows doing things to make it very clear that the characters don’t view each other that way.
“This isn’t my ship, but one example I can think of is how Kara and Lena on Supergirl, a huge F/F ship, had a scene the season after the ship got big where they said they thought of each other like sisters, and this made a lot of fans really unhappy. I know this is a fraught example because of the controversy around the ship at SDCC 2017, when the cast said publicly that it wasn’t going to happen, but it’s the clearest example that came to mind. I’ve heard of similar things happening in Agent Carter too, with one half of the queer ship being written off in between seasons, and a lot more straight romance being added at the same time.
“Anyway, I’m not asking about these specific examples, but just wondering if this sort of thing in general is deliberate on creators’ parts because of shipping, or just a coincidence. And if it is deliberate, why do they do this? Thanks for all you guys do, sincerely, a fan who would love to ship from subtext in peace.”
Wait, the P.S. is really good too. “P.S., I’m very glad you had ‘(It’s A Metaphor)’ in your last episode title, because I definitely thought ‘Save Our Show’ meant Fansplaining was in trouble.” [laughs]
FK: Oh no! I didn’t even think of that possible construction of it! Oh no! [laughing]
ELM: [also laughing] Me neither! OK. Thank you very much, anon, this is an excellent and thorny question.
FK: It is. And I don’t have answers about any of those particular shows, but I do, like, I did actually ask some people about this, and also just know some things about this.
ELM: OK. Well first, first I wanna say off the bat, I don’t think that a character being written off is ever an indication that there’s some sort of plot. Like…
ELM: I think we discussed a lot last time and in other episodes, like—very often, it’s not always conflicts too. Sometimes, right, the actor may not just be getting along and they may not want to continue…
FK: Right. I mean, like, cause realistically right, think about a television show—any television show, right. Imagine that you’re in an office, and, like, you hire someone, and they just don’t, like, mesh with anybody in the office and there’s personality conflicts and they kinda want to leave and everyone kinda wants them to leave. If you’re on a television show they have to be written off! Cause they’re an actor, right? [laughing] Like…
ELM: Right, right.
FK: You know, I mean…not to say that anyone’s a jerk, just sometimes you don’t mesh, right? So that does happen. Yeah, absolutely. But the other thing is that, you know, one of the funny things in this question—one, yes, I do think that sometimes shows notice that a pairing is getting big and then are like, “We should make more clear what we intended with this.” Because they don’t want to be queerbaiting! [laughs] Right?
You sort of have two options, right. Either you can have people notice that a pairing is getting big and try to not queerbait anyone, right—cause often, like, you, right, you write a script and then it reads differently in the show itself than, than the writers intended it to. This is—you know, this is, I mean, subtext is not always intentional. And when unintentional subtext comes out and people go “Oh shit, everyone’s taking it in this direction,” yeah! Of course people are like, “We should make sure that people get what we actually meant.” You know?
ELM: Right, right.
FK: And try and write it out. And I don’t think that, I don’t think that there’s an easy way around this. Because there’s sort of three options, right. One option is, there’s queer subtext and the show just keeps leaning in, or, like, playing to it, but never achieving it. Which is queerbaiting and no one wants that, right.
ELM: Sure, sure.
FK: Or, number two, the show writes in queer subtext and then everyone changes their idea about what the story is and all of their plans in order to support this one queer ship. Which maybe is a good choice sometimes? But I think that we can’t expect that to happen every time, that’s absurd, right? A lot of times there’s, like, a plan for the show, and…
ELM: Well, not to mention there—there’ll be, there are definitely shows where there are multiple—
FK: Yeah, absolutely!
ELM: Things that people ship and that are in opposition to each other. There’s maybe one character and, you know, goin’ either direction, so someone—you know. I’m thinking of, thinking of Voltron right now, right? That was, there was one character in common with the two big ships that people were arguing over, that kind of thing.
FK: Right, right, absolutely.
ELM: And so validation of one of those was always going to disappoint the other, you know.
FK: Completely, completely. And you can also see this, like, there’s also conflicts that are—that are sort of in-built in this. So one of the things that Javi Grillo-Marxuach said on our interview with him about The 100 was, “Look, you’ve got Clarke and you’ve got Bellamy, they’re the male and female leads of this show, you know, you’re not writing either one of them out.” So people who are shipping Bellarke, yeah, you know? Their ship may or may not happen but the characters aren’t getting written off, right, unless something really catastrophic happens or, like, one of the actors quits or something like this, right. It’s, it’s very unlikely that they’re getting written off.
So literally any other love interests, whether they’re gay or straight, that anyone has, is much more likely to get used as a plot point. Now, that’s not to say that [laughs] that killing Lexa was the right thing to do with The 100, but only to say that there’s all of this other stuff that’s happening around with multiple ships that are compared.
Anyway. The third possibility, right, if—if neither are you queerbaiting nor is the entire show changed—is that people see that there’s, like, a big fandom behind this couple, and they decide to try and make it clear that the couple isn’t gonna get together so that they’re not queerbaiting anyone or misleading them. And so that’s what I think, um, sometimes is happening in these cases, right?
Like, I think that the case of Supergirl, like, yeah, obviously people were jerks at Comic-Con, but even if they hadn’t been, what would people really have preferred? Do they want it to remain will-they-or-won’t-they forever and never get resolution, and feel queerbaited? I don’t know.
ELM: Well, this kind of makes me think of the comment we discussed—I think we discussed last time, actually, but multiple times in the past, a thing that both you and I—you said is fairly common, maybe slightly old-school idea from TV writers that queer subtext or…not even subtext sometimes, I feel like. This is more like winking and nudging, you know. Not even—subtext is, is sometimes a little more subtextual than some of this stuff. But you know. The, the actual teasing is a gift to, to fans. Sort of to slash shippers or whatever, right.
FK: And we’ve said it’s not a lot! [laughs]
ELM: Right. And there’s like, “No no no, stop. But, I do think the response from some fans…when this happens…like this definitely, I, my read of the fourth season of Sherlock is they were doing this. I think they were, I, I mean, this is all speculation, but I obviously paid a lot of attention to what the fans were saying, to what the creators were saying, all corners of the fandom…I think they all seemed very very, the actors and the writers seemed very weary of this being the only thing that anyone would ever discuss around it, and I think they kinda no-homoed their way through it.
And actually, in the process, kind of stomped all over any intimacy and romance between them. Which they had leaned into before, you know. And people were like “I’m betrayed! It seems like they don’t even like each other!” And it’s like, “Well, you’re not getting your canonical—they’re not gonna, like, ride a horse off toge—” Well, they might ride a horse off into the sunset together, but they’re not gonna be kissing. [FK laughs] You know? They’ll just be like, have their arms around each other. But there’s never gonna be any kissing. Right? There’s not gonna be sex scenes.
FK: Yeah, yeah.
ELM: Like, cause this is what these men are—
FK: They might shake hands and then walk away without touching.
ELM: “You’re the best man I’ve known, John.” And then a lot of eye contact, you know? Yeah. Yeah. So, like, people were like… “Where was it?” You know? And it’s just like—I feel like when people say that they haven’t allowed space for the possibility that it’s not going to happen, ever. So it’s like, “Which one do you want? Do you want…”
Here’s, all right, here’s also another example of…you know how I said I’m enjoying X-Men fandom because everything is batshit and nothing matters and also I feel like it’s that classic big franchise where, like, I know…they’re gonna gaze at each other for 100 movies no matter who plays them.
FK: Cause they’ve literally already gazed at each other for 100—
ELM: That’s all they do.
FK: 100,000 comic books.
ELM: They just keep gazing. And it’s, it’s just this kind of old-school place I’m feeling where I have no investment in, I’m like, “Doesn’t matter. That’s all they’re gonna do, is they’re gonna glare at each other, or look happily at each other.”
ELM: And then did you see—did you see the new X-Men trailer came out today?
FK: No, I did not.
ELM: [laughs] Flourish!
FK: Is there, is there some good gazing?
ELM: It’s more of a glare. [FK laughs] But there’s a scene, there’s like two shots where they just, like, look at each other angrily while they’re in, like, captivity too. Like, they’ve been captured and they’re wearing, like, the inhibitor collars. Which is, like, such a fanfiction trope, right? You know? And I think it’s a comics trope too.
ELM: And I just, I was just…I kinda rewound that bit where they glared at each other.
FK: And just watched the glare.
ELM: And watched it like 25 times. Yeah. And that was all I need, and it wasn’t like—that’s it, right? Cause that’s what shipping is, that’s what shipping is and historically has been to me. You know right?
FK: Right, totally. I think that, I think that it’s just, you know, that…I think that some of the things that people have had with shipping, and then, like, as we’ve described it, like, people’s idea like “Yes, actually a queer relationship could happen here,” and then, like, having to be, like, “Well, but maybe it’s not going to happen,” I think that’s all really messy right now. And I think that that’s, that’s some of…that’s some of the demand for a couple and then, like, the how do you, like…yeah. If that, if that ship isn’t gonna happen, how should it not happen, right? [laughs]
ELM: Right. Right.
FK: And I don’t know the answer to that, like, I don’t know that there’s a magic—you know, a magic answer to the way this should be. But I think that people are genuinely trying things. I think that showrunners are genuinely trying to…you know, people, people, especially in a show like Supergirl which is so fandom-related, I think people have begun to hear things like “Don’t queerbait.” Especially in writers’ rooms, right. Like, at SDCC, when you’re on a stage or something, like, an actor may or may not know what that is, but I do think that genuinely writers—writers’ room Twitters, they’re on Twitter all the time. They hear some of this stuff. They may not understand it fully, but they definitely hear it, you know?
ELM: Right. I—here’s, here’s what I wonder from your perspective in the entertainment industry. I wonder if, as time goes on, here’s…all right. So you know, like, if you see, like, a man and a woman, like, in a TV show, they’re like…you’re like “Oh, of course.”
ELM: “Of course they’d get together,” right? Like, you know. Even if they don’t even seem to have a lot of chemistry, because those are the patterns and they’re, like, embedded in our culture, right? You know.
FK: Right, and you can see things that are sort of set up as like, you know, “Oh,” in an ensemble show, like, “which of the, which of the couples is going to be the one where the actors have chemistry?” You know?
FK: You can sort of feel that they’re like, waiting to figure that out and then they’ll pick which one, you know?
ELM: Right. And it’s sort of in the same way where, like, you can see it from a mile away, just as I can see a really great slash ship from a mile away too, you know? [FK laughs] But I feel like a lot of writers, especially—writers’ rooms, especially…you know, especially straight writers, and maybe a lot of writers who, who haven’t looked for that queer subtextual lens historically or…or, you know, that kind of thing, and who were used to the very kind of heteronormative, like, “Oh, of course that’s gonna happen,” right. And I wonder if more people…because it’s a kind of idea of, “Oh, I didn’t even realize,” like “Oh, oh no, you think those two are gonna get together?”
FK: “It didn’t occur to me that those two had tension!”
ELM: Yeah. And that reminds—so they learned that lesson, they’re like “Oh, I see it now. I see if you were looking at it from that lens where you’re looking for a, a female/female ship…”
ELM: Like, “I understand why that read that way to you, and it doesn’t to me, because I’m not used to reading it that way,” and I wonder if, once more and more writers start to learn this lesson, then they’ll start to be able to see it and from the start, and—that’s not to say, like, flirting is awesome! You know? And like—fun chemistry’s awesome, and not every pair with great chemistry needs to get together! You know?
FK: Yeah. I mean, I also have to say that I think that the more that there are actual canonical and, like, real intentional queer relationships and intentional queer tension, then maybe it takes some of the pressure off of some of those unintentional ones, right? The same way as having, like, a big het romance in something means that if there’s a bunch of other het romances that are never gonna happen, people don’t…become as stressed out about it, because, like, obviously there’s tons of het representation everywhere. So. You know.
ELM: Well, well…can I…tell you the good word? [FK laughs] About the Black Sails fandom and how that… [FK laughs loudly] It’s not the good word. It’s the bad word. That literally des—I, I used to be like you, Flourish, I used to think exactly what you said, and then I was in the Black Sails fandom. And that just—
FK: But I don’t think it’s about a particular fandom, I think this is about fandom broadly, right. I don’t think it’s about—I think that, like, if you’re in one…I think it’s about, like, the act of fanning, not fanning over a particular show. Like, I think it’s a cultural thing that has to change… [ELM makes a doubtful noise] I’m, OK, look, look, look. I’m trying to be an optimist.
ELM: I, no. Because I just think so much of it is conflating your individual desire, what you wanna see. Like, overlaying it with this—what it “should” be. And so…I saw these posts saying the protagonist, who’s, you know…like, quite explicitly clear, like, sorry, queer, that’s, like, his literally his entire storyline is, like, just, just, like, queer rage, revenge fantasy. That the show would make great strides for gay rights and gay representation if he got together with one of the characters who’s ostensibly just depicted as straight, or just only has relationships with women, when the protagonist is already queer and already has a same-sex partner. Right there.
ELM: And so they were like “But you don’t understand! It would be so revolutionary! If he’d get together with that other guy!” And I was like, “I understand why people ship it…”
ELM: But…it’s already happ—you know, like, it’s already happening. Right?
FK: So maybe, maybe it’s—maybe it’s…
ELM: It’s there!
FK: Maybe it’s that you can’t use that “it’ll be revolutionary” as an excuse for why you want your…well that’s not true. Oh God. Man, shipping, shipping sucks. [ELM laughs] Let’s ban it. [both laughing]
ELM: Yeah! You know, I mean, like, that’s a specific example, I don’t wanna pin too much on it. But it is, it is—it was hard because every time anyone was like “I think it’s the scarcity thing and I think that all of these things will be solved…”
FK: You were like, “Aaa!”
ELM: You know, like…people had giant, giant angry fights over whether, you know, various characters were gay versus bi, and like, just, like…
ELM: All, like, the majority of the protagonists are queer, and it’s like, just, you know. Like, multiple experiences are depicted, and yet you’re still fighting over this…
ELM: And also it’s 1715. [sighs]
FK: All right. I think that we should talk about something else right now. I just—you know, you’re like, the towering rant, I can see like, we’ve just—like, mounted the steps of the tower to the rant, and then there’s, like, 500 more flights of spiral staircases up to the top of your towering rant…and…
ELM: This is a nice metaphor.
FK: Yeah! I really, I really committed, right? [laughs]
ELM: I can, I can only go upwards to tower and rant.
FK: OK. Let’s, let’s, um, should we take a small break and then should we talk about the main thrust of the episode?
ELM: [snickers] Yes.
FK: All right, we’re back. And we’re ready to talk about the thing we thought we’d left behind in 2016.
ELM: You’re a fan. I’m ready to give this back to you.
FK: Oh, thank you!
ELM: Yeah. You’re welcome.
FK: Oh! That’s a delight. OK, so for anybody who missed the backstory to this…
ELM: Wait. First we should say that the person who—Persephone Garnata was the person who—
ELM: —asked us about this.
FK: Yes! Thank you, Persephone Garnata! Because you’re why we’re talking about this in part!
FK: All right. So backstory. Ghostbusters, beloved film of our childhoods.
FK: Not so beloved by Elizabeth…
FK: …but beloved by many.
ELM: Look, Ghostbusters is fine. It’s fine! I enjoy it. I…I don’t think it’s a masterpiece of filmmaking.
FK: No, but I did drink Hi-C Ecto Cooler every morning…like, er, every lunchtime…for, like, my entire elementary school career. So.
ELM: You know, my—actually, my elementary school connection to Ghostbusters was, at Halloween we had something called the “Halloween Fun Fair,” which was just as good as it sounds. [FK laughs] Right? And so in one, we had two little gyms, and in one gym they would have, like, carnival games, little things you could buy, super exciting for a seven-year-old, right?
ELM: And in the other gym, they would have the Halloween obstacle course. And I can’t believe this is something that we all enjoyed doing, but it was like those little scooters, you’d need to lie on your stomach?
ELM: Did you ever do one of these?
FK: Oh yeah!
ELM: It’s so painful to think about right now, that that we had to, like, go around the gym…
FK: On these scooters on your stomach…
ELM: An obstacle course—it was so exciting, and they, like, got the lights down, and like, lights flashing, and they played “Thriller” and the Ghostbusters theme. Like true children of the 90s, the songs of the 80s.
FK: Yeah, yeah!
ELM: And, and! We got to do it not just at the Halloween fun fair over the weekend, but during gym class the week of Halloween.
FK: Aww yeah!
FK: That’s a delight. OK. So, Ghostbusters, beloved childhood movie…
FK: Remade with an all-female cast…lots of people into this, lots of people not into this…
FK: We talked about this in previous episodes. The shit-fit, I would say, that some people threw over the idea that Ghostbusters could be redone with an all-female cast.
ELM: Right. So lots of commentary about childhoods being ruined, a lot of…
ELM: …specifically racialized misogyny, misogynoir, directed at Leslie Jones, who’s the one black member of the all-female cast.
ELM: And just really abhorrent stuff.
ELM: That was very, very high-profile and led a lot of people, this was the big example that led a lot of people to start being like “Oh, these fans! They seem bad. Fans are bad.” Right?
ELM: “Because this is what they do,” you know, and it was just like…it was a bad scene.
FK: Yeah, and it sucked at a variety of levels, right, because it also meant sort of—do you ever have this thing where, like, people, like…you’re like, I watched that movie and I was like “Yeah, sure, this was a movie, it was fine,” you know, I thought it was fun, I enjoyed seeing it, but like…
ELM: I didn’t like it very much. Maybe because…
FK: Well, yeah!
ELM: This isn’t for me. [laughs]
FK: No, no, no! But that’s, that’s exactly what I mean though, right? Cause like, normally I would be like, “I didn’t like it very much.” But, like, the reasons I didn’t like it had nothing to do with the all-female cast.
ELM: No, not at all. Actually I [FK laughs] what, it was kind of in spite of. It was like, “Oh, I actually think all four of these actresses are incredible.”
ELM: “And so much, so much funnier than this movie is allowing them to be.” And the only person I felt like was given true space to be funny was Chris Hemsworth, and I hate being like “the one man was the funniest part,” but…I don’t know. Especially Melissa McCarthy.
FK: Yeah, he kinda had the best part, right? Anyway.
ELM: She’s so good!
FK: She is.
ELM: I love her! Did you see her three outfits at the Oscars?
FK: No. I really, I really did not have time for the Oscars this year.
ELM: What, the, her, like, red carpet—her, like, the outfit she wore was like a, like a pant—it was a pantsuit, like a jumper but a very, like, you know, a formalwear one.
ELM: It was beautiful. Very, very elegant. And then when she presented she dressed up as Queen Anne with a bunch of, like, you know, 17 stuffed rabbits glued to her, like, robe. [FK laughs] And then, at the afterparties, this is the one you must have seen, she was wearing a tracksuit.
FK: I didn’t see it! No.
ELM: Ahh! Everyone else put on, like, some sexy dress, and she was like…
FK: She was like, “Tracksuit time.”
ELM: It was a nice tracksuit! It was like a, it was like a fancy tracksuit, so.
FK: Yeah. I pretty much, I pretty much muted the entire Oscar situation and, like, just looked at who won afterwards and was like “OK.” I didn’t need to…
ELM: I mean, I was…I’m five hours ahead right now, so there was literally no way I was gonna see any part of it. So.
FK: Yeah. Yeah.
ELM: But I did see some of the looks.
FK: And the tracksuit, yeah. OK.
FK: Well, that’s a delight. Anyway. Point being that, yeah. I think that the back—genuinely, the way that people were being such dicks about it made me want to dig my heels in and be like “No! Fuck you! This is a great movie, because I hate all of you so much!” Anyway.
ELM: Yeah. Yeah.
FK: Um. So now, there is this, you know, all-men again version. [ELM laughs] By Jason Reitman. The director. Son of the original director. And on “Bill Burr’s Monday Morning Podcast,” which is a thing, apparently, he said…he’s, quote, “not making the Juno of Ghostbusters movies,” and also…
ELM: Cause he was the director of Juno.
FK: Yes. And also, um…
ELM: It’s not like he was just taking a swipe at Juno.
FK: No, no no no no no. No no no. He was also saying, quote, “We’re in every way trying to go back to original technique and hand the movie back to the fans.” And… [sighs] Can I just say that, like, this entire, this statement, is so frustrating to me? Because…
ELM: Yeah, you can say that! Go ahead! [laughing] Go for it!
FK: It’s so frustrating! Because, like, on the one hand, if I imagine this statement, like, without the “back to the fans” bit…
FK: Then I can be like, “Yeah!” You know? Like, actually, like, the new Ghostbusters, like, there was lots of stuff in it, like, if you went back to the original in some ways maybe that’s good. Like, not—I don’t think it has to do with whether it’s a male or a female cast, but there’s other stuff about it that, like, yeah! Sure! No, like, actually you shouldn’t make the Juno of Ghostbusters movies! Make a Ghostbuster movie that’s a Ghostbuster movie. Fine, sure!
ELM: Wait. I would kinda be into a Juno of Ghostbusters.
FK: Yeah. I would be into that too. But I would also be into not, you know? Like, whatever. But then…so, like, if you’re totally divorcing this from the conversation in which it’s in…
FK: Then I’m like “OK.” You know. But you can’t. You CAN’T. And how can you step into this and not know the conversation that it’s in? And not be aware of—?
ELM: Oh, he knows.
FK: The degree—he knows! Right? Exactly!
FK: Exactly! And it’s frustrating as hell to me that, like, you would…I don’t know. It just…UGH.
ELM: Good! That’s incisive commentary right there. So he quote-unquote “apologized”…
FK: Yes. He said, and I quote, “Wo!” W-O. [ELM laughs] “That came out wrong. I have nothing but admiration for Paul and Leslie and Kate and Melissa and Kristen, the bravery with which they made Ghostbusters 2016. They expanded the universe and made an amazing movie!” Exclamation point. Things that read like they were written by a publicist.
FK: For $500, Alex.
ELM: You think a publicist would spell it “Wo”?
FK: Yes. Because they would be trying to match his, like…
ELM: Oh, the way he, yeah.
FK: Yeah. I don’t know that a publicist actually wrote it. They might not have. But he’s certainly on talking points. [laughs]
ELM: This is so…I’m looking at it right now, it’s so patronizing though, the “bravery”?
FK: Yeah. It’s frustrating—
ELM: So brave.
FK: —because I would rather that he had, like, having said this, I would rather that he go back and say, like, “Look, let’s be clear,” like, “the women are not the thing that I was talking about,” if indeed they weren’t, which they might have been. But, like, even if they were, the way to solve this is not to be patronizing like that! Right? Like…he genuinely could’ve been like, “Yo, I had X and Y,” like, “I think X and Y could be different, and that’s what I was talking about, and I’m looking forward to doing something new in that way,” but like, he would never be allowed to say that. [laughs] By a movie studio. And the thing with—
FK: —and then that makes it worse, you know what I mean? Like…
ELM: Right, right.
FK: Like, he’s not allowed to say the thing that would actually, like, do something to clarify or to not be completely bullshit…you know what I mean? You make a statement like that, it’s such a bullshit walking it back, and it leaves this wide open door for anybody to be like “Yeah. The studio forced him to say that. But he knows, like the rest of us know.”
ELM: Right. Exactly.
FK: “These just fuckin’ chicks, they don’t need to be in this.” You know?
ELM: Yeah. Right. I mean, but I mean, that’s why it, I think that people were describing this as a…as, you know, dog whistles, and I think that’s correct. It’s this sort of, the double layer, the ironic layer, which I think a lot of, especially right-wing politicians right now, or right-wing figures, are employing to a lot of success. Right? You know? And so to issue that apology, and then everyone will be like “I, it’s pretty clear from the way he worded this that he’s still on Team Racist with us,” you know, like…
FK: But this is what frustrated me is like: I don’t want to, I don’t want to, like, impute anything…intentional…to Jason Reitman about this, because I can see so clearly, like, how someone could be being a little bit sexist in the thing he was saying—not realizing the, I mean, knowing about the furor, but not understanding the depths to which it is going to immediately be taken. I can believe that. Or, like, not caring about it, being like “Yeah, whatever, those—” like, “people always yell on the internet.” And then this, like—I really do believe, though, like a publicist or someone like this would say “No, you can never say anything bad about the last movie.”
FK: Which results in this, which results in—maybe he doesn’t intend it to be like that kind of a deep dog whistle. I would like to think that he doesn’t, because I wanna think positive things about everybody, right? Like…and I know nothing about him to suggest that he’s…
FK: …well, I know nothing about him to suggest that he’s intentionally, you know, being like a massive jerk and trying to rile up this, this sentiment.
FK: There’s no—I mean, I have no evidence to suggest that he’s like that.
ELM: OK. Say he doesn’t mean that. What does the “fans” mean?
FK: But he’s done it! [laughs]
ELM: Yeah. Well, like, what does “the fans” even mean in this context? Say he’s not, it’s not a dog whistle explicitly saying—
ELM: “We’ll get those bitches out of your ghost movie, we’re gonna get it back to some good ol’ men bustin’ ghosts.” Right?
ELM: What does it mean otherwise?
FK: No, I mean, I think that it means a unexaminedly sexist idea about who fans really are and who really gets to own movies like that.
ELM: Oh. So you’re—oh, OK. So you’re saying regardless of who’s, who is in the movie, there’s a suggestion that true fans, who are dudes, couldn’t get behind the last one for whatever reason.
ELM: And we’re gonna create something that brings those true fans back.
FK: Exactly. And I think—and I think that this is, this is, like, the same kind of thing when people say…the same kind of narrative that exists within things like Star Wars, within things like Star Trek, within things like…
FK: All of this. And the reason, one of the reasons that we talk about those cases in our podcast usually is because then the flashpoints are around, like, race or gender. But I think that actually this construction of who the true fans are extends way beyond things that are explicitly about race and gender and into other kinds of, of choices as well.
ELM: What do you mean? What kind of choices?
FK: I mean that, say, so…if you look at the Star Trek case, right, and you look at the way that people talk about Star Trek: Enterprise and whether fans of Star Trek really liked Enterprise, there’s actually—there’s nothing that makes Enterprise particularly progressive compared to any other previous Star Trek. Right? In fact, in certain ways, it’s less. You know, like, we’re back to having, like, a dude captain who’s a white dude who’s, like, a, you know, good ol’ boy, like…in certain ways.
ELM: You know, I didn’t even know there was a Star Trek: Enterprise until you started tweeting about it. When did this show come out?
FK: Uh, early 2000s.
ELM: Yeah. I missed it. What’s the one with Janeway?
FK: Janeway is Voyager.
ELM: And the one with the other ships people like is Deep Space Nine.
FK: Yeah. [laughs] Garak and Bashir, who you…
FK: Yeah. Alien spy and the doctor. Anyway, you hear lots of narratives about whether, “Real fans don’t like Enterprise.” “Real fans do like Enterprise.” Like, what does it mean to like Enterprise or not? Are you a real fan? And some of those, those…none of the things in that conversation have to do with any of the political stuff, it’s just questions about, “Oh, did they make it more—too sexy for Star Trek?” Like, because real Star Trek fans don’t want—and, let me be clear, Enterprise is really thirsty. Like, there’s a lot of fuckin’ thighlights in Enterprise. Like, you cannot, like, there’s, there’s like a decon chamber where they like oil each other up…it’s a whole thing.
ELM: Wow. Flourish.
FK: No genuinely, I started watching this show and I was like “…is this happening?” [ELM laughs] You can’t see my face right now, but it’s a really horrified face. Anyway, yeah, so, so none of the stuff in there is, like, political, but it is a question of who gets constructed as a fan, whether people who, like, start with Enterprise get to be fans or not, because they—you know, do you have good, do you have good enough taste to be a fan? Does your taste align with other fans’? Then other people giving counter-arguments saying “Oh, but Enterprise is really engaged with, like, canon, and true Star Trek fans care about, like, the history of what happens in Star Trek, and it shows us more about this, so true fans actually like Enterprise. Everyone else who doesn’t like Enterprise is just a poser,” right?
And I think that this construction of fans and the idea of there being a singular group of fans that you can be part of or not part of underlies all of this stuff and gets mobilized in ways that relate to sexism and racism and so on.
FK: But it also extends beyond those things.
ELM: Right. But I do think that a lot of the…a lot of the examples we have right now…
ELM: It’s not just those…I mean, those frameworks obviously lay the groundwork, but I think that…it’s actually leading from the other direction. I think that, I mean, I don’t know. The Last Jedi stuff with people feeling like the, Luke didn’t, like, his characterization or whatever…I don’t, I don’t know what to unpack here. But like, the—I, I think you probably agree with me too, that to talk about Star Wars in particular…it’s coming from a place of anger at, at diversity from the start. Right? And so, like, you can kind of take those frameworks and overlay them, but it’s deep-seated, like, “I don’t wanna see that woman doing those things. I don’t wanna see that black man doing those things.” Et cetera, et cetera.
FK: Yeah. Well, I think that it’s a…it’s a weird case too because, like…fandom has always been… [laughs] Fandom has always had problems with sexism and racism and many, many other isms. Right? However, I think that there’s also a problem whereby a lot of these things which had existed in small format, then suddenly people can jump onto this because now, like, fandom is much bigger than it used to be. Everyone can talk about their caring about Star Wars. It’s not a problem. You can identify as a fan, like, so many more people identify as fans than ever did. And people bring all their own agendas into that, which they always were doing, but it was in smaller—because it was a total smaller volume, and also harder to find other people who had your particular, you know, whatever your particular axe to grind.
FK: Just like everything else, right, then you have more individual aggressions and microaggressions and, like, interactions, and now you see, like, a—a big mass of what “the fans” are or want, as opposed to what a fan is or wants.
ELM: Right. Right. And I also think—I mean, it’s really hard with something like, well, Ghostbusters is such a silly example, because it’s like…it’s not like there’s some, like, Ghostbusters cinematic universe and, like, a lot of, you know, like…the lore of Ghostbusters, you know? Like…
FK: Well this is the other funny thing, right? Because, like, there’s not exactly, I mean, there are Ghostbusters fans, but there’s not, like, Ghostbusters Con, you know what I mean? [ELM laughs] It’s not, it’s not like a fandom in the same way. And this may undermine what I’ve said before sometimes, but one of the things that has shown up in a lot of my research has been that female fans really are often the underpinning to things that have longer-term fandoms with consistent engagement. And that has a lot of different reasons, but, you know, you compare something like…I don’t know.
Like, even Alien, which is a—you know, like, the first movie is certainly feminist and the later movies, I mean, whether you like them or not, they certainly have a lot of female characters; they’re not, like, anti-woman, I would say. They’re engaged with questions of gender. And those, those films don’t have a consistent fandom. They’re very—they have, like, very male fan followers who, who buy the stuff and so on, but there’s not, like, the same sort of organizedness. As compared to things that tend to have more female followers for whatever reason. Which tend to be more organized. And I know that’s super reductive, but it is a pattern. Correlation is not causation…so it may not be causation…but it is interesting.
FK: That Ghostbusters falls in this, like, non-organized space.
ELM: But it means also, like, a conflation of the idea of, like…what does “fan” mean? Oh my God. What does fan mean. What, you know. What is—
FK: What counts?
ELM: What is fandom, what does fan mean, and the difference between that and, like…you know, just even thinking about Star Wars, you know, I bet there are lots of people who would now consider themselves, like, in the Star Wars fandom, with the new films, who before, like—liked Star Wars, but like, you know? I feel like that’s probably one of the reasons why it, it—these things can cause tension for people, because they’re like, “We were here chuggin’ away the whole time, and now you’re, like, interested now, because this new stuff.” And you’re like, “Well, maybe I wasn’t interested before that much because…there’s more, more here for me that I can latch onto.” Right?
FK: Yeah! Or, or just because, like, it didn’t come up! You know?
ELM: Yeah! Right.
FK: Like, it didn’t come up! I didn’t think about Ghostbusters for years!
FK: Not even though I drank those Hi-C Ecto Coolers every morning when I was a kid! —every, I don’t know why it’s “morning.” Lunchtime. Y’know?
ELM: Whereas, like, I feel like even—and even with something like Star Wars or something with a really established…
ELM: An actual fandom, there are plenty of people like that, you know?
FK: For sure.
ELM: And you know, you may have fond memories of seeing it when you were a kid or whatever, but it isn’t until it hits you in a certain way at the right time.
ELM: I mean like, you know, I’ve been thinking, like, I—I went to see all of the X-Men movies in the 2000s in theaters and I really enjoyed them, but like, I didn’t think about the X-Men again till like last year.
ELM: Again, I didn’t NOT think about—I wasn’t like “I don’t care about that,” but I was just like, “Oh whatever.” Like, I enjoyed those. You know?
ELM: And so…like, and then, I’m sure there are people who, like, read every comic since, you know, 1979, and you were like, “get the fuck out,” but I don’t care.
ELM: I’m just there for that glance, you know?
FK: The glare.
ELM: It’s a glare. [laughs]
FK: I guess—there’s also this question too of like, how do people conceive of what…I mean, one, one of the questions with “fan” is like, I mean, it genuinely does get back to what is a fan. Because I think that there is one idea about what a fan is that is tied up in a lot of…I mean we all know this, right? It’s tied up in the idea, it’s a vision of a Generation X dude who—
FK: —you know, I, I guess I’m quoting Javi a lot today, but he said something like, in one of his—one of his books, I was reading his books. He said, like, “every Generation X man’s dream, who works in Hollywood, is to make Star Wars and be lauded as an original genius for doing so.”
ELM: That’s a good line.
FK: Right? And I was like…
FK: Oh my God, it’s so true.
ELM: It’s actually true. Right.
FK: You know? And like, and like, that’s the vision and I mean, the thing is, of course, it’s not incorrect [laughs] to say that there are many—especially in Hollywood many Generation X men who have these particular fandoms that they, you know, that motivate them to get into entertainment or whatever. But obviously, it’s not…it’s not the sum total of people who care about media properties!
FK: You know? [laughs] Like, that’s not the only thing! And yet…sometimes, sometimes I think people define “fan” and they almost automatically exclude anyone who does not look like that.
ELM: Sure. And I think that, you know, particularly from that perspective. You know? Like, obviously my default, when I think of “fan,” is like, a fan like me.
ELM: You know? And the—
ELM: There’s literally no way I can, I can ignore the—that Gen X man who, like, is helming the comic book movie or whatever. You know what I mean? Like, because they are the dominant group. But for the dominant group, I think—hard, you know, like…I don’t know, I was thinking about this too, I was just talking yesterday with my co-worker about…did you see Eighth Grade?
FK: I did not see it. I heard it was great, but I didn’t see it.
ELM: Ohh, it was so good! So, anyone who doesn’t know about it, cause I just learned yesterday that it hasn’t come out in the UK—so, maybe it hasn’t come out wherever you might be living—but it is about an eighth grade girl, so this is about a 13-year-old girl, who is—just, God, painfully shy, but she has, she has a single dad and she has her own YouTube show that like no one watches, where she—you know, she’ll talk about, like, oh God. Just thinking about it makes me wanna cry. You know, she’ll be like, “You know people think that I’m really shy, but I’m not! I’m, I like, have so much to say!” And then, there’s like a—that’s her voiceover, and it just shows her in the cafeteria just being like, completely isolated and unable to kind of speak out. Right?
And it’s so, it’s—anyway, it’s really beautiful, and I thought it was a beautiful movie about a girl, but also about what it means to be a girl right now. And I don’t know if you saw, if you saw or heard Bo Burnham, the director, who’s a YouTuber, who’s about 30—I think he’s a little younger than us—talking about making the movie, and he said, “If I made the movie about a 13-year-old boy, it would’ve just been about—whether I wanted to or not—it would have inherently had this element of nostalgia to it, or my own experience…”
ELM: “…of any, any…” He’s 30, and he wanted to make it about a 13-year-old right now, and he said “Even if I did it about a boy right now, I would always be overlaying what it meant for me to be a 13-year-old-boy.”
ELM: And you know, obviously there’s an Own Voices question here too, but I honestly think he made an incredible film, and I wonder if I made a 13-year-old girl film for right now, maybe I wouldn’t be able to get that.
FK: [laughing] Through your nostalgia.
ELM: Get that distance. But you know, he…he’s this YouTuber with a lot of very young fans, and so just did a massive amount of research, just talked to a lot of them. And was able to kind of get that distance. And so, you know, I just…I feel like so many, so so many people, especially a lot of these creators who are in positions of power right now, can not envision the idea that anyone else other than the person, the…you know, the boy they were at 7 or the boy they were at 18, or the man they were at 25…those are the fans. Right? And they just can’t. And they can intellectually understand that, like, it’s not like some white guy, or some, like…
ELM: But emotionally? And, and just embedded in the way they approach it? They can’t wrap their heads around it. They can’t wrap their heads around other practices that aren’t the ones that they…
ELM: …did, when engaging with fandom.
FK: Well, and to be honest, like, I—I have a little more sympathy for that than I might otherwise, just because I so frequently run into situations where I have to be reminded to explain things that I assume are read, in explaining fandom to people. Right? Like, or explaining different parts of fandom. Because I’m so frequently in a situation where I forget that, like, for instance, people don’t know that most fanfiction writers are women. Right? Or, I shouldn’t say women, I should say most fanfiction writers are not men.
FK: Because that’s more accurate. You know, I, I genuinely, like, forget that people don’t know this, and I have to be reminded, like, you have to tell people this. You have to say that, like, this is the case. You have to say these things and I’m like, “Oh, yeah. Right! There are people who have completely different world situations,” and this is even, like—working with all these Gen X men who just want to remake Star Wars and be, you know. Like, that’s my everyday life in my business world as well as in fandom world. And I still have to be reminded that that…so I guess I have a little bit of sympathy for people, because it’s really hard to get outside of your own head.
ELM: Yeah. I mean, I’m not saying that I don’t have sympathy for…I mean…
FK: But then someone—to a point, right.
ELM: To a point!
FK: Cause then you end up being like “but you’re stomping on us!”
ELM: I have sympathy for the starting place…
ELM: But I don’t have sympathy for not being willing to even try to do the work.
ELM: I don’t know, I have really—I have, to go back to the topic of all this, I have a really hard time reading that comment as anything other than dog whistle. And I don’t know if that makes me ungenerous, but…the context of this is so strong. Whereas, like, I was thinking about another—I read an article when The Force Awakens came out where J.J. Abrams was like, “Finally, now, women, we’re gonna give you a reason to come and enjoy Star Wars!” And, like, every—especially all the Gen X women that I know, but like, most of the women I knew who like Star Wars were like “I’ve been shipping things in this fandom since,” like, you know, “since I was old enough to ship!” And, like, “Why are you erasing? I’ve been there the entire time!” You know.
ELM: So I wrote this thing being like, “He meant well.” Whereas the Jason Reitman thing, where it’s just like…J.J. Abrams truly, I think, he was coming from a good place. He was trying to say—
FK: Yeah, he truly, truly identified a situation which is true in Star Wars about the way women had been treated on screen, especially…he was trying to be like “Hey, we’re doing better!” But then he ended up erasing people in the process.
ELM: Yeah. But, but not acknowledging—which, I mean, it’s funny too, because, like, there’s three protagonists and one is a woman in the original. So it’s not like…it’s not like it’s like the Avengers where there’s like [FK laughs] 50 men and a woman. You know.
ELM: So… I don’t know. We should take one more break, because we have, like, a little…adjacent topic to discuss with this.
FK: All right.
ELM: I kinda want to take a breather before we do it.
FK: All right. Let’s take it, let’s take a breather.
FK: All right! We’re back, and we’re gonna be discussing an article that you brought to me. No thank you Elizabeth.
ELM: It was brought to me!
ELM: Someone shared it with me, so, the article is in the Daily Beast by Nick Schager, it’s called “Movie Fan-Boy Armies Rage On In The Era of Trump.” There’s plenty in here that I think is fine. I mean, it’s not a super original article, it’s basically, like, drawing parallels between Trump fans, Trump-like behavior, crybaby fanboys, you know. A lot of the things we were just talking about.
FK: Right, things—things that we would broadly agree with. [laughs]
ELM: But. It opens with the—the framing is so…this incident, not “incident”…“project”? So, there is a director named Adam Sacks, and I don’t know if you—did you, I, I sent this to you last week, the—when I sent the original Kickstarter campaign, right?
FK: You did, you did.
ELM: So, this is not a spoiler, but the very final scene of The Departed is so fucking cheesy, I’m sorry. Like, this is a fair assessment, right? Do you remember this part?
FK: Oh yes. I remember The Departed well.
ELM: Completely unnecessary final shot: a rat walks across a ledge. Right? And the whole movie is about—
FK: Because it’s a rat! Because they’re rats!
ELM: I know. The whole movie’s about, like, moles on either side with, like—in the police and in the Mob, right? And, like, people are spying for the other side…
FK: Spy versus spy. [laughs]
ELM: You know, all right. I liked The Departed, to be clear.
FK: I did too, I did too. I like Scorsese in general, and I will defend many things.
ELM: Yes. Yes. Martin Scorsese. Good. But.
FK: I even liked Gangs of New York.
ELM: I never saw that.
FK: It’s long.
ELM: I can’t get past—his accent stresses me out. [FK laughs] But, that’s fine. Anyway, so, this guy Adam Sacks started a Kickstarter campaign because he wants to edit the film to remove this shot of the rat. He wants to raise like $4,000, and he…I believe he has already reached that goal.
FK: Yeah. He has.
ELM: And so when I initially saw that, and I sent it to you, I said, “This is so funny, because this is essentially just a fanwork.” It’s not a particularly deep one.
FK: It’s also clearly, like…I think its intent…it’s intended to be cheeky, right?
ELM: Yeah, yeah.
FK: It’s supposed to be—it’s kinda, it’s at least half a joke. Like, about the rat fuckin’ sucking.
ELM: Some of this, that’s a lot of money for a joke. But, but it is—it’s coming from the same spirit as a fanwork. I could, you know, I could go through and just reprint the, like, entirety of the Harry Potter books and like, change one detail and be like…that could be my, like, fuck-you work of art kind of… Right? Like…
FK: We’re getting into the realm of, like, conceptual art.
ELM: [laughs] I made some conceptual art!
FK: You genuinely are getting into the realm of conceptual art here! Like—which I love talking about. The place where fanworks and conceptual art combine. Right?
ELM: [laughing] Right, exactly.
FK: We are in that spot! This is in that spot, whether he’s framing it that way or not.
ELM: So. The reason why it’s in this article, though, is he—the author uses this as an example of an entitled fan. A toxic fanboy who insists on their interpretation being right.
FK: He says, quote, “Sacks’s endeavor is, on the face of it, dumb and unnecessary, and more than a bit hubristic, not only because there’s a vast difference between disliking a movie and actively trying to change it, but also because Sacks is just some guy and Scorsese is, you know, MARTIN FREAKING SCORSESE. However, it’s also something worse: the latest in a string of viral online campaigns waged to modify, slander, and/or torpedo a work deemed, for whatever reason, objectionable. The age of the fanboy troll army is upon us.” WHAT? [laughs]
ELM: Yeah! I just don’t…I don’t understand how this is, how this is the example. And I wanted to bring it out, because I think that this is…an attitude people outside of fanworks fandom, that writing fanworks is an act of entitlement.
ELM: You’re saying you know better than the original author. The veneration placed on the original creator is…their unimpeachable word, which is a very very modern concept. It’s not something—
FK: Yeah yeah yeah!
ELM: The idea of even authorship is modern, obviously! But like…I don’t, how we got to this place in the last like, what, 250 years, is incredible to me.
FK: Yeah, yeah! Yeah. Also, by the way, like…dude, of course you can fucking critique Martin Scorsese.
ELM: Yeah. That was, that was a little…
FK: Like, bro! Like, like. Let me say, just having said that I liked Gangs of New York, I saw you using fucking computer printing after you spent 10 million fucking dollars rebuilding Five Points. And then you cheaped out on the printing at the last minute.
ELM: Flourish. Flourish.
FK: You asshole! Like…[laughing]
ELM: Flourish! You didn’t know—isn’t that the director of production’s fault?
FK: I mean, he’s kind of pretty involved and in this case…
ELM: He is in charge. He does seem like a very, um, a very involved director.
FK: And in that particular case he literally rebuilt all of Five Points on a soundstage. Like, it was one of the largest sets ever constructed for a…it was a whole thing. So like, yeah, I do…but also, my point with this is just like, you can always—of course you can find fucking nitpicky things to be mad at! In any movie! Like, and that’s nitpicking and you try—and big things too, like, what…like, of course!
ELM: Yeah! I mean, yeah. The idea that a creator of any kind is above critique is, I think…I consider that, I mean, I, that’s definitely a part of fandom!
ELM: There are fans who feel that way, and I, I think that’s kind of toxic fandom, right?
ELM: You know? Whatever. Like, as long as you’re not hurting anyone while you do it, and not, like, threatening someone because they’re…this is actually, oh, it’s all tied together too. I, you know, I…I’m thinking we’re gonna have, our next episode is gonna be about stan culture, and I’ve been thinking a lot about this too. This, this sort of how these things kind of exist on both sides and—where your, the favorite, your favorite is not the favorite which is my favorite. But your favorite is unimpeachable.
ELM: The thing that really set me off recently was a—content warning, just quickly, we’ll talk about suicide. But did you see that piece…not much of a content warning, it just kind of barrelled in there but what can you do? [FK laughs] That piece about the writer who said that he had a suicide attempt, and in his—you know, the hospital, if you look in his file, they’ll say one of the reasons was because he—
FK: He watched A Star Is Born. Yeah. Yeah.
ELM: And so he’s saying that the MPAA or the, you know, the British Film Rating Boards or whoever should be putting, alongside, like, “graphic violence” and “depictions of nudity” should say “depiction of suicide,” because that’s actually—genuinely seeing it…
ELM: …is an actual, documented trigger. I was looking in the replies when he tweeted this piece, and it was very personal and I’m very impressed that everyone was like “thank you so much for writing this” and like “I’m so proud of you, that you—and I’m really glad you’re here,” and like, all of this stuff. And then this person tweeted, “You’re a film critic and you didn’t know what this was about? I don’t know, this doesn’t add up, seems kinda fishy.” That’s a paraphrase.
FK: Yeah. I saw that! I saw that! I saw that comment!
ELM: Yeah! …no, I sent it to you. That’s why you saw it.
FK: OH. [ELM laughs] You sent that comment to me! I saw it!
ELM: You’re like “I saw it FIRST! …oh actually you sent it.”
FK: No, no, I was surprised! I was like “Holy shit I saw that comment too!”
ELM: Oh my God. [both laughing]
FK: No, it’s because you sent it to me.
ELM: So I clicked on it, and it was a, like, Lady Gaga stan account. And I was like, “What’s going on in this person’s life, that they’ve dehumanized all other humans so much, to the point that they’re gonna go tell some, you know, film critic he’s lying? For saying there should be a warning about suicide in their suicide movie?” Anyway, that was an aside. We’re gonna talk about that more next time.
FK: Well, no no no, but I think again it’s relevant, too, also, because one of the things about this particular article and the way that it’s conflating…I looked at some of the videos for this, there’s a lot more coverage of, of this, you know, Scorsese without the rat situation, but nothing that I saw was—it wasn’t, you know, the argument was, was “the rat sucks and you might want to own a copy of this great movie without that one shot, which sucks.” But it was not like…a petition to make Scorsese reconsider including the rat.
ELM: “Martin Scorsese: Denounce the rat!” Yeah!
FK: It was not saying “Scorsese, denounced the rat,” and it also wasn’t, like, you know, “we’re going to buy up,” you know, whatever, “we’re going to print these DVDs and, like, sneak into wherever sells DVDs nowadays,” the Amazon warehouse, or Barnes & Noble or something, “and, like, replace them with the good DVDs that don’t have the rat on them.” Like, that was—you know, there was no…it’s not like he was, like, saying, like, “here is my idea about this, and it should replace what the original creator wanted to make.”
FK: And, by the way, like…also, like, it’s about removing a rat, it’s not about, like, removing women.
FK: You know what I mean, right? So like—that’s the other thing that I think, like, we could say: one argument to this would be like, “Well…”
ELM: Flourish. All rats matter. [FK laughs] Do you hate Ratatouille? Is that what you’re saying?
FK: Oh my God. Um. No, but like, like, the…the thing that you would connect it to, like, if you were coming from outside to this, might be, like, you know, whatever, there was that cut of…I don’t even know, I think it was originally intended to be a parody and people took it seriously. But there was that, do you remember when people, like, there was a cut of The Last Jedi or something that, like, cut out every scene with Rey in it, or something like that?
ELM: No, I don’t remember this. Was it meant to be a parody?
FK: There was this video—and I wish I could remember more about it, but it was something like this and I first saw it on my timeline and people tweeted it, and they were saying like “Look at what these assholes who hate women are doing, they’re, like, cutting out—” I think it was from The Force Awakens. Like, they removed, like, all the scenes with Rey from The Force Awakens. And then you looked deeper into it and you were like, “Oh. Someone did this and it was sort of a joke.”
FK: And then, like, different people decided—like, some people were like “this is a good idea”—
ELM: But did it as a troll… I mean…
FK: As a troll, yeah, exactly.
ELM: But this is why this stuff is so fraught! That was when that fake—the fake tweet, do you remember this?
ELM: Where they faked the article about black elves in Lord of the Rings?
FK: Lord of the Rings!
ELM: And they were like, “My childhood is ruined!” And, like, everyone took it seriously. Not everyone, because, like…people, like, we know it was fake. And like…I think Gav wrote an article saying “Please stop saying it was real.”
FK: At first I didn’t know whether it was fake or not, because I saw people genuinely responding to it as if it was real, and in support of it! Being, like, “Tolkien—” There were people who were, there were people on both sides, right. There were people who were like “What’s wrong with you?” And there were people who were like “Yeah, this is awful!” Like, “You can’t have black elves in Tolkien!” And I was just like “Oh God,” you know. I truly didn’t know, at a certain point. And the troll worked. I mean, dude…
FK: I consider myself trolled. You know? I consider the whole internet trolled. But the point being that, like, this article seems to put any edited version of the film on the same level.
FK: Right? Whereas, like, I think obviously, like…it’s one thing to say, like, “decanonize The Last Jedi,” it’s another thing to say “here’s a different fan edit of it that I like better,” and it’s another thing to say “here’s a fan edit of it that I like better that’s about,” like, “erasing women,” versus “here’s a fan edit that I like better that’s about,” like, I don’t know, whatever, “correcting space physics,” or something. Right? Like—these are different. They’re fundamentally different things. And…
ELM: Absolutely. Yeah. I just don’t think this guy’s a deep enough thinker to actually realize that. So…I don’t know. Do you think, would you think I was entitled if I maybe, like, cut down the X-Men films so it was only Charles and Erik glaring at each other?
FK: Yeah, probably.
ELM: Which is like all, all, all fanvids ever?
FK: Probably, because then—you’re being, aren’t you being, you’re being reductive. You’re just cutting everything down into your ship and only your ship. [ELM laughing] Like, look! You know, like, OK! I don’t know, it’s just…
ELM: It is true! I do think that when people break something down only to a ship…and I, like, you know. But, like, for vid—I would, I would happily watch that. Otherwise, it’s just watch the whole movie again!
FK: But there’s also so much about framing! Right?
FK: If you just frame it as, like, “here’s a vid and here’s the best Charles and Erik moments so that you don’t have to wear out—” I guess you, no one wears out a VCR anymore. “Wear out your metaphorical VCR!” [laughs] You know?
ELM: Wait, but this is the—this is a long-standing, you know. And, like, the practice of, um, people cutting soap operas? Doing cuts of—just cause, they do this, such a—blunt cuts of storylines. Right? So like, people historically would say, like, “here are all the…”
FK: “Here are all the important bits.”
ELM: “Here are all the Joe and Sally scenes for the last week, compressed into one.”
FK: Right, exactly.
ELM: And you know, I mean, the argument with that one…if you’re so, so concerned about the creators…is actually, the soap opera formats, they understand. They’re doing it so you can say, “Oh, oh, those are my—my guys are on!” You know? And then, like, the next storyline…they’re structured in a way where they understand that people are gonna…
FK: For sure.
ELM: May be more or less invested, right? That’s why I think it’s so deliberately cut that way. Right?
ELM: But still. But still.
FK: But it’s, but it’s also related to things like—you know, I made, I made that list of, like, The X-Files: the good parts in my opinion, that I give to people that say, like, you know, “if you really wanna embark on The X-Files, there are some episodes that you just shouldn’t see!”
ELM: Oh, so you’d advocate…wow, for a completionist that’s a bold stance!
FK: There’s some really racist shit in The X-Files.
ELM: You could say, I’m gonna put a big strong content warning on these. And if you’re a completionist, like me, you can watch all of them. No?
FK: Yeah, well, all I would say is that, like, for a lot of people who I talk to who are like, “I wanna watch The X-Files, I wanna get into it, but I’m like, there’s a lot of seasons,” and you really don’t have to do all of it if you don’t feel like it.
ELM: I’m really pleased that you’re putting other people’s desires over your strong completionist tendencies.
FK: No, are you kidding? I would never recommend to anybody to watch all of The X-Files multiple times the way I have done. Only if you need to see every shot of Gillian Anderson’s face that has ever been taken should you do this.
FK: That’s the only valid reason to do it.
ELM: Sure. That’s fair.
FK: But anyway, point being, though, that like, like…that’s part of this continuum too, right? Effectively, someone saying, like…or whatever, someone saying, like, one of my friends was re-watching Next Generation and I was like “Oh yeah, there’s a couple of episodes there that I would happily just, like, delete from Star Trek, because they’re not doin’ anything for anyone.”
FK: Let’s just delete ’em. You know? [laughs] And like…that’s, that’s normal! Like, who, who among us does not have those feelings? If you don’t have those feelings…I find that bizarre.
ELM: Yeah, but I mean, I’m thinking…I mean, a more, more kind of a little more fraught or serious example, too, is people…will say, like, “Well, if you’re not comfortable with this commonly triggering thing,” you know, like, “If you don’t wanna watch someone get assaulted,”
ELM: “You can skip this,” or “Skip these 10 minutes.”
FK: Exactly right.
ELM: Which definitely goes against what the creator intended, because they filmed those 10 minutes.
FK: And they, and they—and maybe they’re a very artistic 10 minutes and that’s great! You know? Like…
ELM: But, it’s, it’s all about individual needs. That’s the, you know. I don’t wanna equate that with a somewhat trollish conceptual art project removing a rat. You know what I mean? But like…
FK: No no no, they’re not the same thing…
ELM: But they’re all about context, right? And they all, what they all have in common is…none of them rest in this idea that these original films are unimpeachable. That being said, like…bringing you back to the rest of the article, which leads us back to what we were talking about…yeah. You couldn’t complain about any of these movies. You couldn’t say, like… I don’t know! It’s really misogynistic, but people can say, like, “I don’t wanna see female Ghostbusters.” They’re allowed to say that. I’m allowed to say you’re sexist, then. You know?
ELM: You can’t send death threats to people, you know. You can’t send, like, really vile abuse. But you can say “I just don’t like watching chicks” and I’ll be like “Cool, you’re misogynist” and then that’s that. You know? You’re not…
ELM: Is that an act of entitlement? No, you’re actually saying “I’m not gonna engage in it at all.”
FK: But I mean—but, yeah. But part of the point too is that, like, the reason that people are pissed off about that is saying, like, “I don’t wanna watch chicks,” which is sexist, so people get mad at you being sexist. But if you were like, “Yeah. I don’t wanna watch…this reboot…because they changed the outfits, and I really hate the outfits and they’re not the outfits from my childhood,” OK! Right?
FK: I mean, like—no one’s gonna come after you for not…who cares?
ELM: It’s not, it’s not super laudable, like, maybe you should, you should work on that. Like, that’s…
FK: Right! But also, like…
ELM: True. Whatever!
FK: Maybe you just are, like, allergic to blazers and they wear blazers in this version. You really hate blazers. Like, fine! You can hate blazers. Like, that’s—that’s fine.
ELM: I love blazers.
FK: You don’t have to watch anything that you don’t want to.
ELM: Yeah, or even say, you know…maybe take aside any kind of progressive casting or anything, like, you could—it’s an adaptation of something and they could cast an actor who looks exactly, you know, some white guy, and it’s a white character in the book or whatever, and you could just not want—or make a reboot and you’re like “I’m too attached to the original people.”
ELM: Even if it’s, even if they’d remade Ghostbusters in 2016 with four white guys.
ELM: Or, sorry, three white guys and a black guy, right. Exact, you know, like, and you could be like “No. I’m just too attached to Dan Ackroyd’s admittedly delightful face.”
FK: Right. Which is, which is totally fine. So, yeah. I mean, I think that that’s—that’s it, is that, like, part of the reason why, you know, this, like, wanting things to be just the same is toxic. It’s not that…obviously, if people want reboots, they want to change some things about the original. Because they don’t just want the original to continue and exist on its own purely.
ELM: There’s no shot-for-shot remake.
FK: There’s not, there’s not a desire for it to be a shot-for-shot remake. What people want is for the reboot to be the thing that they want. And often that reveals, like, the sexist and racist stuff. But there’s nothing sexist or racist about saying that there shouldn’t be a…or, you know, or queerphobic or any of this stuff, about saying that there shouldn’t be a rat at the end of The Departed.
ELM: You don’t know about that rat.
FK: [gasps] Ohhh! The rat could have all sorts of marginalizations. However. [laughs] Without any textual evidence that the rat is marginalized…I think we can safely delete the rat!
ELM: I think rats as a, as creatures, are marginalized. They’re maligned! [long silence broken by snickers] This is undeniable! That’s why they made Ratatouille! Justice for rats! [long silence] Aren’t you glad I live in New York City? I’ve got so many rats surrounding me. [FK laughs] [long silence] Cockroaches, though. Monsters. [long silence, broken by periodic laughter]
FK: I really hope you leave all of these long silences in so that our listeners can fully understand how I’m struggling to respond to your trolling.
ELM: I will, I um, no. I, I do think rats are unfairly maligned. [long silence] People blame the plague on them. [silence] It was fleas!
FK: Yeah. That’s unfair. It was the fleas. The fleas caused the plague.
ELM: They couldn’t help that!
FK: [after another long silence] No. No they could not.
ELM: Just sayin’.
FK: They couldn’t help that. Rats are often very nice.
ELM: They’re sweet!
FK: Yeah! Fancy rats. They just sit, they like, sit on your shoulder.
ELM: I mean, I…
FK: When I had long hair they would try and nest in my hair. Which was a thing.
ELM: Oh. I like…
FK: You’ve never had this happen?
FK: Have you ever had a pet rat, like, come sit on your shoulder and be like “Oh, that hair looks awesome” and you’re like “Agh! Stop!”
ELM: No. I’ve, I’ve always had cats. So…inherently we can’t have rats.
FK: Well, I’ve never had a rat but my friends had rats and like…
ELM: Yeah, OK.
FK: …the rats, like, when I had long hair always did that.
ELM: Yeah, no no. I, I like how they—we live in peaceful co-existence and they genuinely seem to not want to engage with us.
FK: Apart from stealing a slice of pizza every once in a while.
ELM: But like, they’re not gonna steal it out of my hand. They’re not like seagulls. They’re not dicks.
FK: No. They’re not, yeah.
ELM: So, they—you know, and they just go about their business and sometimes they’re on the platform with you and you’re like, “Holy shit!” And then they’re gone.
FK: All right! Rats, everyone. Elizabeth’s thoughts on rats.
ELM: Memo, memo to Bill De Blasio. Side note: I just heard they’re banning feeding birds in Central Park. Because they think it’s adding, like, the birdseed is adding to the rat population. And they interviewed—[laughs] They interviewed this biologist on the radio who gave, like, a one minute paean to the pleasure of having a bird landing in your hand. And then they said, in the smoothest way, they said, “he recommends that, if they really want to take care of the rat problem in New York City, they should fix the garbage problem.” [FK laughs] It was, it was beautiful!
FK: Yeah, I can tell you that none of the elderly people in Stuy Town, where I live, are gonna be not feeding the…they’re gonna feed the birds forever. There’s been like an attempt to be like “don’t feed the birds and squirrels” and they’re all like “FUCK YOU STUY TOWN! We’re gonna keep feedin’ ’em!” So.
ELM: They love the pleasure of feeding the bird.
FK: And squirrels. Squirrels also, the squirrels here will eat directly out of your hand.
ELM: Oh! That’s lovely.
ELM: Like Snow White! OK. There’s, there’s a million things to say about this but I think we’re out of time.
FK: Yeah, we really should wrap up.
ELM: But I feel like some of these, some of these themes will continue in our next episode when we talk about stan culture.
FK: I think that they’re gonna continue in all of our episodes, but yes. Particularly in our next episode.
ELM: Yeah but a little closer. Then the one after that we can just retreat, talk about, like…I don’t know. Fake dating AUs or something.
FK: Yeah, yeah, yeah. OK. So next time we’re gonna have on Keidra Chaney, who is the Learned Fangirl.
ELM: Oh, I say “Learnèd.”
FK: Learnèd! [ELM laughs] Ahh! With a, so, Keidra is there—is there, like, an accent over the “ed” in “learnèd”?
ELM: Thank you. Yes, we’re gonna solve this question in the next two weeks.
FK: We’re gonna find it out.
ELM: We’ll find out. But yeah, Keidra is the founder and I believe the editor and publisher of The Learnèd Fangirl, which is [FK laughs] a really great website, if you are familiar with it. I share a lot of their work in the Rec Center…
FK: It’s a delight.
ELM: So you may have read it there. And Keidra is an expert on stan culture, so…we’re going to have her teach us. Teach us the intricacies of such a fraught topic. Take a shot.
FK: I’m looking forward to that #FraughtTopic. [ELM laughs]
FK: All right. Wrapping up business…we love hearing from you! One good way to send us your thoughts, questions, comments, anything that this episode might have sparked—or previous episodes might have sparked—is by giving us a phone call at 1-401-526-FANS. You can leave us a voicemail there. And we’ll play it on the podcast. And that can be anonymous, just don’t give your name. And, there’s other ways to contact us too. You can send us an email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and again, we always respect if you want to be anonymous we’ll totally respect that. And…you can, if it’s something short, leave us an ask on Tumblr. Ask box is open, anon is on. That’s fansplaining on Tumblr. It’s not the best way to send long comments, so stick with voicemail or email if you can for those. Um, what else?
FK: Money! Right, we have a Patreon at patreon.com/fansplaining. We are supported by listeners like you!
ELM: There are many tiers of support. You can pay as little as $1 a month, as much as, you know, all the money in your bank account. I don’t recommend that. And if you pledge $10 a month, you get in on the tiny zine—we’re working on the next one. I know I said that last time, but it really is coming out soon. And we, uh, are gonna be recording a new special episode pretty soon I think. So that’s for $3 Patrons. But even just $1, you get access to our most recent special episode. So…
ELM: Not our most recent one. Our penultimate one so far.
ELM: A conversation with Javi Grillo-Marxuach. An additional one.
FK: Yes. There we go.
ELM: Yeah. You got it. So, uh, also, if you don’t have any cash to spare right now, that is totally fine. The other way to support us is by rating us on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts. Sharing us. Passing along to your friends. Passing along our transcripts to anyone that might prefer to read rather than listen. All found at fansplaining.com/episodes.
FK: All good stuff to do. OK. Given all that, I think that we should sign off, Elizabeth.
ELM: All right. I’m gonna go watch just those three seconds of the trailer 100 more times.
FK: All right. I’m gonna go watch just the last shot of The Departed 100 times.
ELM: It’s cause you’ve learned that rat lives matter.
FK: Rat lives matter. ACK. WE CAN’T END ON THAT, ELIZABETH. Go away! Get outta here!
ELM: I was trying to end it on the angry glare shot! And you instead brought up the rat again!
FK: All right. Goodbye, Elizabeth.
ELM: Bye, Flourish!
FK & ELM: Fansplaining is brought to you by all of our patrons, especially Kathleen Parham, Bryan Shields, Boxish, Grace Mitchell, Christine Hoxmeier, Desiree Longoria, Jennifer Brady, Bluella, Georgie Carroll, Goodwin, Earlgreytea68, Chloe-Leonna Steele, Menlo Steve, Katherine Lynn, Clare Mulligan, Heidi Tandy, Megan C., Sara, Josh Stenger, Tablesaw Tablesawsen, Jennifer Doherty, froggy, nubreed73, Amelia Harvey, Meghan McCusker, Michael Andersen, Helena Romelsjö, Willa, Cynsa Bonorris, veritasera, Clare Muston, sekrit, Maria Temming, Anne Jamison, Jay Bushman, Lucas Medeiros, Jules Chatelain, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Stephanie Burt, Jennifer Lackey, Tara Stewart, and in honor of One Direction and Captain James McGraw Flint. As always, our intro music is “Awel” by stefsax. Our interstitial music this week is “Evening Glow” by Lee Rosevere. Both are used under a Creative Commons Attribution license; for more information, look at our show notes at fansplaining.com. The opinions expressed in this podcast are not our clients’, or our employers’, or anyone’s except our own.