An Interview with Elizabeth Minkel and Flourish Klink from fansplaining

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Interviews by Fans
Title: An Interview with Elizabeth Minkel and Flourish Klink from fansplaining
Interviewer: Angela Yuen for Margins Magazine
Interviewee: Elizabeth Minkel and Flourish Klink
Date(s): April 12, 2016
Medium: online
External Links: An Interview with Elizabeth Minkel and Flourish Klink from fansplaining
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An Interview with Elizabeth Minkel and Flourish Klink from fansplaining is a 2016 interview by Angela Yuen.


As you guys spend a lot of time discussing fan culture with other adults, could you give some advice on how teenagers can explain fandom to their parents? Especially when that community is so important to them, what can they do to communicate effectively?

Flourish: I think it depends a lot on the parents and the parents’ concerns. If they’re achievement focused, find fans who have found success through fandom and prove to them that fandom can help you achieve career goals. If they’re worried about your friendships and making “real life friends,” find local conventions and go to those—at least they’ll “get you out of the house.”

Elizabeth: I actually might push the ‘career skills’ angle. When I was at GeekyCon last year, there was a whole track dedicated to “fan-to-pro” people, and there were a lot of pretty young kids, pre-teens even, in the audience with parents. One thing that struck me was how many parents were asking questions: “How did you get into this? How can my child make this into a career, too?” I mean, of course parents are worried about their kids’ futures, but I saw a lot of awesome parents really embracing their kids’ fannishness. You see all sorts of posts out there about how fandom makes you a better writer, better communicator, maybe develops your technical skills if you want to build or create something. If your parents hate your passion…like, they suck. 🙂

When is it time to move on from a fandom, and when do you decide to stay? Especially when it concerns diversity and representation issues, what constitutes as crossing the line, and how should fans properly react? Should people feel guilty for continuing to watch content that they know has said issues?

Elizabeth: Well I think it partly depends on how you *do* fandom, because the great thing about transformative fans is that we thrive on talking back to our media. A fair portion of fanfiction works as a critique of the source material—particularly around queering heteronormative texts—and like, to a degree that I often find surprises outsiders. That being said, I don’t think, “just write diversity into your fanfic” is an excuse for creators to continue to make incredibly un-diverse media. Our critique should also be in conversation with them—the best creators out there are listening, learning, and trying to do better.

Oftentimes moving on from a fandom doesn’t have as much to do with the source material as it does the fandom itself—in-fighting, ship wars, wank, all the things that can make online communities toxic. You don’t have to have a delightful time every single moment of your fandom life, but if most of the moments are causing you sadness or emotional distress, it’s probably time to take a step back. Fandom is supposed to be fun! It’s hard in practice—maybe you’re still deeply attached to the source material, or to the friends you’ve made there. But it’s worth it in the long run. And if you’re fannishly inclined, you *will* find another fandom.

What are your thoughts on the phrase “your fave is problematic”– is it overused? How should someone judge a celebrity properly without jumping to conclusions but also being critical of the things they should be critical about?

Elizabeth: I wrote about this very topic over the summer! I think we need to take a step back with some of our conversations about problematic faves. Dylan Maron says it better than me in the interview, but we are quick to label something as racist garbage—and on the flip side, if it’s something we really love, we might be quick to defend some stuff that genuinely is problematic. Humans are flawed, and humans learn. Most celebrities and creators are decent people, and they say problematic things, or write problematic storylines—but it’s entirely possible that they are learning, their politics or understanding evolving. We can push back, in a positive way—#diversifyagentcarter is a great example of that. Rather than condemning, we need to give people the space to get better.

Some fans like to go as far as to ship real life people together (RPF). Do you consider this to be crossing a boundary, or something that is acceptable?

Elizabeth: Our last episode was devoted to this very topic! After our Wattpad episode all those months ago, Flourish started writing RPF, which led her to attend a One Direction RPF gallery show a few weeks back. I also have pretty strong feelings about RPF—about how it’s totally fine, it’s not for actors or creators, and about how all celebrity journalism is a fiction to begin with. 🙂 If you haven’t read it, definitely check out the article I wrote about it. That being said, there is an actual line that can be crossed, and that’s a physical one. Stalking, harassment, all the other extreme IRL behaviors that a small fraction of celebrity fans do is never OK. But writing a story about Harry and Louis having a baby? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!