Fansplaining: Get Recced

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Podcast Episode
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Episode Title: Fansplaining: Get Recced
Length: 1:30:43
Featured: Gavia Baker-Whitelaw
Date: Sept 21 2016
External Links: Episode at

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Fansplaining: Get Recced is a podcast interview conducted by Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel.

For others in the series, see Fansplaining.


"In episode 31, “Get Recced,” Flourish and Elizabeth are joined by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw, a fan culture journalist who co-curates “The Rec Center,” a weekly fandom newsletter, with Elizabeth. They discuss recommendation versus criticism, what makes a good fic (to read and to rec), the antipathy to critique in many corners of the fanfic world, and some of their favorite—and least favorite—tropes. They also respond to listener mail: comments about fanfic’s emotional payoff, “slashtivism” in the context of wider online discourse, and whether fandom fetishizes homosexuality."


Some Topics Discussed

  • The Rec Center
  • critique, recs regarding fanfic
  • the Smallville cat baby vid
  • id fic and entertainment, in both fanworks and for-profit pro works
  • a Star Trek (reboot) ambulance fic
  • "Star Trek is sexist and simultaneously feminist for the 60s in a way, but also has this creepy legacy"
  • darkfic
  • the episode of Three Patch Podcast that was in a response to that Devin Faraci article
  • Sports AUs
  • Alternative Universes
  • Teen Wolf
  • reading/liking the fanfic without seeing and/or liking the show
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Tumblr activism
  • slash as fetishizing homosexuals


[Flourish]: I thought, “well, aren’t there different kinds of enjoyment you can get out of different fics?” Right? I can definitely – I’ve thought about this a bunch when talking about fandoms that we don’t share. There’s certain things… there’s some Mulder and Scully stories that are terrible, terrible ideas but on the other hand, complete id candy and also completely great if you’re really devoted to that pairing. And that’s fine.

[Elizabeth]: And I think I have a different relationship to rec’ing than you guys probably do because for a long time I said explicitly that I wouldn’t rec because I didn’t feel comfortable doing that as a book critic, because I think that puts people in kind of a weird…

I don’t want anyone to think that, and I guess I kind of gave up on this but this was my party line for several years, I actually talked a lot about it with Anne Jamison who I know has had some similar struggles to this, but because of the sensitivity around constructive criticism in fanfiction, I don’t want anyone to say, “oh my God, this book critic is assessing my work in, you know” which I think is hard because I don’t want to sit here and presume what anyone thinks and I also don’t wanna - that makes it sound like I’m so fancy, like what if someone saw, you know. I think I’m being kind of paranoid which is why I kind of gave up on it when we started this newsletter.


I know that there’s a lot of discourse about criticism and fanfiction and I guess I can understand that there is an argument in favor of having more kind of constructive criticism in comments or whatever, but I mean I don’t particularly feel the need to do it, and I also feel like a lot of people are just - it’s just a place where they’re having fun. We’re not paying you any money to do the writing and they don’t owe me anything and I’m just really happy that people are creating something they can share. And if I really like it, I will share it with as many people as possible and I will leave a comment and be like, “this is awesome.” Although I actually need to leave more comments, I kind of have a bad habit of that of not doing that. Thankfully I can promote it on the newsletter.


Well, so this is interesting because the reason I’m bringing it up is that I feel like – I don’t necessarily feel like we’re being asked to not have critical faculties when we read fanfiction – but it’s interesting to come at the concrit discussion – and I totally agree with everything you’re saying and everything everyone always says about why you shouldn’t leave concrit – but it’s also like I often feel like I’m at odds with people when I talk about – because I get into all of these conversations with people now about what kind of things I like to read, and they like to read, and they’ll say, “I just like to read fluffy, fun. I wanna turn my brain off. I’ve had a long day.” Sometimes people even invoke like marginalized groups and it’s like, “alright. That’s all of us. Great.” You know, I don’t want to read fluffy stuff for the most part, but I feel like there’s something that’s being asked of me to be – I dunno if you feel, do you feel this is way off base? You’re making thinking faces. But you know, just say like, “I should only want to read really lighthearted fun stuff” and then not have any critical thoughts about anything I’m reading.


There’s some fandoms that – their audience comes in before they have the source material, the most obvious one being Teen Wolf, right? Because I am one of the many people who read Sterek fanfic without having seen the show because it was such a huge pairing – it still is a huge pairing – but it was this huge fandom that came out of nowhere one summer because there was nothing good out at that point and everyone was like, “we’re all gonna get obsessed with Teen Wolf.” And then of course the joke was that so many people experienced the fanfic which was the Sterek pairing which was like the OTP and then you have a kind of Buffy-esque familial relationship with the side characters. And then when you watch the first season of the show, you’re like, “these characters barely interact. They don’t like each other.” The older one is like significantly older in a way that’s like, potentially illegal because one of them’s like, 15 and the other one’s this 26-year-old guy who like beats him up. And the main casts aren’t actually –