Fansplaining: Larry is Real

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fansplaining: Larry is Real
Interviewer: Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel
Interviewee: Owen G Parry and Destination!Toast
Date(s): February 24, 2016
Medium: podcast, online transcript
External Links:
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Fansplaining: Larry is Real is a podcast interview conducted by Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel.

For others in the series, see Fansplaining.


"In Episode 16, Flourish and Elizabeth welcome back statistician @toastystats for her first segment as a regular contributor! They take a quantitative look at some linguistic issues from last time and discuss the peculiarities of RPF. Next, they’re joined by Owen G Parry (@fanriot), a visual and performance artist who created Larry!Monument, a piece inspired by One Direction fandom. Topics covered include discovering transformative fandom communities, art as fanfiction prompt, the relationship between slash and queer culture, and shipping diagrams."


Topics Discussed

  • one of the guests, Owen G Parry: "FK: He was so disarming! I was like, aw, I wanna have resentments but I don’t. EM: Yeah, no, that just made me feel happy but also like a bad person. FK: I mean, I’m familiar with that feeling. Aren’t we all? EM: Yeah, you’re a trash fire. I know! [FK laughs] It makes me feel… I think we talked about this before, but I don’t wanna feel gatekeepy."


Destination!Toast: So you guys were talking about a number of really fascinating things with Gretchen [1], one was sort of, I think one of the listeners had asked something about terms like yaoi which came in from the Japanese fandoms and is sort of at least the way we use it is a synonym for slash, basically, and there was some discussion about how were these terms used, and it seems like there was a mention that maybe yaoi had kind of been more popular in the past and had maybe disappeared some more recently, and just discussions of how fandom language changes over time.

And I also had sort of noticed that and think that’s really interesting, and I just did some stats for February on femslash, and there’s also a term yuri, which is the equivalent for femslash pairings. And I was wondering whether or not I could see any language change in how yuri is used compared to femslash, I was also just sort of wondering, AO3 makes it all nice and easy to find femslash by using the F-F tag, F/F, just like there’s the M/M category and so on, so I was also wondering just are users on AO3 even using any of these tags as much anymore.

So you guys basically inspired me to go do some investigations into language change if I could see any, just looking at how the different tags are used relative to one another, so I did some of those as part of my femslash stats. And it was really interesting!
EM: So I think that kind of language has faded away in the AO3 culture. But it strikes me as something, if people are using femslash less, is it like, slash and femslash are gonna cease to become, as we have universal acceptance of all sexualities, are slash and femslash gonna cease to exist as categories and we’re just gonna have pairings? And you know, or, uh, ships, not necessarily just two — I’m trying to not say pairing, which is maybe too finicky. I’m slipping this into my articles and I’m like, “no one cares” who’s reading my — someone’s dad is like “what?

EM: So she was talking about how I was trying to explain this sort of fandom norms to her about this stuff, and I was like “oh no,” like, “there should be a firm fourth wall and the content creator should never see — especially if it’s RPF they should never see it, it’s not for them,” blah blah blah, my party line and she was like, “well, our users request that we show the stories to these bands.” And their like, target users are all 13-16. And I was like, NO, protect them! They don’t want that. I mean, they do want it, but they shouldn’t! I don’t know. I have to wonder.

FK: I think there is something interesting cause there’s also like—I totally feel you on the protectionist impulse, but I also think man, when I was 13 I didn’t want nobody to tell me nothin’, and like, actually, I wasn’t wrong, some of the time. You know?

Owen G Parry: Yeah, I should say, so I’m an artist primarily an artist, just over a year ago I kind of started this project called FanRiot, and the reason I started it was because I started to think about how the relationship between the artist and the fan, basically, and how I’ve always been a fan of other artists and how much that had impacted on the work I made. And yet I’d kind of kept the idea of being a fan of other people’s work kind of separate from what I was doing. So.

And then thinking about kind of instances of where, moments of fanworks and fanart particularly videos and stuff online, started becoming more interesting than the actual official works. That kind of — I like this idea that fans could upstage those official works and it was a bit of a joke for me in thinking about that.

But also, just kind of turning to works that I’d been making before and realizing that I’d kind of been working like a fan for a long time although not necessarily within a specifically fandom context — although I have a few things to say about that because I think a lot of the kind of scenes in which my works have been made are kind of fandoms in themselves, so. For example, performance art. Most of my work has been kind of involved in a performance art scene in London which I see as a bit of a kind of fandom, so. Part of the project has been me looking at that kind of scene if you like or subculture as a kind of fandom.

OGP: Curtainfic, but one of the things is I actually think curtain fic is one of the most subversive, more than any hardcore or smut stuff or whatever, other kinds of fanfic. Reason being because even though it presents what looks like what looks like normative relationships and that might be seen as problematic, it always goes further than that and that’s obviously because when you start realizing that Harry’s pregnant, or that they, that in the pictures their kids look like 5 years younger than them, or that they bodyswap, or that it’s set in an alternate universe, or all these kind of things, take it out of just being a representation.

So I think from a queer perspective, a critique on slash fiction could be that this is just superimposing idealized heterosexual relationships on to queer culture and for me it’s not, but I didn’t know where to place myself within that. So this has been a bit of interrogation of that as well, because I found one of the images of, the Larry family images, I found it so confronting because it looked so white, so middle-class, so kind of all these things that just really stand out to me and scream “this is problematic!”

EM: Yeah! [friends, gay and also trans men in fandom are] told this is a female practice, these are female communities, you’re not allowed to speak. It’s like, well OK, but… you’re arguing over who in your ship tops and bottoms in a way that sounds totally homophobic, and a gay man is like “hey, you sound really homophobic,” and you’re like, you know, I don’t know. It just, it frustrates me a lot.

OGP: I mean, I don’t think that, like, fluffy slash fic is necessarily kind of straightening out queer identities. I don’t think that that’s what’s going on and the reason why I don’t is fanfiction is unfixed in a very queer way. There’s endless possibilities of what those characters can do or what they can become or they can bodyswap or all these different things. So for me, it is something slash fiction I think is usually read as an appropriation of gay culture? But I don’t think it’s just that, I think it’s more than that, and it’s not just an appropriation of gay culture. Although it does fascinate me how some of the terms got there and started being used in that way.

EM: Like what? What are some examples?

OGP: Like, just when I came across all these discussions around and arguments in the Larry fandom around who was top and who was bottoming, I was like when did this — when did people even just start talking about this?! Which is a kind of gay male predominantly I would say subcultural language. When did that make its way into that fandom, and…? I’m not offended by it in any way, I think it’s really fascinating, because what it does is it poses questions to not only heteronormativity but also to queerness. It brings that into question as well because it’s like a further step or something.


  1. a guest from a previous "Fansplaining"