Fansplaining: The Year in Fandom 2015
|Title:||Fansplaining: The Year in Fandom 2015|
|Created by:||Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel|
|Date(s):||December 30, 2015|
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For others in the series, see Fansplaining.
In Episode 12 of Fansplaining, Elizabeth and Flourish count down their five top media fandom stories of 2015—and ask you to share your own. They also share personal fandom stories from 2015, and make a New Year’s resolution for the podcast next year. Topics covered include the Triple Crown, Ham4Ham, Star Wars: The Force Awakens (with only the very lightest of spoilers!), and the fact that you heard about Hermione’s casting in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” here first.
[Flourish Klink]: So what we’re going to be doing is we’re gonna be counting down our top five stories in media fandom, so we talked about this and we decided that since we’ve pretty much just covered media fandom so far this year we’re gonna do our top five stories in media fandom, and our New Year’s Resolution is going to be to branch out in the coming year, especially into sports.
- Rey/Kylo Ren, Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda
- TPTB and interaction with fans
- Twin Peaks
- the mainstreaming of fanfiction
- What happens when everybody’s a fan?
- pros and cons of formulaic genre
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowel
- Zayn leaving One Direction, and the comments about the fans' reactions to this
- One Direction, After, and the negative discussions in our culture about the libido of teenage girls
- the casting of a Black Hermione in the stage play
- George Lucas and his involvement in fandom 
- Star Trek fanfic in the 1970s was NOT written by all-straight women
- the recent James Bond movies and comments about homosexuality
[Flourish Klink]: A little, yeah. So before we started this we were talking about how I had a lot of people when I left Star Wars and they knew I’d seen it texting me being like “I’m Ren/Rey trash now!”
And you were like, “does anybody ship Ren and Rey together?”
[Elizabeth Minkel]: That’s ridiculous.
[FK]: And I was like “Yes, all my friends do. All my friends.”
[EM]: And literally everyone on my dash—I literally just had a conversation with some fandom friends on Twitter cause they were frustrated with the default jumping right to Poe/Finn and pretending that Rey wasn’t even in the movie, when you know, frankly Poe I felt like as much as I love him he wasn’t in the movie very much.
[FK]: No he was not.
[EM]: But that sound about right for a slash ship, you know, you get one minute of steamy glances and you’re like “eh, I’m in!” You know the second biggest ship in Sherlock the two characters have had one second on screen together.
[FK]: Whaat?[EM]: Yeah, and I remember when everyone who went to the preview were like “there’s a special gift to a certain ship!” And it’s like “oh, you mean the characters are finally gonna be in the same room, with no dialogue, gesturing—“ It’s Mystrade, by the way, Mycroft and Detective Inspector Lestrade.
[FK]: OK. The first topic that we had on the list was in general fan/creator interaction. We felt like this year was a year that had a lot of ups and a lot of downs in that arena. The first thing that we had talked about was Joss Whedon flouncing, after fifteen years of being the creator of a fandom that was, like, the most into it and most interactive, he took his toys and went home—in contract to, like, Bryan Fuller and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who know all about everything in fandom, love all the ships, even endorse fan creativity that’s being sold for money, and they seem to be going strong.
[EM]: ...So about a year and a half ago. I was writing about Supernatural, and I also talked about Dan Harmon, the creator of Community, who has pretty famous bad fan-creator interaction. And actually it’s really worth a listen, it’s a recording where he just talks about the relationship he has with fandoms, or his fandom at the time. And I remember thinking, you know, the whole thing is—this isn’t gonna work. So our problem is we need to readjust our expectations. We can’t expect these guys, especially when it’s these guys, and the fandom is these women, let’s just leave each other alone. But you know, Joss Whedon leaving… You’re familiar with the whole story, right?[FK]: Yeah, there was all of this drama surrounding Age of Ultron. I shouldn’t say “drama” because that seems to minimize it. Different people had different perspectives on whether Black Widow’s storyline was sexist or not, and then in the midst of all that he [left] Twitter.
[EM]:....One thing that really struck me about [The Force Awakens] was that it felt less like the continuation of a franchise, like a new installment in a franchise the way Marvel movies do, it felt more like the revival of a show or the revival of a movie. So I guess this topic is, we saw a lot of announcements for big revivals, X-files is the big one, we also have Twin Peaks coming back, Gilmore Girls coming back, Star Trek coming back…
[FK]: Yeah, there’s a new Star Trek series—I mean TV series, which is very different than movies.
[EM]: I’m supposed to give you first crack and I’m meandering along this question. Last year I feel like Veronica Mars set the tone for this conversation, but these are a bunch of big revivals, so I think that’s a story from this year.[FK]: Absolutely. The thing for me that’s relevant about this is that the revivals that we’re seeing, they’re actually about the mainstreaming of fandom, the mainstreaming of the idea that you might be really into a series or a book or a story. People talking about that in a more public way, in a way that it’s normal for people to have. That those feelings are normal for everybody. Star Wars is the perfect example of this. Star Wars is something where there actually have been continuous shows in addition to the prequel movies that no one wants to admit happened. And books, and everything else. It has been continuous. It’s not a revival particularly; it’s been there all along. But this is the moment that people have been able to be like “YEAH!” you know?
[FK]: But I think one thing that is interesting to think about about this is where is it gonna go in the next few years? Particularly when you start thinking about platforms like Wattpad that are really moving towards “let’s file the serial numbers off fanfic wholesale.”[EM]: Or what interested me about Wattpad, on that front, is not necessarily that but young people—like very young people or new fans coming in and writing there, writing alongside original stuff, having very blurry definitions of what’s what, it just changes the practice. And that’s what kind of sets me off about this topic, when people say “everything’s fanfiction.” It’s not necessarily about what the story is, like, oh, here’s shifting perspectives or whatever. It’s about how the story was created—the process by which it was created and consumed.
[FK]: Yeah. One of the things that has come up on this a little bit is that some people have pushed back on it saying, well, this is now JK Rowling is a serial post-diversifier. Dumbledore’s gay—but we won’t say it in canon. Hermione can be Black—but it’s not really in canon, it’s not explicitly stated. But you know, one of the things that I think is interesting about this is, I don’t know what’s in JK Rowling’s head. But it seems to me like she may have developed her awareness and beliefs and opinions and viewpoints over time, right? I think it’s a good thing if she, when she was writing the books, wasn’t aware of the idea that her characters could be read as non-White, and then she’s encountering people who envision them that way and she’s going “huh. Yeah hey why not?” I think that’s actually something to celebrate. I mean it would be better maybe if from the beginning she had had a more diverse Harry Potter universe, but…
- For more about this, see Star Wars Open Letters.