That's a Cult?: Fandoms

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Podcast Episode
That's a Cult?
Episode #6
Episode Title: That's a Cult?: Fandoms
Length: 47:13
Featured: Helen McCarthy (creator)
Date: July 7, 2018
Focus: Cults, Toxic Fandom, Fan Studies
Fandom: Panfandom, although Supernatural, BBC Sherlock, Star Wars were discussed in specifics
External Links: episode link, That's a Cult? Twitter, That's a Cult? website, Helen L. McCarthy's Twitter

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"Fandoms" is an episode of the podcast That's a Cult?, hosted by Helen L. McCarthy. It is primarily framed as an introduction to fandom dynamics for an outsider audience, structured around interviews with various fans, acafans, and other fan studies experts.

I don't think fandoms are cults because, well, there's a few reasons. The people involved are evidently quite happy to talk about it and they can talk about it very effusively and passionately. And also there's a lot of individualism involved. Cults encourage homogeny, not individuality. Fandoms are about what you draw and write, what you think, what you want to see in the next film, the character you think has ruined your childhood...People will group themselves together, based on these factors - maybe attack the oppose group, maybe go about their business peacefully. But no two fans are the same, no two fans believe the same thing, no two fans like the same thing. And after talking to all these experts in fan studies, it sounds like conflict is the bedrock of it all. And that's why the current media doesn't seem to get it. That's why they like to divide the fans up simply. It's easier to see people as a group.[1]

When you strip it right down to the basics, being a fan means loving something that someone else has created. It's about appreciation. I'm into that idea, especially it involves Benedict Cumberbatch's luminous bone structure.[2]

Some Topics Discussed

Specific fandoms discussed included BBC Sherlock, Star Wars, and Supernatural. McCarthy also recommended Decoder Ring: The Johnlock Conspiracy for further information on toxic dynamics in Sherlock fandom.

Fan and Acafan Participation in the Podcast

Several fans were interviewed for the podcast, including:

Henry Jenkins was also interviewed for the episode, as were Billy Proctor (a professor at Bournemouth University), Bronwen Thomas (another professor at Bournemouth University), and CarrieLynn Reinhard (a professor at Dominican University and the author of Fractured Fandom).


  1. ^ Episode 6: Fandoms, That's a Cult?. Published on July 7, 2018. Accessed on July 8, 2018.
  2. ^ Episode 6: Fandoms, That's a Cult?. Published on July 7, 2018. Accessed on July 8, 2018.
  3. ^ Addigni's Tumblr. Accessed on July 8, 2018.
  4. ^ Bina's Tumblr. Accessed on July 8, 2018.
  5. ^ Anna Julia's Tumblr. Accessed on July 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Victoria's Tumblr. Accessed on July 8, 2018.
  7. ^ Mindless Entertainment Youtube channel. Accessed on July 8, 2018.