These Curious Times Interview with Enthusiasm Girl

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Interviews by Fans
Title: These Curious Times Interview with Enthusiasm Girl
Interviewer: Curious
Interviewee: Enthusiasm Girl
Date(s): November 2015 (conducted), March 13, 2016 (posted)
Medium: online
Fandom(s):
External Links: online here
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These Curious Times Interview with Enthusiasm Girl ("Transforming Ourselves") is a 2016 interview with Enthusiasm Girl.

Part of a Series

See These Curious Times Fan Interviews.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpt from the Introduction

On the very first episode of The One True Podcast, Enthusiasm Girl talked about what inspired her to take on the challenge of creating a podcast. Her explanation really resonated with me.

“This podcast is called the OTP for a reason, it’s because my one true pairing right now is the fanfiction community/this podcast. I really want to create a community driven podcast where we have insightful, deep conversations about how fanfiction can be transformative, not just in a sense of transforming the original source stories we write about, but in the sense of transforming us. I want to talk about why we ship, and why we beta, and why we write. I want to bring new people into fanfiction and combine the voices of people who have been doing it for decades with the voices those who have been doing it for a few months. I want this podcast to represent what the fanfiction community is, an amazing place to meet new people, have great conversations, find amazing stories, and transform ourselves.” – EG

I completely share her enthusiasm in being a fan of fandom and an lover of fanfiction and the community that springs up around it. So I was super excited to speak with Enthusiasm Girl about her exciting fandom project The OTPodcast.

Excerpts

I wanted to ask you about your handle Enthusiasm Girl, it’s such a great name! How did you come up with it?

It was bestowed upon me by somebody else. I started out in fandom really heavily doing conventions. I volunteered for this convention called Polaris and I ended up on the convention committee. One of the guys in my committee said it to me sarcastically, like it was his way of almost putting me down like, “Oh Enthusiasm Girl. Anytime we have a really big project that we know no one else wants, we’ll give it to Enthusiasm Girl.”

My way of hitting back at him for the sarcasm was to embrace the handle enormously to the point where the second year of the convention I actually showed up in a homemade Enthusiasm Girl costume with a big EG on my chest. I took it as a badge of honor. I think that everybody in fandom is Enthusiasm Person so I said, “That’s fine. If I’m going to be the go-getter if I’m going to be the Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation of the convention committee, then I’m going to embrace it and go all in.” I ended up changing all of my handles to Enthusiasm Girl and to this day I think it irritates him.

How did you get started in fandom?

I was always a kid who was just around science fiction and fantasy to begin with. My dad loved Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov and so Star Trek was always on growing up, and the classic Doctor Who. But it wasn’t something I think I delved wholeheartedly into until I was about eleven and discovered The X-Files. I went X-Files crazy. It was on the air the time and the movie was coming out and it was a really big deal. I started collecting TV Guides with X-Files covers and I started delving into the internet fandom with GeoCities. A friend then got me into Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that was the first fandom where I kind of tentatively read some fanfiction and realized that fanfiction was a thing.

This was back when you downloaded a text file onto floppy disks, it was the olden days basically, and there was a lot of Harlequin Romance type fic. I didn’t get heavily into fandom until television became more readily available to stream or get instantly on DVD. The first big fandom I wrote for was The Pretender and then I wrote some Star Trek: Enterprise fic as well.

Conventions came much later. Once I discovered conventions, I jumped completely in. Going to those first couple of conventions that were more fan run, where they had panels, I felt like I landed on my home planet. The first year I went I saw the panels and I thought ‘Well, I could be a panelist’. The next year I went to their website and looked at the panels and I thought they were missing a whole bunch of really good ones. I think I sent them twenty panel ideas, and I’m talking about suggestions that included the title and a full-page description of the panel. I volunteered to be on all of them. I was like, “Oh my God, you guys have to do this because you can’t have a science fiction convention without a Doctor Who panel and a Star Trek panel.” A couple of months later I got an invitation that just said we would like you to come and be on the programming team and have your job be coming up with all the panels. So that was how it started. From there it led me along that road of wanting to write more, and wanting to interact with more people in fandom, and getting that sense of community.

I stepped away from fanfiction for a long time to do the conventions and then Marvel and AO3 brought me back to fanfiction. The AO3 tagging system and the layout, and how easy it was for authors to add works was great. I thought ‘I need to write fic just to be a part of AO3.’ It was like a slow process of me starting out just as an individual fan and then realizing all of the areas of community that I kind of had tendrils in.

Curious: Fanfiction encompasses such a diverse range of topics, and ideas, and dynamics, some of which people might find controversial, or have extremely different opinions about. How do you approach topics like that?

[snipped]

Because of the fact that participants are talking about their point of view, I let them all be as anonymous as they want to be. Even I use my handle Enthusiasm Girl. Some of them have said “That’s fine, use my name”, and a couple of them some of them say no, they would never want anyone to know that they were on the show because they’re talking about things like sex and porn or triggery things like rape or miscarriages or even our opinions on feminism and transgender issues or the LGBT community, and those things can be really sensitive for people to actually give their opinions on.

I stand by what we do and our right to talk about those controversial topics, and I stand by our right to make those statements and have those opinions and that’s what they are, just opinions and they’re all valid. I’m hoping that going forward we can keep the conversation civil.

I know I’m potentially courting controversy, I know that we may get trolls at some point, but to be honest I’m more worried about the controversy of the show being exposed outside of the fanfiction community than within. I trust fandom. We have this really nice community that doesn’t currently attract a lot of MRAs, or trolls. When a woman writes a rape fic, she doesn’t get a bunch of guys harassing her in the comments. I don’t want to be the podcast that suddenly makes the mainstream realize that we’ve created this safe space and descend on it. Even 50 Shades of Grey kind of exposed that a little bit and I get really mad when I see any kind of mainstream media make out fanfiction to be an object of scorn. I’m super conscious that if the podcast is heard by people outside of the fanfiction community and goes viral, how is that going to go over that we talk about rape fic, and how women can have rape fantasies. I mean that kind of keeps me up at night, thinking about me and the podcast defending the idea of a really bad rape fic. Does that mean that I’m going to get really bad tweets and nasty comments about that?

What I really love about fandom is that when I first get into a new fandom, I go and look for all the things I like and if I don’t see them I figure I can just write them myself and contribute in that way. There will always be someone who’s looking for a rare pair or a different point of view.

I’m always happy to break out a new tag on AO3 and I feel like I’ve been doing good job at that. Recently I wrote a fic and I was one of the first people to use the Franklin Foggy Nelson & Elena Cardenas friendship tag on AO3, and it was shocking to me that no one else had because it’s such a great relationship. I feel like once you put it out there, other people will be like ‘Wait a second, how come I’ve never seen that before?’ It’s kind of awesome.

Fanfiction can be kind of a weird feedback loop. When I went on my Ben Urich rant, what I got back from some people was that the Daredevil fandom has decided that Matt and Foggy is all they want to read or write about, and other stories weren’t being written because fans didn’t want them. The point of the post was really trying to remind people to think critically about why you want to read or write what you want to read or write. When people initially came to the Daredevil fandom, if you looked at the kink meme, there was a broad base of prompts and people were asking for all sorts of pairings. But if all of the prompts that get filled and commented on tend to be the Matt and Foggy ones, it didn’t necessarily mean that fandom only wants to ship and talk about them. It could just mean that the people who wanted something else realized that the fandom wasn’t for them and left. That’s the unfortunate thing about fanfiction being so slash focused and so OTP focused. Sometimes I feel like we get into this feedback loop of producing what’s popular and you don’t see the people on the outside of the community who might like to be a part of it but are looking at it and wondering where they fit in. Again, that’s part of why feel like what I do is necessary. It’s kind of why I try to stick with it and not just say “I’m not just interested in this particular ship, so I’m leaving”. You need those writers who are willing to come in and bring a different take on something.