In Episode 194, “The Pain Fandom,” Flourish and Elizabeth are joined by journalist Maria Temming to discuss her recent article on whump, hurt/comfort, and fandom communities centered around fictional characters in pain. Topics discussed include the history of whump and its place in modern fandom, the overlap (and divergence) between broader fandom interest in h/c and self-declared whumpers, and why the lack of “comfort” in much of our violent media means some see whump as an inherently anti-violent subgenre.
In Episode 193, “As Me About My Fanart,” Flourish and Elizabeth talk to longtime fanartist Fox Estacado about the business and the pleasure of fanart. Topics discussed include changes she’s observed in the practice over time, the way platforms like Etsy handle legal issues, meeting fellow fans in artists’ alleys at cons, and her mixed feelings about monetization versus the fandom gift economy.
In Episode 192, “Death, Mourning, and Fandom,” Elizabeth and Flourish talk about the complicated dynamics around death within fandom, where our connections to each other can be deep but transient. Jumping off an article Elizabeth recently wrote for WIRED on the AO3’s Fannish Next-of-Kin feature—which lets you leave your fanworks to a fellow fan if you die—they talk about the failings of other digital death policies, disconnects between peoples’ fandom personas and regular lives, the differences between losing a fandom friend and a favorite fanwork creator, and how rarely the subject of death is talked about—in fandom or more broadly.
In Episode 191, “Femstats February,” Flourish and Elizabeth welcome back Destination Toast—the Steve Martin of Fansplaining—to talk through their massive stats analysis comparing the F/F, M/F, and M/M categories on the AO3. Length, rating, frequency of certain tags and warnings: What results matched their expectations, and what results were surprising? And what do the differences between them suggest about fandom? (Prepare yourself: armchair theorizing and hot takes abound!!)
In the latest (fifteenth!) installment of “Ask Fansplaining Anything,” Flourish and Elizabeth tackle a new collection of listener letters. Topics discussed include defining “canon” in RPF fandoms, the sad fate of fandoms on Twitter, and what to do about non-fandom friends who judge your fannish activities. Plus: a query about the hypothetical legality of physically printed fanfiction in libraries, with an answer from *actual lawyer* and copyright expert Earlgreytea68.
In Episode 189, “No Cultural Impact,” Flourish and Elizabeth look at the entertainment industry’s “fan-first” strategy for franchise-building, and the already-massive box-office success of Avatar 2: The Way of Water, part of a property that, as people continue to say on social media, no one remembers or cares about. Are fan activities, memes, or online chatter necessarily good indicators of franchise success? And when Hollywood privileges a certain idea of “fandom” in their strategic plans, does that actually serve fans—or viewers in general?
Continuing an end-of-year tradition, Flourish and Elizabeth review five big fandom-related trends they followed in 2022. Topics discussed include clashing norms between fans on different platforms, the increasing precariousness of the streaming space, brands doubling down on fandom—and anti-fandom—in high-profile celebrity stories, and yes, of course, the collapse of Twitter. Plus: they read a letter from an artist in response to the previous episode on AI and fanworks.
In Episode 187, “Artificial Fandom Intelligence,” Elizabeth and Flourish respond to a listener's letter about AI tools like ChatGPT and Lensa, which are currently sparking anxiety in fandom and across the broader web. What are the realities of this technology, now and in the coming months and years? Are we looking at a future where any fan can plug in a few terms and receive a halfway-decent computer-generated piece of fanfic or fanart?
In the second and final installment of the “Disability and Fandom” double episode, Flourish and Elizabeth get the perspectives of even more disabled fans. Featuring conversations with Lindsay Mixer and Valerie Gristch, and voicemails/letters from Soph, TallysGreatestFan, Lizard Socks, May Barros, Cora Maria, miscellanium, Bodge, Julia, and Jessica. Topics covered include depictions of disabled characters in erotic fanfiction, conflicting accessibility needs on the web, and how both music venues and artists make concert-going difficult—if not outright impossible—for disabled fans.
In the first installment of the “Disability and Fandom” double episode, Flourish and Elizabeth get the perspectives of a wide range of disabled fans, including conversations with Rebecca Milton and Joan Miller and voicemails/letters from Dr. Paul D. C. Bones, buffer-overrun, Taylor, Wheelchairidan, Hannah, and Sandy. Topics discussed include Mad studies and depictions of disability in video games and the horror genre, how ADHD can shape fannish obsessions, and the difficulties disabled cosplayers and con-goers face with both staff and fellow fans.