Saturday, April 3, 2021

CoNZealand Fringe Transcript: And there was only one panel: The joy of fanfic or squeeing about our favourite tropes


During CoNZealand, a group of fans put together a set of panels, which took place outside convention hours, which would be available for free via Youtube and offer a taster of the Worldcon experience to those unable to participate in CoNZealand's programming hours, or hadn't bought a membership but were interested in the kind of content provided. The result was a set of 15 panels over 6 days, archived and available for all at

As a fringe event in the tradition of Edinburgh Fringe and other international collateral events, CoNZealand Fringe was conducted entirely outside core programming hours and spaces, and panels were not official CoNZealand programming. CoNZealand Fringe is not endorsed by CoNZealand.

Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together is pleased to host the transcripts of CoNZealand Fringe panels for fans who are unable to watch the videos or prefer a written format. This is the transcript for And There Was Only One Panel, which ran on Sunday 2 August 2020 at 6pm BST/1pm EDT/10am PDT/5am NZST (next day) and is available here. Other panel transcripts are available via our transcript hub.

And There Was Only One Panel: The Joy of Fanfic or Squeeing About Our Favourite Tropes

Panel Description: Transformative fandom loves tropes: we love to see our favourite characters in familiar situations; the predictability is a feature, not a bug. The panelists discuss some of their favourite tropes: why do they work so well? What about these tropes resonates with us? And why do they work across so many fandoms?

Host and Moderator: Sam @ Thoughts on Tomes

Panelists:  Elizabeth Minkel, Brent Lambert (he/him), Iona Datt Sharma (they/them)

Sam: Hi everyone and welcome to the “and there was only one panel” where we will be discussing fanfiction and tropes. Before we get started, this is CoNZealand Fringe, which has been created as a complimentary programming series to the annual science fiction convention WorldCon. All our livestreams take place outside core CoNZealand programming and are not official CoNZealand programming items. CoNZealand Fringe is not endorsed by CoNZealand.

So today like I said we will be discussing fanfiction tropes and everything in between. I am joined by some lovely panelists who will introduce themselves. So we’re gong to go through and talk about – introduce ourselves and talk about how we got introduced to fandoms So, hi, I’m Sam from Thoughts on Tomes, the Youtube channel you’re currently on, and I am a booktuber talking about mostly science fiction and fantasy on my channel, and my introduction to fandom was probably with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom back in Middle School.

And it was a fandom of two because my best friend and I at the time didn’t know that fandom existed online because we were little so we had no idea, so it was just us writing quotes on our binders and trying to get memorabilia and watching the show on VHS.

Brent: I’m Brent Lambert, I’m the social media manager and reviews editor for FIYAH Literary Magazine, we were up for a Hugo this year for best Semipro Magazine. My introduction to fandom was X-Men – so I decided to wear a shirt for it. (Laughter)

Funny story, I used to – as a kid, I hated reading, I didn’t want to read, until my Dad bought me some X-Men comics. And I fell in love and I just lost my way in that fandom and I’ve been in it ever since.

Iona: I’m Iona – Iona Datt Sharma – and I am a writer, I live in London and I was in fandom from about 2001 I think. I got really into Stargate SG-1 – the original one not the one with all the weird tropes that we’ll come to, and I was also like a fandom of, I think, three or four before discovering it on the internet. But yeah, I was the sort of thirteen year old fan who was on Yahoo Groups a lot.

Elizabeth: And I’m Elizabeth Minkel, I’m a fan culture journalist, and I am the co-host of Fansplaining podcast and the co-curator of the Rec Center newsletter which was also a finalist – though didn’t win – for a Hugo this year. And my first fandom that I learned about was also Buffy in 1998 when I was in 8th Grade. But I started writing fic long before that, before I knew it was a thing, which I think is pretty common for anyone my age and up, and I actually discovered fanfiction because I was on a Buffy website in the middle of the night in 1998 and I read this story where Giles became a vampire and I thought it was like spoilers or predictions for the next season. And I was traumatised and I called my friend and I was like [unintelligible fretting] and she was like I think you read fanfiction and so I was like I don’t know what that is. But I had actually been writing it for years at that point, for – for other stuff that I was into before that, and that’s when it all started to come together. So, and I’ve been there ever since.

Sam: Awesome, awesome. So the first question that we should probably just get out of the way is what are all of your favourite tropes? And this can be both within canon and within fanfiction.

Brent: For me I love crossovers – I’ve always been a huge fan of crossovers. The weirder the better, I’ve always been into, I think Batman – Ninja Turtles I saw at one point, or Batman vs Jack the Ripper, or X Men and Star Trek. I love stuff like that because I just like seeing this, like these two disparate properties coming together. And honestly it’s probably how I write my own stuff, I just mash some properties together and file off the serial numbers. So it’s just kinda like hey, I’ve always been into that trope.

Iona: Yeah so I quite like the kind of science fiction-y ones that are along the lines of, you know, sudden telepathy or sudden body swap or, you know, for some mystical reason we have to stay within 100 feet of each other at all times, that kind of thing. And also my favourite one of all time for some reason is I thought you were dead, that one, where –


Where it’s lots of emotional trauma but it all comes out brilliantly in the end.

Elizabeth: I’ve always really like the, like the companion to that the everyone, where you just resurrect people that’s one of my favourites so. My absolute favourite it’s a fan fiction specific one, which is the canon divergent AU. Which obviously all right you can do that in non-fic but it’s like – in things that are fan fiction – but it’s counter factual history when it’s non-fic. But it’s something really integral to fan fiction itself this kind of idea that the original canon and the story can kind of sit parallel to each other. I really love looking at those things side by side. I also love all those – I have this – It feels like a very id like weakness for the sudden body swap and – I used to read Harry Draco fic in 2001 where they they had the sudden telepathy and they were stuck, or not stuck together, you know.


But I also – I do love all the kind of romancey tropes like a good fake boyfriend AU or fake dating, that kind of thing, that’s really – if it’s done well and it’s a ship I love because I always read and write ships, then I love it.

Sam: Do you guys feel like there – with those favourites that you have – do you feel like there’s one moment when you discovered those favourites, like you read a fic or you saw something and you were like that’s what I love, that’s my new favourite, or was it just over time you just saw it over and over again and it became a favourite?

Brent: I think it was over time, just because being in comics, I think for me the first really big one is like one of the most obvious ones when they did Marvel versus DC. I was a kid when they came out and I was like What? Superman and Hulk are fighting, like [unintelligible]. I just lost my mind I was like this is the most amazing thing ever and I just loved the scope of it and it kind of translated into the scope I like in stuff that wasn’t fanfic, just stories in general where I’m like, because I love crossovers so much, I love stories with big scopes, epicness, and just a lot of characters meeting up and whatnot so I definitely think, it started off with that little seed and it just spread and infected everything I loved.

Iona: I think relating to what Elizabeth was saying about a canon AU, AU divergence, the one amazing light bulb moment I had was, I think it was in the early 2000s where the trend was for stories with the title of five things that never happened to X. I loved those, they just kind of lit a fire in my head and I think with those it was yes, this is what you can do with fannish specific tropes, because we all know what really did happen to these people.

And the, you know the kind of bouncing off of that is what – is what I loved, I mean that I might still be the only person who’s obsessed with that trope in this year of our lord 2020 but I am.

Elizabeth: Don’t worry! Yeah I think for me, my – when I think back because I’ve been kind of fandom monogamous, I’ve been in six fandoms and five ships in my 20 years plus, right, maybe that’s me, some people are in one fandom all their whole lives, so maybe it’s not that monogamous. But for me a lot of it really depends on the specific fandom that I’m in, like there are some tropes that like would not work for me in – Harry Potter is very much in the past for me at this point but there are a lot of things in the Harry Potter world that I wouldn’t engage with elsewhere – or wouldn’t engage there that I would engage with elsewhere, that kind of thing.

And so that kind of, like, “oh I’ll read any fake relationships” stance that a lot of people have and they’ll just read by that trope and they’ll read in any fandom and they’ll just click on the tag in AO3, that’s something I don’t really experience, because it needs to feel right for the fandom and the relationship for me. I don’t have a list - except for canon divergent AUs, I always want a fix, I think all media needs to be fix it –


Brent: Yeah!


Brent: Yeah, no I definitely agree to fix it fics too. I love a good fix it because I think, at least I’m probably dating myself but I used to do fanfic on the AOL boards back in the day, the message boards, and, so I was part of a lot of like shared universe Marvel fan fiction sites and that really was, the essence of most of them, was just like I hated that storyline let’s – let’s start here and do our own thing, and stuff just kind of exploded from there. So yeah I’ve always liked fix it.

I think in comics it works a lot better too with fix-it because there’s so many different people who have their hands in the pot in the canon, so everyone kind of feels like well if they can do it I can do it too and you know so it kind of – I don’t know, it’s always felt like - it’s probably part of the reason I’m a writer too is just like I was like yeah, I could do that better, let me try, and its kind of kept going from there. So yeah I definitely I love a good fix-it.

Sam: Yeah, do you guys feel like that’s where you’re - you really got super involved in fandom? I feel like a lot of us found fandom from just like– I find a lot of fandom from fan art, that’s how I get pulled in initially and then all of a sudden I’m diving down into everything else, but I give into it that way and then I’m like, something made me mad about the canon and then I start looking for, like because I fixed it.

I mean I’m not a fanfic writer myself but just like, oh I didn’t want it to end that way, did somebody else make it a different way? Is that how you guys kind of got involved too?

Brent: Yes, but I also found a really good AU fic one time and I read it and I was so blown away it was such a good story that I started mixing it with canon, and I was like wait, wait, that’s not how it actually happened, that was the fic, you know, so it kind of just – it was a combination of the two I guess, I just saw the power of story when people kind of like got a chance to do their own thing. And part of it was like the spite of, like, oh I can do this too, I can fix it, so yeah, especially I think it was X Men, they killed a particular character and I was really pissed about it and I was like ah, bring this person back, or, like, we can do this. So, yeah, for me it was definitely I think a spite thing and ambition thing from the beginning.

Iona: I think not for me so much, I mean, for me its always been a little simpler, I think it’s just I really love the stories about these people, please can I have more?

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s my experience too, I mean like, me any my semi-monogamy here, it’s it needs to really – it feels like falling – you know, it’s – the last few times when I’ve joined a new fandom, it’ll be like I’ll watch the thing, and I’ll be like, oh, fuck… Am I allowed to swear, is there -

Sam: Yes, absolutely!

[Crosstalk, laughter]

Elizabeth: Fuck! Like, you know, and then, and I remember very distinctly I was in the Sherlock fandom in like 2013 and 14. I remember very distinctly watching all of them and thinking, going to AO3 and being like, do I want to do this and literally feeling like I was on a precipice OK, and then clicking on sorting by real basic, like sorting by kudos and clicking on the first one and then being like, OK, goodbye, and that literally happens a lot and the last time I joined a new fandom, I had that same feeling I had that moment of, like, if I don’t go to AO3 I won’t be in this fandom, which is very different from a lot of my friends who are much more casually and broadly interested and they do things like Yuletide and they just love writing stories about things that catch them but it doesn’t need to be like, “oh no I can’t turn back now I’m trapped here”, which is maybe not a positive or whatever, but it’s fine.


Brent: Now that I’m older I feel like I’m more like, how y’all approach it because when I was a teenager, of course teenage boys think they can do anything. But now that I’m older like especially with the fan art I see a lot of Avatar: the Last Airbender fan art and the little coffee shop or AUs with them, and I just enjoy looking at them now, I don’t have this idea like I can do it better, now that I’m a little older and a little more mature I can just appreciate the work for what it is and just enjoy that people are getting something out of it and they want more of it.

Elizabeth: Yeah, on that same note do you feel like you guys’s engagement with fandom has changed over time and how has that changed for you?

Iona: I think for me that has changed really significantly, because I think a part of it is a function of, as Brent says, not being a teenager any more. Like you’ve got, I had more time in 2000 than I do now! So I think that’s part of it, but I also had quite a long break from being fannishly involved with stuff from about 2015 onwards until about a year ago and partly it was because I was turning my attention to my pro writing and I just didn’t have enough brain space and partly it was genuinely because nothing had really, um, fandom as whole had sort of fallen down a Marvel hole and I wasn’t – I wasn’t there, just you know it just didn’t – nothing against it it’s just it just wasn’t speaking to me very much.

And then last year they made a Good Omens miniseries and it seems like everything that is new that is old comes around again and it was there for me and I had a really good time being like, gosh I’m doing all the things I used to do when I was 14 years old and had more time to do them, and it was a great feeling, it felt like going back in time to a really – a really happy creatively engaged time of life. So I mean the answer to your question I suppose is no my engagement fandom hasn’t changed!

Elizabeth: That’s why on my podcast I’ve heard from multiple people who have had that experience specifically with Good Omens, that they were drifting for a few years and then it was like oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what I do.

So my story is probably a little bit weird, because from the 90s until six years ago I was a lurker and like deep, deep lurker, I never spoke to another person on the internet about being, you know, I just read a ton of fic and I wrote a lot but I never published it and it was very, very private for me, and then, five or six years ago I started writing about fandom in my journalism and it became my whole beat and then my whole job and so that’s been very - I’m very weird in that way, because I, obviously it’s changed massively because I am, like, public as a fan and speaking on it professionally. So I had to kind of carve out that space for the actual fandom stuff to be mine again. So I have a pseud and it’s private and I don’t connect the names at all and it’s just something that I do over here with my emotions and then I can talk about it less emotionally though still pretty emotionally as a professional, so – but that’s not a very ordinary experience probably.

Brent: I mean I think I can relate to the lurking thing a little bit just because…

Elizabeth: oh the like trying!

Brent: Yeah, yeah, for sure, right , because especially now I’m trying to be more of a pro writer I feel like I don’t have as much time to engage because I had to admit to myself at one point that I was using fic as a crutch to not want to dive into being a pro writer, just because with fic you have that built-in community that, when you find the right community, is very warm and open, and you know it feels like family and if you’re trying to be a pro writer it’s kind of rough, ’cause it’s like I don’t know if these people are going to like my story, they may hate it, or they may not even care, that’s sometimes even worse, so I think, um, yeah, I think that’s how, a big way my relationship has changed, just because now it’s like my pursuits are different so I just have to kind of observe and I can’t really engage with it as much.

Elizabeth: You just should just create an alter ego as I have!


Elizabeth: Make some secret friends, it's like it’s [crosstalk] you know, 2002 all over again, so…

Brent: Right!


Sam: So speaking of, you know, like older fandom vs current fandom, do you guys feel like you’ve seen a shift in how the fandom is with people who maybe grew up with the very beginning of the internet versus people that have grown up with the internet their whole lives and how the two groups engage in fandom? Without being disparaging to either, is there [laughs] is there a shift that you’ve seen and noticed throughout your time in fandom?

Iona: So I have a rant about this that I bring out every time, which is in 2000 and 2001, I was young as fans went, there were a lot of fans who were, you know, 10, 20, 30 years older than me, and very welcoming. I found it a really – it was the first time I think I’d really socialised with, you know, people who were genuinely not at all in my peer group. Then I think there – then fandom moved a lot, from Yahoo to Livejournal to Dreamwidth to Tumblr to Twitter to Discord, and now I’m old for being in fandom, and I’ve never had like a - a fannish adolescence, I’ve been like, I was either far too young and now at the age of 33 I’m far too old I was never actually with it as a fan and I bitch about it a lot. That’s it, I’m done!


Elizabeth: That’s fine, I mean I feel like I could talk about this for an hour so I don’t know what the most efficient way to give one answer is.

I mean one thing that I like to highlight when I talk about this topic is that I don’t necessarily think it’s about the real age of fans, I talk about newer vs older fans, right, because there I know of people who are… I was going to say my age or even older, I’m 35, so it’s like, you know, kind of a medium age, but then people who are in their 40s, 50s, 60s who have come to fandom within the last few years, and they are obviously going to have really different frames of reference because of the platforms that they’re on, and because the way the platforms shape engagement. But one of the biggest things that I would say is I think there’s a – a big shift from calling back to the beginning of this conversation, do you join a fandom – do you join Fandom, like, capital F or whatever, because you really love a show or a book or whatever? Or is it just a broader thing that you’re part of and a lens through which you see media? And I think you see a lot more of the latter now because - on Tumblr people will list their 19 fandoms and they’ll read by trope first instead of reading, you know, they’ll read every fake dating AU, and they’re just like, oh I like that and that and that. And I think that the platforms [unintelligible] that behaviour, and so for a lot of people that have come in in the last ten years, that is a way that they see – that’s the way that they see fandom and what it is. Obviously that’s like a big generalisation but that’s one of the biggest shifts that I think I’ve seen in the last 25 years.

Brent: I think it’s a good point, though, cause the platforms really do make a difference. I’m jealous of the new fans, because they have so much more discoverability, I feel, as opposed to back in AOL days or whatnot. I feel like with the platforms today, like younger fans, they just have this ability to find their people so much faster, it’s like, I can find my people and find the community that is going to lift me up and have the same interests and thoughts and ideas that I have and I think personally that’s such a powerful thing for young fans and I have always told myself I refuse to be a get off my lawn kind of person, so [laughter] I love it for them, I – yeah, I definitely wish I had it when I was their age. Mhm.

Sam: Yeah, when you were talking I was kind of thinking about how fandom has become – even though it’s still a separate thing, necessarily, from mainstream, I still feel like there’s a certain level of mainstreamness to it now, where people, especially younger folks, even if they aren’t involved in fandom, know about it, like people know a lot – about a lot of the terminology, like what shipping means, a lot of people know that, they know what fanart is, and all that kind of stuff. So how do you feel like that has also changed things, and just like, a lot of our really big fandoms are actually in more of the limelight? I’m thinking of the Reylo Star Wars situation, where major news organisations knew about Reylos? How do you think that’s affected what the mainstream thinks about fandom?

Elizabeth: That’s a huge question.

Brent: Yeah!


Elizabeth: I could write you a book on that one!

Brent: Yeah.



Brent: You go ahead, Elizabeth, no, you go ahead.

Elizabeth: I’m trying to think of just one -one thing to say about this, I mean, as a journalist, one of the biggest observations of the last five years has I think been a sort of a collapsing of this kind of idea of fandom versus geek media properties. I’ve, you know, been on panels at San Diego Comic Con every year until this year, IRL only, [laughs] and it’s like you go there and it’s just that they seem very confused about what fans – what fans and fandom is, and they’re just like yeah “you’ll love this, take it”, you’re like I don’t know if I’m going to love that. I don’t think it’s necessarily about specific – obviously tons of people in fandom are into certain kinds of genres or certain types of stories or whatever but I don’t think it’s as straightforward as that. And so I think that’s led in the media to a kind of – um, a really, muddling of ideas of what fans are as opposed to what different genres are and they don’t often have a good grasp on what behaviours are, and they will just see it from the outside, so they’ll just be like oh fans are people who like draw this art, I don’t know, and, maybe we can run a contest and get them to do the art for us and we’ll pay them a small amount of money. So it’s that little bit of knowledge and then watching either, whether it’s Hollywood or the mainstream media kind of spiral off with it in ways that don’t really match what fans actually do and think, and then it’s frustrating for me to watch because at a certain point if the most powerful people are saying it then isn’t that actually the new definition? So we did a big – my podcast did a big – sorry I’m talking too much – we did a big survey, um, God was it this year, no it must have been last – I don’t know, time has collapsed – about what the definition of shipping was, because I got in an argument with a journalist who wasn’t in fandom where he insisted that his definition was correct and he wasn’t a person who shipped or was involved in shipping, and out of spite I did a giant survey [laughs] to get the definitions from fans. And, you know, my point is, well maybe his definition is right too because if you say it enough, you know…

And so it kind of feels like fans are losing their own narrative of what the history is if people with more power are dictating what it is.

Brent: Yeah, no, absolutely, that - that’s all true. I live in San Diego so I’m in the epicentre of this every year when it happens, and it never fails – I mention anything about being a fan of something and the first question they ask is “oh are you going to dress up?” I’m like, cosplay is its own community, [laughter] with its own values and a whole setup, it’s like, I just - I’m not just going to just jump into that, so I think the mainstream from the outside looking in they don’t understand that there is multiple cultural setups within fandom and you do different things for different reasons.

And I mean it is kind of a shame, but people like Elizabeth are out there fighting that narrative and pushing back against it, you know, so, yeah. I love the fact that we have people out there like you who are fighting for fandom and saying no, no, you’re not going to pigeonhole us into this one thing, and um… Yeah I just – I do think, somet... – it’s a double edged sword, right, because it’s great that we’re getting this exposure, but you’re trying to take away our voice at the same time, and – I’ve even seen it somewhat in publishing a little bit, it’s been kind of – it’s been good and weird but I’ve seen publishers start using fandom – fanfic hashtags for new projects coming out, and that’s cool, at the same time I’m a little uncomfortable with it, I don’t know how to feel about it, so it’s just - Yeah, to Elizabeth’s point, I do think it’s a good thing but at the same time you’ve just got to make sure you keep your power as people start to recognise you.

Iona: I think that there’s one thing jumping off from both of those points that – one thing I have noticed as fandom becomes more quote unquote mainstream is that there’s a particular fannish type of storytelling which is - is the trope thing, really, because we are – we make use of tropes in a – in – if you call fanfic a literary tradition, it makes use of tropes in a way that other literary traditions maybe don’t, and I think that in itself becoming a bit more mainstream is something I quite like. Cause there was that – there was that lovely book a year– I think it was a couple of years ago, Red, White and Royal Blue, the Casey McQuiston novel which I thought was really great. It was – what was it, it was the son of the fictional female president of the US falls in love with the crown prince – the British crown prince – and it’s all very overblown and romantic and tropey, and it was a a delight. And the other one that comes to mind is, a friend of mine has a book coming out soon called Winter’s Orbit, that began life as a long piece of like tropey original fic on the AO3. It was about – it was in space, and it was like, fake space husbands. It was called A Course of Honour when it was on the AO3. And that was great, and I really like that story, which is really designed to appeal to the fannish mind, which is – we know, that you are going to love space husbands, that’s all we have to say to pitch this book and I really, I really like that because it puts some kind of – not that we need it, precisely, but it puts some kind of mainstream recognition that there is such a thing as the fannish literary tradition, and it does, and it does have value arising from what it is and not what it is not. But yeah, I guess that’s the flipside to the idea of people with more power dictating what – how mainstream media engages with fandom. And not to take away from that point, but, I think this is one of the minor compensations.

Brent: Well, just to get a little deeper with what you’re saying, too, I just thought of something that was sort of a mini controversy that came up not too long ago, so there was a book recently that came out that was admittedly Finn Poe fanfic with the serial numbers ripped off or whatever, right? Now, in a fanfic space, I wouldn’t begrudge a white woman or anyone writing that story, but in a pro paid space, the questions become different, like, are you the person to write, a queer black and brown pairing as a white woman and get paid for it?

So I was like, you know, you’ve got to be careful with some of this translation of fandom to pro because you can’t disregard the gatekeeping and the barriers that come into a pro setting where that may not exist in the fic setting. So I think there’s challenges with that, and, I mean I don’t know the right answer, I just know it is probably something that will come up more as the considerations will have to taken. And I don’t know exactly where I was going with that, but I just know – I think power dynamics, that’s where I was going with it.

Iona: Right.

Brent: Just, yeah, just think about that, from fanfic, and as it becomes more mainstream and people start actually getting paid for it, you have to examine those marginalisations and whatnot.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I absolutely think, I mean, one of the things from coming off – I totally agree with what you’re saying and I have ambivalence about it in the sense of like – and to, Brent, to bring in your point too – there’s something very valuable about, to me, about fanfiction as a non-monetised, as a gift economy space, as it always has been, right, and fanfiction is the only fanwork that doesn’t have a now normalised path to monetisation.

Brent: Right, right.

Elizabeth: And so there is a question of what does get through, what gets pulled to publish, what gets serial numbers filed off, you have to exactly take those things into account,… There can always be more FinnPoe in the world and obviously there are some people in fandom who would say, well you have shouldn’t be writing about characters who don’t share the same background as you and that’s a totally fair conversation to have.

But there is unlimited space to write the free fiction and put it on the free internet, but when you make that leap, it’s like, well who gets to have the one spot where you get paid for it, right, and I think that’s a really uneasy translation and you’re already dealing with –

And then it’s like, well what fic even gets to make that leap too, it’s not going to be – is it going to be the super weird stuff, is it going to be the challenging stuff or is it going to be the accessible, fun, the broadest things that we can find, so I think it’s all it’s really thorny.

Brent: Yeah, no, it is, it’s so thorny. And I mean, I struggle with it, I struggle with that particular controversy just because iI can’t begrudge the author having put in that time and effort and obvious love into the story, but as a black gay man trying to make his way as a professional writer, it still kind of stings to see it happen, because, well damn, maybe I wanted to write the first Black gay space story with them falling in love. So it’s just it is - it is thorny and it’s very... Again, I don’t have the right answer, I don’t know the right answer it’s just, I think, it’s just going to be a continuous conversation that’s probably going to keep happening That’s – to Elizabeth’s point too, it’s like what fic do you think will make it to that – will make that leap, like, would a StormFalcon fanfic be able to make that leap? Because it’s two Black characters, would it get there or, you know, would two non binary characters being in a relationship be able to make that leap to a professional monetised format? So it’s just, it’s thorny, and it’s going to take a continued discussion, like discussions we’re having right now I think are healthy and you just have to continue to really be able to navigate that going forward.

Sam: Yeah, when you guys were talking about kind of where fanfic and publishing collide that also got me thinking about authors that are traditionally published that have a history of fanfiction, and when the mainstream fandom of the canon works finds out about the fanfiction, and if they’re not familiar with how fanfiction works, the potential backlash that ends up happening because they don’t realise that things that are explored in fanfic can be very different and have different rules. There’s a lot of people that explore their trauma in fanfiction where it’s not as explored – I mean it can be explored in traditional but it’s in a different way,

Brent: Right.

Sam: And I think it’s been interesting to see how the mainstream will kind of react to – oftentimes negatively to a fanfiction background, even though, like Iona was saying, it’s like a literary tradition, fanfiction at this point, I loved how you said that, but it’s still not given the same kind of weight as a lot of traditional publishing stuff is.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I think it’s interesting to see that the evolution of that over the last five years has been really wild to me because, you know, coming out of the Harry Potter world, there are some very famous genre writers in a few different genres who were very well known HP fic writers, and obviously some of them haven’t you know burned all the bridges behind them, but some have. Some have been like – because, you know, there’s that kind of tall poppy syndrome, and you really saw this in the early 2010s of writers trying to make that leap and people saying how dare you rise above your station, we’re all in fandom together, right? And you saw those same conversations within the Twilight fandom when E.L. James was writing the original 50 Shades of Grey, saying, how dare you, we’re a community, and she was saying oh, well I don’t see a problem with this, right, and obviously it all worked out for her so don’t worry about it.

Brent: Right.

Elizabeth: But it’s been interesting to see what felt like, when I started writing about fanfiction – and I was a book journalist before that, so that was kind of my entry in... And it was because of 50 Shades of Grey that I started writing about fanfiction in the mainstream press because everyone did such a bad job in the mainstream book press talking about it. And I was just like a fix it, I was like I’m fixing this. But it’s been interesting in the last five years as, as more and more people have come out of the fanfiction side of fandom and into the pro space, I see exactly what you’re talking about. It’s not necessarily having participated in fandom, but it is kind of a judgement on the particular kinds of things people may have done in fandom ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, decontextualizing it and saying, I don’t agree with that kind of stuff, and it just feels like it’s kind of a weird shift to pinpoint exactly how that tone of that conversation has changed, but it feels like a continuation of that conversation that’s been happening all along with this stuff.

Brent: Yeah, no, I definitely – I have a story actually where it kind of scared me at first to own up to, having like, being a fanfic writer at one point, so, I’d say maybe mid 2000s, I was part of a shared universe Marvel website and we had a writer there who actually, he went from writing Fantastic Four on our website to being the artist of a new Silver Surfer miniseries at Marvel. Now at the time we all knew it was him and we all were celebrating it and so it spread, but he ended up losing his job because of it, he was let go off of the the comic because at that time, fanfic was regarded as this like, it’s like Mufasa talking to Simba, do not go where the light doesn’t touch, you know, and – that’s how people regarded fanfic so when I saw that as, I think I was in my 20s, I was like, oh my God if I ever want to be a professional writer I’m going to have to change my name or something. But you know, I decided not to anyway obviously but I think that concern isn’t necessarily there any more for writers today, they can openly and proudly talk about, like, oh I wrote fanfic, oh yeah, yeah, I ship this. I mean there’s still some thorny areas for sure and I think you’ve got to be careful. I’ve seen a couple of things happen in, I think like Young Adult Twitter, where authors have expressed liking a ship and then it become this huge shitstorm where people are applying them liking a ship to their moral character and who they are as a person and personally I think it’s bullshit and I was not happy to see that happen but I think it is something that authors just have to be careful of in future when it comes to making that transition from fandom to professional writing.

Elizabeth: Yeah it’s almost like, it’s not the fact that they have been in fandom or are in fandom but then they’re now being judged by the – that person’s in fandom and so am I and I don’t like the way they’ve been doing it, right.

Brent: Right.

Elizabeth: Which is got – you know, I don’t like that ship, and that must mean this, which is something they would say to a fellow fan but those authors now have much higher, I mean, you see it with people who get mad at BNFs or whatever, I don’t know if we’re using that term anywhere, I still use it.


Elizabeth: Well known fic writers, so that still happens there but this is even higher because that’s the person who got the publishing deal and people presume they’re now millionaires, which is rarely true.

Brent: So, so rarely true!


Brent: God, like, ugh every time I heard that I have to shake friends and family and stuff like, look, I’m not rich, I promise, it’s just a magazine, like, I gotta -

[laughter, unintelligible]

Brent: Before I’m making money.

Sam: Yeah, it’s been interesting like I said to see, and Brent you talking about kind of like the YA Twitter specifically, it seems like there’s, people that, you start talking in your space and if you’re raised in fandom I guess you’re like oh, well I’m in my space and like, this is my fandom space, kind of forgetting that everyone can see it, and then you get these things where it’s like, well people are taking this out of context and not understanding that, again, almost like a different set of rules, almost, and I feel like fandom for a long time has gone far deeper in conversations than the mainstream has, obviously, like there’s more room for grey area in fandom, always, then there ever is in canon mainstream fan kind of culture, and people kind of take it, there like oh well we’re all fans and I don’t agree with this thing and you’re like, well, fandom is different though. [laughs]

Brent: Right.

Sam: And you don’t know all of the rules for fandom so you’re, now you’re taking things out of context.

Brent: And it’s, I just feel like it’s so unfair for some of these people that have to deal with that backlash cause it’s like being robbed of that space – but, and at the same time too I guess, again, power dynamics, it’s like OK, now I have 20,000 followers, I probably should be a little more careful of what and how I discuss things. But I also have sympathy for them too because it’s like, aw it’s such a loss that, I know that’s probably something you really loved, so, yeah, it’s hard, I mean I don’t have a right answer for this one either, but.. [laughs]

Elizabeth: Create a secret pseud!


Brent: I mean yeah!

Elizabeth: I [unintelligible] also but you can say whatever you want, so…

Brent: Right, true.

Sam: So within both the fandom space and within a canon space why do you think people are so hard on tropes a lot of times, like tropes a lot of times get almost talked down to, it’s like oh well that’s tropey. Why do you think people are so hard on them?

Iona: I mean I think as a fundamental misunderstanding as to how narrative works but that is just me. I think it’s related to the idea that fanfiction is devalued, because it’s a literary tradition that belongs to women or, well let’s say non-men rather than women but it comes from a non monetised economy, it comes from a subculture that wasn’t always, in fact definitely wasn’t as well known as it is now, and I think saying that something’s tropey meaning that it’s like what fanfic would do is, is kind of a dog whistle. Like it’s to say, you know, it’s girl stuff, that, that’s my really simplistic answer to that question but I think that there’s a kernel of truth in that.

Elizabeth: Yeah, I think that also too, I totally agree and building on that. I think in, maybe the last 10 years, we’ve seen a real rise in like anxiety about plot in pop culture, I kind of felt like it came to a head last year with the release of Civil War around the spoiler and it was just like that everyone panicking about spoilers, right, and then Marvel took advantage of that and was like, I guess you’re going to have to see it on the first day so you won’t get spoiled. And it’s like, if these movies can’t, if I knew basic plot points – and it’s the same thing with controversy over content warnings, right - if knowing basic plot points ruins a story for me then maybe the story isn’t actually that well told, right?

Brent: Right.

Elizabeth: And so I really noticed this huge rise, and you see this in people getting angry about various Star Wars plot points or whatever, this rise in this kind of TV Tropification – like this website TV Tropes of like thinking oh, this is like one of those arcs and I’m, I know what’s going to come next and actually I know it because that’s predictable, that kind of thing, right. And it’s like people are kind of just looking at stories – it’s exactly not knowing how narrative works, like looking, you know, looking at it with the very surface of their brain and then getting upset if it doesn’t go the way they want and also getting upset if they – if it goes in a way they find predictable.

Brent: Yes.

Elizabeth: And so I think that romance, and I think also a female dominated or mostly non-male dominated space obviously loves tropes when they’re done well because you know that you can read a thousand ways to people falling in love and it can all be different and interesting, right? And it’s something that I feel other genres have a pretty hard time with and that’s where the mainsteream sits, you know, watching Marvel movies and not knowing how to deal with these plot structures basically, so yeah.

Brent: No – I mean all of your points are absolutely spot on it’s just like yeah, I’m – I, so I use, like I go on TV Tropes sometimes, but I have a love-hate relationship with that website, because it’s... I love the – like how it catalogues everything but I also hate how it’s created this oversimplification of things. It’s like and people – and it makes people smug, it’s like, you know, I go to this website so I know this is an unseen one and that’s this trope and it’s like OK well this is, this is how story works. It’s, story has these structures, it has these commonalities, that’s shared humanity, that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing, like we should exalt these tropes and we should exalt when they’re done well because that means that someone who has a firm grasp of story.

For my money, when I hear someone who embraces tropes, I know that this is someone who is well read, they probably are widely read, and they understand the mechanics of story. Usually the people who fall over themselves and evolve into bad trope territory are the jerks who think that they don’t have to acknowledge tropes, like every time, if I got like a dollar for every time I see a guy talk about I’m gonna write a YA that doesn’t – that isn’t like other girls, I would – I wouldn’t have to work any more. It’s like…


Brent: They don’t have, they don’t have this fundamental understanding, and they end up walking right into the wall of the thing that they claim that they’re against, so.

Sam: Yeah

Brent: And it’s like y’all guys were saying, it’s tied into sexism, it’s tied into queer antagonism, it’s tied into ageism because it’s all young people, we don’t, you know, [unintelligible], and so it’s it’s this fundamental disrespect of, most of the time marginalised peoples who come at this and they’re telling their own mythology and they’re finding acceptance in these stories through these tropes. And yeah I think tropes are amazing, I think that they’re valuable and if you want to be a good writer you should be skilled in them and you should be able to appreciate them, but that’s just me.

Iona: And I think from the craft perspective it really bothers me as a really kind of – it’s really tropey is such a bullshit criticism of a work because in a romance people fall in love and in detective stories they find out who the murderer is.

Brent: Right.

Iona: And that is how life works, like if you try to write a story in which that doesn’t happen, I mean subversion of tropes is definitely a thing and I love that but that requires, as you say Brent, it requires a really detailed, sophisticated knowledge of how the trope works when you don’t subvert it. And if you, the reader, come across that and you think – and you’re like yeah this is really cool, that also comes from a place of knowing how the trope works and having read the five previous works that played it straight. So, you know, it – it winds me up, it’s a really terrible criticism.

Brent: It’s such a terrible criticism, I mean, I just like the metaphor sometimes I use is like when people complain about happy endings and romance novels, and I’m like, when I hear that, I’m like OK so you sound like someone who’s complaining about the fact that most pizza has cheese. Like, yes some pizzas may not have cheese but that’s like a whole fundamental element of pizza, right, so what are you doing? So it’s just, I don’t know, yeah…

Elizabeth: I think that -

[Crosstalk, laughter]

Elizabeth: Yeah, and to connect it back to fic too, I, you know what you guys are saying, just makes me think about how, I think, I mean not every fic writer, but, I think fic writers are often extremely confident writers in the broad scheme of writing in a way that I think fic writers often undervalue themselves and say, oh I’m just playing with someone else’s toys and it’s not original, [muttering], that kind of thing, but you have to, I think you do have to have a lot of confidence to be able to take a story,either the original story and retell it, or to be able to take these tropes and say I’m gonna do this too. Like I’m gonna add my version of this to the world, and I want to do it the best way I can. And you have to not have a lot of anxiety about whether other people have done that before, and so I think there’s a reason why they go hand in hand, and it’s just like, I don’t know, did any of you guys see Hadestown?

Sam: I’ve listened to it, I haven’t gotten to see it yet.

Brent: I haven’t seen it yet, yeah.


Elizabeth: Now no one can see any musicals! I was lucky enough to see it before Broadway was cancelled and I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say you know it’s several myths at once but Orpheus and Eurydice and there’s a really powerful bit at the end where it kind of just starts over, like you’ve listened to the soundtrack and they’re like why do we keep doing this, we know how the story is going to end and it’s like well we kind of, because we have to, right, that’s the way humans work, that’s the way storytelling works.

And then, so it’s just this kind of – it was this incredibly powerful moment to see because it was like, that was devastating and I would watch this all over again and cry all over again, and that’s how I feel when I read – and I sign up for a fic and I know it’s like, and someone’s recced it to me and said like this will make you bawl and I’m like yeah, I wanna engage in that cycle again. I think these things are all connected and, and if that gives people anxiety, it’s because I think they don’t feel super, as comfortable as, as fans do, and just leaning into this and knowing there are great versions of these things.

Sam: I think there’s something to be said too, like you guys have all being saying that really fandom started with mostly marginalised groups, women, non-binary people, queer people, started fandom to see themselves within things that they didn’t see themselves in in canon. So there’s this comfort level with tropes, I think tropes are comforting, I do read romance as well because it’s like you know what’s going to happen, it’s not scary. I think there’s something with that where like we want to see ourselves in this too and we’re seeing this in mainstream and in publishing right now too where it’s like, people are like this has been done and it’s like yeah but that hasn’t been done with a Black main character, that hasn’t been done by a Black author, so let them do it, you know, let them have that comfort media that you had forever. I think that’s an interesting exploration where you know people forget I think that fandom didn’t – I think people had this idea also like we’ve talked about with the mainstream, people think of fandom and they think of Star Wars and Marvel and the white straight fanboys and it’s like, no no, fandom was marginalised, and you guys were forgetting the history there.

Brent: Right, no absolutely yeah, I think – and part of it too is I hate the idea that, when people do deride fandom, like for instance with fanfic, I don’t care if it’s bad written – if it’s badly written or great, let people have that joy of just telling a story and getting it out of their soul or whatever. Or even, you know, it’s so sad when I hear people say oh, I don’t want to do this because I’m not good at it. If it brings you joy, who gives a shit if you’re good at it, do it! You don’t necessarily have to show everybody, but just... yeah, I just see it all the time, I see it not just in fic but I see it in, when people who don’t wanna sing, or don’t wanna dance, or don’t wanna do these things, I’m like, these are things fundamental to the human experience, just tell it, like do it and just have joy in it and I really – it always bothers me when I see that derision of fandom because of quality concerns or whatever. And honestly that’s bullshit too because there’s tons of quality in fandom, there’s tons of amazing works, there’s stuff I would read over and over again that’s for free and I wish I could pay the person. So, you know, it’s just I could go on for days about this but yeah, I always hate – I just hate this fundamental – it’s, so many people that just want to steal joy, and it just bothers me, just like let people have it.

Sam: We are nearing the end so I just want to let the chat know if you want to ask some questions please put those in there and while we are collecting questions I just have one more question from me for the panelists. What is something that you’d like to see more of in fandom moving forward? What is your hope for fandom future, whether it’s more tropes that you’d like to see explored or whatever, what is your dream for the future of the next 5-10 years of fandom?



Sam: [inaudible] for the stars!

Elizabeth: Oh, man.

Iona: I think I would like to see fandom continue to be – fandom I think is great often at unusual literary forms that are quite tropey in their way, so, epistolary fiction, I’m a big fan, like I know that Frankenstein is epistolary but – she was a marginalised writer too. But things like that, the five things that didn’t happen thing and I think you see lots of fanfic that’s like, you know, group chats, and – here’s a fic that is all somebody’s Twitter feed or, I would like to just, to see fandom continue embracing tropes that concern how the story is told as well as what’s in it. Because I think that’s something you can do in fandom in a way that you can’t really do with pro fiction in – in the same way, because you gotta get somebody on board with it, even if it’s really unconventional. Whereas if you’re in fandom, you can – like a friend of mine wrote a story recently that was all the marginalia in a, in like a public health report, like the actual text was very dull, the story was in the comments, and I thought, this is so cool, you know, you couldn’t do it outside of this context. So I want to see fandom just keep embracing that – that amazing potential that it has.

Elizabeth: That’s a real positive one, everything I’m think about is super negative, it’s terrible.

Brent: I have a quick positive one so I’ll let you think a little bit.


Elizabeth: Good, all right.

Brent: So I just hope they don’t – I hope fandom doesn’t lose its way, as it becomes more mainstream, I want it – I hope it holds onto and remembers its community, its spirit, and, like it’s a space for people that are pushed out of society and I just hope it doesn’t go the way of pride in a lot of ways it becomes this corporatized event. So that’s my hope for them.

Elizabeth: Yeah, all right, well I mean that’s got, got some – yeah it’s positive, you put it in, yeah.


Brent: Yeah, you know I tried to spin it!

Elizabeth: Yeah, that’s like a positive spin of some of what I’m thinking about, watching fandom, be more and more exposed to the mainstream, for the last decade, it does feel like things have, it squeezes out everyone at the margins right and it narrows the idea of what a fan can be, if that’s dictated from above, and from within, because people are eager to have that sort of sheen of mainstream approval and I don’t like that. So I would like, I hope that it doesn’t continue to go in that direction and I also, it’s really really hard to balance, but I don’t love the monetisation of all fan things except for – I mean and I’m very hypocritical because I am paid to write about fandom, you know, so I don’t know what to say here, maybe I shouldn’t go down this road, but fanfiction is the only thing left that kind of remains in that space. And I hate that people have to treat the things that they love and want to do for the joy of the thing as like their side hustle or like this needs to be good enough so I can sell it. I don’t want to begrudge anyone the right to monetise their work especially at a time like now where people are really short on cash. But I hope that we continue to preserve multiple paths so that people can just treat it as an amateur pursuit, I say as a fan professional, so that’s fine, my hypocritical answer.

Sam: For me I really am excited to see what the different platforms will bring to fandom, because although we’ve had some things with platforms changing where we’re like, ugh, about it, and where it’s more in the public eye, what I really have liked about TikTok specifically, hopefully we don’t have it banned, is that there’s this really cool combination of almost cosplay and fanfic that happens there in like a one-shot format, with sound, which is like a whole thing that they amalgamate into one thing, which I think is really cool, and you really can’t do that on another platform. Again you could make, I guess YouTube videos but not really because this allows other fans to interact with people’s videos and create their own stories so one video can spawn 14 different stories because of the people duetting it. And I think that’s really cool for people to do either cosplay of cosplay of canon stuff or original kind of works and stuff and characters as well. So that’s what I’m excited for although there some stuff about, ugh, Twitter especially about a platform, I’m excited to see what they do with the other platforms as we get more.

So we did have a question from Samantha Potts asking when should a trope be criticised and how should we speak about those criticisms? And I think this is an interesting question because I think that there’s going to be different answers based on if you’re coming to it from a fandom side of things, versus a canon mainstream side of things.

Iona: I think one –

Elizabeth: Well I –

Iona: Sorry Elizabeth.

Elizabeth: Oh no I just wanted to clarify the question, is this about the actual trope itself, or… (laughs)

Sam: I guess, I’m not sure what they -


Elizabeth: - open to interpretation. OK, you tell me how to -

Iona: Well, I don’t know, all I was going to say was that if the question is just when should a trope be criticised, tropes are not neutral, obviously, so there are some tropes which for all we’ve talked about, you know, storytelling and the purposes of narrative, there are definitely some tropes that we should retire forever and never speak of again, like exoticising tropes, like tropes that rest in racist assumptions of what people are like, that kind of thing, that’s a very good reason for a trope to be criticized and forcefully retired. Other than that, I’m not really sure how to answer your question.

Brent: I think you gotta be able to distinguish between, like, this trope, do I not like this trope because it’s based in something that’s just fundamentally wrong, or do I just not like this trope because it doesn’t work for me?

Iona: Exactly, exactly.

Brent: Because, just because it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean that the trope’s bad, and I think part of that too is just being honest about your taste and what you want from a story, right, cause I think sometimes, especially on Twitter since that girl brought it up is that that space can get a little self-righteous and it’s like, what I like is right, and everything else is wrong, and it’s like you know you gotta, you gotta be able to distinguish. And, and also too, and also understand too is it the trope that’s bothering you, or is it the craft, behind the trope that’s bothering you? Because it may not be the trope it may just be it was the badly told story, so I think it’s about examining yourself first and figuring out, exactly why this is bothering you.

Elizabeth: Yeah I mean to that end I would say that, part of the problem with fanfiction is that the norms have shifted so much that there isn’t actually a lot of space for critique of individual stories, and so then you wind up having to critique a whole entire trope. Whereas there can be a lot of variation about how it’s executed and obviously a racist exoticising trope is always going to be racist no matter how it’s executed, right, and that’s always always ripe for critique. But when I think about it as a literary critic, which is like the other journalistic hat that I have, like if a book engages with a trope, that’s always open for criticism, right, like it’s just – like the critique should never be it’s tropey, right like you know that’s not –

Iona: Not a criticism.

Elizabeth: - Not useful in any way. But if you feel like, if you say like, I don’t know, if there are so many, like, there’s so many tropes within older genres that are like really misogynistic, right, and you can say, it can feel like a familiar arc you can understand, or you can say, like, oh it’s time, it’s 2020, let’s talk – I mean, you know, like I’m going to critique this, right. But I think that would come hand in hand with just critiquing the work in general, the form that it’s choosing, or the arcs that it’s choosing to follow, you know, so I’d say it’s always up for, but yeah, sorry, might trail off awkwardly at the end here!

Elizabeth: Do you think Sam?

Brent: Did Sam freeze on us?


Brent: Oh, well, um, yeah.

Elizabeth: You guys got any questions for each other?

Brent: Well I guess I, um, so are you guys like looking – where do y’all mostly look at fandom stuff is it like on Instagram, Twitter?


Brent: Oh there she is, there you go!


Elizabeth: I was so ready to answer the question!

Sam: My, um, my –

Elizabeth: Uh oh

Iona: Oh dear

Brent: Maybe we should just circle back to the question.

Elizabeth: Do it, yeah!


Brent: So I see a lot of stuff on IG I like now so I don’t know if you guys are like on IG looking at stuff?

Elizabeth: I’m still, I still use Tumblr in the Year of our Lord 2020. Yeah.

Sam: Tumblr’s a different space than it used to be I feel like a lot of stuff went to Twitter and now Tumblr’s like, it’s so…

Elizabeth: Yeah it’s evolved into something interesting in the last year I would say. It’s way, way more active than it was a year ago, which is interesting to see. But there’s way less discourse than there was because everyone went to Twitter to do the discoursing.

Sam: Right, and now Twitter is like not a great place for discoursing.

Elizabeth: No.

Sam: So, there was another really good question I think this will have to be our last one. Oh now it just jumped so now I couldn’t... there we go. From Mariana, how do you guys feel about fandoms having an impact on how canon stories progress?

Brent: That’s a good question, I was talking about this on a fan fiction panel I had yesterday actually. I in particular I think authors or whoever, creators, should try to create an organic healthy relationship with their fandoms. It really gets under my skin when I see a creator who almost has an antagonistic relationship with their fans, and it’s like oh you like this character, I’m gonna put them through horrible awful things that you all hate. Or like oh you like this ship, I’m gonna break it up, and it’s like – and it’s obvious that it’s not done to service the story, it’s just to throw a middle finger to your fans, and that’s just so – I hate it, and it – I think you know there’s gotta be a balance between am I telling the best story I can and also like making sure that my fans will appreciate this and we have this symbiotic healthy relationship. And I feel like, you definitely don’t want to go too far the other way because you’ll never make anybody happy, you still have to be true to yourself as a creator, but I do think that, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to think about your fandom, I don’t think it’s an unhealthy thing to think about, will this affect my fans or like, yeah, I think creating a healthy relationship’s the way to go.

Iona: I think that you have to respect your fans as, engaged participants with your work, which isn’t necessarily the same as giving them what they want. I think starting from a position of, you’re never going to give everybody what they want, for one thing, but I think sometimes storytelling is giving people what they didn’t know they wanted, so you know there’s that as well.

Elizabeth: Yeah absolutely, I think, what you’re both saying, I, having observed the course of fan creator interaction over the last decade , I think we’re in a worse place than we’ve ever been, it’s my very pessimistic way – thing to say at the end here. I’m thinking specifically of that quote from the writer’s room of The Dragon Prince, I don’t know if you guys saw this, where they said that they were so worried about fan reactions to interactions between characters that they always were thinking of fans as they were writing and they made sure to not throw in too much shipping oil which, which I guess was, subtext between characters that they didn’t think that people should be shipping. And that’s really, that’s really depressing. That’s where we’re at right now, is that people are constantly thinking of, like a mob of angry fans as they write out these shows. That’s not good writing to me but I also have a lot of sympathy for the position that they feel like they are in now and potentially this position they are in, you know. So I think it’s really, I absolutely agree with both of you that I think that, as a critic, and as a writer, I think that people should write the best story, and it’s not necessarily servicing anyone but the story, but I also don’t know how to stop the kind of toxic dynamics that are going on right now and the fear that writer’s rooms or studios in particular are responding to if you look at something, not to, like, go into specifics, but if you look at the last Star Wars movie, it was so clearly created from a place of fear about backlash, and I think that dramatically affected the story they told. And that sucks, that’s just going to make a worse story for everyone, including the people making it, so, sorry, it’s depressing.

Sam: Yeah I mean I agree where I feel like we’re at this point that we haven’t really been before where both sides of the coin have access to each other, like an overabundance of access, so then they’re overly aware of each other, and overly involved in each other, there’s a lot of good things where we have more access to authors and screenwriters and things like that, but also there’s this level of like I almost wish that we didn’t have access to them anymore, because I don’t want us to be so involved because you do have that.

I mean I’m thinking like Game of Thrones finale, where it was like well we did this to shock you because we knew what the fans were saying and it’s like well that’s – then you’re not actually even writing a good story if you’re letting us affect you that much, you’re not even thinking about what’s actually gonna, like you said, serve the story more. So I hope that we get to a place of balance in the future, that’s what I hope for in general, but at this point we’re out of, yeah, we’re too enmeshed right now with each other.

So, well, we are at a little over an hour, I could talk to you guys for like a whole other hours about fandom!

[Laughter, inaudible]

Sam: What a wonderful joy to talk to all of you for the last hour. For everyone that’s watching this will be staying up on my channel so you’ll get to watch it later if you didn’t catch us live, and all of these wonderful creators’ information will be down below in the description box so you can access them and hear their wonderful thoughts all the time.

So thanks everyone for joining us and have a good rest of your weekend!

Special thanks to C for proofreading this transcript! This panel was transcribed by Adri and final responsibility for the text lies with her - for any corrections or comments, please get in touch via Twitter.