Via everything from The X Files to Welsh rugby, ‘Fanomenal’ sees CinePunked’s Robert JE Simpson and special guest Dr Bethan Jones discuss the wide world of fandom including academic fandom studies, anti-fandom, gatekeeping and more.
Sleeve notes are below.
With Robert JE Simpson and Dr Bethan Jones.
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Episode URL: https://player.whooshkaa.com/episode?id=970509
We’ve been very focussed on film-specific conversations here on the podcast lately, in part because the absence of live events has meant we haven’t had the same opportunity to explore thematic conversations. So today’s conversation with Dr Bethan Jones feels much more like the sort of conversation we’d normally do in a live situation – its wide-ranging, at times challenging, and non film-specific.
I’ve known Bethan and been following her various interests for a number of years, both in terms of her academic journey, and in terms of the various fandoms explored. The very idea that fandom itself is a space to be studied and discussed alongside the actual created content of film, music, literature, art, is fascinating I think, and makes for a useful anchor point for the conversation.
The episode opens with a bit of chat about Bethan’s own academic background, her PhD pursuits (which were by publication, an avenue that isn’t utilised much here in the UK), and her specific focuses.
From there we open out into early navigation of the fan space, which is a shared conversation about being a fan in the 1990s – and our respective engagement with The X Files in the pre-internet era. Its a useful grounding from which everything else stems off.
The chat takes in issues around what being a fan and being a part of fandom entails, elements of gatekeeping and toxic fandom. There’s also a fascinating discussion of what anti-fandom is, and how the fan community is complicit in its existence. We chat fandoms including Ghostbusters, Doctor Who, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and the Rugby (it isn’t all film, folks!).
We’ve included a content warning because there is some discussion about negotiating fandoms when the creators are outed or viewed as problematic. This is explicitly referenced with regards Bethan’s research on fans of band The Lost Prophets, but also feeds into brief discussions of Roman Polanski’s cinema, and the Harry Potter franchise, where other phobias and hate speech are called into play.
In our pre-recording conversations we’d agreed not to go too far down that particular line, but at the same time, it felt like a hugely important part of the wider conversation, and one which would merit a return conversation.
I’ve left the conversation as recorded (with a tiny edit for a coughing fit on my part, and also the addition of a content warning at the top of the show), and we’ve given it a little time to breathe. As should become quickly apparent, these are areas we could talk about all day, but we’ve tried to keep this in a manageable chunk for you at home.
Finally in what must be a CinePunked first, this has been a quick-fire turnaround for the episode. We finished recording and had the pod uploaded within two hours – talk about fresh content!
Dr Bethan Jones can be contacted via Twitter @memories_child
Her website is https://bethanvjones.wordpress.com/
The CinePunked theme music is ‘Riding the Synth‘ – © 2020, Ben Blademan Simpson. Used with permission.
Episode recorded via Zoom in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, and South Wales on 15 March 2022.
Engineered and edited by Robert JE Simpson. Audio podcast first published on 15 March 2022.