While I was putting together fan texts for a recent episode recording, I realised that I should probably clarify something in my blog and eventual thesis. There are many fan podcasts out there; I’m constantly discovering new ones, some of which I’ve added to my list for a potential Season 2 of the podcast. However, some fan podcasts are definitely more critical than others. For example, not all Harry Potter fan podcasts are engaging with or responding to J. K. Rowling’s transphobia (though all the ones I’m looking at are). Not all fan podcasts aim an intersectional lens at their favourite media and their fandoms – not even ones featuring fans from marginalised backgrounds in terms of the identities I’m exploring. Among the fan podcasts I’ve chosen, a few explicitly state their allegiance to intersectionality, but most don’t. I believe even the ones which don’t do increase awareness and understanding of intersectionality. But I can only claim this with regards to the fan podcasts I’ve quite deliberately shortlisted – all of which feature either a co-host or guest who are from a marginalised culture. Even with these fan podcasts, I shortlist episodes which delve into themes which are relevant to my research and personal interests – not all episodes do.
Even when it comes to my own fan podcast, it’s quite a deliberate choice to engage with specific intersectional themes – something which was clarified right from the outset in the participant recruitment information. I don’t think being from a marginalised background – in whatever context – necessarily means that you’re bringing that identity to the fore while engaging with your favourite fictional world. Many fans don’t. I certainly didn’t until relatively recently. So just talking about Harry Potter or Doctor Who doesn’t mean you’re going to start unpacking the representations of women, people with disabilities, people of colour etc. So in the case of Marginally Fannish, it’s been a self-selecting audience – those who are interested in intersectionality or already thinking about intersectional issues are more likely to appear on a podcast to think and talk about these ideas.
So with both the selection of fan texts – podcast episodes, essays, social media posts etc. – and the planning of the episodes, it’s been a purposeful construction of the fieldsite and bringing these ideas into the conversations. It’s not an ethnography in the traditional sense. I haven’t just popped into an environment to study what happens. I’ve created an environment to test out a theory – but the creation of that environment itself quite obviously influences the people – including myself. It’s not an organic process but quite a deliberate one. And that’s okay! I’m exploring and creating a microcosm of fandom – and even within that not everyone’s experiences will mirror my own. Just because it’s a conscious construct doesn’t mean the ideas and conversations full of multiple perspectives and diverse opinions become any less real or valuable.