Podcasting, Fandom, and Beyond with “Fansplaining”

Flourish Klink and Elizabeth Minkel are the hosts of the well-known podcast called “Fansplaining,” a show dedicated to discussing the general and various aspects of fandom and fandom culture. On November 15th the duo paid Wheaton a visit and had a long discussion on everything about fan culture, to the aspects and process of building a podcast. Klink is the Chief Research Officer & partner at Chaotic Good Studios and specializes in help companies and film studios strategize and learn about fan culture and how decisions in films may affect the fans. Minkel is a fan culture journalist and has written for many publications such as “The Guardian,” “The New Yorker,” “New Statesman,” and many more.

Elizabeth Minkle and Flourish Kink. Photo by Caroline Chaffiote.

Many individuals have their own personal reasons for writing fanfiction, whether it be because they were disappointed with the ending of the actual story, or they simply love the story so much that they wish to insert themselves into the fantasy itself. Perhaps they simply wish to practice their writing skills and use their most beloved work of fiction as a base to help them improve. Kilink elaborated on this by stating: “If you were a fan of something and you really would like to spend as much time in that space for whatever reason you want, why not? You know?”

The two often reiterated how had it not been for the advent of podcasting they would certainly not be doing the show. While the podcast is about fandom, the show is usually about critically analyzing the more broader and more general aspects of fandom and only focuses on specific ones if it is relevant to the discussion.   

Klink and Minkel met in 2015 at the San Diego Comic-Con on a panel titled “Fandom is My Fandom”. During the panel, Klink realized the two had very similar ideas and thoughts about the world of fandom and approached Minkel at a bar afterward and proposed the concept of starting a podcast together. Fansplaining tends to avoid having guests on the show who are not already huge fans of a particular work of fiction as they would most likely have to ‘fansplain’ to them throughout the entirety of the interview. A majority of their guests are also individuals who straddle the line between being a fan and working in the industry in some way.

Even in regular works of fiction, music creating, or any other creative endeavors, creators in some ways are fans or admirers of someone else and in some ways borrow or try to imitate them and eventually create their own style. So fandom is in more creative works than one may realize. Even the popular book series “Fifty Shades of Grey” started off as a twilight fanfiction posted on originally titled “Master of the Universe.” This is a strong example of how fanfiction can turn someone’s love and passion of a book and film series, into a million dollar book and film series of its own.

Many creators especially within in the realm of podcasting, tend to use the website Patreon as a way to support themselves and have fans financially contribute to their work. Patreon is a website that allows fans or ‘patrons’ to support and subscribe to their artist. An added feature of Patreon allows creators to provide fans with content they can exclusively get if they are a patron as an incentive to pay them. Patreon allows artists significantly more freedom by being able to propel themselves forward significantly easier by having fans and supporters easily pay them, while also allowing die-hard fans to support their most beloved creator. In addition, many podcasts also use commercial advertising on their shows as a way to financially support them.  

Fansplaining also makes use of Patreon simply as a way to make some money off of the show and allow fans access to special episodes. An interesting and unique offer Klink and Minkel offer is if you pay the show $400, Klink will hand knit you a sweater with your initials on it. Within films, books, television, or video games, these works of fiction cannot exist without the support of fans and is often an aspect that tends to get forgotten. With Fansplaining, it reminds you of the significance and importance of the community of fandoms that develop around them.