9 episodes

Amanda Jean and Austin Chant dive deep into what makes fiction work. Join them as they answer burning questions like: How do you sneak complex gender theory into the structure of a novel? What makes a truly great magic system? How do you humanize a fictional serial killer… and should you?

The Red Pen Amanda Jean, Austin Chant

    • Society & Culture

Amanda Jean and Austin Chant dive deep into what makes fiction work. Join them as they answer burning questions like: How do you sneak complex gender theory into the structure of a novel? What makes a truly great magic system? How do you humanize a fictional serial killer… and should you?

    Episode 9: Kinkpunk

    Episode 9: Kinkpunk

    Content warnings: This episode discusses media which portrays trans characters experiencing suicidal ideation, murder, violence, deadnaming, transphobia, drug abuse, self-destructive behavior, and abuse. We also reference real-life attempted suicide (including a method).

    Follow Austin down the rabbit hole of exploring trans narratives, both subtextual and textual, in The Matrix and Imogen Binnie's Nevada. What do these very dissimilar pieces of media have in common? A lot, as it turns out, including the mythologizing of the self, the cyclical nature of coming out, and cool leather jackets. Austin feels a lot of things about navel-gazing trans characters, and Amanda defends Keanu Reeves at all costs.

    • 59 min
    Episode 8: Video Games Are Bad, Actually

    Episode 8: Video Games Are Bad, Actually

    Content warnings: Anti-black racism, antisemitism, mentions of the Holocaust, mentions of slavery, domestic violence, references to sexual assault, murder, death, violence, mentions of stereotyped drug abuse, mentions of android body horror, fatphobia, transphobia, and generally just a lot of co-opting of real-life struggles in an allegory about androids gaining freedom and rights.

    Amanda had the bright idea of exploring problematic media and talking about the ways in which you can like problematic things, but she might have erred upon choosing—and digging deep into researching—the video game *Detroit: Become Human* as her example. Amanda acknowledges the cool parts of the game (and its fandom) but struggles to get past its egregious racism, antisemitism, bad allegory, and troublesome depictions of trauma. A broader conversations is had throughout the episode, with questions like: How *do* you engage with problematic media? Where have Austin and Amanda personally drawn the line and disengaged, and why? And can kinky android fanfic redeem a game?

    • 1 hr 25 min
    Episode 7: Universally Panned

    Episode 7: Universally Panned

    **Content warnings**: discussion of children stabbing things, shitty dudes, homophobia, anti-Native racism, and gender essentialism

    Summary: In this pantastic episode, Austin and Amanda disagree on the particulars of their drunken book buying and wander through the hundred-year legacy of Peter Pan's cultural mythos: everything from the gender politics of Peter and Wendy to the queer appeal of Neverland. Austin talks s**t about edgy takes on Peter Pan. Amanda makes sure that no one forgets about Hook.

    • 59 min
    Episode 6: My Son Is Not a Jerk Jock

    Episode 6: My Son Is Not a Jerk Jock

    Amanda Jean(-Luc Picard) talks about the myth of Kirk vs Picard and *Star Trek*'s very impactful, if flawed, ethos. (Seriously, she will fight you about James T. Kirk.) She gets real tl;dr about how both captains were shaped by the eras they were written in, how Gene Roddenberry was more complex than his legacy suggests, and how positing Kirk as the jock to Picard's nerd is reductive and sloppy. Also, tune in to find out the answers to burning questions like: When did queer folks actually appear in Trek canon? Why is internal conflict equally as important as external? And why did Trek writer Ronald D. Moore go on to pen the *Battlestar Galatica* reboot and the worst man ever, Gaius Baltar?

    **Content warnings:** Mentions of racism, colonialism, and misogyny.

    • 1 hr
    Episode 5: Who Was the Man Who Betrayed Harry Styles

    Episode 5: Who Was the Man Who Betrayed Harry Styles

    Austin journeys through the annals of revisionist history with Monique Truong's The Book of Salt and Ron Hansen's The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Amanda has a meltdown over a man named Bobert. This episode tackles big sexy metaphors, the future of real person fan fiction, and the great power (and great responsibility) of using fiction to counter dominant historical narratives.

    Content warnings: discussion of racism and xenophobia, serial killers, and awful dudes from history.

    • 1 hr
    Episode 4: A Layer Cake of Metaphor

    Episode 4: A Layer Cake of Metaphor

    Amanda takes Austin and listeners to wurch (witch church) with a breakdown of the subverted fairytale elements and treatment of puberty as witchcraft within Margaret Mahy's *The Changeover: a Supernatural Romance.* She delves into why fourteen-year-old protagonist Laura Chant is a boss and why the love interest, Sorry Carslile, is her trauma son. The episode considers questions like: What is up with the monsterification of teen girls? Why doesn't getting your period come with sweet magical perks? And why do so many movie adaptations fail to understand what makes the source material great?

    Content Warnings: Mentions of parental neglect and abuse, coping mechanisms brought on by trauma, child sickness, menstruation, and teen girls being sexualized and vilified.

    Also, this episode does contain minor spoilers for The Changeover book, and more significant spoilers for its movie adaption.

    Works cited:

    The Changeover: a Supernatural Romance by Margaret Mahy
    The Changeover (Film)
    "Fairy Tale and Myth in Mahy's The Changeover and The Tricksters" by Elliott Gose
    "The Changeover, A Fantasy of Opposites" by Josephine Raburn
    "The horror of female adolescence – and how to write about it" by Lorraine Berry
    "The Real Reason Women Love Witches" by Anne Theriault
    The Exorcist (film)
    Carrie (film)
    The Craft (film)
    The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (TV show)

    • 1 hr 2 min

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