14 episodes

A PhD fan podcast which aims an intersectional lens at some of our favourite media and their fandoms.

Marginally Fannish Parinita Shetty

    • Society & Culture

A PhD fan podcast which aims an intersectional lens at some of our favourite media and their fandoms.

    Episode 13 You Want To See Yourself In That Story: The Impact Of Religion And Regional Origin

    Episode 13 You Want To See Yourself In That Story: The Impact Of Religion And Regional Origin

    In this episode, Parinita talks to Sanjana and Aparna about how religion as well as national and regional origin intersect in both the real and fictional worlds. We also discuss how governments and mainstream media weaponise these topics to oppress people. Since these issues are very relevant to current global events, please be warned that I go on several angry rants throughout this episode. Thanks to our impassioned discussion, in the beginning of the episode we begin talking about Demons of the Punjab without mentioning that it’s a Doctor Who episode about the Partition of India and not about actual demons – though I’m sure you can find people who’ve called the British Empire much worse.

    Who writes history and whose version of history is portrayed by mainstream media has contemporary real-world impacts. Media can provide multiple stories and versions to counter false narratives. Alternatively, it can emphasise divisive accounts with damaging consequences for relationships among diverse groups. Fictional-world politics also have real-world parallels based on religious and national demographics. An increasing number of people are beginning to question the underlying assumptions of religious and national stories. Retellings can reclaim tradition to make it radically inclusive to historically marginalised groups of people.

    Extremely appropriate cover image courtesy Aparna who doodled it while we were recording.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Episode 12 The International Imagination: Exploring World Politics in the Fantastic Beasts Films

    Episode 12 The International Imagination: Exploring World Politics in the Fantastic Beasts Films

    In this episode, Parinita talks to Lorrie Kim about how people of colour are represented in the Potterverse and how much Lorrie loves and identifies with Nagini. We also discuss the real-world parallels in Crimes of Grindelwald. This includes mentions of rape, exploitation and human trafficking so please consider this a content warning. Lorrie proposes that the Harry Potter books – written for children - and the Fantastic Beasts movies – written for adults - deal with similar themes in very different ways. The allegory of fascism is ever-present but is less escapist. The international politics in Crimes of Grindelwald draw from historical as well as contemporary colonial, racial and sexual violence in the real world.

    A book authored by a single creator reflects their cultural, social, and political limitations. However, in movies, the actors and crew become co-creators of the story, which can sometimes make up for the author’s blind-spots. Deleted scenes in movies marginalise female characters of colour whose stories are seen as expendable. Fans’ discomfort against how these characters are portrayed can end up erasing them from the story entirely. Many fans dislike the Fantastic Beasts movies and Nagini’s story arc for lots of different reasons. While fan interpretations often differ, mainstream fandom discourse isn’t always nuanced and inclusive of multiple perspectives. Fandom has tremendous potential to promote critical thinking, but fan opinions can also influence people in limiting ways.

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Episode 11 She Has To Fight Smart: Representations Of Women Warriors In Media And History

    Episode 11 She Has To Fight Smart: Representations Of Women Warriors In Media And History

    In this episode, Parinita talks to T. G. Shepherd also known as Lisa about the representation of women warriors in media and history.

    There are perceived gender roles and gender disparities in different styles of martial arts with some being considered too brutal for women. People’s gender also impacts their experiences in the environment they’re training to fight in. Comics have a long history of representing women warriors who have been aspirational role models for countless young people and adults. However, the overall representations of female fighters in media involve tired tropes rather than realistic, fully-fleshed out characters. This reflects the erasure of women warriors in real-world history which overlooks how women from different parts of the world overcame social, cultural and legal barriers to fight.

    Fortunately, there are a growing number of representations of women warriors with different skills, bodies and abilities working together. Magic or advanced technology in science fiction and fantasy worlds limits the role gender plays among good fighters. Mainstream comics are becoming increasingly diverse and often act as people’s first encounters with different lives. Fanfiction has tremendous transformative potential in questioning the norm and exploring alternate possibilities, though even there, gender dynamics play a role in the kind of stories which are taken seriously. The internet and more diverse academic researchers play a huge role in bringing traditionally marginalised stories about women leaders and fighters to light. However, there needs to be more intersectional representations of fighters in science fiction and fantasy to include different ages, races, abilities, religions, sexual and gender identities.

    Lisa owns this art of Mockingbird which has been illustrated by Valentine Barker: valentinebarker.com/

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Episode 10 Reclaiming Stories: Representations of Dyspraxia and Autism in Doctor Who/Fandom

    Episode 10 Reclaiming Stories: Representations of Dyspraxia and Autism in Doctor Who/Fandom

    In this episode, Parinita talks to Robert Shepherd about the representations of dyspraxia and autism in Doctor Who – both the TV series and its online fandom. We chat about some difficult issues related to disability, specifically family, trauma and abuse so please consider this as a content warning.

    Media representations of disabilities have a huge impact on people with those disabilities. The downside of seeing their disability represented onscreen is that it can reify fraught relationships and troubling experiences that they recognise from their own lives. Even well-intentioned representations can have really damaging consequences. Centering the needs and desires of the family rather than the needs and desires of the person with the disability can have harmful impacts – both in media and in real life.

    You can find examples of structural ableism not only in media but also in fandom. Fans with disabilities read themselves into characters who aren’t explicitly written as disabled to counter ableist representations. The kinds of stories which are told about autism – both in media and in society – can perpetuate distressing eugenics narratives. Fanfiction can be an important way for fans with disabilities to assert their agency by writing their own stories. Fanfiction can challenge fixed notions of disabilities and show a different way of being human.

    Find our conversation about all this and more in today’s episode.

    Episode cover image courtesy Robert Shepherd inspired by the hair dryer aliens in his Doctor Who fanfiction Never Change which we discuss in this episode

    archiveofourown.org/works/16454213/…apters/39165052

    • 1 hr 9 min
    Episode 9 Destabilise Heterosexuality As A Default: Queer Representation in Media and Fandom

    Episode 9 Destabilise Heterosexuality As A Default: Queer Representation in Media and Fandom

    Parinita chats with Diana Floegel about queer representation in media and how fandom engages with queerness.

    Media industries and their cultural products reflect the structural heteronormativity prevalent in the real world. Mainstream media has popularised a more palatable version of queerness. It expects assimilation into the heteronormative default rather than exploring alternative structures. It also largely overlooks intersectional identities. Queer media representations – when they do exist – perpetuate limited narratives of being queer. They also promote troubling tropes and stereotypes which further reflect the lack of structural diversity.

    Fandom can act as an alternative to mainstream media where people encounter queer ideas and content for the first time. Fan communities explore different sexual and gender identities. Fan campaigns demanding more queer representation in media can popularise fringe ideas and expand mainstream imaginations. Fan spaces feature both debates against as well as examples of the more problematic aspects of queer representation. Even fandom can reinforce dominant ideas when it features different levels of acceptance for different kinds of queerness. However, some fan communities have offered a supportive space for queer people and their experiences.

    Find our conversation about all this and more in today’s episode! 

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Episode 8 Whose Stories Are Being Told: Centering Racial Diversity in Mainstream Hollywood Movies

    Episode 8 Whose Stories Are Being Told: Centering Racial Diversity in Mainstream Hollywood Movies

    In this episode, Parinita chats with Hibiki Hashizume about the different representations of race in three mainstream Hollywood movies. As students from India and Japan in the United Kingdom, we discuss the cultural similarities and differences that we’ve noticed. We also talk about suddenly becoming a minority in a new country and how that impacts our ideas about racial diversity.

    Mainstream media can perpetuate internalised racism. Three recent movies – Green Book, Crazy Rich Asians, and Last Christmas – showcase the slow but steady strides Hollywood is taking by featuring different kinds of diversity and inclusion. Diverse representations in mainstream films is especially important since they attract and influence such huge audiences. A lack of diverse stories promotes the perception of monolithic experiences of marginalised groups which in turn creates stereotypes about these cultures. Just because you look the same doesn’t mean you share the same experiences.

    Stories written by cultural insiders can challenge these narrow perceptions. They overturn stereotypes, offer more authentic representations, explore nuances and complexities within the culture, and refuse to exoticise their own culture by normalising different contexts, foods, and languages. Diverse creators rewrite the script of whose stories are centered. Normalising the food, languages, and lives of non-dominant cultures can go a long way in fixing the imbalance and addressing the feelings of inferiority.

    Find our conversations about all this and more in today’s episode.

    • 1 hr 9 min

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