How Do You Like It So Far uses pop culture to take soundings of a society in transition, exploring intersections with civic imagination and engagement, and social and political change. Henry Jenkins and Colin Maclay are your guides on this adventure.
Our final episode of the season — episode 16!!!– started when a Sherlock fan who goes by the handle, We Love the Beekeeper, sent a letter to my USC colleague Alison Trope from the Critical Media Project, describing her outrage over the ways that the series production and promotion team had mistreated its fans, especially LGBTQ fans and others who were invested in the idea that Holmes and Watson might, at least, be depicted on screen in a romantic relationship. As I read the letter, I felt that much of what was being described could just as well be referring to a range of other recent clashes between show runners and fans around the representation of characters who may or may not (will they or won’t they be queer).
So, we invited three guests who we felt could shed light on the persistence of these patterns: Emily Andras, the very fan friendly producer of Wynonna Earp; Maureen Ryan, the television critic who was fearless in her support for fans throughout a similar controversy surrounding The 100; and Louisa Stein, a key figure in Fandom Studies and co-editor with Kristina Busse of Sherlock and Transmedia Fandom.
These three amazing women share their thoughts on the “Bury Your Gays” trope and why bad things happen to good fandoms in an age when show runners theoretically understand the value of audience engagement. The episode digs deep but we also try to explain key terms of the debate as we move forward, so it is not a bad jumping on point for those who would like to understand what fans expect from producers and vice-versa.
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We will be back in the fall with more cool episodes. In the meantime, let us know how you like it so far? I would love to base more episodes on getting answers to our listeners’ questions (assuming we have any) so let us know what you would like to know more about. You can write me at [email protected]
Alas, this will be the last episode to benefit from the incredible work of our student producer, Sean Myers, and boy, will we miss him.
This week, Colin and I turned the microphones over to two of my PhD students Andrea Alarcon and Rogelio Lopez, both members of our Civic Paths research group. The Civic Imagination Project was invited to run a workshop at the Define American Film Festival in Chicago. You can read Lopez’s report of that workshop here. And we asked them to see if they could collect some of the perspectives from key players in the movement for the rights of Undocumented people while they were at the event, leaving it up to them to decide who to interview and what questions to explore. We hit the jackpot! This week’s episode features two interviews — with spoken word poet Yosimar Reyes and organizer Erika Andiola. Both shared perspectives from the trenches about the struggles they face in Trump’s America, the anti-immigrant narratives they confront, the ways they use any media necessary to confront those stereotypes and myths, and their sense of what tactics work and what fail in their struggles for social justice.
Let me provide a bit more background on the key participants in this week’s episode:
Erika Andiola is the former Press Secretary for Latino Outreach for Bernie 2016 and a former Congressional Staffer for Arizona Congresswoman, Kyrsten Sinema. She co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition and started her community organizing experience when she co-founded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. She then served in the National Coordinating Committee and the Board of Directors for the United We Dream Network. You can get a sense of her public voice from this speech that she gave at the 2017 Women’s March on Washington about her mother and her family’s experiences of immigration and their fears for the future of the country.
Yosimar Reyes is a nationally-acclaimed poet, educator, performance artist, and speaker. Born in Guerreo, Mexico, and raised in Eastside San Jose, Reyes explores the themes of migration and sexuality in his work. The Advocate named Reyes one of “13 LGBT Latinos Changing the World” and Remezcla included Reyes on their list of “10 Up And Coming Latinx Poets You Need To Know.” His first collection of poetry, For Colored Boys Who Speak Softly… was self published after a collaboration with the legendary Carlos Santana. His work has also been published in various online journals and books including Mariposas: An Anthology of Queer Modern Latino Poetry (Floricanto Press), Queer in Aztlán: Chicano Male Recollections of Consciousness and Coming Out (Cognella Press), and the forthcoming Joto: An Anthology of Queer Xicano & Chicano Poetry (Kórima Press). Reyes was featured in the Documentary, “2nd Verse: The Rebirth of Poetry.” Reyes currently serves as Artist-in-Residence at the media and culture organization, Define American, the non-profit organization founded by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas that is dedicated to shifting the conversation surrounding immigration and identity in a changing America.
You can watch the videos below for some examples of his powerful spoken word performances, which explore his intersectional identity as a queer Latinix man.
Andrea Alarcon‘s interests lie in the intersection of ICTD and cultural internet studies, as well as transculturalism and multilingualism on the web. She is particularly interested in the appropriation of social media in developing countries, especially as gateways to the web, and the influence of socioeconomic background and entrenched inequalities on the online experience. She received her MSc degree from the Oxford Internet Institute, and her BSc in online journalism from the University of Florida. She also worked as a Research Assistant with Microsoft Research’s Social Media Collective. Before academia, she worked as a web producer and editor for the World Bank, and in social media for Discovery Channel in Latin America. She currently writes about digital culture for Colombian mainstream media. She is a research assistant on the Civic Imagination Project and a producer for How Do You Like It So Far?
Rogelio Lopez’s work focuses on the role of emerging media and tech in social movements, activism, civic engagement, and youth culture. He completed his M.S. in Comparative Media Studies & Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013. His M.S. thesis compared the media strategies of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the 1960s and Undocumented Immigrant Youth Movements in the 2000s. Prior to USC, Rogelio worked with MIT’s Center for Civic Media, Youth and Media at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and the Engagement Lab at Emerson College. Current projects include a mixed methods analysis of social media use in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and a computational analysis of Net Neutrality activism online. He serves as a research assistant for the Civic Imagination Project. Rogelio and I are currently co-authoring an essay about Emma Gonzalez’s jacket and the March for Our Lives.
This week, my USC colleagues Hye Jin Lee and Cristina Visperas dropped by the Julie Chin, Leslie Moonves, and CBS Studio to talk with us about the global circulation and transnational fandom around K-Pop, popular music from Korea which offers a unique fusion of hip hop influences from the United States, the Idol system from Japan, and its own spectacular performance style. Colin had overheard a hallway conversation and learned of our colleagues interests in this area, and we had to capture some of their fascinating insights for the podcast. Through K-Pop, we get some remarkable insights into gender, sexuality, race, and politics in Korea, but we also learn about differences in the media industries and fan cultures of Korea and the United States, differences which surface, in part, when fans between the two countries interact online.
Hye Jin Lee is a clinical professor of Communication at the University of Southern California, where she teaches classes on Visual Culture and Communication and Gender in Media Industries and Products, among other topics. Recently hired as an assistant professor in the USC Communications Program, Cristina Visperas is currently writing a book manuscript examining the wide-spread use of prisoners for human experimentation research in the decades following WWII.
One of our goals for How Do You Like It So Far? is to call attention to the global production and circulation of popular culture. Too often, American media acts as if U.S. popular culture was the only popular media in the world, where-as we are seeing more transnational circulation of popular culture now than ever before. Some of the spread of transnational popular culture is shaped by diaspora communities and others by what I call Pop Cosmopolitans, people seeking cultural difference as a means of escaping the parochialism of their own cultures. I am interested in the tension points that emerge at the intersection of the two forces — one seeking a return to a mother culture and the other seeking to escape their own for some place of imagined difference. K-pop offers us a great opportunity to explore what happens when these two forces intersect — part collision and part collaboration.