Can 650 episodes of a tv show fix society’s deepest, ugliest ills? Maybe not, but it turns out that it’s a pretty good place to start a conversation. We’re all fans of something—movies, tv shows, video games, comic books, sports teams, you name it!—and that can help us connect with new people with shared interests and frames of reference. In this episode, we’re talking about how and why fan communities form, and what happens when the barrier to entry turns toxic and targeted. “Fandoms” aren’t new—they stretch back at least a century in their modern form—but the internet provided a new kind of platform for geeking out, and unfortunately, for airing underlying and overt biases. Misogyny, racism, agism, ableism—all of the problems we struggle with as a society at large happen in fan spaces, but fandoms also create opportunities to connect across divisions. We’ll talk to Blerdcon co-founder Hilton George about creating a dedicated space for the Black nerd experience, and journalist and This American Life producer Bim Adewunmi about the obstacles for engaging with each other through our favorite media—and how we can do better. It’s gatekeeping and pulling down barriers—today on AirSpace.
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