My Immortal (episode transcript)
What's up, Pott-heads? Welcome to The Restricted Section. It's me, your girl, Christina. I'm fucking stoked to be here today presenting to you probably my favorite episode of this podcast of all time. I'm sorry that, until now, it's been on our Patreon bonus episode feed. I just had to share it with everyone because it is so fucking delightful (brag). Please get ready for . . . My Immortal! The legendary Harry Potter fanfiction by . . . someone. If you've never heard of this before, don't worry, because Haley does a great job of explaining it all. Just sit back, buckle up, and get ready for a fucking wild ride.
But before we do, huge shoutout to all of our Patreon supporters. They're the reason we're able to do—well, anything, first of all—but they're also the reason we do these really fun bonus episodes that cover a lot of the extra material in the Harry Potter universe. So huge shoutout to our Patreon supporters. Thank you so much for everything you do. Love you!
And last thing before we get started: just a content warning for pretty much everything (as user Alkeno says at that link: “everything, usually depression, suicide, self harm, drug use, depression, homophobia, transphobia, abuse of clothes from hot topic”). These subjects are discussed in a way that’s juvenile and it’s often quite funny, all framed in this very ridiculous context. You know us: we don't really get into it. But it's sort of hard to avoid all of the touchy subject matter. If you have any questions about the content before listening or reading, please feel free to reach out.
And now I present my favorite episode of anything ever: the Restricted Section’s take on what is widely regarded as the worst fanfic of all time, My Immortal.
Christina Kann 02:41
Welcome to a very special Restricted Section bonus episode--
Haley Simpkiss 02:54
AHEM! I'm Haley. And look at me. Look at me. Look at me. I am the host now. We're talking about My Immortal.
Christina Kann 03:06
God save us. There's some pretty ambient thunderstorms going on in the background, the doom and gloom. I think—oh my god, what is her name?
Haley Simpkiss 03:15
Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way? It's very goffick outside.
Christina Kann 03:22
Yes, it's gothic. I think Ebony would like it.
Brooke Matherly 03:25
It's Ebony, but it's not spelled correctly.
Christina Kann 03:28
Hey, wait, wait, stop. We have to introduce ourselves. That's Haley. She stole the show. Brooke, there you are. I'm glad you're here.
Brooke Matherly 03:38
Christina Kann 03:41
Is this a punishment? Is this a blessing? We are also delighted to be joined today by Zach, one of the cohosts of My Cabbages! Hello, Zach.
Zach of Cabbs 03:50
How's it going? Let's get drunk and talk about goth wizards.
Christina Kann 03:55
Before we get started, I do have a lined piece of paper laying on my desk in my official podcasting notebook, which is a thing that I have. And at the top, it just says "My Immortal Drinking Game," but the list is completely empty. So as things progress, we'll add to this drinking game.
Brooke Matherly 04:16
How bad do we want that drinking game to put people in terms of like, "Wow, this is fun and we're drunk!" to "You died two chapters in"?
Zach of Cabbs 04:26
The gradient we're going for is: by the end of this show, any passage read should cause everyone to continue drinking.
Haley Simpkiss 04:33
Don't worry too much about us, Brooke, because there's a lot to unpack here. Anytime you talk about My Immortal—widely regarded as the worst fanfiction ever written—there are three things you have to discuss. You obviously have to discuss the fic itself, which is a nightmare. But there's also a lot of lore, about 15 years' worth.
Zach of Cabbs 04:58
The anime is better.
Haley Simpkiss 05:02
Anything would be better than this, presumably. My Immortal came out in 2006-2007. There's a longstanding mystery bordering on full-blown conspiracy theory surrounding the authorship of this fanfiction. And then, of course, you have to discuss the ultimate question: Was this funny on purpose, or is it just bad? I'm just going to start with initial impressions. Do we think this is a troll? Yes or no?
Christina Kann 05:39
Zach of Cabbs 05:40
God, it's so hard. I feel like it's Tommy Wiseau’s career. It began in earnest, and once the person realized that writing bad was getting them attention, it became a troll as it went along. It's just so hard. I mean, I've never been a teen girl before, so maybe you all can shed some light on this.
Brooke Matherly 06:03
Harder than Draco's hypothetical cock.
Zach of Cabbs 06:08
His “boy thing.” Excuse you.
Brooke Matherly 06:10
Ugh. Haley, I have a question for you. You've read this multiple times, correct?
Haley Simpkiss 06:16
I will make a confession. I have trouble getting past Chapter 15 or 16 for reasons we'll discuss. At a certain point, it becomes physically difficult to read. I was made aware of My Immortal when it was still being updated back in the day, so I’ve been following this whole mystery surrounding it for this entire time. This fanfiction is my Lindbergh baby, and my soul will not rest until I know the truth.
Brooke Matherly 06:53
But in a perverted way, you would say you enjoy this? This fanfic?
Christina Kann 06:59
We do this all the time on Movie Night Crew. It's so bad that we had a good time. We were talking about Nicolas Cage before this started.
Brooke Matherly 07:05
No. No, no, no. The reason I'm asking Haley these questions is because you made me read this, and I don't want to ever fucking hear another word about Cats (2019) ever again in my goddamn life.
Haley Simpkiss 07:17
You consented, Brooke! You consented to do this bonus episode. I warned you.
Christina Kann 07:23
At some point, we have to stop talking about Cats (2019).
Haley Simpkiss 07:28
Again, I have never managed to read My Immortal all the way through. I just like that it exists. You guys didn't have to read it all the way through.
Christina Kann 07:37
I did read it all the way through.
Brooke Matherly 07:39
We will watch and listen to the first 10 songs of Cats (2019) on a semi-regular basis until you start enjoying it.
Haley Simpkiss 07:44
I'm just going to go ahead and read the first paragraph for you guys.
Christina Kann 07:48
Wait, I want to defend my impulsive “No.” This is not a troll. Two things. One: I've seen writing like this. I've seen actual people who wanted to become actual authors who write exactly like this, with this amount of care and attention.
Zach of Cabbs 08:02
Christina Kann 08:03
Absolutely. And two: I have been a teenage girl before, and while I don't fully understand the lengths to which these characters act, I could see something of myself in some of these choices. My 15-year-younger self.
Brooke Matherly 08:23
I don't think their writing style is too dissimilar for the age gap to the original 50 Shades of Grey when it was being posted online. Accounting for the supposed age of what I'm assuming is a late-middle-school girl versus a fully grown adult woman writing a Twilight fanfic, I think the writing style choices and gratuitous use of sex is completely the same between these two franchises.
Haley Simpkiss 08:54
Yep. So for the uninitiated, My Immortal is ostensibly a Harry Potter fanfiction.
Zach of Cabbs 09:03
There's a big quotation mark fingers around "Harry Potter fanfic."
Christina Kann 09:09
Wait, can I go ahead and make a rule? Let's drink every time we say “Harry Potter,” because I don't think it's gonna be a lot.
Haley Simpkiss 09:16
Well, his name is Vampire in this.
Christina Kann 09:18
Exactly. I think we should drink every time we say “Harry Potter.”
Zach of Cabbs 09:22
Thanks to Christina, I just had to take three drinks in a row.
Brooke Matherly 09:26
This felt like reading a teen version of Harriet Porber by Chuck Tingle for as much as it related to the actual Harry Potter series.
Christina Kann 09:33
Yeah, but that book was so well done.
Zach of Cabbs 09:35
There were so many times that I was reading a passage and felt like, if I was trying to write a purposefully bad thing for comedy, I would misspell this word this way, because I would find it funny. "Triumelephantly"? I mean, come on.
Christina Kann 09:50
Wait, Zack, that is so funny. I read literally all of this fanfic today, and every single error, I thought, "Someone could make this error," until I got to literally exactly the error you just read, and I was like "This is too good to be true."
Zach of Cabbs 10:05
“Triumelephantly.” There's no fucking possible way that it was was written in earnest
Christina Kann 10:09
Unless it was a very elaborate autocorrect failure, and the word "elephant" got in there somehow.
Zach of Cabbs 10:17
Are you saying Tara's spelling is just so awful that she's literally broken her spellchecker? Her spellchecker has been traumatized.
Brooke Matherly 10:25
I can also see it being somewhat intentional given the cutesy substitutions she makes in other aspects, where she'll say things like "fangs" instead of "thanks."
Haley Simpkiss 10:35
A lot of that is like leetspeak from back in the day.
Christina Kann 10:39
That kind of shit, like "fangs" instead of "thanks," is exactly something I would have done when I was younger. When I was in middle school, every time I wanted to say the word "and," I would drop two ampersands instead of saying "and." && it had to be two. That was my thing.
Brooke Matherly 10:51
I exclusively spelled "love" L-U-V for a very long time and contended it that was different from L-O-V-E, because L-O-V-E was romantic but L-U-V was for my friends and family.
Christina Kann 11:03
Zach of Cabbs 11:05
For a few years of my life, every time I said "anybody," I would say "anypony." I don't want to talk about it; let's just move on.
Haley Simpkiss 11:14
Zach of Cabbs 11:20
Let that float down the River Styx where it belongs.
Haley Simpkiss 11:24
Let's discuss the plot of My Immortal insofar as there is any kind of a plot in My Immortal. The main character is Ebony Dark'ness Dementia Raven Way.
Zach of Cabbs 11:36
She's Klingon. That's my headcanon. That's why there's an apostrophe.
Haley Simpkiss 11:40
Oh no, she's a vampire, a Slytherin, and a goth, and she goes to Hogwarts, kind of. But everyone at Hogwarts is also a goth and/or a vampire, but some of them are also posers. Voldemort tells her to kill Vampire Potter—Harry has changed his name.
Christina Kann 12:03
We have to drink. You said "Harry" and "Potter."
Zach of Cabbs 12:05
In the same sentence, that counts.
Haley Simpkiss 12:07
Harry Potter has changed his name to Vampire Potter, and his scar is now a pentagram.
Christina Kann 12:13
I think we should drink every time we say "pentagram."
Zach of Cabbs 12:15
You're trying to kill us this early?
Brooke Matherly 12:18
I mean, if we're really trying to die, just how about every time we say the word "black"?
Zach of Cabbs 12:24
Brooke Matherly 12:25
Oh, for sure at least a sip for every time someone's outfit is described.
Haley Simpkiss 12:32
Those are the most coherent parts!
Christina Kann 12:37
They were so lucid writing those outfit descriptions.
Brooke Matherly 12:39
It's a complete tonal change.
Haley Simpkiss 12:41
It’s true. The whole thing is completely impenetrable. There's time travel. Marty McFly turns up at one point. Nothing makes sense. All of the adults are pedophiles for some reason. But anytime she's describing her outfit, it is in lovingly crafted detail. If you have not read this somehow, I just want to give you guys a taste of what the style is. I'm just going to read the first paragraph.
Hi my name is Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way and I have long ebony black hair (that’s how I got my name) with purple streaks and red tips that reaches my mid-back and icy blue eyes like limpid tears and a lot of people tell me I look like Amy Lee (AN: if u don’t know who she is get da hell out of here!). I’m not related to Gerard Way but I wish I was because he’s a major fucking hottie. I’m a vampire but my teeth are straight and white. I have pale white skin. I’m also a witch, and I go to a magic school called Hogwarts in England where I’m in the seventh year (I’m seventeen). I’m a goth (in case you couldn’t tell) and I wear mostly black. I love Hot Topic and I buy all my clothes from there. For example today I was wearing a black corset with matching lace around it and a black leather miniskirt, pink fishnets and black combat boots. I was wearing black lipstick, white foundation, black eyeliner and red eye shadow. I was walking outside Hogwarts. It was snowing and raining so there was no sun, which I was very happy about. A lot of preps stared at me. I put up my middle finger at them.
Haley Simpkiss 14:29
The whole thing is like that.
Christina Kann 14:31
When you said it was raining and there was no sun, thunder clapped outside.
Zach of Cabbs 14:38
Oh my god. There's definitely thunder rolling in my part of town right now.
Haley Simpkiss 14:47
We are obviously going to discuss the fic itself. We're gonna get into it, but it's going to get very chaotic very fast.
Christina Kann 15:06
Haley, you're so hot when you present a subject you're obsessed with. You're at your best right now.
Haley Simpkiss 15:14
Allow me to info dump. *pulls out many index cards*
Zach of Cabbs 15:15
*gasp* Those are note cards.
Haley Simpkiss 15:17
Yes, they are.
Zach of Cabbs 15:18
Folks, Haley has prepared a presentation that we are all about to be graced with.
Christina Kann 15:25
She's fanning her index cards.
Zach of Cabbs 15:27
I feel like Spongebob in the episode where he's eating his own arms when Squidward's describing the Hash-Slinging Slasher.
Haley Simpkiss 15:38
Let's just start with the facts. My Immortal was uploaded to fanfiction.net in 2006-2007. It was published by an author called xxxbloodyrists666xxx, aka Tara Gillespie. It is 22,700 words, insofar as we can call any of these words.
Zach of Cabbs 16:05
What do you count as a word?
Haley Simpkiss 16:08
Philosophical question. There are 44 chapters, but Chapter 39 was apparently written by a hacker. The fanfiction was deleted in 2008, and the account was likely hacked not long after in 2009. An attempt was made to "recover" the account, which may also have been a hacker. There is a supposed sequel called My Immortal 2: Wake Me Up Inside, which is another Evanescence reference.
Christina Kann 16:38
They're all Evanescence references.
Haley Simpkiss 16:39
This has since been proven to have been written by a troll who was assuming the original author’s identity.
Zach of Cabbs 16:46
But honestly, if you don't know who Amy Lee is, like, get the fuck out of here.
Haley Simpkiss 16:50
Get da hell out of here.
Brooke Matherly 16:51
I once did a rendition of "My Immortal" at a Girl Scout talent show.
Zach of Cabbs 16:59
Oh my god.
Brooke Matherly 17:00
Here's the problem. We're not talking about a presentation for friends and family. We're talking about Alex, the other 12 people in our Girl Scout troop, and me just soulfully belting out a bad rendition of "My Immortal," after which my troop leader took me to the side and asked me if I was okay.
Haley Simpkiss 17:23
That song was a big one for me after the divorce, I gotta say.
Christina Kann 17:27
Okay, we all have trauma memories from Girl Scout camp.
Zach of Cabbs 17:32
Yeah, that one time I accidentally went to Girl Scout camp was really traumatic for me too. I was like, "I'm not supposed to be here!"
Christina Kann 17:38
I personally fell off the zipline at Girl Scout camp and realized I was fat, and I also got my first period at Girl Scout camp!
Brooke Matherly 17:48
This was a weekend sleepover in a clubhouse next to a pool.
Zach of Cabbs 17:53
My Immortal would totally make a great campfire sketch, though.
Christina Kann 17:59
Did any of y'all listen to Evanescence earnestly when they were cool?
Christina Kann 18:06
Yeah, my whole family was into Evanescence. My parents thought it was very dope.
Haley Simpkiss 18:10
It was very good for AMVs, I will say.
Zach of Cabbs 18:12
Peak aughts entertainment right there, Evanescence AMVs. Classic.
Christina Kann 18:17
What are you saying? AMVs?
Haley Simpkiss 18:18
Anime music videos. People would take animes and make music videos.
Zach of Cabbs 18:23
I used to do it on Windows Movie Maker. I remember those days.
Brooke Matherly 18:28
I thought I had a nerdy childhood, but every now and then I'm having a conversation with Haley, and I'm like, "Oh, no. There was a divide there."
Haley Simpkiss 18:43
Yeah there was! There was, Brooke!
Brooke Matherly 18:46
There's a degree of severity there.
Haley Simpkiss 18:49
You and me, we're not the same! We've matured, it's fine. Let's briefly discuss Tara Gillespie.
Zach of Cabbs 18:57
What we know so far.
Christina Kann 19:00
The accused author.
Zach of Cabbs 19:03
Order in the court!
Haley Simpkiss 19:05
First of all, this person had accounts and was active on them across multiple platforms at the time of writing. She had a Deviantart; I think she was on Gaia and shit. So this wasn't an isolated thing. If this was a troll, this was somebody who had really dedicated themselves to crafting this online identity.
Christina Kann 19:23
Honestly, drink every time we say "troll."
Zach of Cabbs 19:26
Are you adding all these things to the list as you're going?
Christina Kann 19:28
Yeah, right now we have to drink every time we say "Harry Potter," "pentagram," or "troll," or when there’s an outfit description.
Haley Simpkiss 19:38
She refers to Tom Riddle a couple times as Tom Bombadil.
Christina Kann 19:45
That was my favorite part, actually.
Zach of Cabbs 19:49
Is he hot?
Haley Simpkiss 19:53
Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Apparently when they go back in time he is. His name is Tom Satan Bombadil. But also, this doesn't seem like a kid who would be aware of Tom Bombadil's existence, what with him only being in the Lord of the Rings books. So the plot thickens.
Brooke Matherly 20:11
There was crossover nerd culture in that time period between Lord of the Rings and everything else that was going on.
Haley Simpkiss 20:25
But it was mostly the films, especially for the shallow teenage girl audience.
Brooke Matherly 20:30
Right, but for the angsty goth kids it was knowing the books over the films, so I do think that's where a specific reference that was not in the films would tie in with this, quite frankly.
Zach of Cabbs 20:44
How much of the misinterpretation of the characters are completely rewritten versus just the person being ignorant of it? A lot of the Slytherin changes were obvious, but Hagrid being a student was weird.
Haley Simpkiss 21:02
There are author's notes through the whole thing. This was a big thing on fanfictions at this time.
Christina Kann 21:12
Reading those was like watching Secret Window, where the writer finds out that it was himself all along or whatever. Spoiler alerts for Secret Window!
Haley Simpkiss 21:18
The author's notes are the fucking B plot, because that's what gave us the lore! That's where all of the clues we have come from!
Christina Kann 21:26
What's going on with Raven???
Haley Simpkiss 21:27
Yeah, what is going on with Raven???
Zach of Cabbs 21:30
It’s like the annotations in Lord of the Rings. People are like, "You didn't read the annotations? You didn't read the books!"
Haley Simpkiss 21:35
In the author's notes a couple times, she's like, "I didn't read da book! Stop telling me Hagrid's not a student!" She's just decided he is now.
Brooke Matherly 21:44
She makes a specific reference to finding the way that he interacts with them creepy, and she says she's making Hagrid a student to showcase how weird his interactions with these students are, which quite frankly, Tara, I stand behind.
Zach of Cabbs 22:00
All right, Tara. Tara, surprising little pocket of wokeness there.
Haley Simpkiss 22:06
And Dumbledore only called them "motherfukers" because he had a headache. I'm going to bring that up every time his character appears. She mentions being from somewhere called Dubya in the very last chapter. Theories as to what this might be include Dubai, Dublin, or just a state or town starting with the letter W.
Zach of Cabbs 22:31
She's from Western Texas or something.
Haley Simpkiss 22:34
I want to say Wisconsin; I feel in my soul that it's gotta be Wisconsin.
Brooke Matherly 22:39
Maybe it's just our general proximity, but I saw Dubya and thought Washington DC.
Haley Simpkiss 22:47
She claimed to have gone on vacation to Transylvania and seen the castle where Dracula was filmed. The castle where Dracula was filmed is in California, I believe. There's a castle in Transylvania that supposedly inspired Bram Stoker, but also, did she actually go to Transylvania? Who's to say?
Zach of Cabbs 23:05
Putting Transylvania in your author's note was the 2008 equivalent of photoshopping a vacation photo on Instagram.
Haley Simpkiss 23:13
One of the biggest mysteries is her co-author/beta reader, nicknamed Raven aka bloodytearz666. She is the character Willow in the series. She peaced out around Chapter 15 after Tara and Raven had a falling out over a sweater. The character of Willow was subsequently expelled and murdered, and her corpse was violated by "Loopin"—again, all of the characters are pedophiles, and apparently in this case, also necrophiliacs—and was later brought back with zero explanation. So I’m not sure what happened there. But that's around the point where the text becomes 100% unreadable, which is why I have trouble getting past Chapter 16. There's nothing even resembling a sense of coherency after there.
Haley Simpkiss 23:43
So that's what we know. I'm going to try real fast to get through the people who, over the years, have either been theorized to be Tara or have claimed to be Tara. The first are the Acid Bath Sisters. In 2009, a YouTube channel featuring two teenage mall goths called Tara and Raven blew up because it featured two cringey teenage girls singing along to MCR and talking about how much they hated preps.
Christina Kann 24:49
This is what I told you I was watching. I told Haley I was in too deep, and she literally was like, "Honestly bitch, you have no idea what ‘in too deep’ is."
Zach of Cabbs 24:57
There is an iceberg here. There's a My Immortal iceberg here.
Haley Simpkiss 25:03
Oh, we're diving deep, guys.
Zach of Cabbs 25:06
Here we go.
Christina Kann 25:07
These videos were, yes, very, very, can confirm, very cringey singalongs. A good time.
Haley Simpkiss 25:16
For years, people just assumed. "Well, it's gotta be them! It's Tara and Raven! They talk about preps all the time. They're goths! I still can't tell if it's a joke, but there's no way it's not them." But they never mentioned the fic. They never really talked about Harry Potter at all. That seemed kind of weird to people. Around 2014, Tara resurfaced on the internet. People recognize her, and subsequently she is interviewed and reveals that Raven in those videos was her sister. Their real names were Sarah and Rachel. They had been cringey mall goths in middle school. At the point where they were making the videos, they'd stopped being that way. So the videos were them making fun of their younger selves.
Brooke Matherly 26:09
Yeah, there are no middle-aged to elderly mall goths. That's a thing everybody grows out of. You're not allowed to grow old as a mall goth.
Christina Kann 26:20
I feel like you have to move from the mall to Costco or something, and it's not as good anymore.
Brooke Matherly 26:24
You have to find a place that still has a mall, and that mall has to have a Hot Topic. It's a high bar to clear.
Zach of Cabbs 26:31
Hi, folks, from the future. Malls don't really exist anymore. That's something that was never expected in 2005, huh?
Haley Simpkiss 26:40
It was 2009 when they were making these videos, so they would have still been in high school. In 2014, people recognized her and said, "Holy shit. It's that girl. Were you the My Immortal bitch?" And she was like, "No, we honestly didn't even know that My Immortal existed when we made those videos." So that was debunked.
Haley Simpkiss 26:59
This is the big one, the Rose Christo debacle. Rose Christo "confessed" to authorship quietly on Tumblr in early 2017, but she didn't have that much of a following. It didn't really gain any traction; no one noticed.
A couple months later, a book called The Handbook for Mortals, a self-published YA novel, somehow hits the New York Times bestseller list—which is weird, because no one seems to have read it. So this becomes a huge mystery. A couple people actually buy it to see what's going on, and the book is so flagrantly terrible that readers started speculating that maybe this was the author of My Immortal. The author of this book, Lani Sarem, might be Tara.
Brooke Matherly 27:43
Publisher nerd note: Who published that book?
Haley Simpkiss 27:46
She self-published it, and it made it onto the New York Times bestseller list. As it turned out, she was calling around to bookstores who report their sales to the Times and buying huge bulk orders of her own book from them. That's a thing you can do. It's gaming the system.
Christina Kann 28:05
Oh, that's brilliant!
Zach of Cabbs 28:08
You all are in books; I'm in games. A few years ago, Steam opened up its restrictions. You no longer have to get your game greenlit by the community; anybody can just publish on Steam. You just put in the paperwork and pay the money, and boom, you're on Steam. So there are hundreds, if not thousands, of garbage games released on the platform literally every day, and it's impossible to find anything decent. Is it like that at all in the book industry?
Haley Simpkiss 28:35
Well, self-publishing. Yeah.
Christina Kann 28:38
There are a lot of bad books, but I don't think it's ever hard to find the good ones.
Brooke Matherly 28:43
I think that's only true if you're just casting randomly through Amazon. If you type "books" into the Amazon search bar, you may end up in that scenario.
Zach of Cabbs 28:53
Don't sort books by New > All? Is that what you're saying?
Christina Kann 28:56
I'm going to take this opportunity to plug Storygraph again. I find out what books are good by turning to my peers and seeing what they have said.
Zach of Cabbs 29:10
*Zach’s power cuts off*
Christina Kann 29:11
Oh my god.
Zach of Cabbs 29:12
I lost power.
Haley Simpkiss 29:13
Christina Kann 29:16
That's very dramatic.
Zach of Cabbs 29:18
It's not coming back!
Christina Kann 29:19
We might lose you. That would be very goffick.
*Zach’s power comes back*
Zach of Cabbs 29:22
Okay, it's back. It's back for now. It should be okay.
Christina Kann 29:28
Brooke Matherly 29:30
Zach of Cabbs 29:31
I was about to light a candle and say, "Play me off like I'm on the Titanic!" But please continue. I'm riveted.
Haley Simpkiss 29:39
People start thinking Lani Sarem might be Tara Gillespie.
Christina Kann 29:43
Haley Simpkiss 29:44
Lani Sarem is the person who wrote Handbook for Mortals, which made it onto the New York Times Bestseller list. It was so bad that people thought maybe this is Tara Gillespie.
At this point, Rose Christo, who is also a self-published YA author, comes forward and says, "No, it's not her. It's me!" Also, she announces in this refutation that her tell-all memoir is being published by Macmillan. She has provided evidence to them; she has a flash drive with the first 11 unedited chapters.
Brooke Matherly 30:20
Wait, wait, wait, that was a bombshell. There was editing done to this?
Haley Simpkiss 30:24
Yeah, that's what Raven was doing!
Zach of Cabbs 30:28
That's why the first 15 chapters are at all legible.
Christina Kann 30:31
That's the thing! There wasn't just one of these people. There were two of them making this happen.
Zach of Cabbs 30:38
This is like My Favorite Murder but for fanfiction.
Haley Simpkiss 30:42
That's what it feels like! The reason Rose Christo is writing this memoir about writing My Immortal is because she claims that she is a Native American Cree childhood sexual abuse survivor, who wrote My Immortal as part of an effort to find the younger brother who she’d lost in the foster care system. How, you might ask?
Christina Kann 31:09
Brooke Matherly 31:10
Wait wait wait. She wrote My Immortal to find the brother, or she wrote her memoir to find him?
Haley Simpkiss 31:16
She wrote My Immortal looking for her brother.
Zach of Cabbs 31:19
There's that one part in Chapter 5 where she goes, "Hey, I have a brother. His name is Andrew. I really want to find him. Please dial this number if you've seen him!" I remember it like it was yesterday. It was only part of the book that made any sense.
Haley Simpkiss 31:31
You guys didn't catch that one line?
Zach of Cabbs 31:35
You gotta read between the lines. Subtext.
Haley Simpkiss 31:38
A couple of weeks later, someone contacts a Kiwi Farms forum that is dedicated to debunking stuff—admittedly, it's a pretty shady forum—claiming to be said brother. He apparently provided proof to the mods sufficient for them to believe that he was the brother. He claimed that not only had he and his sister never been in the foster care system, but they were white as hell.
Christina Kann 32:03
That's not surprising.
Haley Simpkiss 32:05
Yeah, because everything about that story sounded like it was specially crafted to gain as much unquestioning support from the user base of Tumblr in 2017 as humanly possible. She loses the book deal, obviously. Here's the thing, though: The brother did say that, as a teenager, she liked making fun of bad fanfiction, and she also liked to go by Tara. So she might have honestly been the author.
Zach of Cabbs 32:38
Brooke Matherly 32:38
But in that scenario, we would be assuming that she was doing this as a joke.
Haley Simpkiss 32:43
Brooke Matherly 32:44
This would be a troll scenario. I said "troll"; you all drink.
Christina Kann 32:48
Oh, Brooke, no.
Brooke Matherly 32:51
I don't drink alcohol, for the listeners at home. So...
Christina Kann 32:54
I told her to have water ready.
Haley Simpkiss 32:56
Christina Kann 32:56
You're gonna be so hydrated, bitch.
Zach of Cabbs 32:58
You're gonna be like, "Tina I need a break! I need to pee!"
Haley Simpkiss 33:00
I am going to need a new drink soon. While the court documents she provided to Macmillan to prove the whole foster care story were proven indeed to be photoshopped, nothing could really be proven one way or the other about the flash drive. It was clearly a flash drive from 2006, but was the file on there legitimate? Who's to say? I actually looked on Rose Christo's Amazon page as part of the deep dive I did on this, and her bio has been updated, basically saying, "Hey, so a lot of people over the last few years have been asking me ‘What happened?’ And ‘Are you okay?’ And I'm just popping in here to say a couple years ago, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which probably comes as no surprise to the people in my life, but now that I'm medicated, yeah, that makes sense. So I'm sorry about everything. And I am going to be keeping out of the public eye from now on." Here's the thing though: she doesn't confirm one way or the other whether she wrote it!!!
Brooke Matherly 34:05
Wait, wait, wait, hold on. If she was faking this, and she had 11 unedited chapters on a thumb drive, we are to assume that in pursuit of an elaborate ruse, she took the first 11 chapters of My Immortal, went in, and made it intentionally shittier?
Zach of Cabbs 34:27
Added passages about her clothing choices into the novel. "In addition to this, I was also wearing..."
Brooke Matherly 34:38
That was an outfit description, and you guys have to drink.
Zach of Cabbs 34:40
Oh, shit. Yeah, you're right, fuck!
Christina Kann 34:41
Thank you so much, Brooke. Love you, babe. I really appreciate it.
Brooke Matherly 34:44
I'm here for you.
Zach of Cabbs 34:46
I think you're onto something there, because that feels like an Occam's razor situation. It has to be the simpler thing. It doesn't even feel like she was a Harry Potter fan. She just watched Harry Potter and thought Daniel Radcliffe and Malfoy were hot, and she was like, "I'm gonna write a fanfic where I get to date both of them!"
Brooke Matherly 35:10
Here's how I know she was young: at no point was she like, "The obvious answer to this scenario is a threesome." She's like, "I guess I have to do both of them at the same time?"
Zach of Cabbs 35:21
"Well, they have to fight over me!"
Haley Simpkiss 35:23
Also everyone except her is bi, but also she's super homophobic. I am going to get another drink because the last one is an honorable mention, but it is weird.
Zach of Cabbs 35:34
The character says she's bi, anyway, at multiple points.
Brooke Matherly 35:40
I kept going, thinking, "Surely this ends in a threesome." They got so close with the sex tape scenario, and then it just didn't happen. You can take two dicks at once. It's nice. I highly recommend it.
Zach of Cabbs 35:55
It feels like the culmination of all of this would be that. You write the first 30 chapters so you can write the double dickin' scene, and that never happens. It's anticlimactic.
Christina Kann 36:08
Haley, what are you drinking?
Haley Simpkiss 36:09
What do you think?
Christina Kann 36:11
Zach of Cabbs 36:14
I'm just drinking margarita mix and a lot of tequila.
Christina Kann 36:18
That's called a margarita, my man.
Zach of Cabbs 36:19
It is called a margarita, but it's in a very unsexy non-margarita mug.
Christina Kann 36:24
I'm drinking Winking Owl brand chardonnay. That's $2.74, I think, per bottle.
Zach of Cabbs 36:32
The size of the mug that this is in makes it look like I have a problem.
Brooke Matherly 36:37
You look like an alcoholic teacher right now.
Zach of Cabbs 36:41
Shut up! I got these papers to grade! I ain't got time for this shit.
Brooke Matherly 36:45
You look like you showed up to your class, kicked your feet up on the desk, and were like, "Look, kids, American history is bullshit."
Zach of Cabbs 36:52
I was like Jack Black in School of Rock, just like, "Oh god, who's got food?"
Haley Simpkiss 37:01
All right, last one.
Christina Kann 37:03
Where are we?
Haley Simpkiss 37:03
We are on our honorable mention.
Zach of Cabbs 37:07
The season three finale of the anime! Pay attention.
Haley Simpkiss 37:12
One of the resources I looked to during this was a YouTuber called Sarah Z, who a little over a year ago made a video talking about the whole Rose Christo thing and also the Acid Bath Sisters and the whole mystery.
Zach of Cabbs 37:26
Big shout out to Sarah Z. She has several videos on Homestuck that are incredibly cool.
Haley Simpkiss 37:35
I have never gotten into Homestuck, and I am scared.
Zach of Cabbs 37:44
Neither have I, but the people who tried to make the Homestuck game threatened her with legal action because of the journalism she did on the game. It's a crazy story. Anyway, check out Sarah Z. She's great.
Haley Simpkiss 37:52
Apparently this happens to her a lot, because not long after she posted that video, someone contacted her claiming to be the author and calling himself Todd Gillespie. He had some answers to some of her questions, but he consistently ducked a lot of timeline and account access questions. Sarah Z started looking deeper and got involved with another YouTuber, Red Bard. They got together and did some In True Blood shit. I won't get into the full details, but you guys can watch here if you have two free hours. Their digging revealed a whole mess involving Bible fanfiction—which is a thing—as well as over 20 sock puppet identities Todd had used to troll himself over the last couple of decades, plus a recurring character named Gareth Vandersweld.
Zach of Cabbs 37:56
Anybody who spends that much time fucking with people on the internet is trolling themselves. Let's be honest.
Haley Simpkiss 39:07
Every fandom community that he's in is like 90% just him.
Brooke Matherly 39:13
The thing that keeps coming up with all of these supposed authors is that mental illness has always existed, and one of the dark things about the internet is that it's become a form of entertainment, where we follow these people who are obviously not doing well, and they can garner attention and some sort of satisfaction by giving in completely to whatever it is that is ailing them instead of taking active steps to better their lives.
Christina Kann 39:47
Haley Simpkiss 39:48
Yeah, you're absolutely right. That's kind of how that video ends, after she found out this was all the same dude. It's Todd all the way down.
Zach of Cabbs 39:59
Well, that's it for the podcast, everybody. We'll see you next time.
Brooke Matherly 40:03
Thank you for joining us for this very special episode.
Haley Simpkiss 40:06
He is definitely not the author, but he is probably the person who hacked the account in 2008 after it was deleted, and he might have even been the person to delete it. They found him; they did not give his information away, but they did find him. In real life, he is apparently a 28-year-old musician from New Zealand. A lot of people have claimed to be the author over the years; he's at least two of them.
Brooke Matherly 40:33
Whoa, wait, who was the second one?
Zach of Cabbs 40:36
Too late. We're moving on!
Haley Simpkiss 40:37
He claimed it in 2008 around the time of the account hacking, and I think he did it again in 2011, but nobody paid attention. Now people have started talking about My Immortal again, particularly Sarah Z and her video. It sounds like he's trying to hop on that bandwagon. So yeah, that's Todd.
Christina Kann 40:55
I see. That's so much lore, honestly.
Haley Simpkiss 40:59
Yeah, there's a lot!
Zach of Cabbs 41:00
Yeah, it's a dump. Like Haley was saying, the Sarah Z videos, which I highly recommend, are extremely informative. Even if you've never heard of this fanfic, by the end, you will be sitting there riveted, saying, "I need to know!"
Haley Simpkiss 41:14
Yep. That's an overview of the lore as short and sweet as I could possibly make it.
Christina Kann 41:21
And well done.
Haley Simpkiss 41:21
Thank you. I'm really sorry, guys. But now you know.
Christina Kann 41:24
Thank you for taking us on this ride.
Haley Simpkiss 41:27
You're very welcome. So let's talk the story. Insofar as there's a story.
Zach of Cabbs 41:33
There's a story? I'm sorry. You said a story?
Haley Simpkiss 41:36
Let's talk the string of events.
Zach of Cabbs 41:40
I want to start by saying that I have gotten a lot of unironic enjoyment out of this fanfic over the years. In college, I would gather a crowd of 8 to 10 people in the common room of my Hogwarts house, as it were, the common areas of the campus, just gathering a crowd doing a dramatic reading of My Immortal off my laptop. Very fun memories that I have from this truly awful, awful, awful fanfiction.
Christina Kann 42:08
Haley, you first presented this to me with a similar little story about reading it with Willow and Emma, right?
Haley Simpkiss 42:16
Yes, I think it was Willow who told me about it because she used to lovingly make fun of me for reading fanfiction.
Christina Kann 42:25
But this one has a character named Willow, so she had to check it out.
Brooke Matherly 42:28
Important distinction for the listeners: We're talking about Haley's sister, not the infamous character who gets written off unceremoniously.
Zach of Cabbs 42:37
I'm here to announce my new secret sleeper podcast, The Rejected Section, where we read one chapter of My Immortal each week until it is over.
Brooke Matherly 42:49
And then you start again, because it's fucking immortal.
Zach of Cabbs 42:53
That should be the title of the episode, The Rejected Section.
Brooke Matherly 42:58
No, seriously, what if you did that? You just kept doing it over and every time you got to the end, you just started back at the beginning and kept doing it until you went insane.
Haley Simpkiss 43:06
Brooke, that sounds exactly as pathological as Todd!
Zach of Cabbs 43:13
There's a podcast called The Worst Idea of All Time where they watched Grown Ups 2 over and over again every week for a year, and they slowly descend into madness because it's such a nothing movie.
Haley Simpkiss 43:32
To what end?
Brooke Matherly 43:33
Haley, Haley, Haley, Haley, excuse you. You just read roughly 45 minutes of My Immortal lore off notecards. You don't get to make that concerned face at the fact that someone made a decent podcast.
Christina Kann 43:45
Here's how I took notes for this episode: I put the text into a Google Doc and just started highlighting stuff. So I'm just gonna start scrolling on through. I highlighted some stuff that we've mentioned already. We've mentioned a lot of things.
Zach of Cabbs 43:58
The way I took notes was I had the fic open in a separate window, and I was listening to the Internet Historian do a dramatic reading of it.
Brooke Matherly 44:06
I did the same thing!
Zach of Cabbs 44:08
Every time he made me laugh, I would pause it and go to that section and copy and paste it into a notepad.
Brooke Matherly 44:14
I listened to the Internet Historian's dramatic reading of this "work" as well. It's worth a watch. I would say it's the preferred way to experience this. I couldn't make it far reading it. My brain wouldn't relax enough to just take the words in. When you're reading, you're not reading every word. You look at words, and your brain's like, "We got it." Although I have heard that’s not the way everybody reads. Sorry. That's like a fun psychology thing.
Christina Kann 44:56
We have been known to be a little elitist about reading here.
Brooke Matherly 45:01
No, there are two ways people process the concept of reading. Some people actually take in every single word, and then some people can visually scan a sentence and their brain just kind of downloads the information. I've read a couple of psychological studies about this. The way you read determines a lot about the way you speak and the way you take in information. It's not even an elitist thing. My husband, for example, is also a very avid reader, but he reads every single word when he's reading.
Zach of Cabbs 45:38
But y'all are in publication. So this is almost like Icarus flying too close to the sun for you. It's like, "I can't look directly at it, or I will hurt my eyes."
Brooke Matherly 45:50
I tried reading it, and my brain just couldn't get to the point where I stopped seeing every individual word. And when I was looking at every individual word, it made even less sense. It wasn't even coming together at all. I was just like, "Da—cuz—fangs. What is—fucking—black. Black, black, black, black."
Haley Simpkiss 46:13
The idea of a codified language where every word is spelled the same every single time you write it is kind of a new concept. If you read old medieval manuscripts, people just wrote shit out phonetically. Most people didn't read in their heads; most people read out loud, if they were going to read, or at least moved their lips. So you were following along anyway like this.
Brooke Matherly 46:41
But this is not phonetic. This does follow a codified language that existed on the internet in certain communities in the early 2000s.
Zach of Cabbs 46:50
Are you saying Tara was raised by wolves or something?
Brooke Matherly 46:55
I think Tara was born in the storeroom of a Hot Topic and then crawled out fully formed in a corset.
Haley Simpkiss 47:03
I think that Tara, whoever she was, was born into a relatively Christian, normie-ass household and really resented it. She wanted to be a cool, sexy goth and rebel against everything her family was doing, but she had no resources for it. So she was just like, "I'm just going to put everything that I think is cool in here. This is what goths do."
Brooke Matherly 47:31
The thing that really hits me about this entire thing is the outfit descriptions, which we've already touched on. I really want to break this down for a second. Haley, could you just do a brief reading of just an outfit? I know we kind of did at the beginning. But does anyone have one bookmarked?
Christina Kann 47:39
Zach of Cabbs 47:51
After the fifth or sixth one, the Internet Historian just fast forwards through them. It's really funny.
Haley Simpkiss 47:55
I've got one from chapter two.
I got out of my coffin and took of my giant MCR t-shirt which I used for pajamas. Instead, I put on a black leather dress, a pentagram necklace, combat boots and black fishnets on. I put on four pairs of earrings in my pierced ears, and put my hair in a kind of messy bun.
Brooke Matherly 48:18
When I was first writing as a child, I was not into goth culture, but this is exactly what my descriptions of characters read like 100% of the time. The most important thing the reader needs to know is exactly what this dress looks like.
Zach of Cabbs 48:36
If they don't know, how will they picture my character? They'll have no clothes on! That's awkward.
Haley Simpkiss 48:40
That is something that's important to examine about My Immortal. Why is this considered the worst fanfiction ever? Obviously, that's hyperbole, but I've read a lot of pretty bad fanfiction, and the thing that makes this one stand out is that it's textbook. Every single thing that could ever make a fanfiction bad is in this.
Zach of Cabbs 49:03
Literally all the awful tropes are here.
Haley Simpkiss 49:05
For example, the fact that it has basically nothing to do with the original story and none of the characters have any resemblance to their actual characters.
Zach of Cabbs 49:15
I think deeper than that, it shows a profound disrespect for the source material. It simply does not care about the source material. It doesn't value it; it doesn't find any enjoyment in it. It needs to rearrange all of it to make it palatable to the author. That's the bad taste it puts in everyone's mouth.
Brooke Matherly 49:35
There’s also the outfit descriptions, especially the fact that every single person is wearing a band t-shirt almost always.
Christina Kann 49:43
It's one of my favorite things about this.
Zach of Cabbs 49:44
I love going to those Hogsmeade MCR concerts, hell yeah!
Brooke Matherly 49:48
This immediately flashed me back to when my very first girlfriend wanted a Cradle of Filth t-shirt for her birthday. This was my first significant other, and I was very, very hell-bent on getting this right. I got to Hot Topic—because of course—and there were three Cradle of Filth t-shirts. I had literally never listened to Cradle of Filth in my life. I didn't know metal music at all. This Hot Topic employee was asking me questions about my girlfriend, and I was trying to explain what was going on so I could select the correct one. In the end, I got the wrong album cover, and she let me know that. She still wore the t-shirt; she still thought it was really cool to have; whatever, she was still excited.
Zach of Cabbs 50:45
I 100% would have just gotten the one I thought looked the coolest.
Brooke Matherly 50:49
They all looked like garbage to me. They all looked like a baby puke with red lettering.
Zach of Cabbs 50:54
Oh, I can picture it. My mind went right to what you're talking about.
Haley Simpkiss 50:58
But also, Hot Topic employees do be that way. They will try to help you.
Brooke Matherly 51:04
They'll absolutely try to help you. The person who was talking to me was literally just like, "Okay, what albums does she have in the car? What do the covers look like? Does any of this imagery look familiar to you?" And I was looking at the Hot Topic wall of band t-shirts, and I was just like, "Everything's blank. Everything's blank."
Haley Simpkiss 51:23
"All of them look like barbed wire fences. I don't know!"
Zach of Cabbs 51:26
Every time I walked into a Hot Topic as a kid, I was like, "Am I gonna buy a t-shirt or are we gonna play laser tag? This is such a weird atmosphere. I don't understand it."
Haley Simpkiss 51:35
I miss old-school Hot Topic.
Brooke Matherly 51:37
I went in for—and this is another thing that got brought up in this fanfic—hair spray paint. You could temporarily change the color of your hair, and purple hair spray paint featured prominently in my young adult life. Now I'm old enough that I go pay $300 to get someone to permanently dye my hair purple, and that's the kind of character progression I've been on.
Zach of Cabbs 51:57
That's what they call an arc.
Christina Kann 52:04
I'm looking through my highlighted selections. I highlighted the first time the text casually mentioned, "And then I went and slit my wrists." I was like, "Woo, red alert!" but then you quickly get desensitized.
Brooke Matherly 52:16
There's a point where the author says, "I went to slit my wrist and party with Draco and Vampire in the common room." I thought, "Oh, wow, those things are not connected."
Christina Kann 52:31
Well, it's like the most goffick thing that you're a vampire, so you slit your wrists, and it doesn't even really do anything.
Brooke Matherly 52:41
There's a point where she does it and then she takes a straw and drinks from her own wrist.
Zach of Cabbs 52:46
Get it? Because vampires drink blood? That should be the way canonically a vampire turns into a zombie, by drinking their own blood.
Brooke Matherly 52:56
I like that and also I'm mad that this didn't feature at all in The Twilight Saga.
Haley Simpkiss 53:01
Apparently Tara, toward the end, was getting into Twilight.
Brooke Matherly 53:05
You can tell!
Haley Simpkiss 53:07
There's a similarly bad Twilight fanfiction out there that people think she might also have written.
Christina Kann 53:17
I seent it.
Haley Simpkiss 53:18
The three lines that my sisters and I still quote at each other to this day are:
Christina Kann 53:45
I can't stop laughing.
Zach of Cabbs 53:47
I would love to read three short paragraphs that I think encapsulate why so many people hate this fanfic so much. I think it is the perfect passage.
Haley Simpkiss 53:59
Go for it.
Zach of Cabbs 54:00
“Its so unfair!” I yielded. “Why can’t I just be ugly or plain like all da other girls and preps here except for B’loody Mary, because she’s not ugly or anything.”
“Why would you wanna be ugly? I don’t like the preps anyway. They are such fucking sluts.” answered Draco.
“Yeah but everyone is in love with me! Like Snape and Loopin took a video of me naked. Hargrid says he’s in love with me. Vampire likes me and now even Snaketail is in love with me! I just wanna be with you ok Draco! Why couldn’t Satan have made me less beautiful?” I shouted angrily. (an” don’t wory enoby isn’t a snob or anyfing but a lot of ppl hav told her shes pretty) “Im good at too many things! WHY CAN’T I JUST BE NORMAL? IT’S A FUCKING CURSE!” I shouted and then I ran away.
Christina Kann 54:54
Brooke Matherly 54:55
To me, that's an early Twilight bleed, quite frankly.
Christina Kann 54:59
Yes. You did highlight one thing I noted consistently throughout this. The dialogue tags are really, really, really hilarious.
Brooke Matherly 55:11
They read like someone who speaks English as a second language.
Christina Kann 55:15
And who has been told that stylistically you shouldn't use the word "said." Here's my next comment. They make a lot of fun of Hilary Duff in this. First of all, the book I'm reading right now was written by Hilary Duff, or at least conceptualized by Hilary Duff. Also, when I was 12 or 13 years old, my dad bought me Hilary Duff concert tickets for my birthday. It was right when I was just a little too edgy for that, Dad. But he got them for me, and he was really proud. So I took my friend Laney, who was even more goffick than me—I'm not even being funny, she really was. At the concert, Hilary Duff was wearing the same fishnet gloves that Laney was wearing, and Laney was like, "Fuck this!" and threw them down on the floor and stomped away.
Brooke Matherly 56:08
Guys, being a teenager is awful.
Haley Simpkiss 56:10
It really is. Zach read that whole thing, and that's the kind of line where you could very well hear that and think, "Okay, this is someone being ridiculous on purpose." But then you remember what being 13 was like, especially if you have the experience of being a 13-year-old girl. And it's not unbelievable.
Brooke Matherly 56:34
Especially being a 13-year-old girl during this phase in the culture. I dabbled on the edges of this entire aesthetic. I never went full in.
Zach of Cabbs 56:46
I was deep in the paint.
Brooke Matherly 56:49
Hold on. Did you do the just-back-of-the-head spiky? You know what I mean? Like the halo spike?
Haley Simpkiss 56:55
The Sasuke hair?
Christina Kann 56:56
That would look good on you, Zach!
Zach of Cabbs 56:57
Who, me? No. No, I was deep in the paint of nerdom, not gothicism.
Brooke Matherly 57:04
I was on the edge, the raw corners, of the mall goth aesthetic. I went to a lot of punk rock shows. I did a lot of mosh pits in my day. I went to Warped Tour.
Christina Kann 57:26
That is so cool.
Zach of Cabbs 57:28
I definitely was a post-hardcore brat, but I never really adopted the aesthetic myself. I was always a t-shirt and jeans guy.
Haley Simpkiss 57:37
I was always meant to be a t-shirt and jeans kind of person, but I did have a little bit of an emo phase in middle school/high school. My friends were all cooler and better at it and had parents who actually would buy them clothes from Hot Topic. It wasn't that my parents said, "Absolutely not. No, never." It was just expensive, and they didn't like going to the mall.
Brooke Matherly 58:04
I blame Hot Topic and this general time period for two things: Adult Twilight fans. The people who were adults at the time Twilight came out and were getting full back tattoos of Edward's eyes. Hot Topic went super hard on Twilight stuff when it first came out. And the other thing I blame it for is adult women who are way too into the Nightmare Before Christmas.
Christina Kann 58:30
Yeah. I'm with you on that one.
Brooke Matherly 58:33
There are a few things in this world that I consider to be true warning flag tattoos outside of your basic confederate flag bullshit. A full sleeve of Nightmare Before Christmas tells me exactly who you have been, who you are now, and where you are going.
Christina Kann 58:51
I feel like that's not even the first time you've brought this up on the show.
Brooke Matherly 58:54
It might not be. It's a deeply held belief of mine.
Haley Simpkiss 58:57
It is one of Enoby's favorite movies, right up there with Corpse Bride.
Brooke Matherly 59:03
Of course! Like, of course. Regarding the question of is it parody or is it real? Every last bit of this is stuff that makes you think, "Of course it's there. It makes sense that it's there. It makes sense that her favorite movie is Corpse Bride." That was 100% right for the time period. The My Chemical Romance t-shirts; even the fact that you would go and specifically get a really big one to sleep in. It was 100% a thing. All of this stuff is so perfectly fitted together with the actual way that it was that it either has to be a masterful troll--drink—or it has to be someone who was honestly doing this. I fall back every time on someone who was honestly doing this because I knew people who would have done this.
Zach of Cabbs 59:58
This is either someone who was briefly into this for a few years and did it in earnest, or an elaborate troll who has spent literally every day of the past decade fooling everyone into thinking that My Immortal is real.
Brooke Matherly 1:00:12
And I don't think it's worth that. You know what I mean? It would be different if there was any money involved, if there was any actual fame involved. If there was any way to spin it, I think someone would have spun it by now. Because if you can do this, there's a writing job on television for you somewhere. But I don't think that's what happened. I think this is genuine, and it was a very short-lived period in someone's life.
Christina Kann 1:00:38
I want to talk briefly about the way that sex is described in this.
Haley Simpkiss 1:00:43
Christina Kann 1:00:45
I have a selection highlighted.
Zach of Cabbs 1:00:46
Please read it.
Christina Kann 1:00:46
Then he put his thingie into my you-know-what and we did it for the first time.
And I think that's her losing her virginity.
Haley Simpkiss 1:00:47
Yeah. That's right before WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU MOTHERFUKERS!
Christina Kann 1:00:54
Yeah, two lines in front of it. But that part, to me, makes it feel more authentic. I think that it was someone who was simply too young to be writing about sex but still was glorifying sex
Zach of Cabbs 1:01:13
A little bonus is that she forgot the second F so it sounds almost biblical.
He took of my clothes, and I took of my bra.
Brooke Matherly 1:01:26
Zach, since we were watching the same rendition of this, did you happen to highlight the part in the Internet Historian video of this where it's maybe the third time they have sex, when they're in Draco's car, and they're talking about his tool, and the Internet Historian does probably one of the funniest things that he does in this entire video. He has a drill going into a toolbox, and it just starts vibrating aggressively as the drill turns on.
Zach of Cabbs 1:01:56
I was listening to it while I was working, so I don't think I caught a lot of the visuals.
Brooke Matherly 1:02:00
Same. The imagery that the text is using is something around like tools and then like spinning around. That was a particularly strong sex image to me that sounded like someone who had been told by—back to Haley's point—incredibly conservative Christian parents what sex is, so that that base is covered, and you can tell them never to do it. You know what I mean? "He's gonna take his 'tool' and you have a 'toolbox.'"
Zach of Cabbs 1:02:42
"Listen, dicks??? They spin at 60 RPMs and they will tear you up! Don't do it!"
Brooke Matherly 1:02:50
The language of "his thing in my you-know-what" is like exactly like an awkward Christian mom trying to explain just enough about sex so that you know what it is enough to not do it.
Zach of Cabbs 1:03:02
"He put his hoo-ha and my heehee."
Christina Kann 1:03:05
Yes, the sex talk seemed very immature to me.
Brooke Matherly 1:03:08
Wait, one more note: my grandma the entire time we were growing up referred to them as "woozies" and "doozies."
Haley Simpkiss 1:03:14
Which was the woozy and which was the doozy?
Brooke Matherly 1:03:16
You know which one was the woozy and which one was the doozy. Think about it for a second.
Christina Kann 1:03:19
"Woo" for woman.
Zach of Cabbs 1:03:19
And "doozy" for "dick"!
Christina Kann 1:03:25
I can't emphasize this enough: teach children what body parts are called.
Haley Simpkiss 1:03:29
Zach of Cabbs 1:03:30
BDE: big doozy energy.
Haley Simpkiss 1:03:36
That's gonna be a t-shirt. We need to make that a t-shirt.
Christina Kann 1:03:40
Another thing I noticed throughout was the very funny disses that get thrown around.
Zach of Cabbs 1:03:47
They're also good.
Christina Kann 1:03:48
Right in front of me I have highlighted "you ludicrous fools" and "you mediocre dunces!"
Zach of Cabbs 1:03:53
I love "you mediocre dunces."
Brooke Matherly 1:03:55
Dunderhead? Dunderhead comes up a lot.
Zach of Cabbs 1:03:59
I'm surprised there wasn't some religion born out of "Let's decipher this fanfic and find out what the secret message is being told here."
Christina Kann 1:04:06
Is that not what we're doing right now?
Brooke Matherly 1:04:08
What if Tara was a prophet and this is the latest iteration of the Bible?
Haley Simpkiss 1:04:12
Christina Kann 1:04:15
Oh man. "We started frenching passively." I think it means passionately.
Brooke Matherly 1:04:22
I like the passively.
Zach of Cabbs 1:04:25
Between this and the other author whose works are discussed on this podcast, this author is still the less hateable one.
Christina Kann 1:04:36
An interesting and earnest backstory. I also like this one: "We started to make out keenly." I feel like more makeouts should be super keen, you know?
Zach of Cabbs 1:04:44
Oh, super keen. I was keen on that makeout, okay?
Brooke Matherly 1:04:48
Also, on an intimate level, I connect to the idea of just having sex passively on occasion. Just like, "Hey, look like we're gonna make out. It's gonna be real passive."
Christina Kann 1:04:59
We've all been there.
Haley Simpkiss 1:05:01
We're both on our phones.
Brooke Matherly 1:05:07
We've both realized that it's been too long and we're gonna do this, but we're aware that this is putting in some maintenance. This is an oil change in the relationship.
Zach of Cabbs 1:05:18
He had a sexy English accent. He looked exactly like Joel Madden. He was so sexy that my body went all hot when I saw him kind of like an erection only I’m a girl so I didn’t get one you sicko.
Christina Kann 1:05:29
Oh my god. I highlighted that because I think it was her first glaringly homophobic statement. I was like "Red alert!"
Haley Simpkiss 1:05:35
Can we discuss the dialogue tags on the following exchange?
“I’m so sorry.” he said in a shy voice.
“That’s all right. What’s your name?” I questioned.
“My name’s Harry Potter, although most people call me Vampire these days.” he grumbled.
“Why?” I exclaimed.
“Because I love the taste of human blood.” he giggled.
“Well, I am a vampire.” I confessed.
“Really?” he whimpered.
“Yeah.” I roared.
Christina Kann 1:06:05
"Whimpered" and "roared." Those are both such strong words that seem wildly inappropriate for the situation, both equally in different directions.
Brooke Matherly 1:06:15
Can we talk about the fact that Harry's pentagram isn't a real pentagram? He at one point admits to having just makeup'd over it, and then the scar comes shining back through.
Zach of Cabbs 1:06:30
Who changed the star for him?
Brooke Matherly 1:06:32
Whatever Ron's analogous character is. It's a real left-field word. I forget what it is.
Christina Kann 1:06:41
I LOLed when it came time to describe Lord Voldemort.
He didn’t have a nose (basically like Voldemort in the movie) and he was wearing all black but it was obvious he wasn’t gothic.
Zach of Cabbs 1:06:58
Not the book, because books are lame, and I didn't read them.
Christina Kann 1:07:01
It was…… Voldemort!
Zach of Cabbs 1:07:04
It'd be like if I was doing my mythology retelling—which is so popular these days; everybody's gotta have a myth retelling—and I did Hercules and I was like, "He had a swirly leather skirt thing and a tank top, you know, like the Disney version of Hercules. It was Hercules!"
Christina Kann 1:07:29
That's a good parallel analogy example.
Zach of Cabbs 1:07:35
Good job. These drinks are strong.
Brooke Matherly 1:07:38
She frequently uses "shot" or "shooted" as a dialogue tag.
Christina Kann 1:07:44
Yes, I love that. It's adorable.
Haley Simpkiss 1:07:46
Also, people just keep shooting each other in this. Blade shows up at one point.
Brooke Matherly 1:07:50
Also there are a lot of guns.
Christina Kann 1:07:52
It gets very confusing.
Zach of Cabbs 1:07:56
This was a very dramatic and extremely good moment from the internet historian version:
“Abra Kedavra!” he yelled at Snape and Loopin pointing his womb. I took my gun and shot Snape and Loopin a gazillion times and they both started screaming and the camera broke. Suddenly, Dumblydore ran in. “Ebony, it has been revealed that someone has - NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he shouted looking at Snape and Loopin and then he waved his wand and suddenly…"
And that's when Hagrid shows up, and he's like, "I'm a student!" Being shot a gazillion times on their wands while they try to take pervy pictures of Ebony is just like--
Haley Simpkiss 1:08:39
Oh, while Lupin is outside the window masticating, you mean?
Brooke Matherly 1:08:47
And then she addresses it. She clearly got some feedback or comments, and the next time she says in her author's note, "See? I spelled it right this time."
Christina Kann 1:08:58
She didn't spell it right, though.
Zach of Cabbs 1:09:00
Every time she gets snarky with the reader about a spelling error she made, she misspells the word again. It's almost never actually corrected.
Christina Kann 1:09:09
Some people just like really don't give a shit about spelling whatsoever. We have to acknowledge that they exist. You know what I mean?
Zach of Cabbs 1:09:20
They are so indignant about the fact. They're like, "Why would you care that I'm spelling this word wrong five different ways? Fuck you and your elitist need to spell things right."
Brooke Matherly 1:09:33
Haley, this is a thing I need your expertise on. She keeps referencing in her author's notes for people to stop "flaming."
Haley Simpkiss 1:09:45
Christina Kann 1:09:45
I had to google it.
Brooke Matherly 1:09:47
What are we talking about here?
Zach of Cabbs 1:09:49
This is a fanfiction.net OG terminology here.
Haley Simpkiss 1:09:53
Fanfiction still kind of has its own set of terms, but back in the aughts, "flaming" just meant reviews. Porn was "lemons." It was all shit like that.
Zach of Cabbs 1:10:10
It was more than just criticism. It was like, you're angry. "I'm angry that I sat there and read this whole thing."
Haley Simpkiss 1:10:19
Yeah. There were people who made entire hobbies out of just going around and sending flames to people.
Brooke Matherly 1:10:28
You read this as it was coming out. Is that accurate? Were people engaging with this heavily?
Haley Simpkiss 1:10:36
Zach of Cabbs 1:10:37
I remember the OG posting of this. I didn't follow it as it was coming out, but I definitely remember going to the OG link on fanfiction.net to read it.
Haley Simpkiss 1:10:46
Yep, I definitely read this on fanfic.net.
Brooke Matherly 1:10:49
Okay, so what kind of crowd reaction was this getting? Can you walk us through that?
Haley Simpkiss 1:10:55
Just similarly poorly spelled. Some people were telling her in good faith, "Hey, this isn't really how Harry Potter works." Drink. There was one dude who had a form flame he used for everybody that was just like, "Your parents must be inbred clowns." Shit like that. It was stupid. It was stupid then, and it's stupid now. But it was a whole cultural thing on fanfiction.net in the bad old days.
Christina Kann 1:11:36
When you say "flamers," I think of in Avatar: the Last Airbender when he says "Flameo, hotman!"
Haley Simpkiss 1:11:42
I think that might honestly be part of the reason we stopped using that term. It's too easy.
Brooke Matherly 1:11:49
She also notes that she will continue writing if she gets a certain number of reviews.
Christina Kann 1:11:55
So yeah, hold them hostage. Make them hold themselves hostage.
Zach of Cabbs 1:11:59
I will only release the next chapter if I get 15 good reviows.
Brooke Matherly 1:12:05
I'm just imagining a Game of Thrones situation, where in order to get more of the story, you have to vow yourself to fight to the death in the rink against the flamers for this. For the honor of this fanfic.
Zach of Cabbs 1:12:18
I want to cut together excerpts of this that fit into haikus. Haikus of My Immortal, copyright Zachary Urtes. That's my idea. That's mine.
Brooke Matherly 1:12:26
You need to establish a Twitter account now, before this episode comes out.
Christina Kann 1:12:30
Get it quickly.
Haley Simpkiss 1:12:33
That's part of the tragedy of this fanfic being taken down: no one's quite sure if it was taken down by the mods or if it was by a hacker. In 2008 there was this thing called, I think, Critics United. It was just a bunch of conservative Christians who would go around reporting any story they didn't like for any reason—"This has gay stuff." "This kind of talked about sex." "This character was wearing a revealing outfit!"—and report them to the mods.
Christina Kann 1:13:00
Wow, this checks all the boxes.
Zach of Cabbs 1:13:02
I mean, you joke, but also it mentions Satan. Almost every chapter talks about how much all the characters love Satan. So a Christian person would be rightly perturbed.
Haley Simpkiss 1:13:14
Yeah, it could very well have been something like that. But that's why people don't really use fanfiction.net anymore, because that happened, and then all of the porn got kicked off. Tale as old as time; song as old as rhyme.
Zach of Cabbs 1:13:28
The dying ashes of both Tumblr and OnlyFans would like to speak to you right now.
Haley Simpkiss 1:13:37
OnlyFans was saved, as far as I know.
Zach of Cabbs 1:13:39
OnlyFans backpedaled, but no one's gonna fucking trust them as a platform now. There's 15 other platforms that popped up in the past week that everyone's fleeing to right now. OnlyFans is dead. Anyway, I'm mad—not because I watched a lot of porn, but because I care about sex workers.
Brooke Matherly 1:13:56
Oh, see, I was actually assuming it was because your OnlyFans was getting shut down.
Zach of Cabbs 1:13:59
That's right! My feet pics are not getting any more traction. It's terrible.
Haley Simpkiss 1:14:03
I was mad about the porn getting taken down.
Brooke Matherly 1:14:07
Amateur porn is better than produced porn every single day.
Haley Simpkiss 1:14:09
You're right. That's the thing: There's some really good fanfiction out there. A lot of it is erotic. I can't read published erotic fiction because I know how much better stuff is out there for free.
Zach of Cabbs 1:14:23
I want my porn to be produced and profited off of by the person that's doing the fuckin. That person doing the fuckin? They should be the one controlling their content.
Christina Kann 1:14:34
I want to talk about the music choices in this just a little bit. They talk about Good Charlotte a lot. They mention Simple Plan and Evanescence, obviously. But My Chemical Romance, I think, is The One. The song they mention by far the most is "Helena" by My Chemical Romance. I think they mention that a good 10 times. I personally fucking love that song. It's one of my favorite songs of all time. It's so good and sexy, and in fact, I've been known to say that if I had a daughter I'd name her Helena. Was it partially because the song made it sound cute? Maybe.
Haley Simpkiss 1:15:34
Also, the music video was pretty good. I'm not really that into music genres; I don't know a lot about music. But Tara—Ebony—Enoby—goes on and on and on about how much of a goth she is. But "goth" is a genre of music, and almost none of the bands she's referencing are technically goth. They're mostly punk rock or emo.
Brooke Matherly 1:16:04
What Haley just did there was a little bit of gatekeeping for the music choices in My Immortal.
Zach of Cabbs 1:16:16
It's no Cats (2019), but come on.
Haley Simpkiss 1:16:19
This is just something that I read. Again, I know nothing about that stuff, but it's just another layer of this being incorrect.
Brooke Matherly 1:16:26
So you did correct yourself just there, and I do think we need to talk about this: Is this character's name actually Ebony or is it Enoby?
Christina Kann 1:16:35
I think it's Enoby?
Haley Simpkiss 1:16:39
If you ran a word search for Ebony versus Enoby, I think Enoby would outnumber it. On the official My Immortal wiki, it's used interchangeably.
Zach of Cabbs 1:16:51
God, is this like a Berenstain Bears situation? Our universes are split between Ebony and Enoby?
Haley Simpkiss 1:16:58
No, no, no, no, because the Berenstain/Berenstein thing is a memory situation, whereas with this, you can see the disparity between chapters.
Zach of Cabbs 1:17:12
What if the writer has been traveling between these two dimensions and is getting confused?
Haley Simpkiss 1:17:20
She's just a walking thin spot between dimensions?
Zach of Cabbs 1:17:24
Yes, she's constantly shifting between the planes. That's my new headcanon.
Haley Simpkiss 1:17:31
That's where she is. That's why we can't find her. She's in the other reality. She's in the Enoby universe.
Zach of Cabbs 1:17:36
In the other universe, perfect grammar sounds like a cringy horrible teen that doesn't know anything about how to write proper sentences.
Haley Simpkiss 1:17:45
And over there, it's Berenstein Bears and Nelson Mandela's alive. Or dead. Where are we? Which reality are we in?
Brooke Matherly 1:17:54
We're in the worst one. We're in the worst reality.
Zach of Cabbs 1:17:57
We're in the darkest timeline.
Brooke Matherly 1:17:58
We're 19 months into a pandemic. Afghanistan just imploded as a country.
Zach of Cabbs 1:18:03
I made you all paper goatees to put on. We're all on the evilest, darkest timeline.
Brooke Matherly 1:18:08
We have rampant inflation. For some reason, it's not fixing anything. Our world is--
Christina Kann 1:18:14
Brooke, the patrons pay for these episodes. They have to be fun.
Zach of Cabbs 1:18:18
Literally the whole world is on fire. Okay, let's move on. We're back in Hogwarts with the gothic people.
Brooke Matherly 1:18:22
Our patrons know the world is chaos.
Christina Kann 1:18:25
I just came across a particular dialogue tag that I highlighted. "Gadgeted"? "He gadgeted uncomfortably"? So that's a fun one.
Haley Simpkiss 1:18:37
What was that? supposed? to be?
Brooke Matherly 1:18:44
I actually think that was a moment where one of the characters turned into one of the cars from Cars (2006). Because it was a car from the Cars universe, they had to be gadgeted back into reality. You know, sometimes you fiddle with the radio, you’re gadgeting it.
Haley Simpkiss 1:18:59
Wait, did this character turn into the DeLorean? Because that did turn up at one point.
Christina Kann 1:19:03
That literally turned up!
Brooke Matherly 1:19:05
It's either that or Tow Mater. So...
Zach of Cabbs 1:19:08
When I was a young tweenage boy, I wanted to be a writer. And I wrote several manuscripts. I thought, "Hey, look, Christopher Paolini did it with Eragon, so I can be a kid writer too! I'm gonna start writing a book." And I thought, "Well, what's going to make my writing interesting? Whatever I'm interested in right the fuck now, obviously! So I'm just gonna take everything I'm interested in on this particular day and jam it into this chapter. And it's not gonna have anything to do with anything else. But it's interesting to me. So it must be interesting to the people who are going to read it." And I see that all over the place in My Immortal with how things just come and go and interests pass and fade. You almost get a sense for who this teenage girl is as she's writing this fanfiction.
Haley Simpkiss 1:20:07
In all fairness, Moby Dick is also exactly like that. Also, side note, if you're someone who, at any point, particularly at your old age, starts thinking, "Maybe I'm gonna write a children's book"—there's more to it than watching a nature documentary about an interesting animal and coming up with a story where it lives in your hometown for no reason. That's just a thing that I feel like everyone should be aware of.
Brooke Matherly 1:20:35
Does it change your opinion if I can find an alliterative title?
Haley Simpkiss 1:20:39
Brooke Matherly 1:20:39
What if it's Toby the Turtle or Doreen the Dolphin?
Haley Simpkiss 1:20:44
Zach of Cabbs 1:20:44
No one wants to read my story about Lucy the Elephant Blogger?
Haley Simpkiss 1:20:50
No, and no one wants to edit it either.
Brooke Matherly 1:20:53
It would actually be Eleanor the Elephant Blogger. Those are the rules of children's books with animals. I can't explain it.
Zach of Cabbs 1:21:02
It's triumphelephant, that book.
Christina Kann 1:21:04
Oh, my God, way to bring it full circle. I don't know why I was thinking about this question, but does this text—and perhaps even the lore around it—pass the Bechdel Test?
Zach of Cabbs 1:21:18
Very good question.
Brooke Matherly 1:21:19
Zach of Cabbs 1:21:20
At some point, Tara and Raven have to talk about what they're wearing. Right?
Christina Kann 1:21:23
I think it does pass.
Brooke Matherly 1:21:26
Christina Kann 1:21:29
Raven and Tara are part of the canon.
Zach of Cabbs 1:21:33
Raven and Ebony have to talk about what they're wearing at some point.
Brooke Matherly 1:21:39
They don't, though. The only interactions Ebony has with another ostensibly female character is B'loody Mary. Okay, this is a technicality thing. They do talk about how hot they are to each other. Do we consider that passing the Bechdel Test, as it is technically not about men? Or is it not passing the Bechdel Test because it is clearly done within the context of the male gaze?
Zach of Cabbs 1:22:08
That's the most depressing feminist question I've ever heard in my entire life.
Christina Kann 1:22:12
You're right about that. I just feel like the Raven-and-author back-and-forth is also part of the canon of this narrative. And to me, that is what passes the Bechdel Test, because they're talking about craft and art.
Haley Simpkiss 1:22:26
And the sweater! They argue about the sweater.
Christina Kann 1:22:29
Men don't come up except that they're in this story that they're writing together. But like, men pop up everywhere, you know? They have to be in the story. To me, that's how this passes the Bechdel Test.
Haley Simpkiss 1:22:41
The feud over the sweater.
Zach of Cabbs 1:22:42
Tara is clearly not a Harry Potter fan at all, and I see some choices when she went, "You know what? Fuck it. I want them all to be from Slytherin because Slytherin is the only cool one," or whatever. But we see little things that have to just be, "I watched this movie absentmindedly once, and I don't actually know." Mr. Norris and Fletch or whatever? Fletch is the name of the cat, and Mr. Norris is the name of the janitor who goes through the halls.
Christina Kann 1:23:15
Isn't it Filth?
Brooke Matherly 1:23:17
It's Filth, which I like better. Mr. Norris and Filth is the correct choice.
Christina Kann 1:23:27
How about the drug use in this? I highlighted this one sentence: "We did pot, coke and crack," with no Oxford comma.
Haley Simpkiss 1:23:38
"Everything that my mom said would make me go to hell, I'm just gonna put it in here!"
Zach of Cabbs 1:23:44
"And then I masticated and my hands got hairy. Oh no!"
Haley Simpkiss 1:23:47
"And I went blind!"
Christina Kann 1:23:50
The next thing I highlighted was, "We had you-know-what to a Linkin Park Song."
Haley Simpkiss 1:23:55
Oh yeah, there are a couple of times where she's mad at Draco and then he just drops to his knees and starts singing Good Charlotte at her until she forgives him.
Brooke Matherly 1:24:05
Here's the thing: if that had happened to me while I was in middle school in the middle of the hallway in between classes, I would have been like, "Yep, this is perfect. Life has peaked."
Christina Kann 1:24:16
I feel like I've been slowly laughing to the point of weeping this whole episode. I've been giggling so steadily.
Haley Simpkiss 1:24:25
Are you guys aware of the "Again, weird, but not technically a sin" meme? Someone will talk about something very weird they did that's not morally wrong but definitely strange, and then someone will respond as a priest that this is being confessed to, "That's weird, but once again, that is not a sin." That was how I felt watching the Sarah Z videos about this just for two hours straight alone.
Zach of Cabbs 1:25:06
There's this part here where Snake, who is referred to--
Haley Simpkiss 1:25:10
Or Snoop, or Snap?
Zach of Cabbs 1:25:14
Snake and Loopin were in da middle of da empty hall, doin it, and Dobby was watching!1
Brooke Matherly 1:25:23
Once again, this should have been a threesome.
Zach of Cabbs 1:25:26
That scene got me to a half-mast. I'm not gonna lie. It was described so sexily that I couldn't help but become aroused.
Haley Simpkiss 1:25:34
Why are Snape and Lupin always hanging out in this? It's like they're besties.
Christina Kann 1:25:38
I know! Here's the next thing I highlighted: "if ur a homophone den fuk of!" Okay, all homophones get out!
Zach of Cabbs 1:25:50
What is a homophone?
Brooke Matherly 1:25:51
It's two words that sound like each other.
Christina Kann 1:25:54
Like "sofa king" and "so fucking."
Zach of Cabbs 1:25:56
Oh, gotcha, gotcha. Interesting. So fucking fuck off.
Brooke Matherly 1:26:03
At some point, we must cut ourselves off.
Christina Kann 1:26:07
Yeah, it's time to wrap it up.
Zach of Cabbs 1:26:10
You mean we're not gonna keep going for five more hours? I have more notes.
Brooke Matherly 1:26:14
This could be a separate level of Patreon content, where we just go through line by line. We would have two years' worth of content.
Christina Kann 1:26:23
There's so many layers here.
Haley Simpkiss 1:26:24
No! Do not give the listeners ideas, Brooke. Don't give them ideas! They'll ask us to do it!
Zach of Cabbs 1:26:30
In college, I would read this fic until I’d have to go, "Okay, stop." And then I would rant about some particular thing. And then I would get back to reading, and then I would say, "Stop," and I would rant. And by two hours in, I would only be on chapter five.
Christina Kann 1:26:45
Okay, we're gonna wrap this up. But before we go, I want everyone to read one line that they like. Can we do that?
Brooke Matherly 1:26:53
I don't have the text in front of me.
Zach of Cabbs 1:26:55
Hold on. I'm looking. I'm scanning through my favorites.
Brooke Matherly 1:27:02
There was a point where she was describing a dress with red lace all over it. And the problem was that I read that and thought, "Oh yeah, I know what you're talking about" immediately. I was like, "I know that goth dress."
Christina Kann 1:27:15
Yeah, that's the thing that I would give the award to in this: costume description. Really excellent; I could envision all of them very well.
Zach of Cabbs 1:27:25
I am shocked that no one has done a Drunk-History-style, live action retelling of this. I have a passage to read.
Brooke Matherly 1:27:36
This passage comes from . . . Are you gonna give us our chapter and verse?
Zach of Cabbs 1:27:39
“Crookshanks!” I shouted at him. Voldemort fell of his broom and started to scream. I felt bad for him even though I’m a sadist so I stopped.
Christina Kann 1:27:56
Haley Simpkiss 1:27:57
I grabbed a steak and almost stuck it into my heart to commit suicide. I was so fucking depressed! I got out of the bathtub and put on a black low-cut dress with lace all over it sandly. I put on black high heels with pink metal stuff on the ends and six pairs of skull earrings. I couldn’t fucking believe it. Then I looked out the window and screamed… Snap was spying on me and he was taking a video tape of me! And Loopin was masticating to it! They were sitting on their broomsticks.
Zach of Cabbs 1:28:39
So good. I feel inspired. I'm gonna go write. I'm gonna go work on my manuscript.
Christina Kann 1:28:46
Wait, I have to compose myself so I can read mine.
Zach of Cabbs 1:28:50
Don't laugh or you lose. If Christina laughs, we all drink.
Christina Kann 1:28:54
*cackling and weeping constantly*
“Oh my fucking god, where’s Draco!!!!111 How did Snap get back here!!! I tohot he wuz in Azerbaijan.” I asked sadly.
Brooke Matherly 1:29:25
Christina. Christina. Focus. What was the last thing I said in our last chapter of Prisoner of Azkaban?
Brooke Matherly (flashback clip) 1:29:34
I just want to say that I've been waiting this whole book to try to see if there's a way I could naturally make a "Prisoner of Azerbaijan" reference, and it never came up, so I'm just gonna leave it here.
Christina Kann 1:29:45
We got there!
Brooke Matherly 1:29:47
That is meant to be Azkaban, I guarantee it. That is spell correct being like, "Azerbaijan???"
Zach of Cabbs 1:29:55
"I don't fucking know."
Brooke Matherly 1:29:59
I understood you, Tara.
Haley Simpkiss 1:30:04
So are we still of the opinion that this is a completely earnest effort?
Brooke Matherly 1:30:09
Christina Kann 1:30:10
I think it was! That's the craziest part of this whole thing: I think it was earnest.
Brooke Matherly 1:30:15
It's gotta be.
Zach of Cabbs 1:30:16
I think it began in earnest, and at some point late into the making of it, maybe it became a little more self-aware. But for the most part, I think it was earnest, yeah. It began in earnest.
Haley Simpkiss 1:30:26
I still don't know. I still simply do not know.
Christina Kann 1:30:33
Haley, thank you so much for taking us on this journey.
Haley Simpkiss 1:30:36
Thank you for coming with me. I'm glad that we all got to share this bonding experience. I'd say I'm sorry, but you guys tricked me into watching Cats (2019). Zach, I'm sorry, but you'd already read it. You guys tricked me into watching Cats (2019), so this is just vengeance.
Christina Kann 1:30:48
Haley Simpkiss 1:30:50
We're square now.
Zach of Cabbs 1:30:52
I'm gonna go read My Immortal again for fun even though we're done recording.
Brooke Matherly 1:30:56
Are you okay?
Christina Kann 1:30:58
It was great fun.
Zach of Cabbs 1:31:00
Really quick, I want to plug a another terrible fanfic you can find a very famous video of on YouTube called Half-Life Full-Life Consequences. Worth a watch.
Haley Simpkiss 1:31:10
Oh, you just unlocked a very deep memory.
Zach of Cabbs 1:31:14
Very, very good Half-Life fanfic from someone who is not only a child, but clearly not a native English speaker. It's rough but very funny.
Christina Kann 1:31:24
Haley, thank you so much for leading us. Brooke, thank you for being here. As always, this is your burden. Zach, you're a special guest. Thank you for what I assume was a pleasure to you. I don't know.
Zach of Cabbs 1:31:42
I had a great time.
Christina Kann 1:31:43
And that's My Immortal.
Haley Simpkiss 1:31:44
Haley Simpkiss 1:31:47
And finally, please enjoy this owl mail from our best good buddy, Mats:
After relistening to y'all's bonus episode on the absolute magnum opus of literature that is My Immortal, I have a theory.
[Sounds of people gasping in shock]
Tara Gilesbie is actually Tara Reid, renowned actress known from critically acclaimed movies such as the Sharknado franchise.
That's my thesis statement.
My theory is that Tara Reid loved writing fanfiction when she was younger (usually under the pseudonym "Tara Gilesbie"), and after many failed attempts, she had finally something worthy of being remembered for. After finishing it, she turned the story she wrote into a horcrux by placing a fragment of her soul—a memory of Tara Gilesbie—inside of it, to preserve the story as well as her secret identity. It will now be remembered until the end of time. Kind of adds another layer to the title, doesn't it?
And that is who wrote this masterpiece of a fanfiction, and how it's been able to live in our brains for so long.
Anyway, I hope you all have a lovely day! Love you all!
I have the honor to be your obedient servant,
M dot Fur
PS. I'm sorry you had to read this piece of utter nonsense. Hopefully it didn't break your brain.
PPS. Do you think that ~80 years from now, they will release a My Immortal 100-year anniversary leatherbound edition? Because if so, I'm totally buying it.
PLEASE tell us what you think of this fanfic, its lore, and/or this episode in the comments.
Christina Kann 00:23
Welcome to The Restricted Section, where we love our trans friends!
Charlie Mack 00:31
I feel so loved.
Christina Kann 00:34
I am very excited to be joined today by my beloved friend, Grace. Say hello to the listeners, Grace.
Grace Ball 00:39
Christina Kann 00:41
How have you been, Grace?
Grace Ball 00:42
Oh guys, not great. I am a little bit under the weather today, but being here with you is making it all better. So thank you so much for having me today.
Christina Kann 00:54
Yeah, I just wanted to give you the opportunity to to explain why your voice is like this. Better to just get out of the way at the beginning so people aren't wondering if Grace is okay.
Grace Ball 01:05
For the record, I am okay.
Christina Kann 01:08
And, of course, we are so excited to be joined today by our friend, Charlie! Say hello to the listeners, Charlie.
Charlie Mack 01:14
Hello to the listeners, Charlie.
Christina Kann 01:17
Recently, on our Patreon bonus feed, I said I was going to stop introducing you, but I think that you deserve an introduction right now because you are one of the co-hosts of Of the Eldest Gods! You want to tell everyone what changes are happening over there right now?
Charlie Mack 01:34
Oh, yeah! Well, one: we're starting a new book finally. Season three! And I got a new co-host for the podcast finally.
Christina Kann 01:46
Tell us about them.
Charlie Mack 01:48
Raye is wonderful. I met them through stalking their Barbie podcast, Barbie Movies Slap. It's a fun time. Very good shit. And we just we just became friends through other Barbie podcasts.
Christina Kann 02:05
Yes! Internet friends are the best!
Charlie Mack 02:11
They actually approached me. That's the fun thing about this. I posted, "Oh, yeah, I'm still looking for a new co-host for the pod!" and then they were like, "I might possibly be interested in that. Let me let me figure out some schedule things, but yeah, I'd probably be down."
Christina Kann 02:35
Yeah, and we love Raye so much, so I'm very excited to hear the start of the new season.
Grace Ball 02:40
Welcome to the family, Raye!
Christina Kann 02:42
Yeah, and we miss Taylor, but not really because I still talk to her every day.
Charlie Mack 02:48
Taylor is wonderful. She's still around.
Christina Kann 02:52
Her her main role in the network now is pod mom. "What do you need, honey?"
Charlie Mack 02:56
She's the SecreTaylor.
Christina Kann 03:02
I think we call them Administrative-Assist-Taylors now.
Charlie Mack 03:07
No, that's her nickname the discord. Raye, Taylor, and I literally coined that in the episode we all did together.
Christina Kann 03:18
And I love that y'all had an episode where Taylor got the opportunity to pass the torch along to Raye. That's very cute and symbolic. You know I love some symbolism.
Charlie Mack 03:26
It was very good and fun.
Christina Kann 03:29
And I'm sure you'll hear Taylor's dulcet tones all over this network for the rest of time.
Charlie Mack 03:39
We already saved an episode for her for Titan's Curse.
Christina Kann 03:48
I did a bad job of doing this in our last episode, but Happy Pride everyone! Very exciting. A personality trait about myself is that I'm a bragger, and when I do anything, I love to tell everyone I know about it. So I bought my first bi pride shirt this year, and I'm very excited about that.
Grace Ball 04:13
Charlie Mack 04:14
I love that for you.
Christina Kann 04:15
Thank you so much.
Grace Ball 04:17
I can't wait to see it!
Charlie Mack 04:18
Someday you'll catch up to the amount of pride things I have.
Christina Kann 04:21
I actually feel like one is enough.
Christina Kann 04:25
I have my inclusive pride flag in my home, and then I made myself a bi pride necklace, like a friendship bracelet situation, and I bought this t-shirts, so I actually have three things now.
Charlie Mack 04:25
Charlie Mack 05:03
I think I have like 100 things.
Christina Kann 05:09
Well, I bought the flag because I had parties at my house and stuff, so new people coming to my house kind of frequently, and I just want everyone to know, "You're in a safe place." I don't want that to be up for debate. We posted that on the wall.
Christina Kann 06:51
So I we're here today to talk about "Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place," a transgender memoir by Jackson Bird. And I first heard about this book from from Charlie, weird. Charlie, can you tell us a little bit about Sorted and how you found out about it and why you recommended it to me?
Charlie Mack 07:19
Well, you know, it's about this very special boy named Jackson Bird
Christina Kann 07:26
*scatching* Jackson Bird was a very special boy!
Charlie Mack 07:33
Well, it's a trans memoir. You know, it's his story of how he figured out -- throughout his entire life -- just all the little things that were like "This kind of gave me little inklings that I was different.' And like, as it goes on, he's like, "Yeah, I realized I was trans." And then it takes you through his transition a little bit until a certain point. I like it. It's very fun.
Christina Kann 08:04
So why is it called Sorted?
Charlie Mack 08:06
Well, that's the reason why I told you we should cover this on The Restricted Section. Because yes, I mean, for some reason, my brain was like, "Oh, yeah, there's like a lot of Harry Potter in it." There is, but there isn't.
Christina Kann 08:22
For much of the book, he works and/or volunteers for what was formerly the Harry Potter Alliance. So there's a lot of Harry Potter discourse in the background of this book.
Charlie Mack 08:34
Yeah, sometimes there's a picture in the book where it's like, I'm cosplaying Sirius Black here.
Christina Kann 08:40
Oh my god. There's some great pictures in this book.
Charlie Mack 08:43
There are. I love the pictures. It's always talking about, "Oh, yeah, I was this nerd who just really liked Harry Potter." It's Sorted because -- God, the front cover is like the best part of this book. Grace, have you seen the front cover?
Grace Ball 09:02
I have. I did listen to the audiobook, but I was able to see the front cover.
Charlie Mack 09:07
I love the front cover because it's has the check marks for male, female, and if you've got it, you just want to brush off the little eraser marks on the "female."
Christina Kann 09:20
I definitely tried to brush them off more than once.
Charlie Mack 09:24
It's so funny to me, because I always want to do it too. "You know, we sort too soon," as one might say.
Christina Kann 09:34
It says it on the back cover.
Charlie Mack 09:36
It does, in fact.
Grace Ball 09:39
As the back cover might say...
Charlie Mack 09:42
As Albus Dumbledore himself might say...
Christina Kann 09:45
How did you learn about this book, Charlie?
Charlie Mack 09:48
Because I follow Jackson Bird.
Christina Kann 09:52
Grace Ball 09:53
That's cool. Did you watch a lot of Jackson's YouTube videos and stuff?
Charlie Mack 09:58
Yeah. So not before-transition things. If you don't know -- Hi, I'm trans masc and nonbinary.
Christina Kann 10:10
Oh my god, I can't believe it.
Charlie Mack 10:12
Yeah. So I kind of fell into a lot of trans guy stuff on YouTube. It started being recommended to me, and I started watching stuff. So I follow people like Jackson and there's also like Jamie Dodger, who does cool stuff. Just a lot of trans stuff, so I could get tips and tricks on binders and other sorts of things.
Grace Ball 10:43
That's an awesome resource.
Christina Kann 10:45
Did you follow Alex Bertie by any chance?
Charlie Mack 10:49
Christina Kann 10:50
He's another trans YouTuber whomst's memoir I read. It's called Trans Mission.
Charlie Mack 11:02
That's a podcast that Jackson had.
Christina Kann 11:08
And now I'm wondering if Alex Bertie talked about Jackson Bird and maybe that wordplay in his memoir, but I didn't know who Jackson was at the time.
Charlie Mack 11:18
I did, in fact, meet Jackson, at LeakyCon a couple years back, and I got him to sign my book because I'm a huge-ass nerd. And I was dressed up as young Harry in the oversized plaid shirt.
Grace Ball 11:37
That's a good one.
Christina Kann 11:39
You're like, "Joke's on you. I'm actually in my pajamas."
Charlie Mack 11:42
It's a fun outfit, because I just get to wear oversized clothing.
Christina Kann 11:52
So Grace, you listen to this on audiobook?
Grace Ball 11:54
Christina Kann 11:55
But Charlie, you read the print, right?
Charlie Mack 11:57
Christina Kann 11:59
I read the print as well. Did Jackson narrate the audiobook?
Grace Ball 12:03
Jackson did narrate the audiobook, which I thought was very awesome.
Christina Kann 12:07
I think that's really the only way to go with memoirs.
Grace Ball 12:10
Christina Kann 12:10
How do you not do that?
Charlie Mack 12:13
Who would you have narrate your memoir?
Grace Ball 12:15
Right? You can't hire an actor to narrate.
Charlie Mack 12:20
I just can't like ask Morgan Freeman to narrate my memoir. That's not how it works.
Christina Kann 12:26
Wait, Charlie, I think you're on to something.
Grace Ball 12:29
Yeah, actually I take back everything I just said.
Christina Kann 12:31
Write that down for later.
Charlie Mack 12:33
I definitely heard Jackson's voice in my head just because I know it well enough.
Christina Kann 12:42
So Grace, did you listen to this at work while you were taking? I did. Yeah, I don't know if I've told you that recently, I got a new job at a brewery maybe like a mile from my house, and I walked to work, and every day I get to walk past Grace's work, and I see her little ponytail and her little icing hands, and I never say hi, because I'm like, "Oh, that looks like she's dealing with something. My little girl," and I keep walking.
Grace Ball 13:11
You should always just do a little tap.
Christina Kann 13:14
I check every time. I'm like, "She's really concentrating on whatever that is."
Grace Ball 13:20
Well, I feel your presence.
Christina Kann 13:24
Next time I tap, don't come outside. Just wave. We'll just wave.
Grace Ball 13:27
Okay, we'll just do a wave. It doesn't have to be an ordeal.
Christina Kann 13:31
So how was the narration? Do you feel like it added to the memoir, the fact that was being read to you by the author?
Grace Ball 13:39
Yeah, I definitely do. I think that Jackson did an awesome job narrating the audiobook. I mean, obviously, he has a lot of speaking experience, which I'm sure it came in handy. But yeah, it was delivered very well, and it made me feel like an already personal story was made even more personal. So I definitely recommend recommend the audiobook if you haven't listened to it.
Christina Kann 14:07
It's like you're just buddying up with a pal and you're like, "Tell me about your life."
Charlie Mack 14:13
I don't listen to audiobooks, but I feel like I definitely would for something like this.
Christina Kann 14:19
Some books I've come across in my life are much better as audiobooks, especially memoirs.
Christina Kann 14:25
I am sad, though, because it sounds like the book has a lot of images and stuff like that.
Christina Kann 14:28
Grace, when I see you next, we can just flip through it.
Grace Ball 14:42
Yeah, I definitely want to.
Christina Kann 14:43
I mean, in the beginning of the book, a lot of the pictures are like, "See, look at me. I was a girl, and it was fucking weird," basically. But once it gets into the middle, when he's in college and he's doing fun stuff, some of the pictures are pretty funny like that. All of the cosplay's very fun. He always contextualizes the photos, too, which is helpful. He's like, "Oh, I actually felt pretty cute on this day," or he's like, "This was a nightmare photo." Oh my god or that one photo of his dad's wedding when there was like a wildfire. "Metaphor like my life that summer?" And then I wonder, Grace -- in the print book, there are some sections that are set out, excerpts from Jackson's journal, in this handwriting font and sometimes they were on little separate piece of paper, you know, like little separate sections. Did he just read them? Was he like, "This is a note now."
Grace Ball 15:47
I don't remember if that was just like part of the regular text.
Christina Kann 15:52
That means they did it good, if she doesn't even remember how they did it.
Grace Ball 15:54
Exactly. Seamless. Really good. I think it was sort of just read as part of the text. Maybe there was like a short line that was like, "From my journal" or "from this time" or something like that. But yeah, it wasn't weird or anything. It wasn't weird.
Charlie Mack 16:13
And then there are those blocks of the gray text that explain stuff.
Christina Kann 16:19
Memoirs are written kind of like novels. They're narrative. Occasionally there's dialogue, and all of the dialogue is assumed to be paraphrasing. And then Sorted had, as I mentioned, set aside little journal excerpts from Jackson, sometimes with photos sometimes by themselves. And then yeah, like Charlie said, there were also textbooky, but in like a cute way, sections set aside to delve into a trans concept that you might not be familiar with. And that was so cool.
Grace Ball 16:55
Yeah. And did y'all start out with definitions?
Charlie Mack 16:59
Yes. It's like the first thing in there, isn't it?
Christina Kann 17:06
Yeah, it's very cool. It also comes with a disclaimer. Jackson is like, "A lot of this language means different things to different people. Here are some general definitions, but also don't assume anything. "There's a lot of complexity and variance to each term and to the relationship between it and each individual it may apply to. The more research you do, and the more willing you are to listen to new information, the better." That's the thesis statement of life, I guess.
Christina Kann 17:43
I've read a couple books like this. They're almost like beginners level transgender memoirs, where the intended audience is kids who are looking for resources as they're questioning their gender, and adults who are dealing with their trans children to learn and get a firsthand experience and try to understand better. It's almost like"So you want to learn about trans stuff." You know what I'm saying? I think it's so cool that these books exist. And I've read a couple. I read Alex Birdy's Trans Mission and a couple others before that. It is very cool the way it's like, "A lot of this can be confusing. So let me just like explain the whole thing to you."
Grace Ball 18:38
Yeah, I thought the educational element was very cool. I think it read is very endearing and welcoming. It felt very non-judgmental. No matter who is reading this book, no matter what your understanding is, it sort of met you where you were. I found that to be just so nice the whole time.
Christina Kann 19:16
He goes through a lot of shit when he is questioning his gender and trying to figure it out, but in the back of your head, you're like, "Well, he figures it out. You know he's gonna be okay."
Grace Ball 19:42
It's gonna be all right.
Charlie Mack 19:43
It gets better!
Christina Kann 19:44
I have a lot of queer friends and I work in language as a living, so a lot of the terminology -- "here's your little introduction of what this word means" -- a lot of it I knew already, but I think it's cool to also get the added context for every subject that he brought up. He's like, "Here's my take on it. Here's like my understanding of the community's take on it. Here's the technical definition." It does kind of give you all the information you need.
Charlie Mack 20:13
On this reread, I will say, I definitely skipped most of the gray things just because I was like, "Yeah, at this point, I know what's going on."
Christina Kann 20:21
Charlie's like "Let me read this definition of nonbinary. According to Webster's Dictionary..."
Grace Ball 20:27
Yeah. It's there if you need it, and if you don't need it, just move right along.
Christina Kann 20:34
The first half of this book is Jackson's childhood, and the second half of it is college and just the very beginning of after college.
Charlie Mack 20:48
Yeah, 25 is when he comes out, it says here.
Christina Kann 20:54
So a lot of the first half was about his childhood not feeling quite right and things coming up that were like, "Why is this an issue?" Like the dresses thing. "This is a fucking issue for me." And the mom just being like, "Why? Why are you like this?"
Charlie Mack 21:16
Some kids just are, man.
Christina Kann 21:18
That's the thing! Some kids are like this, and some kids are questioning their gender. And that's why it's good to have open communication and resources like this.
Grace Ball 21:30
There were some cool moments where his mom had, you know, sewn him a dress, and very clearly he was not cool with that.
Christina Kann 21:42
I think it was an Easter dress, right? The worst kind of dress.
Christina Kann 21:47
Christina Kann 21:47
For someone who doesn't like dresses, it's the worst.
Grace Ball 21:51
Just the frilliest kind. But then after that, his mom started sewing little waistcoats.
Charlie Mack 21:56
I'm jealous. I'm like legit jealous. The fact that he got to swap two waistcoats instead of dresses.
Christina Kann 22:09
I think we should shout out Jackson's mom, whose name I don't remember, because she really tries her best in this memorial. She keeps a listening ear. She like does her best not to judge. I think she says a couple things in passing when he's really young that she probably wasn't thinking too hard about. But generally, when it comes to it, she's like, "I support your choices. I will make you waistcoats. I will listen to you try to come out to me as trans for like three hours," which is such a cute scene.
Grace Ball 22:42
Christina Kann 22:46
The dad's not as much in the picture. I think after Jackson moves away to college, his parents got divorced.
Grace Ball 22:54
Yes, and then the mom moved to New Mexico.
Christina Kann 22:58
Oh, yeah. Go visit your mom in the mountains of New Mexico. Whenever my friends are trying to move away, I'm like, "I will miss you so much. But you should go, and I will come there. I will visit you." I even tried to get to convince Sean to take a road trip up through Boston to Canada this summer, but he said we're doing Nashville instead. So that's fine.
Charlie Mack 23:23
*from the Boston area* Well, ah, Sean, how fucking dare you?
Christina Kann 23:28
Sean's ex-girlfriend is from Canada, and her name was also Christina. She was my same height, and she broke up with him for being too short, so you could say I'm a good person.
Charlie Mack 23:40
Oh, fuck her for that.
Grace Ball 23:43
Christina Kann 23:44
So I think Sean's like, "I can't take this Christina to Canada. That doesn't add up."
Christina Kann 23:52
So one thing I thought was really cool: In the beginning, Jackson talks about how he used acting as a way of exploring not only gender, but also personality expression at large. And I thought that was so cool.
Charlie Mack 24:10
I also was an actor at some points in my childhood.
Christina Kann 24:17
Charlie Mack 24:17
It didn't last for very long. When I was like 13, I think, my mom and I really hated the fact that my teacher basically gave me hooker makeup for my last play. So we're just like, "We're gonna stop doing that program." And then I never got into it at school because I hated auditions.
Christina Kann 24:45
I just thought of that Dolly Parton quote where she's like, "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap."
Grace Ball 24:52
I love Dolly. Oh my gosh.
Christina Kann 24:58
So you did acting too! Grace, do you have any like theater experience?
Grace Ball 25:01
Absolutely not. That is my worst nightmare. Being on a stage in front of people? I cannot think of anything worse.
Charlie Mack 25:14
Some of my plays at this program were filmed -- we still have those -- my mom distinctly remembers how I used to basically memorize the entire script, and when I wasn't the one speaking, I would mouth what everybody else had to say, while they were saying it. And we have photographic evidence.
Christina Kann 25:40
That reminds me that I watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail with Andrew the other day, and it was his birthday, so I told him that he was allowed to quote every single line, and he did!
Grace Ball 25:50
What a gift.
Christina Kann 25:52
Him and Haley were reciting the whole thing.
Charlie Mack 25:57
I wouldn't study the script until way later. I'm a procrastinator. You know this about me. But then I would finally learn it, and then I would know all of it.
Christina Kann 26:17
I did theater in high school. I like took it as a credited course, and I did after-school theater.
Charlie Mack 26:26
I didn't take theater in college, but I did take playwriting courses.
Christina Kann 26:34
Do you like playwriting?
Charlie Mack 26:36
Playwriting is actually pretty good. I prefer prose, but I liked playwriting because I love dialogue.
Christina Kann 26:46
I like that playwriting forces you to have good dialogue. There's nothing else. Man, we should make our authors do that as an exercise, Grace.
Grace Ball 26:57
That is so true. Like a little playwriting prompt.
Charlie Mack 27:02
I prefer dialogue.
Christina Kann 27:03
I was not a very good actor. I did a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. And I think that I was not a very good actor because personally, I have a problem where I am a super transparent person. I'm always the exact same person. It's very hard for me to be professional for work. It's very hard for me to not swear in front of babies. I'm not very good at becoming a different person. I would be like Nicolas Cage if I were an actor. You can have Nicolas Cage in your movie if you want this person, who is Nicolas Cage, to be the character in your movie. There's not a lot of wiggle room.
Grace Ball 27:42
You're just so unabashedly authentically yourself, and I respect the hell out it.
Christina Kann 27:47
Me and Nic, baby. So I'm really bad at acting, because I'm always just kind of like laughing and screaming at people.
Grace Ball 27:54
Did you win an award for like set design or something?
Christina Kann 27:58
Oh, my God, Grace. Thank you so much for bringing it up. I would love to brag about the one award I ever won in my life. Yes, when I was in 11th grade, I did win a Cappy's Award, which is the DC metro high school theater competition for the set decoration of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940, which is a great play that involved hidden bookcases and trapdoors and stuff. It was a very cool set that I loved a lot. It's the best thing I've ever done.
Grace Ball 28:38
You should brag about that!
Christina Kann 28:38
How did we get here?
Grace Ball 28:40
I don't know.
Christina Kann 28:42
I can't really relate to the concept of using acting as a way to exploring being another person. I think that's so cool -- first of all, that people can act, and that Jackson found an outlet through it as a kid.
Grace Ball 28:56
Yeah, I mean, it makes a lot of sense.
Charlie Mack 28:58
Yeah. If I could compare my journey to that, I definitely use cosplay a bit more for that kind of stuff. Like, yes, acting was a thing, but I was not really at that level. I wasn't mentally thinking about gender in terms of acting. I was just like, "I'm just a character."
Christina Kann 29:22
People are people.
Charlie Mack 29:23
Mentally, I wasn't super into that part of it. But when I started like trying to cosplay, you know, I wanted to be a lot of guys because they have comfortable outfits more than girls.
Christina Kann 29:38
Oh, yeah, it's true.
Grace Ball 29:40
Christina Kann 29:41
My little wish list for Halloween costumes -- you know, I'm like, "What am I going to be for Halloween in like four months?" -- I do have a couple guys on there because the billowy shirt game is strong. I guess they're both pirates or something.
Charlie Mack 29:56
Pirates are great, though. Pirates are awesome. Pirates are also queer. Regardless of Our Flag Means Death.
Christina Kann 30:07
Charlie, you probably also really upgraded your pocket space when you started wearing masc clothes for cosplay purposes.
Charlie Mack 30:13
Yeah, because I also just started wearing men's jeans in general.
Christina Kann 30:20
They're just built different.
Charlie Mack 30:22
My mom is just like, "Why don't you wear this old pair of my jeans?" and I'm like, "Your jeans don't have pockets. I can't put my phone in there." And she's like, "I have back pockets." I don't want to put my phone in my back pocket!
Christina Kann 30:35
Oh, I do. I sit on it a LOT, but I have a really squishy butt.
Charlie Mack 30:38
I'll sit on my wallet. Not my phone. I don't know.
Christina Kann 30:42
That is a very masc energy. I would never sit on my wallet. My wallet's a fatty right now. I think that's maybe my problem, that I tote things.
Grace Ball 30:54
You tote things?
Christina Kann 30:55
Yeah, I stay totin. So no pocket will ever suffice.
Grace Ball 30:59
Yeah, you need a whole bag.
Christina Kann 31:01
I wrote down Chapter Six was called The Transmasculine Invisibility Cloak. That's like a great example of how Harry Potter is built into the worlds of this memoir.
Charlie Mack 31:15
I also just, I was reading I don't so much.
Grace Ball 31:18
Yeah, the chapter titles are very fun. I don't know if this is exactly right, so if y'all know, please correct me. But I think they came up with the title kind of late. I think the book was pretty close to being published before they actually named it. Man, I wish I still had a pulled up. Jackson and a group of people had gone through a number of kind of funny titles. A lot of them were like bird puns, which I thought was funny. And then, and then someone had mentioned Sorted, and he kind of brushed it off as cheesy or corny or whatever, and then like later revisited it. I think he had been hesitant because there originally wasn't as much Harry Potter content in the book. I think he was sort of resistant to admitting exactly how much Harry Potter had impacted his whole journey. They must have gone back and sort of baked in some of this Harry Potter stuff that we see now -- at least more of it. I thought that was really interesting. It totally read like the title was the first thing that they started with.
Charlie Mack 32:59
I do see in the acknowledgments it says, "Thank you Katie Riley for originally come out with the title this book, but mostly for feeding me while I wrote it."
Grace Ball 33:09
There you go.
Charlie Mack 33:11
I want to say that's probably his roommate maybe.
Christina Kann 33:16
Even in like a pre-JK-Rowling-is-a-TERF phase of the fandom, it still is a really strong personality choice to be like "Harry Potter is the whole story. Harry Potter means this much to me." I totally understand Jackson getting a real book deal and being like, "Okay, I have to take this seriously. I can't just be gushing about Harry Potter the whole time."
Grace Ball 33:45
Yeah, tone it down.
Charlie Mack 33:46
Imagine if my trans memoir was "Claimed" for Percy Jackson.
Christina Kann 33:52
Oh, my God.
Grace Ball 33:59
When Jackson was thinking about different possible names, his mom had said, "Oh, well, I was originally going to name you, if you're a boy, Harrison." Which, of course, shortened to Harry, and Jackson was like, "I could never! People are gonna think I am losing it!"
Christina Kann 34:21
That's very funny. I'm in a Facebook group called Your Children Are Not Billboards for Your Fandoms, and it's a name shaming group. People are like, "My friend straight-up named her baby Khaleesi, can you believe it?" So many children are named Khaleesi. That's not even her name!
Grace Ball 34:41
Oh no. Yikes.
Charlie Mack 34:45
I have personal things about the whole naming situation. I don't want to like make this all about my trans experience because we're talking about Jackson.
Christina Kann 35:05
Grace Ball 35:05
Christina Kann 35:06
Grace and I don't have trans experience.
Charlie Mack 35:08
I know you don't. I just relate to some of this stuff in here, where he's like, "Oh yeah, I came up with the whole Jack name because of this Mary Sue character that I made up," and I'm just like, "Bro, bro, why are you stealing my experience?" That's kind of where Charlie came from.
Christina Kann 35:33
I love that.
Charlie Mack 35:35
I had a Mary Sue self insert character that I made of myself, and at some point I was like, "Yeah, I guess this character could change gender, I guess that'd be a cool thing I could do." This is before I realized -- this is before I knew nonbinary was a thing, actually. And then I was like, "I guess the masculine version would be Charlie, I guess? I'll go with that." And then that just like, became my name.
Christina Kann 36:05
I think Charlie and Jackson are both excellent names in that they're so mild, you know? They're so classic. They're very pleasant names, both of them.
Charlie Mack 36:17
At least it's not the trope of nonbinary people being named after objects, which I love. But at least, you know, it's just Jackson Bird.
Grace Ball 36:30
It's a very nice, strong name.
Christina Kann 36:36
And that whole naming worry is is like one of those things that I just am so grateful that he wrote this so frankly. I really appreciate the gift of getting to look a little bit into that experience. Because names are so important, and how stressful to have to do it for yourself!
Grace Ball 37:02
I know. One thing I thought was very cool about Jackson's approach to the naming thing is how involved he wanted his mom to be. I thought that was so nice.
Christina Kann 37:19
"This is a lot of parents' jobs, and so I want you to be on the board."
Charlie Mack 37:27
Yeah, I didn't necessarily ask my mom for anything. My middle name is Ryan, and that's what I would have been named if I had been born a boy. I liked that, but I didn't want it to be my first name. I was like, "It's gender neutral enough. Let's go with that for my middle name."
Christina Kann 37:54
My mom asked me for the first time in my life like two days ago if I like my name.
Christina Kann 37:58
Christina Kann 37:59
I was like, "Mom, the word 'Christ' is more than half of my name. I don't like love it but it's definitely my name."
Charlie Mack 38:10
Grace Ball 38:11
Was that just out of nowhere?
Christina Kann 38:14
I feel like it was only medium out of nowhere, not completely out of nowhere. I'm trying to remember. We were sitting in her apartments' leasing office and for some reason it just came up.
Charlie Mack 38:25
Do you want us to call you Christ-tina now?
Christina Kann 38:29
Hard no. But that's probably why I've been introducing myself more and more as Tina lately.
Grace Ball 38:34
Just ditch the rest. Fair enough.
Christina Kann 38:37
Grace, do you like your name? You also have a weirdly Christian name.
Grace Ball 38:40
Yeah, um, I don't know. It's fine.
Christina Kann 38:45
I'm actually gonna talk about your name right now. The funny thing about having a friend named Grace is... My grandma lives in a Catholic retirement home, so I see a lot of like language about grace, prayers for grace or like, whatever they do there. And we've also encountered a lot of grace books, like religious books.
Grace Ball 39:12
Christina Kann 39:13
I swear to god I've encountered a book -- correct me if I'm wrong, but I swear to god this happened -- called Thirsting for Grace.
Grace Ball 39:19
Christina Kann 39:23
Is it Jesus or is it smut?
Grace Ball 39:28
I can't tell!
Charlie Mack 39:33
I love that. That's just great.
Grace Ball 39:35
Yeah, that's real. That's a little too real. Yeah, so my name is pretty versatile, you could say.
Charlie Mack 39:48
I've probably told you all about this, but my mom nicknamed me Chuckie Cheese now; that's what she calls me.
Grace Ball 39:57
Is that because you're cheesin' all the time?
Charlie Mack 40:00
Because I like Cheez-its like a lot, okay?
Christina Kann 40:06
Grace Ball 40:07
Christina Kann 40:09
I only took three notes for this. So I'm gonna read that. In Chapter Six, The Transmasculine Invisibility Cloak, Jackson talks a lot about how god awful the queer and especially trans representation was in childhood in Texas -- in middle of nowhere, Texas, I assume; everywhere in Texas is the middle of nowhere. It's just something I suspect about Texas. He talks about how most of his queer exposure as a kid were really larger than life people. He specifically mentions David Bowie, Dr. Frank-N-further, and Eddie Izzard, who are three of the most theatrical people. So over the top.
Charlie Mack 40:56
Christina Kann 40:57
And this is also he talks briefly about TERFdom in this chapter, which we're not gonna talk about on this chapter, but it does get mentioned. It's a subject appropriate concept to introduce. This is my last note, and then I'll just start scrolling through our reading guide questions. But I also wrote down that he was taught that bisexuality was a myth as a kid and that bi people simply had to choose one, and I take so much offense to that.
Grace Ball 41:24
Yeah, in his AP bio class or something, right?
Christina Kann 41:30
Oh, my God, you're right about that. Yes.
Grace Ball 41:33
Insane. And then also that like, bi people are more susceptible to the flu?
Charlie Mack 41:40
I have questions.
Christina Kann 41:41
It's because they're making out with twice as many people.
Grace Ball 41:45
Oh my god.
Charlie Mack 41:50
A lot of things, when I learned them, I just have no memory of them. I blame the ADHD for why I just don't remember when I learned what bisexuality was or what transgender was, but I remember in high school having a similar experience to Jackson there. "Oh, yeah, I like guys, so I can't be gay. So I guess I'm straight." And that was it for like, a couple years. And then I was like, "Oh, I guess -- bisexual -- I can like both? Okay, sure." I don't remember how I happened upon the term or that I could like both, but eventually, I figured that out. And then all my friends were also like, "Yeah, I'm also bi."
Christina Kann 42:41
It's pretty easy to be bi. Let me tell ya.
Charlie Mack 42:44
I went to Catholic school, too. At a fucking Catholic school, all the queers hung out. We all hung out by the chapel waiting for our rides at the end of the day.
Grace Ball 42:54
You found each other.
Christina Kann 42:55
Yeah, and let me tell you: if bisexual people could choose one, I think a lot of the time it would just be women, right?
Grace Ball 43:05
I mean, that would make sense.
Charlie Mack 43:08
I think that's the correct choice? I could be wrong.
Grace Ball 43:10
I'm pretty sure.
Christina Kann 43:14
I told my mom I was bisexual when I was 15 because I was mad at her and I was trying to upset her and it was a straight up lie. When I said it, it was just a straight-up lie. I was like, "How can I make her as upset as possible right now?" And joke's on me! Oh my God, it was true.
Charlie Mack 43:29
Joke's on you.
Christina Kann 43:36
The book comes with reading guide questions in the back of it, and it's definitely geared toward a classroom, and it's adorable. "Before the beginning of the book, lead a general discussion about gender." I love it. I really hope that there are a lot of teachers out there teaching this book.
Grace Ball 43:54
Me too. I was wondering about that.
Christina Kann 43:56
I think it'd be appropriate in a high school English class, you know?
Grace Ball 44:00
Yeah, I even think in a college gender study class, this book has a place.
Christina Kann 44:08
Yeah, for sure. Okay, so we have actually had a lot of conversations about gender because I'm close friends with Grace and Charlie. So I'm just gonna scroll to the next question.
Charlie Mack 44:15
Gender is fake.
Christina Kann 44:16
This one's good because it talks about sorting. "In the introduction to Sorted, the author writes 'Growing up as someone who felt different but didn't have the words to describe or understand that difference, I was drawn to labels that could define me in other ways.' What does it mean to be given or to take on a label? How is labeling a form of sorting? Are these labels helpful or important, or as the author writes, 'oppressive and limiting'?"
Christina Kann 44:17
I mean, I feel like they can be both.
Christina Kann 44:25
Yeah, why not both?
Christina Kann 44:26
Why not both?
Charlie Mack 44:28
It's like the whole trope of like, you know, like, middle grade young adult books where it's like, you got the divergents, the Hogwarts, the Percy Jackson. You got the whole "This is your thing," "You're this kind of person."
Christina Kann 45:14
This is our house, where we are nice and dumb!
Charlie Mack 45:17
You have this personality trait, and that's your thing.
Christina Kann 45:22
That's literally the plot of Divergent, and she's like, "What if I could have three personality traits?" She's so cool because of that.
Charlie Mack 45:31
Guess what? Everyone's fucking divergent!
Grace Ball 45:35
Christina Kann 45:38
That premise of dystopian fiction is dumb, and that's why that trend ended. It trended and then it ended.
Charlie Mack 45:49
Labels are helpful in certain contexts. In certain contexts, they are oppressive and limiting. But if you're just trying to say in 10 words or less who you are as a person, labels can be helpful.
Christina Kann 46:07
Like my Instagram bio is like "Hufflepuff, hiker, she/her/hers."
Charlie Mack 46:12
If you're trying to write a bio, labels are like actually helpful.
Christina Kann 46:18
Yeah, you're right about that. That's an interesting perspective. Kind of a lot of my friends are turning 30 and being like, "Well, it's probably about time I get that ADHD diagnosis." And I think labels like that can be helpful because it's like, "Okay, let's try like treatment. And then maybe try some meds." You can only do that with this label.
Charlie Mack 46:39
Bro, I got diagnosed at, like, age six.
Christina Kann 46:44
Good for you! I'm really happy for you.
Grace Ball 46:45
Yeah, that's really good.
Christina Kann 46:47
Yeah. And then sometimes I'm like, "Do I have an anxiety disorder or just regular anxiety?" And in the end, does that matter? Because it's not gonna change anything.
Grace Ball 46:57
Yeah, I still feel the way I feel.
Christina Kann 47:01
I went to like, five therapy sessions to be like, "I think I have anxiety disorder." And she was like, "No, just regular. That's just regular life anxiety." And I was like, "Cool. Okay, glad to know we're all like this."
Grace Ball 47:13
Oh, my gosh. Wow.
Christina Kann 47:18
Obviously, this is a Harry Potter podcast, so this doesn't happen a lot. But every once in a while, I ask a guest, "What is your Hogwarts house?" And they say, "I don't fucking know," or, "I don't care." And that's really valid. I think most recently it was Zac from Belated Binge, where he was like, "I'm a Ravenclaw," let's say, and I was like, "Oh, do you feel like a Ravenclaw?" And he was like, "I don't fucking care." Wow, that's really a valid answer to that. Back in fucking 2020 we had a guest named Claire Haley, who I asked what Hogwarts house they were, and they like invented a new one. It was called Grumblepaw or something.
Grace Ball 48:01
I know naps were involved.
Christina Kann 48:03
Yeah, naps were involved for sure.
Charlie Mack 48:07
Have I ever told y'all that at one point I identified as a Slytherdor because I really wanted to be edgy?
Grace Ball 48:15
Wow. The edgiest combo.
Charlie Mack 48:21
Am I at all a Slytherin?
Christina Kann 48:24
Does it matter? Ugh, labels, am I right? I recently posted -- maybe like two years ago recently -- on my Facebook. I was like, "Wait, guys, am I a Gryffindor?" A lot of people -- not a lot, but definitely some people -- were like, "Oh, it's just whatever you feel in your heart." And definitely my one friend was like, "Who cares? It doesn't matter."
Charlie Mack 48:46
You present yourself as a Gryffindor, but you're not.
Christina Kann 48:49
I'm a Hufflepuff and a Gryffindor rising.
Charlie Mack 48:52
Grace Ball 48:53
Yeah. I thought Jackson's point about labels was a good one. I think he said something like, Labels are meant to help our language be more representative and more... What was the actual word? Accurate. They're not intended to make things more confusing.
Christina Kann 49:16
Grace Ball 49:18
I feel like if people can find comfort in a label that they identify with, I think that's great.
Christina Kann 49:26
Yeah, and that's what it comes down to: the self-sorting aspect of labels. With a couple exclusions, you shouldn't have anyone impose a label on you. Maybe okay, like "felon," that's one that somebody else imposes on you.
Grace Ball 49:58
We'll allow that one.
Christina Kann 49:59
But with identity questions, it doesn't matter what you think at all. Just ask people what they are and believe them when they tell you.
Grace Ball 50:09
Yeah, like, it just does not have to be more complicated than that.
Charlie Mack 50:14
My mom and I have the conversation about labels quite often. When I'm like, "Oh, yeah, this person identifies this way," she's like, "Why are there so many labels? Can't y'all just exist?" And I'm like, "Bro, it's how you can explain yourself to people." Once you know what all the words mean, it's a lot easier.
Christina Kann 50:38
Exactly, exactly. You have to like rewire your brain to incorporate this as part of the many million things that you know how to do.
Charlie Mack 50:46
It's just adding a new word to your dictionary. That's all it is. Just add that word. And you're like, "Cool, I got it."
Christina Kann 50:53
And I think a lot of people probably are afraid of failing, afraid of like getting it wrong. You just have to always be trying, you know, and then messing up doesn't matter as much.
Charlie Mack 51:10
I can understand that. When you're in the middle of questioning yourself, you're just like, "I don't want to identify in one way or the other, because what if I'm incorrect and then I changed my mind?"
Christina Kann 51:21
There's a lot of that in this book.
Charlie Mack 51:24
People do that! It happens all the time. It's scary to change your label. Hey, guess what? I changed my name. That was fucking terrifying. So yeah. Imagine if I had been wrong and been like, "Nah, I'm gonna change it again." There are people who do that.
Christina Kann 51:45
Okay, here's a good discussion question. Thanks for letting me just read the questions at the back of this book. You know, it's my summer vacation. I'm not doing a ton of extra work. I read a book for this.
Charlie Mack 51:58
This is your summer reading.
Christina Kann 52:03
Oh, and it's not too late to get this book and read it for Pride Month or just for any whole month. I'll link to it in the show notes.
Grace Ball 52:11
Christina Kann 52:12
Okay. So I'll paraphrase: When Jackson talks about his decision to "give being a proper girl a shot," how did family and societal pressures and shame and the desire to be perceived as normal contribute to the author's prepubescent phase of presenting as a girl? So I think, more broadly, where does this gender pressure come from? Like, what are we doing to our children?
Charlie Mack 52:42
Like -- God...
Christina Kann 52:45
Part of it is probably God's fault. You're right about that.
Charlie Mack 52:47
I mean, there was a lot about church. "Oh, you got to wear this stuff to church." I don't know if I necessarily said those same things, but I can so relate to what Jackson said as a small child.
Christina Kann 53:04
This book made Charlie feel seen.
Charlie Mack 53:05
It does, it really does. And I'm not even a trans guy, but I very much understand it. I think it's just being an AFAB person. I get it. I get it so hard.
Christina Kann 53:18
Like we mentioned, almost all of this book is Jackson, pre-transition, you know? Pre coming out. So it's mostly just like the feeling that the female assignment is like, not working out, you know what I mean?
Charlie Mack 53:35
I definitely want to hear somebody who's trans femme reading this and seeing how they felt about it, or if they got anything at all out of it. Because I would assume similar things, but also way different, because it's a different set of societal norms they're going with, but it's also still the same. Like, "I feel weird about things. I don't know what I am." You know?
Grace Ball 54:12
And I think Jackson talked kind of a lot about the fact that he did have a lot of internalized transphobia just as a product of where he grew up.
Christina Kann 54:27
I can't imagine this kind of culture. You know, we live in the south, but it's not like that here. I wonder if things would have been different for him just growing up in or near a city.
Charlie Mack 54:45
I definitely didn't feel it as strongly as he did with some of those things going on. I was still definitely allowed to like wear pants or a blazer or something to an event.
Christina Kann 55:01
Blazers are so sharp on everyone.
Charlie Mack 55:04
There were times when I had feminine suits kind of going on. Have I told you all how at my middle school graduation, I showed up wearing a dress with Converse? That was like my thing. I did that.
Christina Kann 55:26
That's what fucking Bella Swan wears to prom at the end of Twilight.
Charlie Mack 55:31
Yeah, it is. It was. It was also right near the Twilight phase too. I don't think it was inspired by her. I think it was more inspired by the Demi Lovato song. "I can still wear converse with my dress." That's a line in that song.
Christina Kann 55:54
Sometimes I'm just like, "Oh, yeah, I'm a couple years older than them, and like, I can feel it." You know?
Grace Ball 55:59
Christina Kann 56:00
Demi Lovato is just a little behind my time.
Charlie Mack 56:03
I'm gonna cry a little, it's fine.
Christina Kann 56:05
I feel like that's what Jackson wore to all of these terrible dances that he kept going to. That was the motif of this story, that he like kept coming back to this one dance. Does anyone remember what it was called? It was named after somebody.
Charlie Mack 56:21
Were you talking about the Harry Potter LeakyCon dance? I went to that, in fact, because I went to LeakyCon. That's the dance in LeakyCon. I met a couple Harry Potter nerds at it.
Christina Kann 56:38
Charlie Mack 56:39
--Who were younger than me, making friends. Some people dress up, some people don't. I just wore like jeans and a sweatshirt because I was a dumbass. And I was like dying.
Christina Kann 56:55
I respect that phrasing.
Charlie Mack 56:57
I wore like a binder, a t-shirt, and a sweatshirt, and I was dying.
Grace Ball 57:02
Christina Kann 57:04
You needed a blazer in that moment.
Charlie Mack 57:07
I don't think I had anything that was dressy, per se, for the occasion. I didn't feel the same pressure that he did for certain events to dress up in dresses. I feel like that ended pretty early on for me, like maybe around middle school. I stopped caring about dresses. It was like, "I'm just gonna wear nice pants and a blouse." I hated the flats. The shoes? The shoes? God, I hate dress shoes. I don't know how y'all feel about things.
Christina Kann 57:48
Grace? This bitch can rock a heel.
Grace Ball 57:52
I love to rock a heel, I gotta say.
Christina Kann 57:53
Grace can wear heels like it's no big deal for so long. It's incredibly impressive.
Grace Ball 58:00
I'm dying inside.
Charlie Mack 58:02
The only heels I've worn are boots.
Christina Kann 58:05
Boot heels is the secret.
Grace Ball 58:07
I do like those.
Christina Kann 58:09
That's when they're not that bad. I'm a tall person, and I weigh a lot. So I've learned to wear a chunky heel. Gotta keep my truck, the base of the trunk of my tree, sturdy. Big old chunky heel.
Christina Kann 58:26
I just flipped open to the page where Jackson was doing an exchange or whatever, and he's questioning his gender, and he asked his roommate, "'Hey, have you heard of--' I squinted back down at the webpage I was reading from. 'GLBT?' She stared at me, probably trying to decide how to patiently respond to my utter lack of knowledge. 'Yes, but I usually call it LGBT.'" And I love that so much. I love that she was like, "Are you fucking kidding me?" And then was like, "Respond respectfully."
Charlie Mack 59:04
Have you not heard of Gay Lettuce Bacon Tomato?
Christina Kann 59:13
Man, question five asks about bras.
Charlie Mack 59:18
Yeah, those are a thing.
Christina Kann 59:22
Wow, we should maybe have like a proper bra wearer on this, because I wear training bras.
Grace Ball 59:30
I certainly don't need anything very serious.
Christina Kann 59:34
There are some people in our friend group who, let's just say, need a bra for like health purposes.
Charlie Mack 59:43
Yeah, bras are a thing that exists.
Christina Kann 59:47
"How did wearing a bra make Jackson feel marked as one of the girls?" There's that bit where they're hanging with a bunch of friends and one of the dudes is like, looking at him, you know, like checking him out?
Charlie Mack 1:00:06
The tank top.
Christina Kann 1:00:10
Fuck that feeling, for starters. "Great, we were friends, and now I'm just a sexual object to you."
Charlie Mack 1:00:18
I don't know if I just don't notice these things, but I just don't notice when people check me out. Maybe that's just like me not wanting to notice, or me just being oblivious.
Christina Kann 1:00:28
I just make a lot of noise, so people are always looking at me, and I'm like, "Look at all these people checking me out!"
Charlie Mack 1:00:38
At some point in my life, I was like, "Yeah, I want to have okay boobs." And now I'm just like, "Nope."
Christina Kann 1:00:59
I have heard that they're a lot to deal with. "On page 50, Jackson says, 'I want to believe that kids are born without judgment and that gender variance seems natural to them, but I suppose the prejudice of the world can seep in at a very early age.' What are examples of prejudices and attitudes that seep into children as they develop?" I feel like I actually already asked this question, but it's worded differently here.
Charlie Mack 1:01:26
Oh, just because this question is reminding me of a situation. I used to work at the movie theater, and I got a couple of different kids who asked me, "Are you a boy or girl?" And I just responded, "Does it matter?"
Christina Kann 1:01:44
Both? Both. Why not both?
Charlie Mack 1:01:47
I don't know if they heard me or if their parents heard me, but they left.
Christina Kann 1:01:54
Charlie Mack 1:01:57
Just was ignored. My answer was ignored.
Christina Kann 1:02:01
It doesn't fucking matter. It doesn't. And that's the truth of it. Grace and I run into this sometimes when we're editing books: a lot of the times authors are like, "In this car there's a driver, and then in the next car, it's a female driver." All the time.
Christina Kann 1:02:20
It happens literally all the time. It's never like, "And behind that one, a male driver." No, especially if you're doing something masc coded. "There was two fishermans and then a lady fisher." Obviously, that's not working for anyone. They'll always tell you if they're in books! "Five guards ran in; two of them were women." You know what you call a female guard?
Grace Ball 1:02:20
Christina Kann 1:02:53
You call her a guard.
Christina Kann 1:02:54
You call them a guard! The fact that she's female in this moment where the king is being held at swordpoint does not matter.
Grace Ball 1:03:02
Could not matter less.
Christina Kann 1:03:06
If you just use the right pronouns, like them, like fine, you're fine.
Grace Ball 1:03:10
It doesn't have to be explicitly pointed out. I don't understand. It does happen so consistently. What is that about? Why is that the instinct?
Charlie Mack 1:03:24
Gender, man. Why?
Christina Kann 1:03:29
This is why it can be harmful to only assign classic books to kids, because of the way they use language. If you talk about more contemporary books with your students or your kids or whatever, then you're exposing them to our more up-to-date and inclusive and understanding way of using language as a whole, you know? Back in like Agatha Christie books, you better believe if one of the guards is female, we need to talk about that.
Grace Ball 1:04:03
Yeah, that's true.
Christina Kann 1:04:05
Let's talk about how Jackson came out like so slowly over the second half of the book.
Grace Ball 1:04:13
Christina Kann 1:04:14
I feel like so much of it is him, first of all, trying to figure it out himself, trying to come out to himself. I was thinking about how we talk about how Ron Weasley is always the last one to know what he's going through. And I kind of felt that same energy with Jackson, at least from this perspective, where we know he's trans all along. So much of it, I was like, "Just try it! Like, just try it out. I think you'd really like it."
Charlie Mack 1:04:44
Try it. You'll like it.
Grace Ball 1:04:49
Yeah, I thought that Jackson's situation was obviously unique in that he had this YouTube platform. I think that made the coming out process a little more complicated, because it's not like he had a choice. He already had this following, and it's not like he could just transition without any explanation.
Christina Kann 1:05:29
He had to collaborate with a social media planner to make it right.
Grace Ball 1:05:36
Which is, like, really interesting. But I also think that it was very cool, because I think that, that probably helped a lot of people, the fact that they were able to watch his video, and see that. So I think it was good. But I can't imagine how difficult that was, though.
Christina Kann 1:05:59
Yeah. He made a spreadsheet with who he was coming out to when.
Grace Ball 1:06:07
And didn't he also have like a packet that he distributed?
Christina Kann 1:06:12
Wait, I respect it.
Grace Ball 1:06:13
I respect that too. I'm sure you're answering so many of the same baseline questions with every person you talk to,
Christina Kann 1:06:23
Grace, that's why I'm writing this book about publishing right now, so we can just stop repeating ourselves. I'm gonna write it down one time really good, and you guys are gonna stop asking me!
Grace Ball 1:06:32
It's gonna I save us so much time.
Christina Kann 1:06:36
So I respect the hell out of a packet. This is your intake paperwork.
Charlie Mack 1:06:41
I wish I'd had stuff like that. I'm jealous of the spreadsheet, especially. "I gotta tell these people before I put it on social media and shit."
Grace Ball 1:06:56
I'm an overthinker, too, and Jackson is admittedly an overthinker.
Christina Kann 1:07:00
Grace Ball 1:07:04
He really thought a lot about the ripple effect of coming out and how it was gonna affect the people that he went to high school with, and the people that he interacted with: family members, friends, whatever, whatever. And so, the fact that he went about it so methodically, that is that is the strategy that I can relate to so much to get through something like that, to have like a system. I thought that was like so relatable.
Christina Kann 1:07:39
Honestly, this is just a great example of a creator taking their platform really responsibly too. He really thought about, like you mentioned, how it affects everyone, his big network and his following online. He was like, "Here's some resources," and it's just nice. I love seeing responsible use of platform.
Grace Ball 1:08:02
Me too. I love to see it.
Charlie Mack 1:08:06
Just like the way that he thought about all these little things, how it would affect his family and all of these little dynamics -- I thought about that a little bit, and then I was just like, "Yeah, I don't really care enough. Honestly, I just want to exist as me at this point." I just like stopped caring about that.
Grace Ball 1:08:30
I think that's good, though. Because you simply cannot go around caring that much all the time.
Charlie Mack 1:08:39
I cared when I was telling I think my parents and a little bit with my grandparents, and then I just like slowly cared less less about what people thought.
Christina Kann 1:08:55
Everything that you care about, you will eventually slowly care less.
Charlie Mack 1:09:01
This doesn't aeffect shit, but also the fact that y'all are just gonna keep deadnaming slashed dead-- I was about to say "deadpronouning." That's not a thing.
Christina Kann 1:09:14
Wait, I feel like it should be.
Charlie Mack 1:09:15
It should be.
Christina Kann 1:09:17
Oh, it's misgendering.
Charlie Mack 1:09:23
I failed at being transgender this one time.
Christina Kann 1:09:25
I think it's funny that Jackson talked about how his one coming out fuckup was just sending a very casual email to his brother. And his brother was like, "I'm flying down there." But even that was still pleasant, because it was like, "Yeah, we bonded. I explained it, and he felt better."
Grace Ball 1:09:45
Didn't his brother like, wildly misinterpret?
Charlie Mack 1:09:49
It was weird how his brother misinterpreted it.
Christina Kann 1:09:53
I think he was just like, "Whoa, you need to explain yourself."
Charlie Mack 1:09:58
Because he was like, "Why can't you just express yourself like these other people? Why do you have to go all out and change everything?"
Grace Ball 1:10:06
Yeah, he just kind of misunderstood the whole thing. Yeah, but it sounded like that ended up being a really good experience in the end.
Christina Kann 1:10:17
I feel like Jackson was just like, "Trust me when I say that =I've really thought about this, and I'm very sure about this, and I just need your support."
Charlie Mack 1:10:29
I like that his family was all good about things. I liked that.
Christina Kann 1:10:35
Pretty much. And how about those friends who helped him get his first short haircut?
Grace Ball 1:10:42
I think that was my favorite part of the book. We haven't talked about our favorite parts, but I love that. Laurie and Matt, or Lauren and Matt or something? They were so nice.
Charlie Mack 1:10:52
Lauren is also a Harry Potter creator who I saw at LeakyCon. Lauren Fairweather. She does YouTube videos.
Christina Kann 1:10:53
I'm going to be linking a bunch of stuff in the blog post that I'm gonna put in the show notes for this episode, including that creator and anything we've talked about today, any of the resources we've used. And I also want to include a couple of resources. We were talking about the packet that Jackson came out with and stuff like that, and I know there's resources like that online, so I'll link some of those.
Charlie Mack 1:11:33
There are also several links in his book, where he's just like, "Hey, if you want more information on this, here's where I got stuff. Look up this." The fact that he cites sources in the fucking book.
Christina Kann 1:11:43
I respect it.
Charlie Mack 1:11:44
Christina Kann 1:11:46
He must be Ravenclaw, right?
Charlie Mack 1:11:47
He's a Gryffindor.
Grace Ball 1:11:51
Charlie Mack 1:11:52
He was like, "Oh, I'm a Ravenclaw" when he was a kid, and then he was like, "Nah, apparently, I'm a Gryffindor."
Christina Kann 1:11:58
Everyone thinks they're a Ravenclaw, I feel like, at the beginning.
Charlie Mack 1:12:00
I've never, never thought I was a Ravenclaw.
Christina Kann 1:12:04
Well, that's because you don't have enough self confidence. When I was in high school, I was like, "I'm the smartest person here and I'm definitely a Ravenclaw," and even had a shirt. But I'm not a Ravenclaw.
Grace Ball 1:12:18
There's some Ravenclaw there.
Charlie Mack 1:12:20
See, I'm the person who will "um actually" you, but I also don't have the self confidence to be like, "I know better." What were we talking about before?
Christina Kann 1:12:35
I found the name of it! It's the Esther Earl Charity Ball.
Charlie Mack 1:12:39
Christina Kann 1:12:42
That's what we were talking about probably 20 minutes ago.
Charlie Mack 1:12:44
Yeah. Oh, about the hair cut. I love that. I also went through a hair journey. I'm just gonna keep bringing up my stuff.
Grace Ball 1:12:56
Do it do it do it.
Christina Kann 1:12:56
Bring up all your stuff.
Charlie Mack 1:12:58
This is this is actually the Charlie's Trans Experience episode, if you didn't realize.
Christina Kann 1:13:02
Sorted: Charlie's Trans Experience.
Charlie Mack 1:13:06
So I used to have my hair all the way down to like my butt crack.
Grace Ball 1:13:10
Charlie Mack 1:13:10
It was like, long shit. You see how short it is now?
Christina Kann 1:13:18
I could have done such a good braid on it.
Charlie Mack 1:13:20
I've never known how to braid. My mom didn't know how to braid. I don't know how to braid. It was not well taken care of. I didn't know what to do with it.
Grace Ball 1:13:30
When did you chop it?
Charlie Mack 1:13:31
In middle school I started doing Locks of Love, where I would cut it down to my shoulders, and then it would make some wigs, and then I would grow it back out again. And I did that a couple times over. And then in college, I started experimenting with different haircuts because I was like, "I want to try something out different." I got a little bit shorter, a little bit more layered. And then it slowly just kept getting shorter and shorter as I started to figure out gender things. I did not think I would ever get to be this short. When I first got this haircut, it was almost down to the skin.
Christina Kann 1:14:15
It's a high and tight. Is that what they're called? Did I make that up? Is that real?
Charlie Mack 1:14:24
I don't know. It's a fade. That's what I got. It's a fade.
Christina Kann 1:14:28
It looks great. I love it a lot. It has a lot of character.
Charlie Mack 1:14:31
So do I.
Grace Ball 1:14:34
I did think it was interesting, Jackson's experience getting the haircut. Obviously he traveled to go to someone who would actually do what he wanted because all these hairdressers are like, "You don't really want that."
Charlie Mack 1:14:51
Christina Kann 1:14:51
I love that so much.
Christina Kann 1:14:51
I love that he says, "If you have the choice between cunty Karen soccer mom or little boy, go for little boy."
Charlie Mack 1:14:55
That's just like really a thing with hairdressers. Y'all know how bad I am at talking to people. I'm a podcaster and I'm bad at talking to people. When I go to get my hair cut, I'm bad at being like, "No, I want it shorter."
Grace Ball 1:15:29
Christina Kann 1:15:31
God, even I'm bad at that. I'm bad at that. It's hard.
Grace Ball 1:15:34
It's one of the hardest ones.
Christina Kann 1:15:37
There's a Bob's Burgers bit about that, obviously.
Charlie Mack 1:15:41
My old coworker, who used to deliver pizzas with me, she's now a hairdresser, an actual official hairdresser. So I just say, "Hey, can you cut my hair?" And then I went over to her house at nine o'clock at night and she cut my hair.
Grace Ball 1:15:59
Awesome. That's really awesome.
Charlie Mack 1:16:01
Yeah. And then I can actually talk to someone about what I want.
Christina Kann 1:16:06
It's very important. I just cut my own bangs, so we figure it out together.
Grace Ball 1:16:11
You and your bangs?
Christina Kann 1:16:13
Yeah. So it's about time to wrap it on up. Before we go, I was wondering who was your favorite person in this book? Your favorite non-Jackson person?
Grace Ball 1:16:24
Oh, great question.
Charlie Mack 1:16:26
I need like a list of characters.
Grace Ball 1:16:29
Really good question. I'm gonna keep complimenting the question.
Christina Kann 1:16:34
There weren't a bunch of named extra characters. You get to know his family a little bit. The book ends with him going to his high school reunion, and being scared, and then being like, "I'm not going to be scared anymore." And he talks about how he had like a little support group of friends, and they all went together.
Charlie Mack 1:16:58
So which one of those friends is your favorite?
Christina Kann 1:17:01
No, they're all my favorite!
Charlie Mack 1:17:02
That doesn't count, Christina!
Christina Kann 1:17:04
He left his glasses in the car, and they walked back with him. They were like, "We're not leaving your side. We got you on this." And I just love all of them.
Charlie Mack 1:17:12
That's cheating your own question.
Christina Kann 1:17:14
The real answer to this question was the friends we made along the way?
Grace Ball 1:17:18
Charlie Mack 1:17:19
Maybe his roommate. I liked that she was supportive about things. She's just like, "No, I'm not gonna kick you out. I understand that you're like trans and all that. Like, it's cool. I'm gonna like help you figure some things out."
Christina Kann 1:17:34
How scary for Jackson that he even worried about that.
Grace Ball 1:17:38
I know. Yeah. I'll go with mom just because she was there from day one, and I felt like she had some missteps, but overall, I liked her.
Christina Kann 1:17:54
Yeah, she had a journey. The waistcoat thing does really tickle me.
Grace Ball 1:17:59
Christina Kann 1:18:00
I love the Jackson like came out to his mom -- they were Prosecco drunk together on the couch, and he kept trying to say it. I love it so much. It felt very like Gilmore Girls.
Grace Ball 1:18:15
Yeah, I see that.
Christina Kann 1:18:17
That's kind of the end of it. Do either of you have anything that you want to drive home or any any final thoughts about Sorted by Jackson Bird?
Grace Ball 1:18:26
I mean, I'm just gonna reiterate to listen to the audiobook. I think that it's really cool and special when authors narrate their own books. And I think this is a particularly good one to listen to. So if you haven't read it yet, or if you want to read it again in an audio form, do it!
Christina Kann 1:18:46
Hell yeah. Are we ready to move on to plugs?
Grace Ball 1:18:51
Christina Kann 1:18:53
I'm gonna make you do Pride Month plugs, so it's got to be some queer! Charlie, where can people listen to your dulcet tones?
Charlie Mack 1:19:02
Oh, well, thank you. As mentioned earlier, I have my podcast Of the Eldest Gods, which is Percy Jackson related shit. We're gonna be on Titan's Curse by the time this comes out. And then I also have my other podcast with my mom, Fandoms Gone Wrong, where we talk about media and things that we like. It's good shit. I'm @greenpixie12 most places, except for Twitter where I'm @greenpixie123. I have my drawing Instagram at @greenpixiedraws. And I have my YouTube as @charliemack.
Christina Kann 1:19:55
What's your Pride Month plug, baby?
Charlie Mack 1:19:59
I am technically not caught up yet, but I hopefully will be by the time this comes out. The Owl House had the season two finale recently. I might have looked up spoilers already. That's really good and that's pretty queer. It's got a fucking nonbinary character in it. And also the main character is bi, and her girlfriend is a lesbian. We got some good shit in there. You like magic shit? Wou like magical school shit, that also kind of blatantly makes fun of Harry Potter? Watch The Owl House. They have a sorting system, and they have a game that they play that's like Quidditch, but they make fun of the snitch. It's great.
Christina Kann 1:20:59
Thank you so much for that recommendation. Grace, where can people find you and/or maybe Wildling?
Grace Ball 1:21:07
Yes, whenever I plug anything, it's gonna be Wildling Press. Yeah, so follow Wildling Press @wildlingpress, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. LinkedIn?
Christina Kann 1:21:24
Grace Ball 1:21:27
Okay, sure. Anyway, connect with us. Come check us out. And I just want to note, if we ever have a book, like Sorted come across our desks, that will be the day. I would be so so happy.
Christina Kann 1:21:43
We would love to publish something like this.
Charlie Mack 1:21:45
I'll come out with my memoir next.
Grace Ball 1:21:51
Yeah! So if you're listening to this episode, obviously, you're interested in transgender memoirs. I have another one that I have read that I would like to recommend to you. It's by Janet Mock, and it's called Redefining Realness. It's been some time since I read it, but it was really informative for me, and I think it's a really good representation of a person of color's experience as a transgender woman. 'I definitely recommend it. So check it out.
Christina Kann 1:22:38
Awesome. Thank you. I'm your host, Christina. And you know where to find me; just click on my LinkTree thing. It's always in the show notes. I'm just gonna throw out some names of some of my favorite queer books I've read, I don't know, until I say too many books. Okay, I recently read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Clune, which is very fun. That's like magic children in a little magic orphanage. And it's gay. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid was very pleasant, very surprising. Scroll, scroll scroll. Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao is a very cool sci-fi. I think a lot of people have plugged it on this podcast before. It's got some poly stuff. It's like a sci-fi Power Rangers Mulan situation. Right now I'm rereading Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, "a family tragiccomic." That one's a classic graphic novel; I pretty much recommend it to everyone. There's Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston, which is a very spicy little rom com. And then finally, I'm going to recommend Nimona by ND Stevenson. It's a another graphic novel. It's a cute little fantasy situation. It's hard to explain. Anyway, read all of those books and reach out if you want more queer lit recommendations for Pride Month because I got them.
Charlie Mack 1:24:11
We like that queer shit over here.
Christina Kann 1:24:14
I like that queer shit. I just read a lot, and I pretty much am not interested in books that don't have queer representation anymore.
Grace Ball 1:24:20
I think that's good.
Charlie Mack 1:24:21
Very valid. Love that.
Christina Kann 1:24:24
Yeah! Read new books, read new books by cool new authors. And that's the way the news goes. I don't know how to end episodes. Oh, wait! I forgot to say Charlie, thank you for coming on this episode. I appreciate you so much.
Charlie Mack 1:24:40
Thank you for letting me make you read a book.
Grace Ball 1:24:43
Yeah, thank you, Charlie, for bringing this book to us.
Christina Kann 1:24:47
Now you have to read Nimona, because that's the book I gave you.
Charlie Mack 1:24:50
I know. I know. We're gonna do a book club. You and me.
Christina Kann 1:24:54
And Grace, thank you for also reading a book for us.
Grace Ball 1:25:01
Man, I had so much fun.
Christina Kann 1:25:03
We always ask people to read books, but it's usually very slowly, one book over a whole year. So asking someone to read a book just for one day feels like a lot, so I appreciate you.
Grace Ball 1:25:12
Of course, any old time.
Christina Kann 1:25:13
And that's the way the news goes.