This is not a review of the book named below…for one thing, I didn’t read it. This is not a critique of so-called “fandoms”…for another thing, I don’t belong to all that many. This is…random thoughts that have been percolating in my mind for awhile.
Disclaimer: The author is not responsible for any mental confusion that may result from the reading of this “web log”, or the attempted comprehension thereof.
I recently picked up a book at the library: The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, I think. I stopped reading Harry Potter years ago now, and really can’t bear to go back. Whatever lingering interest I had was killed by the over-commercialization of the series–not to mention the movie trailers. So I don’t know why I picked it up, and even checked it out, before realizing I seriously had no interest in reading anything along those subject lines, much less that long.
At any rate, I did end up carrying it around with me for about an hour, and in the meantime, the section about the “fandom” of the series caught my eye. And I read it of course. I also flipped through some of the rest. One of the first things I noticed overall was how overwhelmingly skewed it seemed to be to the positive of the series. I don’t have anything against Harry Potter other than my lack of interest, but it seemed that The Ivory Tower had no other purpose but to defend it against all comers. Seemed odd to me, for an academic perspective. Then again, I didn’t read all of it, or even much of it, so I might be wrong.
But in the chapter on the Harry Potter community, the author discussed going online to read the websites and forums devoted to the series. Apparently at the time (2002 or before) the series was (mock quote) “mature and intellectual for the age of the participatants” who were usually young and female. Which is true, online fan groups do seem to be made up of younger female fans. Or at least many of them are…others are composed of much older people, etc etc.
One thing that really caught my eye, though, was that the author thought this characteristic (maturity) was unique among Harry Potter fans. Well, it’s fortunate that he/she got the chance to write their article so early because, while I never (fortunately) got too involved in the HP fandom (one word: twincest. two more words: middle school), I can say that that peace did not last long. Awhile ago…at least several months…I found a 5 page livejournal post just about how someone in the fanfic hp community had several identies and had real-life death threats…and that does it no justice at all. It was awesome…and apparently is gone now. Although I’m still looking for it, naturally.
In the looking though, I found this quote that sums up how badly the author misjudged the fandom: “In terms of sheer quantity, this fandom outwanks them all. For batshit insanity, perhaps only the LOTR fandom surpasses it. So often is it featured on Fandom Wank that some FW readers’ idea of heaven would be a world without Harry Potter.” link Also, look up wank, it’s not as bad as it sounds. But the point is, many Harry Potter “participating” fans…I specify participating, because I can’t comment on those who don’t…come across as completely crazy. I’m sure they’re not. But many many sound like it.
This brings me to remember at least one thing I had intended to mention though: this article, and most discussion of fan communities in general discuss it as though its some strange feature of crazy people, and bears no relation to “us” as normal people. It’s what the weird people do. Except, and I’m stealing this idea from somewhere I can’t remember, it makes a lot more sense and is a lot more rational than middle aged men taking of their shirts, painting their chests green and yellow, and standing with thousands of others to yell at much younger men sweating and fighting over a ball. So there. Liking sports is fine, and there’s nothing wrong with liking them, but there’s really nothing different about the impulse to talk to others about the books/games/movies you really liked, except for the most part, if you tried to strike up conversation in an elevator, people are either less likely to know what you’re talking about, or less willing to talk about it. Stigma, you know. Messes with people’s heads, it does.
Anyway, I think to wrap up, because my fingers are tired and it’s late, online forums devoted to books/games/tv, etc, are really just everyday conversations written down. And those not involved think it’s stupid, because most things you say in person are stupid when written down. Like this.
I’m not ashamed! (Sorry)
Dang, there was a lot more I wanted to say…but that would mean writing it ahead of time, and actually working on it. So this is all.
MsScribe hilariousness here.