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My fandom theory

March 25th, 2003 · 4 Comments

Lately I’ve been surfing around the net, looking for things on shipping and the HP fandom in general, and I’ve noticed that many people are very critical of the Sugar Quill. They seem to see us as a bunch of pretentious, eliteist, but ultimately stupid freaks. They take issue with the fact that SQ only accepts R/H and, to a lesser extent, H/G fics. We’re exclusionary, they say. We should be more open minded and accepting. After all, we all love Harry Potter, don’t we? Shouldn’t we all revel in our love for JKR’s great creation, ignoring our differences ship-wise?

Well, that’s all well and good. But in thinking about this, I’ve developed a little theory.

When I first entered the HP fandom, I was frankly amazed to discover that there was such a thing as Harry/Hermione fics. I mean, wasn’t it completely obvious from GoF that Ron and Hermione were going to get together? Not only that, but what about Ginny? She’s been in love with Harry for 4 years now, doesn’t she deserve to get what she wants? Anyway, that was my first reaction to H/H shipping. I entered the fandom relatively late (July 2001), so apparently I missed the days when Harry/Hermione people dominated, leading to the creation of the Sugar Quill. SQ was actually the first fic archive I was introduced to– I started reading fanfic at the now-defunct Harry Potter Connection message boards, with a wonderful fic called Harry Potter and the Heir of Slytherin (which is archived in full at Schnoogle, author DrummerGirl). It was done in message board format, and those who were active on the boards were always talking about R.J. Anderson’s then-work-in-progress, If We Survive, the last story in the Darkness & Light trilogy. The links that people gave to this story were at SQ. I waited until IWS was finished, and read it. Eventually, people started talking up After the End as well. Basically, the majority of the fics people on those boards were recommending were archived at SQ. I knew that because of its selective nature, fics at SQ were superior to those at, say In my mind, SQ became the epitome of HPfic archives– to be archived at SQ meant that you made it, buddy.

It was only after I had formed this impression of SQ that I started hearing about other archives and other ships– H/H being among them. I felt little to no desire to visit these other archives. They just couldn’t be as good as SQ. When the lack of a parent site (and the finishing of HoS) finally doomed to old HPC message boards to a slow and painful death, I needed to go elsewhere to find my HP fix. I chose the SQ message boards because I knew that there were people like me there, and I’ve been very happy that I did. I’ll venture over to FictionAlley to debate, but for good, engaging discussion of all that is HP, SQ is my home base.

The point of that long ramble? Like takes to like. Ever since we first set foot on the playground in Preschool or Kindergarten, we’ve been looking for people who share our interests. Oh sure, it might be fun sometimes to discuss things with people who have a different point of view, but for the most part, we like to be with people who agree with us. We like to look at things from the same general viewpoint– finding in each other’s ideas nuances that we ourselves did not see or could not see– things that deepen our understanding, not contradict it. And that’s where shipping, at least in the HP fandom, comes in.

Why Shippiness Matters

I have discovered that those who do not see the same ships in canon that I do tend to read the rest of canon differently too. Everything from the humor in JKR’s books to the characterization of certain people (Ron and Draco in particular seem to be very different people to H/H shippers), to House-Elf rights–they see all these things very differently than I do. It very often gets to the point where not even our love of Harry Potter is sufficent common ground. It’s like they’re reading completely different books than I am.

When issues come up that I disagree with, then, I tend to become irritated at the very least, hostile and angry at the most. That’s not what I want from fandom. I didn’t come online to get upset– I came to be surrounded with people who love Harry Potter as much as I do, and in the same wat that I do. To borrow a phrase from a great site of one of my other fandoms, the Republic of Pemberley, I need a “haven in world programmed to misunderstand obsession with things Potter.” I’m sure that most SQ’ers feel the same way.

So we’ll continue to be elitest. We’ll continue to act as though we’re the only ones that are right. We’ll use words like siriusly and ROX and any other in-house lingo that we darn well please. Because we truly believe that we’re right. WE truly believe that our ships are the only ones that have basis in canon. If you disagree with us, that’s great. Ignore us. Make fun of us. We don’t care. We like who we are, and where we are, and we don’t need your approbation.

There. I feel better.

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4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jen // Mar 25, 2003 at 6:02 pm

    Em, you rock. May I ask what caused this small entry on shipping?

  • 2 Leslie // Mar 26, 2003 at 5:11 am

    Yeah, I’m curious too.

  • 3 Dave // Mar 26, 2003 at 8:50 am

    Your analysis of how different people read different things in canon reminds me of McConkie’s illustration of different sectarian groups reading the Bible. He likened it to having a different set of glasses. Some read through glasses of “Saved by Grace”, other read through glasses of “Jesus was a great teacher, nothing more.” Some read through the glasses of “Tradition and Apostolic Succession.”

    We Mormons are not objective either, but also read through a set of glasses that might be called “Continuing Revelation.” Each of us has the same text in front of us, but we see and understand the whole book differently.

    It seems now, that you have discovered the same with Harry Potter canon. Intereseting isn’t it?

  • 4 Emily // Mar 26, 2003 at 5:18 pm

    Well, it’s this LJ, mostly, as well as recent posts on the Debate Thread at FictionAlley. I’ve actually been thinking about these things for a long time, though.

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