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"Wizard freaks invade Reading University"

While this wasn't actually the title of the article on Accio (UK Harry Potter academic conference) in today's Grauniad, it might have well have been. The last time I saw this bad a hatchet job by a lazy journo, it was Channel 4's infamous coverage of the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon with Craig Charles. Even now, the words "sci-fi" spoken in a Liverpudlian accent make me grind my teeth.

The Grauniad article has quite a superior, sneering attitude; when it isn't decrying papers as "pseudo-intellectual", it's describing the attendees as obsessive compulsives with unhealthy sexual fantasies. If anything, it's the former that I object to more than the latter. HP fandom does have its obsessives (and the article also mentions Draco/giant squid), but the academic side is essentially no different to other literature, media or cultural studies disciplines (science fiction studies, anyone?)

As an aside, it also seems that Pottie : Harry Potter :: Trekkie : Star Trek. I suppose this was inevitable, but one can't help but feel that such name-calling is just a bit passe.

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Thing is, though, it's all troo. At least in my experience of conventions.

And can a debate about 'equal rights for house elves' ever be anything other than pseudo-intellectual?

Ah, but it wasn't a convention it was a conference. They were already taking stick because it was over-18s only on the basis that it was an academic conference.

Maybe the arguement should be then whether any media or english studies paper can be anything but pseudo-intellectual because surely there is no difference between debating the such things in an old book or play and a new one.



My feelings exactly. There's still a great deal of high culture/low culture snobbery attached to the writing and study of SF+F. As Pratchett pointed out in his 2001 Carnegie Medal acceptance speech:

We categorize too much on the basis of unreliable assumption. A literary novel written by Brian Aldiss must be science fiction, because he is a known science fiction writer; a science fiction novel by Margaret Attwood is literature because she is a literary novelist. Recent Discworld books have spun on such concerns as the nature of belief, politics and even of journalistic freedom, but put in one lousy dragon and they call you a fantasy writer.

In the case of the Grauniad article, any serious academic discussion of HP is doubly doomed, once for being in the SF+F genre ghetto, and once for being a children's book (Posy Simmonds made some cutting comments on attitudes towards children's publishing in a cartoon she did for the Grauniad a couple of years ago - "And how long will you stay on the children's side? I expect you'll want to move on to grown-up literature"). The fact that an examination of a mass-market phenomenon such as HP is interesting because of the reflection it gives of our own culture and society has clearly eluded the author of the article.

Thing is, it's very easy to mock the afflicted. And plenty of fun, too!

But at least the article is accurate and fair.

Hard to say. It wouldn't be the first time that a journalist at a con totally ignored any sensible people and wrote about the exhibitionist loons as though they were the only people there.

I think that one of the issues was that this was ostensibly an academic conference and not a fannish convention, but that in reality it blurred the line between the two. This is not necessarily a bad thing, in that it stops the academic side from being stuffy and introduces the fannish end to a more critical appreciation of the books, but it doesn't lead to easy classification.

As one of those misquoted (someone else's comments were attributed to me, I was described as the girlfriend of someone I'm not, and worst of all, it implied I'm a bouncing Ron fangirl), I'd dispute you on the accurate bit.

I think that mr_tom may have accidentally omitted the irony quotes, but then he's a goth in denial so he's not quite all there...

The thing is, fandom *does* have some scary people in it (and here I'm talking about SF fandom in general, not just HP fandom), but it's pretty poor journalism to paint the picture that all fans are barking loons. I'd expected more of the Naurdiag, and I can see why you've changed your username.

My friends and I take full responsibility for the slashy comments and Squid pr0n though. :)

that was scathing and rather unpleasent....
I never realised reading harry potter made me an obsesive compulsive pervert, who wants to be a wizard, and doesn't deal well with reality.

thank goodness I've been 'educated'

I find that very very offensive.

I'm comfortable with the that I'm an OCD pervert wizard wannabe who doesn't deal well with reality. But implying that someone could aspire to this rarefied state by reading a few over-long kids books.

Portland still treating you well? How's the hangover this morning?

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