Bhamini Lakshminarayan | M2015MC013
Media Studies: Audience Studies
11th September, 2015
FanFiction, Fire, and Ice: The Draco/Ginny Fandom as a Critique of Harry Potter
“Just as a literary essay uses text to respond to text, fan fiction uses fiction to respond to fiction.”
– Henry Jenkins, “Fan Fiction as Critical Commentary” (2006)
“I cannot give you canon proof that the DG ship will ultimately happen in canon, but I can give you evidence that it can happen.”
– BabyPan, “Breaking All Boundries” (2004)
“D/G: Our ship is already crazy, so our fans don’t have to be.”
– Echo, author of “I Have Never Felt Your Fear” (2005)
A Google search of “Harry Potter” on an acceptably fast internet connection retreives about 13,00,00,000 results in 0.76 seconds. With 450 million copies sold, and translations in 73 different languages, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling is the best-selling book series in history. The series has (officially) spawned eight films, eleven video games, seven audio books, five theme parks, and has a stage adaptation in progress. For Rowling and the related license holders, the franchise has been immensely lucrative – the film franchise alone made an estimated $10 billion between 2001-2011, and J.K. Rowling is both the first author and first woman to have been featured on Forbes’ list of billionaires. But if one moves beyond the capitalist stranglehold that this series has been locked into, one can see its impact beyond the sales figures in the dynamic kinship groups which have sprung up in the fandoms constructed around the Harry Potter series.
In Ang’s (1982) study of the television show Dallas, she claims that Dallas “develop[ed] into a modern myth…It became the symbol of a new television age.” (pp.1-2) Harry Potter has arguably done the very same thing with books, and the form of fan engagement with this phenomenon is intrinsically linked to the internet and its participatory culture. Fans have laid claim to several aspects of the Harry Potter universe, with fan art, fan fiction, fan music (“Wizard Rock”) and fan-generated merchandise (if the licensed partners don’t realise that it’s been created) created all over the world, and distributed primarily through the internet.
In this paper, I focus on a particular, English subcategory of the Harry Potter fanfiction (often referred to as “fanfic”) community: the fanfiction fandom that focusses on the romantic relationship between Draco Malfoy and Ginevra Weasley (D/G, otherwise also referred to as “Fire and Ice”). This relationship is supported, or “shipped,” by a loyal community of Harry Potter fans, particularly those drawn into the Harry Potter fandom through the books. This is despite the fact, or because of the fact, that the couple is never actually shown to have any specific feelings towards each other, neither romantic nor acrimonious. Conversations with participants in this particular fandom gives one the sense that they feel that this lack of engagement between the characters was a lost opportunity for various character and storyline evolutions. This is in line with Henry Jenkin’s (2006) argument that authors use fanfiction as a means to critique the original author’s work; that fanfiction writers are critical commentators. I locate their critique in three primary arguments – lost potentialities/personalities; lost choices/characterisations; and lost sexualities/subjectivites.