FanFiction, Fire, and Ice: The Draco/Ginny Fandom as a Critique of Harry Potter

Bhamini Lakshminarayan | M2015MC013
Faiz Ullah
Media Studies: Audience Studies

11th September, 2015


FanFiction, Fire, and Ice: The Draco/Ginny Fandom as a Critique of Harry Potter

DG Christmas by starlettegurly
DG Christmas by starlettegurly

“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.

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Consuming Resistance: The Political Economy of the Media and Women

Bhamini Lakshminarayan | M2015MC013
Dr. Sunitha Chitrapu
Response #8

11th September, 2015

Consuming Resistance: The Political Economy of the Media and Women

In 1991, India’s Balance of Payments crisis ushered in the era of the IMF/World Bank-mandated conditionalities of economic reform that were focussed on macroeconomic stabilisation, liberalisation, privatisation, and deregulation. This resulted in various consequences that are still being debated, among these being a change in the media that we now consume and create. The liberalised media has shaped the discourses that we consume and create today, shaping them into different forms than those that were prevalent in the pre-liberalised era. Drawing from the ideas I found most relevant in the readings prescribed for this course, I use Adorno (1975), Fejes (1981), McChesney and Schiller (2003), Fernandes (2000), Straubhaar (2003), Chomsky (1988), and Habermas (1989) in an attempt to place the discourse surrounding the women’s movement in India within the nexus of the liberalising political economy and the media.

The wave of feminism in the 1970’s and 1980’s in India focused on the exclusion of women in representational and public spaces, and their consequent lack of political power rendering their existence and arguments nearly invisible; this movement focussed on collective needs. In contrast, the newly liberalised movement is one that focusses more upon the needs of individual sexuality and agency – a change which I locate within the newly consumer-oriented economic space, within which, I  argue, the market claims that the needs of today’s woman can met by specific consumption patterns described and reflected by the media.

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Capturing an Established Base: The Facist State, Propaganda, and the Media

Bhamini Lakshminarayan | M2015MC013 Media Studies
Sunitha Chitrapu
20th August, 2015

Capturing an Established Base: The Facist State, Propaganda, and the Media

Badgikian (2000) traces the development of the monopolistic nature of the newspaper press in the United States of America, arguing that the very nature and structure of this media has changed in the advent of mass advertising. Formerly radical or liberal newspapers genericise their content and their base once they are established, attempting to capitalise on the advertisement campaigns of large corporations, who, in turn, attempt to capture the established bases of these papers. He seems to assume an undiscerning, passive audience, in line with Adorno’s (1975) conception of mass theory, that consumes the content that is distributed to them.

McDowell (1997) reconstructs the evolution of television broadcasting in India, from the era of state- run broadcasting to the neo-liberal framework adopted in the early 90s. In this, he locates the Indian media within the nexus of national and international capital flows, and reflects upon the policy decisions made in this context. What is of particular relevance in today’s Indian state, I argue, is a particular argument – whose identity and ideals are embodied in the content developed and disseminated as a result of these flows?

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Consent, Manufactured: Mainstream Media and the Essentialised Feminist Discourse

Bhamini Lakshminarayan (M2015MC013)
Media Studies
Dr. Sunitha Chitrapu
13th August, 2015

Consent, Manufactured:
Mainstream Media and the Essentialised Feminist Discourse

Sainath (1999) writes about the shrinking of the public discourse in news and media coverage, an argument that is founded in the theoretical space formalised by Herman and Chomsky (1988 | 2002) and expounded upon in the Indian eco-political context by Guha Thakurtha (2002). Together, they argue that the discourse is one that is centred around vested economic and political interests that propogate a particular “propaganda,” or dominant discourse. In this context, I wish to biefly look at the mainstream discourse surrounding feminism and women’s rights in India, particularly post the December 16th gang-rape in Delhi, 2012.

The entire discourse around rape in India is covered extensively by the international press. New Delhi is often referred to as the “rape capital of the world.” Maria Wirth, a German in India, has written about how German television extensively covered a rape in India, while a rape in her own locality received no proportional coverage. The recent rape in an Uber Cab in Delhi was covered by the New York Times, while the estimated 700 rapes that occur every day in the United States were not appropriated any space in their newspaper.  Before “India’s Daughter” was “Veil of Tears,” which, again, looked upon India with Said’s orientalist gaze. I situate these films and this extensive coverage within Spivak’s argument that “white men save brown women from brown men,” while ignoring the very same instances which occur in their own countries. This very same structure, I argue, is replicated by the mainstream media in Indiain a form of media imperialism, (Fejes, 1981) in which there is the replication of the form of the media, as well as the structures and the gaze in looking at the “entitlements” of the elite, while ignoring the experiences of the Other. Read more

#PlayItRight: Globalisation, Glocalisation, and the Evolution of Condom Advertising in India

Bhamini Lakshminarayan (M2015MC013)
Media Studies
Dr. Sunitha Chitrapu
6th August, 2015

#PlayItRight: Globalisation, Glocalisation, and the Evolution of Condom Advertising in India

Fernandes (2000) and Straubhaar (2003) argue that in the economic liberalisation of the developing world there occurs the creation of a cultural space, in which the products and cultural artefacts that are imported from the developed world seek to establish and situate themselves within the dominant Indian sociocultural context, while domestic equivalents attempt to reflect the middle-class aspirations of an internationally competitive and relevant India. Straubhaar particularly addresses television programming, while Fernandes addresses the advertising angles and tactics employed in the developing country’s market. In this response, I will be particularly addressing the advertisement and marketing surrounding the sale of condoms in India, tracing the evolution of the domestic advertisements, and contrasting them to those foreign brands that have attempted to establish themselves within India.

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Mythology and the Myth of Free Press: The Dravidian Movement and the Media

Bhamini Lakshminarayan (M2015MC013)
Media Studies
Dr. Sunitha Chitrapu
23rd July, 2015

Mythology and the Myth of Free Press: The Dravidian Movement and the Media

“In political terms, the communication system may serve to enhance democracy, or deny it, or some combination of the two.”
– McChesney and Schiller, 2003

McChesney and Schiller (2003) discuss the evolution of the media industry in the United States of America, and, in doing so, critique the claim upon which it is founded – the idea of the “free press” enshrined in the First Ammendment. Despite the transformation of the American media industry from state-owned to a private enterprise, the political interests of the dominant groups that own the corporations that run these media houses are still reflected in the style and the nature of the discourse and programming one is exposed to on them. They thus contend that the “free press” is a “myth.”

McChesney and Schiller, as well as Pendakur (1985), go on to argue that the internationally dominant systems and mechanisms under which the media operate have been exported to developing nations. The dominant cultural paradigms and aesthetics have also been exported to these countries through film, television, news media, and so on. This is in line with the theory of a “culture industry” (Adorno, 1975 [1963]) which reproduces on a mass scale the mainstream political discourse, prioritising a particular narrative and marginalising alternative interpretations and voices. This also furthers the argument of the existence of “media imperialsm” (Fejes, 1981) and the development paradigm of the dependency model, under which developing nations replicate external structures in countries that have existing internal inequalities, and examines the dialectical interaction between the two.

Drawing on these arguments, I attempt to look at the media industry that exists in my home state of Tamil Nadu.

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Imperialism and the Media, and Media Imperialism

Bhamini Lakshminarayan (M2015MC013)
Media Studies
Professor Sunitha Chitrapu
16th July, 2015

Imperialism and the Media, and Media Imperialism

“Our countries are exporters of raw materials and importers of superstructural and cultural goods.”
– Dorfmann and Mattelart, How to Read Donald Duck (1971)

I am a product of media imperialism. I grew up listening to The Beatles, not Kishore Kumar; I watched Mind Your Language instead of the Ramayan; I read Mallory Towers and not Malgudi Days. In this paper, Fejes argues that this occurs due to the system of relations through which communication media is produced, distributed, and consumed in an internaltional market – a system of media imperialism. The ownership of the means of production, he argues, belongs to the post-War economic and political dominant powers. Consequently, the developing countries on the periphery consume and recreate the superstructure within their own sociopolitical contexts. In a layered argument in which he critiques the prevailing theories of media at the time, he expands on his model of media imperialism and prescribes methodological frameworks through which studies of it can be enhanced.

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Locating the Media in Mass Appeal

Bhamini Lakshminarayan (M2015MC013)
Media Studies
Dr. Sunitha Chitrapu 
9th July, 2015

Reading Response #1: Locating the Media in Mass Appeal

Mass society theory argues that the media is a powerful tool whose work can have far-reaching and long-term consequences on the society that we live in and the way we make sense of the world. The readings we have looked at in this regard are Adorno and Rabinbach (1975) and Baran and Davis (2009).

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