Web of fantasy turns the boy wizard blue

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News Media Commentary
Title: Web of fantasy turns the boy wizard blue
Commentator: Annabel House
Date(s): 05 January 2003
Venue: article in The Scotsman
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: Article at scotsman.com; archive link
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Web of fantasy turns the boy wizard blue is an article about Harry Potter slash that was published in The Scotsman in January 2003.

The article describes "explicit gay sex stories for the benefit of heterosexual women" and quotes passages from slash stories, including Rhysenn's When You Say Nothing At All (despite it being rating PG-13 and not actually explicit).

The article also details J. K. Rowling's lawyers' efforts to remove such stories from the internet:

Lawyers for Rowling have now written to the internet firms which provide the websites [hosting slash fiction] asking for them to be shut down because they fear the explicit material could be read by children. [...]

Neil Blair, a lawyer at Christopher Little, Rowling’s literary agent condemned the craze, warning that it could corrupt "innocent fans", most of whom are children.

He said: "It is almost like running a porno bookshop in Soho and encouraging kids to come in through advertising with sweets."

Blair added that both his firm and lawyers from Warner Brothers, which owns the film rights to the Harry Potter series, had written to internet service providers (ISPs) asking for the websites to be shut down. He said: "Both we and Warner Brothers have been proactive in respect to inappropriate sites, writing to all the ISPs alerting them to the issue even before any material is spotted."

Blair added that ISPs had a "social responsibility" to protect children from pornographic stories involving Potter.

The article has been attributed as the reason that adult archive Restricted Section received a cease and desist notice little over a week later.

Laura Hale (who is misattributed as "Louise Hale") and fan writer Savidana are quoted (without including a cite) in defense of fanfiction; however, the depiction of fanfic in the article is quite negative overall, and non-slash or non-explicit fanfiction is not acknowledged at all.

Reactions and Reviews

Ok, normally I'm a sensible person. I recognize the fact that slash and yaoi isn't what floats everyone's boat. I'd guestimate that 75% of the world would rather all homosexual folks went away.

I can handle that. Really.

But when people decide that they can't handle the fact that their characters are portrayed in situations that they didn't originally intend, and they get their panties in a twist AND they accuse one group of people (in this case hetero women) of being interested in (and producing) child pornogrophy just because they write stories expressing their opinions about something... That's where I start to have a problem.

Personally, I don't understand the HP yaoi fandom. I don't see it in the books, on screen I see vague hints (if you reach for it), but I prefer to keep my reading characters to the pairings the author has them in IN THE WORKS THEMSELVES. In other words, it looks like Ron and Hermione are going to start going out eventually. However, we all don't know because the book series isn't done being published! *sighs* Slash is something that will always exist. It isn't what the author originally intended, but hey, the writers give you free publicity and they do works of fiction based off of your characters because they liked them. This means, as the author, your work is done! Let people enjoy the work! As long as they give you credit for it and don't make money off of it then who gives a shit!

As for disclaimers giving credit where credit is due, every page I've seen has one on the entry page itself AND at the beginning of the work. If they've done the header correctly on a fic, they have the pairing listed AND they've mentioned if it's explicit, moderate, or rated G for everyone.

And, for those parents that MIGHT read this, if your kids are surfing the net and clicking links, somewhere along the line they will be warned. If you don't trust your kids judgement, I suggest you take steps to make sure they won't ever have to use it. That way we can have more ignorant pig headed people in the world with no tolerance for anything/anyone different.

Parent's, first and foremost, you need to be PARENTS! If you don't think your kids are ready to find out what's there for them to see on the net (which is pretty much everything if the spam I get is any indication) use a watchdog program so your kids can't go to certain sites on the net. Limit their computer online usage time. Only let them online for research or to purchase presants. Be parents!

And as for it being hetero women that write all the slash out there, please. Yes, hetero women write a LOT of it. Yes, hetero women read it. But do you know what? MEN READ AND WRITE IT TOO! Though most of the men that read slash are most likely reading the yaoi anime slash and not the Harry Potter slash. People that are gay (that certainly doesn't qualify folks as hetero in my book- dunno about yours) read and write slash. Most of the folks who read or write it try to create situations where the improbable happens in a probible way. For those of us looking to one day be published as book authors our selves, this is a way for us to try out story ideas on a small scale using characters we wouldn't normally write to see how well it works and how well recieved it is.

[much snipped]

Conclusion, leave the slash/yaoi sites alone. They have warnings. Parents, do your duty as parents. Kids, if it says any of the following: NC-17, LEMON, LIME, SEX or character+character, character x character, character/character... DON'T READ IT! Ms. Rowling, for you, I suggest you get the rest of your stories written and published and sold in stores near the fans. Reading the books will take some wind out of their sails if you pair up your main characters with someone. They won't be able to write slash then unless they REALLY make an effort (or go into the realm of alternate realities aka. AU/AT). Oh, and since you want Harry and co. to experience the tradgedies of life (death, lies, the loss of friends, the gain of friends, the gain of family, etc.), I suggest you tackle the attraction some kids and adults have to the same sex. Half of my female friends have turned out to be gay, this makes 3 out of 12 people in my close circle of friends. Chances are, SOMEONE at a school as large as Hogwarts would be hot for someone and then you could use that particular situation to tell kids how to PROPERLY and POLITELY respond to someone when they hit on them. [1]

Did anyone else find this funny? I personally don't have a problem with slash, I think this is kinda messed up really. There are a lot of great sites with slash that I hope aren't shut down, including Rhysenn and Cassandra Claire who are wonderful writers and shouln't be shut down for his bigot shat. But I guess I do understand,but it's the same for a lot of internet things, and if their so concerned than moderate what your kids go to like they say to. And why don't they

get on sites with explicit hetero stuff? Is that not bad for kids? [2]

I really don't think they could do it. They focus on slash because it is homosexual and people are afraid of that. They see heterosexuality as "normal" and homosexuality as abberant. I myself am not a big fan of slash. I prefer the heterosexual fiction. I feel like fan fiction gives people a chance to show off their skills as a writer without having to worry about the industry of it. No money is being made off theses stories. It's just entertainment. They couldn't fairly erase just the slash stories without taking out everything. Slash has been around for a long time in many areas. It's just in the spotlight now because this is supposed to be a children's story. Most kids wouldn't bother to read most of the stories I have found unless they're curious about it

to begin with. [3]

Interesting to see the 'Scotsman' article here - not seen any reference to it in other UK newspapers. I think the writer has just discovered the phenominon of slashfic and linked it to 'internet danger to our kids' which is the usual slant journos use to make a story. I think Jubilee is right - this is more likely Time warner flexing their corporate muscle than a real threat. I'm no expert in copyright law, but websites only usually get taken down if the content is libellous (damages the reputation of a living person). It would be pretty easy to get around a ban on HP slashfics - just change the names a little and start again! (harvey porter?!!) Anyway, still looking forward to new chapters from cassie claire and rhysenn!

[4]

I really can't believe this! i understand that parents are worried about thier young children being exposed to slash, expecially when is involving characters whom they admire, but hello, are the parents of this day and age so thick! the internet is NOT a babysitter. there are plenty of ways they are able to sheild the child from it if they so choose. but then there are those "kids who will get through the sheilds" but if they did, then (as someone put it perfectly) they must be curios about it in the first place. slash sites are being irrationally targeted. and i believe that this is due to the fact that are country, and world, is extremely homophobic. there is nothing wrong with fan fiction in any context, it is an expression. censorship should not be tolerated. if you don't like, don't read it! and if you don't want your children to read it, then pay attention!

yeah, okay, that got some anger off my chest. [5]

As I understand it, even if they have the rights Time Warner can't just shut a site down. The Supreme Court (sorry if I sound nerdy (I am an engineering student and know random things like this)) decided that parodies and stories based on people fell under freedom of speech (Hustler Magizine V. Rev. Jerry Fallwell) so this would as well. No worries!

[6]

It is unfair, but slash is only a small part of it. They are targeting what they consider to be porn, because they don't want children reading graphic text on the internet. This is really stupid, because Harry Potter fanfiction isn't the only source of pornographic themes. There are things much worse than Harry Potter slash, that you can find on the internet - they're just trying to make a big deal out of nothing for the media. Personally, I don't think they will succeed in taking all Harry Potter slash off the internet, let alone HP fanfiction in general. What's the point of all that work, if fans are just going to find ways to share slash on

the internet anway?[7]

The only people that are targeting slash are the media. I was able to read a copy of the Cease and Desist letter recieved by restrictedsection.org, and it wants to put a ban on ALL sexually explicit material, not just slash. It is just the author of the article that we've all seen that took it as a way to target all homosexual content, and he ran with it. It is not the intent of JKR and her lawyers to ban slash. They want to put a cork on NC17 material so that children do not unsuspectingly find themselves at a sexually explicit website. Some of the stuff even slips by parents who are watching.

To make my point absolutely clear: be sure you have the facts before you start ranting and raving about a specific group being targeted.[8]

But Harry, Ron, Hermione etal aren't "people". They are fictional characters who are the intellectual property of J.K. Rowling.

The case you are speaking of applies (as I recall) to actual public figures.

Not to copyrights.[9]

References

  1. Harry Potter/Slash Rant at Mair's Lair; reference link
  2. Caitlin: HP slash sites to be closed?, January 13, 2002
  3. Yalithb: HP slash sites to be closed?, January 13, 2002
  4. WyseAlice: HP slash sites to be closed?, January 13, 2002
  5. Amber: (PoU) slash sites being targeted, January 14, 2002
  6. David Schaffner: (PoU) slash sites being targeted, January 14, 2002
  7. dragoness: (PoU) slash sites being targeted, January 14, 2002
  8. Professor Granger: (PoU) slash sites being targeted, January 14, 2002
  9. Melissa: (PoU) slash sites being targeted, January 14, 2002