What to Do About Harry Potter Porn

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News Media Commentary
Title: What to Do About Harry Potter Porn
Commentator: Christopher Noxon
Date(s): October 18, 2001 as "Oh Harry, You Naughty Boy" for "Inside.com"
November 18, 2001 as "The trouble with Harry" at SFGate
December 21, 2002 as "What to Do About Harry Potter Porn" for the Vancouver Sun and The San Francisco Chronicle
Venue: print and online
Fandom: Harry Potter
External Links: THE INTERNET / Pottershots / The trouble with Harry - SFGate, Archived version

"What to Do About Harry Potter Porn" (an article in The San Francisco Chronicle and The Vancouver Sun, both 2002)


Christopher Noxon Clips: Los Angeles-Based House Husband Freelance Writer & Journalist, Archived version
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What to Do About Harry Potter Porn is an article by Christopher Noxon that was published in The Vancouver Sun in December 2002 and The San Francisco Chronicle, also probably in December 2002. It was originally published the previous year in at least two other venues, each with a different title. One was "Oh Harry, You Naughty Boy" at Inside.com and the other was "The trouble with Harry" at SFGate.

Christopher Noxon wrote: "Produced and consumed mostly by young women, naughty Harry Potter stories belong to the larger online phenomenon called slash fiction," and quoted from "a novella called Irresistible Poison." The article was originally published online at Inside.com (as "Harry Potter 'slash' writers take children's book characters into new realm")[1][2] and later appeared at other online places (as "Pottershots - The trouble with Harry").[3]

Noxon's conclusions about slash and the novella caused a bit of uproar in the fan community. The quoted story was a well-known favorite among Harry/Draco fans, which guaranteed some defensive reactions to begin with, and the use of inflammatory language to describe Harry Potter slash as "sleazy online affront," "moony-moony desire," "knockoff erotica" and "kiddie porn" didn't help to make the article more popular.

One original version of the article also mistakenly refers to Henry Jenkins as "Harry Jenkins".

Excerpts

It’s true that most slash reads more like a paperback bodice ripper than like hard-core porn—Rhysenn’s stories, for instance, are heavy on tortured descriptions of moony-moony desire with just a few detailed blow-by-blows (note to Hogwarts headmaster: if the broom shed’s rocking, you might try knocking). According to MIT scholar Henry Jenkins, who has tracked slash since its appearance in photocopied zines circulated at fan conventions, slash appeals to young women because it lets them experience romantic bonds in a mythological universe far removed from more familiar (and far scarier) world of boyfriends, dating and sex.
Most slashers, meanwhile, bristle at the suggestion that their work can be dismissed as knockoff erotica or demonized as kiddie porn. “I will take serious offense to anyone who labels my stories as ‘porn’ because it insults me as a writer — the majority of my stories are PG or R, and sex if any at all is only incidental to the plot and not its focus,” says a prolific slasher known as Rhysenn, a twentysomething straight woman who has written more than 20 Harry Potter slash and het stories along with a few novellas. “Pornography is crude and blatantly sexual; slash deals with characters and romance and emotions more than the physical aspect of the relationship alone.”

Reactions

"The article... on Harry Potter came on no surprise to me, as I have come across a lot of it on the net while looking for other things. I have never read the books though some adults seem to enjoy them, but if a thing is hyped too much I ignore it (Jurassic Park, Titanic, Pearl Harbor). With Harry Potter I really don't see the reasoning behind writing this kind of slash, even if the participants are aged up. If as one writer says such slash deals with emotions and romance more than the physical aspects, I doubt that the emotion/romance of teens could be as fulfilling as that of older and more experienced characters. And I completely failed to understand Acassha's [fan quoted in article] reasoning for it - that m/m sex when she read it made her feel squicky because she was thinking 'I don't do that; should I?' I'm sure there are many reasons why people choose to read slash rather than het sex, but I've never yet heard that it was because they felt when reading het that they should be doing it. I was unclear anyway as to whether she was upset at het sex generally or something specific the characters were doing. Still, that's no excuse for HP slash. There are so many other slash pairings to enjoy... I have to wonder sometimes if its not just a case of some writers wanting to slash any show or anything in sight. These RPS and underage or aged-up stories make me rather annoyed with the perpetrators because I think they're more likely to attract legal action, and then that draws attention to slash in other randoms, and that in my view is a bad thing. I know knowledge of slash is more widespread now in the general community without any terribly adverse reaction so far. But the very nature of RPS or HP slash is likely to give any slash a bad name and lead to less tolerance." [4]

References

  1. According to Noxon's website, it was published in Inside on October 18, 2001. (Accessed 06 April 2006)
  2. This article was published in full as "Harry Potter 'slash' writers take children's book characters into new realm" in DIAL #19
  3. Noxon, Christopher. Pottershots - The trouble with Harry. SFGate November 18, 2001. Accessed October 3, 2008.
  4. from a fan in 2001 in DIAL #20