Writers University's Harry Potter Warner Brother Slash Positions

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Title: Writers University's Harry Potter Warner Brother Slash Positions
Date(s): 2001
Medium: online
Topic: Harry Potter, fanfiction, TPTB
External Links: online here, via Wayback
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Writers University's Harry Potter Warner Brother Slash Positions is an essay posted at Writers University.


In case you were asleep and missed it, Warner Brothers has "come out" with their position on the portrayal of minors, namely those not past the age of consent, engaged in homoerotic relationships. This altruistic position applies, most naturally, to Warner Brothers's hottest property: Harry Potter. They don't want to see Harry Potter character, the kids, portrayed as gay in fan fiction. Fans were energized and opinions on the topic flew from those who whole heartedly supported Warner Brothers ban on child porn, to annoyance at the misrepresentation of Slash in fan fiction, to the decry that fan fiction writers had the write to write whatever they wanted and any sort of limits was evil censoring unfairly persecuting people who liked to write about homoerotic relationships.
There are several issues at hand in this mess. There are motives of companies and artists and fans and parents to questions. There are intellectual property law considerations that need to be considered. There are criminal statues that need to be looked at. More importantly, there are ethical and moral questions to be considered. The question of motives is just that, a question. The answers seem to be there. Did Warner Brothers do this to pacify certain elements of the Harry Potter fan base who are more conservative and more likely to not spend money? Did the articles seek to pacify that segment of the market and satisfy the more militant writers of Harry Potter fan fiction by hinting that they would go after Harry Potter slash but with no actual cases of attacks on Harry Potter slash? Did Warner Brothers finally hit on a good PR strategy? The answer would seem to be yes to all those questions.
Fan motives are harder to question. Such groups as FandomFightsBack seem to accurately depict fannish motives and that depiction is of fragmentation. The overall motive of fannish writers, no matter their personal beliefs, morals, political, religious leanings and ethos, is personal satisfaction and to maintain their own delicate balance of following through with the aforementioned while not unduly inflicting those beliefs on fannish groups who may not be receptive to those. To put it simply, if you're opposed to homosexuality and believe that being gay or living a homosexual life style will lead you down a road to damnation, than you don't read slash, join slash discussion lists and avoid having discussions on that topic in environments on line not friendly to that message. Wow, a lot like real life... But the overall message comes back down to personal me me me me me, all for me in fandom. This has made certain segments uneasy and their motives for fighting back against Warner Brothers are generally to protect their own interest at minimum risk to themselves.
Intellectually, we know that a story itself is not going to rape a person, not going to harm a person, not going to perform a perverted act on a person. Intellectually, we know that the story itself isn't the problem but rather the people who read the story and their reactions to that story are the things that are most likely going to create any problems. It isn't the story; it's the people who make messes. Intellectually, we know that a story is nothing more than words on a page, bytes displayed on a computer screen. A story cannot do anything but be. People are at the heart of this issue. It isn't so much, intellectually, debate about the content, well some about the content, but more about people's reactions to that content or people's reactions to what they perceive as the author's motives for writing that story. The other part of intellect deals with being aware of possible consequences and risks. We have to acknowledge on an intellectual level that writing, disseminating and possession of this material may lead to fines and possible jail time. Intellectually, we also have to be aware that there are many loop holes for fan fiction to slip through and even more possible outs for the child pornography related possible jail time issue.
In the end, Writers University's support for this material boils down to the same sort of rational as Canadian law and that is: what you do in the privacy of your own home is fine so long as it doesn't harm others. While we may not like or find tasteful these stories, we support you in writing them. We also support Warner Brother's actions. They are ultimately the ones who can call the shots. Morally, stealing is wrong. Fans steal from Warner Brothers. When Warner Brothers steps in to correct this, it is okay as it is their right as copyright and trademark holders.