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Fandoms and the Humanities – unicorp essays


Review the module resources and overview, then select a popular culture fandom you find interesting. You do not have to be a member of this fandom to review it for this weeks discussion. Analyze the social message that is associated with the fandom.
In your initial post, briefly describe the fandom you selected and address the following:
Looking through the humanities lens, why does this example attract fans? For instance, what are the underlying themes around beliefs and values expressed by the series?How does the fandom represent itself? How do fans recognize fellow members?What is the latent (or unintended) social message or commentary that is reflected by this example?What are the social implications of this message? Briefly discuss any potential social impact or response to the example.In response to your peers, provide feedback about the example used and the social message that was provided. Are there other messages being represented?
Make sure you support your responses by referencing the module materials and any other scholarly resources if needed.
Peer 1
The fandom I’ve chosen to talk about is the Swifties, which are the fans of Taylor Swift. I figured this would be an appropriate topic as she just released her album Red (Taylor’s Version) this past Friday! According to Diggit Magazine, “in order to call yourself a Swiftie, you need to love Taylor Swift and be a fan of her of course.” (As, 2018) The Swifties’ social group has social standards and norms that need to be obeyed, such as never bullying another fan. “Fans who notice people being rude to others will stand up for each other and confront the bully about their behavior.” (Alebeek, 2018)
Taylor is one to tell stories through her music, giving her fans a glimpse into her real-life relationships and experiences. This not only makes her fans feel closer to her, but closer to each other as well, as many have experienced similar situations to the ones in her music. Another major aspect of being a Swiftie is understanding how much Taylor loves to drop hints, place “easter eggs”, and create puzzles for her fans to decode that reveal her upcoming projects. This August, Taylor treated her fans to “a cryptic video teasing songs that will be on the new version of her album ‘Red,’ which originally came out in 2012.” (Delbyck, 2021) The video featured a series of jumbled words shooting out of a vault, all cast in a deep red, symbolizing the name of the upcoming album. Taylor pulled a similar stunt ahead of the release of her new version of Fearless, which came out in April. In case you are unaware, she is currently in the process of re-recording her first six albums, which are owned by her former record label. This is an endeavor she is undertaking to regain control of her entire discography. (Delbyck, 2021)
Taylor’s decision to re-record and take back ownership of her entire discography has a much deeper meaning amongst herself, her fans, and the music industry. Susan Genco, board member of the Music Artists Coalition and co-president of the Azoff Company, said “What Taylor did is a game changer, not just for her fans, but for other artists. She is inspiring artists to rerecord their songs and control their music.” (Steele, 2021) For the Switfies, this is a revolution. Taylor is teaching us to stand up for what’s right, and take ownership of what’s ours. As Taylor said with the latest re-release, “Red is about to be mine again, but it has always been ours.” (Swift, 2021)
Alebeek, S. (August 11th, 2018) Superdiversity within the Swifties. Diggit Magazine.
As, A. (January 11th, 2018) Taylor Swift and the story of the Swifties fandom. Diggit Magazine.
Delbyck, C. (August 5th, 2021) Swifties Everywhere Will Thank You If You Can Fully Decode This Taylor Swift Puzzle. HuffPost.
Steele, A. (November 12th, 2021) Taylor Swift’s Rerecording od ‘Red’ Is Reshaping the Music Industry. Wall Street Journal.
Swift, T. (November 12th, 2021) Instagram Post by Taylor Swift. Instagram.
Peer 2
Hi Everyone!!
While I do not find myself digging into many fandoms these days, one of the first fandoms I was ever a part of was Harry Potter. I am 21 years old, so the Harry Potter films began coming out just a year after I was born, and their popularity continued to grow in the U.S. around when I was in preschool. At this time, I recall watching the films in great wonder of the magical world the story created. I loved the characters and their personalities as well as their goals, ambitions, friendships, and desire to do good for others. And of course, I loved the magic.
Before I was enjoying the Harry Potter films, the novels had already gained a phenomenal success in both the UK and US, lining the shelves of bookstores with posters and advertisements in storefronts. A large part of why Harry Potter was so incredibly popular was because of the story itself and the quality of writing by JK Rowling. The Harry Potter novels are written about a magical world hidden away from non-magical “muggles”. The characters in the story are wizards, however they are also young students struggling to find their way in the world. The characters all have their own passions, flaws, and quirks, making them very well fleshed out and interesting for the reader. I personally enjoyed the novels more than the films once I was old enough to read them, and I found it incredibly easy to like the characters and relate to their day-to-day struggles. Harry Potter, the series’ protagonist, is an extremely strong hero for various reasons. The first book in the series establishes him as an outsider with a fractured family background, giving specialness to an otherwise ordinary person, all traits that the average reader may relate to in some form (Visser & Kaai, 2015). Harry continues to be a likeable and humble character throughout the series, committing himself to the greater good and earning the adoration of audiences.
I think Harry Potter hooks the audience with its well grounded world-building and magical themes, however it maintains the audience’s attention by allowing the characters to engage in realistic situations and treating them as real people despite using magic. This series does a great job of playing with the audience’s curious and imaginative side, but also giving them characters to relate to and invest in, making both an interesting and investing story.
Harry Potter has been an incredibly popular series for nearly 20 years. Since its rise to fame, the series has garnered an incredibly significant place in pop culture across the globe. Many specialty and department stores have various items of Harry Potter merchandise, and there is an incredibly popular theme park at Universal Studios for Harry Potter fans of all kinds. Fans may recognize one another through the adornment of a Hogwarts House crest, an emblem signifying which “house” you belong to at the fictional magic boarding school in the story. Characters in the series are sorted into four “houses” at Hogwarts school based on certain personality traits and qualities. Fans who identify with these traits may consider themselves a member of the respective house, going on to adorn its unique colors and crest, an easy way to recognize other fans of the show.
There are many latent messages within the Harry Potter series which are purposefully planted by the author, JK Rowling. In her books, Rowling used the fantasy world she created to deal with various social issues, mainly discrimination. One concept explored in the book is the pure-blood status of wizard characters in the story. In the wizarding world, children born to parents who are both wizards as well are considered “pure-blood”, while children with only one magical parent are considered “half-blood” (Eikens, 2017). There are a rare few magical children who are born to two non-magical parents, or “muggles”, and these children are known as “muggle-born” (Eikens, 2017). In the story, muggle-born wizards are discriminated against in the community, often criticized and bullied by pure-blooded characters. Rowling does well at creating a message of discrimination without alienating any of her readers by addressing the actual races of the characters.
We see the children in the story reflecting the actions of their parents, showing the great impact that family has on social issues including discrimination. Hermione, one of the main characters, is a muggle-born character. She is bullied by Draco Malfoy, a pure-blooded character with parents who are openly proud of their long-standing pure-blooded heritage. Hermione’s friend Ron, another pure-blooded wizard, is extremely accepting of Hermione, and Ron’s father is very interested in muggle culture and considers himself a friend of the muggles. We can see how strongly the children are influenced by their parents and backgrounds in the story, shedding light on how discriminations are formed in real societies, often stemming from generations of hate and systematic oppression. Rowling takes her stance on the matter by writing the discriminatory characters off as evil, and the warm, accepting ones as friends. This tells young readers of the importance of being accepting of others and shows them the problems with discrimination and the harm it causes.
Overall, Harry Potter is an immensely popular series which touched the hearts of an incredibly wide audience. Its various themes, characters, and additions are still adored by a dedicated audience and present in pop culture to this day.
Eikens, A. (2017). Changing Readers Attitudes? The Representation of Discrimination in the Harry Potter Novels. Anchor Academic Publishing.
Visser, I., & Kaai, L. (2015). The Books That Lived: J.K. Rowling and the Magic of Storytelling. Brno Studies in English, 41(1), 195212.


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