Readings from the Week

Straight Outta Chevy Chase

I've actually never heard a RadioLab episode before this one, so the opening made me think that I had the wrong episode. However, once the episode really got started I started to understand why this podcast is interesting. 

In particular, this episode talks about hip hop in detail. The story of Peter Rosenberg (sp?) is... well I don't know what to make of it. From the attempt to brand himself as PMD seems to me to be a move towards projecting authenticity as a hip hop artist. He talks about the music with passion, but when it came to the name it was like the rest of the group keeps him in check within the norms of that group. But Rosenberg displays the traits of a prosumer - from the trading of the tapes to the hat incident, we see that he has a lot of the 'credentials' for the fandom. But the core messages of hip hop don't apply to him... at all. 

He was questioned at every turn, and yet he turned around and did the same thing to Nicki Minaj on Starships. First off, she doesn't need his validation at all; she can choose to do pop stuff and yet still be a hip hop artist. Plenty of artists have done that - look at Taylor Swift! Prior to her transition from the young country artist she was to the pop star she is today, she was doing pop stuff too but no one denied she was a country person. I totally agree with the point that young girls would judge hip hop based solely on Starships is unfair and the gendered coding of hiphop and pop. It was really in poor taste. But Nicki turned it back around on him, and he got pretty defensive too. 

So is he a valid gatekeeper? Does Rosenberg need a resume to prove himself? He seems to have been 'accepted' despite his background as an outsider, and he recognizes the messages of hip hop. Frankly that's not for me to decide but it sounds like he's in, so to speak.

Harry Potter and the Fandom Menace

(Oh I was SO hoping for some Star Wars here)

This reading seems a little... judgmental at times, especially when dealing with fan fiction and LARPing. But it's interesting to read this when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has been gaining traction, though I'm no longer actively in the Harry Potter fandom to gauge what reception is like.

I think that Pottermania has definitely survived past 2007; for many years it was perpetuated by the release of the movies until the second part of Deathly Hallows in 2011 (really? Only 4 years ago? It seems so much longer than that!). All kinds of material was released in addition to the core fan objects - Pottermore was created for one, where Rowling publishes new stories to add to the canon of Harry Potter. Then there are the occasional flare ups, like Rowling admitting she liked Harry and Hermione together and thus sparked a very late shipping war. Though the book releases stopped, there is still a heavy demand for Harry Potter merchandise and objects. 

I remember the excitement around the midnight releases of the books, people would dress up for the occasion and the bookstores would have all kinds of Harry Potter related things while harried employees made sure everyone had a number to pick up a book and that everyone was in line. 

I don't know very much about J.K. Rowling apart from the fact that she was once the richest woman in Great Britain, which affirms for me the fact that fans aren't necessarily tied to the author. On occasion this can happen; I started to read Silk because Robbie Thompson, the writer for this run, is one of my favorite writers for Supernatural but that seems to be an exception. I understand her frustration with fan interactions but I'm surprised she carried it over to the novels because she's lashing out at the fan group. I recognize that it was at the extremist people who were stalking her and were out of line, but she risked alienating the fanbase as well. I remember reading interviews where she said she wanted to show Harry as an angry teenager to be realistic, and after I read the book I was incredibly dissatisfied with her reason. Apparently I wasn't the only one since it resulted in Order of the Phoenix being the least successful.

Yes it's very true that fans are conservative. I was victim to that when the Harry Potter movies came out - my frustration was that the movies weren't faithful to the books... or rather, my vision of the books. But I think J.K. Rowling has learned a lot since this book was published - there is the occasional mishap such as with the Harry/Hermione or Ron/Hermione debate, but she's been mostly making good waves. It's a lesson that all media creators learn, and it's one that'll never go away if creators expect success