Fandoms, more classist than you know

Truth time here Wee Readers, you know what powerful political figure I’m really getting sick of… Harry Potter. Okay, maybe a bit of a clarification needed here – in previous posts, I have made my feelings of one JK Rowling quite clear. I don’t believe she’s a a good person, and I sort of have the impression she’s trying to retroactively ruin her own books. Which, honestly is not the worst thing she’s done recently, but is probably the most weird. I mean horrible, sexist, trans-phobic beliefs are just that – but where’s the motivation for trying to ruin the thing that made you so much money? Sorry, got a bit carried away there, because for once this post is not about JK Rowling – that’s right Ms. Rowling is not the reason I’m so sick of whiny, wealthy Harry Potter. No, that responsibility lies squarely on the shoulders of her mildly insane fandom.

Backstory first. I’m a bit of geek, always have been ever since I was a…well, an even smaller wee lassie. And I had the luck of being born just at the right time, Anne Rice was no longer hounding people in their own homes for ‘infringing’ on her copyright, and J.K Rowling had yet to reveal to everybody just what a terrible person she was. It was the age of the fan-fiction. And I, like any 12 or 13 year old with a healthy imagination, got stuck right in. I read a lot of fan-fiction while I was growing up, in fact strangely enough it was one of the things that made me want to be a writer. But here’s the thing, when you read that much fan-fiction you begin to notice patterns, particularly in certain fandoms. The same plots, and or tropes, appearing over and over again from authors so varied they cannot possibly have consulted each other. What do I mean? Well…what if Harry was not as gullible as he seemed? What if he got wise to the manipulations of Dumbledore and / or the Weasleys – say he discovered they were doing something terrible, like …stealing from his bank vault. So thus he decides to break away and become a power in his own right. I hear you say, why Wee Lassie that’s a very specific plot, surely it can’t have been reproduced that many times. Oh how I wish I still had your hope in mankind, but sadly Wee Readers this plot is just one of many such repetitive narratives found with the Harry Potter fandom. Now, I’m not here to judge…people like what they like, and yet you do sometimes have to wonder why? What motivates all these writers to go back to the same plot again, and again?

I focused on the…let’s call it, ‘Non-gullible Harry’ story-line (although I am sure it’s gone by better names than that) because it has the strange peculiarity to have at once everything and nothing at all to do with canon. While in cannon Harry is indeed manipulated, by Dumbledore no less, into sacrificing himself for the good of the many. And yet more often than not, Dumbledore’s faults are exaggerated to such a degree that it almost seems ridiculous that anyone would believe he was a good man. Of course, whatever the argument Dumbledore is not a nice man, he’s barely a good one – despite what J.K Rowling seems to think, he certainly deserves all the bile the fandom can throw at him. However the same cannot be said of the Weasley family – who are so hated in the fandom that they’ve even got a whole trope named after one of them ‘Ron the Death-Eater’. But for a long time I put this down other to sour-grapes about their ship not being cannon, or to the film’s butchery of the character of Ron. And yet that same repetition of plot kept repeating and I notice a troubling detail in many – though certainly not all – of these stories. Namely that when it’s revealed that the Weasleys are using Harry, it’s almost always for wealth and or status of some kind – often specifically stealing from his bank vault. Putting aside that this is complete nonsense when it comes to canon, it always struck me as strange that this is what people focused on as the great injustice that has been done to Harry Potter…his wealth being stolen by the poor. Think about that for a moment, in our world of austerity, food-banks, children being denied benefits if their family already has two children (yeah, that’s a thing now in Britain, go check it out here)- the worst thing you can think of that happened to Harry Potter – The Boy who Lived – is his wealth being stolen by the poor. For Calgacus’ sake! The boy was raised in a cupboard!

Looked through this lens, suddenly all those ‘Weasley-bashing’ fics – not limited to but certainly including the live action adaptions themselves – take on a sinister twist. After all it is a classist writing practice to portray lower-class characters as significantly stupider than middle and upper-class ones. Which I can tell you is certainly what happens in the films to lower-class Ron, compared to middle-class Hermione, and (arguably) upper-class Harry. And I’ve gotta say, this continuous putting down of Ron as stupid or beneath them is really making making me not like Harry Potter or Hermione, or the people that ship that.

So let’s say that all this hate – or rather the peculiar way it comes out in fan-fiction and adaptions – is an underlying classist sentiment, follow me to that peer. Would we then say that this is a problem confined purely to the Harry Potter Fandom? After all, J.K Rowling is a terrible person as I think she’s thoroughly proven by now – and she certainly was one of the loudest voices sneering at the actual left-wing candidates in our modern neo-liberal time; while clomping on to Blair who I’m sorry – no matter what you want to say about anyone else, is an actual war criminal and should be in jail. But no, it would be easy to say that – ridiculously easy – but this problem, for once is bigger than Madame ‘J.K.’ Voldemort; I think it’s more to do with our society as a whole. In our neo-liberal society, wealth has become a virtue in itself, rather than just an abstract fact about a person.

For instance, look at the character of Iron Man. At the time he was first created, which was sometime in the sixties I think, Stan Lee intended to create a character that was something young people would hate – that is, a war profiteer, a figure of the establishment, and a millionaire – and make them fall in love with him. Jump to today, and that idea seems to have worked a tad too well – Tony Stark’s fan-base is larger than most other heroes put together, and he is one of the main power houses’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Granted he’s dead now, but that still hasn’t stopped both Disney and Fans alike from gushing about him like he’s the second coming of Jesus-Christ, despite the fact that he’s a morally dubious character at best. Now I’m not saying that a love of Iron Man instantly makes a fan classist (that would be ridiculous) but once again, it’s how this adoration is expressed. Namely by tearing down other superheroes of more humble origins. No better example is found of this then the many fan-fictions dedicated to ‘bashing’ Steve Rogers -the former sickly son of a first generation immigrant, raised in the great depression – or Wanda Maximoff – an orphan from a war torn nation, whose parents were killed by one of Stark’s own bombs – that popped up around the release of Captain America: Civil War. Many of these portraying the millionaire not only as always in the right, but as the victim of his former friends; despite the original film being deliberately opaque in who was actually in the right. I mean god Steve, how dare you put the well-being of your PTSD suffering, formally brain-washed best-friend over the feelings of your privileged work colleague’s feelings.

This post took a very long time to complete – not helped by me being pulled away by yet another assignment half way through writing it – and looking back now, I can see that it comes off as more judgmental of fan-fiction writers and fandoms in general, than I meant it to be. Not all people who write ‘Ron-bashing’ fics do so for reasons anymore sinister than anger over a ‘ship’ and just not liking the character. All characters are flawed by nature, and not everyone is going to gel with the same ones. Same goes for those who like Tony Stark – he’s a funny character, and very hard not to like – trust me I know, I’ve tried. Rather the point of this post is to get people to stop and ask why they express themselves in the way they do. If you hate Ron, or Ginny, or any of the Weasleys so much – why make them steal from Harry Potter’s vault? Why that? And why so often? In the same vain, if you love Tony Stark so much, why act like he is the greatest victim in all the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Why demonize the characters of different classes – and I haven’t even touched upon what many fans do to characters of different races, nationalities and genders – to defend the most privileged one? If he’s so great, why do you need to bother? Why do so many people love this fairly selfish, privileged ( I know this is the second time I’ve used that word, but I feel it’s important to emphasis it) jerk? It has to be more than just that he’s funny, that doesn’t explain the hate. Rather I propose, that this may be an unconscious veneration of the wealthy – something that started out as ‘look at Tony Stark, he’s so rich, isn’t that fun to watch’ quickly became ‘look at Tony Stark, he’s so rich, and therefore better than everyone else’. Ah I see you roll your eyes at me, and you’re probably right… maybe I’m reading too much into this – but look me in the eye and tell me there isn’t something innately classist in a society that venerates Draco bloody Malfoy, over Ron Weasley.

If you’ve enjoyed this wee exploration into some of the classism – even I admit there’s deeper to go with that – within fandoms, or just think I’m full of crap, drop me a note down in the comments and tell me what you think. And don’t forget to follow the wee Blog, if you haven’t already; also you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and Goodreads. Until next time Wee Readers, have a bonny day.

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The Top Ten Songs of the Roadtrip Soundtrack

Well, here we are, My Wee Readers, the final post of my Holiday Trilogy – and it only took me…at least two months to complete. Wow, that’s a big thought. Anyway, onward. I’ve been planning, seeing as it is one of my more popular posts, to write a follow up to ‘The Writing Lassie’s Top Ten Evil Songs’ – using the suggestions you left in the comments (so if you want to add another suggestion, now’s the time to do it). But before we get into the very worst humanity has to offer, let’s take a step back, and look at the best. In preparation for my family’s epic road-trip into the Highlands, I compiled a playlist of all our favorite songs as soundtrack for our wee adventure. Here are ten of the best.

10. Born in the USA

Sing it Bruce!

Released October 1984 – so a good ten years before I was even born – Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA is a commentary on the plight of the Vietnam War Veteran when he comes back home. Once famously used by Ronald Reagan – a man who had clearly never got the joke – on his presidency Campaign. This song has always been a favorite of my family’s, thus it was an obvious choice to include on our road-trip’s soundtrack. I remember listening to this surprisingly rousing tune as we entered the rolling mountain lands of the Cairgorm National Park.

9. You’ll Be Back

You’ll Be Back Bitches!

Sung by Jonathan Groff , who you may recognize from Glee, if like me you are re-watching it on Netflix, this villain song from the Hit musical Hamilton – which depicts the life and death of the founding father Alexander Hamilton – is one of my brother’s favorite songs. Thus it was a perfect choice to help start our road-trip with that theatrical flare that can only come from a former king of England. Sing it away George, sing it away.

8. Donald Where’s your Troosers?

Will someone get this man a pair of trousers?!

Performed by Andy Stewart, this is a very strange song – in which a man wonders around with no trousers, while women ask him where on earth his trousers are. I believe it’s implied that he’s wearing a kilt instead, but it’s not altogether clear – and given the nature of the song, either outcome is likely. In truth its a very infectious song, that won’t leave your head no matter how hard you shake it – I mean, I can’t even remember why I didn’t include it in my Evil Song List to begin with.

7. Don’t Stop Me Now

Freddie Mercury is King

Oh Freddie Mercury, you were truly the King of Rock. Performed by the band Queen, with front man Freddie Mercury singing vocals, many have tried to fathom the meaning of this catchy, up-beat tune. But whether it was a Bisexual Pride Anthem – Freddie was Bi himself after all – an ode, to the front-man’s decodant lifestyle – as the other members of the band claim – or just a fun song, about having a very good time really doesn’t matter to me. Because whatever the case, it is a damn good song to have on a Road trip.

6. Micheal in the Bathroom

I have all the Feels.

Performed by George Salazar, ‘Micheal in the Bathroom’ is a heart wrenching song about betrayal and abandonment from, and I’m just going to say it, one of the strangest Musicals I’ve ever come across – Be More Chill. Okay, stop me if you heard this story before – High-schooler Jeremy feels like too much of a loser to speak to the girl he likes, so after hearing about it from some guy in a bathroom (not Micheal) he decides to take this thing called a SQUIP, to help boost his popularity. What is a SQUIP you ask? Why, a SQUIP is an advanced processing computer from Japan, condensed into pill form. And if you take it with Mountain Dew – don’t ask me why it never really explains – then the SQUIP will connect to you brain and help you to negotiate the terrifying world of pubescent life. Oh, it also shows up as Kenu Reeves in your perception if you don’t change it to someone else… *gasp for air* and that is the basic premise of Be More Chill.

5. I Don’t Know How to Love Him

Mary Magdalene is always a win.

Ah Crucifixion, a far more saner topic to have a musical about. Written by Andrew Loyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar tells the tale of the days leading up to Jesus’ death and his subsequent Crucifixion. My family’s not particularly religious, so growing up this was my only exposure to that story that I really paid attention to – which may or may not have caused some strife with my slightly more religious classmates. I mean you mention one time that your favorite disciple is Judas Iscariot and suddenly everyone’s claiming you’re gonna go to hell. Look people, I was eight or nine, Jesus kind of sounded full of himself to my child mind, and Judas had the best songs. Speaking of best songs, this haunting melody is sung by Mary Magdalene played by Yvonne Elliman , as she ponders her confusing feelings for the title character. It truly is a wonderful song to listen to while your driving back home from your slightly exhausting road-trip.

4. Rule the World

Hail to the Ruler of the World

Performed by the band Take That, and featuring in the soundtrack of the film Stardust staring Qweneth Paltro – who was also in Glee, and…other things as well I’m sure – Rule the World is an empowering song of love between two maniacal dictatorships, just trying to keep the populaces in control. What? That’s not what its about…but why is it called Rule the World then? That is a misleading title.

3. Everything is AWESOME

Awesome!!!

Ah, now this is much better – the first song of The Lego Movie is an upbeat tune compiled by a major corporation to lull us into a false sense of contentment so that we don’t notice as they complete their dastardly plan. Both in story and out. Plus I dare you to get it out of your head once you hear it, even just once.

2. Nothing

Best Song Ever

From the Musical ‘A Chorus Line’ this ballad is the sorry tale of a crap, probably boarder-line racist, acting teacher and the young girl who was forced to put up with him…until he died. Sorry, ruined the end there, but it is an awesome song regardless and one I most dearly recommend for any long car ride, particularly if it’s your mother’s favorite song.

1. How Far I’ll Go

The Ocean is alive, I have all the questions

Finally we come to our winner, performed by the amazingly talented Auli’i Cravalho – who was only freaking fourteen at the time of recording – and written by Lin Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame; ‘How Far I’ll Go’ takes its place as one of the Disney Princess’ ‘I Want’ Songs. Other such contenders are ‘A Dream is a wish your heart makes’ (Cinderella); ‘Let it go’ (Elsa); ‘When will my life begin?’ (Rapunzel); ‘Almost There’ (Tianna) ; and one of my personal favorites ‘Reflection’ (Mulan). Now, why exactly did I just spend a good amount of time listing other Disney songs instead of the one I actually listened to while on my road-trip up to the Highlands? Well, two reasons really: number 1, ‘How Far I’ll Go’ needs no hyping up because its so awesome it speaks for itself – so stop reading this right now, go back up and listen to that wonderful song – and Number 2. for full musical education I believing its proper that all the Disney songs are given a shout out every now and then. I’m just kidding, I have no musical education, I just enjoy them.

Well, here we are at the end my wee readers, if you’ve enjoyed this particular musical trip down memory lane or would like to suggest an ‘evil’ song for next time, leave a comment down below. Also follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. Until next time, my Wee Readers, have a Bonny Day.

Just a brief note before we leave, if you’ve enjoyed this and other posts like it on the Wee Writing Lassie, why not buy me a Wee Cup of Coffee, or drop me a tip over on Ko-fi. Which is linked to the image below.

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The Wee Writing Lassie’s Top Ten Evil Songs

Come on we’ve all heard one some time in our lives – they’re the kind of song that gets stuck in your head. The kind of song that repeats over and over  no matter how much we beg them to stop. The kind of song that can burst out of your mouth at the most unfortunate of times.

These are evil songs, and now because I care about your well-being so much my wee readers – and certainly not because I just wanted to write another blog post and thought this would be funny – I shall now list the top ten worst of these terrible afflictions on the human psyche. 

10. Chim Chim Cher-ee

Taking the lowest spot on our list we have this haunting little ditty from the 1960s adaption of Mary Poppins . It’s been placed at this position because despite its tendency to repeat on a loop inside my skull, and its almost impossible to spell title – I find it mostly unoffensive, at least compared to some of the other songs on this list. Unless you count Dick Van Dike’s cockney accent as offensive, of course.

9. Gilmore Girls theme song

The first of the TV theme songs to grace this terrible, awful list – the memorable theme of the popular tv-show about a mother and daughter with a peculiarly close relationship, hyped folks up for the fast talking dialog and easy-going feeling that made the show so enjoyable. Originally written as a full length song by Carole King, this Theme song will continue to play on within you no matter how long you run from it.

8.Wake me Up Before you go go

Written by George Michel and recorded in 1984 by the band Wham! This song will follow you to the day you die – but there are worse fates. This is certainly one of my favorite songs on this terrible, awful, no-good list.

7. All about that Bass

Written by Meghan Trainor and Kevin Kadish and released on June 30th, 2014 – this song clearly intends to promote positive body image. Which is great message, but I would be able to appreciate much more if didn’t keep bursting out of my mouth at the most inconvenient times…All about that base, ’bout that base…Ahhh!

6. Happy

Written, Produced and performed by singer Pharrel Williams – this is a very well named song. Just listening to it makes you feel all happy inside, thus it is the only song on this list that I whole halfheartedly recommend getting stuck in your head.

5. Crazy Frog – Axel F

Well…I suppose we can make a song out of anything these days. I would be surprised if you hadn’t heard of The Crazy Frog – a Swedish CGI character created by actor and playwright Erik Wernquist in 2003. And I would be even more surprised if you had never once contemplated smothering that blue frog in a fit of rage fulled insanity.

4.Narwhals, Narwhals, swimming in the ocean

Is it just me or are these songs getting…weirder as we go along? Performed by Jonti Picking and released in 2009 ‘The Narwhal Song’ is by far and a way the most random of the songs on this list. I mean what do the lyrics even mean? Why are the Narwhals causing a commotion?!

3.Shake it off

Written by Taylor Swift, Max Martin and Shellback and released in 2014 as the lead single of the album 1989; this bouncy song may not be one of Taylor Swift’s better compositions, but it’s certainly one of the most memorable. Seriously, you’ll be humming this tune till your very last breath.

2. Duck Tales theme song

Yes, well we’ve all been expecting this one…it is the Grandfather of all the evil, stick-in-your-head-right-up-to-your-death-songs to ever grace this earth. Composed by Mark Mueller and performed by Jeff Pescetto for the 1987 series, and by Felicia Barton for the 2017 revival – I chose to put the original up above simply because it was the one that started it all, though both versions are equally catchy. Truly, there should be no song that could top it on a list such as this, so then…why isn’t it at the top?

1. Zip-a-dee-do-dah

You’ll notice that, unlike the others on this list, I haven’t placed a video here for you to easily watch this particular stick-in-your-head song. And the reason why is simple – I don’t want you to, I wouldn’t want anyone to get this song stuck in their head as thoroughly as it has mine.

And the sad thing is, I didn’t even listen to the song and it still got caught in my head.

Back when I was a child, my school had this recital, a contest if you will – the idea was that all of us kids who played recorder (which was everyone, since it was mandatory ) would play a tune, and whoever played it the best would get to move on to violin. Which looking back now makes no sense, since if I’m not mistaken I don’t think those two instruments are related. You’ve probably already guessed the song we were made to learn…that’s right Zip-a-dee-do-dah. From then on that parasite took up residence in my head and has never once loosened its grip, no matter how many of the other songs on this list I hum to try and drown it out. Chim Chim Che-ree has come the closest, but each time I think Zip-a-dee-do-dah has been defeated, it’s always just retreated. Yet, this is not why I’ve given this awful catchy song the top spot.

Truth be told, when I say the other songs on this list are evil I don’t really mean it – I mean they’re catchy, and sometimes very annoying. But the songs aren’t really evil in the true sense of the word; however I don’t think I can say the same for Zip-a-dee-do-dah. For you see the song originated in the Disney film Song of the South, one of the most racist films the company has ever made, which given their back catalog is actually saying quite a bit. So racist in fact that the company has desperately tried to distance themselves from the film, even denying a blue-ray release to it, yet like an unwelcome guest at a party Zip-a-dee-do-dah refuses to simply leave.

Thus ends this terrible, no-good list – if you’ve enjoyed discovering or re-discovering these brain-burrowers check me out on twitter, or Instagram; or follow the wee blog if you haven’t already. If you agree with my list, or think I’ve left one out comment down bellow.

Until we meet again my wee readers, have a bonny day.