How a Harry Potter Fanfic Took Over the Internet

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S1: Do you know your serious black cat, I say I, Gary Oldman. I saw it. Yes, I saw it. This you this you this you did this. Hi, I’m Rachel Hampton and I’m Madison Malone Kircher. You’re listening to I.C.. Why am I in case you missed it? Slate’s podcast about internet culture. Madison. It’s time we finally settled this. What are we settling exactly? How the fuck do you pronounce the nickname for national novel writing month? Is it nay? No. Remo NaNoWriMo NaNoWriMo Rachel. This isn’t that hard. You say that. And yet I can never remember which one of us goes first at the top of each episode, despite the fact it never changes from week to week. National novel writing month nano rhyme. Oh, OK, well, however, it’s pronounced it’s right now. National novel Writing Month has like a very long history on the internet. I think it was started in 1999 and the goal is basically to write 50000 words of a new novel in a month. I didn’t realize the new part. Like, you have to start from scratch. You can’t just tinker away at like a work in progress. I will show my ass here and admit that I failed this year on day three. If you break down 50000 words in a month, you basically are writing 17 500 words a day. Oh my God. Well, according to the website, you go in boys and you come out men. Participants entered the month as elementary school teachers, mechanics or stay at home parents and they leave. Novelist. Except for Madison, I entered as a podcast host. I’m leaving just the same. I hope actually next week will have a new host in celebration of national novel writing month. We’ve asked you all to send us the first line of your novel, and as usual, the Why am I guys delivered? First up, we have Michelle. Hi. I see. Why am I? This is Michelle, and this is the first line of my NaNoWriMo project. This will be my year. I can feel it. I declare while I fucking the birthday cake I picked out for myself earlier that day. Two things one you’ll note Michelle can pronounce NaNoWriMo. Damn, I’m never going to live that down, Emma. No, you’re not. The other thing is, I fucking your birthday cake is A.. I felt that that is extremely relatable content. But Madison, how do you think this? How do you think the story is going to end? Do you really think it’s going to be her? Oh, happy ending one hundred percent. Oh wow. I was thinking, no, anytime someone says it’s going to be their year, it’s never their fucking year. I’m thinking like raunchy, little romcom, darkly humorous. Happy ending. In the end, he realizes it was you all along. Don’t cry shop girl. That kind of story. Hey, maybe I’m just projecting because I said at the top of 2020 that it was going to be my year and it was not. Wow, and that happened only to you. So that must’ve been really hard. It was really hard for me specifically. I don’t know if you understand. All right. Well, I am rooting for the birthday cake. I fucker. Who else do we have? Next up, we have one from James who did this on Twitter. Scott never fully appreciated the inevitability of King of precious gravitational pull as a child. That’s him. All right. I have a lot of questions. Wait, what? The King of Prussia or gravitational pull? Another gravitational pull is not a mole. I think King of Prussia is a mole. Is it not talking about the actual King of Prussia? Oh, I was like, Oh, a historical fiction novel. It’s a mall in Pennsylvania. Oh my god. Wow. I want to read this even more now, James. Great opener. We have questions. We need more information. Madison Who’s up next? Our next mission comes from a listener whose pen name is Ivy Peregrine. Hey, icy, why am I? I love your podcast. I am finishing a science fiction romance novel this month. Here is its first line. I’ll fuck any interested adult with artistic talent. It’s true. Thank you. I don’t remember if you’re allowed to be explicit on your podcast, but happy NaNoWriMo. Ivy, thank you so fucking much. Next up, we have another team from Skeletor Lexa, whose first line of their novel is when Adene awoke. The flies were humming. This sounds like a horror novel to me. Oh, see, I was thinking like animated birds, beginning of Snow White opening credits of Grease like the flies. Or I’d his friends. OK, I feel like if they’re friends, they should pick a better book. You know, like a bee, a butterfly, a caterpillar flies are like, I don’t know. I don’t like them. Our next submission comes from one of our colleagues, actually. This voice memo is from Shayna. There is nothing more depressing than Christmas lights on a 1950s craftsman in mid-January. Unknown mid-January. How long does Taylor Swift leave up our Christmas lights? We can leave the Christmas lights up till January, Taylor Allison Swift said. So and our last mission is one that Madison is convinced is a joke, but I deeply want to be real. This one is from Sam, who’s the first line of their novel is on the night he was curve gritty could feel the Philly air shiver on his fur. Sam, I love it. I believe this was in earnest. I really hope it is, and I really hope, Sam, that you stuck through the entire month. Please send me your novel the beginning of December. Best of luck to everyone who is still on their path to meet their goal and complete NaNoWriMo. You’re a better person than me. Truly godspeed to every single one of you all. And OK, I’m going to be honest, I’ve always thought maybe one day I would do national novel writing month. But the thing I remember about it most is from Madison. Just plug your ears. I know it’s I remember from Tom if it’s from Tumblr, because all the fan fiction writers would take the month off to write their novel, which meant that November was just fucking desolate on them, on my dashboard. I am feeling a similar amount of despair, right this moment. One day you’ll understand how much Tumblr means to me. This episode actually has nothing to do with Tumblr, much to Madison’s joy and contentment, or at least not a lot to do with Tumblr because it’s me. OK, then why are we invoking Tumblr at all, Rachel? Because way back in August, the dog days of summer we received an email from a listener that I I quite literally screamed at. I think I screenshot it and immediately sent it to you, and it was just like Madison. This is directly from my brain. This is another way of saying we’re bringing back read receipts, read receipts. I said what I said and it rhymes with said rhyming is not the indicator of what’s right here today. On the show. We’re going to be talking about an absolutely massive 500000 word Harry Potter Fanfic Took. In yes, 500000 words, half a million by the name of all the young dudes that is currently the most popular Fanfic on the Fanfic website archive of our own. It has over four million hits as of the time of recording. And why are people so obsessed with this particular Fanfic? OK? As someone who is also obsessed with this particular topic, it’s just it’s a really good and well-written fic like that’s just the baseline, but also over the past year. It’s kind of become a part of canon in the fandom, like more so than J.K. Rowling saying that Dumbledore is gay like that. It’s more canon than that, and that is retconning and not canon. Exactly. And in the process, it’s managed to create a fandom of its own that span Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and, yes, Tumblr. I guess it is only fair that we talk about this since you did let me go full tinfoil hat swifty last week. So don’t go anywhere and we’ll be right back. Not a suicide. Kick it in the head when he was twenty five. Speech, I don’t want to say I love. And we’re back with another edition of read receipts, read receipts. I want to see the receipts. Hello, my name is Rachel. I’ve been a fan of the show for many months and multiple times a day. I think of a tick tock or something. I want to send your way. But this is my first time writing or calling in. This is a little bit inspired by the book talk episode, and I wanted to share another part of the internet and for me, Tik Tok specifically, that’s taken over my life in the last year. And it’s a fan fiction called All the Young Dudes by Miss King being 89, which is an archive of our own. And I know it’s grown to encompass more than just tik talk and is on Twitter and Instagram and, of course, Tumblr. I didn’t think I’d be returning to Harry Potter fan roots and making Took talks about it as a 26 year old, especially with Jake Carr’s terminus and general issues. But pandemics do take you to weird places. Rachel, I’m not convinced you didn’t send this email yourself. Not least of all, because this listener’s name is also Rachel, and I feel like this is the moment I need to say we have reached carrying capacity for Rachel’s allowed to be affiliated with this show. Truly. Pick another name, people. I’m begging. I’m also not convinced I didn’t send this. Honestly, the only thing that came with me and this was hearing her voice because that’s not my voice. I literally have a note in my phone from April 2021 that just says all the young dudes making me an eighty nine on the podcast. That’s the only thing the note says, Where do we start? Let’s start at the beginning. What is all the young dudes? I mean, it’s a song. Even I can answer that one. That’s great. I’m glad you know, it’s recorded by Mott the Hoople, but it was written by David Bowie in the context of the show. It’s currently the most popular fanfiction on the platform archive of our own, which we’ve discussed in previous episodes. Currently, it has over 4.3 million hits. The next most popular fan fiction has over two million, so it’s popular by a pretty significant degree. When did it start publishing? It first started publishing in March 2017. There are a hundred and eighty eight chapters, so it is half the length of the original the original series. Follow up question how many adverbs are in it? If I could count that high, I wouldn’t be doing this job. This is a dumb question, but I’m going to be the one to ask or no one else listening has to. This is a Harry Potter fan fiction, correct? Yes, it is. But to be exact, it’s a marauders era Fanfic, which is basically, I know you’re going to ask what is that was going to say? I solemnly swear, I know this answer, but would you lay it out for us just just for fun? I know some things, but it’s basically the error in the Harry Potter universe, where Harry’s parents attended Hogwarts. The Marauders referred specifically to Harry’s father, James Serious Black Raymond Sabine and Peter Pettigrew. So are we to assume those are the young dudes? Yes, they are, in fact, all the great. What’s next? So Miranda’s heir, Fanfic, is actually one of the more popular subgenres within the Harry Potter fandom. And within that subgenre there’s Wolfe Star, which is the ship named for Remus Lupin in Sirius Black. OK, Remus Levine is a werewolf and Siri. Oh, that’s a con. Is it because he’s a star? Will star? I get it. Yes. Great. Mm-Hmm. Mm-Hmm. In Alien? Yes. So that’s the context of all the young dudes. Again, over the course of 188 chapters, this fic basically like chart’s relationship between Remus and Serious, and also like James and Peter and the rest of the marauders from their very first year Hogwarts to like the end of Prisoner of Azkaban. For reference, that’s like the years 1971 to 1995. So it’s it’s a long fic. Clearly, Rachel, when did you get into Harry Potter fan fiction? Well, um, Rachel made a really good point, which is that the pandemic takes you to some weird places. I read this in 2020 in, I would say, actually around the election because I was living at home. And when you live at home for longer than three weeks, you regress into a teenager. And I actually hadn’t read any Harry Potter fan fiction before that year. It wasn’t really what I was into when I was a teenager, but I kept seeing this fan fiction pop up and I was like, I’m not reading a 500000 word fan fiction. And then I was like, I’m going to read the first two chapters of this five hundred thousand word fan fiction. And then fast forward two weeks and I’m obsessed and literally skipping meetings at work to read this fan fiction. If my boss is listening to this, I’m lying right now. I’m about to ask you an impossible question. Yeah. Quickly. Loosely, what is it about? It’s basically a slow burn, not the podcast by Slate that you should listen to, but like a slow burn or relationship between Amazon series basically told from the perspective of Remus, who is a werewolf. And so it kind of explores this interesting like cross marginalization of remix as a gay man in 1970. Is Britain and remains is a werewolf in the wizarding society and also a lot of like class based stuff, which is a kind of dynamic that J.K. our hints at in her books. But this fic kind of very much plays with and explores. And the beautiful thing about fan fiction to me is that it writes people into a universe that maybe otherwise wouldn’t have been there or had been given short shrift. And I think that Wolf star the relationship between reminiscence since areas falls into both those categories because, like J.K. are basically pretends queer people don’t like don’t. What do you like? See, Dumbledore was gay the whole time, didn’t you see it? Of course. Of course, in her mind, she was black. Of course, J.K. Rowling also just left one of the most interesting dynamics in the fucking book completely unexplored. Like, I feel like most people don’t know this, but like Harry’s parents were like 20 and 21 when they died, like they were children fighting the war as we’re like serious and lupin. And so the modern era fanfiction kind of explores this dynamic of losing all your friends to war and or thinking your best friend slash lover has killed them and just tell me that isn’t ripe for exploration. Also, like class and marginalization, like myth, King being 89, did what she needed to do. I feel like first, we should mention that J.K. Rowling did not, in fact, write Harry Potter. Daniel Radcliffe did because oh yeah, J.K. Rowling has since revealed herself to be a big old transphobic, and we will have none of that here on the show. Does that factor into this fic? So the fandom kind of dealt with that in a very interesting way to me in that a lot of Fanfic writers after Joker’s transphobic turn happened, all put at the top of their Fanfic like, I do not support her like this fic exist outside that narrative, and a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction is queer anyway. Well, yeah, magic is gay. Sorry, I hate to burst your bubble. Objectively, that’s also one of the best things about fan fiction to me, which is the way that it kind of reclaims IP from the authors when the authors are shitty, which J K R is with you. And I believe we’re going to take a brief break here so that Rachel can take a drink of water. So she’s prepared to say the word marauders about 17 more times. And when we come back, we’re going to get into people who aren’t just as obsessed with this Fanfic. Where I am now is. And we are back. Do you remember during our book talk episode where I explained how Tick-Tock basically controls the New York Times bestseller chart now? I do recall in between lots of discussions of aliens with a breeding tank. Yes, you did mention something about that. I’m glad you remember that part. They don’t just do this with, like actual published works. They also do this with fan fixins. And boy, did they do it with all the young dudes. As we said in that episode, book talk, fan fiction talk all blew up over the pandemic because everyone goes home. Everyone was depressed. Everyone needed a little bit of comfort. And so a lot of people returned to their roots, which includes fan fiction. So I would say that all the young dudes had its moment in, like the second year of the pandemic starting around the winter, which makes a lot of sense to me that tracks. So walk us through the timeline. Yeah, so the Fanfic finishes publishing in November 2018. By mid 2019, it has like 100000 hits. OK. 2021 is when shit kind of goes say, like, completely wild. Yeah. So January 2021. It had just under a million hits, and that same month a Twitter account was created called All the Young Dudes. But I feel like you’ve seen these bots before, right? They just like tweet a single line from a poet or a book or a musician anyway. But all we can do is Bot has just over ten thousand followers, which is like, pretty good for it’s a fan fiction. So between March of this year and November of this year, it exploded there. Now, YouTube reviews of this fake people have taken it upon themselves to read it for audiobooks. It has almost 9000 ratings on good reviews and a four point eight two star review, which a lot of authors would kill for. That’s unheard of. And obviously, there are hundreds of posts on the Tumblr tag, which includes, like, some phenomenal fan art. Tell me about what’s going on over on TikTok. I feel like I need to make this context clear. Once again, all the young dudes fandom is a fandom within a fandom, within a fandom. It is like incredibly niche, but it’s also massively popular. Like the All the Young Dudes hashtag on TikTok have six hundred and eighty seven million views. The spin off hashtag All the Ninja It’s TikTok has forty five million views in and of itself. You’re going to play some for us, right? Of course. So here’s a pretty popular TikTok under the All the Young Dudes hashtag that I think is pretty exemplary or something. That’s like one of my favorite things about this fandom within a fan, within a fandom. I have a lot of favorite things about this because I love this shit. So what’s happening in this video is a series of clips of Madison, you’re not a fan casting is what’s fantastic. I mean, it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s when fans cast a movie for a book. And so this is what I do when I’m drunk. Great. Yeah, you’ve been cast all the time. So this particular fan cast features Andrew Garfield as Remus, Ben Barnes, a serious Aaron Taylor-Johnson as James, and Dane DeHaan as Peter, their fan casting a fan fiction, to be clear. But what’s hilarious to me is that somehow the majority of the Marauders fandom has settled on these four actors as the dream cast, which is wild because fan casting is usually extremely contentious. Madison This has become such a thing that the fan casting has even made its way to Ben Barnes himself. Prince Caspian, please, please put some respect on his name. I feel like he’s done other things. But here’s Ben Barnes responding to this broadside. You know your series Black Hat? I say Gary Oldman. I saw it. Yeah, I saw it. Are there other typical Tik Tok trends we see for all the young dudes on talks that don’t involve fan casting? There are a lot of hilarious memes like this one, because after all this time, I’m still into you. I should be over all the bad time. So this video basically what’s happening is this guy is looking at his immaculately organized bookshelf and on the screen reads meets all the unread books that have been sitting on my show for months. And so then the bass drops and the caption reads, Me starting three to five hundred k word Fanfic instead, obviously referring to all the young dudes, and he’s holding his laptop and kind of dancing around his room and then eventually turns the laptop around so that it faces the camera. And you can see the archive of our own page, which, if you spent any time on that website, is extremely recognizable because it’s just kind of this age HTML basic function website that I’ve spent a lot of time on. All right, what else you got? This is the part that I’ve been most excited to tell you about. There’s a theory that Taylor Swift wrote this fan fiction. Taylor Swift truly wrote King Lear in quarantine, so I would believe it. But why? I think part of it is the myth king being 89. Oh yeah, I think the hashtag is Myth Swift being 89. Like that is the the hashtag they’re using for this conspiracy theory. What’s something weird about the Harry Potter fandom that lives rent free in your head? The fact that there is a subsection dedicated to a theory that Taylor Allison Swift, a world renowned singer songwriter, wrote a novel about the marauders that became basically law ab. That era like she would go home after the VMAs or the Grammys or a stadium tour. I mean, as we all know, I am here for a Taylor Swift conspiracy theory, but this one might even be a bridge too far for me. So that is one of the funnier trends in the all the young dudes has to thank you for taking it there for me. You’re welcome. And now back to what I care about. This is tremendous. I’ve been around December 2020, which is actually around when I first discovered all the young dudes TikTok. Like I read the fic and I was like, I clearly must search out more content for this because I’m obsessed and distraught. And every time I watch Prisoner of Azkaban, I start crying a little bit. But around 2020, people were buying fully printed out and binded versions of this fanfiction and posting the unboxing video. Here’s an example of that it’s just a song, but on the screen, this girl like holds up this beautifully binded. It kind of looks like a dissertation. Are the people who are printing out those manuscripts selling them now? No, they’re not. So basically making being 89, she’s not selling copies. She’s not making any money from this. So it’s literally just people spending their own money on it. So it doesn’t violate any copyright law, which I think brings us to the wildest thing about this. There’s a lot of wild things, which is this fan fiction is so fucking popular it’s spawned a fandom bigger than some completely original content. Netflix would pay for this kind of engagement. But there’s literally no way for making being 89 to in any way profit from it without potentially running afoul of a lawsuit with J.K. R. All of that. I mean, fame like, there’s no financial incentive here. So the popularity is entirely organic and grassroots in a way that I think are. I mean, I feel like every single time we have an episode about something that’s going viral, it comes back to capitalism. And this does it because there’s no way to make money from it. I do have one last question, so no one knows who is king. Being 89 is is this like an Elena Ferrante situation where people actually know? Or do people really not know who this writer is? People really don’t know who she is, like someone obviously knows who she is because someone’s getting in contact to translate all the young dudes into like 19 languages at this point. But she’s not come out publicly. She hasn’t really answered a lot of questions beyond saying yes, you can print out the book No, don’t repost this one. Another fucking fanfiction site. My honestly one goal in life. You know how you want to find that grape smashing lady from that local news segment? Oh yes. Yes, I do. That’s me with Miss King being 89. So if you are listening to this a I love you b please, please, please email me. All right. That’s the show. We’ll be back in your feed on Wednesday, so subscribe, we’re free. Well, we might be busy, but the show is free, and the best way to make sure you never miss an episode is to subscribe. Leave us a rating and a review in Apple Podcasts. Tell your friends about us. Tell your Fanfic friends about us. You can follow us on Twitter at I.C.. Why am I underscore Pod? You can also drop us a note at I.C.. Why am I at Slate.com? I see why am I, as produced by Daniel Schroeder and Jasmine Ellis, our supervising producer, Derek John. We are edited by Boris Wickman and LeGrier Frank and Alicia Montgomery is executive producer of Slate Podcast and a special shout out to Amber Smith C Online or on the Marauders map. Also, I would just like to say I love every single one of the Rachel’s listen to this podcast, but I am the supreme Rachel. I don’t think they’d argue.