As fans take over the Internet and production studios, the ultimate “squee” moment for me is seeing my own ideas realised on screen. Joss Whedon gave me one of these moments by putting a Marvel crossover on film, but it is two Coloradans with a YouTube channel that put the most strain on my vocal cords. As if they had access to my most fangirly fantasies, Ginny and Dana of Not Literally twist the lyrics of popular songs to match a book/series/film, and then perform in corresponding music videos. Mostly known for their Harry Potter work, they landed on my Facebook feed in the form of Sorted This Way, a Lady Gaga parody supporting Hufflepuff pride. I soon discovered their other music videos, We R Slytherins and Walk of Shame, as well as their Ask Hogwarts comedy series.
Of course, Not Literally is not the only Internet performance group producing parodies, but there is something about these girls that sets them apart from other vidders. There’s the work’s production values -partly achieved through Erik Tande’s contribution as director, editor and producer-, but mostly, there is a palpable desire for connection with other fans. Dana and Ginny confirm that they think of their music and sketches as an opportunity to further fandom’s main role: bringing people together. “We’re both passionate about fandom as an entity —people gathering together to turn their love for a series or movie into something new to share with others. (…) We want to make sure that the content we make connects with as many people as possible”.
This wish to generate connections is especially obvious in the message of brotherhood Ginny and Dana convey in their work. While Harry Potter fan productions often divide the fandom by only defending the merits of a particular House, Not Literally fosters unity. They argue: “If you feel your House identity so strongly that you are self-segregating from other fans, you’re missing the point of the series “. Their approach is to promote a better understanding of all four Houses, and of Hufflepuff in particular. “A lot of people legitimately don’t know what traits Hufflepuffs have”, they explain. “That makes them the butt of all the Hogwarts jokes. We actually love Hufflepuffs, and frankly we think everyone should”. In addition to making a House pride video, Dana and Ginny therefore opened an ‘I ❤ Hufflepuffs’ banner-making contest and designed their own Hufflepuff bow tie.
With 400,000 hits on YouTube for Sorted This Way only, it is safe to assume that Ginny and Dana have now created ties with and between Harry Potter fans. The Gryffindor music video and a new season of Ask Hogwarts are in preparation, and Dana and Ginny still have a lot of ideas for future Potter work. The next logical step, then, is to branch out into other fandoms. “When we have this amazing opportunity to reach out to fans and share with them”, say Ginny and Dana, “why would we not want to share the full extent of what we care about?”. Not Literally thus released Movies of the Night, a Halloween parody of The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s ‘Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me’, and is preparing parodies of Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games and Doctor Who.
Amidst the clutter of self-indulgent fan work available online, those who sustain the community role of fandom deserve to shine. I look forward to a lot more “squee” moments with Dana and Ginny, and will support them in their goal to make Not Literally their full-time job. After all, in more ways than one, their success is also a bit mine.
In the meantime, here is Sorted This Way. Enjoy!