Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Great J.K. Rowling Debacle

As you're probably already aware, over the weekend a new interview with J.K. Rowling hit the media. And as you're probably already aware, this interview included some rather...opinion dividing news...about how things ended up in Harry Potter.

Yes, they're fictional characters and we shouldn't be getting so worked up about them. But at the same time, these are the characters that shaped our childhoods, our teen years, our twenties. Characters that we grew up with. Characters that we love and relate to. So we can't help but take it personally when the creator of these characters announces - seven years after the fact - that she thinks she made a mistake with one of the major relationships.

Obviously, the fandom immediately erupted. With joy from those who sail with the good ship Pumpkin Pie, and with anger/disappointment/WTF DID YOU DO, ROWLING feels from those on Team Romione.

I've been thinking about it a lot following my initial outrage, and I think I've managed to finally sum up my feelings about why I find this so enormously disappointing.

1. It implies that the only two people Hermione could ever be with are two guys she hung out with in high school.
Yes, the Golden Trio went through a lot together, so it's understandable that they'd be friends forever. What DOESN'T automatically follow is that Hermione - the one who goes back to Hogwarts to finish her education, the one who ends up with a career that needs further education, the one who dated a world class quidditch player - will never find anyone more suited to her than her two best friends from high school. Furthermore, why does she have to end up with ANYONE?! She saved their arses a million times, and influenced millions of girls all over the world. Why did her entire story have to be turned into this?

2. It doesn't just damage the contents of the epilogue. It damages the entire series. 
The epilogue was, let's be honest, pretty bad. Rowling started to drop hints about the future relationship between Ron and Hermione at the same time that she started to drop hints about the future relationship between Harry and Ginny - in Chamber of Secrets. So by saying that Hermione should end up with Harry after we sat through FIVE BOOKS building up completely different relationships? Not. Okay.

3. Ron's "not smart enough" for Hermione.
For all that he's the Chosen One, Harry's not much smarter than Ron. By saying that Ron's not smart enough, Rowling is effectively forgetting everything she wrote about the character. Sure, Ron's not the most academic of characters. Not don't forget that he destroyed a Horcrux. He was Gryffindor's keeper for two years. He became an Auror. HE BEAT MINERVA MCGONAGALL'S CHESS SET WHEN HE WAS TWELVE. Intelligence isn't limited to exam results, Rowling.

4. It once again makes Ron the forgotten Weasley.
Ron's at the bottom of the pile as far as Weasley children go. Bill and Charlie are the cool, popular successful ones. Percy's a pretentious arsehole, but he's still brainy as hell. Fred and George are the jokers, the ones who are always getting into trouble but who everyone loves just the same. Ginny's the long awaited girl. And Ron's the Other One. The sidekick. The one who, in the movies, is reduced to a punchline. By saying that she wishes that once again the hero had gotten the girl, Ron's back at the bottom as nothing more than an afterthought.

5. It turns the entire series into a love triangle. 
Okay, so the actual books don't really feature typical love triangle content. But knowing the the author has gone from being on board with the canon she created to shipping? You can't avoid the feeling that the two best friends are locked in a battle over a girl. You inevitably read into every conversation, every touch between Harry and Hermione. Joanne, dude. Go write pseudonymous fan fiction to deal with your feels and leave canon alone.

6. What does this mean for Ginny? And for Ron?
It's one thing to say that you wish Harry and Hermione had ended up together. But by saying that, you leave fans wondering about the others. Does Ron spend the rest of his life in a tragic bachelor apartment? Does Ginny - the famous quidditch player - end up married or does she have a string of boyfriends and never settle down? Providing a single line statement like that does more damage than good.

7. It impacts future enjoyment of the series.
Sure, you can ignore the interview all you want. It's true - the interview doesn't change what happens in the books. But you're still going to have that niggling doubt in the back of your mind whenever you read or watch the series that the creator wishes she could retcon the entire thing. It damages our entire history with the series to know that she regrets what she wrote.

8. Of all the things she could possibly regret, it's THAT?!
Not making Neville and Luna canon. Killing Fred. Killing Tonks AND Lupin. Snape being an enormous bully. Not giving us more Marauder's Era stories. ALBUS SEVERUS. These are things that should be regretted. Romione is nothing compared to these things.

9. Leave us alone, Mel Brooks! 
Sure, Joanne, regret your decisions all you want. That's your prerogative, it really is. You created the characters, you can absolutely regret the way things panned out. Just stop telling people about them. Because that rips the fun out of things for everyone. Even the Pumpkin Pie shippers, because now they're all going to be disappointed that you DIDN'T write the story you wish you had every time they read it.

Do you agree? Disagree? Or are you just jumping with joy because the good ship Pumpkin Pie sails again??

K xx

15 comments:

  1. I was extremly sad to read that interview since it's one thing to have regrets about the story you wrote, I think that's normal for any writer but putting them out in public is a completely different thing. Why do Hermione and Ginny have to end up with those two idiots they went so school with? There is no need for that! Like you said, Hermione could have easily met someone else. (My favourite suggestion there is, let Ginny and Hermione end up together but that's just my lonely shipper heart, it doesn't have much basis in the canon.)
    Which is another point. Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione were pushed on us since book 2 and it's awful to think that all of this is just not right. And to say that Ron is not intelligent for Hermione but Harry is? OH GOD! Harry mostly gets by with luck and Hermione's knowledge so don't you tell me, Rowling, that Harry is so much smarter.
    So, in short, I agree with everything you said on this subject. From all the things to regret about the series, this shouldn't be the one to dwell on.

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    1. Seriously, of all the things to regret, it's THIS? I just...gaaaaaaaaaaah.

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  2. Yes. Yes. I agree with all of the things. This is why you're awesome.

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  3. I love this! And I agree with everything you've said, especially about Ron not being smart enough and the forgotten Weasley - I am a big champion for Ron! I'm actually re-reading all the books at the moment, currently on 'Order of the Phoenix', and all I can clearly see when it comes to the relationships is Ron and Hermione, Harry and Ginny. It's all about the chemistry, not who is more intelligent or whatever. I'm still enjoying re-reading the books but I've had to make a conscious decision to ignore what Rowling has said.

    Also, I love the label 'apparently I'm easily annoyed' (which somehow I have failed to see before now) - me too! ;)

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    1. Dude, I have so many tags that I'm not surprised you've not seen that one before now! I barely know what's going on with my tags half the time...

      I honestly think I'd be more willing to accept it if the relationships had just been obvious in the last few chapters of Deathly Hallows or just the epilogue or whatever. But they weren't. She drops anvils for the majority of the series. So...yeah.

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  4. I completely agree with this list. I wonder whether JKR is regretting her epilogue and that is where this comes from because to be honest, much as I love Ron and as important as I think this relationship was for him, I would have accepted an epilogue that didn't have them married. And that goes for all of them - I found it so weird that they all married the people they dated in high school. But I think ret-conning the narrative like this, to set Hermione up with someone that makes no sense, is ridiculous. Why not just say you wish you hadn't tidied everything up so neatly so that it was impossible to return to further down the line.

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    1. I almost feel like the epilogue would have worked better if it had been like ten years later and had them all at a wedding. Whose wedding doesn't really matter, although Luna and Neville's would be awesome. And whoever's getting married, the other four are the bridal party. And Harry's the best man, and he gets up and makes this speech that ends up telling us the basics of what they've done since Hogwarts and they toast the dead and then two of the bravest people he's known - the bride and groom. MUCH better than the actual epilogue.

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    2. ahhhh that would have been so perfect! I can understand why she wanted to set it at Platform 9 3/4 but I think your scenario would have solved so many of the problems I had with it.

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  5. As someone who does not and never will ship Ron/Hermione, I am still pissed off about this interview. Damnit, those ship wars were a distant memory whyyyyyy Jo, WHY?

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    1. It's never over, Kim. The wounds of the ship wars fester deep...

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  6. I just want to thumbs up this entire list. Don't be George Lucas, Jo Row, Don't Be George Lucas.

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    1. RIGHT??? No one wants to be George Lucas if they can help it.

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  7. Lets face it, they'd probably all be so mentally damaged from all they endured throughout their teen years that they would be in therapy for years to come....

    ...and then Harry gets on a boat and travels to the Undying Lands to live the rest of his years with Elves.


    JK must be bored to be dredging up the couplings! Just get on with writing the Marauders trilogy. Trilogy? Or more? Who cares, the point is the day the Marauders get their own book, I'll be a hot mess of happy tears.

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    1. Absolutely. They'd all be in therapy rather than getting married and having kids immediately! SIGH.

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