A bright and shiny new blog and it’s all mine? How exciting! Welcome to Common Culture, the site you find yourself scouring, which covers all things pop culture and current events. I’ll start by introducing myself—my name is Dayna, I’m a theatre major here at BSU, and I can’t wait to share with you all my ramblings about things I find interesting!
With welcomes all out of the way, I’ll jump right into my first post—that bomb J.K. Rowling decided to drop on us the last month. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you either live under a rock or don’t have an Internet connection. Seeing as you’re reading this, I’m guessing it’s the former. Here’s a handy link to fill you in: http://www.hypable.com/2014/02/07/jk-rowling-ron-hermione-interview/. Essentially what happened is that J.K. Rowling ventured out from the shadows to very quietly and calmly offer that she considered Ron and Hermione’s relationship and marriage in the Harry Potter novels—which is arguably the most significant relationship in the novels—possibly not the best decision she could have made. In an interview with Emma Watson (who portrayed Hermione in the HP movies) for Wonderland Magazine, Rowling casually suggested that Hermione and Ron have a “fundamental incompatibility” and that “in some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit.” … What? If you’re a Harry Potter fan like I am, you probably responded to this with a mixture of shock and the feeling that your childhood was a lie.
Many readers felt this way, responding to the interview angry that Rowling would attempt to erase what is printed in 75 million books worldwide with an offhand remark. However, if a reader were to actually consider the words as printed in the interview, Rowling never explicitly states that she regrets Ron and Hermione’s relationship or that she would pair Hermione with Harry instead. It seems to me that Rowling is simply discussing the merit of her final decision and the different ways she could have gone with it. And I’m sure many readers can understand that predicament—the question of who Hermione would end up with divided Harry Potter fans into two snarling, ferocious teenage factions in the 2000s. (Personally, I always thought Ron was too bumbling and selfish for Hermione, but Harry didn’t care about her enough to have married her in the end either … I don’t think either of those boys are good enough for her—can we petition to have Rowling release a new edited statement that Hermione ends up a strong, self-sufficient single woman?) In the end, both Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione have some credibility, with each relationship having its own sets of strengths and flaws. Even Rowling can see this, and who said an author can’t speak about their writing afterward? Unfortunately, a lot of readers feel that Rowling is speaking a little too much.
A “less talking, more writing” perspective has become popular among Potter fans because this isn’t the first time J.K. Rowling has made headlines with some new Potter development that changes the way they see the books. In 2007, she dropped the “Dumbledore is gay” bomb out of the blue. And in terms of advancing the franchise, J.K. Rowling has been very involved in the movie series, spin-off books, an interactive website, and more recently, a new spin-off movie series and stageplay in the works. It’s not unfair to wonder at what point J.K. Rowling is going to let Harry Potter go, or if she ever will. As an obsessive Potter fan, I understand the fear of the line Rowling teeters on between giving us what we desperately want and giving us something that ruins the whole thing. And maybe that’s what fans who love Ron and Hermione are feeling—that Rowling’s spontaneous easter eggs are muddling up the series they know and love. And as much as I fear the day that J.K. Rowling says, “Actually, Harry wimped out and ran away and Voldemort killed everyone” will come, I have to remind myself: anything she says about the books doesn’t change the books.
They are printed in ink and they aren’t ever going to change, even if the all-knowing Rowling makes a spontaneous statement or two. They belong to the fans and readers of the series and, in the end, even the author can’t edit a universe that has already been accepted and acknowledged as fact by those who care about it most. As a writer, I understand Rowling’s dilemma. It’s easy to get stuck with an initial idea and to stick with it, whether or not it’s the best choice for the integrity of the characters and situation. I also know what it’s like to fall in love with your story and want to talk about it until the end of time. I’m sure if I had a mega-best seller book series, I wouldn’t shut up about it either. I can imagine all the different concepts and backstories and traits that didn’t make it into the book that Rowling still considers fact. But the truth of the matter is that they aren’t fact, because they didn’t make it into the book. I can concoct in my head a thrilling saga where Harry leaves Ginny in the end and enters into a whirlwind romance with Professor Grubbly-Plank, and guess what? It’s just as valid as Rowling’s thoughts. So in my opinion, she can say whatever she wants.
It doesn’t matter one way or another. The story is as it’s always been, and always will be. To those who feel that their cherished Ron/Hermione pairing is threatened, remember that every time you open the book, they will still exist there. And to everyone who doesn’t like it the way it is, that’s what fan fiction is for. Maybe someone should let J.K. Rowling know about that outlet; I would be very interested in reading her alternate Harry/Hermione ending.