February 1st, 2014 may not be known as the day the internet exploded, but it will certainly be known as the day Potterheads still proved they were a fandom to be reckoned with.
If you’ve been off your Tumblr, Facebook, or Twitter this weekend, the hullaballoo that is bringing old rivalries against one another is an interview for the magazine ‘Wonderland’ between Emma Watson and JK Rowling about Hermoine’s character. The full article will be released on Thursday but The British Sunday Times did publish exerpts. As such, this is a comment more on the current fandom reaction, than it is on the actual meat of the interview.
So what’s so controversial? Rowling stated that she regretted the Ron/Hermoine pairing, dismissed it as wish fulfillment on her part, and then said she wished she had put Hermoine with Harry.
I have so many problems with this, it’s hard to even know where to begin. So, I’ll just start with one my most base exceptions and work my way from there.
First, it needs to be said that Hermoine is a strong female character that shouldn’t have to be paired off with anyone. I would have been just as happy if she married an unknown character that shared her interests or chose not to be married at all. She doesn’t need to be a part of a couple to have a complete story line.
That being said, it’s obvious that Rowling felt she needed to be paired off and that she needed to be with Harry. That really irks me. When you pair off a main female character with the protagonist, said female character inevitably becomes “the girlfriend” and nothing more. The beauty of Ron and Hermoine’s relationship was it allowed Hermoine as a character to have agency in the storyline. If she ended up with Harry, you can bet that all of her story lines would be sublimated to Harry’s, as opposed to complimenting them.
But both of those objections pale in comparison to my final one, which is having Ron and Hermoine together taught a lesson that is often ignored in young adult fiction: the importance of a platonic friendship. Too often young people are taught that the only meaningful relationship between men and women is romantic, and the friendship between Hermoine and Harry countered that in a very real and believable way. It was probably one of the most important moments in my development when I finally read a popular book that understood this concept. I realized that it was possible, no matter what all the young adult fiction said.
Really, though, for all the things to regret, Rowling says it’s the Ron/Hermoine pairing? It’s not the hideous epilogue or the fact that she never actually wrote Dumbledore as gay? Or implying and then joking about Umbridge being raped by Centaurs?
Or maybe instead of regretting the pairing, she could regret that she made Ron the jerk that pretty much gaurantees he and Hermoine would need couples counseling? Ah, well, she was going to kill him off, so this is a step up.
Still, as a devout Potterhead, I’m pretty disappointed. I don’t know if it’s a PR move to reignite the shipping wars and get attention back on ‘Harry Potter’ (there two new books in the universe coming out and a new movie franchise), or if she’s had it on her chest for a long time and needed to say it. But, for me, more than anything else, I feel like I’ve had something very important ripped away from me.