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Dumbledore's Army Reunites at Quidditch World Cup Final
July 8, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

The famous lightning scar has company: Potter is sporting a nasty cut over his right cheekbone. Requests for information as to its provenance merely produced the usual response from the Ministry of Magic: ‘We do not comment on the top secret work of the Auror department, as we have told you no less than 514 times, Ms. Skeeter.’ So what are they hiding? Is the Chosen One embroiled in fresh mysteries that will one day explode upon us all, plunging us into a new age of terror and mayhem? Rita Skeeter reporting: J.K. Rowling has today published a return to the world of Harry Potter, a 1500-or-so-word short story that catches up with Harry, now 34. It's behind a registration wall at Pottermore, but NBC got permission to run it in its entirety here.

Harry Potter, previously.
posted by jbickers (95 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I think it's kind of cute that Rowling likes this universe so much that she can't stop writing about it.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:45 AM on July 8 [13 favorites]


Of course, the timing coincides with the opening of Diagon Alley at Universal: Orlando today.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:47 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I think it would be more likely that HP would have a chemical dependency problem and depression. There's not a lot of places one can go besides down once once has saved the universe.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:47 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I've read much better fan-fiction.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 11:48 AM on July 8 [14 favorites]


Rita Skeeter is the worst, cheesiest thing in the Potterverse. Disappointing that she is still around.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:50 AM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I think it's kind of cute that Rowling likes this universe so much that she can't stop writing about it. hates the tabloid press so much she can't stop sticking the knife in them via Rita Skeeter.
posted by jaduncan at 11:51 AM on July 8 [32 favorites]


The Harry Potter world is a rich one with many stories to tell. The events prior to and leading up to the Wizarding Secrecy Agreement would be fascinating.
posted by dr_dank at 11:51 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Nice to see that Rita hasn't lost her talent for making shit up out of whole cloth. OTOH, Hermione did lock her in a jar for a while -- she really goes easier on Hermione than she could be expected to.
posted by suelac at 11:52 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Rita Skeeter hasn't changed a wit. I mean really, commenting on Hermione's hair. She's Secretary of State Deputy Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement!
posted by Sophie1 at 11:53 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Security Warlocks

Security Trolls, surely? When were Security Warlocks ever mentioned as a thing?

It's like she hasn't even read her own books. Security trolls are mentioned at least twice. Twice!!
posted by phunniemee at 11:55 AM on July 8 [6 favorites]


The events prior to and leading up to the Wizarding Secrecy Agreement would be fascinating.

I haven't read the books. I tried, oh god I tried, but after slogging my way halfway through the first one I threw it aside with great force. But the movies are escapist fun, in a way, and I would watch the movie of those events.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:56 AM on July 8 [1 favorite]


The Harry Potter world is a rich one with many stories to tell. The events prior to and leading up to the Wizarding Secrecy Agreement would be fascinating.

Harry Potter and the Smuggled Flash Drive. Coming soon, from Glenn Greenwald.
posted by The Bellman at 11:58 AM on July 8 [11 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering, in many ways, you and I are very different people.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:58 AM on July 8 [4 favorites]


Well yes. You gaze at your navel, I inspire poopfear.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:00 PM on July 8 [21 favorites]


I think it would be more likely that HP would have a chemical dependency problem and depression. There's not a lot of places one can go besides down once once has saved the universe.

He really only saved the Wizarding UK, or the world, if you assume that no one would have eventually nuked Voldemort or something. It's certainly the sort of achievement that's difficult to top, but I would argue that Harry doesn't think of it as an achievement or the culmination of his life's purpose. Harry only ever wanted a family and to be loved. Defeating Voldemort was just a thing he had to do to get there.

I know JKR joked about no one wanting to read about Harry Potter and the Midlife Crisis, but I'm genuinely interested in how Harry would navigate later adulthood and raising his family. He had a terrible childhood with parental figures who were few and far between, and none of whom could ultimately protect him. How does this influence the kind of father Harry becomes? I could easily see him really struggling with family life and how to be a good husband and father, and that seems like a far more interesting story to me than the more tired depressed and/or addict hero past his prime.
posted by yasaman at 12:01 PM on July 8 [7 favorites]


HERMIONE 2016

Campaign slogan: "Our world faces many challenges: here's a super-smart woman who's, like, magic and shit. Seriously. No, seriously, we've had a lot of dumb men in charge for fucking ever and they weren't magic at all. This is a no-brainer."
posted by the quidnunc kid at 12:01 PM on July 8 [35 favorites]


As the crowd stampeded, tents were flattened and small children mown down.

OKay, that gave me a chuckle. Small children mown down. Heh.

I know JKR joked about no one wanting to read about Harry Potter and the Midlife Crisis

I'm only partway through the story but looks to me like a new full-length (doorstopper?) novel is in the pipeline and she's laying the groundwork for it.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:03 PM on July 8


I was disappointed that Harry didn't end up as the Professor of Defense aganst the Dark Arts. After all, who (alive) knows more about that?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:03 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Yeah but as I understand it. PDADA (Puff's next name?) is always a Badguy. It's how you know.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:05 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I think it's kind of cute that Rowling likes this universe so much that she can't stop writing about it.

I'm not going to do something cute with cross-outs and adding words, but I don't think that when this much money is involved that we can have any idea of why Rowling would write something about Potter again. She must have a huge amount of pressure on her to keep producing Harry Potter content, especially in our current climate of prequels, sequels, and "reboots."
posted by OmieWise at 12:08 PM on July 8


HERMIONE 2016

Campaign slogan: "Our world faces many challenges: here's a super-smart woman who's, like, magic and shit. Seriously. No, seriously, we've had a lot of dumb men in charge for fucking ever and they weren't magic at all. This is a no-brainer."


And with foreign policy experience!
posted by Navelgazer at 12:08 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


The link that sank a thousand ships.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:08 PM on July 8


I really don't think JK Rowling feels much pressure to do anything other than what the fuck ever she wants. She has, I believe the correct term is, "fuck you money".
posted by kmz at 12:11 PM on July 8 [34 favorites]


That was decent. I'm hoping that Potter is done, but I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't read a new one.
posted by codacorolla at 12:12 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Technically, she has "fuck all y'all, I never have to wipe my own ass again" money. It's a subset.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:13 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I always thought Neville would have married Luna.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 12:13 PM on July 8 [15 favorites]


I really don't think JK Rowling feels much pressure to do anything other than what the fuck ever she wants. She has, I believe the correct term is, "fuck you money".

Sure. She also has a lot of people that she works with, a lot of people whose careers depend on her. I don't think you or I have any idea (unless you are in a very very different position in life than I think you are) about what the pressures on her are.
posted by OmieWise at 12:15 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I always thought Neville would have married Luna.


And then they form a Wizarding detective agency we've been over this
posted by The Whelk at 12:17 PM on July 8 [55 favorites]


(what really happened in that maze? Speculation is unlikely to be quelled by the warmth of their greeting)

Heh. I'm guessing there is in-universe slashfic.
posted by brundlefly at 12:19 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


I think we all know that if there is any mid-life-crisis book the main character had better the hell be Luna and it will be amazing.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:19 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


I loved the books and, to my regret, didn't care for this excerpt/short story. Since she finished writing the books I feel like every time she opens her mouth again she detracts from the canon.
Even interesting/good ideas, like acknowledging that Dumbledore is gay*, just really bother me unless they are in the text. Even aside from that, this felt like a weak effort.

*I think there was certainly evidence for this in the books, so that's not my issue. Part of it is enjoying ambiguity and interpretation. Another part of me has retained some of my college literary analysis habits and chaffs at an author explicating post-text.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 12:22 PM on July 8 [6 favorites]


The Harry Potter world is a rich one with many stories to tell

I'd be interested in the potterverse version of Stross's family trade novels. Secret leaks out somehow, along with information about the generally baleful influence the wizarding world has had on the rest of humanity (wasn't the second world war in large part the extrusion into the muggle world of the war against whatshisface that Dumbledore liked?)

Then humanity rises up to do something between destroy and horrifically exploit magic users. Lots of Mengele level science to figure out how magic works, and then at best something like the psi corps from B5, with your basic magic user kept drugged all the time or surgically altered to suppress their magic.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:22 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I'd watch or read the hell out of that, but I'm guessing most hardcore Potter fans wouldn't. Tarnish the brand etc etc marketing etc demographics blah.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:25 PM on July 8


I loved the books and, to my regret, didn't care for this excerpt/short story.

I would like it better if she just did a second series of books. These weird Pottermore releases aren't great.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:25 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I literally just finished rereading the series less than a week ago, so this is timely.

A few stray thoughts:

Just about everything in here is stuff that was either in the 19 years later epilogue or stuff JK said in interviews after the 7th book. Now it's just all in one place.

It would be nice for there to be another (several?) HP universe books, but I'd prefer them to be about not-Harry. Literally anyone else. I would read something set from when Tom Riddle was a student. I'd read about Hermione's after-Hogwarts magical law life. I would read about (like mentioned above) other wizarding world things, like why the statute of secrecy had to happen. I think a lot of people would like a book set back in the Maurader days, but I'm kind of already bored of the entitled golden boy schtick we got a taste of in book 5.

There's a fan theory that the prophecy made Harry immortal since Voldemort isn't there to kill him. And so he is doomed to forever be the Boy Who Lived, watching everyone he loves die. He went into the final battle knowing he'd have to make a huge sacrifice, thinking it was his life, but nope it was his death. Sucks for Harry, but I think it makes the story more interesting.

In book 4, the book in which the imperious curse is introduced, JK uses the word "imperiously" three times. It's not used in any of the previous three books and I think only once (maybe twice) in the following three.
posted by phunniemee at 12:27 PM on July 8 [16 favorites]


I could easily see him really struggling with family life and how to be a good husband and father, and that seems like a far more interesting story to me than the more tired depressed and/or addict hero past his prime.

Maybe he tries the former but ends up doing the latter and burns out, leaving Ginny to be an Auror working on the most dangerous of missions. Ron, on the other hand, is the stolid family man but his marriage to Hermione is constantly on the rocks, as he is forced to live in the shadow of his own wife. The discovery of a ritual murder involving Death Eater iconography in Hogsmeade reunites them, and the two uneasily set off on their final case, over what might or might not be the return of the Dark Lord...

True Wizard
posted by Apocryphon at 12:28 PM on July 8 [13 favorites]


Oh God let it go
posted by Segundus at 12:36 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


let it go

You sound like the kids in princess dresses outside my window for hours every weekend!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:39 PM on July 8 [17 favorites]


LiarTownUSA is on the case.
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 12:49 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


People have written better fanfiction than this.
posted by jeather at 12:52 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


This is excellent because these are definitely characters with enough depth to invest in long-term.
posted by Legomancer at 1:16 PM on July 8


I've complained about this here before but I HATE it when she does this. I really love Harry Potter -- way more than it deserves to be loved, frankly -- and I just want her to leave me alone with the canon and quit pasting other crap on top of it. Go enjoy your castle, Ms. Rowling, and leave us in peace.
posted by gerstle at 1:20 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I thought that Neville would be gay....and that McGonagall and Grubbyplank were a couple until she retconned McG's back story.
posted by brujita at 1:38 PM on July 8


I'd be interested in the potterverse version of Stross's family trade novels. Secret leaks out somehow, along with information about the generally baleful influence the wizarding world has had on the rest of humanity (wasn't the second world war in large part the extrusion into the muggle world of the war against whatshisface that Dumbledore liked?)

Then humanity rises up to do something between destroy and horrifically exploit magic users. Lots of Mengele level science to figure out how magic works, and then at best something like the psi corps from B5, with your basic magic user kept drugged all the time or surgically altered to suppress their magic.


Have you read Ian Tregillis' Milkweed trilogy? It might scratch that itch.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 1:43 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


I love the HP books, but Universal Studios tore down the Amphitheater in LA to make room for a HP attraction. Boo!
posted by brujita at 1:58 PM on July 8


There's a fan theory that the prophecy made Harry immortal since Voldemort isn't there to kill him. And so he is doomed to forever be the Boy Who Lived, watching everyone he loves die. He went into the final battle knowing he'd have to make a huge sacrifice, thinking it was his life, but nope it was his death. Sucks for Harry, but I think it makes the story more interesting.

Harry Potter is the Face of Boe. Calling it.
posted by duffell at 2:05 PM on July 8 [7 favorites]



I know JKR joked about no one wanting to read about Harry Potter and the Midlife Crisis


...but there are hundreds of thousands of words of fanfiction suggesting that everyone wants to read precisely that.
posted by Frowner at 2:31 PM on July 8 [4 favorites]


I thought it was cute.

> "Yeah but as I understand it. PDADA (Puff's next name?) is always a Badguy. It's how you know."

Nope. The final tally was 4/7 very evil, 1/7 kinda sorta evil, 2/7 misunderstood heroes.
posted by kyrademon at 2:42 PM on July 8


Nope. The final tally was 4/7 very evil, 1/7 kinda sorta evil, 2/7 misunderstood heroes

To be fair, Lupin was a truly good guy, and if he hadn't taught the kids the Patronus nobody would have survived to book 7.

Snape was an asshole and a lousy teacher, with some evil in his backstory. I don't see him as particularly misunderstood, even if some of what he did was heroic.
posted by suelac at 2:50 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


I was disappointed that Harry didn't end up as the Professor of Defense aganst the Dark Arts. After all, who (alive) knows more about that?

"All right, class - assignment number one in Defense Against the Dark Arts: arrange to have your mother sacrifice her life for yours. We'll go over patronuses and whatnot, but that's really the main thing. (Partial credit for other close family members.) Now - who wants to play quidditch?"
posted by Guy Smiley at 3:39 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Have you read Ian Tregillis' Milkweed trilogy? It might scratch that itch.

I'll check them out; hopefully they'll tide me over until Charlie gets family trade TNG out.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:40 PM on July 8


Okay let's run this down, shall we?

1. Quirrell: Evil to the core. Voldemort lives on the back of his damn head.
2. Lockhart: Not evil, but an opportunistic coward. Supposedly based on someone Jo knew who was so vain he'd never realize this was about him. Anyway...
3. Lupin: Definitely capital-G Good, though I'm not sure he was teaching at their level. The only time DADA felt like a puff class.
4. Moody/Crouch: Oh totally evil, but taught them a lot of very useful things anyway. Still super evil, though.
5. Umbridge: Holy Shit the Most Evil That Ever Eviled! I'd chill and have drinks with Voldy before I'd sit near her at the DMV.
6. Snape: So good he was the only one trusted to do what had to be done.
7. Carrow: So evil the class just became "Dark Arts."

So yeah, Kyrademon's got it.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:43 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


Quirrell, Crouch, Umbridge, Carrows -- very evil (though Crouch was a good teacher). I guess we have Lockhart as sort of evil? But I think Snape is somewhere between evil and heroic overall, though he's a very bad teacher in any case; Lupin is a hero, sure.
posted by jeather at 3:44 PM on July 8


Snape hates Harry, to be sure, but still does what he has to to teach him, and I love reading the end of HBP understanding what his motives are, because a lot of what he does ends up making no sense from the "I'm so evil!" standpoint. He saves Malfoy (both in body and soul), rushes the death-eaters out, and while fleeing reacts entirely in defense to Harry, dallying just long enough to try to impart final lessons to him.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:48 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


I think Snape is more complex than "misunderstood hero" is all.
posted by jeather at 3:50 PM on July 8 [3 favorites]


Oh for sure. We are in agreement, then. Snape I think is by far the most interesting character in the series.

Oh, and while Neville always loved Herbology and clearly had a knack for it, I thought that the books really led him to the point where he'd be the natural new, permanent DADA professor. Dude survived a year of torture while mounting a formidable resistance after having spent most of his life as a joke. Nobody could teach this better.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:53 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


He would have been a natural at DADA, but I think Neville (actual hero) liked herbology more and probably didn't want to spend his life reliving all the torture he suffered or the stuff that all but killed his parents.
posted by jeather at 4:04 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


In other words I have a lot of thoughts about Harry Potter which I will share on the flimsiest of reasons.
posted by jeather at 4:13 PM on July 8 [10 favorites]


SHARE SHARE SHARE!
posted by Navelgazer at 4:20 PM on July 8


> HERMIONE 2016

I want to make a really excellent comment in response to this suggestion but for now can I say that I am seriously thinking about making myself a "Magic and Shit, Hermione Granger 2016" shirt in honor of this campaign effort? Because I am, and I'd be down to wear it to a Meetup if it won't get me thrown out of anywhere.

"A No Brainer, Hermione Granger" didn't have quite the same effect IMO but the sentiment is still lovely
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:30 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


I think Voldemort is up to his old tricks again...
posted by sneebler at 4:50 PM on July 8


Ready for Hermione PAC has been launched just in case she decides to run.
posted by humanfont at 5:36 PM on July 8 [1 favorite]


And so he is doomed to forever be the Boy Who Lived, watching everyone he loves die.

The final book in the series: God Emperor of Hogwarts
posted by honestcoyote at 7:34 PM on July 8 [6 favorites]


yasaman: "He really only saved the Wizarding UK, or the world, if you assume that no one would have eventually nuked Voldemort or something."

Ya, it would be interesting to see how Voldemort would deal with someone like Kincaid.
posted by Mitheral at 8:56 PM on July 8


I am currently wearing a Weird Sisters t-shirt that I made. Additionally, today was Day 2 of Wizard Camp, the week-long day camp I am running where we mostly do Harry Potter-themed crafts and play Quidditch every day.

So, you know. I liked this.
posted by nonasuch at 9:34 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]


Any time Rowling spends that is not spent on the writing of "Hogwarts: A History" is time wasted.
posted by wabbittwax at 9:49 PM on July 8


I would like to throw in another vote for "Snape was an awful teacher." I do not get the Snape* love worth a damn. He was an asshole. He abused the shit out of kids for seven years, they had no recourse or defense or hope of escape until the end of book six**, and the school didn't do shit about it because "trust Snape." NOT COOL. NOT FROODY. Wouldn't you object to that if your kid had a teacher like that at school? And hell, inadequate as my muggle schools were at dealing with misbehaving teachers***, they were still at least acknowledging that the situation was bad even if they had no power to deal with it. Dumbledore couldn't be arsed to say, "Severus, ease up on the students, I know they're annoying little pukes, but it's abuse?"

I have been slowly poking through Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality and dear god, I loved it when the book finally got to introducing Snape and having Harry Potter-Verres-Evans**** object to all of that shit. and he did his damndest to Do Something About It.

* though I do get the Alan Rickman love, that's the movie version.
** not that that helped.
*** I had one who was going to retire at the end of the year, did the bare minimum he had to, and the rest of the class was a total free-for-all with the students. Officials had to be called in every time he used up a sick day, which was frequently.
**** what happened when Harry was raised by a loving intellectual stepdad and aunt and learned the aforementioned methods of rationality.

posted by jenfullmoon at 10:57 PM on July 8 [5 favorites]


Yesss, jenfullmoon! Seconding everything you've said. I love Methods of Rationality more than I love most published fiction i've ever read.

I felt the same way about Snape prior to reading it, but it certainly helped crystallise for me why I couldn't stand him even with his motivations laid bare. From where i'm sitting, he was an utter jerkwad who did a very good thing. The good thing in no way mitigated the jerkwaddery.
posted by pseudonymph at 1:14 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Apocryphon, I want to see True Wizard now, with Damien Lewis as Ron, and maybe Richard Armitage as Harry.
(Freeman and Cumberbatch would be too easy)

Ooh, and Rachel Weisz as Ginny, and now I can't stop picturing Lena Headey as the most badass Hermione ever, and fuck it True Wizard is Ginny and Hermione's show and Ron and Harry are just stay-at-home dads.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:09 AM on July 9 [4 favorites]


From where i'm sitting, he was an utter jerkwad who did a very good thing. The good thing in no way mitigated the jerkwaddery.

And the reason for the jerkwaddery is kind of disturbing to me too: "I kind of killed the girl I used to stalk, and somehow after killing a bunch of other people, this was a step too far."
posted by tchemgrrl at 3:37 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


> "I think Snape is more complex than 'misunderstood hero' is all."

I reserve the right not to include my full exegesis on Snape in a comment that was solely meant to briefly explain to someone who hadn't read the full series that not all of the DADA teachers were predictably Badguys. :)
posted by kyrademon at 5:52 AM on July 9


Dumbledore couldn't be arsed to say, "Severus, ease up on the students, I know they're annoying little pukes, but it's abuse?"

Ah, Dumbledore. He did so much horrible stuff as headmaster -- allowing Snape to continue, allowing Quirrell to continue, hiding shit from Harry constantly, letting Draco nearly kill Katie and Ron instead of him because he didn't really want to be a murderer. I don't really understand his presentation as a perfect character whose regrets are all mistakes he made as a teenager and not the stupid crap he did as an adult.

I felt the same way about Snape prior to reading it, but it certainly helped crystallise for me why I couldn't stand him even with his motivations laid bare. From where i'm sitting, he was an utter jerkwad who did a very good thing. The good thing in no way mitigated the jerkwaddery.

Yes -- it's the problem where you like a character because they are interesting, nuanced, complex -- not because they are awesome heroes who did everything awesomely. (MOR did a whole "how DARE Lily not return Snape's affections" Nice Guy thing, unironically, which was weird. It got a lot of pushback and was eventually edited out.) Snape is probably one of the best characters in the book, even though he's a jerk, because he's a jerk.

I reserve the right not to include my full exegesis on Snape in a comment that was solely meant to briefly explain to someone who hadn't read the full series that not all of the DADA teachers were predictably Badguys. :)

I am unconvinced you are allowed this right. People always want to talk about Harry Potter, somehow.
posted by jeather at 6:02 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


I'm glad this happened because my birthday's coming up and this thread is helping me pretend it's only 2007 again.
posted by inigo2 at 6:11 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I love HP and the HP universe but I might leave this one alone. It's not that I want anything in particular to happen with Harry etc later in life, but I do like being able to imagine all the different possibilities. Somehow, the more back- and future-story JKR provides, the less fun that gets.
posted by lwb at 7:56 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Snape: So good he was the only one trusted to do what had to be done.

So good that he literally tortured the son of the woman he supposedly loved "always" for the sole crime of resembling this woman's husband. He tormented an emotionally abused child for his own pleasure. He tormented another traumatized child by making fun of the way his parents were tortured into insanity.

He Nice Guy'd Lily for the majority of their relationship and became enraged when she did not give him the attention he thought he deserved, calling her the equivalent of the worst racial slur.

There is no way for me to see his later actions in a redemptive light, since everything he did included the constant torment of a child who knew nothing but constant contempt and abuse from his family members who loathed his very existence.

fuck snape forever
posted by elizardbits at 9:00 AM on July 9 [9 favorites]


For me Snape suffered from the Mother Night problem, hardcore. You are who you pretend to be.

Snape was a right asshat. The omg Snape is a hero thing is the thing that bothers me most about the Potterverse (even more than the close second* of who in the fuck names their kid Scorpius, no seriously). I knew the spoiler of "Snape is a hero" before I got around to reading the books or seeing the last few movies and actually knowing why, and I kept waiting for there to be something more, because the redemptive power of chucked-a-sword-in-the-lake-for-you and lucky-that-the-wand-thing-worked-out just wasn't enough. Snape was an asshole, he had always shown himself as nothing but an asshole, and elizardbits and everyone else who said so already is totally right.


*In third place is that Dumbledore clearly should have been a Ravenclaw, since all we see over and over again is him being cowardly when it matters and damningly confounding with his tricksy riddles about very important things.
posted by phunniemee at 9:24 AM on July 9 [5 favorites]


Count me as another person who will never forgive Snape for being needlessly, pointlessly cruel to Harry and Neville. I know I've seen a comment on Metafilter or somewhere else that said that Snape's cruelty is just part of the boarding school genre JKR was writing in, and that he's the designated mean teacher, and that's pretty much how I saw him when I was reading the earlier books as a kid. But man, from the point of view of adult me, Snape's cruelty is really beyond the pale. Snape was not just being snide and snarky, or equal opportunity mean to all of his students. He was just straight up abusive to Harry and Neville.

And knowing now that it was all because of a teenage grudge against a man who died trying to save his family, and a teenage Nice Guy love for a woman he called a racial slur...Snape was not a good man. Not even close.

That said, he is still an interesting character, and I genuinely love the direction JKR took with his character. To me, the character of Snape is JKR saying, "Love can inspire you to do great and brave things. But it can't magically make you better." Snape loved Lily, and that love inspired some of the bravest and most selfless acts of his life. That love was not, however, enough to make him a better, happier person. Snape was miserable and made poor choices and he never really had the self-awareness to want to change. He's a great example of how the redemptive power of love can't fix a person, and how love alone isn't really redemption enough.
posted by yasaman at 10:10 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I like that idea, except that Harry named his friggin kid after him, which kind of just farts all over the rich subtleties of the narrative.
posted by phunniemee at 10:20 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Isn't the consensus that the epilogue does that in many other ways, anyway?
posted by Apocryphon at 10:22 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


I like that idea, except that Harry named his friggin kid after him, which kind of just farts all over the rich subtleties of the narrative.

Right, but I always saw Harry naming one of his kids Albus Severus as a deliberate act of forgiveness. I mean, I think it's kind of shitty to use your kid's name that way. But I appreciate that for Harry and for what JKR was trying to show in the epilogue, the name is an indication that Harry has forgiven Snape and Dumbledore for the ways in which they harmed him. It's Harry's way of acknowledging their bravery and their sacrifices for Harry's safety, and it's showing that Harry has tried to break free of the cycle of bitterness and violence that was so entrenched in the Wizarding world. Harry had every reason to stay bitter, and to shit talk Snape and Dumbledore to his kids. The fact that he doesn't indicates that he's more or less healed, and he wants the younger generation to live without the baggage that his did.

But yeah, it's kind of terrible and creepy that Harry named all his kids after dead people. I mostly liked the epilogue, but those names still make me cringe.
posted by yasaman at 10:41 AM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Isn't naming kids after dead people a time-honored naming tradition, though? I mean, it's not universal, but I know many families where all the kids are named after relatives who came before.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:04 AM on July 9


It's a traditional jewish thing even for the most secular and irreligious of jews. Not sure about the traditions of the wizarding world, sry.
posted by elizardbits at 11:13 AM on July 9


A Tale of Two Tinkerers: Is J.K. Rowling Becoming This Generation’s George Lucas?
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:53 AM on July 9


Also, Mallory Ortberg's got you covered if you're curious about how this affects the definitely true Ronbledore theory. (Might want to start at the beginning if you're unfamiliar with that)
posted by DynamiteToast at 11:55 AM on July 9 [2 favorites]


If you think about it, nearly everyone is named after a dead person.

Anyway, I could totally get behind a slice-of-life series about a middle-aged Harry dealing with a family and the remnants of PTSD. Then again, I love "Steve Rogers American Captain".
posted by happyroach at 11:56 AM on July 9


> "I am unconvinced you are allowed this right."

Er well OK then here goes. My Snape exegesis. Bear with me:

When the Harry Potter books are criticized, it is often for being derivative of other fantasy literature. And while there may be some truth to this, it usually misses the ways that Rowling very deliberately subverts and comments upon many of the common tropes of fantasy literature.

It is sometimes subtle, but there is a lot of textual evidence that these are deliberate choices. Many people, for example, read the series as having a very conventional "Chosen One" plot about a boy with a Destiny. But this misses the point that Harry is not actually really a prophesied chosen one; it is explicitly stated that the prophecy could just as easily have applied to someone else, such as Neville Longbottom.

Voldemort is the one who decides that Harry is his nemesis, and in doing so creates his own enemy. Once you get past that Harry is a wizard, there's nothing additionally supernaturally special about him except for the fallout of Voldemort's own decisions (such as Harry's mother's sacrifice.) Harry is not born with special extra powers and a guaranteed victory. Harry is instead thrust into the situation by the choice of someone else and has to deal with it as best he can. Harry is not, in fact, special just for being Harry; another could have ended up in his place given a different set of circumstances, and by the end it is quite clear that Neville could have risen to the challenge had that been the case. And it is notable that Harry's final victory comes not really from a triumph of competing power in a magical duel (something the last movie adaptation tragically failed to understand in many ways), but ultimately from his willingness, like his mother, to sacrifice himself for those he cared about.

Snape, however, may be the most interesting examination of tropes common to fantasy literature in the books.

Snape is an asshole. Snape is an asshole who hates the main character. Snape is an asshole who hates the main character and makes his life miserable for no good reason.

But he is not the villain.

He is not the villain of the story and he is never the villain of the story. Instead, he is someone who eventually risks his life daily for the heroes' cause. He is steadfast in his support of it throughout the books, and never betrays it even when everyone believes that he has. While still being a complete asshole, many of his actions are heroic and brave.

That may not sound so astonishing, but in fantasy literature, this is pretty much unheard of prior to Snape. Fantasy literature almost invariably has a very simplified, black and white world view. Someone hates the main character and is nasty to them? Villain. It's usually immediately evident, and if not they'll show their true colors eventually. In a lot of fantasy literature, this is the case even for as little as being physically unappealing. Not pretty? Villain.

But in fact, in life, assholes who make your life a misery for no reason are not necessarily the most evil violent people in the world. That clerk at the DMV may not actually also want to take over the world and kill everyone they don't like. That awful teacher may not want to burn down your house and murder your pets. Being an asshole is not the same thing as being a fantasy villain, but they are two things that fantasy literature often -- in fact, nearly always -- conflates. Being an asshole is considered equivalent to being a house burning pet murderer.

So no, Snape is never redeemed from his life of assholism. It's explained, and we finally eventually understand his motives, but that doesn't make his actions forgivable. He's never a good teacher and he never grows to like Harry Potter. He's a jerk and a martinet and plays favorites without let up. He is also brave, and dedicated, and I would argue heroic, and fights without pause against the real evil in the world, and works very hard to save the lives of people he mostly doesn't even like very much. These things are all true, and all make perfect sense for the character.

So let's hear it for Snape, for dragging fantasy literature kicking and screaming towards acknowledging that assholes are people too, and that not every crappy teacher who was mean to you when you were a student is secretly Hitler.

Yeah.

(Next week, why and how the books intend and admit to the fact that Dumbledore was sometimes a massive jerk during the books and not at all an unambiguous figure of wisdom and awesomeness. Following that, the slow evolution of Harry towards becoming a villain himself between book 4 and book 7, and his conscious choice to reject it towards the end of book 7.)
posted by kyrademon at 4:03 PM on July 9 [23 favorites]


That comment literally changed how I look at the Harry Potter series, kyrademon. Do go on.
posted by Rock Steady at 4:38 PM on July 9


Though I would ALSO read that book about the clerk at the DMV who wants to take over the world.

I think some of our argument about Snape is simply an argument about the definition of heroism, or more specifically what it means to be a hero. We agree that Snape was a jerk, who did some right things in the end, and sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes not. He certainly was brave, and risked his life time and again, and the fight could not have been won without him. (And though he saved the lives of people he didn't like much, in fact he didn't like anyone much, except perhaps Draco -- which is interesting in its reversal of the Voldemort/Potter relationship. Voldemort chose Potter (a half-blood as well) over Longbottom (a pureblood), while Snape chose Draco the pure blood who was well-loved by his family, like James Potter and unlike Harry.)

But I don't think that makes him a hero, exactly. It isn't that he has flaws; lots of heroes have flaws. I think in the end, it is the reasons he has for his actions -- atonement, mostly, and guilt -- that prevent it from being heroic. I don't think he did what he did because he thought it was right, but because he still wanted Lily's approval. Or Dumbledore's, as a sort of proxy.

I absolutely agree about the evolution of Harry becoming, if not a full-on villain, much more in the ambiguous anti-villain role like Snape, something which he eventually did reject, but not without difficulty. Neville is the most straightforward hero in the books (upending the more straightforwardly villainous Pettigrew -- the mirroring between the marauders and Harry/Hermione/Neville, with the Buffy-esque trope of needing to involve more people than just yourself or your small group was quite deliberate), followed perhaps by Luna.

Of course all the mirroring is done very well in the books themselves, with books 3/5, 2/6 and 1/7 being reflections as well (as Prisoner of Azkaban remains my favourite, I am in the small group of people who liked Order of the Phoenix).

What is also interesting is where things don't work -- and not just the money system or quidditch. But the house system, which doesn't make sense as a For All Time thing, it only makes sense as some sort of switch that happened, probably between the time Tom Riddle was at Hogwarts and Snape was there, and that will turn back around, where the houses will be less destiny and more your bedroom again.
posted by jeather at 4:55 PM on July 9


(As a quick additional note, I will add that one variation on the rule of asshole=villain in fantasy is the asshole who is eventually won over by the main character's awesomeness and comes to love them like everyone else and stops being an asshole. This is not really an exception to the trope but a variant of it -- the asshole turns out to either secretly not be an asshole after all, and therefore not a villain, or is actually redeemed from assholism by the main character's awesomeness and turned away from a path of villainy. That's one reason why it's notable, in the Harry Potter books, that Snape never comes around to thinking Harry is awesome.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:18 PM on July 9


> "I think some of our argument about Snape is simply an argument about the definition of heroism, or more specifically what it means to be a hero."

Fair enough.
posted by kyrademon at 5:30 PM on July 9


Interesting commentary about Snape. While fantasy infested with the "hero=good guy" cliche, it's almost like Harry Potter, Snape especially harkens back to the 70s "New Wave" fantasy, where non-good heroes were experimented with. Take the Amber series for example, where not only the hero, but his whole family were utterly horrible human beings: imprisoning, crippling, torturing their fellow family members. But then again, they were willing to sacrifice themselves to save the universe.I think it's that willingness to fight or die on a larger scale than pure selfishness is what separates heroic fantasy, no matter how dark, from grimdark fantasy like Game of Thrones.
posted by happyroach at 5:44 PM on July 9


The thing about Snape is that we see him through Harry's eyes playing the role of a villain. Yes, he is abusive to the students when they are aware that they are interacting with him, but look at the scene where Harry interacts with Snape without realizing that it's Snape.

And then the source of the light stepped out from behind an oak. It was a
silver-white doe, moon-bright and dazzling, picking her way over the ground,
still silent, and leaving no hoofprints in the fine powdering of snow. She stepped
toward him, her beautiful head with its wide, long-lashed eyes held high.
Harry stared at the creature, filled with wonder, not at her strangeness, but
at her inexplicable familiarity. He felt that he had been waiting for her to come,
but that he had forgotten, until that moment, that they had arranged to meet.
His impules to shout for Hermione, which had been so string a moment ago,
had gone. He knew, he would have staked his life on it, that she had come for
him, and him alone.
They gazed at each other for several long moments and then she turned an
walked away.
“No,” he said, and his voice was cracked with lack of use. “Come back!”
She continued to step deliberately through the trees, and soon her brightness was striped by their think black trunks. For one trembling second he
hesitated. Caution murmured it could be a trick, a lure, a trap. But instinct,
overwhelming instinct, told him that this was not Dark Magic. He set off in
pursuit.
Snow crunched beneath his feet, but the doe made no noise as she passed
through the trees, for she was nothing but light. Deeper and deeper into the
forest she led him , and Harry walked quickly, sure that when she stopped, she
would allow him to approach her properly. And then she would speak and the
voice would tell him what he needed to know.
At last, she came to a halt. She turned her beautiful head toward him once
more, and he broke into a run, a question burning in him, but as he opened his
lips to ask it, she vanished.
Though the darkness had swallowed her whole, her burnished image was
still imprinted on his retinas; it obscured his vision, brightening when he lowered his eyelids, disorienting him. Now fear came; Her presence had meant
safety.


From Deathly Hallows.

The Patronus is, according to Miranda Goshawk, the "projection of all your most positive feelings". That doe is Snape's heart, his soul. The one true glimpse we see of him other than his death. In that moment, his interaction with Harry is nothing like what we have seen in the books so far. Also remember that Voldemort can see through Harry's eyes. If Snape is nice to Harry, at all, it could end up killing the boy. Think also what happened in the fifth book. Snape apparently dismissed Harry's plea for help and we only know that he alerted the order and was desperately trying to save Harry because of Albus.

In Snape's memories, we learn that Snape saw much of James in Harry. The brash, reckless Gryffindor who bullied others. Albus argued that Harry was much less like James than Snape thought, but it was Harry's friends who really tempered him and they could only do so much. So much of what happened to Harry was because he had a "saving people thing" and ran off recklessly. It killed Sirius, who was too much like James in that regard. Not that it completely excuses how Snape acted if it wasn't all an act, but it must've been so frustrating to try to protect this child who is constantly trying to get himself killed amongst so many dimwitted adult individuals who can't seem to keep him safe. Look at what detention Snape assigns to Harry after the use of Sectumsempra - Harry's first real open act of evil - copying over the detention files of his father. The biggest danger Harry faced was himself and I think Snape understood that better than anyone.
posted by PrimateFan at 8:15 PM on July 9 [9 favorites]


> "Do go on."

All right then ... Dumbledore.

It's been pointed out a few times in this thread that Dumbledore is in many ways kind of a jerk who makes some seriously bad decisions. I believe a lot of that is, however, deliberate in the writing.

At first glance, Dumbledore appears to be a pretty typical fantasy character trope -- the older mentor wizard. You know the type: Gandalf, Obi Wan Kenobi. Often they die, and often their death isn't their final appearance in the story.

But this trope tends to have some problems. They often know a lot, and reveal very little to their supposed friends and allies. In fact, if you think about it, this means they are often pretty much manipulating those friends and allies in their complicated schemes to defeat their enemies. Despite this, they are often viewed with uncritical adoration.

Rowling is not the only author to take an interesting look at this trope. (Obi Wan Kenobi, is, interestingly enough, kind of a screwup, who lies to Luke about his parentage and is dead wrong about Vader's capacity for change.) But Rowling's approach is pretty nifty. In her books, much of Dumbledore's problematic behavior turns out to be because he is, by natural inclination, a villainous dark wizard. Or perhaps it's more accurate to say he would be, had he not worked hard on reforming himself. But while he has largely succeeded in remaking himself as a good person, he can't really get away from being a manipulative bastard.

This is made most clear in the seventh book, where it is explicit that as a young man he was well onto the dark wizarding path until his sister got killed because of it (possibly by him), which shocked him off of it into remorse and repentance. No wonder he trusts Snape so -- he understands Snape as few could do. (And no wonder he lets Snape get away with so much crap without firing him ... he sees himself in Snape.)

Now admittedly, Dumbledore has come to understand and feel compassion on a level that Snape never reaches, an understanding which is key to his ability to defeat Voldemort. But he still moves around his allies like chesspieces and withholds information to the point that it endangers them. Rowling's in-character reasons for this allows a re-examination of the paragon Gandalf-esque wizard ... no one is actually a paragon really. The best we can do is work to do good with what we have. And Dumbledore is a clever, manipulative bastard, who almost can't help being a manipulative bastard, but is doing the best he can to do the right thing anyway.

And sometimes Dumbledore's impulses trip him up, and trip him up hard. His final, posthumously enacted plan involves an awful lot of moving parts swung around by people with only a partial clue as to what the bigger picture is. The destruction of the Horcruxes gets most of the textual attention because it is what the main characters are aware of and concentrating on, but equally important is the magic of willing sacrifice and the disposition of the Deathly Hallows. And the final part of that plan goes very much awry; the Elder Wand only ends up in the right hands by lucky chance, and Snape pretty much gets killed because of Dumbledore's plans for it.

The final book tests Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore. Not because Dumbledore did bad things when he was a teenager, but because he turns out to still be a flawed man all throughout his life. Harry retains his loyalty to and love for Dumbledore not because he decides Dumbledore is without flaw, because he realizes that a flawed person can still be an admirable person -- just as Harry had to come to terms with the fact that the accusations that his father was an arrogant jerk might not be completely unfounded, but that this did not mean his father was therefore a terrible person.

Interestingly, as the Harry Potter series was entering its final years, Joe Abercrombie's First Law trilogy started to come out, which takes this particular upending of the mentor wizard trope even further -- the "Gandalf" character in those books turns out to be a genuinely, unrepentantly horrible person. It's basically what logically becomes of the trope in the Grimdark version of fantasy where, as happyroach points out above, selfishness is the key motivator rather than sacrifice.
posted by kyrademon at 8:26 PM on July 9 [11 favorites]


Ugh, kyrademon, so good. One of the things that I like about Rowling's writing which I've said before is that pretty much every character is both deeply sympathetic and deeply flawed. Tom Riddle does terrible things but has about the worst start anyone can be given. Hagrid drinks too much but is intensely loyal. Sirius throws himself headlong into danger but knows what needs doing. Even the Dursleys are terrible foster parents that nevertheless choose to protect Harry by the act of keeping him in their home.

I think another aspect of Dumbledore's unwillingness to show his hand lies in the fact that his experiences with Grindelwald taught him not to be too open. The way in which people work to defeat Voldemort in bits and pieces reminds me of the Manhattan Project, which had similar reasons for fragmenting its knowledge. It definitely feels different when there's one person at the center pulling the strings, though.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:36 AM on July 10


So I'm tired and pretty punch drunk, so a brief response to Dumbledore.

Dumbledore's final plan actually works, obviously, so there's a certain "he was right all along" (which Harry is fairly explicit about) -- and Harry's anger and Dumbledore is not "you let Draco almost kill my best friend and my chaser" but "how dare you have fucked up as a teenager", which is a bit deliberate in that it is part of Harry's decision making process while Harry is himself a teenager, but also lets Dumbledore's far bigger sins go unexamined in a way I think is not the case with other characters.
posted by jeather at 1:10 PM on July 10


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