By the book
December 20, 2015 4:15 PM   Subscribe

 
AWESOME.
posted by town of cats at 4:45 PM on December 20, 2015 [15 favorites]


The surge of interest in drawing Hermione and Harry/James as people of color is my favorite fanart trend of all time. Some more examples: James, Lily and Harry by vondellswain, the power sextet by burdge, Hermione by beastly-worlds, Hermione by quinnasaurus, Hermione and her boys by batcii (who also did that art of Hermione brushing her hair in the article), Harry by feliciores.
posted by bettafish at 4:48 PM on December 20, 2015 [12 favorites]


That was a good read.

Is it wrong that I am gleefully awaiting the distressed bleats of confused racists?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:48 PM on December 20, 2015 [17 favorites]


I'm gonna be all "that's totally how it is in the book", because in retrospect it totally fits and I'm probably kind of dumb not considering it before.
posted by Artw at 4:51 PM on December 20, 2015 [26 favorites]


This is odd, having seen Hermoine as white for all these years. But hey, the world is odd, so...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:51 PM on December 20, 2015


Nope, it's not wrong, his thoughts were red thoughts, and you don't have to wait long: as was to be expected, they show up in the comments fairly early on. And one of them immediately hit two of the main squares on the Racist Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan Bingo Board: 1) This is stupid and pointless because PoC would complain if black characters were re-imagined as white and 2) If you want to see more PoC in speculative fiction, go make your own books and series.

I loved the quotes from the awesome Junot Diaz she included, and I loved the revelation in the comments that JK Rowling sometimes uses illustrations of the characters as PoC for her Twitter profile pic. I feel like there are few authors in speculative fiction who are as good at being an ally as she is.
posted by lord_wolf at 4:58 PM on December 20, 2015 [25 favorites]


I don't have any to hand but I've seen a numbers of fanart depictions and headcanon posts of Harry and James as South Asian. It'll be interesting to see if that turns up in a future casting for a show and/or film.
posted by immlass at 5:00 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is it wrong that I am gleefully awaiting the distressed bleats of confused racists?

It's going to be so ugly and depressing. Remember Rue from Hunger Games? A character who was actually expressly described in the book as dark-skinned, yet unobservant/illiterate/racist idiots still threw a shitfit and demanded to know why she was cast as black in the movies.
posted by gatorae at 5:04 PM on December 20, 2015 [19 favorites]


This is odd, having seen Hermoine as white for all these years. But hey, the world is odd, so...

If Nick Fury can be black, then any character can. I'm still holding out for Idris Elba as Bond.

I'm more confused by the idea of a two part play based on a book that was never written than I am by a not-white Hermione.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:08 PM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


Remember Rue from Hunger Games? A character who was actually expressly described in the book as dark-skinned, yet unobservant/illiterate/racist idiots still threw a shitfit and demanded to know why she was cast as black in the movies.

Yes, I remember well. I also remember that, as with this current situation, there's literally nothing they can do about it.

I'm going to pass this one to John Boyega: "People make stupid comments, but that’s nothing that’s going to stop me! I’m in Star Wars, so they can just sit down and eat that for a second."

Noma Dumezweni has been cast as Hermione, and the racists can just. Fucking. Eat it.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:11 PM on December 20, 2015 [69 favorites]


I loved the picture of the grown up Hermione from the play. This is great!
posted by tuesdayschild at 5:13 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm still holding out for Idris Elba as Bond.

Here, hold this torch - I need both hands free to strangle these whining racist cowards in the comments who say he can't possibly play Roland in the upcoming Dark Tower movies.

(Congratulations Noma!)
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:09 PM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is so great.
posted by crossoverman at 6:10 PM on December 20, 2015


Avatar, the last first of many race benders.
posted by idiopath at 6:11 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yaaaaaaaaayyyyy!!!!!
posted by Hermione Granger at 6:36 PM on December 20, 2015 [58 favorites]


Eponysterical....(points up)
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:51 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


In addition to the many excellent links provided above by bettafish, may I suggest Racebending Harry Potter.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:21 PM on December 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm gonna be all "that's totally how it is in the book", because in retrospect it totally fits and I'm probably kind of dumb not considering it before.

Yeeeeeeah, same. I always pictured her as white, because british and because I didn't clue into the books until around when the first movie was happening, but the pull quotes are pretty clear about it.
posted by kafziel at 7:33 PM on December 20, 2015


I'm still holding out for Idris Elba as Bond.

One of the few real-life human beings who may in fact be cooler than James Bond.
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:35 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm charmed as hell by this. It fits with the mudblood stuff so perfectly. Nice pictures too.

Yeeeeeeah, same. I always pictured her as white, because british

I remember arriving in London and the first thing i saw was a beautiful Indian woman in a sari yelling to a friend something like 'EEEH I SAW 'IM DUNNIT TO ER, INNIT' with the broadest Cockney accent you could imagine.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:46 PM on December 20, 2015 [18 favorites]


obiwanwasabi: Admittedly, a lot will have to change regarding Detta's relationship to Roland if that's the case... but frankly a lot will have to change to make Dark Tower into any sort of coherent movie anyway, so meh? Idris Elba can pull off anything. (I love the books, but I've always been a little cagey about how they'd translate to film. A TV series I could see, but a movie...????)
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 7:47 PM on December 20, 2015


I remember arriving in London and the first thing i saw was a beautiful Indian woman in a sari yelling to a friend something like 'EEEH I SAW 'IM DUNNIT TO ER, INNIT' with the broadest Cockney accent you could imagine.

Yeah, I'm intellectually aware that England is pretty diverse, but preconceptions.
posted by kafziel at 8:02 PM on December 20, 2015


I always assumed that Hermione was metaphorically Jewish, but black works too, I think.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:13 PM on December 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


I love this. From now on, Batcii's depiction of Hermione is my default image of her. I mean it's like "Doi! of COURSE she is! Why didn't I think of that!"
posted by happyroach at 8:38 PM on December 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


There was this quote going around tumblr a while back about JK Rowling's reaction to a fan's description of Neville. I can't find the interview it came from, but it matches a sentiment she has shared in other places.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:38 PM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


Roland in the upcoming Dark Tower movies.

Wait, what



Younger me was really fascinated by the Dark Tower series (at least, until Wolves of the Calla what the fuck was that really). I liked the world-building and strangeness of the first half of the series, but now I think The Gunslinger was a fantastic stand-alone fever dream of a novella, and the rest of the series cheapened the austerity and mystery of that story.

Javier Bardem was originally set to play Roland, but the role was subsequently offered to Russell Crowe.[5]

Idris Elba as a grizzled old gunslinger with missing fingers? Hell yes, please take my money. Javier Bardem? Maybe, but I think we'll all be remembering No Country. Russell Crowe? Fuck no.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:03 PM on December 20, 2015


You know what's weird? All through the books I thought Neville was black. When I saw that he was white in the movies I was disappointed.
posted by irisclara at 9:04 PM on December 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


So if we can't have Idris Elba as Bond, can we still vote for him as the next Doctor Who?
posted by happyroach at 9:17 PM on December 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Harry Potter as Gandalf in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Staring Edward James Almos as the 14th Doctor, Ellen Ripley. Also starring Harrison Ford as Spider-Man, Idris Elba as the Joker, and Oprah Winfrey as Hannibal Lector.

IN THEATERS MARCH 2016!
posted by blue_beetle at 9:32 PM on December 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


When I first read the books when I was 11, I assumed Harry Potter was East Asian of some kind. I figured black messy hair, glasses and an ambiguously-raced cover. I was pretty disappointed when the movies came out and found out he was white and didn't look like me.
posted by just.good.enough at 10:02 PM on December 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


I always thought Hermione was Jewish and at least half black, too -- and that Draco Malfoy and his father were Asian. (I know. I don't know why. It's really weird.)

It makes me so happy that Rowling's attitude is that the characters can have multiple forms and exist in multiple universes to suit the mind of a reader. That she is retroactively saying to herself, yes, I see why so many of you imprinted this visual onto this character and I love it and let's make it so, is just... I dunno, this news made me cry today. It speaks to her genius and generosity as a person and as an author. The wizarding world is inherently this place of possibility (much like the Star Wars universe) and I feel like that's something that resonates with everyone who reads the series.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:15 PM on December 20, 2015 [21 favorites]


Idris Elba spots Emma Watson at a charity event. They smile.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:20 PM on December 20, 2015 [11 favorites]


I remember arriving in London and the first thing i saw was a beautiful Indian woman in a sari yelling to a friend something like 'EEEH I SAW 'IM DUNNIT TO ER, INNIT' with the broadest Cockney accent you could imagine.

Aww, you've gone and made me all homesick.
posted by Artw at 11:31 PM on December 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


The classic British school stories didn't handle race well, as you can probably imagine. One of the most popular serials, the Billy Bunter stories in The Magnet, was better than most in actually having people of different races - but they were reduced to stereotypes, and apparently expected to endure racial abuse (only from bad people and unsympathetic characters) in silence.

The Harry Potter stories' treatment of race is not very much more enlightened. We can be grateful for this in a weird way: Rowling is so often oblivious to race that we can use our imagination to fill in the gaps. The comments on the article say that there actually is an (implicit) reference to her skin color, when on page 415 of the prisoner of azkaban it says Hermione’s white face was sticking out from behind a tree. But that's a pretty obscure reference and can be waved away. I'm pretty sure that Rowling imagined the (Norman-French-named!) Malfoys as White, but if she doesn't say that, she doesn't say it. And so on. So yay! Let's get a principal defining feature. I'd much rather have Hermione as a head-canon Black or Mixed-Race heroine than have another explicitly racially-identified bit-player fill in for character diversity.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:00 AM on December 21, 2015


happyroach: "So if we can't have Idris Elba as Bond, can we still vote for him as the next Doctor Who?"
Hell no. Sue Perkins for Doctor!
posted by brokkr at 1:17 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sue Perkins for Doctor!

Is this a thing being considered? PLEASE SAY YES
posted by schroedinger at 1:34 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


BREAKING: A recording of the BBC's announcement that Prime Minister Dr. Idris Perkins-Who, 007, is to host new series of "Strictly Come Top Gear", is the Christmas Number 1.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:14 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Next up please: Richard Ayoade as Harry Potter
posted by cadge at 2:59 AM on December 21, 2015 [15 favorites]


From the tweets of JK Rowling herself:
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione 😘
posted by fight or flight at 3:27 AM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


When I first saw the pix I wondered is Hermione had chosen to be become black, because that would fit her personality for me (SPEW etc) and the HP universe isn't exactly short of appearance changing magic
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:55 AM on December 21, 2015


I imagine Hermione looking up from her eleven millionth readthrough of Hogwarts, A History, facing the fourth wall, and saying, "Took you long enough to figure it out."
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:20 AM on December 21, 2015 [14 favorites]


I never pictured hermione as white when i was a kid. I mean, maybe i did at one point, but looking back on it now it sort of just auto-mapped to her being at least mixed.

Probably because i'm mixed, and grew up hearing weird comments about myself and my parents. Shit, it pretty much read as "here's a really heavy handed way to show kids why acting like this in those situations is wrong".

The whole thing was basically "here's what racism(and to a lesser extent classism) are like in the wizard universe". It was more subtle than primary-color-makeup people in star trek TOS, but still pretty on the nose.

I sort of wish they had just done this in the first place, and this whole dumb conversation was a decade and a half behind us though. It's going to have way more tiresome shitposting and staying power on the greater internet now that well, people use the internet to be assholes about this kind of thing. Back then they'd just whine to their friends in person and we wouldn't have to hear about it.

I guess we wouldn't hear the awesome shutdowns either, but it would have been less of a thing for shitty clickbait articles along the lines of "this is what people are upset about!" to get pooped out about and it to get attention as some kind of "lets talk about both sides!" routine.
posted by emptythought at 4:46 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I have tickets to this and now I'm extra keen to see it, woo!

(How does one audition as a Patil twin or Luna please tell me)
posted by divabat at 5:10 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'll admit I came to this thread just to see if Hermione Granger would show up. Was not disappointed. Have a great day our own Hermione!
posted by iffthen at 7:16 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is really very cool and good. I just wanted to say that I really appreciate people in this thread, especially people of color, talking about how they pictured various characters as non-white in some way or another. As a cis het white dude, my inherent bias and privilege tends to lead me to picture most characters as much like myself as possible, unless they are explicitly described otherwise. This is a good reminder that not everyone is like me, and it is a failing on my part to assume that they are. I'll try harder!
posted by Rock Steady at 7:30 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I love the idea that part of the reason Hermione is so incensed by inequality in the wizarding world is because she grew up in the Muggle world where regular old racism would have been a daily reality, then found out she had magical powers and got to live in what amounts to a parallel universe where nobody seems to care about the color of anybody's skin....but ended up being subjected to an entirely different kind of racial supremacist bullshit.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:23 AM on December 21, 2015 [32 favorites]


This is just the best. I love HP and I especially love Hermione, and it's frankly insane I'd never even considered she was anything other than white.
posted by moons in june at 9:03 AM on December 21, 2015


I am so happy to see this casting! It was a delight when I saw people discussing this on my dashboard yesterday.

Some more of my favorite racebent fanart, to add to everything already linked in this thread (which is all wonderful):
Ron and Hermione by lilabeanz
smol squad by dellbelle39
Hermione Jean Granger by gaddingwithghouls
Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley by katieelle
posted by blithers at 9:21 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's not race-bending, which would imply Hermione is "canonically" white. Rowling has said that's not the case.
posted by dame at 9:48 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also she's obviously black. She does all the work and the white dudes take most of the credit.
posted by dame at 9:51 AM on December 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


my inherent bias and privilege tends to lead me to picture most characters as much like myself as possible

Me too. It's the universal privilege all readers from everywhere have.
posted by otherchaz at 9:59 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Alia Shawkat always played Hermione in my head.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:20 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also she's obviously black. She does all the work and the white dudes take most of the credit.

Harry as a POC of Indian descent is another thing you'll often find it fanart: here's some great art of Harry and his scar through all seven years, by feliciores.

Can you explain why many people think Harry Potter is desi?
posted by blithers at 10:56 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not race-bending, which would imply Hermione is "canonically" white. Rowling has said that's not the case.

She's white in the movies, and on the cover of all the books that I've seen. I don't think the terminology is that important here though.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:14 AM on December 21, 2015


I always thought Hermione was coded in the books as black or as mixed, until the movies came out and Emma Watson's appearance transformed what I had always vaguely seen in my head.
posted by Windigo at 11:37 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't have any to hand but I've seen a numbers of fanart depictions and headcanon posts of Harry and James as South Asian. It'll be interesting to see if that turns up in a future casting for a show and/or film.
posted by immlass at 8:00 PM on December 20 [3 favorites +] [!]


I do! Needles to say the kinds of people who draw SA Harry are the same kinds of (awesome) people who draw black Hermione.
1 2 3 4 5

( A couple of those contain another favorite head canon of mine- that harry's scar is less like the symbol of a lightning bolt, and more like an actual bolt of lightning)
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:42 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think the terminology is that important here though.

Well I do. I think anything that presumes that white came first, when the first thing was actually reading a book that didn't specify, is just more white default bullshit and as someone who is not white default and never assumed Hermione was, I think it is a shit term. You don't have to agree with me, but acting like I don't have a right to care is also some, well, white default bullshit.
posted by dame at 11:45 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I saw this blowing up on Twitter earlier and man, I gotta say, a lot of angry people who "don't even see color/race" somehow magically got the ability to see it this weekend.

Also, this casting is not for a movie that'll be in wide release. It's for a play in London. Most of those Twitter eggs aren't even going to be within 100 miles of it. Why are they so dang upset about something they'll probably never even see? Oh right. Racism.
posted by mhum at 11:53 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


FirstMateKate: "( A couple of those contain another favorite head canon of mine- that harry's scar is less like the symbol of a lightning bolt, and more like an actual bolt of lightning)"

Ooh, I love that.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:59 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's not race-bending, which would imply Hermione is "canonically" white. Rowling has said that's not the case.
She's white in the movies, and on the cover of all the books that I've seen. I don't think the terminology is that important here though.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:14 PM on December 21 [+] [!]


But the movies and the books aren't JK's words, which is what a lot of people take as canon. If what we're defining as canon is "a piece of media that's directly related to the Rowling estate", well then, she's canonically black now.

I think it's very important we don't call this race-bending—calling it race-bending comes from a position that Hermione is undisputedly a white character, which is not true.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:05 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


It also serves as an implicit call-out to Rowling for waiting until years after the movie adaptations had cemented the entire lead cast of HP as white people in the popular mind before saying that she meant for there to be any ambiguity about a single character's race. That's also white default bullshit.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:10 PM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I forget who it was on tumblr I saw pointing this out, but Harry being a PoC adds even more bite to his Muggle-world situation. The whole thing where apparently every single person who interacts with the Dursley family (mostly white, upper/upper middle class people, so far as we can tell) believes based only on their very dubious word and zero evidence that this quiet, underweight kid is "incurably criminal" and has to be institutionalized?
posted by bettafish at 12:15 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm a big fan of Ben Aaronovich's Rivers of London series. My first read through, I hit a point where the narrator/main character explicitly points out that he's black (father is "White British" as they say on the forms here, mother from Sierra Leone). It kind of gnawed at my brain for a while that I'd expected this for whole chapters before.

Why did I already have this image of him as a POC of some sort, when I'm white and more likely to start from that as a default? It wasn't the dialect, which is MLE but I hear all sorts speak around here. So what?

I dug through and worked it out: every time the narrator encounters a white person, he describes them that way (as in, something like "around the corner came two white women carrying coffees"). Whenever the narrator encounters a black person, it doesn't warrant mention until they bring it up themselves in context of something else.

They need to teach this in writing classes.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:02 PM on December 21, 2015 [22 favorites]


It also serves as an implicit call-out to Rowling for waiting until years after the movie adaptations had cemented the entire lead cast of HP as white people in the popular mind before saying that she meant for there to be any ambiguity about a single character's race. That's also white default bullshit.

She did a similar thing when she outed Dumbledore. She didn't say it in the books, except apparently he used to wear a fabulous scarf when he was young. But once all the books were published and the films were done, she suddenly says "Hey, you know Dumbledore was gay, right?" Well, no, JK, how could we?

That said, I think this is an important step and whether or not Rowling is re-writing history to say Hermione was never one thing or another, Hermione will be black on stage in London. That's amazing.
posted by crossoverman at 1:19 PM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Gindelwald and Dumbledore as a pair is pretty well supported by the books.
posted by Artw at 1:32 PM on December 21, 2015


I'm loving these new bits to add to my HP headcanon.

And if I'm being honest, as a kid I always imagined Hermione looking like Prunella from Arthur. Now I'm trying to figure out what sort of mixed-race thing that was playing at in my head.

By the way, Harry does NOT work at the Ministry of Magic in my headcanon. He is so obviously Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He is the only one who could break Voldie's curse on the position, and he demonstrated real teaching talent in his work with Dumbledore's Army. I mean, c'mon.
posted by Zephyrial at 1:35 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gindelwald and Dumbledore as a pair is pretty well supported by the books.

Consistent with, but not overtly supported by.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:47 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always thought Hermione was coded in the books as black or as mixed, until the movies came out and Emma Watson's appearance transformed what I had always vaguely seen in my head.

I myself want to see a webcomic (drawn by batsii) where Hermione is grumbling that the witch the Ministry got to play her in the "historical drama" looks nothing like her.
posted by happyroach at 1:50 PM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


If what we're defining as canon is "a piece of media that's directly related to the Rowling estate", well then, she's canonically black now.

Disagree. I highly doubt the script required Hermione to be black. It just doesn't require her to be white either. JK Rowling had approval over the casting of Emma Watson in the movies, but that apparently doesn't make Hermione canonically white in her opinion. As such, nor does casting Noma Dumezweni make Hermione canonically black.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:06 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Part of the secret of Potter's success has to be how easy it is to read whatever you want into the text. Nothing in the canon text would prevent you reading Hermione as a POC. I think it is in part this lack of detail to the characterizations of Harry, Hermione, etc. that is what makes them so compelling for some people and dismissed as Mary Sues by others. See the back and fourth between localroger and I in this old FPP for more on that.)
posted by Wretch729 at 2:07 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I forget who it was on tumblr I saw pointing this out, but Harry being a PoC adds even more bite to his Muggle-world situation. The whole thing where apparently every single person who interacts with the Dursley family (mostly white, upper/upper middle class people, so far as we can tell) believes based only on their very dubious word and zero evidence that this quiet, underweight kid is "incurably criminal" and has to be institutionalized?

Not to mention the way Draco loses his shit, repeatedly, over being bested in academics by Hermione and sports by Harry.
posted by bgal81 at 2:11 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is unfortunate that a bunch of racist twitter blowhards are overshadowing the incredible acting chops of Noma Dumezweni, who has won an Olivier, been in a fair number of prestigious Shakespeare productions, and recently managed to step in at the last minute to replace a lead actress in the London production of Linda.

(The interview in the link is interesting on its own). I think she is a total coup for this production, and it seems the other cast members are also very accomplished.

Wish I could fly to London and see it live!
posted by chapps at 2:17 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Part of the secret of Potter's success has to be how easy it is to read whatever you want into the text.

I saw a similar observation a while back and it's really stuck with me:

You know why Harry Potter is amazing? 99% of fan theories, headcanons and meta could be canon because Harry is about as observant as a brick wall. Did Slytherins come back to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts? Did Draco Malfoy enjoy crossdressing? Was Hermione transgender? Who knows, certainly not Harry

It's stretching things a bit to think that Harry might fail to notice Hermione being black but it's not at all unbelievable that he would not take much notice or comment on it. It's certainly very very believable that he would just think of her as his friend Hermione and be utterly blind to any issues or discrimination she faces as a POC, unless they hit him over the head.
posted by *becca* at 3:51 PM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


Harry Potter and The Boy On Rails Around Whom Things Happen
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:48 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I was also not crazy about the Dumbledore thing she did, and this feels a little like more of the same.

If i remember correctly, she had final approval of all casting decisions in the films (or possibly just major characters?), so if this was what she'd always imagined, it's a bit late to state it now, after all those extra billions are in her bank account. Same with Dumbledore, it's just really safe to say that so late. Out him between books 5 and 6 or something, and make it count for something, even though you'd risk losing some sales. Saying "Well, it's never contradicted in the books or anything" is kind of weak sauce.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:19 PM on December 21, 2015


My armchair analysis of JKR is that she's very insecure. I base this on the Dumbledore thing, the fact that she originally wanted to write about a girl, the writing under a nom de plume after HP to prove (????) she could, the wavering on Ron/Hermione because it was so much like a previous relationship that she now regrets, etc.

I'm willing to be understanding about that but it will be very interesting to see what happens when she does return to the HP well. I am hoping it will be less male, less white, and less heterosexual but we will see.
posted by bgal81 at 6:30 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Insecure? One person's "flexibility and openmindedness" is another person's "insecurity". I think we're used to having our Massive Franchise Creators being these hardheaded dudes (and they're usually dudes) who have extremely definite ideas about who their characters are, what they do, what they look like, and will brook no suggestions outside their own ideas--even if those ideas are good ones.

Meanwhile, I get the feeling Rowling is someone who came up with a neat idea for a story, started writing it, and was delighted to find other people enjoyed it too. She has definite ideas about some things, but other things she may have thought of afterwards--or somebody else thought of!--and she says "You know what? I like this and it fits. Let's do it."

I think that's really cool. I respect that far more than the sort of ego-driven writer who is so invested in controlling things and "Mah Art" that they're unwilling to look at their own creations in new ways. Rather than a sign of insecurity, I take it as someone who is so confident in their own property that they don't feel threatened when they see these re-imaginings and new perspectives. It is terribly rare.
posted by schroedinger at 6:49 PM on December 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm willing to be understanding about that but it will be very interesting to see what happens when she does return to the HP well. I am hoping it will be less male, less white, and less heterosexual but we will see.

You mean like if she were to write a play and cast a black actress in one of the lead roles?
posted by Etrigan at 7:29 PM on December 21, 2015


She didn't write the play nor did she serve as casting director.

Insecure? One person's "flexibility and openmindedness" is another person's "insecurity". I think we're used to having our Massive Franchise Creators being these hardheaded dudes (and they're usually dudes) who have extremely definite ideas about who their characters are, what they do, what they look like, and will brook no suggestions outside their own ideas--even if those ideas are good ones.

My comment was so short and yet you managed to get it so backwards. Huh.
posted by bgal81 at 7:39 PM on December 21, 2015


She didn't write the play nor did she serve as casting director.

She co-wrote the story it's based on and is involved in the production.
posted by Jalliah at 7:47 PM on December 21, 2015


He is so obviously Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts. He is the only one who could break Voldie's curse on the position, and he demonstrated real teaching talent in his work with Dumbledore's Army. I mean, c'mon.

I agree, but I suspect JKR has some kind of rule that no married teachers are allowed at Hogwarts, and if she wants Harry to marry Ginny, he can't teach. (Seriously, not a single teacher has a spouse over in Hogsmeade or something?)

I dunno if I think JKR is insecure, but I do wonder if she had some pressure while writing "children's books" to say, not have Dumbledore be out until she hit the point where the publishers couldn't stop her.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:17 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


My comment was so short and yet you managed to get it so backwards. Huh.

I guess I don't understand what you're trying to say, then. It seemed to me you were saying she was planning on writing these characters as Black/gay/whatever all along but was afraid to. From the way I see it, I wouldn't be surprised at all if she originally did not think of Dumbledore as gay, Hermione as Black, etc. But as her story reached a wider audience and she was exposed to more diverse perspectives she thought "Huh, that does make sense."
posted by schroedinger at 8:19 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


For all the magic and fantasy in the Harry Potter universe, I think it's fairly clear that JK Rowling is not an author that interrogates her concepts and plot points and characterization to a great degree, eg. What is wizardly primary/elementary school like? How does the wizard economy work? The vastly unbalanced rules of Quidditch, Why not use the Time Turner to save James and Lily? Harry is a super-jock to whom the rules do not apply, et al. To a lot of fans, this is to the series' great benefit - it provides plenty of space for fanwankery and headcanon. I feel like it is perfectly plausible that Rowling never gave a thought to the ethnicity or sexuality of many of the main characters until people (most likely people of color) started asking questions and making their own decisions. To her credit, she seems very open to a range of theories and explanations about this sort of thing. I suppose you can chalk that up to insecurity (not being able to make up her own mind and take a stand) or flexibility (willingness to consider other perspectives), but I'd rather give her the benefit of the doubt.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:49 AM on December 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


I feel like it is perfectly plausible that Rowling never gave a thought to the ethnicity or sexuality of many of the main characters until people (most likely people of color) started asking questions and making their own decisions.

My sense is that she may have learned something from the fanwank around Dumbledore, which always seemed to me like her apology for her ham-handed attempts to make Remus/Sirius non-canon. Not just Remus/Tonks but also the ridiculous stuff like putting girlie posters in Sirius' room in Grimmauld. That was bigger than just fanwank, though: I recall reading where David Thewlis, who played Remus, said he was playing it as Remus being gay. (Above and beyond the AIDS metaphor of lycanthropy.)
posted by immlass at 8:57 AM on December 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Above and beyond the AIDS metaphor of lycanthropy

Whoa.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:27 PM on December 22, 2015


Good blog post here about this, and the fact that British theatre is actually not bad these days in terms of colour-blind casting (not perfect, but it's come a long way). Theatre is so obviously make-believe that audiences have pretty much agreed that having eg. a white son of black parents on stage is just another "enter our world and suspend your disbelief as necessary" thing.

This is a contrast with TV and film, which is still so in thrall to a pretence at naturalism. But it is a pretence: We choose what we deem to be inauthentic. Most TV period drama has utterly inauthentic language from start to finish, but that gets a pass. When the perceived inauthenticity is about race people are more likely to decide it's a problem.

I'm not a Harry Potter person at all, but saw Noma Dumezweni in Carmen Disruption earlier this year and she was great, so - congratulations, Potterites, you've got yourselves a good'un.
posted by penguin pie at 2:30 PM on December 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


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