If only…

Many of us reading and watching Harry Potter have noticed how often it is Hermione who is the smart one, the one who ends us saving them, the one who really knows what is going on.

 

Finally we get to see the story as if Hermione were the central character: Hermione Granger and the Goddamn Patriarchy

“Yes, Harry, all wizards.”

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100 sci fi women #83: Ginevra Weasley

Because I couldn’t say it better myself, this is taken entirely from Feministing. Thanks to Misha for the link.

Ginny Weasley Harry Potter series JK Rowling

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An unabashed love letter to Ginny Weasley

Dear Ginny,

Last week the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, and that’s given me an opportunity to think even more than usual about how much I love the series. And as I was thinking about that, I realized that you, Ginny Weasley, are more awesome than Viktor Krum is surly. You are more excellent than Peter Pettigrew is cowardly. You are a badass feminist witch and I am so glad that you are around as a heroine for young women reading the Potter series.

Let’s start from the beginning. When you first got to Hogwarts, you had a huge crush on Harry Potter. You even sent him a singing valentine. Remember, “I wish he were mine, he’s really divine, the hero who conquered the Dark Lord?” Yeah, that was embarrassing. And he wasn’t interested because he was, like, 12, and despite being a hero, he’s actually kind of socially inept. Then, you were possessed by a bit of Voldemort’s soul and started petrifying people, and when that bit of soul realized it could use you as bait to get to Harry, it nearly killed you. But Harry saved you, and made sure you didn’t get expelled from Hogwarts, and things got even more awkward because that’s what happens when the boy you have a crush on saves your life but doesn’t like-like you back. Hermione noticed you were mooning over Harry and advised you to go out with some other guys, partly because she thought you might be able to loosen up around Harry if you weren’t constantly thinking about how into him you were.

 

So you went out with other guys. Lots of them. You even went out with one of Harry’s classmates, Dean Thomas, in your fifth year. Your older brothers gave you a hard time about dating so many guys, but you refused to let them slut-shame you. When two of them tried to hint that you were “moving through boyfriends a bit fast, don’t you think?” you told them that it was none of their business who you went out with. When Harry and Ron walked in on you kissing Dean it was a huge to-do – Harry was jealous because he’d developed a thing for you, and Ron was jealous because he’d never kissed a girl at that point. Ron said some really slut-shamey things and you were having none of it. You told him that there was nothing wrong with sexuality (well, I think the word you used was “snogging” but personally I think that sounds like a Scandinavian winter sport). When you and Harry finally got together later that year and Ron said that he could revoke his “permission” for you to date him at any time, you set him straight: you don’t need anyone’s permission to date, or to snog. And all those guys you dated, you broke with for really good reasons. You broke up with Michael Corner because he was a bad loser, and you broke up with Dean because he was always treating you like you couldn’t do things for yourself.

You’re also a great athlete. In your fourth year, you tried out for the Gryffindor quidditch team after training in secret because you were afraid your brothers would laugh at you (by the way, it must be really tough being the only daughter in a family with six brothers. I don’t know how you managed that). And it turned out that you were really good at quidditch. You even subbed in for Harry when he got kicked off the team just before the tournament final, and you led the team to victory!

You’re politically aware, too, and a bit of a rebel. In your fourth year, when the Ministry of Magic was interfering at Hogwarts and students weren’t learning how to defend themselves against dark magic, you joined Harry’s secret Defense Against the Dark Arts study group, where you learned to cast some seriously good spells. When Harry left Hogwarts, you were one of the students who kept that group going, trying to sabotage the people who were trying to take over Hogwarts, and risking punishment by torture to do it.

Finally, you’re really courageous. You weren’t afraid to stand up to the Ministry when it interfered at Hogwarts, and you threw yourself headfirst into battle with dark wizards on several occasions. Hell, when you were 16, you took on Bellatrix Lestrange, the fiercest and most deadly of Voldemort’s supporters. Well, you would have if your mother hadn’t stepped in at the last minute to finish Bellatrix off herself with that unforgettable line: “Not my daughter, you bitch!”

All that said, I’m not thrilled with the way you’ve been depicted on screen. I think they make you out to be way less self-reliant and way less gutsy than you are in the book. And I don’t know why they had you tie Harry’s shoes in the sixth movie; it was really out of place. Maybe they meant it as a fellatio metaphor, but let’s be honest: you’re Ginny Weasley. You probably give real blowjobs, not metaphorical ones.

In the books, though, you are an inspiration. Ginny, I am so glad that I got to read about you and your adventures when I was growing up. I am so glad that other girls and young women will have you as a fictional heroine, as well as Hermione and Professor McGonagall and Luna Lovegood and all the other great women that Rowling created over the course of this series. And I’m glad that Harry ends up with you; it’s nice to see the smart, brave, unashamedly sexual, athletic girl chosen for a change.

In conclusion, Ginevra Weasley, you are a badass.

Yours, with undying love and nerdy affection,

Chloe Angyal.

 

*image from Harry Potter Wiki

Cultural Round Up: September

Yeah, yeah I know, it is more than half way through October. I have been slack. Very slack. In my defence I will say that the last month has involved moving house and starting a new job, so those things have distracted me from blogging, and also limited my access to the computer. But here I am. and here are some amazing houses made of Lego to distract you from my slackness.

BOOKS

Games of Thrones George RR Martin Having seen the series and finding myself in an airport without a book to read, I couldn’t resist diving in. And it was worth it. even though I had seen the series and essentially knew what was going to happen, I found it page-turningly compulsive reading. The writing is engaging and easy to read. I was interested to see how closely they had stuck to the book for the series, but also the little differences. I thought that Sansa’s revelation in the book is more compelling, as you see her suddenly understand with horror how almost everything she had thought before was wrong. And the differences in the character of Catelyn Stark are interesting. Having read the book now though, I am not sure I will be able to hold off til I’ve seen the next TV season before I read no 2, as I had previously planned.

MOVIES

Harry Potter 1-3 With the 7 yr old now a massive Harry Potter fan and reading his way through the books, we have watched the first three films again. Firstly, it is hilarious to see all the actors so young again. I still don’t understand why Christopher Columbus was ever allowed to direct any Harry Potter film. The direction is so over-the-top in the first two films it is sometimes unwatchable, with the child actors apparently encouraged to over act and mug all over the place. It is interesting by the third film, when the child actors are no longer just children and there is a new director how much better that film is. The darker hues and more restrained approach, along with some wonderful performances from the adults makes it such a more enjoyable experience. The general awfulness of aspects of the first two films also makes Alan Rickman’s performance as Snape just that little bit more fabulous also I think. Rewatching The Philosopher’s Stone, Rickman manages to inject Snape with a level of ambivalence and pain – he isn’t a one-dimensional villain in any sense. In fact, it is interesting that you can see in The Philosopher’s Stone the Snape which is revealed in the final Harry Potter, which is all the more extraordinary as that book hadn’t been written yet. I think that Rickman manages to capture the essential qualities of Snape beautifully throughout the series. Nonetheless, while 1 and 2 might be enjoyed by the kids, they aren’t the films I’d take a lot of time out to rewatch – 3 however is well worth rewatching, and rewatching again.

July cultural round up

So, new look to the blog – I couldn’t resist the Hitchcockian-ness of it, particularly as one of my favourite ever pieces of academic work ever was a mash-up I did of Grace Kelly and Sharon Stone set to “Atomic Blonde” and “I’m a Blonde”. So much fun. Anyway, feel free to tell me what you think, noting that tags and comments are all now down the bottom.

This month I actually managed to get myself to the movies – more than once. A shock to the system. Also managed quite a lot of reading – partly powered by the fabulousness of the first featured book for the month. And so, to it… (may contain Harry Potter spoilers)

BOOKS

The Passage Justin Cronin Brilliantly imagined and rendered, this book does transport you entirely into another world which you can see, hear and feel. Characters are beautifully crafted – you understand them and what motivates them. Dark and terrifying at times, it also makes you hope and feel. The vampires (virals) are cleverly constructed with self-conscious reflexiveness, but they are also true creatures of real horror. The first third of the book, the lead-up and immediate aftermath, is incredibly compelling; the sense of anticipation and dread which is built is amazing. In the middle section it takes a little while to see where the story is going, but the characters and the world created are enough to keep one reading. The second half of the book is a more traditional and recognisable narrative form, but nonetheless beautifully and compellingly written. It is also interesting how the book does not answer all your questions, and there are some ends which are not tied off – enticingly, not annoyingly though. Completely recommended unless you frighten easily – definitley the best book I have read this year. Also, some useful lessons for both zombocalypse planning and viral experimentation for the future.

The Camel Bookmobile Masha Hamilton This book appeared extremely interesting in concept – the story of a lending library which visited Kenyan villages, but sadly suffered in the execution. The first problem was that Hamilton chose to write the chapters from the perspectives of different characters – a device I am normally all in favour of, but in this case was somewhat excruciating at times. There was something hideously patronising about the American-journalist-writes-in-guise-of-15-year-old-Kenyan-tribesperson. I am sure that it can be done well, but clearly the book was what the author thought a 15 year old Kenyan should think, rather than what they actually think. The first few chapters had me wincing, and even the American do-gooder who drags her volume of Irish poetry with her was hopelessly stereotyped. Later the book did question some of the assumptions made by the American about what was good and what wasn’t, but it was sadly very post-colonial and patronising. The best I can say was that it was easy to read and mildly entertaining, when you could get past the wincing bits. Overall though, I’d recommend Masha sticks to journalism.

MOVIES

Kung Fu Panda II This was an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours with small boys. Not quite as clever or funny as the first (I still love the opening sequence of the first one as much as virtually any other children’s film section – except perhaps that bit of Up which makes me cry) it still captures the essentially entertaining-ness of the characters. Cleverly recruiting some Kung Fu veterans for some of the voice roles, the action in it is amazing – stunningly choreographed for all that it is animation. It also continues the theme of family and belonging and what this actually means. Definitely worth it, unless you have objections to cartoon violence.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1 I had not managed to see this at the cinema, but decided I should view it before seeing the second half at the cinema. It is an unremittingly bleak film, but I guess this is the fault of base material. In fact, it is much better than the book in that I didn’t just want to slap Harry and Ron and the interminable wandering about in the forest which occurs is slightly less dire than in the book. In fact, the film, unlike the book, never actually made me think of skipping over bits to get to then end. So while I think there was nothing completely amazing about the film, it did a good job of capturing the despair of that period without making it annoying or dull.

Harry Potter Part 2 So this half of the final book has rather more to offer than the first part in terms of interesting action and entertainment with the excursion to the goblin bank and the battle at Hogwarts. Let m say I loved the dragon and the stone golems. Again, like most of the latter films of the series, I think it tells the story better than the books – the books became rambling and undisciplined, whereas the films, with the requirements of limited time etc, manage to capture what is great about the stories of the books without their less endearing meanderings. My only real disappointment with the film was that I didn’t think it did enough justice to the rehabilitation of Snape. This was such a central part to the whole series – is Snape evil or not – that I think that the answer to this could have had a couple more minutes’ attention, and been just that bit clearer. Also there is the epilogue. Let me just say – Ginny’s hair?! A crime against the story. Similarly Hermoine as buttoned up seemed a bit unfair to her. But other than that, and enjoyable end to the series. For some more critical analysis of the role of Hermoine in particular, see Think Progress.

100 sci fi women #19: Hermoine Granger

I have found myself watching The Prisoner of Azkaban and seeing Hermoine punch Draco immediately gave me my next entry…

Hermoine Granger Harry Potter books and films

Hermione_granger

While I have always enjoyed the Harry Potter books and films (some more than others though it must be said) many of the characters are quite annoying. Harry, in particular, often drives me bats. But Hermoine I love. While she fits the brainy girl category, she is much more than that. And her intelligence is something to be admired. I love the fact that she knows more than everyone, that she does the best in class. She is also the most practical of her friends, and utterly courageous. One also has to remember that, unlike Ron and a number of their school contemporaries, Hermoine is a newbie to the world of magic, and yet this does not stop her being unfazed and as successful as anyone (except in Divination, but really, who can blame her). She is a true friend, even when occasionally Ron and Harry probably don’t really deserve it. Finally, she is still a girl, who has crushes, meets boys and suffers her own heartbreak. But deals with it as stoically as she can.

I am pretty sure that without Hermoine I would have had trouble liking the books!

Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have!