*Orignially posted in mid 2013.
For those who don't know, here is my summary of the bullying of Harry/Hermione shippers, and JKR's fan empire of bullying and fundamentalism.
You may have heard of the "Interview of Doom" or "The Interview of Hell" (depends on who you're talking to, in the H/Hr part of fandom). It was an interview given by JKR in her house with two of the biggest R/Hr and H/G shippers there are - Melissa Anelli (who runs The Leaky Cauldron) and Emerson Spartz (who runs Mugglenet) the day after HBP was released in 2005. The fallout was huge. I don't mean tiny huge, I mean hundreds of people left the fandom huge. The Shipping Wars went to a whole new level of nasty.
I'm quoting the portions on shipping:
MA: How much fun did you have with the romance in this book?
JKR: Oh, loads. Doesn't it show?
JKR: There's a theory - this applies to detective novels, and then Harry, which is not really a detective novel, but it feels like one sometimes – that you should not have romantic intrigue in a detective book. Dorothy L. Sayers, who is queen of the genre said — and then broke her own rule, but said — that there is no place for romance in a detective story except that it can be useful to camouflage other people’s motives. That's true; it is a very useful trick. I've used that on Percy and I’ve used that to a degree on Tonks in this book, as a red herring. But having said that, I disagree inasmuch as mine are very character-driven books, and it’s so important, therefore, that we see these characters fall in love, which is a necessary part of life. How did you feel about the romance?
[Melissa puts her thumbs up and grins widely while…]
ES: We were hi-fiving the whole time.
JKR: [laughs] Yes! Good. I'm so glad.
MA: We were running back and forth between rooms yelling at each other.
ES: We thought it was clearer than ever that Harry and Ginny are an item and Ron and Hermione — although we think you made it painfully obvious in the first five books —
JKR: [points to herself and whispers] So do I!
ES: What was that?
JKR: [More loudly] Well so do I! So do I!
[All laugh; Melissa doubles over, hysterical, and may have died.]
ES: Harry/Hermione shippers - delusional!
JKR: Well no, I'm not going to - Emerson, I am not going to say they're delusional! They are still valued members of my readership! I am not going to use the word delusional. I am however, going to say — now I am trusting both of you to do the spoiler thing when you write this up —
JKR: I will say, that yes, I personally feel - well it's going to be clear once people have read book six. I mean, that’s it. It’s done, isn’t it? We know. Yes, we do now know that it's Ron and Hermione. I do feel that I have dropped heavy -
[All crack up]
JKR: - hints. ANVIL-sized, actually, hints, prior to this point. I certainly think even if subtle clues hadn't been picked up by the end of “Azkaban,” that by the time we hit Krum in Goblet...But Ron — I had a lot of fun with that in this book. I really enjoyed writing the Ron/Lavender business, and the reason that was enjoyable was Ron up to this point has been quite immature compared to the other two and he kind of needed to make himself worthy of Hermione. Now, that didn't mean necessarily physical experience but he had to grow up emotionally and now he's taken a big step up. Because he's had the meaningless physical experience - let’s face it, his emotions were never deeply engaged with Lavender -
[Much laughter in which Melissa emits a "Won-Won"]
JKR: - and he's realized that that is ultimately not what he wants, which takes him a huge emotional step forward.
ES: So he's got a little bit more than a teaspoon, now there’s a tablespoon?
JKR: Yeah, I think. [Laughter]
Note what she just said. While she says delusional is not her word, she doesn't rebuke him. She laughs. She says Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny were “painfully obvious” and that there were “anvil-sized hints”. Those are insults. She is insulting a significant portion of her fans in an international interview.
MA: Watching all this, were you surprised when you first logged on and found this intense devotion to this thing that you knew was not going to happen?
JKR: Yes. Well, you see, I'm a relative newcomer to the world of shipping, because for a long time, I didn't go on the net and look up Harry Potter. A long time. Occasionally I had to, because there were weird news stories or something that I would have to go and check, because I was supposed to have said something I hadn’t said. I had never gone and looked at fan sites, and then one day I did and oh - my - god. Five hours later or something, I get up from the computer shaking slightly [all laugh]. ‘What is going on?’ And it was during that first mammoth session that I met the shippers, and it was a most extraordinary thing. I had no idea there was this huge underworld seething beneath me.
ES: She’s putting it into a positive light!
JKR: Well I am, I am, but you know. I want to make it clear that delusional is your word and not mine!
MA: You're making our lives a lot easier by laying it on the table -
JKR: Well I think anyone who is still shipping Harry/Hermione after this book -
ES: [whispered] Delusional!
JKR: Uh - no! But they need to go back and reread, I think.
ES: Thank you.
Lots more laughter at our expense, jokingly stressing that delusional is not her word. Another insult – I have read the books, thank you very much. HBP did not 'sink' Harry/Hermione, we actually got a lot more proof. But that's in one of my H/Hr essays, and not the point of this post.
MA: That is going to -
JKR: Will it make your lives slightly easier?
[All three]: Yeah, yeah.JKR: I think so.
MA: I have to tell you, I'm looking forward to [this coming out], because, you know, a lot of this is predicated upon a necessary hate for another character. Ron has suffered horribly at the hands of Harry/Hermione shippers.
JKR: That bit makes me very uncomfortable, actually. Yeah, that bit does make me uncomfortable.
That is a straight out lie. Many R/Hr's fans may believe it, but if they actually talked to us they would see a lot of us love Ron (see this thread for a lot of Ron love). Are there some fans who don't like Ron? Of course. But they are by no means the majority. One of our (H/Hr) biggest points is that both Hermione and Ron would suffer in a relationship together. We don't want that for either of them!
ES: Honestly, I think the Harry/Hermione shippers are a very small percentage of the population anyway.
MA: Yeah, if you do a general poll -
ES: They seem more prominent online, but that’s just because the online fandom is very -MA: Militant was the best word I heard -
JKR: Militant is a beautifully chosen word. Energetic. Feisty.[Laughter.]
Militant. Militant means “combative and aggressive in support of a political or social cause, and typically favoring extreme, violent, or confrontational methods.” I've gotten militant thrown in my face just as much as delusional, and it's another insult. This one she actually says is “beautifully chosen.” You can't go anywhere in the fandom without both words being used to attack you (see this thread on the idea of us being militants. We will come back to the links linked on that thread in a minute).
Also, if they have to tell themselves we're just a small portion to feel good, go right ahead. All the evidence shows we were just as big as them.
MA: What does it do to you to see a character that you love, for people to express sheer hate -
ES: Or vice versa.
JKR: It amuses me. It honestly amuses me. People have been waxing lyrical [in letters] about Draco Malfoy, and I think that's the only time when it stopped amusing me and started almost worrying me. I'm trying to clearly distinguish between Tom Felton, who is a good looking young boy, and Draco, who, whatever he looks like, is not a nice man. It’s a romantic, but unhealthy, and unfortunately all too common delusion of — delusion, there you go — of girls, and you [nods to Melissa] will know this, that they are going to change someone. And that persists through many women's lives, till their death bed, and it is uncomfortable and unhealthy and it actually worried me a little bit, to see young girls swearing undying devotion to this really imperfect character, because there must be an element in there, that "I'd be the one who [changes him]." I mean, I understand the psychology of it, but it is pretty unhealthy. So, a couple of times I have written back, possibly quite sharply, saying [Laughter], "You want to rethink your priorities here."
JKR: Again, your word![Laughter.]
ES: On our Web sites we have a tendency to have very different stances on shipping. On The Leaky Cauldron they tow this fine political line —
MA: Down the line. We say, "If that's your thing, that's your thing."
ES: And on MuggleNet, we say -
JKR: [Laughing] You say you're delusional lunatics?
MA: He basically says, “If you don't think this, just get off my site.”
[JKR cracks up]
ES: We say, “You're clearly delusional!”
More laughing, and not one criticism about how those are still fans and they're being insulted. In fact, she finishes Emerson's sentence, calling us delusional lunatics while laughing! Lunatic means “suffering from lunacy; insane.” So first we're combative/aggressive/violent and now we're insane. Nice to know what you think of us, JKR.
JKR: What's that section on your site again, when you post the absolute absurdities that you've received?
MA: Did Ginny send Harry the valentine?
JKR: Yeah, bless her.
MA: Was it a Tom Riddle thing, or Ginny Weasley?
JKR: No, Ginny Weasley.MA: Well, she got paid back for it.
JKR: [laughs] Eventually.
MA: I think you set that up from the train compartment scene [in book one], where he was watching — all the relationships, that scene probably set it up.
JKR: I think so. I hope so. So you liked Harry/Ginny, did you, when it happened?
ES: We've been waiting for this for years!
JKR: Oh, I'm so glad.
MA: Oh my gosh, that kiss!
ES: It actually materialized!
JKR: It actually happened, I know! I felt a little bit like that.
MA: Had you been trying to get them —
JKR: Well I always knew that that was going to happen, that they were going to come together and then part.
ES: Were you always -----ing it? [We can’t figure out what Emerson actually said here.]
JKR: Well, no, not really, because the plan was, which I really hope I fulfilled, is that the reader, like Harry, would gradually discover Ginny as pretty much the ideal girl for Harry. She's tough, not in an unpleasant way, but she's gutsy. He needs to be with someone who can stand the demands of being with Harry Potter, because he's a scary boyfriend in a lot of ways. He's a marked man. I think she's funny, and I think that she's very warm and compassionate. These are all things that Harry requires in his ideal woman. But, I felt — and I'm talking years ago when all this was planned — initially, she's terrified by his image. I mean, he's a bit of a rock god to her when she sees him first, at 10 or 11, and he's this famous boy. So Ginny had to go through a journey as well. And rather like with Ron, I didn’t want Ginny to be the first girl that Harry ever kissed. That's something I meant to say, and it's kind of tied in.One of the ways in which I tried to show that Harry has done a lot of growing up — in “Phoenix,” remember when Cho comes into the compartment, and he thinks, ‘I wish I could have been discovered sitting with better people,’ basically? He's with Luna and Neville. So literally the identical thing happens in “Prince,” and he's with Luna and Neville again, but this time, he has grown up, and as far as he's concerned he is with two of the coolest people on the train. They may not look that cool. Harry has really grown. And I feel that Ginny and Harry, in this book, they are total equals. They are worthy of each other. They've both gone through a big emotional journey, and they've really got over a lot of delusions, to use your word, together. So, I enjoyed writing that. I really like Ginny as a character.
And now she brings the word delusional back into the conversation! After all of this, and saying delusional is not her word, she says Harry and Ginny had to 'get over' a lot of delusions! She knows what that word has been commonly linked to in this conversation (see my anti Harry/Ginny essay for why none of what she just said is shown in the text). She knows where people's minds are going to go.
Kate J, a H/Hr shipper, was very eloquent on her H/Hr site about the interview. I agree with pretty much everything she says:
When the interview with Mugglenet and TLC came out, I wasn't surprised at the content. Most of us discussed that very thing happening the moment we found out that only TLC and Mugglenet were sites invited despite HPANA being one of the oldest, largest and most respected news sites around. So we knew this was going to be a pro-RHr interview. It's no big surprise that E + M, who run extremely anti any-ship-but-RHr sites, would say such unprofessional and uncourteous things about fans of not only HP but of their sites as well. If anyone is surprised, then you haven't been around those sites long enough to see the goings-on that many of us have seen for years. So it really wasn't surprising to me when they came out with this interview which focused a lot of ship bashing (what's ironic is that we're called militant when they can't even keep the bashing out of a professional interview with the author). To me it just showed a completely childish and disrespectful side of two people who don't, apparently, care much about the fact many of those "delusioned" folk were also visitors of their sites and often promoted them, making them as popular as they are.
The problem I had with those interviewers, and the events that followed with the behavior on their sites was not the same as the problem I had with JK Rowling. Some people, I think, have blurred the line between between mad at E + M and JK. And if you're going to be mad, you should be mad for the right reasons.
The problem with JK that I had, and maybe others will agree, is that JK didn't try to curve this line of immature and possibly hurtful conversation, especially when she's gone out of her way in past interviews to be very careful about what she says. Anyone with any intelligence could see that the things they were saying could possibly be hurtful to a huge part of her fanbase so, at the very least, she shouldn't have joined in on it. I do recognize that she tried not to originally join in and, in fact, tried to defend us by stating that we are such a "valued" part of her readership. But moments later her "defending" of us became completely disingenuous when she basically agreed, throwing in the 'delusioned' comment, as well as going on about how we need to reread the books and how we missed huge "anvil-sized" clues as though we were poor, stupid idiots who were simply dumb and couldn't read. That's how it felt whether it was intended or not. She didn't stop to think that many of us don't just enjoy the books for the same reasons a select few do; that perhaps we knew and saw the clues which pointed out RHr but happened to enjoy the books for reasons that maybe she didn't intend. We still do.
In no fandom-- and I've been in quite a few-- have fans been so ignorant about what enjoying a series is about. It isn't about liking parts that everyone likes. We like the idea of HHr and all the moments where they're together which can be perceived by us as romantically inclined--whether it is or not-- just because we do! There doesn't have to be a clinical reason for it. Sometimes I like a movie because of the great action... not necessarily for the characters. Some people like HP because of the mystery or Harry's journey with Voldemort. We happened to like it for Harry and Hermione's interaction. In this fandom, however, that's unforgivable to the extent that we're debased by the author and shunned by many other fans.
No matter who those comments were directed toward, it offended ALL of us in some way. It's just a sad way to treat fans who have done nothing but praise her and loyally read and buy her series, stood outside in the rain at midnight to get them, and then be called childish names.
My opinion is that if the conversation were exactly the same, but the HHr and RHr roles were reversed, many RHr shippers would be just as hurt as we were. But they're blinded by their giddiness of the RHr/HG stuff (which sucked even if you are an RHr/HG fan so I'm not sure what you're celebrating about!) that they simply refuse to actually think about what was said. We've loyally followed JK's story and whether the powers that be like it or not, we're a part of why it's so popular and how JK has made her living. We're part of why she lives in a nice house and can support her children and has a pretty good life. I don't care if the comments were meant only for the people who are militant about HHr-- they shouldn't have been made at all. There are many militant and stupid RHr shippers who go around saying the most horrible and vile things (such as how my children should be murdered and how they will find out where I live and burn my home down while my family sleeps)... just as there are many idiotic and moronic HHr shippers out there who are just as bad. Yet we were the ones who took the brunt of the comments about "crazy" fans.
And worse yet was how condescending and patronizing the whole thing was. JK was so obviously trying to find a way not to say that we were delusional that it was blaringly obvious that she indeed felt that way. I would have respected her more if she'd simply come out and said it rather than trying to skirt around it, while there was the obvious allusion to eye-rolling and smirking when she finally did say it... along with the laughter.There were also completely false statements about how we apparently hate Ron. We were judged on a very small portion of people who are BOTH HHr and RHr as well as other ships (of course, no mention of those insane RHr fans was made). Then, when- God forbid- we were hurt about it, we were further terrorized by Emerson and other RHr/HG fans whose behavior is apparently fine because they like a ship that is agreeable to the writer.
I don't mean to be so overdramatic. It really isn't all that encompassing. But yes, I'm sad. Not so much mad, but really just sad. I've put a lot of work into my site and a lot of fans have put a lot of their time into this series. I mean, if we're treated like crap at a restaurant, we aren't going to go back and we certainly aren't going to talk about it like it's the most brilliant thing in the world, as many of JK's fans do no matter how badly she behaves. I'm actually surprised that more fans aren't a bit miffed; if she could show so little respect for us, what makes you think she cares about you in the end? So, yeah, that's my spiel and I don't expect everyone to feel the same way. But it's just how I felt.
To spare you the torture of what went down when this went online, I'm going to summarize. After the interview, things got worse. Way worse. But before we talk about how they got worse, we need to talk about how they were before HBP and that interview.
Kate J's edited for stupidity section (mainly nasty comments sent from R/Hr shippers), was mostly pre-HBP, I believe. I'm still in shock about some of the things sent to her - the one that takes the cake, in my opinion, is the one where a box was sent to her home with a decapitated teddy bear with her name stapled on the head. All because she runs a H/Hr site. The death threats to her children were also extremely out-of-line.
In early 2005 Mad Eyed Mike wrote a piece on Portkey fandom history. Portkey was one of the biggest H/Hr sites/forums. In July of 2003 he posted his H/Hr essay to Portkey and the result was huge.
A few hours after I hit ‘submit’, I returned to see that the topic was much bigger than I could have imagined. I saw post after post of greetings and congratulatory remarks, but more than that, there was an almost tangible sense of gratitude from many members here towards me. It was as if my essay convinced them that contrary to popular belief amongst the opposition, H/Hr shippers weren’t crazy and delusional after all, but instead were right about what they always knew in their hearts – that H/Hr was indeed a very real and canon-based ship, not some fanon fantasy.
It truly felt like there was no place online where a H/H shipper could post anything without coming under the scrutiny of the opposition. I knew there were R/Hr and H/G sites where those shippers posted their work in a debate-free environment, and yet, here I was, at an H/Hr site no less, forced to defend my points – yet again. (link)
He talked to the mods, and on August 2, 2003 Pumpkin Pie's Army forum opened on Portkey. Heavily monitored, it was a safe-haven for H/Hr shippers to post their essays and talk about them with other Harmony fans only. Note the words he uses. Crazy and delusional. These were not new terms when Emerson used them in the IoD. There was already a serious problem of bullying in the fandom. Another example is what happened on the Love Thread of the CoS forums – it was boycotted because only H/Hr fans got banned, and their questions to the moderators were ignored and unanswered. Here, here, and here are more threads, with more examples.
So we fast forward two years to the aftermath of the IoD. Places like Fandom Wank upped their amount of H/Hr shipper bashing, and even on posts that didn't have anything to do with H/Hr, descended into H/Hr bashing in the comments. A similar group is The HMS STFU. Their favorite targets are/were H/Hr shippers and Snape fans. As a member of both I've been more exposed to their thoughts and opinions that I ever want or wanted to be. Their comment bar says "comments: _ delusional shippers poked or poke a delusional shipper" meaning: _ comments posted or leave a comment. They "closed down" in 2011, but have a new community dedicated to bashing Snape fans, that is still running. 'The Harry Potter Cornfield's Journal' was supposed to track all the crazy and militant things we did, but while they were out there, they weren't from any of the regular H/Hr shippers on our main sites. That leads us to what was really going on.
A fair number of R/Hr shippers decided they wanted to give H/Hr shippers a bad name, so they pretended to be H/Hr shippers and went crazy. The three links linked in the thread above? R/Hr shippers pretending (there were also a few instances of R/Hr shippers trying to impersonate well known H/Hr shippers). Most of the posts on Emerson's Wall of Shame (he has a special edition that is dedicated to just Harmonians) come from them.
Emerson goes on and on about how we gave him the link to our site, so he's blame free. I highly doubt it was really a H/Hr fan, but it doesn't matter. He still went and made a whole page to mock people. There are only two posts on Emerson's wall of shame that I know were made by a H/Hr shipper, and the first one I don't know why it's on there anyway. It was the title post for a thread on Portkey:
This main forum will now function for one purpose - to give each and every H/H r shipper the opportunity to respond to J.K. Rowling and the two morons from MN and TLC who interviewed her. Here you may answer the charges of H/Hr shippers being delusional, militant and angry. You may express your views and show why the evidence was there for the H/Hr ship, even if Ms. Rowling, unfortunately, did not see it.
You're free to post your analysis, essays, personal letters, etc., with your insights into the series (even in hindsight); why you shipped Harmony; the evidence you saw in canon; the writing mistakes you feel were made; the lack of and contradictory nature of the so-called, "ANVIL-sized" [hints]; the misuse of symbolism and much more.< P> So please, use this forum to let her know the way you feel about her comments, or point out how, why and where she went wrong in her development of the characters, or simply discuss how she will have missed a golden opportunity to tell one of the greatest love stories ever told.
Emerson underlined the lines I bolded here. He bolded AND underlined the "the lack of" part, so that's why it has more emphasis on it. This also invalidates the so-called "apology" he gave H/Hr shippers (he 'apologizes' to those who liked H/Hr but didn't think it would happen, and then goes on about how delusional and fair game those who thought it would happen are), as he calls Mad Eyed Mike the "lead lemming" (lemming means “a member of any large group following an unthinking course towards mass destruction”). He just had to add another insult. There is a lot more against Harmony on Mugglenet, both from Emerson and other fans - there's a list on there about all the ways to upset a H/Hr shipper, which is not by Emerson. Personally, I don't get why he included this, as everyone has the right to their opinions (note, not that they have the right to attack others).
The one other comment I know was made by a H/Hr fan (called Stic) was the one about forced abortions in China. He had already been banned from one of the main H/Hr sites (I don't think he was on the other one) before HBP came out because he had gone after his fellow shippers over the subject of abortion. Phoenixwriter, a fairly well known H/Hr fan, has a good post on how it was inappropriate for Emerson to make fun of and mock a serious issue (note, not anything to do with Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling).
Then on her website, when she linked to the interview:
Well, I could pretend it was difficult, but I wouldn't be fooling anyone; the answer was right under my nose; in fact, if it had been any closer I would have snorted it up as surely as I snorted a well-known fizzy drink during the resultant interview. Yes, step forwards Melissa Anelli, founder of The Leaky Cauldron fansite, and Emerson Spartz, founder of Mugglenet. (Links to both can be found in the 'fansite' section of this website).
Why Melissa and Emerson? Because I knew, from having trawled their sites, that they know their Harry Potter back to front, that they care, not only about the books, but about the community of fans on the net, and that they were clever and funny and that I was going to enjoy meeting them at least as much as they would enjoy meeting me.
So I called them. Melissa had been tipped off to expect a call, but the ear-piercing shriek that met my words of introduction told me that she hadn't guessed what it was all about. She was available and happy to come - one down.
I was worried that Emerson, who was not expecting anything at all, might simply hang up on me; as I heard his Dad walking away from the telephone to fetch him I was trying to think of way to prove it was really me and not some angry Harry/Hermione shipper trying to lure him down a dark alleyway. However, I didn't need to offer an impromptu quiz on the sub-plots of books one to five; he believed me, he could make it: we were set!
I must say that I was impressed and moved by how many fellow fans posted congratulations to them when they announced on their sites that they would be interviewing me. The thrust of most comments was that they deserved the interview as a reward for all their hard work; it was uplifting to see so many people express generous and fair-minded good wishes!
Lots more to talk about here. One: She clearly was/is aware of what goes on online. She mentioned that not only has she seen their sites, but she's really looked at them. She also goes on about how much Melissa and Emerson truly care for the fans, the fandom, are great people, and know the books by heart; completely excusing their behavior and the behavior they let happen and encourage.
Then, not only does she refer to her snorting in the interview (which we know is from the shipping talk), she also made another joke about how she didn't want Emerson to think she was "some angry Harry/Hermione shipper trying to lure him down a dark alleyway." Really? In no version of the world is that not another insult, another slam. She is insulting and ridiculing a large part of her fanbase on her own website.
This link goes to a great post on the matter made by Pallas Athena, one of the original H/Hr shippers in the fandom. Her post is a must-read for this topic. She even gets mentioned in Melissa's book, which is rare for a H/Hr shipper. I'll talk more about her (Melissa's) book "Harry, A History" in a second.
Then JKR made, in August 2006, another comment: "People really wanted Harry and Hermione to end up together. They’re still out there! Get over it!" This is also where she compares the shipping wars to "cyber gang warfare". No apology, no recognition, nothing. We just need to 'get over it'.
Next up is Melissa's book. Published in 2008, JKR wrote the introduction. It's supposedly the history on the Harry Potter fandom, and that's the only reason I own it. Personally, I think that there is way too much pro R/Hr in it - it seems as though every chance Melissa gets she has to say how she couldn't see how anyone could ever think Harry and Hermione would get together! Now, that may be her opinion, and she has every right to it, but to have that and have her adding on to basically every introduction of her friends about how they are all huge R/Hr shippers is excessive, in my opinion.
Here's some quotes from the book:
At the end of 2000, Kathleen MacMillan, apparently tired of all the Harry/Hermione discussion, felt the need to post a long rant entitled "H/H and why it's just wrong". She asserted that the obvious romantic tension in the books was between Hermione and Ron, and that the large majority of Harry/Hermione fanfiction ineffectively dealt with Ron as a character.
I am by no means quoting every shipping mention in here, just some. This one goes on for a few more paragraphs, but what stands out to me is the title. Like we started talking about above, the complete inability to accept the idea of H/Hr, or that anyone is allowed to have a different opinion from you. In a word, fundamentalism.
"If you don't like it" has never been a popular statement in fandom. It's never been a popular statement in life, either. But online, where everyone is freed from the bonds of facial recognition, they can rail and scream in much greater numbers than in real life. Something about the Sugar Quill's attitude never quite fit in right with the old set. Maybe it was their willingness to call H/H wrong, when many H/H shippers were making pained attempts to be diplomatic. The site's Daily Affirmations became salt in the proverbial wound.They ran down the side of the page and were mean't as jokes poking fun at the fan theories and finfic cliches with which they most ardently disagreed. "Ginny doesn't spend all her waking time giggling." "Ron will not betray Harry." "Hermione is NOT whiny."But it was the first one that did it."Harry and Hermione is a ridiculous impossibility."The thin veneer of civility was starting to heat and crack on the list. The shippers were starting to take their names seriously, and had started to label accordingly. The Ron/Hermione ship became the Good Ship R/H, while, potentially in response, Penny Linsenmayer started to sign her posts with Captian of the Cruise-liner H/H.
This one also goes on, how the Daily Affirmations were supposed to be be joke, and the criticism that followed. The Sugar Quill is a large R/Hr and H/G site, hosting fanfic, forums, essays, etc. The R/Hr version of Portkey, although SQ was started first. Here's their intro:
Being children at heart we do not wish to pick apart the books, but to examine them - to problem-solve and enjoy their many twists and turns. These rich and detailed stories are a continuous delight to us, and we can discuss the finer points of Potterdom for hours, days, weeks... (However, being adults in actuality, we may very often take the Professor's point of view, as opposed to Hermione's, on everything from storyline to story marketing to fanfiction.)
As adventurers, we wish to predict! To suppose! To imagine, to discuss, to wonder... but we do not wish to host discussion that cannot be justified by the books. We're not interested in hearing that Ron is going to the Dark Side unless you have a pretty damn good reason why you think so. And even then, we're not so sure.
As romantics we wish to promote our own opinions on the matter of Harry Potter character pairings! We will state outright that we are in favor of Ron with Hermione, and Harry with Ginny (though he is allowed to date Cho, in our opinion.) We disapprove of Hermione and Draco. We will not tolerate such smut. Also, know that we love Harry and we love Hermione, but we do not love them together. In addition, especially since some of us are pushing thirty, we may also freely fantasize about Sirius Black and Remus Lupin, two of the sexiest wizards of their marauding generation. We are very prone to mushing and giggling, though we will do our best to back up these Lavenderesque tendencies with solid evidence from the books (if you read them the way we read them, you'd agree that our pairings are correct... let us convince you....) In any case, much of what happens on this site may be very crushy. If you don't like it, find another site.
As writers, our interest is to archive our own humble Harry Potter fanfiction, and to provide grown-up editing and suggestions to those who are trying to do the same thing. We've found fanfic to be a great boon to our learning processes as we grow into our own skills - it gives us a ready-made world and characters on which to cut our teeth. We want this to be a place where fanfiction can be read and enjoyed, but where writers who want more than just raves can come for actual (gentle - think Lupin, not McGonagall) constructive criticism and technical editing. We've found this to be essential for our own stories, and would be pleased to help with the stories of others. Our hope is that this experience will give people the courage and confidence to branch out and start writing original stories.
Personally, I find them arrogant, with their demand for only things that fit how they see canon. Note not only the insults to the idea of Harry/Hermione, but also Draco/Hermione. Melissa confirms that in her book, saying "The statement also made it clear that the people on the site were fans of the Ron and Hermione ship and the Harry and Ginny ship, and that the idea of Hermione and Draco together was "smut" (which it technically wasn't, but the administrators found the idea so objectionable that they labeled it as trash)."
Also, calling yourself humble does not make you humble. It usually means the opposite. Anyway, back to Melissa's book. Now were up to her thoughts about the IoD.
The interview wasn't scripted, and we had no preapproved questions or discussion topic. Ships came up very naturally - it seemed like all of us had been dying to go there. I asked Jo how much fun she had writing the romance in Half-Blood Prince."Oh, loads. Did you enjoy it?"Emerson and I squeaked in response, telling her that we were high-riving during the Gryffindor party scenes, where Jo had made it clear that Hermione favored Ron, not Harry, and that Harry favored Ginny, not Hermione."Although, we thought you made it painfully obvious in the first five books," Emerson said.Jo pointed to herself and whispered something nearly inaudible."What was that?" Emerson pounced."Well so do I!" Jo repeated, nearly pounding her fist on the table.It was like five years' worth of stress cracked open, right there on her bleached wood table. We all let out huge guffaws, a release that came from years of contending with the ship wars in our own ways. For her part, Jo had watched, agog, as the shippers conducted mass debates online; Emerson said flat out on his site that Ron and Hermione were destined and anyone who didn't believe so was insane; I pressed my lips shut every time I wanted to argue with the Harry/Hermione shippers who stirred raucous discussions on our comment threads. I had made it Leaky policy not to deem Ron and Hermione factual until proven in the books or until Harry/Hermione was irrefutably shot down by Jo, though oftentimes I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. The attempt at impartiality had caused me more than my fair share in headaches, and trying to keep the peace between quarreling parties was maddening. Now, Jo had done it. It was over."Harry/Hermione shippers," Emerson said, the way he'd done so many times on his Web site, "they are delusional!"I clapped a hand over my mouth, but even the insult couldn't hold back the glee. The argument was now over.Jo adopted an admonishing tone to Emerson."Emerson, I am not going to say they're delusional!" she said. "I will say that, yes, we do know now that it's Ron and Hermione. I do feel that I have dropped heavy hints. Anvil-sized hints, actually, hints, prior to this point.""She nailed it down," I said later, still amazed at what happened. "Nailed. It. Down. The ship wars are over."Wrong. And Jo knew it."As soon as Emerson said what he said, on tape, I knew we were in trouble," she said later.
Just more confirmation of their glee (fist pounding? Really?). Now here are her thoughts on the aftermath.
I sat at my computer hitting Refresh for ten minutes straight when the second part of the interview, the part with the shipping comments, was posted. I didn't have to wait long at all for the first wave to come through, and by two hours in I was staring at the rapidly populating comment thread in abject horror.
It was worse than I imagined. Worlds worse. The e-mails came in immediately. Some seemed to hold us up as modern-day heroes; others cursed our very existence for sinking their "ship". As celebrated as we instantly became in the Ron/Hermione community was as reviled as we became among the Harry/Hermione shippers. They called Jo Rowling foul names and wrote her letters - one man, in his thirties, wrote her one that said, Excuse me for thinking you a better writer than you are.
But that was nothing compared to what was happening to Emerson. I'd come out the least scathed; some vile person suggested that I did unclean things with relatives, but that was the worst comment. Emerson's insistence on calling a certain faction of fans "delusional" gave his detractors a rallying point. He was mean and had insulted them, they said, so they were offering the same courtesy back. Emerson received repeated death threats (I only got one); his line of reasoning was compared to that of slave owners; he was depicted in vile fan art, and fans wrote vitriolic missives cursing he name. He only made it worse when he issued an "apology" to the H/H shippers - that is, the ones who weren't suggesting that Jo was actually going to pair Hermione up with Harry. The others, he said, were still delusional.
Were we all in the right? Absolutely not. Should people have sent death threats? No way. I will never claim that all Harry/Hermione shippers are good or that all Ron/Hermione shippers are bad. But that does not change the fact that there has been serious bullying of H/Hr shippers for years. That is a serious problem. That in no way equals the thought of all R/Hr shippers being bad. As for the slave comment - I don't know who made that, if it was a H/Hr shipper or a R/Hr shipper pretending. Were they all real H/Hr shippers sending those things? Probably not. And, if all of this is enough to vilify all of us for eternity, what about their crazies? Emerson got death threats after internationally insulting a significant portion of the fandom, Kate J got death threats to her children because she ran a H/Hr site. Now, two wrongs do not make a right, but if one is going to be trashed endlessly it should be brought up that the trashing side is no where near perfect or innocent in this matter.
The above mixes with something Melissa posted on her book's website, about Harry/Hermione and Fan Entitlement. Here's the quote:
JKR: The moment that Emerson said what he said [in the 2005 interview], on tape, I knew....The fallout touched me, as well as Emerson. I had some pretty nasty letters but, you know, by that time I'd become used to the fact that people were so invested in this world, and felt such ownership of this world that I was not on a pedestal at all in their eyes, I was right in the thick of the fight. And it's uncomfortable on and off the pedestal, so you get used to it."MA: You even joked about a shipper leading Emerson down a dark hallway.[Laughing] Well yeah! I mean, he's totally unapologetic. Emerson enjoys a good fight. I'm not someone who goes looking for a fight, but I am someone who, if a fight comes to me, I will not duck it. So, if people want information on my characters, then they have to accept that I'm going to give them the information on the characters. And if they don't like it, that's the nature of fiction. You have to accept someone else's world because they made that world, so they probably know a little better than you do what goes on there.I was not at all new to the concept of fan entitlement because that had now been going on since, I think, around 1999.
Not one apology, just more laughing at us. Her joke was not appropriate, and it should never have been made, much less have her continuing to laugh about it. Entitled means “to furnish with a right or claim to something.” So we're all the ones in the wrong, and all of this happened just because we were arrogant enough to think we might actually have a claim to the books! Of course, as the author she gets to write the books. That does not mean no one gets to disagree. That is fundamentalism, which I will be getting to in a minute.
As the Snape Debate hotted up, I would occasionally receive mail from fans that was instructing me on my characters. And you know what, that's very endearing when it comes from a younger person, and it's less endearing when it comes from an older person.
Do you know, it may have even been earlier. I remember getting a letter in the late 1990s, from an American woman who had heard me say on the radio when I had been in the States that I think it is a lie not to allow my characters, as they are plainly getting a year older with every book, not to allow my characters some sexual feelings. Although a fantasy series is not, I think, really the place, to explore issues of, for instance, the use of hard drugs or teenage pregnancy. To be ramming those social messages down people's throats when there are other social messages within the Harry Potter books, felt incongruous. But still, it was unrealistic that Harry was going to proceed from the age of 11 to the age of 17 never having kissed a girl, never having had any kind of romantic feelings towards girls, is as much as I said on this radio program. That was probably the first evidence I had, of that kind of fan entitlement: a very vehement letter from a mother saying, "Do not do this. I want your books as a refuge for my children, as a place of innocence and security." And I felt, well, listen: this series started with the knowledge of a double murder. I never promised that this a world of innocence and security. Quite the reverse. I announced it as a world of danger and corruption. So, probably, that was my very first introduction.MA: The shipping debacle was...something else.JKR: Did you get touched by that?MA: I came out least scathed. I got touched, though; some people said some pretty vicious things.JKR: You know what? I kind of got an overview of that, because right after we met, we went on holiday, and I came back to snail mail about it and you know what? You can normally tell by the snail mail what must have gone on online.It is unhealthy for me to go online too much. I'm very aware that you could spend your life reading message boards, and that's a very unhealthy place to go. So I'm really quite sparing in how often I go and look. But just from what I had in front of me - and from fans saying to me "Please don't take to heart too much what was on the message boards!" [Laughter] So, you know, I knew what really must have happened on the message boards.MA: Emerson got compared to a slave owner!JKR: Oh, it's just ludicrous. I had a letter from a grown man, a very articulate letter, who said, "Well, pardon me for thinking that you're a better writer than you are." That's literally what he said. "I assumed you were giving us subtle hints about Harry and Hermione, but no. Turned out you were being really crass and obvious." What are you going to do? This is what I mean by 'slightly less endearing.' [Laughter]MA: If that's slightly less endearing, I wonder what very less endearing is...JKR: Yeah. We could go there, but I don't know.MA: I don't think we have that kind of time.
So now the entire matter is ludicrous? Ludicrous means “absurd or incongruous to the point of provoking ridicule or laughter.” Absurd means “ridiculously incongruous or unreasonable.” Incongruous means “not in keeping with what is correct, proper, or logical; inappropriate.” So we're ridiculously inappropriate and unreasonable to the point of inviting ridicule and laughter. Thanks, JKR, for saying what you really think about us. Add another insult and more laughter to the mess.
There is no reason for this. It is not acceptable, in any way, shape, or form. It is extremely inappropriate for an author to treat her fans like this. Was the guy right in sending a hate letter to her? No. But it being bad writing is a valid claim, and not one that should be automatically scorned or mocked.
And almost every post on that thread is the same. How could we be so entitled, Harry/Hermione was never a possibility, etc. One post was made by one of the big H/Hr shippers, Sienna. Here's her post, as I agree with everything in it.
You know its amazing to me that so long after the shipping wars finished, so many people still have very little idea of what the post-HBP fall-out was about.
It is absolutely true that for many shippers the size of the reaction to the Melissa-Emerson-JKR interview was directly proportional to the amount of investment they had in the Harry Potter characters and story.
It is also true that many over-reacted and many ugly things were said. Things that shouldn't have been said.
But I find it staggering, that even with so much time past, Melissa doesn't seem to have any more insight into how she and Emerson may have contributed to that ugliness than she did then. I might be misjudging as I haven't read the book, but from the comments in the extract on this page, you'd be forgiven for thinking that as far as Melissa was concerned the attacks on her and Emerson came out of nowhere.
Crazy and Hilarious? No. Try hurtful, bewildering, ridiculous. In fact, it sent many people out of the fandom for good in what I can only say was the worst case of cyber-bullying I've personally witnessed.
Did JKR deserve the hate she got. No, she didn't. Is the comparison of Emerson to a slave owner logical. Not in any way. But these things didn't happen in isolation. A group of people didn't just suddenly become ridiculous and overwrought. There was a spark that lit the fire and that spark was being misrepresented and insulted in a public way, on masse, before their favourite author.
Put yourself in their position for just one moment. Imagine that your only direct link to your favourite author was through two people and that in their interview with said author you were misrepresented (all H/Hr shippers did NOT hate Ron), insulted repeatedly and with great humour and then told to re-read books you'd spent the last five years going through with a fine tooth comb.
The resulting mess was hurtful for a lot of people and I can't help but feel, to this day, that it could have in large part been avoided if only the interviewers had found a more mature way to discuss the issue. Emerson might like a fight but the results speak for themselves. Had the H/Hr ship been sunk gracefully I doubt you would have seen the fall-out you got.
(For example, is the Hall of Shame really necessary? Who does it serve to be so prejudicial in who you decide to paint as ridiculous? Certainly not the fandom.)
The fact that this issue still gets spoken about as if only one group of people are to blame is seriously strange.
All the best.
John Granger also spoke up in our defense afterwards and got trashed as well. (see this post and this one) Vanceone, who ran a H/Hr site, said:
"I DO know he went H/Hr after HBP and JKR's Mugglenet interview--and then got caught in a firestorm from the OBHWF crowd (in one of the most frightening displays of sheer group think I've ever seen). They really went after him viciously, many of the big names, and people he knew in person, and he folded. Basically said something to the effect of he's not an expert in shipping, and in essence went back to OBHWF."
Do I blame him for folding? Not at all. He wasn't a part of the shipping wars. This was not his fight. I do appreciate his support that what happened was not okay, though.
Although, I have to admit, Emerson's freak out after Harry/Hermione won Scholastic's poll of who would end up together in book 7 was... interesting. This is what he said:
In other news, Scholastic has published the results of their fourth fan poll question. They claim a majority of fans - 56% - believe that Harry will end up with Hermione, 20% believe that Ron will end up with Hermione and 19% believe that Harry will end up with Ginny.Um, was Scholastic polling people who have actually read the books? 56% of fans are wrong. I quote JKR, in the interview Melissa and I conducted with her two summers ago:JK Rowling: Yes, we do now know that it's Ron and Hermione. I do feel that I have dropped heavy hints. ANVIL-sized, actually, hints, prior to this point. I certainly think even if subtle clues hadn't been picked up by the end of Azkaban, that by the time we hit Krum in Goblet...I would think it's difficult to interpret "Yes, we do now know that it's Ron and Hermione" and "anvil-sized hints" any other way, but apparently 56% of fans disagree with me (or just haven't read the interview... or book 6... or book 5... or book 4...). But then, many fans still believe Dumbledore is alive, despite JK Rowling saying that he is "definitely dead." Come on, guys. Wishful thinking isn't going to bring him back.Note that the question wasn't Who Do You Want to End Up With Whom?, but Who Will End Up With Whom?. There's a difference between wanting something to be true, and believing it is true. There is a word in the English dictionary for holding a belief without evidence, and in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary... I'll give you a hint, it starts with a D.UPDATE: I don't know if I can make this any clearer, but I will try one more time.I am not calling all Harry/Hermione shippers delusional! I respect H/Hr shippers who acknowledge the obvious: that JKR paired up Ron and Hermione, but wish she hadn't. The only people I am calling delusional are the shippers who try to wriggle and rationalize their way around "Yes, we do now know that it's Ron and Hermione" and still believe the two will make babies in book 7. Right, because JKR was lying to us? HOPING is different from BELIEVING!
Another somewhat apology, with some more insults thrown in there - I have read the books, contrary to what Emerson thinks. But you know what Emerson? It was a poll. One poll. Not the end of the world.
Now, the last quote from Melissa's book.
More than two years later, I sat in Jo's office again, wearing the same ring, and, despite the lack of one Emerson Spartz, feeling immense deja vu. Deathly Hallows had been published and digested, and Jo and I were nearing the end of an eight-hour interview. We both laughed a little, remembering what had happened here last time."I tried very hard to soften it, I suppose," Jo said. "Just because someone had a view on Harry/Hermione didn't mean they weren't genuine, or that they were necessarily misguided. In fact, I will say this, Steve Kloves, who has been the scriptwriter (on the Potter films), who is enormously insightful on the series and a very good friend, after he read book seven he said to me, 'You know, I thought something was going to happen between Harry and Hermione, and I didn't know whether I wanted it to or not.'"I had always planned that Harry's true soul mate, which I stand by, is Ginny, and that Ron and Hermione have this combative but mutral attraction. They will always bicker, there will always be rough edges there, but they are pulled together, each has something the other needs."I stared at her, sensing she wasn't finished, and a sense of foreboding crept in around my edges."(Kloves) felt a certain pull between them at that point. And I think he's right. There are two moments when (Harry and Hermione) touch, which are charged moments. One, when she touches his hair as he sits on the hilltop after reading about Dumbledore and Grindelwald, and (two) the moment when they walk out of the graveyard with their arms around each other."I was holding my breath by this point. She wasn't done."Now, the fact is that Hermione shares moments with Harry that Ron will never be able to participate in. He walked out. She shared something very intense with Harry. So, I think it could have gone that way."I could hear the shippers' cries of woe - H/H and R/H alike - reaching me all the way from the future.
Actually, JKR, you didn't soften it at all. You let us get insulted and blamed, laughed along showing that you agreed, insulted us yourself, and even at the beginning of this interview/post you blamed it all on fan entitlement! So in my opinion? Too little, too late. This doesn't make up for all the hurt caused by your actions. Actions that you have not admitted were inappropriate.
As for the state of fandom right now? Well, the canon art group on dA didn't want to affiliate with my club because we accept non-canon (and their tagline being "If Jo wrote it, we love it"), and when I posted my anti Harry/Ginny essay to a general HP essay group on livejournal, I was not expecting the sheer amount of vitriol sent my way. I ended up deleting my account only a few weeks after making it because I wasn't going to put up with getting insulted like that, it wasn't worth it - just like it wasn't worth it to all the fans that left the fandom after the IoD.
March 2014: The fandom is in turmoil – and this time, both JKR and Emma Watson are the cause. They gave an interview for Wonderland magazine's February/March 2014 issue. Parts of the interview were leaked early, with journalists giving large articles titled, “Harry Potter Should Have Married Hermione, Admits J.K. Rowling”
Of course, this has caused lots of panic in the fandom. People who have always taken her word for absolute truth are now telling her to leave the books alone – Ron/Hermione shippers who perpetuate not only an abusive relationship, but bullying in the fandom. Never before has large sites like Slate cared about the repercussions of JKR's words.
Here is the interview in full:
Watson: I thought we should discuss Hermione… I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times but now that you have written the books, do you have a new perspective on how you relate to Hermione and the relationship you have with her or had with her?
Rowling: I know that Hermione is incredibly recognizable to a lot of readers and yet you don’t see a lot of Hermiones in film or on TV except to be laughed at. I mean that the intense, clever, in some ways not terribly self-aware, girl is rarely the heroine and I really wanted her to be the heroine. She is part of me, although she is not wholly me. I think that is how I might have appeared to people when I was younger, but that is not really how I was inside.What I will say is that I wrote the Hermione/Ron relationship as a form of wish fulfillment. That’s how it was conceived, really. For reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it, Hermione with Ron.
Rowling: I know, I’m sorry, I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that. It was a choice I made for very personal reasons, not for reasons of credibility. Am I breaking people’s hearts by saying this? I hope not.
Watson: I don’t know. I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy.
Rowling: Yes exactly.
Watson: And vice versa.
Rowling: It was a young relationship. I think the attraction itself is plausible but the combative side of it… I’m not sure you could have got over that in an adult relationship, there was too much fundamental incompatibility. I can’t believe we are saying all of this – this is Potter heresy!In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit, and I’ll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn’t told [Steven] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.
Watson: This is just so interesting because when I was doing the scene, I said to David [Heyman]: “This isn’t in the book, she didn’t write this.” I’m not sure I am comfortable insinuating something however subtle it is!
Rowling: Yes, but David and Steve – they felt what I felt when writing it.
Watson: That is so strange.
Rowling: And actually I liked that scene in the film, because it was articulating something I hadn’t said but I had felt. I really liked it and I thought that it was right. I think you do feel the ghost of what could have been in that scene.
Watson: It’s a really haunting scene. It is funny because it really divided people. Some people loved that scene and some people really didn’t.
Rowling: Yes, some people utterly hated it. But that is true of so many really good scenes in books and films; they evoke that strong positive/negative feeling. I was fine with it, I liked it.
Watson: I remember really loving shooting those scenes that don’t have any dialogue, where you are just kind of trying to express a moment in time and a feeling without saying anything. It was just Dan and I spontaneously sort of trying to convey an idea and it was really fun.
Rowling: And you got it perfectly, you got perfectly the sort of mixture of awkwardness and genuine emotion, because it teeters on the edge of “What are we doing? Oh come on let’s do it anyway,” which I thought was just right for that time.
Watson: I think it was just the sense that in the moment they needed to be together and be kids and raise each others morale.
Rowling: That is just it, you are so right. All this says something very powerful about the character of Hermione as well. Hermione was the one that stuck with Harry all the way through that last installment, that very last part of the adventure. It wasn’t Ron, which also says something very powerful about Ron. He was injured in a way, in his self-esteem, from the start of the series. He always knew he came second to fourth best, and then he had to make friends with the hero of it all and that’s a hell of a position to be in, eternally overshadowed. So Ron had to act out in that way at some point.But Hermione’s always there for Harry. I remember you sent me a note after you read Hallows and before you starting shooting, and said something about that, because it was Hermione’s journey as much as Harry’s at the end.
Watson: I completely agree and the fact that they were true equals and the fact that she really said goodbye to her family makes it her sacrifice too.
Rowling: Yes, her sacrifice was massive, completely. A very calculated act of bravery. That is not an “in the moment” act of bravery where emotion carries you through, that is a deliberate choice.
Rowling: I love Hermione.
Watson: I love her too.
Rowling: Oh, maybe she and Ron will be alright with a bit of counseling, you know. I wonder what happens at wizard marriage counseling? They’ll probably be fine. He needs to work on his self-esteem issues and she needs to work on being a little less critical.
Watson: I think it makes sense to me that Ron would make friends with the most famous wizard in the school because I think life presents to you over and over again your biggest and most painful fear – until you conquer it. It just keeps coming up.
Rowling: This is so true, it has happened in my own life. The issue keeps coming up because you are drawn to it and you are putting yourself in front of it all the time. At a certain point you have to choose what to do about it and sometimes conquering it is choosing to say: I don’t want that anymore, I’m going to stop walking up to you because there is nothing there for me. But yes, you’re so right, that’s very insightful. Ron’s used to playing second fiddle. I think that’s a comfortable role for him, but at a certain point he has to be his own man, doesn’t he?
Watson: Yes, and until he does it is unresolved. It is unfinished business. So maybe life presented this to him enough times until he had to make a choice and become the man that Hermione needs.
Rowling: Just like her creator, she has a real weakness for a funny man. These uptight girls, they do like them funny.
Watson: They do like them funny, they need them funny.
No, Rowling, it's not heresy (heresy means “opinion profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted”) and you know very well that a large percentage of the fandom never wanted Ron/Hermione together. Hermione is not uptight, at least not after the trio becomes friends. Nor does Hermione find Ron funny.
She also backtracks quite a bit, ending with it being pro Ron/Hermione. However, if that were not enough, both of them have continued to speak out.
J.K. Rowling added on February 9th that, “Harry did love Ginny.” as an excuse for her comments.
Shockingly, the most hurtful comment has come from Emma; on the red carpet for the Oscars she said, “It was a real shame, because the quote that she gave was completely taken out of context, and if you read the whole interview it was completely not how it was framed but it was actually kind of a joke.”
A joke. Emma dismisses it all as just a joke – an incredibly hurtful one. Now, I know there is no way for Emma to know what has gone on in the fandom. But the context here is not that of a joke, and to say it is is incredibly hurtful – for fans on either side.
On to JKR promoting fundamentalism. This isn't just something to do with shipping, but the Harry Potter fandom as a whole.
Something that has bothered some fans for a long time, including me, is the fact that JKR talks about her books and her characters, which is something an author is not supposed to do. She has become a critic of her own work, labeling her characters as "good" or "bad", and inserting her personal opinion into it. She also gives out "new" information, that usually contradicts each other and the books. An author is not supposed to give out "new" information. As Douglas Adams said:
"The book is a work of fiction. It's a sequence of words arranged to unfold a story in a reader's mind. There is no such actual, real person as Arthur Dent. He has no existence outside the sequence of words designed to create an idea of this imaginary person in people's minds. There is no objective real world I am describing, or which I can enter, and pick up his computer, look at it and tell you what model it is, or turn it over and read off its serial number for you. It doesn't exist." (source)
I have been in many fandoms, and this one is by far the leader in issues because it is the only one with systematic discrimination and bullying - horrific acts not only excused, but explicitly encouraged by and with the participation of JKR. She has a very superficial, prejudiced, and often contradictory view of her own works. If you do not agree with her opinions, you are not wanted or accepted in the fandom. Thus, there is an institutional hierarchy of prejudice and fundamentalism in the fandom, with JKR at the very top.
Now, why does she do this? After all, books are supposed to go out and live their own lives. Many professionals have said that "a book is like a child". Here are some of my favorite quotes.
Author Kathy Hepinstall said:
A book is like a child and I can only do so much before I send it into the world, and just hope it does okay and meets nice people and doesn’t fall in with the wrong crowd or drink too many Red Bull-and-vodkas or handle rattlesnakes in religious ceremonies or experiment with that drug from Brazil that wipes your memory or pass out in nightclubs or set fires or shoplift or run into that whore book Fifty Shades of Gray and become a whore itself. At a certain point, I have to realize, I am just the parent. Go live your life, little novel. And try to call once in a while.(link)
Author Trebor Healey said:
A Horse Named Sorrow at Strand Bookstore...this tour is unique in that I've not always had the experience of randomly finding my book all over the place in the bookstores where I shop...but Horse seems to be everywhere, which makes it less mine and more of a thing out there which is an interesting feeling. A book is like a child that way...you eventually let it go and watch it become itself. As my mother always says: "I was just your vehicle." (link)
Author George Bernard Shaw said:
A book is like a child: it is easier to bring it into the world than to control it when it is launched there. (link)
Author Jodi Picoult said:
Fiction is like that, once it is released into the world: contagious, persistent. Like the contents of Pandora's box, a story that's freely given can't be contained anymore. It becomes infectious, spreading from the person who created it to the person who listens, and passes it on. (link)
Mike O'Connor, who runs his own publishing press, said:
A book is like a child. It’s going to do things that you’re kind of embarrassed about, that make you angry, and it will go off and live its own life and every once in awhile you’ll hear back from it and be amazed where it has gone and what it has done. It takes on a life of its own. (link)
Jeffery Weiss, a reporter said in his article on this:
Jo – can I call you Jo? Like all of your myriad fans, I've spent so much time exploring the children of your mind over this past decade that I feel we are friends.You lived with Harry, his friends and his foes for so many years. You birthed them, shaped them, honed the fine details of their existence. And you thought long and hard about exactly which of those details were so important to the story that you would include them in the books.For all of those years, until those books were published, the characters and settings were yours to command and control. But then you let them go.And speaking for all of your happy readers I need to tell you: Now they are ours. (link)
Excerpts from "The Fantastic Imagination" by author George MacDonald:
"You write as if a fairytale were a thing of importance: must it have a meaning?"
It cannot help having some meaning; if it have proportion and harmony it has vitality, and vitality is truth. The beauty may be plainer in it than the truth, but without the truth the beauty could not be, and the fairytale would give no delight. Everyone, however, who feels the story, will read its meaning after his own nature and development: one man will read one meaning in it, another will read another.
"If so, how am I to assure myself that I am not reading my own meaning into it, but yours out of it?"
Why should you be so assured? It may be better that you should read your meaning into it. That may be a higher operation of your intellect than the mere reading of mine out of it: your meaning may be superior to mine.
"Suppose my child ask me what the fairytale means, what am I to say?"
If you do not know what it means, what is easier than to say so? If you do see a meaning in it, there it is for you to give him. A genuine work of art must mean many things; the truer its art, the more things it will mean. If my drawing, on the other hand, is so far from being a work of art that it needs THIS IS A HORSE written under it, what can it matter that neither you nor your child should know what it means? It is there not so much to convey a meaning as to wake a meaning. If it do not even wake an interest, throw it aside. A meaning may be there, but it is not for you. If, again, you do not know a horse when you see it, the name written under it will not serve you much. At all events, the business of the painter is not to teach zoology.
But indeed your children are not likely to trouble you about the meaning. They find what they are capable of finding, and more would be too much. For my part, I do not write for children, but for the childlike, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.
Does any aspect of Nature wake but one thought? Does she ever suggest only one definite thing? Does she make any two men in the same place at the same moment think the same thing? Is she therefore a failure, because she is not definite? Is it nothing that she rouses the something deeper than the understanding--the power that underlies thoughts? Does she not set feeling, and so thinking at work? Would it be better that she did this after one fashion and not after many fashions? Nature is mood-engendering, thought-provoking: such ought the sonata, such ought the fairytale to be.
"But a man may then imagine in your work what he pleases, what you never meant!"
Not what he pleases, but what he can. If he be not a true man, he will draw evil out of the best; we need not mind how he treats any work of art! If he be a true man, he will imagine true things: what matter whether I meant them or not? They are there none the less that I cannot claim putting them there! One difference between God's work and man's is, that, while God's work cannot mean more than he meant, man's must mean more than he meant. For in everything that God has made, there is layer upon layer of ascending significance; also he expresses the same thought in higher and higher kinds of that thought: it is God's things, his embodied thoughts, which alone a man has to use, modified and adapted to his own purposes, for the expression of his thoughts; therefore he cannot help his words and figures falling into such combinations in the mind of another as he had himself not foreseen, so many are the thoughts allied to every other thought, so many are the relations involved in every figure, so many the facts hinted in every symbol. A man may well himself discover truth in what he wrote; for he was dealing all the time with things that came from thoughts beyond his own.
"But surely you would explain your idea to one who asked you?"
I say again, if I cannot draw a horse, I will not write THIS IS A HORSE under what I foolishly meant for one. Any key to a work of imagination would be nearly, if not quite, as absurd. The tale is there, not to hide, but to show: if it show nothing at your window, do not open your door to it; leave it out in the cold. To ask me to explain, is to say, "Roses! Boil them, or we won't have them!" My tales may not be roses, but I will not boil them. (link)
Author Philip Pullman said:
Consider the nature of what happens when we read a book - and I mean, of course, a work of literature, not an instruction manual or a textbook - in private, unsupervised, un-spied-on, alone. It isn't like a lecture: it's like a conversation. There's a back-and-forthness about it. The book proposes, the reader questions, the book responds, the reader considers. We bring our own preconceptions and expectations, our own intellectual qualities, and our limitations, too, our own previous experiences of reading, our own temperament, our own hopes and fears, our own personality to the encounter.
And we are active about the process. We are in charge of the time, for example. We can choose when to read; we don't have to wait for a timetabled opportunity to open the covers; we can read in the middle of the night, or over breakfast, or during a long summer's evening. And we're in charge of the place where the reading happens; we're not anchored to a piece of unwieldy technology, or required to be present in a particular building along with several hundred other people. We can read in bed, or at the bus stop, or (as I used to do when I was younger and more agile) up a tree.
Nor do we have to read it in a way determined by someone else. We can skim, or we can read it slowly; we can read every word, or we can skip long passages; we can read it in the order in which it presents itself, or we can read it in any order we please; we can look at the last page first, or decide to wait for it; we can put the book down and reflect, or we can go to the library and check what it claims to be fact against another authority; we can assent, or we can disagree.
So our relationship with books is a profoundly, intensely, essentially democratic one. It places demands on the reader, because that is the nature of a democracy: citizens have to play their part. If we don't bring our own best qualities to the encounter, we will bring little away. Furthermore, it isn't static: there is no final, unquestionable, unchanging authority. It's dynamic. It changes and develops as our understanding grows, as our experience of reading - and of life itself -increases. Books we once thought great come to seem shallow and meretricious; books we once thought boring reveal their subtle treasures of wit, their unsuspected shafts of wisdom.
And we become better readers: we learn different ways to read. We learn to distinguish degrees of irony or implication; we pick up references and allusions we might have missed before; we learn to judge the most fruitful way to read this text (as myth, perhaps) or that (as factual record); we become familiar with the strengths and duplicities of metaphor, we know a joke when we see one, we can tell poetry from political history, we can suspend our certainties and learn to tolerate the vertigo of difference. (link)
As a passionate believer in the democracy of reading, I don't think it's the task of the author of a book to tell the reader what it means.
The meaning of a story emerges in the meeting between the words on the page and the thoughts in the reader's mind. So when people ask me what I meant by this story, or what was the message I was trying to convey in that one, I have to explain that I'm not going to explain.
Anyway, I'm not in the message business; I'm in the “Once upon a time” business. (link)
The democracy of reading (see above) means that as soon as a book is published you lose control of how it's interpreted anyhow, and so you should. To tell someone else how to read your book is to fall into the temptation of fundamentalism. When it comes to performance and film and so on, what you should do, it seems to me, is make sure the people you sell it to know what they're doing, and then leave them alone. You are better employed writing new books than arguing with people about how to interpret your existing ones. (link)
So why does she rebel so strongly on what seems to be an integral part of reading and writing? And she does, time and time again:
She says she is possessive of him. What's the worst thing anyone could do to him? She mishears me. "I can do to him whatever I like. I'm allowed to torture him as much as I want. He's mine." (source)
"He's still mine," she says. "Many people may feel that they own him. But he's a very real character to me, and no one's thought about him more than I have." (source)
So, if people want information on my characters, then they have to accept that I'm going to give them the information on the characters. And if they don't like it, that's the nature of fiction. You have to accept someone else's world because they made that world, so they probably know a little better than you do what goes on there. (The IoD)
“It gives me a certain sense of satisfaction to say what I thought happened, and to tell other people that because I would like my version to be the official version still even though I've not written it in a book, because it's my world.” (Documentary, A Year in the Life)
There is a very good essay on all of this titled Harry Potter and the Extratextual (After)life of J.K. Rowling by Pamela Ingleton. As she says in her opening paragraph: “[cut] Pottermore, rather, is simply the latest example of Rowling's insistent need to constantly assert and reassert (authorial) control over her text(s) and carefully monitor and indeed police her brand and literary universe.”
She later says, “Continuing in the vein of individualization, nowhere is such a concept more apparent than in Rowling's extratextual conversations themselves. It is not only the actual information she reveals each time that is of interest, but also the way in which she rhetorically codifies it as would a protective parent with a child. Rowling's rhetoric betrays a sense of possessiveness, of ownership.”
Why is she so possessive? Why can't she let go? And why, can't she or the the fans who attack other fans (lets call them the canon attackers, as they attack others for not following canon) stop the fundamentalism?
Well, I have an answer, drawn from my own experiences. You may not agree with it, but it's what I believe.
J.K. Rowling, and the canon attackers are deeply insecure people, on a fundamental level. I want to be clear that I'm not attacking anyone – I only know this because I have battled deep insecurity myself; as have most of my family members. Some grew into healthy and secure people, and some didn't. I have also spent my entire life around and studying psychology.
I'm going to use for an example a situation I was in during the first half of 2013, when I had posted constructive criticism on an essay. I thought that since it wasn't a shipping essay or a Snape essay, I was safe. I was wrong. I should have seen the warning signs in the essay. The willingness, in fact eagerness, to label Lucius (it was a Lucius essay) as a “racist” and a “monster”; the “abhorrence” of someone writing a sympathetic Lucius, “damning” fans who like him like that. The signs are glaring in hindsight.
This person also stated that they are an “inveterate seeker of approval.” Synonyms for inveterate are “confirmed”, “ingrained”, and “deep-seated”. Like I said, fundamentally insecure.
If you are secure in your beliefs and yourself, you don't have to seek validation in others. You don't need others to constantly tell you your good. They can have a different opinion than you and that's okay. That doesn't mean your opinion is wrong and that you're a bad person.
But if you're insecure, there are only two options: 1)You're right and the other person is wrong/bad or 2) They're right and you're wrong/bad (the third, secure, option is that you can agree to disagree and no one is bad). To think of themselves as bad is what their terrified of (being bad). It is so much easier to damn the other person and lash out at them than it is to look at yourself.
Insecurity is fear. And nothing causes people to lash out at others like fear does. I've given you a personal example with a canon attacker, now I'm going to connect this back to J.K. Rowling. I found the profile The New Yorker wrote back in October 2012 on her extremely enlightening.
It gives a profile of a deeply insecure woman who's uncomfortable around adults and who shines when around children. It describes a situation where J.K. Rowling felt misquoted and so there was a “grueling, six-hour argument” where her lawyer took a stance that the paper's editor found “extraordinarily aggressive”; and another where a marketing director said she was “quite thin-skinned” about a press situation.
Now, this doesn't make her a bad, horrible person. She's human. She has flaws. We all do. The world is not all black and white, people are not all black and white. Personally, I found her Harvard speech, back in 2008, to be very insightful and true – we human beings are capable of great cruelty, but also great kindness.
That does not, however, give her the right to promote fundamentalism and/or encourage bullying. Those are real problems that need to be addressed. You can criticize someone's behavior and not their Self.
Appendix August 2014:
Due to a recent conversation I had, I thought I would clarify some things.
There's a lot out there about how art comes from the subconscious, and not just from psychology (here and here) - writers say their characters speak to them, that an idea just comes to them, that they didn't know about that twist until they have written it, etc. When asked a question, the response almost always starts with 'I think', instead of a statement.
Earlier in this post, I quoted multiple authors. I would like to add Ronald Barthes's The Death of the Author to the list (found here).
In 'Death of the Author', it says, "To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing."
If we say only the author's thoughts and interpretation is correct, then we close the door on truly learning and reflecting. We cannot have a realization about ourselves and the world if we're focused on having the 'right' interpretation - for we are not truly listening to ourselves or the universe at all. We're trying to be and think like another person, to blindly accept their opinions as 'right' without reflection. Conformity is the greatest killer of creativity; independent thought must come from an open door.
Also, the 'truth' should be able to be found in the text; to 'clarify' the 'truth' is to go back and meddle with that text. Said text has by then has been disconnected from it's 'author', having gone out to the world and taken on a life of it's own. As Barthes says, "the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author."
Appendix September 2016:
In the aftermath of The Cursed Child, Melissa has spoken out:
Professional Potter aficionado Melissa Anelli is mystified by such criticism. “I don’t understand Potter fatigue,” she says. “When I love a story, I want as much of it as I can.” In fact, she found a new favorite character in Cursed Child: Scorpius Malfoy, who she calls “a beacon of joy.” But Anelli, author of Harry, A History and head of fan conventions like LeakyCon, GeekyCon and BroadwayCon, does sense a backlash from fans who don’t want Rowling to keep meddling with the canon. “I think everybody has the right, obviously, to choose what media they consume,” she says. “What I don’t understand is when people tell J.K. Rowling to stop. I don’t get that at all … To tell somebody like J.K. Rowling, ‘Don’t create anymore,’ why would you say that?” (here)
Melissa fundamentally misunderstands the problem, because she is one of JKR's top generals in it. It is not about creativity, but power. JKR is free to create as much as she likes – she is not free to keep messing with the books and their fans. JKR makes the conscious decision to publish and put out whatever she has created, thus asserting control once again over the fandom. Asserting the accepted opinion onto fans is something that Melissa does frequently, as we have gone over above. Here is another example of Melissa dictating in the fandom.