JK Rowling Reignites Infamous Fandom Ship War
If you’ve been in fandom for over ten years, then there’s a good chance you remember the Harry Potter ship wars. Even if you weren’t part of the fandom, you probably heard about it – especially the epic arguments between Harry/Hermione and Ron/Hermione shippers. Although passionate shippers will never be silenced the argument was ultimately settled when Hermione and Ron got together in the final book of the series. All was well… until now.
Earlier this evening Hypable posted an articled titled: “J.K. Rowling regrets Ron and Hermione’s relationship”. The article features quotes from Rowling that are taken from an interview by Emma Watson for an upcoming issue of Wonderland (which Watson is guest editing). The interview was quoted in The Sunday Times and appeared online when the cover was tweeted. The reason I am explaining this rather convoluted series of events is because it’s important to recognize that we do not have the context for these quotes, which could be clarified further in the full interview. So we should try to take this with a grain of salt.
Of course that’s not going to stop the fandom, and like Fawke’s from the flame the Harry Potter fandom has arisen and it’s not happy. Okay that’s not entirely true, there are a lot of Harry/Hermione shippers that feel validated after so many years of being dismissed as “delusional”. Tumblr user leighton-licious rejoiced: “I just witnessed major harmony [Harry/Hermione] shippers awaking on my dash after a damn long time and let me tell ya, it was an amazing moment.” And insynclikeharmony said: “I think today is the day that I finally forgive J.K. Rowling.”
I don’t want to invalidate Harmony shipper’s happiness, they had a rough time of it and it’s always nice when a group of people’s hard work is, in a way, validated. But it does beg the question, what right does the author have to alter canon once the book has been published? Much of fandom’s principals around the idea that the author is dead but there is no doubt that the word of god still has a lot of clout among fans.
The fact is it doesn’t matter how much Rowling regrets Ron and Hermione’s relationship there’s nothing she can do to change it now the book has been published. Coming out, almost ten years later and saying that “Hermione should have wed Harry” does not change the outcome of the story, but it does kind of undermine something that a hell of a lot of people love.
Whether or not you understand it, Harry Potter is incredibly important to a lot of people, myself included. These books changed my life and I am not ashamed to admit it. By saying that she got it wrong, Rowling is kind of saying that something I love is wrong. She’s telling me, us, that the story that I love is wrong. Rowling is quoted as saying: “Am I breaking a lot of hearts by saying this? I hope not.” Well, I think she is breaking a lot of hearts and I can’t understand why.
In the interview, J.K. Rowling states that distance and perspective changed her mind in regards to Hermione’s love life. I imagine this would be quite a common problem among writers. My opinions and tastes have altered significantly in the past ten years, but I cannot rewrite the past just as J.K. Rowling cannot rewrite Harry Potter. As John Green tweeted: “Books belong to their readers” and I think J.K. Rowling has to learn to let go. All this interview has done is churn up long dead drama. In the words of ofhouseadama: “LIVED THROUGH TOO MANY BULLSHIT LIVEJOURNAL AND FICTION ALLEY SHIP WARS FOR THIS I AM NOT RELIVING HARMONY VERSUS ROMIONE VERSUS WHO EVER THE FUCK ELSE HDU JKR I ONLY WANTED TO LIVE IN PEACE I THOUGHT I LEFT THIS ALL BEHIND IN 2006.”
Many fans have begun to make a joke of it, Dan (@queerly_it_is) posted a series of tweets suggesting what other couples author’s might come out in favour of post canon. Highlights include: “Arthur Conan Doyle confesses he would have made Sherlock/Watson canon if he didn’t hate everything about his work & buggery wasn’t outlawed” and “’Enjolras/Grantaire!’ cries Victor Hugo from the beyond the grave. ‘I should never have kept it as subtext. Fuck everything!’” Author Rainbow Rowell added: “THIS JUST IN: GEORGE LUCAS WISHES HE WOULD’VE HOOKED UP LUKE AND LEIA.”
Not only are these totally hilarious, but they also highlight the absurdity of what J.K. Rowling has done. This isn’t really about shipping, shippers will continue to ship whether it’s canon or not. But the story was done and even if they weren’t happy fans accepted the ending because that’s what was written. Dredging up the past is pointless because it does nothing but cause trouble. I kind of agree with Tumblr user proudlyfreckled: “maybe JKR just missed the shipping wars and wanted them back.” Because I honestly can’t think of another reason for it.
I think all writers, J.K. Rowling included, should take from this what C.J. Redwine did: “Lesson learned today: No matter what shape my stories take inside my head after they’ve been pubbed, REMAIN SILENT.”
Author: Undie Girl
Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.
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12 thoughts on “JK Rowling Reignites Infamous Fandom Ship War”
This is hilarious…i have no idea why JK would do such a thing…truth be told i was never a Harry/Hermione or Ron/Hermione shipper…but it was in the books and i accepted it…as far as i was concerned the three of them should’ve remained friends until the end and wed some other people…but oh well, what happened in the last book happened…i guess JK really was missing all the shipping wars :)….an author should never say what they ‘regretted’ after a book has been published and when they weren’t ‘forced’ to make the creative decisions, they, themselves made…JK still has time, she should write a book where the three, especially Hermione, is going through a mid-life crisis ;)….’Harry Potter and What the F*ck Happened!” a novel by J.K. Rowling. All proceeds going to “It’s Never too Late: Marry the Right Friend!”
Wow. I totally disagree with this post. I think JKR has every right in the world to discuss her work as an author and what she’d do different if she wanted as a mental exercise. She can feel whatever she wants about her work and she can say what she likes, she’s the author. Just because an author writes a work, she has to shut up about it for the rest of her life? I don’t think it works that way.
Her speaking up does not discredit “The Author is Dead” line of thinking. Harry Potter is not something she hangs heavy fandom feelings upon – it’s her baby. Her world to play with as she chooses. If she feels like saying, “Well, ya know, I think I should have done it differently”, she can damned well say it.
I don’t know why Ron/Hermione shippers are freaking out. The book is as it is. She’s just stating her opinion. Why does that bother you? Why take it so personally? She’s not dredging up the past. She’s talking about a book that people no doubt STILL write to her and ask her about.
Perhaps I’m coming from this from the angle of a writer, but when I write something and I have legal control over it, I have every right in the world to change it if I want/need to. It happens ALL the time. So yes, JKR has complete right to comment on her own intellectual property.
“By saying that she got it wrong, Rowling is kind of saying that something I love is wrong. She’s telling me, us, that the story that I love is wrong.”
No. No she is not saying that at all. Hell no. A story cannot be “right” or “wrong”. It is or isn’t. One of the basic tenets of literature is that the reader gets from the text what they get from it, and nothing JKR will say can negate what you got out of this book. She said what she would have preferred now. That does not make what she did valueless or “wrong” or whatever.
R/Hr shippers have the epilogue, the kids R/Hr had, and seven books that lead up to that happy ending. One simple comment about writerly preference and where she thinks the plot should have gone due to certain conventions of prose does not strike it out and make it worthless.
Take heart and chill out! 🙂 <3
You’re right JKR has every right to do what she wants with her intellectual property and personally I am 100% “the author is dead” so her thoughts on the matter me as much as anyone else’s. And TBH the comments have probably been blown out of proportion by an article that was clearly written with intent to provoke (Hypable even altered the name of the post from “regretted” to “questioned” – and as I said in the article we haven’t seen the whole interview yet so we don’t know exactly what was said). But I still think that coming out against something that is hugely beloved is poor form.
I’m sure as writer, she regrets and/or questions a lot of what was written in the HP series (Cuckoo’s Calling suggests that she definitely heard the complaints about the lack diversity in HP) and that’s cool. Realistically Hermione and Ron probably wouldn’t have made it in the long term like most HS romances. But personally I think it’s pointless, and little bit rude, to dismiss it publicly. It kind of invalidates something that a lot of people care about. And considering the way she talked about Harry/Hermione shippers while the books were being published, it’s kind of HUGE deal in fandom, even she would have known the shit storm this would provoke.
(Hola, Nancy, btw. 🙂 )
Undie Girl, I agree completely with your post. You said it better than I could. Yes, J.K. has the right to say what she wants, they’re her books – but that doesn’t mean it’s nice or a good idea. If she wants to write an alternate take where Harry and Hermione get together, hey, I’d like reading that, even as a Ron/Hermione shipper. But just to say out of nowhere “I regret writing it that way” when it’s a beloved series and a beloved relationship is kind of jerky if you ask me. I would love it if authors/TV show creators would embrace whatever ships the audience wants to ship and not be judge-y about it.
I do think she may have brought this up to try to get attention. She seems to like to make out-of-the-blue comments outside of the books. I also think it was weird how she just randomly said “Dumbledore was gay.” I’m fine with him being gay, but I wish she would have shown, not told us that.
Aaaaaanyway, J.K.’s comments don’t affect my enjoyment of the books or movies, but they do affect my fondness for her on a personal level. (There isn’t much of it anymore.)
I have to disagree with this article as well. Books may belong to the reader, but that doesn’t mean that an author’s voice should be silenced. She has every right to divulge any part of her thought process (before, during or after her books were published) with her audience. As you have stated, this won’t change anything. Fans will continue to ship who they want. If that is the case, then why should J.K Rowling stay silent? I may be one of the few people here who haven’t read the books or seen the movies. I’m not a fan of her work and have no investment in either ship. I’m here simply out of curiosity because I know “of” the series and know how popular it is with a lot of people.
Ultimately, I feel that a lot of readers ARE interested in author’s intent. We enjoy learning about how they conceived of the book, what things meant, if there was any greater meaning in parts, if anything was autobiographical, what they loved the most, hated, and even what they would have changed if they could go back. Unlike some of the other authors being brought up, this author is very much alive and kicking and I’m sure many readers do find value in her words.
I believe she’s speaking about this because it is something that weighs on her mind. I’m sure she loves the series she created but it’s hard not to have regrets about such a complex project. And I find it unfair to imply that she is making these statements to start ship wars. What on earth does she have to gain from something like that? Especially considering the books are still popular and I’m sure these debates still continue, with or without her input.
I agree, it’s JKR’s work…but i don’t know…actually telling some one (in this case millions) that ‘you know the thing you have been hoping for all these years and actually got in the end, well that wasn’t what i had planned’, just comes out as a bit rude….i would’ve accepted this IF the publishers/editors forced JKR to pair Ron and Hermione up against her will…but she did it herself, she added those scenes (i still don’t know where they came from all of a sudden) and gave us the last chapter of the amazing series with them together with kids…so saying that ‘that’ wouldn’t have worked and Hermione should’ve been with Harry just doesn’t sound right….she couldn’t said Hermione shouldn’t have married Ron and leave it at that instead of bringing Harry into the mix….because now it seems as if Harry/Ginny was a lie and the kids were created just ‘because’, like a plot point for the last chapter.
It’s like Kishi pairing Naruto/Hinata at the end of the manga, after 6 years says ‘Oh no it should’ve been Naruto/Sakura’ and then after another 6 years ‘No, it was supposed to be Naruto/Sasuke, sorry y’all, cos you know, distancing myself from the project opened my eyes’
i mean who knows after a few more years Hermione was supposed to have ended up with Draco 😉 *i can’t seem to take this whole thing seriously ^^ it seriously came out of no where*
There’s a difference between questioning/re-evaluating certain aspects of her own writing and directly contradicting canon. There are A LOT of aspects of HP that I would love to be further clarified and I genuinely hope that JRK is questioning things like the lack of POC and queer characters – especially the use of white metaphors for minority characters instead of actually including minority characters and the fact that she didn’t explicitly state Dumbledore’s sexuality in the books. But saying that Ron wasn’t good enough for Hermione, she’s got to know that’s going to upset a lot of people.
Here’s the thing, JKR wrote the epilogue (which is actually the problem here) so that no one else could write a continuation and so that she wouldn’t be asked to write a continuation. She wanted the stories to be left as is, so she should leave them.
I was being facetious when I said she only said it to incite a ship war. I apologise for that. I don’t actually think that because you’re right, she has nothing to gain from it. I just think she didn’t think about how her words would be perceived by the audience (and we still don’t know the full context of the quotes so there’s that).
There’s nothing wrong with re-thinking something you’ve written, but commenting on it as regularly as she has is starting to get irritating.
I loved Hermione and Harry’s friendship and I’m glad it stayed that way. I’m torn on whether I think Ron and Hermione could’ve been happy long-term, but there’s no reason to think they couldn’t. Ron isn’t always going to be the same person he was as a teenager, and thinking that he would is short-sighted. Beyond that, Hermione’s choices aren’t limited to Harry or Ron. What if she reconnects with Krum later in life and realizes she’d be happier with him? What if she stays single for a while and gets advanced degrees and an important career and eventually meets someone totally new and ends up with them? There’s a broader scope here, JK.
Just because she said she regrets it doesn’t mean she would have done it all over again in the same way. She maybe is saying that all the possibilities were acceptable, and Hermione/Harry was indeed a possibility, she just choice between two things, that is all.
Rowling isn’t like any other writers, those characters are her life, her friends and family, she cares about them and when she talks about them she doesn’t say “Harry is now in a good relationship with his cousin” No, she says “I’d love to think that Harry is probably in a good a good relationship with his cousin” because for her, her characters are their own persons with their own minds which it totally different from hers. I’ve nerve hear a writer talk about their characters in that way so don’t you dare to compare Rolwing to any other writers.
And in all seriousness, until book 4 Hermione/Harry was a very strong possibility, if you paid attention to the plot you would see that Rowling was indeed hesitate in which way she should drive the story to and it show in her writing, so her saying that Hermione/Harry should have maybe been the canon isn’t surprising at all, and should not upset you at all, because you’ll be lying to yourself if you said that that ship never had a chance or was reasonable.
and I’m sorry but this:
(I think all writers, J.K. Rowling included, should take from this what C.J. Redwine did: “Lesson learned today: No matter what shape my stories take inside my head after they’ve been pubbed, REMAIN SILENT.”)
Is totally rude and unacceptable. I’d love to know what the writer thought about their characters, I don’t want to read a book where his writer can’t even say his mind about it. that is like banning books btw, killing the voices of the people who are creating the world is a crime in itself, and you all should be ashamed of yourself for attacking someone who colored your life and thoughts with a bright light. who taught you to speck your mind up and make a change. shame on you.
As an used to be Harmony shipper and now split up between Ronmione and Hermione/Whoever the hell she’s happy with, I’m gonna state it: Can you all calm down and read the quotes objectively? I know it’s hard when it’s something you’re pasionated about but still try. All J.K Rowling said was that realistically Hermione and Ron shouldn’t have ended up together and that she regretted following what she PERSONALLY wanted over rationalism because in literrature she thinks ir would have been better to be as realistic as possible and that now Ron and Hermione would probably need counselling. So…what? She matured as an author and wanted to say she regretted preferering her personal sentimentalism over realism. It’s a point of view of author, not a dismiss of the couple or the serie itself. Harmony isn’t gonna magically happen into your books now.Ronmione needing counselling is probably right and so what? Tons of couples need it. So please stop insulting the author of the saga you love so much. Without her we wouldn’t even have anything to argue about and love. It was just a little remark like this, all calm down.
I’m insulted by people scolding those who don’t like what J.K. said and telling them to “calm down” and “shame on you.” Really? It’s patronizing and rude, and we have a right to our opinions just like everyone else does. Especially about celebrities. The fact that I’m annoyed with something J.K. said doesn’t mean I’m going to write her an angry letter or stop her on the street to complain if I see her. It just means I don’t appreciate her sense of manners.
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