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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