Hook, Line, and Sinker

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55 Responses

  1. Will H. says:

    Still waiting for bong hits in the dorm…Report

  2. Kimmi says:

    It seemed to me like Goldstein was in the school the whole time, and that if nobody had realized he was jewish… It wasn’t Rowling’s fault!

    That said… her “inclusiveness” in HarryPotterLand was less than seen in Xmen from 30 years ago.

    Steps backwards are not something that should expect automatic praise.Report

  3. dhex says:

    who needs religion in a world of wizards?Report

  4. Kazzy says:

    I’m assuming these tweets are from fans who want to feel more connected to a beloved piece of literature (possibly from their youth) and Rowling gave them that little gift. What, exactly, is she milking out of it? Is someone going to go out and buy the book thinking, “Well, now that there is a Jewish wizard who is otherwise unmentioned amongst the 9 million pages?” Isn’t this just basically the equivalent of, “Yes, Virgnia, there is a Santa Claus?”

    They also didn’t get excited about a Black student union or a knitters’ club. Does that mean they don’t exist there?Report

  5. Kolohe says:

    “Am I being overly cynical by seeing this as nothing more than an ex-post facto milking of the Harry Potter franchise for all it is worth?”

    You mean like Star Trek has been doing for literally, generations?Report

    • Kimmi in reply to Kolohe says:

      Chtorr doesn’t count!Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Kimmi says:

        Before looking it up, I thought they had officially ret-conned Sulu, but you’re right, anything to do with LGBT equality is a subject the Star Trek universe masters uncharacteristically shy away from.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kimmi says:

        The oddest thing along those lines I’ve seen was the Tinker, Tailor movie, where Peter Guillam (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), who in the books had been quite the ladies’ man, was gay for no obvious reason.

        OK, second oddest. The really weird one was that in the sequel to Marathon Man, Scylla somehow wasn’t gay anymore. (It’s called Brothers and it is possibly the worst book ever written by an author who’s otherwise excellent.)Report

      • greginak in reply to Kimmi says:

        The ST masters didn’t’ shy away from LBGT matters, they just dealt with it in the particularly ham handed, poorly written way ST can. They had at least one TNG episode aimed directly at LBGT with a especially clunky metaphor.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

        Bullshit. If the Roddenberry’s hadn’t been so allergic to Teh Gayz, we’d have a tribute to the tribbles well before Deep Space 9. (Also, someone would have let Gerrold write more! He’s good at television!)Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Kimmi says:

        ST-DS9 had an episode where one of the the bug-in-the-brain people met another one of the bug-in-the-brain people who had been her lover before the bug moved on to a different body and the new more different body was the same sex so she had to deal with that and was all ambiguous and then there was a ratings-driven girlz kissing scene. So it’s not like they never dealt with it, because at least once they had titillating straight-girls-acting-like-lesbians-but-just-this-once like a lot of other shows did at the time.Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

        that was after the Roddenberries were dead.
        After they died, things changed.Report

      • Burt Likko in reply to Kimmi says:

        In case you didn’t notice, @kimmi , I was more than a little bit underwhelmed by even this.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kimmi says:


        Does a character need to be gay for a reason? Was the character’s heterosexuality integral to his character/the plot (e.g., James Bond)?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kimmi says:

        His being gay came up in just a few lines of dialog in one scene. It was a very compressed film, with a lot of complicated plot to work through in just two hours. I’m not sure I’d have been able to follow it if I hadn’t read the book. So the odd thing wasn’t his being gay as much as the subject coming up but being irrelevant to the plot in a film that barely had time for the essentials. I’d feel the same way if they’d made him a big fan of Man U and there’s been no point to that.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kimmi says:

        I got it. But if his behavior as a ladies’ man was a part of the book, perhaps him being gay was a quick way of explaining why he didn’t exhibit that behavior in the movie?

        “Why isn’t he chasing tail?”
        “Weren’t you listening? He mentioned a boyfriend back in the second act.”
        “Oh.” Or, alternatively, “PC POLICE!!!”Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

        My take was that it was a “the past is another country” moment. When the one dude said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “we’re going in deep, you need to take care of your affairs and make sure you’re not blackmailable”, he knew that he needed to go home and break up with his sig.

        Folks at home had a moment where they said “oh, yeah… the 70’s *WERE* like that, weren’t they?”Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kimmi says:

        We didn’t see enough of him for that to be necessary. (Like I said, really compressed.)

        But I think JB has the right of it.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kimmi says:

        Thanks for indulging, @mike-schilling . Your comment stood out because it seemed unlike you to think that a character could only be gay for a reason, but you weren’t talking about from some sort of broader social perspective, but rather from an actual storytelling perspective. My apologies for the confusion.Report

      • Will Truman in reply to Kimmi says:

        Question for @mike-schilling and other familiar parties wrt TTSS… how do the movie, miniseries, and book compare?Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kimmi says:

        The book is one of LeCarre’s best, which for me is great praise. I’ve never seen the miniseries, though it usually gets great praise. The movie is great, with Gary Oldman perfect as George Smiley. But as I said, there’s a lot of story to get through in two hours, so it would be easy to get lost if you don’t know where it’s going.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

        The miniseries would probably get my vote.

        If, however, you only have three hours? The movie will do in a pinch.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Kimmi says:

        One more TTSS- related thing: it’s the first book in a trilogy, which are all worth reading (or listening to.) The BBC did versions of the first and third, but not the second, because it’s largely set in Southeast Asia and would have required a lot of expensive location shooting.Report

  6. Chris says:

    The first post doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously at all, with lines like “No word yet from Rowling whether Hogwarts offers any alternative programming over the Christmas holidays for its Jewish students–or if it has a kosher meal plan–but we will keep you posted,” and the second one just seems like a fan asking a question about whether there are people in the HP universe like him or herk, which is sorta the thing fans do to, you know, identify with the people in the works they’re fans of. Why does this strike you as odd or unsavory?Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

      Were there any rabbis in the kitchens at Hogwart’s? Because I’m pretty sure that a gentile can’t summon food and have it be kosher.

      Would it be kosher to eat a chocolate frog if its creation were overseen by a rabbi? I’m pretty sure that the whole “chocolate frogs jumping around” thing would be a dealbreaker. “Let the frog stop jumping. Then eat it.”Report

      • Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

        Any goy can summon vegetables, and vegetables are kosher unless you contaminate them with pork or other treyf.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        First their little chocolate feet would have to be cloven (though you could probably do that with a confectionery spoon.) I don’t know what the candy equivalent of cud is, though. Maybe marzipan?Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

        You can’t summon food. Food is the first of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration.

        Jeez, it’s like no one pay attention in Transfiguration.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:



        Of course… because the ability to summon food would introduce all sorts of ethical issues. So rather than deal with those issues OR come up with a logical reason for why they can’t/don’t summon food, Rowling simply made up a rule to avoid having to confront either summoning-related complication. UGH!Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

        Actually, she appears to have come up with it to make the camping trip *more* annoying by giving Ron something else to complain about. (And give Neville a reason to leave the Room of Requirement.)

        And that rule doesn’t solve any ethical problems at all, because wizards can *duplicate* food all you want, or at least a lot. Hence things like ‘refilling charms’.

        So all you need is some non-expired food, and you can feed everyone. (Fanon says that if you duplicate it enough, it stops being very nutritious, but even under that logic you can get maybe ten times as much food as normal.)

        Also, ‘water’ isn’t included under the food rule. You can summon *that* all you want. Really makes you wonder about those asshole wizards in places that don’t have clean water.

        The entire ‘ethical considerations as to why wizards don’t help muggles’ isn’t even vaguely explained in Harry Potter. And it’s not even because muggles fear or dislike wizards…*before* wizards decided to disappear, from what we can tell, the groups seemed to get along mostly okay. (It’s only after, when wizards were mostly mythic, that muggles seemed to start distrusting magic.)

        The closest thing we get to an explanation is ‘If we tell Muggles about us, they will want wizards to do everything for them’.Report

      • kylind in reply to Jaybird says:


        Well, it costs the average person in a Western nation a negligible amount of money to help someone in absolute poverty. So we probably shouldn’t be so quick to condemn wizards for not helping.

        The demographics we see (don’t make that much sense, since JKR is bad with numbers) seem to support a wizard:muggle ratio somewhere around 1:10,000 or worse. Additionally, many wizards don’t appear to actually be that good with spells. So you might end up with 1 witch having to help 100,000 muggles. A Sisyphus task probably. Is all the trouble, that would come with coming out of hiding, worth it? Understandable why the Ministry doesn’t want that.

        Imagine it as a small, rich nation like Luxemburg. How many desperately poor people from Asia or Africa should they let immigrate? How many should they give welfare? How many free medical care? Are they bad people for keeping that number small?Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Jaybird says:

        Well, it costs the average person in a Western nation a negligible amount of money to help someone in absolute poverty. So we probably shouldn’t be so quick to condemn wizards for not helping.

        Yeah, that’s really the best way to think about. Wizards really *do* live in their own little world. And we, at least, know about the places that live in poverty and can help…the average wizard has no idea, and is *legally barred* from helping in any way that could be identified as magic.

        I’ve argued with people about how Harry Potter isn’t actually ‘contemporary fiction’, it’s ‘epic fiction’, exactly because it doesn’t take place in our world, it takes place in a different world and Harry just commutes back and forth. You could make the Platform 9 3/4 entrance a magical portal to another dimension, and the story is the same. The few times the two worlds do intersect, Harry is always shocked.

        The demographics we see (don’t make that much sense, since JKR is bad with numbers) seem to support a wizard:muggle ratio somewhere around 1:10,000 or worse. Additionally, many wizards don’t appear to actually be that good with spells. So you might end up with 1 witch having to help 100,000 muggles.

        That sorta makes sense, until you realize that the best way for wizards would be to make *automated* magical systems. Don’t conjure clean water for people…make a device that constantly conjure it, or conjures it when a button is pressed.

        And wizards probably wouldn’t have to do 99% of that work. Combine wizards and the industrial revolution and you can have muggles doing almost all the magical device work, and wizards doing the bare minimum of magic.

        …of course, wizards probably have no idea the industrial revolution even happened.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:


        Well, we don’t know what the other four exemptions are. Because Rowling never explains them. She just probably wanted to avoid having food be a lone exemption because that would have been TOO obvious. So they say it is one of five and leave it at that. Bah. Poor storytelling.

        But she was writing for 10-year-olds so I guess that’s okay.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Jaybird says:

        “…of course, wizards probably have no idea the industrial revolution even happened.”

        This would be a fun writing prompt.Report

  7. veronica d says:

    I dunno, I’m just going to keep headcanoning Hermione as trans.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to veronica d says:

      Because someone that smart has to be XY? You’re so prejudiced 🙂Report

    • Murali in reply to veronica d says:

      In a world with magic, I would be surprised if there were any trans people. Magic should be able to transform anybody (down to the genetic level) into the gender they identify as, perhaps even make it such that he or she had always been that way.Report

      • kylind in reply to Murali says:

        We can’t be sure about that. Evidence against it is the persistence of physical flaws in people in the HP world. Wouldn’t beauty enhancements be one of the first transformations that are made if they were possible? (Fanfiction regularly fixes Harry’s eyesight, but the canon books never do.)

        Worst case scenario is you have to pull a Barty Crouch Jr. and keep on drinking your Polyjuice Potion all the time. 😉Report

      • James Hanley in reply to Murali says:

        In the books, after Hermione uses polyjuice potion with a cat hair she has to go to the infirmary, and in transforming her back, she opts for being less buck toothed, and, iirc, maybe a little something else.Report

      • kylind in reply to Murali says:

        Yes, Ms Pomfrey shrinks her teeth, which is probably pretty simple compared to changes to your whole body.
        It happens in book 4, after Hermione gets hit by a stray hex and not in book 2 after the potion mishap.
        She also gets made up for the Yule ball, but I always understood that as just regular makeup and hair-care and not some kind of permanent enhancement.Report

      • Murali in reply to Murali says:

        And Hermione also got rid of some other physical flaws for the yule ball in book 4.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Murali says:

        In a world with magic, I would be surprised if there were any trans people. Magic should be able to transform anybody (down to the genetic level) into the gender they identify as,

        Um, wouldn’t they still be ‘trans’? They might not be *identifiable* as trans (Well, except with more magic), but that wouldn’t make them not trans.

        Granted, if this is a common practice that’s existed forever in the magic world, then I wouldn’t expect any prejudice against it, and really no reason for trans people to even identify as a group, anymore than people who had laser eye surgery identify as a group.

        In fact, we actually see repeated, if temporary, sex-changing via Polyjuice, and no one seems to think it even slightly odd. And we know you can transfigure people just in general…there’s a whole class section about ‘self-transfiguration’, and Ron gets a makeover in Deathly Hallows to make him less identifiable.

        Oh, and I should mention something no one else here has: metamorphmagi. (There is a certain subset of fandom that insists that Remus and Sirius were gay…and also insist that Remus and Tonks doesn’t mean Remus *isn’t* gay, because we don’t know what she does in bed.)

        OTOH, part of the confusion and speculation here is that Rowling hasn’t been very clear about things. There’s sorta open debate among the fans if more gender discrimination exists than in muggle society, which you might expect in a society that’s ‘behind the times’, or if *less* gender discrimination exists in a society that hasn’t cared one bit about physical strength.

        Other things, in addition to hypothetical sex changing, that should cause gender relations to differ:
        1) They either have always have contraceptives, or don’t have them now (Barring a few muggle-born smart enough to use muggle contraceptives)…there’s no reason for wizards to have invented them when Muggles did. General consensus seems to be that they do have spells for that.
        2) They have indisputably had paternity testing for some time. We’ve seen old magic that is based on genetic relationships, and there’s no way that no one has realized that can be used for paternity testing.
        3) Same sex pregnancies?

        None of this seems to be explored in the book, despite that any of them should have caused wizard gender relations to diverge from Britain’s a while back.

        perhaps even make it such that he or she had always been that way.

        Changing the past is not something we’ve seen in the Harry Potter universe. However, it might be possible to change everyone’s *memories*.Report

      • Murali in reply to Murali says:


        If your genetics, appearance and self identification all match, I’m pretty sure you’re cis.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Voldemort tried to kill us. He failed. Let’s eat.Report

  9. Kimmi says:

    *mutters* even when I make SF jokes, nobody gets them!Report

  10. kylind says:

    I think this kind of critique of Harry Potter is ridiculous.

    The whole point of Harry Potter was that bigotry is bad. Instead of using a real world example though (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.), it used blood purity (/magical lineage) as a proxy. It had this whole pureblood – muggleborn conflict going on. Wasn’t that obvious?

    Religion or ethnic background never played a role in Harry Potter. No one goes to mass or prays. Yes, they celebrate Halloween and Christmas, but it seemed pretty secular to me.
    The ‘blood purity’ thing was the obvious analogue for that type of conflict. It’s almost as obvious as this: Report

    • kylind in reply to kylind says:

      this: http://i.imgur.com/VS2lZQc.jpg

      (Seems like the HTML I tried didn’t work.)Report

    • Kazzy in reply to kylind says:


      Which “critique” are you referring to? Saul’s? Because it doesn’t seem like the people who posed the questions to Rowling were critiquing. Just seems like they were asking.Report

      • kylind in reply to Kazzy says:

        Well, I’ve seen a lot of that on Tumblr, but I guess everything gets critiqued over there.
        I just really liked the first couple of books as children’s books and feel like people are missing the point with those types of questions.
        I have my own problems with the later YA books.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:


        I’m not on Tumblr — or most of the other sites/networks/whathaveyou where that sort of critique runs rampant. I had my issues with the books* but none of them really from a diversity perspective. Which people might find surprising about me given that I am an early childhood teacher AND my school’s director for diversity. The books actually incorporated a decent amount of racial and ethnic diversity (among other forms) and this was thankfully carried through to the movies. And, as you note, it tackled some really complex themes in a way that was probably more accessible to its readers. Had it been explicitly about race or religion or sexual orientation, it likely would have lost readership (if only because a large segment of the parent population would have steered their children away from it). So while the book could have done more, it was already doing more than most books and deserves credit for that.

        Harry Potter, in many ways, was an underdog’s tale. People naturally want to identify with their beloved fictional characters especially if the latter seem capable of feats the former feel are impossible for them. So it seems perfectly normal that a Jewish or gay reader might want — need even — for characters who ‘look like them’ to exist in the favorite fictional universe. Which is what these queries seemed like to me. As I said above, this feels very much like “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Clause.” I see absolutely no harm done** by Rowling retconning a bit and lots of good that could result from it. She wasn’t pressured or bullied into it. She got fan queries and decided to do what she had already done millions of times over which was put a smile on her readers’ faces. We should see that as an unmitigated good and go about our business.

        * My issues were from a literary, story telling, and ethical perspective. But that is because I read them as an adult and from an overly-analytical adult perspective. I don’t think children need to concern themselves with overuse of deus ex machine or the ethical implications of magical hospitals that do not treat non-magical ailments or patients.

        ** Yes, yes, the usual suspects might gnash their teeth over whatever gobbledy gook they make of this being a further assault on all they hold precious in the world. Whatever. Especially since that particular crowd of people (which tends to be rather small but very loud) are the first to dismiss “hurt feelings” being a real harm.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to kylind says:

      I consider “Christian” and “Jewish” in the more secular sense here. Like ethnic heritage and celebrating Santa Christmas vs Hanukkah.Report