So on most Friday nights there’s a group of us on Twitter that live tweet pre-selected movies. We just finished the Harry Potter series, which I’ve never seen or read.
Yes, I know, shock and awe.
And no, I don’t want to read the books now that I’ve seen the movies.
I’ve tried. I really have. I tried when they first came out and I’ve tried in subsequent years but it’s just not something that holds my interest. No like or dislike, just resounding ambivalence to a pop culture phenomenon.
Anyway, I learned a lot about the series by watching the movies with hardcore Potterheads and I can see why so many people love the books. Rowling is an awesome writer. And while watching those movies I did ask myself why I wasn’t into the books. Really, anyone who knows me would think I would be a Potterhead. It’s got magic, magical creatures, death incarnate, supreme evil, high stakes, and a heroine who can hold her own.
And there I found the answer.
I don’t care about Harry. Not one bit.
Hermione Granger. Now that is a story I want to read. Yeah, Harry is stuck with the Dursleys and they are fucking awful people, but after the first movie they only pop in every once in a while so we don’t forget how terrible they are. Harry’s the chosen one, The Boy Who Lived, blah, blah, blah. Whatever.
But Hermione. Think about it. She comes from parents who aren’t magical but know that she is and support her magical studies. Is it the first or second movie Draco brings up mudblood? I’m certain that’s not the first time she’s heard it or really considered the word. Think of all the hateful people in our society that don’t have any qualms calling children racial epithets. I doubt the wizarding world is much different. So already we have a great set up for character identity conflict. I mean, the first time someone yelled an epithet at me I was in third grade. That shit sticks with you. And she works so hard to get her spells right. Is she a perfectionist or is she trying to show herself and others that just because her parents aren’t magical that doesn’t make her lesser.
Next, she has all the answers. She is the Wikipedia and Google of Hogwarts. The Boy Who Lived needs to know where the bathroom is or how to whip up a face warping potion? You bet your ass Hermione knows.
And as the movies progressed Ron and Harry almost always looked to her for answers in nigh impossible situations. What kind of pressure does that put on her? She went from random Hogwarts trivia to trying to stop the end of the world. Was she ever afraid she wouldn’t have the answer or she wouldn’t see the solution in time?
And in the middle of all of this saving the world nonsense, she has to deal with all the regular problems of growing up. Awkward teenage school dances, heartbreak. Death of classmates.
Crushing hard on Ron.
I mean, that alone calls for a great deal of quiet contemplation, which she never gets because she’s trying to figure out how to destroy horcruxes.
And all of this character conflict leads up to the final two movies. The Dursleys get the hell outta town, I’m guessing of their own volition, it’s not really explained in the movie. Not a big loss there. I mean, by this time, Harry’s pretty close to the Weasleys. And Ron gets to stay with his family to the bitter, bitter end because they’re all magical and can fight back. But then there’s Hermione. She has to erase herself from her parents because they can’t defend themselves. Her parents who have loved and supported her all her life and she makes them forget. She’ll spend the rest of her life mourning her parents who are going about their days with no idea they ever had a little girl. And in the movie it’s never mentioned. She just pops up at the Weasleys and they head off to whatever they do next.
Seriously, if I was reading Hermione Granger’s book it would take me a week to finish that section. Can you imagine the emotions not only of that moment but of the days and weeks leading up to it? That certainly wasn’t the first thing she thought of. All that intellect and intuition, all of it focused on how she can keep her parents safe and she slowly realizes if she wants to keep them safe, she needs to leave. Not just leave, but make it so they can’t be tortured into giving up her friends and their families. They need to forget she even exists.
My. Gods. I mean, that alone could be a novel. I would read the hell out of that novel. That would tear you up like road rash. So if Rowling ever wants to write that book, I will have it on pre-order.