A Culture of Creators (Part Two)

Part 2 of 2. Written in early 2015, so it’s a bit outdated in terms of J.K. Rowling’s current terrible antics (hello, don’t forget she is a TERF and constantly appropriating other cultures with trying to explain different countries’/regions’ wizarding worlds on the Pottermore website). However, sometimes it’s good to look back to reflect, and this certainly highlights my overall experience as a Harry Potter fan as well as the fandom I found myself surrounded by. 

Featured photo credit goes to fadalalala.tumblr.com. I did not create nor own this drawing. 

Fan fiction does not only exist on the Internet: it existed long before but exploded once there was a way to publicize to a mass online audience who comments and appreciates reading a writer’s fan fiction. It also allows writers to give depth to minor characters who may not receive that canonically. Many popular “fanfic” writers got quite successful in their own regard, the most known probably being Cassandra Clare, author of the young adult Mortal Instruments series and the Infernal Devices trilogy. Her idea for the first book in the series, City of Bones, spawned from a fan fiction she wrote about the Harry Potter character Draco Malfoy, titled The Draco Trilogy. It took characters from Harry Potter such as Draco, Harry himself, Hermione Granger, and Ginny Weasley, and placed them into a completely different situation contrary to what happens canonically (though the actual talent of Cassandra Clare as an original works author is debated amongst both fans and non-fans of the Harry Potter series). Cassandra Clare, as well as other fanfic writers, employed the idea of “Alternate Universes,” where the characters in Harry Potter are put in a different settings and different circumstances. In addition, this tends to include the concept of “shipping,” which Cassandra Clare focused on in her fanfic trilogy. Shipping may make non-fans of the series disinterested, confused, or irked by fans’ use of the canon to create a “fanon.”

Shipping itself is not a concept exclusive to Harry Potter, but this phenomenon certainly was one of the first to give life in a mass media sense. Shipping entails wishing one character would romantically (and/or sexually) end up with another. In Harry Potter specifically, this is manifested most commonly through combining the names of characters to indicate which couple a fan supports. Some of the most popular “ships” are Romione, Harmony, Dramione, and Drarry, just to highlight a few major ones. “Romione” are the Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger shippers, who have fought for these two since even the first book, maybe, and truly believe these two are a lasting pair. That being said, there was definitely some controversy within the past year from Rowling herself, in an interview for Wonderland Magazine, over the fact that Ron and Hermione would have some potential marriage problems (Watson). This also fired up “Harmony,” or Harry and Hermione, shippers to push their view that Harry and Hermione would have been the better pairing amongst the Golden Trio, though that is not necessarily what Rowling specifically indicated, only that Ron and Hermione would have some marriage problems but ultimately still loved each other and would just need “a bit of counseling” (Watson). Shipping arguments are common amongst people who feel the need to assert their pairing is superior to another, even if it is not necessarily a part of the canon.

The next pairing, “Dramione,” is one that never even had a chance in the series, which Rowling has remarked on herself. People who ship Draco Malfoy and Hermione adamantly believe that opposites attract, that a pureblood wizard can get over his prejudice with Muggle-born witches and wizards and truly fall in love with Hermione, who would in turn receive his love. (Personally, I’m not so sure about that, but I’m willing to support free-flowing creativity.) Finally, one of the most common pairing categories, “slash,” or a gay couple pairing, is “Drarry,” which consists of Draco and Harry. A very dear friend of mine revels in this pairing and spends much of her time analyzing scene after scene between Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter to find instances of romantic or, most commonly, sexual tension, which she further explores in her fan fiction piece called “He Loves Me Not”:

“‘This is not Hogwarts. Let’s bicker later.’ Harry threw his arm back, throwing a hex at their enemy.

[Draco:] ‘I don’t understand why they paired us together.’

‘Malfoy, not now!’

‘See, I hate you and you hate me. This partnership is never going to work out’” (Francisco).

Though I will not rule out the possibility of tension arising in the series’ subtext, it feels highly unlikely that was J.K. Rowling’s intention. However, the fostering of creativity is more important to me than arguing about the canonical qualities of the Harry Potter phenomenon. There are many more pairings out there, but the simple fact is that Harry Potter has had an obvious influence on the art and craft of fan fiction, leading it into a romantic vibe but also still trying to retain elements of the characters and see them in new lights.

That being said, there are other ways to pursue the creation of things related to Harry Potter without writing fan fiction. I was part of the Creative Team on the website MuggleNet, where news, audio shows, editorials and more are published in regards to anything and anyone related to the Harry Potter phenomenon. My job is to write “blogitorials” and other creative things such as top ten lists, analyses of Harry Potter, etc., and publish this on the website for fans to access and comment on. I have posted a variety of editorials, such as “Seven Harry Potter Moviemaking Justifications,” in which I examine points in the movie that make them just as creative as the books without following it exactly:

“Even outside the decisions of what actors to cast, the movie itself needs to be pleasing to the eye. That’s why each movie has its own color scheme: the first and second movies are much brighter in colors with vibrant reds, greens, and yellows. As the series goes on, the darker hues come out: navy, forest green, maroon, gray, black. These tonal colors work together to create an eye-pleasing image the audience enjoys looking at. The shifts should be subtle and work in their favor. If that means not coloring something as it was in the books, they change it to make it better-looking for their audience and quality in filmmaking. (Example: Ravenclaw colors in the book are blue and bronze, but in the movie they are blue and silver. It’s likely they did this so as to juxtapose the red/gold of Gryffindor and black/yellow of Hufflepuff with the green/silver of Slytherin and the new blue/silver of Ravenclaw.)

Outside of colors, the settings also had to be pleasing to the eye, which may be a major reason they uprooted Hogwarts from the first two movies and set it elsewhere starting in the third movie and why Hogwarts continues to have certain areas relocated (most notably Hagrid’s hut, potentially Hogsmeade , and even certain rooms inside the castle itself). They took out the moving staircases in Deathly Hallows – Part 2, potentially to make it easier for stage combat for the Battle of Hogwarts and also maybe to make a point that Dark magic and evil have infiltrated Hogwarts, so the stairs are no longer moving. Filmmakers aim to make an attractive film, and beyond the actors are the color schemes and sets” (Cokinis).

In addition, I crafted an article called “Why the Structure of Prisoner of Azkaban was Best” for MuggleNet’s 2015 March Madness, in which chosen staff members ranked the books from their favorite to least favorite. I ranked the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as my third favorite because of the following theme:

“Memory. A most important, underrated thing in life. It is only when we see the loss of memory that we begin to understand how impermanent we are. However, in Rowling’s sixth novel in the series, we see not only the preservation of memories for wizards but also why it is so important to go back and look at memories: Looking at it one way does not mean it truly happened that way. It reveals the biases individuals can have in their memories, but delving into other people’s memories allows Harry and Dumbledore to objectively decipher Voldemort’s character and central plan of himself. This piece of magic, that of preserving memories, feels so underrated by many Potter fans at times. In addition, the sixth book adds more depth to Draco Malfoy and his personal struggle in joining what he grew up knowing and observing: His Slytherin ambition doesn’t stretch so far as to murder, and this realization really shapes his character as well as pokes holes in the stereotypes of Slytherin House” (Cokinis).

I have also coined posts about J.K. Rowling’s philanthropy, political analyses of the series, parodies of songs so they fit the Potter world, and even a fake resume all related to Harry Potter. There are more, and there will be more to be written for the site. My participation in contributing to this fansite, though limited due to the demands of school and other activities, has been fulfilling and interesting. Beyond Harry Potter, I learn what it is like to work in and run a  community, specifically an online one, and how to make it intriguing and meaningful to the viewers. These viewers are fans of the Harry Potter series, creators themselves, and still pursue their interest in a certain boy wizard’s adventures by frequenting this site, even eight years after the release of the last book and four years after the release of the last movie.

Outside of the fandom, outside of the “fanon” and other Harry Potter fan writing pursuits, there are those not affiliated with the phenomenon. Sure, they see news of the new Wizarding World theme park in development, and the movie trailers may have once plagued their television sets, but these individuals never participated directly in this culture of creators. It is not that they flat-out ignore, but almost as if because it does not touch their lives, they do not notice the culture. On occasion if they do notice, the intensity of those who invest themselves in creating fanmade adaptations of Harry Potter may concern or even unnerve non-fans. However, there are also discrepancies in what defines a “non-fan.” Is it someone not affiliated at all, or someone who only interacts with adaptations, whether professional or fanmade? The definition is subjective and varies depending on the person. Personally, I believe someone who takes an interest in the series, regardless of the point at which they are, be it adaptation or canon, is a fan.

Despite the Harry Potter series ending, there are still many things to which creators can look forward. Lovers of the Harry Potter series, which includes the filmmakers, make it of utmost importance to create exhibitions such as the London Studio Tour of Harry Potter (showing actual props and costumes from the movies), as well as the theme parks in Orlando, Florida and Japan, with a new one forthcoming in California. In this way Harry Potter will never die. People make it their goal to create new ways of experiencing Harry Potter now that the phenomenon has come to an end, but that is not all. The website Pottermore, of J.K. Rowling’s creation but run by passionate people, remains to explore more deeply the wizarding world that never made it into the books. There will also be three movies to come out following the chronicles of Newt Scamander, who wrote the Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and Rowling herself is writing all of the screenplays, as well as crafting a stage play for London’s West End about Harry living with the Dursleys and what he had to endure before he learned he was a wizard. All of this is a form of creativity in an enduring, lasting presence of our favorite boy wizard.

It is with these further creations that Harry Potter is not going anywhere any time soon. It has touched the lives of people all over the world and given them the strength to pursue their own creative ventures, whatever those may be. More than that, it helps people come to terms with what may be brewing inside themselves and ultimately gives them the tools to act how they see fit and does not act as a crutch. With me Harry Potter first gave me a taste of a desire to write something bigger than myself, something that expresses what I think but provides a universal experience so people of any age or gender or race or background can relate to or understand. To this day, I still have that desire, but it has also altered some. Now I wish to apply my writing skills to the betterment of environmental and human rights, like the way Harry and his friends fight back book after book against the evils of Voldemort and the unequal magical class positions in the Ministry of Magic. After reading Harry Potter, I want to help people. Maybe I can’t save people in the Battle of Hogwarts, but I can save people in other ways, by reaching out my hand, listening to what others have to say, and writing. And I thank J.K. Rowling everyday for instilling that desire in me.

Harry Potter hands us the ability to be creators, to make or change something. So let’s go out there and do it. Put the books down, turn the movies off, and take what you have read and seen into a new creation. In a world that attempts to box us in, let’s break free of the constraints and allow fan writing to flourish and reflect what we love.

Works Cited

Cokinis, Alyssa. “Seven Harry Potter Moviemaking Justifications.” MuggleNet.com. Mar. 2014. Web.

Cokinis, Alyssa. “Why the Structure of Prisoner of Azakaban was Best.” MuggleNet.com. Mar. Web.

Francisco, Lindsey. “He Loves Me Not.” Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy slash. 2015.

Watson, Emma. “J.K. Rowling: Author and Philanthropist.” Wonderland Magazine Feb/Mar. 2014: 184-185. Print.

Published by Alyssa C.

Writer & theatre artist from Iowa. Currently quarantining in the Pacific Northwest. MA in Intercultural Communication Studies from Shanghai Theatre Academy (expected 2021).

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