Books: Unpopular ‘Harry Potter’ Opinions

Screenshot from ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ (2005) featuring (left) Stanislav Yanevski and (right) Emma Watson. Copyright goes to Warner Bros. Pictures and Heydey Films.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Recently the Harry Potter fandom has gone through the ringer because of…well…she-who-must-not-be-named. Through the realizations of her prejudices, people have started talking more and more about what they found wrong with the book series. I want to say that I will always like Harry Potter as a series, mostly because of how influential Hermione Granger was to me, but even before all this happened I did have specific thoughts on the books and movies that not many other people seemed to share. Most of these things were aspects of the books or movies or even fandom that I didn’t particularly like. While this list has expanded over time to include a lot more aspects of the series, especially recently, I’ll only really be covering thoughts that I’ve already had for years. Some of these are more lighthearted than others. So, let’s get into it!

Hermione and Ron:

For an unpopular opinion, this actually seems to be pretty popular. Unlike many people, I don’t hate Ron. Ron was pretty awful in the movies at times, but Rupert Grint was always pretty charming and sweet as Ron. Ron was a needed presence in the golden trio because he was often the only one who could lighten up the mood in a harsh situation. But just because I actually do like Ron, does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that I liked him with Hermione. When I was growing up and first had these books read to me, the golden trio came off to me much like siblings. And no two seemed more like siblings to me than Ron and Hermione. They were constantly bickering and poking fun at each other, which reminded me a lot of what I saw with my friends who had brothers. So I really didn’t buy it when this suddenly turned into romantic interest. In fact, I thought it was a little…disturbing. Like I said before, Hermione and Ron were constantly fighting with each other which definitely works for a sibling dynamic but doesn’t seem entirely healthy when you’re trying to force it into a relationship dynamic. They would get to the point where they wouldn’t talk to each other and Harry would have to act as a go between. They acted like that as kids and they never got over it when they reached adulthood. Relationships need communication, and Hermione and Ron have a lot to sort out on that front. They are great as friends, but they would kill each other if they were in an actual relationship. Much like Jo and Laurie from ‘Little Women’ if I’m thinking about it. And no, Harry and Hermione aren’t good either. They are some of my favorite best friends in any fandom so let them be friends, damn it!

Hermione and Draco:

This is an unpopular fandom opinion. I don’t know whose bright idea it was to start shipping Hermione and Draco, but they need to stop. Everyone just needs to stop. Firstly, Draco didn’t need a redemption arc. Sure, a redemption arc in general might have been nice, but Draco was a racist. Him being scared to follow Voldemort and eventually not giving away Harry does not suddenly make him not a racist. Draco was also a bully. When I was in middle school and high school I dealt with bullying, and it was in those times when I most related to Hermione and used that to find a sense of worth again. When I saw that people were shipping Hermione and Draco, I was absolutely disgusted. Why would anyone ever want to date someone who bullied them to tears again and again? And though I didn’t have this experience, I know people who felt the same about dating someone who had ever called them a racial slur, like Draco did with Hermione. Hermione punching Draco in the face was not any form of sexual tension. She punched him in the face because he deserved it. If you’re going to ship Hermione with anyone, which she actually doesn’t need, my ship of choice is Hermione and Viktor. Viktor in the books was actually shown to be pretty smart, he listened to Hermione intently, and tried his best to communicate with her. Viktor Krum in his short time with her was more supportive and respective of her than Ron ever was and definitely more than Draco. They remained pen pals after he left too! How cute is that?

The House System is Weird:

In a fantasy world where part of the point is to get to know people different from yourself, I think the house system is pretty odd and really speaks to what we now know about she-who-must-not-be-named. Why would they stick you in a house with people who think exactly like you and give you little time to communicate with the other houses? They even establish rivalry between the houses! I personally believe it was the fandom that made these houses healthy. The fandom was not stuck in the individual houses, we all met each other after we self sorted and bonded over a liking of these movies and books. We created that respect between houses and the willingness to listen to others who think differently than we do. I sorted into Ravenclaw while my sister is in Gryffindor, and we used that as a reason to celebrate the differences between the two of us. The houses are good only because we made them good, but in the books the houses are pretty divisive.

Fred Never Should Have Died:

If you’ve read any of the Twins in Media posts, you probably know that both me and my sister are really tired of the ‘One Must Die’ trope. Why did Fred or George have to die? Because it had to be one of them since it is somehow “unrealistic” for them both to survive the war even though all the other siblings come out unscathed. There are several deaths in the books that make sense to me, there are several that don’t because not all death has to make sense. But Fred’s death falls under neither of these because he’s instead a pure example of a trope that shouldn’t still exist. I don’t want to hear any of the jokes about how my sister or I have to die because that’s what happens in movies anymore. Fred and George both should have made it through to the end and somebody else should have died in the Weasley family if that’s what she was aiming for. But she handled twins so badly in every way she possibly could that really the only saving grace for these two are James and Oliver Phelps. James and Oliver Phelps are national treasures.

Snape is Awful:

Speaking of the actor being the only saving grace, let’s talk about Snape. Snape has always been bad, not just recently. I love Alan Rickman, he’s one of my favorite actors ever, but if you want to see him in a morally good role I’d look at ‘Galaxy Quest’ instead of these films. Snape is a bully who looked at Hermione when she needed the school healer and said that he didn’t see a problem. He only helped the good side of the war because of his own selfishness. He called Lily a racial slur. Lily really deserved better than both James and Severus, not just James. Snape never has been and never will be a morally good character. He consistently bullied children and took advantage of his position as a teacher.

Dumbledore is Awful:

Dumbledore enabled Snape, kept slaves at Hogwarts, and raised Harry like a pig for slaughter. If you want to look at a professor who genuinely cared about the children in Hogwarts, look at Minerva McGonagall who constantly vouched for the safety of the students. She, Remus Lupin, and Hagrid were the presences that made me feel safe when I read the books. Definitely not Albus Dumbledore and especially not in the later books. This isn’t even mentioning that the last minute revelation that he’s gay is absolutely awful and that him dying doesn’t make it any better because that’s the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope. That’s if you even want to accept what she said about him being gay considering she put as little effort into that as possible.

Ginny Shouldn’t Have Defended Harry and Ron:

This one is a bit more specific. There’s a scene in the books where Hermione is admonishing Harry for using a spell he shouldn’t have and brings up how it will affect him in Quidditch. Ginny is quick to snap at Hermione, telling her to shut up and that she doesn’t know anything about Quidditch. This is posed in the book as Ginny proving that she has thoughts of her own and partly to show that she’s a good match for Harry I guess. Hermione isn’t perfect, but this is awful. Hermione has every right to say this when she’s spent the past six years doing homework for Harry and Ron when she has plenty of other things to do. She really shouldn’t be doing anyone’s homework. She even created schedules for them that factored in Quidditch several times and got Harry several Quidditch gifts for his birthday. Hermione didn’t deserve that.

Hermione Isn’t Perfect:

I do feel like an element of Hermione from the books is missing from the movies, but I don’t feel she’s too perfect in the movies. The movies still stick pretty close to the books and many of her flaws are still there; like her tendency to be bossy, her lack of understanding of anything that’s not completely based on logic, and her constant nagging of Harry when Harry already has so much to put up with. I love Hermione, but it’s her flaws that make her realistic. Sure she got some lines from Ron in the movies that Ron should have kept, but her getting those few lines didn’t make Hermione flawless in the movies.

Cho Chang Deserves Some of the Hate:

Cho Chang does not deserve any of the hate for trying to get over Cedric. Everyone grieves in different ways and even she struggled with that. Also, unlike in the movies, Cho was not responsible for giving away Dumbledore’s Army in the books. She does deserve all of the hate, however, for being a giant stereotype. Her name is racist and she was put in the smart house. This was always visible and it’s only just now being talked about.

Hagrid, McGonagall, and Sirius Were the Best Parental Figures to Harry:

Hagrid may not have been the smartest, but he was one of the ones who cared about Harry the most. It was always McGonagall who was pushing Harry to succeed so that he could have the career he wanted after school. Sirius protected Harry on several occasions and gave him advice when Harry needed it the most. Were any of them perfect? No. But no parent is. And Sirius didn’t see Harry as James, that line was only in the movie. Molly certainly accused him of it, but Sirius was pretty particular about Harry making sure he didn’t do anything too dangerous in the fifth book. Molly took care of Harry, but she wasn’t there when he needed advice and she often treated him much better than her own children. Arthur was definitely a better parental figure to Harry in the Weasley house because he actually listened to what Harry wanted. Molly gave Sirius way too much flack when she didn’t even really try to get to know Harry. And Dumbledore was just bad. There’s not a whole lot more to say there.

Bill and Fleur are the Best Canon Couple:

Bill and Fleur were constantly there for each other and supportive of each other. Their relationship was healthy. Remus and Tonks did not have a healthy relationship considering that Remus really wasn’t ready to jump into a relationship just then. If you want to look at a healthy relationship moment in this series, look at the way Fleur gets angry at Molly for thinking she’ll just leave Bill after he gets bitten by a werewolf. Considering Remus as a werewolf was actually a figurative representation of the AIDS epidemic that overtook the gay community, he should have been gay and he should have been with Sirius. There, I said it. Sirius actually understood him and Remus had developed a close relationship with him a long before Tonks came along. I like Tonks, but she deserved a partner who was actually ready to be in a relationship with her, because Remus wasn’t comfortable with her yet. How many times did Remus have to say that it wasn’t something he was comfortable with? But the AIDS point also opens up another conversation about how the race-allegory (muggle-born vs pureblood) in the story should have actually included people of color.

These are only a few of my unpopular opinions, that have actually become more popular over the past few months. I am no longer giving this franchise any more of my money, but I am going to enjoy what I do still have from it. Mostly Hermione stuff. Emma Watson has always been a huge inspiration to me, and I’m basically going to fall back on that for most of my love for the Harry Potter series that I still have. But, really, it’s ok to still like the series and not stand behind the author. I talk about liking Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland all the time, and those are just a few well loved classics that have pretty bad authors. Just make sure you aren’t giving the author any more of your money as much as possible. Do you agree with any of these unpopular opinions? Did any of these surprise you? If you’re out celebrating tonight, please be safe!

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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