J.K. Rowling Is Telling Us Everything About Harry Potter, And That's Not A Good Thing
Listen, there’s no gentle way for me to say this so I feel like it’s best just to rip the band-aid off: There’s to much information about the Harry Potter universe and J.K. needs to cut it out for a while.
WAIT! Wait, wait! Please don’t leave yet! That statement is in no way to say that I dislike Harry Potter. As I’ve stated before, I love Harry Potter. This isn’t a matter of being tired of the series or feeling like it’s overexposed. This is a matter of the facts taking the magic out of the books (yes, I did that intentionally. Yes, I’m leaving it in.)
The additional, incredibly detailed information that Rowling is releasing through either her website, her play, or the movie prequel gives fans insight and information about the characters that readers usually don’t get. It’s fun and interesting. But it has two unintentional side effects: it limits the world of Harry Potter and it makes readers less fanatical. Both of which should be the opposite intention of this information. But let me back up just a step.
Earlier this week, I saw a story about J.K. Rowling revealing “fascinating” information about how the Potters accumulated their wealth, got the name “Potter,” and came to own the invisibility cloak. But in addition to that information being mostly irrelevant to Harry’s story, it also eliminates any other possible theories fans had. The same goes for the immaculately curated list of magical creatures in Harry’s world. Are you a fan who wants to imagine that there are magical half-human, half-dog creatures living in the Forbidden Forest? Something like a centaur, but instead of being dicks these guys just want to chill with you. All. The. Time?
Tough shit. The authority on Harry Potter says that thing doesn’t exist so you can’t pretend it does. Have you rightly started wondering what happened to Neville after he got uncomfortably hot? Well, sorry, man. According to this, he’s officially off the market:
Sometime before 2014, he married his former classmate and D.A. member Hannah Abbott, and the pair lived at the Leaky Cauldron, where she became the landlady. Hannah had retired from being Landlady as of 2014, she and Neville were childless and scathingly reported by Rita Skeeter as “enjoying a little more Ogden’s Firewhisky than most would expect from custodians of our children”. Whether this is true or simply another scandalous rumour from Rita Skeeter is unknown. It was reported by Rita Skeeter that Neville is the godfather of Harry’s second son, Albus Potter.
And it’s not just that the abundance of information is limiting the Potter universe. It’s that the ease of the information is making if harder and harder to be a hardcore fan. My friend and colleague Steven wrote a piece back in June about how the internet flattens the world. And like him, I’m not just complaining that the Interwebs and their Wiki sites are creating a generation of lazies. It’s that there is a profound level of joy in having a question about something which interests you, and researching that issue until you find the answer. It’s getting harder and harder to have to figure something out. And it’s honestly something I miss.
Earlier this year, I was planning to do a “In Defense of Fiona Gallagher” post. One of my arguments as to why she should be cut some slack is because she’s still fairly young. My problem is that I didn’t know exactly how young. And none of the Shameless websites had an answer. So I had to go back through several episodes piecing together information based on other people’s ages, when Fiona’s mother left, what year in high school Fiona completed. It took a significantly longer time than is probably healthy, but it was also one of the most gratifying puzzles I’ve had to solve in a long time. And since then, somebody’s updated the Shameless wiki to tell me that she’s 25 (which I strongly dispute. At the end of season 5, she is 23 years old. I have the documentation to back it up, website editors!). When I needed to find out how old Harry is, a quick Google tells me he was born July 31, 1980 making him 35 years old and a Leo.
And of course this isn’t to say that the additional information will eliminate all contradictory fan theories or that the Harry Potter wikis will cover all of the relevant Potter discussions. But it does have the effect of limiting what once seemed to be an unending world. Rowling gave us 7 books with more than 4,200 pages, and 8 movies lasting a solid 1179 minutes. Maybe for the good of everyone, she should stop giving us any more than that.