Yep, the entire Order of the Phoenix, updated all at once. Don’t get excited, though.
Lots of Pottermore wank for you today, not only is there Umbridge bullshit but also Order of the Phoenix has started. In fact, it’s finished, too. They’ve taken the largest book of the series and reduced it to twelve scenes. Fuck you, Rowling, and the rest of the Pottermore team. It’s not like there was anything at all in this book we’d have liked to see elaborated on and explained or anything. Like, say, OCCLUMENCY. (And we’ll note these scenes do not include Snape’s Worst Memory. Yeah, you just gloss over that, Rowling. Better that than you try and justify it, I suppose.)
So, sailing into this in an annoyed mood and even less inclined to be forgiving than I usually am. Let’s see.
First scene: “Mrs Figg.” Art of Harry sending Cosmic Bambi at a shadow while Mrs Figg – refreshingly non-insane-looking – stands behind him. No new content beyond the usual random collectables.
“Grimmauld Place.” Shot of the front of the house and a ton of very very conspicuous Order members standing around. No new content, though a nice animation of Number 12 appearing and pushing the neighbouring houses over.
“Doxycide.” Yeah, housecleaning was definitely worth wasting a scene on. No new info, no interesting art, nothing.
“The Atrium.” Not sure why it’s called that, since it’s actually the alley where the phone box to get in is. Oh, I see, you click the phone box and it sinks down into the Atrium. That’s kind of neat. Some of the wizards and witches Disapparate if you mouseover them, too. And finally some new content! Ministers for Magic. The Ministry has apparently only been in place since 1707? What, before that wizarding Britain just ran riot? Whatever. There’s no fixed term, they have to hold elections every 7 years but they can stay in the job until they die or are voted out. And in today’s “if I had to read this, so do you”:
“No Muggle Prime Minister has ever set foot in the Ministry of Magic, for reasons most succinctly summed up by ex-Minister Dugald McPhail (term of office 1858-1865): ‘their puir wee braines couldnae cope wi’ it’.”
Aside from McPhail being a wonderfully ironic name under the circumstances, all I have to say to this is FUCK YOU.
List of previous Ministers… the Wizengamot was already there apparently, a previous Head became the first Minister. So they had a law court, but no government to make laws? Um. What? And the creation of the Ministry coincided with the International Statute of Secrecy, and this first Minister created the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. No seriously what the hell was going on before 1707? Followed by a couple of Slytherins by the surnames, Rowle and Parkinson, and a bunch of other people who all sound dull and irrelevant and mostly have daft names – best/worst examples: Eldritch Diggory, Porteus Knatchbull, Unctuous Osbert, Grogan Stump. Majority males, but it’s pretty close, there’s quite a few women, surprisingly. A Lestrange shows up in the list too – slightly insane, naturally. They didn’t appoint a Muggleborn until 1962. Nothing else of note. A few Scottish names, though no Welsh or Irish.
A footnote: prior to 1707 apparently the country was run by various random organisations, one of which was something called the Wizard’s Council. No further explanation given.
“The Carriages.” Emergerd, Therstrerls. Otherwise known as more hasty retcons to try to explain yet again why Harry should have been able to see them long before this point.
“Being able to see Thestrals is a sign that the beholder has witnessed death, and gained an emotional understanding of what death means.”
Harry couldn’t see Thestrals at the end of fourth year because even at 14 years old he was too damned thick to understand it, basically, despite all the death that’s happened around him. Luna could see Thestrals right after her mother’s death because she’s “intuitive and spiritual”, apparently, and also a lot brighter than Snowflake. Once again no mention of hey, Quirrell died in front of Harry in first year, in fact Harry’s the one who killed him, anyone remember that? No? Okay then.
“Dolores Jane Umbridge.” Harry going to his first detention with her. Timeskip ahoy. Ugly office, bla bla bla. Oh God, the kitten plates meow when you mouseover, and there are pink ribbons tied around the candlesticks.
Umbridge’s backstory, joy. She was a Slytherin, because OF COURSE SHE IS, and a half-blood pretending to be pureblood because she and her father blamed her Muggle mother for her brother being a Squib (so father was a blood snob who nonetheless married a Muggle? Yeah okay Rowling, whatever you say). Both mother and brother were disowned and never seen again. Apparently her blood quill thingy was her own invention. She has literally always been totes evil, getting up the career ladder from age 17 by ruthlessly stealing credit for other people’s work while being judgemental, prejudiced and sadistic. Her father was a janitor in the Ministry until she was promoted high enough that she could bribe him to leave and pay him to stay out of sight until he died, and ‘nasty things’ happened to anyone who asked if she was related to him. Hey, remember when Slytherins were meant to be subtle, and when the pureblood world was so small everyone recognised all surnames and didn’t need to ask those sorts of questions? Oh, and she spent most of her career trying to attract the attention of literally any rich and powerful potential husband. Rowling, you misogynistic bitch. Anyway, she loved torturing kiddies because evil, and she loved working for the Death Eaters because evil, and she was tried and convicted after the war but we’re not told what her sentence was. Rowling then cheerfully admits she based Umbridge on two people, a former co-worker who collected kitten plates and was in favour of the death penalty and a carefully unspecified teacher/instructor in a carefully unspecified subject who was short and fat and liked girly accessories despite being old. Because people who like cute things are very often horrible people, she explains.
This entire story may be the most spiteful, poisonous and totally unnecessary thing I’ve ever read.
“The Closed Ward.” Lockhart’s still insane ha ha ha. Oh, and the Longbottoms. No new info.
“Trelawney is Sacked.” With a horrible looped audio of a woman sobbing. Backstory – Ravenclaw despite never being given credit for any intelligence whatsoever, half-blood, early marriage that collapsed because she wouldn’t take her husband’s surname. She sounds interesting, so naturally the rest of her backstory is pretty short, just rehashing what we already knew, followed by Rowling admitting dismissively that she never bothered inventing a solid backstory for her. In which case, do it now, when you’re about to upload a post about her backstory?
“Patronuses in the Room of Requirement.” No new info, of course. But some pretty art.
“Dumbledore’s Escape.” No new info.
“Row 97.” Completely random aside about how sometimes traditional wizards can consult a Naming Seer to decide what awful name to pin on their offspring. This has nothing to do with anything and I’d rather be reading about the Death Eaters sneaking up on these teenagers and maybe finding out what the hell is in the rest of this department.
Final scene: “The Tattered Veil.” BYE SIRIUS! A bit about Azkaban, rather out of place in a battle scene. It was built in the 15th century by an evil madman and after he died everyone else realised it was there. It was already full of Dementors so they just… left it for another century or so, then someone decided it should be a prison. Only two escapes have ever happened and LOL Sirius’ is described as ‘still more ingenious and impressive’ than Crouch’s. So… literally just walking out is more ingenious and impressive than devising a complicated plot? Okay. Kingsley got rid of the Dementors and now Aurors guard it, and somehow nobody’s escaped past them yet.
The end. I am seriously pissed they condensed it so much and gave us so little.
A couple of hours after I emailed the above to Mitchell, he sent me a text message:
Oh my god. Just read your Pottermore summary and holy shit. I’m tempted to ask if there’s a Die in a Fire spell to use on Rowling but knowing her it’d be “Dieus inus a Fireus” and that’s too depressing to contemplate.
I cracked up laughing.
MITCHELL: (actual response emailed later that day)
So, you already know my overall opinion of the Pottermore wank, but I wanted to make sure I replied ASAP so that we could get this up on the blog if you wanted to… I figure the more timely our response to this, the more likely we’ll get some interesting discussion going on in the commentary.
Rowling’s priorities in this update are decidedly odd, to say the least. I’m not surprised you’re annoyed 😛 I definitely think Rowling and whoever else is involved with running Pottermore are getting tired of it (and/or it’s no longer paying dividends or doing whatever else it’s supposed to be doing) and are starting to take shortcuts.
Art of random stuff isn’t really worth commenting on, especially when I haven’t even seen it.
McPhail is quite apt, though probably not for the same reasons they intended 🙂 Seriously, “the Muggles were just too stupid”? Nice. Very nice. It’s pretty hard to imagine Muggles being stupider than Rowling’s wizards, unless she expects us to believe they’re constantly braindead and comatose.
The Ministry only existing since 1707 is yet another fail; seriously? I suppose that could be salvaged if there were different institutions playing a similar role in society or whatever prior to that and 1707 merely marks the most recent restructuring, but I don’t think that’s how we’re expected to interpret what we’re given. I’m not sure what to do with what she’s giving us; it’s not really enough to draw any serious conclusions from, it’s just a bunch of vague nonsense that seems designed to sound more substantial than it is. If this makes sense at all, I’m exhausted after a long day at work and may not be thinking straight.
Pfeh, thestrals. I don’t care how many angels she can get to dance on a pinhead, she’s not going to be able to explain away the contradiction here (which exists because it’s patently obvious she invented thestrals while writing book five and had not had them in mind while working on earlier books). Boring.
Ooh, Umbridge. Joy. I actually find Slytherin reasonably plausible as a possible house for her, even if I agree with you that in context it’s just yet another EVIL SLYTHERIN BECAUSE SLYTHERINS ARE EVIL (WHO IS PETER PETTIGREW AGAIN STOP MENTIONING HIM); she’s certainly ambitious enough and working one’s way up the ranks by being a bureaucrat isn’t necessarily stupid (and can potentially involve cunning, though the way this is written is dreadful), and she likes being in positions to exercise authority. Hufflepuff would probably have been a better fit though, and gone better with the “banality of evil” concept that Umbridge seems to have been meant to exemplify (if I thought Rowling were intelligent enough to actually write a commentary on the banality of evil, rather than having stumbled accidentally into one, that is). Thanks, Rowling, for sucking any and all interesting nuance out of the narrative yet again. Inevitably, when she elaborates on anything she’s previously written, the end result always gets worse… the real mystery, I think, is how she ended up with the decent original material before allowing herself to ruin it.
I haven’t much else to say about this; not right now, at least. I agree with you that, immediately after this profile in which Umbridge is revealed to have been utter irredeemable evil EVIL EVIL FOR TEH EVULZ, connecting her to real people (who probably are capable of figuring out they’re the ones meant here, even if the world at large cannot) is pretty despicable. Not that we’re unaware that she’s done precisely this same thing before (see Nettleship, John).
Trelawney being Ravenclaw is actually interesting, in the sense that I think it feeds into Rowling’s underlying anti-intellectualism (it comes off as implying something like “see how stupid those academical types really are, ha ha!”). Also, I can’t help reading the thing about surnames as Trelawney being punished for not changing her name, more reactionary/antifeminist subtext because Rowling hadn’t beaten that particular dead horse enough yet.
Sirius’ escape was more clever than Crouch’s? Really? Then again, both escapes basically consist of the characters taking advantage of a contrived loophole that Rowling left in specifically for them to do so (the Crouch version just required more steps and was significantly more complicated). Also, how convenient that one of the nastier aspects of the Potterverse world just happened to have been left behind by a convenient evil madman, ripe for the using! (Then again, that isn’t necessarily unrealistic, judging by things like Guantanamo… people are surprisingly willing to overlook nasty aspects of the status quo, so continuing to use something that’s already been in use is easier to justify than creating it ex nihilo).
Good plan, it’s going to take me a while to get a coherent post out of our notes on the next book chapter 😛 (Not kidding, folks, it’s an absolute mess.)
It really sucks, though. When the first two books went up, in multiple instalments, there were two or three scenes from every single chapter. That dropped to one or two scenes per chapter for the third book, then one or two scenes in most chapters and a couple of missed ones from the fourth book, and now suddenly a dozen scenes for an entire book that’s twice the length of the earlier ones. They had better add more later, I’ve seen quite a few complaints. As for paying dividends, I’m honestly not sure what it was supposed to be doing, there is a store but it doesn’t sell anything you can’t get elsewhere and there’s no subscription option or anything.
Absolutely agree about the Ministry. I suppose now we know why the wizarding world is so insanely incoherent. They’ve apparently had no concrete stable government for almost their entire existence. And yes, she hasn’t given us enough info to make anything concrete out of it. It would have been a lot easier if she’d just given a much earlier date and only made up a few of the more interesting Ministers – as it is, I suspect she started with Fudge, worked backwards until she got bored, then decided that was when the Ministry started.
Regarding Umbridge, for the first time I’m actually going to encourage you to read the original text; deathtocapslock have a post up about it with a link to somewhere you can read the article. The way she talks about her ‘inspiration’ for Umbridge has to be read to be believed, I don’t think even my scathing commentary has done it justice this time. The whole thing is just toxic.
I think you’re right about Trelawney, yes. I’d like to see this explored in fics though. Having her be intelligent means she knows most of her predictions are nonsense and has figured out that for Dumbles to hire her anyway means she must have made a real prediction – she’s the granddaughter of a famous Seer, she’ll know how the seers don’t remember their trances and so on – and knows he’s keeping her around in case she’s useful again and for no other reason. One, no wonder she starts hitting the sherry. Two, imagine how interesting that could be, if she started opposing Dumbles and using her eccentric outer personality to hide it in exactly the same way he does? (Particularly if Severus noticed?) To our blog readers – someone needs to write this. Or if it already exists someone needs to tell me immediately.
Yes. Sirius is a super genius. Never mind that it took him thirteen years of continually shapeshifting to hide from the Dementors before he worked out that shapeshifting might let him hide from the Dementors. Jesus Christ on a bicycle. And I don’t know why you’re surprised about Azkaban being so conveniently provided, the entire universe runs on deus-ex-machinas fuelled by merrily burning plot coupons 😛 Though I agree its continued existence and use wasn’t unrealistic.
Heh, yes. Like I said, I really think Rowling and whoever else may be involved are just getting tired of it…
Working backwards is a rather plausible explanation, yes. I’m not sure whether that’s hilarious or depressing.
I’ve read the original now, and… good grief. I’m not sure what to say about it, honestly. I honestly struggled to get through it more because it was relentlessly boring than because of any toxicity, though I definitely agree with you that it is toxic. There’s just no point to it at all, aside from revelling in unpleasantness (and cruelty – “oh no I really shouldn’t say this kind of thing, but I’m going to say exactly this kind of thing” is no excuse).
Oh, I love that idea about Trelawney 🙂 Yes, if anyone knows of any fanfic that explores that possibility, please do throw us a link.
Haha, yes. And I wasn’t surprised so much as aggravated, honestly 😛
There we are, folks, that’s all we have for the longest book of the series. The next chapter of Philosopher’s Stone will be up as soon as I work out what to do with it; most of our conversation when we were discussing it was ‘but this doesn’t make any sense!’ and ‘I don’t know what this bit is trying to say!’ so it’ll take a little while…