Happy New Year, folks, see you in 2015 for more of Philosopher’s Stone and other random stuff.
Pottermore Christmas, day one: first scene of Half-Blood Prince, surprisingly. I was expecting a much longer wait but I suppose they just want to race to the end now. I would guess the book will once again just be twelve scenes, hence this 12 Days of Christmas thing.
Anyway, Unbreakable Vow. I want Severus’ living room (no surprises there…) There’s allegedly some ‘extra content’ about Cokeworth, but once you unlock it and read it, it’s just a statement of what we already know. It’s fictional, it’s in the Midlands, it’s where Lily/Petunia/Severus grew up, it has a river and at least one factory, and Harry and company visited it at the start of the first book. ‘Tis not the season to be lazy, Rowling.
Back to Pottermore stuff… yay, more things to drive me nuts! Actually, this update sounds pretty content-free, at least in terms of things to get pissed (off) about. I’m sure I’ll manage to find something, though.
I don’t see much to remark on in the early stuff – I assume there aren’t any details about the Unbreakable Vow etc itself, just various details about scenery? Because of course that was the most important thing to comment on here, rather than the enormous plot hole that is Unbreakable Vows.
I know, I’m so good to you 😉 Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with these early bits, they just aren’t detailed enough and they’re not including the actual interesting parts. It’s a painful contrast with how in-depth, albeit shite, the early ones were; one day I really will have to show you the site.
No, of course there weren’t any details about the Vow, don’t be silly. That’s something that actually needed explaining, so naturally there was nothing beyond a picture.
Pottermore Christmas, day two: next scene of HBP. Why did it have to be set in the Terrible Twins’ House of Torture? At least the bonus content isn’t actually about their stupid shop. Oh, but of course you can collect a love potion. Ugh.
Bonus content #1, the Leaky Cauldron, which is the oldest pub in London no matter what the silly Muggles think and is so old it predates the actual road it’s on. Well, gosh, it’s lucky they just so happen to have chosen a spot to build it that would end up someday being on a Muggle road then, isn’t it. It used to be visible to Muggles and they were allowed to go in and have a drink without anything terrible happening, which is surprising. The Minister when the Statute of Secrecy came out let the pub stay open as long as they hid it, and in his honour they created a beer named after him that’s so disgusting nobody’s ever finished a pint of it despite there being a hundred Galleon prize if you do. Oh, wait, that’s why the pub just happens to line up perfectly with the street… local wizards ambushed the Muggle planners and performed lots of Memory Charms and probably the Imperius (though obviously that’s never been proved) to make sure. Typical. Just when I was prepared to accept this as a semi-decent piece of worldbuilding. And Rowling picked Charing Cross Road because she likes the bookshops there, which isn’t the worst reason I suppose.
#2, Florian Fortescue, star of my favourite crack theory 😛 Ha! I was right, he WAS supposed to be plot-significant! He’s the descendant of a former Headmaster and he was going to give out various clues and hints about the Hallows throughout the series before being kidnapped in the last book and needing to be rescued by the Trio, but when Rowling got there she replaced his role with Phineas’ portrait and the Grey Lady and just killed Fortescue for no reason. Apparently she feels guilty about this. I’m not sure why she decided to just not do it, then, but we know she can’t understand the concept of going back and altering things before publication.
Well, that’s pretty typical – we all know that Rowling and the fans love the twins’ antics (personally, I love your name for their establishment :P). The love potion thing is just typical, though; is anyone connected to this series ever going to realise that there’s nothing humourous about them? As for the Leaky Cauldron stuff, I completely agree with you – this sounds entirely typical of Potterverse wizards’ and Rowling’s superiority complexes (seriously, wizards invented fucking PUBS too?). I’m not sure what to do with the rest of the history stuff – more wizards being terrible and mooching from Muggles, as per usual, but the beer thing is just completely incomprehensible. I think she’s trying to be funny again.
LOL. Fortescue. (We might need to explain the Fortescue theories for our audience, now that we’re publishing these exchanges; on the other hand, might it be funnier not to and have people making conspiracy theories about our conspiracy theories?) So it sounds like she was trying to foreshadow something, then decided to scrap it (and/or forgot to use it?)… not that that’s the worst thing in the world, but I’m not sure why she “feels guilty” – does she think her characters are actual people, and that when she kills someone off she’s actually committing murder? (Then again, I may not want to be too hard on her about this, because truthfully I could understand feeling guilty about spontaneously killing off characters, etc, people do get emotional about writing. It just sounds weird the way you’ve described it.)
Well, we’re proof that some fans are capable of realising that love potions are terrible, and most of my fic readers agree. As for anyone official acknowledging it…. nope. And lol yes, wizards invented pubs, though given that there only seems to be one in the whole of Diagon Alley (not counting Knockturn, I’m sure they’ve got a few) and only one respectable one in Hogsmeade, they don’t drink enough to need the honour.
I was planning to explain Chekhov’s Ice Cream when he first shows up in the books. I have a vague memory of Harry getting an ice cream in the first one, possibly, but Fortescue himself isn’t named until PoA I think. Until then everyone can wonder what my diseased brain came up with 😛 He’s described as a ghost plot, so she was foreshadowing something she then decided not to use. Red Herring is a terrible idea for an ice cream flavour. It tastes of disappointment. And I don’t know about the guilt thing, she said something along the lines of Voldy killed lots of people for no reason but Fortescue’s the only one she feels guilty about, whatever that means.
Day Three, moment three. Felix Felicis, aka Harry’s life support system. Slughorn’s art looks alarmingly like Varys…
#1, Potions. I hope this is worth it. Let’s see. No, Muggles can’t make potions. Some potions duplicate spells, and wizards do whichever one they find easiest; some are unique. It usually takes a Potions expert to undo a potion’s effects (score one for my fanon of Snape occasionally being a very reluctant Infirmary assistant). Potions carries mystique and therefore status, plus the edge of Dark Arts association from handling dangerous things. Snape, as a ‘brooding, slow-burning personality‘ (the nicest description he’s ever had; Rowling must be ill) conforms perfectly to the stereotype of a Potions expert. Big surprise, Rowling’s least-favourite subject was Chemistry, hence her decision that Snape should teach the wizarding equivalent (he’s apparently Harry’s arch-enemy, so she recovered very quickly from her momentary lapse; I wonder what that makes Voldy?) and all the potions in the series are based on existing historical substances/remedies/alchemical theories.
So… not really worth it. Typical. But at least Potions got more coverage than Occlumency.
#2, Cauldrons. Nothing we didn’t already know, except that Rowling thought about making the Hufflepuff Horcrux a cauldron before deciding that was too implausible.
The Potions stuff… well, nice that she’s covered it, but all she’s doing is giving more non-explanations of things like she always does. (Also, Snape is Harry’s arch-enemy? Seriously?!)
Yes, seriously. Saving someone’s life repeatedly despite them acting like a little shit who frankly deserves a slow death makes you their arch-enemy. Over and above the person actually trying to kill them. Obviously. Rowling’s world must be a very scary place.
Day four, Katie Bell is Cursed. Very dramatic looking and snowy, and a non-Wilhelm scream that someone had way too much fun recording, but no new info.
Day five, The Orphanage. No new info, no collectables, just an image of Tom Riddle dumping his box of stolen junk on his bed watched by Dumbles wearing an extremely tragic outfit. Interestingly some of these new moments have angry comments from people feeling cheated, lol.
Day six, Slughorn’s Party. Ear-bleedingly loud music. New content on vampires, let’s see… JK had the sense not to do much with them since they’ve been done to death, though in her very first notes there was apparently a scribble for a vampire teacher, subject unknown. And she feels the need to tell us that Snape is not a vampire despite all the rumours. Er, Rowling, I’m certain the ‘rumours’ only exist in canon, I don’t think many people ever actually thought he was, and I’m pretty sure everyone figured it out half way through the first book when he shows up at the Quidditch match in broad daylight…
That was it. Facepalm.
I really don’t know what to do with her ‘debunking’ the Snape-is-a-vampire ‘rumours’. I don’t think anyone took it seriously either (I’ll admit I have encountered a few weird fanfics that played around with the premise, but I never got the impression the authors thought he actually was in canon :P). Is Rowling not able to distinguish things in the Potterverse from reality any more? I’m not sure whether that would help explain some of her bizarre attitudes or not…
Day seven, Splinched. Apparating lessons. No new info.
Day eight, Hepzibah Smith. No new info. Not even any silly collectables, literally nothing. More angry comments.
Day nine, Room of Hidden Things. No new info.
Day ten, Inside The Cave. New content – Inferi. They work exactly the same as voodoo zombies in every story ever – human corpses, complicated magic animates them, they have no will of their own, can be enchanted to do various things mostly involving murder. Most of these ones are homeless Muggles Voldy killed for the purpose back in the first war, some are witches/wizards who vanished. And Rowling didn’t want to call them ‘zombies’ because reasons, pretty much. Snore. Two more scenes to go, supposedly…
It still bugs me that she calls them ‘Inferi’ and not ‘Inferii’ – if the singular is ‘Inferius’ then she’s buggered up her Latinate plurals (see, e.g. denarius – denarii). Other than that I can’t really find much to comment on there, they’re basically zombies but she decided that ‘zombie’ didn’t sound cool enough, essentially? (Weird how that never seemed to matter with the rest of the fantasy creatures she borrowed whole cloth from mainstream culture. Not that I mind the borrowing, necessarily, it’s probably a big part of the books’ appeal and it’s almost required for fantasy writing…)
Day eleven, Avada Kedavra. Beautiful art of Dumbles flying backwards off the tower, I’m enjoying it a little too much 😛 Bonus content about Draco, let’s see how bad this is.
There’s actually nothing new here, although she rambles for quite a long while. This part made me laugh though:
“I pity Draco, just as I feel sorry for Dudley.”
When you feel sorry for someone, you don’t actually treat them like shit and have everyone around them insult them all the time.
Anyway, her editor questioned Draco being suddenly so good at Occlumency, and her reasoning is that Harry never managed it because of his great humanity so obviously Draco would have no problem shutting himself down, because “the denial of pain and the suppression of inner conflict can only lead to a damaged person (who is much more likely to inflict damage on other people)“. Because Harry never caused any damage at all by yelling abuse at his friends all the time, of course, and everyone in this series who hides their emotions goes on to be a bad guy – actually that last part is mostly true, sadly. So much fail.
And it ends with more stuff about how she can’t believe so many girls like Draco and how she has to crush all their dreams by telling them that no he really is just a nasty one-dimensional asshole with no redeeming qualities because she can’t write nuanced characters. (She exclusively talks about girls romanticising anti-heroes here. Gay people really don’t exist in her world and it’s impossible to like characters unless you fancy them, apparently.) She then immediately contradicts herself by saying that the unicorn hair in his wand was symbolic of the hidden goodness in him. Facepalm.
She feels sorry for Draco and Dudley? Seriously? SHOW, DON’T TELL, ROWLING. Oh, and of course Occlumency apparently makes you evil, or else you have to be evil to learn it. Lovely. (Though I don’t necessarily disagree that bottling up one’s emotions is unhealthy and can make a person more volatile; that does happen. And there’s a difference between “not hiding your emotions all the time” and being, e.g., Capslock!Harry.)
As for her comments on ‘girls’ romanticising Draco, ugh. (I’m so glad you commented on the heteronormativity of her approach to that, I’m not sure I’d have picked up on it otherwise and it’s a really good point – even disregarding the fact that most people who like a character probably aren’t doing so out of sexual fascination.) Seeing her contradict herself so quickly is amusing though, especially right after being so bloody sanctimonious and preachy 😛 Get off your high horse, woman, nobody wants to nail you to it. (Is mixing metaphors still funny?)
On the last day of Christmas my true love gave to me… The Funeral. Very festive, I’m sure you’ll agree. Two of the collectables are Potions ingredients used for Healing and the Draught of Living Death respectively, which amuses me somewhat. Less amused that Madam Maxime is perched on two chairs because God forbid she could have Transfigured herself an actual seat.
Final bonus content, the Order of Merlin. It’s awarded by the Wizengamot, which we know predates the Ministry and is apparently a cross between court and Parliament. First Class is on a green ribbon because Merlin was a Slytherin, I’m surprised she repeated that; it says it in the Slytherin common room but nowhere on the rest of the site until now, and is awarded for ‘acts of outstanding bravery or distinction‘. Second class is on a purple ribbon because reasons, and is awarded for ‘achievement or endeavour beyond the ordinary’. Third class is on a white ribbon because reasons and is awarded to ‘those who have made a contribution to our store of knowledge or entertainment‘, which just sounds like you should be embarrassed to get one, frankly. Ministry favourites usually get them, Fudge awarded one to himself (though this shouldn’t have been possible since Dumbles was head of the Wizengamot…) and Sirius’ grandfather Arcturus bribed them into giving him one.
Not all that interesting, honestly, but it could have been a lot worse.
I know you’re just quoting the song, but seriously, my first reaction there was “what am I then, chopped liver?” 😉
They seriously had Maxime sitting on two chairs? Bloody hell. I’m not sure how outraged to get, but I’m seriously reading a lot of fatphobia in that (I’m reminded of all sorts of conversations that used to happen around people trying to force fat people to purchase extra seats on aeroplanes, etc… is it just me?), even disregarding the fact that transfiguration exists in-universe.
So the criteria for earning the Order of Merlin are completely vague. Typical. Not that that’s necessarily unrealistic… but do you notice how she stuck ‘bravery’ in there on the top award yet again? Even in an award ostensibly set up by a Slytherin and which explicitly acknowledges that, it’s still organised according to Gryffindor values. Rowling, your bias is showing. (Thinking about this, it’s kind of funny how I find myself always giving the side-eye to the word ‘bravery’ now; I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with the idea, but Rowling’s fetishisation of it makes me second-guess it every time it appears now…)