Various Recent Developments in Potterland

04 Nov

I’m sorry, I can’t bring myself to talk about American politics, it’s too fucking depressing. I’ve been trying and failing to come out with anything coherent, in all honesty. So let’s talk about Harry Potter.

Firstly, sometime in September, Pottermore apparently added a feature where you can take a quiz to be assigned a Patronus animal (here’s an article about that). We knew about this at the time but never quite got round to writing about it; let’s just say we found it to be quite the mess.

I personally have not experimented with it at all, I can’t be bothered, but Loten did attempt it and apparently got assigned an osprey (which she wasn’t particularly pleased with, but I’ll leave it to her to complain about that if she wishes to).

[I don’t particularly object to ospreys, they’re nice birds. But there was no comment on what that’s supposed to mean about you, and I can’t see how the quiz led to that specific result – there seem to be a couple of dozen possibilities, but the quiz is just six or seven ‘here’s a few words, pick the one you like best and don’t take too long’. So I assume it randomly assigns you a set of possible animals before you even start.]

That said, we noticed quite a few things that irritated us about the apparent selection of animals. There are a lot of varieties where horses and dogs are concerned, but in many other cases you simply get a catchall term like ‘wolf’ or ‘dolphin’ where there are huge numbers of subspecies being ignored. And then, too, the type of variety provided is questionable: for instance, in many case it’s described as a certain colour of horse (not a breed or subspecies, a colour!). Patronuses don’t have colour. They’re ethereal silvery-looking things, how are you supposed to tell the difference between colours of horses? Somebody didn’t think this through (as if that’s a surprise at this point).

[To clarify – dogs have specific breeds, like huskies or Jack Russel terriers or whatever. The options for horses were ‘grey mare’ or ‘white stallion’ – which is a fail in itself; in equine circles all white horses are referred to as grey anyway. It’s not like there aren’t diverse horse breeds around – you could have, say, a Shire, an Arabian and a Shetland pony, or something. The weird gendering was odd as well – ignoring deer and apparently horses, nobody seems to be paying attention to the (apparently visible) genitalia of their Patronus.

There were also some really random animals as possible outcomes. The ones people seem most disappointed by were a mole and a salmon.]

The questions were also all extremely generic and we couldn’t tell how (if at all) they correspond to the results. You have to create an account to take the test, you can only do it once per account, and it moves through the questions rapidly enough that it would be difficult to record them; we certainly find it too impractical to experiment with and try to figure out how it works (not to mention we don’t care nearly enough, to be honest), and that difficulty is probably why we haven’t seen anyone else doing it either. Let us know if you do come across anyone gathering data about it, though.

Moving on. This thread is very much worth reading, more indigenous peoples’ reactions.

I didn’t feel comfortable contributing (or excerpting), but seriously, go read it.

[Agreed. Go read. We’ll wait.]

As we anticipate Fantastic Beasts, have some more history fail:

In short, it’s a reveal of some more details about magical society in America as fleshed-out for the setting of Fantastic Beasts. For a while, I honestly didn’t know what to say about it, and the article I’ve linked does a decent job pointing out the more obvious problems.

What it reads like is this. It reads like she’s gone down a list of buzzwords that sound American and thrown them together in a blender. As they pointed out at Tor, she has “MACUSA” existing before there was any such thing as the United States of America, under that name. This isn’t necessarily surprising, given the stew of anachronisms that she so often uses in her fictional history, but that doesn’t make it less nonsensical.

Hey, white Americans, maybe now you will understand what cultural appropriation feels like, and what marginalised populations have been trying to tell us? Even if you don’t find this particularly painful – I don’t – look at this amount of cluelessness about your culture, your polity, etc, see how ridiculous it looks and imagine that being nearly universal. Imagine that being the mainstream conception of what you are and what your society is.

If you can understand why MACUSA and Magical Congress and all of these other things are stupid and problematic, you can understand why Native Americans have been and continue to be so pissed off. That’s not nearly as bad as the bullshit they’re regularly expected to swallow.

[I don’t have anything to add here, though I almost want to apologise for Rowling. Almost. #NotAllBritons]

And in other news, there are apparently going to be five Fantastic Beasts films, because somehow this cash cow’s udders have not yet started bleeding or falling off. Fuck everything. I really haven’t the slightest clue how they’re going to get five films out of this when it seems to be primarily composed of history fail and cultural appropriation, and barely has any plot to speak of aside from ‘there are monsters. also there are conspiracies.’ It also sounds like she’s going to be trying to give us detail on the Grindelwald war, because taking history fail into the World Wars and possibly Nazi Germany is a brilliant idea that cannot possibly go wrong in any way. I am utterly atwitter with anticipation.

[Grindelwald is going to show up in the second film. Johnny Depp has been cast in the role, despite not looking remotely like the pretty blond we’ve been told to expect. I assume this means Rowling, Warner et al are fine with the fact that he abused his wife…]

And for the sake of proving I can be even-handed and don’t hate everything Rowling says on principle, I did think this was rather clever.

More to come this month from both of us – expect two film reviews, and hopefully the conclusion of Philosopher’s Stone, possibly more. Watch this space.


Posted by on November 4, 2016 in loten, mitchell


Tags: , , , , , , ,

14 responses to “Various Recent Developments in Potterland

  1. Rose

    November 4, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Hey, Johnny Depp is the embodiment of Grindelwald, a handsome man with deep dark secrets.

    … okay, usually, one does not try to cast people who ARE the character. And the fact that Depp will earn money with this is objectionable.

    But … better than Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins?

  2. Coccinelle écolo

    November 5, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I don’t like the fish for the simple reason that in my head, patronus are associate with animagus forms. Maybe I’m wrong but the books are not helping to quash this idea at all. Now imagine that your animagus form is a salmon. Right.

    • liminal fruitbat

      November 6, 2016 at 2:22 am

      Irish mythology has a Salmon of Knowledge; it’s not the worst animal-reflective-of-your-identity to turn into. (If you’re Irish, I guess.)

      • Coccinelle écolo

        November 6, 2016 at 2:34 am

        I have nothing against fishes per say, it’s just doesn’t work for me as an animagus. I know it’s magic but I can’t help to think how can it move, how can it breathe? I guess you could also ask how could the dolphin move…

      • Rose

        November 7, 2016 at 5:28 pm

        Well, you could only turn into animagus form in the water? It might actually be useful in such environments. (Dolphin moreso than salmon, though)

        This would be a legitimate reason why trying to become an animagus all on your own is incredibly dangerous …

        One has to admire Rita Skeeter for her courage; if she had gotten stuck in that form, someone might have stepped on her and no one would have ever known. As a cat, you may be able to get someone to notice you are human, as an insect … not so much.

    • drashizu

      November 7, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      You know, I never realized that, but all patronus form we see in the books that I can think of match the witch or wizard’s animagus form, if they have one. This never occurred to me before.

      Both forms are supposed to be an animal that wizards have an “affinity” for. So is your patronus an accurate predictor of your animagus form?

      If so, I think it’s strange that patronuses can change over time. Severus Snape’s patronus changed to a match Lily’s when she died. And I bet Dumbledore’s wasn’t a phoenix his whole life, either, before he acquired an “affinity” to Fawkes. Which leads me to wonder if the animagus form can change, too.

      • liminal fruitbat

        November 9, 2016 at 1:48 am

        We only see one animagus casting a patronus, don’t we? And Tonks’ changed when Rowling saddled her with being in love with Lupin, as well. My headcanon is that a patronus represents the caster’s source of happiness while an animagus form represents their personality/nature – so the latter could certainly change with real people, but probably not with Potterverse characters.

  3. mary

    November 8, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Do we know for sure that Lily’s patronus was a doe? I don’t think we ever learn that. What we do know is that James’s was a stag.

    • janach

      November 11, 2016 at 5:43 am

      We don’t know James’s patronus, either. Or Sirius’s or Peter’s or Remus’s. My private theory is that Remus can’t produce a patronus because he’s a Dark creature. It’s not a moral failure; it’s a physical handicap, just like I can’t play soccer because I use a walker. But if Remus can produce a patronus, I can’t imagine that it would be a wolf. A patronus is about what makes you happy, and being a werewolf makes Remus miserable. If anything, his patronus should be a human being—an innocent little boy of about five. It’s being human that makes Remus happy.

      • Loten

        November 11, 2016 at 8:02 am

        Pottermore said once that Remus’ Patronus is a wolf and that he hates it. No, that doesn’t work with what we’ve been told Patronuses are, but clearly Rowling thought it was clever.

  4. trelawneytinfoil

    November 17, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Re: “a catchall term like ‘wolf’ or ‘dolphin’ where there are huge numbers of subspecies being ignored”. Er, by the way, whereas it’s more or less clear with Hufflepuff’s and Gryffindor’s crests, what sort of eagle is Ravenclaw’s mascot? Or, even worse, does anyone know what SERPENT represents Slytherin?

    As far as the impending pentalogy is concerned, allow a newbie a couple of wild uneducated guesses. *trying to see JKR’s logic with my inner eye*

    [tinfoil hat on]
    Logically (although it’s going to be a total disaster marketing-wise) what we might be going to have is four movies each set in a different place, with different titles and a different protagonist. The fifth installment will bring them all together in one place, and the circumstances will force them to collaborate in order to win.

    The first film’s protagonist is a Hufflepuff. The next three will star a Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Slytherin (not in that order, perhaps).

    Places, from film one to five: we have USA (infamous Ilvermorny), France (Beauxbatons), Germany or Central or Eastern Europe (Durmstrang), hm, maybe Japan or Far East (what’s it called, Mahoutokoro?), and finally, definitely UK (Hogwarts).

    We are going by the book (and story) titles, out of those previously published by JKR, but the movies will be telling absolutely new stories. Not sure about each of the movie titles, but we are bound to have “Quidditch Through the Ages” somewhere along the lines (probably the one set in Germany or Central or Eastern Europe), and the fifth one will be called “The Tale of [insert your own variant how many] Brothers”.

    Time: 1st – 1926, this far we know; 2nd – around 1930; 3rd – 1933 or later (guess why); 4th and 5th – 1939-1945 (ok, maybe they’ll do it like Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 and 2).

    Of course, we can anticipate major history fails and even several canon divergences. But it will undoubtedly be rich in JKR-style social commentary on today’s global (and not so global) issues. The leitmotif will be: (wizards/witches and muggles/no-majs) of the world, unite to counter the evil which threatens us all – bigotry, prejudice and suspicion of the Other (no matter who this Other be), because what we really need to protect is life and future of our planet – for humans and animals alike. Can’t judge whether the realization will be pretty lame or inspiring.

    Ah, and I guess Credence is meant to be Eileen Prince’s father. And we might also see some other HP era characters’ parents or grandparents, their fates intertwined in the most peculiar way.
    [tinfoil hat off]

    Please accept my apologies if I violated any of your blog’s policies((.

    • Loten

      November 17, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      No, nobody knows what Ravenclaw’s and Slytherins mascots are.

      As for the film speculations, your theories are pretty interesting and sound plausible enough, but I think in just those few paragraphs you put approximately 200% more thought in than Rowling has done. I’m assuming the next one will deal almost exclusively with Ilvermornay since she ‘developed’ that one the most and the remaining three will probably mostly be about Dumbles and Grindelwald. I’d like to see them progress through the first Voldemort war and have the last film end with James and Lily’s death, but even though I think they’ll have run out of material long before that I doubt they will. (They’ll save that for the next pointless cash cow slaughter.)

      I also really, really hope there isn’t a Quidditch movie because oh dear lord no.

      • trelawneytinfoil

        November 17, 2016 at 7:36 pm

        Mascots unknown – a pity (I’ll go with a golden eagle and a grass snake then).

        Wow, thank you for “200% more thought”, flattered indeed. But I guess she does have it all chartered, like HP books. There are interpretations like Dr. Granger’s that there’s a very rigorous “hidden agenda” or esoteric meaning to the books. Maybe she’s going to have it here too (which doesn’t rule out that it’s still “pointless cash cow slaughter”, of course. One can think of a deeper meaning for any slaughter).

        No, it’s been said that these 5 films cover 19 years, ergo till 1945. We’ll have to wait for another decade for marauders’ era stuff, most probably.

        And “the quidditch movie” is not gonna be about quidditch (which is really “oh dear lord no”), but rather about totalitarian ideology and man power etc., you see what I mean.

  5. Jean Lamb

    March 4, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    I have a very hard time believing there’s only one magical school in the States–we have a much bigger population base, for one thing, and let’s not forget New Orleans (who probably gets Slytherin exchange students). And then there’s that new school near Redmond, WA (home of both Microsoft and Nintendo of America, which used to be a bigger thing than it is now. would love to see someone have a Mario patronus). But the first Fantastic Beasts movie had a very thin story stretched across an acre of special effects, in my opinion.

    And I would still love to see what the photographers thought after they developed their pictures later on. (and some of the those photographers would have been inside out of the range of the Magic Rain before it fell, too).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: