The Shipping Terror – Why Rowling’s Final Pairings Suck

Harry Potter now officially sucks balls.

This may seem odd for a guy, but I do get suckered into the whole shipping (relationships in fiction, for the uninitiated) aspect of a series of stories if I’m into it enough, not only because it’s important for character development, but it’s pretty damn fun too, although if you’re disappointed and the worst happens, it can ruin a franchise for you, for good.

From the time that I considered myself a full-time fan of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which was 2001 to 2005, perhaps the years 2003 and 2004 were the very best, the long awaited Order of the Phoenix delivered on so many satisfying levels despite its overbearing length, and the film adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban left me one happy little Potterfan. I couldn’t help noticing that other fans liked going on internet message boards and discussing their ideas about the future books. You had the “Who Will Die?” threads, the “What Did They Mean?” threads, the “Whose Wand is Bigger Than Who’s” threads, but there was no hotter topic than the “Who Will Fall In Love With Whom?” threads; you looked at one that was 150 pages long, then look at it again the next day, but it was a new thread already up to the 58th page. I cannot overstate how this particular aspect of the Harry Potter series divided so many fans. You had the Harry and Hermione shippers, which I still consider myself a part of, and the Ron and Hermione shippers (this girl bounces around a lot), as well as the “Heron” dump-ship for Harry and Ginny, which no Harry/Hermione shipper ever took seriously because there was absolutely no development between that pair.

Oh wait, that did happen! How did this come to be? Did Rowling go mad? Even the staunchest Ron/Hermione shippers thought this came out of no-where, and they’d be right, it reads like an amateur sex story, there’s no background, no development, just a monster down Harry’s pants, a bit of perving and lot of “snogging” (I dare someone to count how many times that word is mentioned in Half-Blood Prince). The actual pairings that Rowling threw at us were Harry/Ginny and Ron/Hermione, one big happy Weasley family. Boring.

Has anyone ever stopped to observe how misogynistic the official canon ships wound up being? The reader is never given an opportunity to get to know Ginny, she’s always a background character no-one cares about in much of Books 1-5, and thus she’s only a red-headed object for Harry’s sexual desires, it really makes him look like a total douche; and it seems most readers only care who Ron gets with, and Hermione supposedly being the “most brilliant witch of her age” has to lower herself to a Molly Weasley-like housewife level in order to satisfy Ron’s needs without any regard for her own endeavors. At least Harry and Hermione were equals who respected each other, even when they disagreed – Rowling really missed the point entirely. If she ever calls herself a “feminist”, she’s lying through her teeth.

However, what finally killed it was that Rowling got impatient and wrote the ending first. I cannot discourage this practice more. Sure, she may have had her grand plan for things to end up that way in the Epilogue, but clearly the characters got away from her in Books 3, 4 and 5 and did that strange literary miracle of taking on lives of their own and talking back at the author, which would really be a damaging blast to Rowling’s ego; so she thought it was prudent to put them back on track in Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows to comply with her grand plan, and as a result, it comes off as awkward, shallow, and completely out of uniform with the direction the characters seemed to be going in the first five books.

Rowling herself may publicly deny all she wants that there was any well written development between the Harry and Hermione characters that clearly could have flourished into something romantic (she admits to not even re-reading her own material so what the hell does she know?), but for her writing to trick half her fan base into thinking the development between the two mentioned characters was what she intended to be a deep and meaningful pairing, and then after the release of Half-Blood Prince turn around and tell readers to go back and re-read it and insult half the fan base for thinking that way, there must be something inherently wrong with the writing itself if so many fans saw that. Or she’s just a nasty old bat; either way, it was clear she wasn’t satisfied with the direction the characters were going, and like the control freak that she is, put them back on her proverbial track to a very painful wreckage. What made matters worse was that the other half of the fan base who championed the final pairings and loved the degenerating quality of the last two books regardless, somehow felt it was their obligation to take on a vigilante mentality and wage war on the Harry/Hermione shippers by attacking their websites, spreading rumors about them, and constantly being defensive about the official canon ships, even though they’d won, which only proved it was a hollow victory from their apparent insecurity. They carried on like they’d won an election, and proceeded to stamp out all opposition, and Harry/Hermione shippers were in the crosshair because of their dissent towards their godly messianic author, that’ll teach ya! This is no conjecture, the internet fandom really imploded in 2005 because of this.

It’s not only the romances that have ruined it. Books 1 to 5 display a growing trend of continuing complexity, uses of symbolism, clear and ambiguous characterizations, advancing abilities in writing action scenes, dazzling plots, witty dialogue and clever satire, but all that is lost in Half-Blood Prince, so much so, it reads like it’s by a different author. Much of the book is full of light filler where it just meanders on and on with boring scenes of pseudo political babble, gossip chatter, Disney-cartoon style imagery evoked from Rowling’s fluttering writing style that can often kill the mood, along with painful teenage lust that just makes any sane reader wince (isn’t there a war going on? I wanted to see that!). Worst of all, the characters who seemed so mature in previous books degenerate into the very worst of stereotypes, Harry’s a pampered jock who gets everything he wants; Hermione suddenly becomes an abusive and unlikable broad with a permanent PMS problem who, just when you thought she had a brain, still dates sports boofheads to make Ron jealous; Ron’s still WonWon, only worse; Ginny’s become the school bicycle (how romantic!); Draco’s still an arse but he gets a few good moments, and everyone else reads like they’ve been pulled from a Porky’s movie. While you’re reading it, you’re waiting 500 pages for something to happen, and when it happens, it reads like crap. After all the flack Rowling got from mainstream readers after Order of the Phoenix, it just seemed like she was dumbing it down for a wider audience. Deathly Hallows doesn’t fare much better, there’s only about two chapters I like in that book and they both feel like a slap in the face anyway – it’s probably the most disjointed and jerky of the series. Voldemort surprisingly carks it in a very unbadass-like manner, it’s a piddly fizzer to behold.

With the new film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince about to be released, it was nice to recap on what made this series such a sucky disappointment of ineptitude and unfulfilled promises. If you like what it ended up being, all the power to you, but I and many others expected much more from this bomb.

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9 Responses to “The Shipping Terror – Why Rowling’s Final Pairings Suck”

  1. chofisrad Says:

    Amen, bro!

    JK. Kill her characters and stole their golden bones 😦

    I used to love her, is so sad

  2. Anonymous Says:

    +100000000
    Pure truth
    Word by word.

  3. James Drax Says:

    Author's Note: after publishing this article, a fellow fan reminded me that Rowling did acknowledge the H/Hr ship in a 2008 interview and that "it could have gone that way" because of some "charged moments".

    While that's fine, it doesn't change the fact that there was a drastic change in characterization between Books 5 and 6, with the seemingly forced relationships in the canon text in the substantially lower quality latter two books, but realistically, no author would admit to that.

    I gave this consideration, but at the time of writing felt it wasn't worth mentioning because she never would have admitted it if she wasn't backed into a corner by a professional interviewer.

  4. At first, I thought to myself, "This is long. I'm just going to skim it." After I got through the second paragraph, I had to keep reading because I sensed a kindred spirit.

    I was seven or eight when I first read Sorcerer's Stone. Ever since Ron got knocked out in chess and Hermione told Harry what a great wizard he was, I became a loyal Harry and Hermione shipper. They respected each other and they saw eye-to-eye. Since then, it was Hermione that Harry sought advice from, it was Hermione that Harry had serious talks with. Although Harry did have a strong friendship with Ron, he always confided in Hermione. He trusted Hermione and Hermione trusted him. It was that simple.

    I can't exactly say that Ron and Hermione's relationship came from nowhere (there was some hint of it in HP4), but it seemed like Ron just had a tiny crush on Hermione–and that was it…and it was meant to pass. Ron and Hermione certainly didn't have the development and the strong friendship that prevailed between Harry and Hermione.

    The Ginny, who had a crush on Harry since HP1, suddenly became gorgeous and Harry lusted after her and apparently, that became what Rowling recognized as true love and THEY GOT MARRIED. Rowling did seem eager to convince readers that Ginny was a strong, smart girl–but Rowling never showed us any of those qualities that seemed too often hinted without any actual foundation. Ginny was just the boring object of Harry's adolescent male fantasies.

    If Rowling absolutely had to eliminate the third wheel problem and give Ron and Hermione their happily ever after, she could've easily paired Harry with someone worthwhile. How about Luna Lovegood? There was a genuine connection between Harry and Luna by the end of HP5 and Rowling could've built on that–but she decided not to. And that "connection" is more genuine, more precious than anything Harry and Ginny ever shared. Rowling's "already-written ending" demanded her to have Harry and Ginny together. Ridiculous.

    I agree–books 1 to 5 are brilliant. The reception of Order of the Phoenix is relatively cold but I think it's one of the greatest fantasy novels I've ever read and it shows Rowling at her finest. But something went wrong in book 6 and 7. Book 6 had about 200 pages of interesting material and book 7 had about 400 pages of three quarreling teenagers camping in random forests and characters randomly dying.

    I just got back from Half-Blood Prince and I think the movie's better than the book. The film cut down on a lot of the lame snogging/romance stuff and focused on the more important things going on (like war). But the relationship drama was played out in a sweet, charming manner that was barely existent in Rowling's lackluster portrayal of teen romance. Probably one of the best adaptations I've seen in a while.

    So, this is a wonderful entry. Harry and Hermione forever! (haha)

  5. Pipe_chan Says:

    Kudos to your comment!!

    My friends couldn't, or more well, can’t understand why I don't want to go to HBP… I simply hated the book.
    Askaban and Order are my favorites in the serie. I love what Cuaron did with the 3th movie, but later on, I was really disappointed with the 5th, and this time I don't know if I’m going to go to HBP.

    Back to the books.
    I almost returned my copy of HBP while reading it, I couldn't believe that material was, indeed, the new book. I felt mock, I didn't know if the characters were really them, I was expecting them to say "just kidding! Now, with the real plot" but no, none of that happened.
    My favorite character was minimized to a crazy little fan girl (no offense), the book overall was a picnic, 1/4 actually was interesting (Dumbledore/Harry part) but everything else…

    And the 7th…the actual plot, about the elder wand and the clock etc, and Voldemorts soul divided in 7 parts; that was interesting, but everything else…there's no comparison with the first 5 books.

    I also think that JK forced the ending. She saw she couldn't handle what the characters themselves created (because the drive solo 'till the 5th) and then made a sudden stop and tried to re-arrange the mess she got into.

    The last two books are really, really hard to swallow.

    By your previews comments I'm gonna give the movie a chance to mend the crap of book that is.

  6. I liked the Half Blood Prince (sorry Drax). Though I didn't like the pairings. It is obvious it is done out of convenience so none of the leads are left on the shelf. Leastways it feels that way.

    The Deathly Hallows to me feels too rushed and forced, like everyone is running around trying to find stuff and kill off things to tie off the ends, instead of telling a story.

    On the other hand by the time I got to the DH I was thinking, damn, I just want to rush and finish this series and end it, get the lot done lickety-splat, so maybe we're equal.

    I didn't really like the movie version of The Order of the Phoenix. I really only liked seeing Imelda Staunton march around and the pen that scars your hand. Apart from that I think it was very patchy and you could feel it. Too short for a long book.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    I truly enjoyed reading this post and I totaly agree.
    Harry/Hermione 4ever.

  8. IPreferDramione Says:

    I’m not a Harmony shipper, but I do agree. Everything I had in mind has been said.

  9. I have always been a H/Hr shipper. Since the first book itself I remember hoping that Harry ends up with hermione. They are both amazing, loyal and respectful towards each other. Also alot more mature. HBP in my opinion was the worst hp book. It reduced my favorite character(hermione) into some kind of boy crazy girl with no self respect. And for H/Hr shippers it helps that Warner brothers seem to think that too!

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