The last time I read the Harry Potter series in its entirety, I was 10 and would die for my headcanon that Hermione Granger should’ve ended up with Draco Malfoy. Now I’m 20 and while my opinion on that ship has definitely changed, my love for these books has not. These books still sound and feel like home, after all this time. There’s a safety that only exists when I’m in the middle of a Harry Potter book and Harry just acted like a brat again and the boys failed to listen to Hermione again. But as I’ve mentioned, it’s been 10 years since I’ve read these books, and with time, I’ve grown and matured and learned about the world, so that when I started my first reread of the Harry Potter series, I was surprised with how much I had forgotten, or hadn’t picked up on since my last read.
J.K Rowling has outed herself as an enemy to the trans community, and therefore, while I will be reviewing the Harry Potter series for entertainment, I do not support this person in any way. I’m lucky to have already owned the books and not need to purchase them to start my reread. Rowling has made harmful comments towards the trans community and then defended them when she was called out on her transphobia. Not only is she blatantly transphobic, but her very problematic opinions subtly surface themselves in the pages of these books, and I can’t believe I didn’t notice them before.
I still love these books and they will always feel like home to me, but I cannot deny that most of my love for these books is rooted in nostalgia for what it meant to me as a child. I will never be able to look at these books the same again, and that’s okay. No one will ever be able to taint my memories of reading these books for the first time and watching the movies during Christmas every year. I will hold those memories dear for the rest of my life.
Now, I introduce you to my Harry Potter hot takes.
Harry Potter is a brat. But I love him.
Ugh. I love him and I hate him all at the same time. When I was 10, I didn’t really pay much attention to Harry. Yes, Harry Potter is obviously his story, but I was more invested in Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom to pay attention to how angsty Harry was, specifically in the fifth book. Merlin— I doubt there is any version of Harry more annoying than the version of Harry that glowers over the fact that he’s isolated and no one knows what it’s like to be him.
He had good reason to be a brat though. Sometimes I think about how much Harry has been through and my heart just aches. So much was put on his shoulders at such a young age, it’s no wonder he had a saving-people-thing (as said by Hermione Granger in book five). He was just a child, and I often forget that, but when I do remember, I cry.
The Golden Trio were b*tches to Hagrid and I’m mad about it.
I adore Hagrid. I think he’s a great character and a great friend to Harry, Ron, and Hermione. However, rarely are those three good friends to Hagrid. Sure, the things Hagrid wants to do are rarely things that these children want to participate in, but isn’t sacrifice part of any good friendship?
I can’t tell you how many times in the books that the Golden Trio was mean to Hagrid behind his back, and only pretended to be nice to his face! At least Draco Malfoy was transparent about how he felt about Hagrid. Instead, Harry, Ron, and Hermione listlessly complained about Hagrid and all the things he did. They dropped his class in their fifth year, they didn’t want to go to Aragog’s funeral in their sixth year, and were never empathetic to what Hagrid was going through.
This was especially notable during the fifth book, when Hagrid introduced his half-brother, Grawp, to Harry and Hermione. They had promised Hagrid they would visit Grawp, but they never did! The only time they visited Grawp was to get rid of Dolores Umbridge, which understandable, but they made a promise to Hagrid and only acted on it when it suited them!
Veela are problematic. What the heck J.K Rowling??
Oh. I don’t think you want to get me started on this, so I’ll keep it brief. First of all, while Veela are not human, they look human-like, and can participate in the Wizarding World akin to equals. Fleur Delacour, is part Veela for example. But that’s not the issue. The issue is that these human-like creatures who can and do seduce many men, have flowing blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
J.K Rowling literally implied that the most beautiful women in the world are girls with blonde hair and blue eyes. How did I not see how problematic that was as a child?
But to add salt to the wound, these human-like creatures are too beautiful, and when they become angry, they get ugly. We see this during the Quidditch World Cup where Arthur Weasley remarks, “And that boys, is why you should never go for looks alone!” Even though these Veela are human-like and outrageously beautiful, Arthur’s comment rubs me the wrong way. These creatures do not just exist to be eye-candy for men, in the very same way that women do not exist for men to ogle them.
Ugh. That’s all I’m going to say on that matter.
The racist stereotypes are EVERYWHERE
As a person of color, I didn’t notice the racial stereotypes of some Harry Potter characters when I was ten years old. That has completely shifted, and I now recognize the horridness of J.K Rowling’s attempt at characterizing people that aren’t ethnically white— heck, ethnically British. There are too many racist stereotypes for me to list (trust me, there’s a lot), but I am going to talk about the most problematic ones, starting with Cho Chang.
J.K Rowling really couldn’t have thought of any other name? The usage of stereotypical naming for race-specific characters is rather prevalent in the books as a whole, but Cho Chang is certainly the laziest. Right next to Cho Chang are Parvati and Padma Patil. As an Indian person, I will tell you, yes, these are ethnically Indian names and they’re rather popular, but that’s only an indication of how lazy J.K Rowling was with naming these characters. I think of Hermione Granger and Minerva McGonagall as examples of how dedicated Rowling was to making unique and notable character names, and then cringe at what was used for the people of color in this book.
I also want to talk about Dean Thomas. Dean Thomas is a great character, from what we know about him. The only real characterization we get about this character can be surmised as the following: likes to draw, adequate at Quidditch, dated Ginny Weasley, has no dad. Um. You see what I see right? When compared to well-developed characters, such as Ginny, who was athletic, kind, the youngest of seven children, smart, and funny, Dean Thomas’ development as a character is almost laughable.
Any characters of color’s development in the Harry Potter series is laughable and it really only adds on to the antagonism I feel towards Rowling.
I love book Ginny except when she called Fleur, “Phlegm.”
Ginny Weasley is an icon. She’s smart and witty and has the best bat-bogey hex you will ever come across. She’s popular with many people, but also incredibly kind to everyone. She doesn’t take sh*t from anyone, and will stand up for others when they won’t.
But when Ginny Weasley called Fleur Delacour, her soon to be sister-in-law, Phlegm, I almost cried. It’s such a cruel name, and so derogatory towards someone who hasn’t really shown you any antagonism. I forget how much I love Ginny when I’m reading that part of book six because it’s just so ugly that it’s almost mean girl behavior. In the books, while Fleur is described to be a lot, she’s never directly cruel to anyone, which is why it’s so astonishing that Ginny would feel this negatively towards her.
And I feel like it’s so out of character for her to talk like that because Ginny is typically so kind to others, especially to those who aren’t very popular. While Fleur was undoubtedly popular at Beauxbatons, while she was in Britain, studying English, she was entirely isolated from her friends, and anyone really, who liked her. And then for Ginny to act this way towards her?
Girls can be girly. Let them.
I will never forgive J.K Rowling for killing off Lavender Brown because she hated her. I will also never forgive J.K Rowling for coding Parvati Patil to be girly and therefore only interested in what she decided were “lesser” magics, such as Divination.
J.K Rowling has deeply embedded her ideas of feminism in this book, which is fine, but it’s at the expense of traditionally feminine women. I don’t think it’s any mistake that the most hated character of Harry Potter is a short woman that dresses in pink, likes cats, and drinks sweet tea. Are you kidding?
As a feminist who loves pink and wearing dresses, I’m deeply offended. There is not one example of a good girl character who embraces her femininity fully and isn’t apologetic about it. Instead, we have poorly written characters like the Patil sisters, Lavender Brown and Romilda Vane. And when I was younger, I hated these characters because they were traditionally feminine and their book smarts suffered as a result of it.
Don’t get it twisted. I love them now, but they aren’t written to be likeable.
Even when Hermione has a grand reveal where she acts traditionally feminine, it only lasts for one night and by the next day, she’s back to her normal self, claiming that what she did the previous night was too difficult to do everyday, almost implying that spending time on things like that were stupid and useless— and that just rubs me the wrong way.
J.K Rowling, girls can be girly and be smart. Leave them be.