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18 July 2011


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That's so wrong it doesn't seem based on anything whatsoever.

I once had a male friend who was trying to impress a girl with his feminism say he hated the Harry books because they were sexist--Hermione was never allowed to take part in any of the adventures.

Um, what?

Diana Peterfreund

Well, I agree with the interpretation of Harry (rich/jock/celebrity) and that they are not, indeed "a band of misfits" -- but I think that the real meat of the story is that the narrative of "misfit" vs. "popular kid" is a false dichotomy. The journalist began to lose me when she started going on about Ginny being a cheerleader in the stereotypical YA novel.

Hogwarts does not exist in the world of popular vs unpopular, but rather in a world of tight-knit cliques (the houses). There are "popular" kids in each house (like Harry) and "unpopular" kids in each house (like Neville, who is more stereotypically nerdy/awkward/unliked than Harry or Ron EVER are, and Luna in Ravenclaw, who even the other Rs think is a "freak"). Since Slytherin is ALWAYS portrayed as a house of bullies, one can only imagine what happens to unpopular Slytherins.

And yes, Hermione is initially ridiculed for her nerdiness, but it basically changes, She's All That style, when she starts dating a famous athlete and magics herself some pretty hair and teeth.


That's an excellent point about the houses. I'd think, too, that even the most unpopular member of a house (I'd assume, though maybe the text would contradict me -- it's been a while since I've read them) would get defended by housemates if it was someone from another house doing the harassing.


And as for any comparisons to Buffy... one of the major, major differences is that Harry's mentor actually has power at the school, whereas Giles has very little.


At one point the Guardian author talks about Harry's girlfriend being a super-popular athlete. I can only assume she's referring to Cho Chang - and therefore wonder if she's read the books. I mean, it's been a couple years since the last time I read the series, but Cho barely registers with me, knowing who Harry ends up with. And I'd hardly call Ron a privileged kid. He comes from an old family, but the Weasleys seem kind of like the wizard world's version of impoverished gentility - homemade gifts for Christmas and used books for school. Now Draco Malfoy - there's a kid coasting through life on his family's money and connections.

I think the fact that Harry didn't grow up in the wizarding world gives him a bit of Outsider-ness. Hermione didn't either, but she's read everything under the sun and is a know-it-all anyhow.


I love Ron, he's a dork, but he's such a coaster. He's more the average kid who managed to befriend the kid who became the cool kid early on.

(monkey) steve

I'm not sure I know what the author means by "badass," here. Harry is too unsure of himself to be a badass as far as I'm concerned. Badasses do not run crying to Dumbledore in every book. They do not rely on the power of love and faith in their friends. They kick ass, unapologetically. I think that Harry does, however, shift towards the badass end of things in the last few books (I'm thinking especially of when he is running Dumbledore's Army); I just don't think his transformation to BA is complete. It seems to me that the only character who could count as a badass is Voldemort.


Yeah, my first thought when I read this was, "Define badassery!" Which the author does not.


Lisa--I think Ginny is the super-popular athlete in question. She is described as popular fairly often in the later books, and is a strong player on the quidditch team. Rowling has said that Ginny was a professional player after leaving school.

Not that I agree with anything else in this article. But I think that one thing is accurate.

Diana Peterfreund

I agree with Sarah. Ginny does play Quidditch (I didn't realize she turned pro!) and before she dates Harry, she has a string of boyfriends. I always picture her looking a bit like Emma Stone.

And Prof. Mortis characterization of Ron is awesome. He's a very average kid, and that's why he and Harry make good friends, because if it weren't for Harry's celebrity (and to a lesser extent, his Quidditch skills), Harry would have been your average Hogwarts student too. Rowling makes very clear he's not a particularly gifted wizard. I never really did see what Hermione saw in him, though.


I have some sympathy with this perspective--shaped probably by some fine fan-fiction by A.J. Hall. Fred and George Weasley are disgusting bullies. Harry does his share of swanning around being Mr. Popularity. Ron coasts more on his friendship with Harry than on his fine wizarding antecedents, but he definitely coasts.


'Harry wears glasses, Hermione is a bookworm, Ron is a redhead' wow way to simplify. The main reason Ron belongs to the band of misfits trope isn't his hair colour, it's his families lower socioeconomic status. He's privileged in other ways, but he's also from a poor (or maybe over stretched is a better wya of putting it) family. I mean what brings Harry and him together initially is Draco's dislike for both of them and he picks on Ron partly because of his rubbish familiar, his bad robes etc.

Hermione has the 'wrong' blood in her veins. She's not just picked on because she isn't pretty and she's bookish (although that's a big part of it and I hugely wish JK Rowling hadn't felt the need to redeem her by getting her pretty). Her Mublood status is integral to getting her picked on. I have a lot more trouble buying Harry as a misfit after he's brought to Hogwarts and as he develops through the books, but at the very begining when he lives with the Dursley's sure he's a misfit and it has nothing to do with his glasses, which as far as I know no one ever references as a negative in the books. He's an orphan with bullies who control his life and he lives in a seriously poor looking space.

Of course their statuses change over the course of the books, but if someone says 'well eventually they all get popular, so calling them a band of misfits is incorrect' then don't they also have to say that once Xander gets mainstream hot in the later Buffy series his misfit status goes away as well? He's still kind of the same old geek despite that delicious body and relationship with uber hot girlfriend.

PS This got long, but I also really like the house interpretation above.


Okay. First, Ron is not privileged. His family has no money. He wishes he could be talented and rich like Harry, but he isn't, and he's conflicted about that a lot.

Also, Hermione has always been a know-it-all. The other girls in her house never really accept her. I think a lot of outsiders to the Harry Potter fandom just assume that when Hermione gets all pretty for the Yule Ball, she is completely transformed and she's never a geek again.

They're all CHILDREN. My God. They're not just badasses, they're growing, changing, relatable children. Certainly their level of popularity changes just like they do. Sometimes everybody hates Harry because he talks to snakes. Sometimes everybody loves Ron because he has Quidditch skillz. Sometimes Hermione is pretty. It's not set in stone!

There are so many things that bother me about that article...she's just spewing like that to try and stir up some controversy with hot-headed fans. (Like myself.)

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