Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the Problem With Shipping Wars

Love triangle

In an excerpt from a recent interview done by actress Emma Watson, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling revealed that after giving it some thought, she regrets putting Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger together.

“I can hear the rage and fury it might cause some fans, but if I’m absolutely honest, distance has given me perspective on that,” the author said.  She also added that the relationship between Ron and Hermione was a sort of wish fulfillment and had “nothing to do with literature.”

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about this by now, as this part of the interview was released days ago, and tons of fans have been all over the internet weighing in on what Rowling had to say.  Most have been upset, saying that Ron and Hermione’s relationship proved that a platonic friendship between a boy and a girl (Harry and Hermione) is entirely possible, and that the main character (when it’s a boy) doesn’t always have to end up with the main girl by his side in the end.  In any case, it gives people who can’t be Harry, the Rons of the world, some hope.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have people like Emma Watson, who even slightly agreed to Rowling’s statements.  “I think there are fans out there who know that too and who wonder whether Ron would have really been able to make her happy,” said Watson.

Now let me say this: Rowling never once said Hermione and Harry should have ended up together.  She simply said she no longer believes Ron and Hermione were a good pairing.  For all we know, Hermione could have ended up with Viktor Krum, or even Neville Longbottom (sorry Neville and Luna shippers).

Now I’ve read all the Harry Potter books.  I’ve seen all the movies.  I even dressed up as Remus Lupin to sit beside my brother, who was dressed as Dumbledore, at the midnight premiere of Deathly Hallows Part 2.  There was a time where I probably could’ve told you anything you needed to know about the books and the movies.  It seems like a lot of time has passed since then and I hope to one day get back into the books.  Perhaps I would have been a little outraged at Rowling’s comments several years ago.  But like Rowling, time has given me perspective on certain things.

Lupin-train

The guy is pretty flippin’ awesome. Well, at least I think so.

It seems nowadays, you just can’t have a successful franchise – book series, movies, TV shows (you name it) – without having some sort of love triangle.  Fans love that kind of stuff.  Even though there has never been a direct love triangle between the three main Potter characters, fans have always thought that way.  There’s always been Ron-Hermione shippers and Harry-Hermione shippers.

It seems the Twilight series was almost practically built on the love triangle that was Bella, Edward, and Jacob.  A human girl falls in love with a vampire while a jealous werewolf watches from afar and tries to protect her from him.  Tween girls just love that kind of stuff.  Many “Team Jacob” and “Team Edward” shirts later – in addition to several movie posters featuring Edward and Bella with their arms wrapped around each other while Jacob awkwardly stands at a distance – the series has ended.

Breaking-Dawn-OST-cover-breaking-dawn-the-movie-25643933-1023-1022

It’s not easy being Jacob.

Even The Hunger Games, notable for its strong female lead character, has focused a little on the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale.  At least fans have.  You have the charming, soft-hearted, and neglected bakers’ son, Peeta, who was teamed up with Katniss to fight to the death in the Hunger Games.  Peeta is totally in love with her by the way, even if Katniss is just pretending the feelings are mutual for the camera.  And then you have Gale, the older, more brooding hunter who has to watch everything go down from a far.  He’s more Katniss’ type.

Peeta-katniss-and-gale

The shipping wars have even gotten to some of my beloved television shows.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer is perhaps well known for, again, its strong female lead, witty pop culture references, and cult following.  But some fans are caught up in fighting over who the title character belongs with.  Angel, the overall good vamp we see her with at the beginning of the series- except for the occasions where his soul is taken from him and he turns evil – or Spike, the snarky British bad boy vamp she has a fling with toward the end?

800px-Angel_buffy_spike

Even Veronica Mars, some of the best writing on television I’ve ever seen, is susceptible to this kind of thing.  The title character started off with rich good guy Duncan Kane only to end up in the arms of Duncan’s friend,  neglected jackass Logan Echolls.  We see Veronica start a relationship with Stosh “Piz” Piznarski in the final season – something that caused many, many fans to be outraged.  Over the course of the series, we see Veronica’s relationship with Logan develop over several seasons, including a few breakups.  Fans didn’t take kindly to seeing Veronica hook up with someone who is A) a new character introduced in the show’s final season and B) someone who is not Logan Echolls.  And some fans groaned when they heard the new Veronica Mars movie would start out with Veronica and Piz together several years after the end of the show.  All I have to say is thank God Chris Lowell, the actor portraying Piz, has a sense of humor about the whole subject, considering so many fans hate him – and his character – so much for pretty much nothing besides the fact that he’s Veronica’s new boyfriend.

Team

Jason Dohring (Logan) and Chris Lowell (Piz) kiss Kristen Bell (Veronica) while sporting each others’ shirts at Comic Con.

So I’d like to, at this time, point out that we’ve taken things too far here.  Since when is a story – a movie, a TV show, a book – based entirely upon love triangles portrayed in them?  Sure, maybe that’s what the whole story’s about.  Maybe it’s a romance that focuses on two – or three if you insist on having a love triangle – characters.  But for franchises like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Buffy, and Veronica Mars, (I’m purposely excluding Twilight here for the simple fact that it’s Twilight) the focus is on the story and the main characters, not some silly love triangle.  I’d much rather focus on a character, how well they’re written, how much they grow over time, and what they contribute to a story than who I think they should be with.  We fell in love with these stories because of that.

I believe Buffy Summers said things best.

I’m cookie dough.  I’m not done baking.  I’m not finished becoming who ever the hell it is I’m gonna turn out to be.  I make it through this, and the next thing, and the next thing, and maybe one day, I turn around and realize I’m ready.  I’m cookies. And then, you know, if I want someone to eat m- or enjoy warm, delicious, cookie me, then that’s fine.  That’ll be then.  When I’m done. – Buffy Summers

This quote is from “Chosen,” the series finale of Buffy.  She’s talking to her former flame, Angel, about her love life after being confronted by him over the fact that she’s been having a fling with his old rival, Spike.  Not only is the quote supposed to add some humor, but it’s supposed to be deep, highlighting the fact that Buffy is only about 22 at this point in her life despite all that’s happened to her.  For a girl at such a young age, she’s decided that she isn’t done growing yet, and that she’d rather focus on growing as a person and finding herself than choosing a guy to spend the rest of her life with.  When cookie Buffy is done baking, then someone can enjoy.  The thing is, the baking is often the best part of a story.

Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games is a strong young woman who couldn’t care less about beauty and is flawed in that she doesn’t easily make friends and comes off as a little more masculine, but in the end, she’s more grounded and real as a person.  She’s someone who can fend for herself.  The story at play here is about standing up for what you believe in, as Katniss eventually leads a revolution against the corrupt Capitol.

Buffy Summers is a valley girl thrown into a world of monsters and demons.  With super strength, she fights them off.  Buffy is just about so many things in life.  Not just a teenage girl slaying vampires, but a badass teenage girl who is able to stand up for her friends, grow up under immense amounts of stress, make mistakes here and there, and save the world.  A lot.  The amount of metaphors for the many things we go through in life that are packed into this show is many in number.  As we see Buffy grow, why should we be hung up on one guy she had a thing with?  Isn’t the show after all… about Buffy?

We see the same thing with Veronica Mars.  The girl is pretty damn awesome.  Not just in the fact that she’s capable of doing so many things most average teenage girls can’t, – like digging up dirt on your parents, solving her best friend’s murder case, and other awesome things – but because she’s real.  Like Katniss, she can be spiteful and angry.  She makes the wrong decisions from time to time.  She’s flawed.  The story, a neo-noir show with a sassy lead teenage character, is awesome in itself.  Fans should be rejoicing about the new movie, not going overboard with who Veronica should be with.  As long as the story’s good, does it matter?

Which leads us back to Harry Potter.  So maybe it’s a little comforting to people like Ron knowing that the guy snagged someone like the beautiful, intelligent Hermione at the end of the series.  But at its core, the story is about a group of friends growing up, fighting off evil, working as a team, and being there for each other even in the darkest of times.  If the fact that J.K. Rowling has admitted that she regrets the pairing of two of those friends, it’s okay to be a little upset, but don’t let that ruin everything for you.  Shipping wars can sometimes be a little fun, but don’t take things too far.  After all, Harry Potter is still going to be a pretty fantastic story with a great legacy.  And that’s all it could ever really ask for.

Potter Smiling

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