Last week, J.K. Rowling told Wonderland magazine (and subsequently the entire Internet) that, after taking a real, long think about it, Hermione should have ended up with Harry. She commented in an interview that Ron may not have been able to make the genius witch truly happy, and that Harry could have been a better romantic partner. Obviously, this has already caused considerable outrage on the Internet, and for good reason.
Rowling’s pairing of Ron and Hermione was a sort of surprising but ultimately heartwarming decision, because for most of the novels, although Ron was an oafish ass-hat, he was constantly trying to be worthy of Hermione. I can wager that Hermione had a thing for the ginger dude many books back, and made the poor bastard jump through hoops. Sure, not the best message in the end, but a decent love story (Ron and Hermione proved opposites attract, I guess). Maybe I sound corny and like a HP super-fan, but that’s the way it was written, and having Rowling go back and change her mind is kind of a jerk move.
According to the author, she got Ron and Hermione together for personal reasons, not for literary ones. And that to me is silly to say, because it had justification in the story and really was a good direction for the characters’ development. Plus, if Hermione had ended up with Harry, it would have been another case of the leading man and woman ending up together, and that’s cliché. Ron getting the girl was awesome, especially because he deserved her more.
Yes, that’s right, he may have been a dim bulb in the book, but the man had heart. Harry spent a good number of the novels brooding and being a general douche – remember in the fifth book when he was constantly emo and it was extremely uncool? Ron may have made some dumbass mistakes, but at least he was a supportive, good bro (he was cool with Harry bumping uglies with his little sister). I, for one, always rooted for Ron in his story arcs; Harry wasn’t nearly as rad.
The problem here is not with the characters, though. Fans would have accepted any couplings in the novels, as Rowling wrote each love story pretty well (the entire story hinges on Snape’s disturbingly long-held blue balls) and convincingly. Here, the problem is Rowling’s insistence on blurting out non-canon stuff to fans who have spent a good long while obsessing over the material. A novel shouldn’t be tampered with like that, especially when throwing stuff into the media stream will just invalidate people’s own imaginations and conceptions of stories they hold dear.
I didn’t feel like this when Dumbledore was revealed to be a homosexual. That, I felt, made sense and wasn’t that big a reveal. It didn’t take away from the stories, and it was further proof that Dumbledore was human (it’s always nice for a super-powered character to have emotions). Of course, the world went a little crazy with it. Suddenly, conservative groups wanted the novels banned, and not only for their promotion of witchcraft (what?). But that’s not a Harry Potter problem; it’s a continued hatefulness that never ceases to amaze me with its terrible persistence. Dumbledore is a character in a kid’s novel, and him being a homosexual is not part of some plot to convince folks to be homosexual (I’ve written about this before; it’s mind blowing that people think that homosexuality is part of some propaganda). His interest in Grindelwald and other dudes shouldn’t have even gotten so much attention (the more big a deal folks make, the more the media can spin it all wrong).
I dread, though, that Rowling saw the controversy that erupted from that sexual revelation, and decided to drop another bomb into the Internet comments world. Sure, it doesn’t push the same buttons (the Dumbledore thing brought up real social issues that need to examined), but it’s a breach of audience trust. You can’t change the reality of a novel, especially not one that exists so vividly in many an imagination. It’s a selfish move, and one that aggressively breaks quite a lovely illusion. Also, it means too many fanfic authors were right, and I just can’t have that.