Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

14 Oct

Hey, check it out. My book reviews have chapters. I am da queen of essays.

Order of the Phoenix thoughts, with comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Star Wars

OK, before I start this review, a moment of silence for the dearly departed Sirius Black.

Hangs head in sorrow

I tell you, every time I start ‘shipping any two characters, something comes along to rip them apart. And I don’t mean break-ups. Whenever I ‘ship, there isn’t just a parting of the ways. One of the pair dies or is summarily kicked off the show (or removed from the book series). Witness what happened to my beloved Angel+Connor father-son ‘ship. Or my Willow/Tara luv ‘ship. Or my Sirius+Harry godfather-godson ‘ship.

*sigh*

Harry Potter: Messiah

OK, on with it. We all know the literary reason why Sirius had to die. Harry made a mistake. He was… being himself. And there had to be life-altering consequences for that, or we’d just be stuck in boring predictable Mary-SueVille.

The rash young hero dives in head first where angels fear to tread without sufficient information because he believes his loved ones or the innocent are in danger.

Sound like anyone else you know?

Buffy Summers?
Luke Skywalker?

When Buffy Summers was a teen, she was the queen of rash, despite her assurances that there “wouldn’t be any rash. Anywhere.” She puts her best friends in mortal danger on the first day of school. She charges into the Master’s lair to defy prophecy and gets herself killed. She runs into a bomb shelter to save some vampire wanna-bes and ends up face-to-fangs with a lot of hungry actual vampires.

Luke Skywalker was like this, too. In The Empire Strikes Back, he leaves his Jedi training incomplete to go to save his friends, who are at the mercy of Darth Vader in the cloud city. But Luke’s friends would not have been in danger if Darth didn’t know Luke so well. It was a set-up to lure Luke to him.

Heroes are so predictable.

And that was exactly what Voldemort was counting on. Draw Harry to the Department of Mysteries so he will find and claim the Prophecy that Voldy’s Death Eaters can’t lay their hands on.

And how about that prophecy, eh? Prophecies reveal destinies, and destinies turn heroes into Messiahs.

Well, OK, Harry’s destiny is a little murky. He will either kill Voldemort or be killed by Voldemort. But honestly, do you really think Rowling will surprise us with a stunningly dark subversion of the Hero myth and have Voldemort kill Harry in the end? I don’t know. Maybe she will. Maybe she has an interesting angle on it. How Jossian.

But there’s something to be said for leaving mythic stories well enough alone. You can have the predictable “the hero survives and kills the bad guy” and still introduce some interesting unexpected twist on it that makes it satisfyingly unpredictable even in its predictability. Because, as I have argued elsewhere, there’s something to be said for following the old story formulas. Doing so is a society’s way of reaffirming its values, of saying, “heroes are rewarded and evil doesn’t pay.”

But back to Harry Potter: Messiah. Now you’re probably laughing. “Harry Potter? A Messiah? Pffft.” But think about it. Most mythic saviors are very human, with very ordinary lives and humble roots. But they have a hidden well of extraordinary character and talent, and the harrowing circumstances of their lives end up bringing this out.

Buffy’s just a blonde chick from the L.A. who’s worried about her hair and nails and whether she’ll have a date for Friday night.

Luke is just an orphan (he thinks) from a back-water planet who dreams of going to the star-fighter academy while he’s supposed to be helping his uncle with the harvest.

But while Buffy sashays around L.A. playing the bimbo, she’s already been chosen from birth to be a Slayer, and prophecies already abound about the deeds she’ll do.

And though Luke kicks rocks with disgruntlement on Tatooine bemoaning his insignificance in the universe, he is still the son of Padme Amadala, a queen/senator and Anikan Skywalker, a Jedi Knight. His sister is a princess. He has all that heritage he knows nothing about.

Likewise, Harry’s future has been the subject of prophecy and discussion and the responsibility of great witches and wizards to protect while he was still sleeping in a cupboard on Privet drive and getting kicked around by his cousin.

Humble origins, a destiny already in the making, ready to unfold when that humble person of extraordinary character grows up and meets the challenges of their birth-righted world: Messiah.

Even Jesus of Nazareth was human, came from ordinary, humble origins, had a decidedly non-humble heritage unsuspected by those around him, and grew up to fulfill a great deal of ancient prophecies.

This is classic stuff, anciently classic stuff, retold again and again in interestingly different ways, but with the basic elements of the ancient tales in tact. (At this point, I would wax poetic with a deep Campbellian analysis, but I’m not really a Joseph Campbell expert).

Umbrage with Umbridge

I really wanted a war in this book. A nice big wands-and-hexes good-fights-evil war. Dumbledore’s army (no not the little DADA class, but a huge legion of adult witches and wizards plus Harry) vs. the Death Eaters. I mean, I know I got a little battle resembling this in the end, but I wanted a novel-length war.

I suppose the big war’s waiting for us in the next book. Or maybe book seven. In that sense, Order of the Phoenix becomes another big 750+ preface, like Goblet was.

But I’m beginning to realize why Rowling does that. A big war would totally disrupt Wizard society and Harry would probably not finish his classes and he’d have to be put back a year in school or something. And “the school year” is the frame around which every one of the novels is structured. You couldn’t have a giant society-disrupting war in year five, for heaven’s sake. How would Harry pass his OWLs?

Well, it is a wonder he passed his OWLs anyway (assuming he has). The Wizard world had become so corrupt, I was surprised that Fudge and Umbridge didn’t find a way to dictate what would be on the OWLs or find a way to flunk Harry outright and get away with it.

I tell you, I was cringing through the first 3/4ths of this book with this Umbridge thing (hem, hem). I have this little pet peeve, you see. I hate being misunderstood. If someone doesn’t get what I’m trying to say, or if someone thinks something about me that isn’t true, I can’t rest until I set them straight. It’s like an anxious moral imperative. I get mental about it.

So you can imagine how I feel about it happening for hundreds of pages to the main character of a book, especially Harry, who I am rather fond of.

I really, really wanted to bitch-slap Umbridge something silly.

And I get that Umbridge got poetic justice in the end. But I wanted more. I wanted Umbridge to be stripped one by one of every one of her rights and pleasures. I wanted everything she said to be systematically misinterpreted. I wanted her enemies to lurk behind her scrutinizing her every move and judging it unfairly. I wanted her to know the torment she inflicted on my Harry, his classmates, and his other professors.

Instead, the bigoted Umbridge is carted off by some pissed-off centaurs, which only confirms, in her mind, everything she already believes about the inferiority of “half-humans”.

But it was funny, wasn’t it?

Promissory notes and pay-offs

And you can see why Rowling’s centaurs are the way they are–seeing “helping” humans as the ultimate betrayal of their kind. Rowling’s Wizard sub-culture is a stratified society. Humans are better than centaurs, elves, and giants. Magical folk are better than Muggles. Pure-blood Magical folk are better than Magical Muggle half-breeds. This ideology is embodied in the statue at the Ministry of Magic, with the lesser species looking up in admiration at the humans.

After my review of Goblet, selenak told me that there would be a pay-off with the whole house-elves thread from novel 4. I think that pay-off is yet to come, with a promissory note in “Phoenix”. Dumbledore reveals that house-elves are the way they are–happy slaves–because humans enchanted them. The chains of magic. The ultimate in arrogant superiority that, Dumbledore warns Harry, will have to be paid for. But not in novel 5.

Rahael noted to me that Phoenix explained why a number of things in Rowling’s earlier books were the way they were. So let’s see if I can pick those out.

(1) Dumbledore’s explanation about the house-elves explains the indentured servitude of the elves in Goblet of Fire.

(2) Snape’s memory of being tormented and bullied by James Potter explains why Harry has been consistently mistreated by Snape since his first day in Potions. It also explains why Snape might have gone down the dark path for a while and then redeemed himself. Following Voldemort might have seemed like a way for the disempowered Snape to gain power over those people who tormented him. When Voldemort fell, Snape, a basically good person, took the opportunity to change his ways. That doesn’t mean he’s over the traumas of his youth, though. He enjoys picking on the James-resembling celebrity-spotlighted Harry; he sees thrusting the bully Malfoy on Harry as a kind of poetic justice.

Snape is petty, but not petty enough to stay his hand when Harry needs protection from something much more evil than a bully. Then Snape does the right thing.

(3) Dumbledore also explains why Harry ended up with the Dursleys. The conversation between Dumbledore and McGonagall at the beginning of “Philosopher’s Stone” implies that Dumbledore did it to keep Harry humble, and because the Dursleys were family. And that was partly true. But–and this is where one of Rowling’s two-dimensional characters actually gets some depth–it was also to keep Harry protected by his mother’s blood magic in the form of Aunt Petunia.

As much as Petunia disdains magic (and disdained James Potter, not such a big surprise anymore), she was willing to keep custody of Harry rather than see him die. Both when he was a baby, and again when he was 15.

Shadow-selves and better-selves

(4) Finally, we get a (rather long-winded) explanation about why Voldemort attacked Harry Potter as a baby and why Voldemort has a big thing for picking on Harry and seeing Harry dead.

Now just a side note before I explicate this: Rowling once again falls back on a variation on her own formula. She has Harry face Voldemort in the climax of the book, this time getting help from Dumbledore in person rather than by long-distance, and afterwards Dumbledore explains why everything turned out the way it did.

Anyway, I find it interesting that in some ways, Voldemort has, through his own evil ways, created his own worst enemy. He hears about the prophecy that a child will be that enemy. He tries to kill the child, but through Lily Potter’s love-magick (which Voldemort continuously underestimates as a bitter child who grew up in an orphanage), Harry not only survives, but Voldemort passes on many of his abilities to him (e.g., being a parseltongue), and creates a psychic connection between them that both of them will use to their advantage against the other from time to time.

Did Voldemort also pass along some of his character traits as well? One wonders how much of Harry’s personality is just Harry, and how much was imbued in him by Voldemort. Dumbledore implies in Chamber of Secrets, for example, that Harry’s disregard for the rules comes from Voldemort (however, it could just be Potter genes).

Regardless, Voldemort and Harry are linked, and they are linked because of Voldemort’s initial attack on Harry, which he made because he heard part of the prophecy. The prophecy self-fulfills itself.

And Voldemort picked on baby Harry over the other candidate, baby Neville, because of another trait they have in common, Muggle blood. Then he turns Harry into the orphan he himself was.

Now at this point, I’d be tempted to go on and on about how Voldemort is Harry’s “shadow self”, the Faith to Harry’s Buffy, yada yada. But really, Voldemort came first, and though we share Harry’s point of view in the books and not Voldemort’s (much), it is more accurate to say that Harry is Voldemort’s “better self”.

Harry is who Voldemort could have been given other circumstances. Which sort of begs the question: what makes an evil man evil? Is it just a bad childhood? Or was Voldemort born evil, giving him no choice about his behavior? Can he be redeemed? Should he be redeemed to make an interesting story, or can Rowling keep him an evil unrepentant villain to the end and still write an interesting book series?

On the other hand, we are expected to wonder if Voldemort is who Harry could have been. Harry had a traumatic upbringing of his own. And like Snape, he has been picked on even at Hogwarts.

But it goes beyond this. Perhaps Voldemort is who Harry still might be. With the Wizard community dumping on his reputation, and Umbridge taking away every incentive Harry had to follow the rules at school (she certainly pushed Fred and George over the edge), and then Sirius dying, Harry was so angry and so “fuck this! fuck everything!” I could have seen him saying the hell with it all and deciding he’d had enough of that fickle hypocritical thing called morality.

And now I’m feeling just a little bereft… that marathon book read kept me occupied for a month. I guess it’s time to head back to the library and find other stuff to read. That seems a very odd notion to me now, and I was a regular library-visitor as recently as August.

On the plus side, I can visit all the HP websites/LJ communities now and not have to worry about being spoiled!

19 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

  1. ponygirl2000 October 14, 2003 at 8:06 pm #

    Well, OK, Harry’s destiny is a little murky. He will either kill Voldemort or be killed by Voldemort. But honestly, do you really think Rowling will surprise us with a stunningly dark subversion of the Hero myth and have Voldemort kill Harry in the end? I don’t know. Maybe she will. Maybe she has an interesting angle on it. How Jossian.
    Of course we still have Neville – the unexpected wild card. Does he exist to remind Harry of the twists of fate, the awkward, unnoticed Other self? Or is prophecy an even trickier thing? Neville could be the one the prophecy applied to but he’s had to live without the assurances that his actions are important or remarkable. If he ever finds out about the prophecy what will his reaction be? And how will Harry’s knowledge affect his own ideas of his role in all this?
    Could the boy who’s always played the fool turn out to be the hero of the piece? My goodness, could Neville be… Spike? [ducks and runs away]
    😉

  2. neshaffer October 15, 2003 at 9:26 am #

    The two wizards born at the end of July
    Ah yes, the Neville vs. Harry issue. Prophecies are tricky things. I’ve given this some thought, and since you bring it up, I’m going to let you have my brain dump on it.
    Dumbledore meets Trelawney in the Hog’s Head inn to interview her for the Divination position. During that interview, she delivers a prophecy in which she says, “The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be forn as the seventh month dies….
    Now both Neville and Harry are born at the end of July, and both have parents who have defied Voldemort thrice. Which raises the question: Could the “one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord” just as easily have been Neville? Here are some arguments against that thesis:
    (1) If Trelawney saw the future, if she saw what would actually happen, then she saw Harry, not Neville.
    (2) But, OK, it’s possible that Trelawney didn’t see a distinct boy, but saw a fuzzy blacked-out outline of a boy. All she knows is his gender, his approximate birthdate, and his parents thrice defying Voldemort. Couldn’t the fuzzy blacked-out boy be either Neville or Harry? Well, gain, if Trelawney is truly seeing the future, seeing what will really happen, then what she’s seeing is a fuzzy blacked-out image of Harry. And the things she knows about this boy, by coincidence, also happen to be true of Neville.
    (3) Not everyone buys the kind of determinism implied in the above arguments. They believe in a Heisenbergian uncertainty whereby the prophecy could have just as easily been about Neville or Harry up until the moment Voldemort makes a choice about whom to attack.
    But did Voldemort really have a choice? Voldemort is constrained by his own personality, his own arrogance and self-centeredness. When he decides which boy to attack (or attack first), he picks the one who most resembles himself. He doesn’t pick on pure-blood Neville, he picks on mudblood-born Harry.
    (4) But let’s assume for the sake of argument that Voldemort went after Neville instead. Neville would probably have died. Harry was protected by his mother’s self-sacrifice. Would Neville parents have done the same thing?
    (5) What makes a hero is in part a matter of character. Harry has that rash heroic personality. Does Neville? Neville is showing more signs of it as he novels go along, but when we met Harry and Neville in book one, harry as the more talented wizard, and the bolder young man. And that’s despite the fact that Neville had a ten-year head start growing up in the wizard community.
    (6) But perhaps Harry got his talent and boldness from Voldemort during the initial attack, and Neville would have gotten instead if he’d been attack. That takes us back to the question of: why did Voldemort pick Harry, and not Neville? Could Voldemort have just as easily picked on Neville, rather than Harry? (3 above)
    Again, I say no. Voldemort’s choice was written into his personality long before he made that choice. The prophecy says that Voldemort will “mark him as his equal”. Voldemort went after the mixed blood, not the pure blood, and in doing so, he made Harry his equal in every respect.
    ===
    Bottom line: At any rate, once Voldemort made his choice and marked Harry, the prophecy became about Harry. It is now his destiny to either kill Voldemort or be killed by him. He’s already proven several times that he is up to the task. And that makes him the potential savior of the Wizard world.

  3. selenak October 15, 2003 at 1:42 pm #

    Some observations
    Sirius: let me a cruel heretic and postulate it’s good for Harry he died. Because Sirius in his way was just as much projecting James into Harry as Snape does, albeit for opposite reasons. And Harry was willing to be James for him, which isn’t good if you have to forge your own identity.
    At any rate, on one level the entire book deals with the deconstruction of the father. Harry loses the image of James-as-the-perfect-saint which has been build up through the previous volumes; he discovers his father could be a jerk and a bully as a teenager (resembling no one as much as Draco, though with the crucial difference that Draco never would have befriended Remus). He loses his godfather/replacement father Sirius, literally, but also the image of Sirius as nearly as perfect as James. (And we just know Harry will never forgive Snape for outliving both James and Sirius and destroying Harry’s adoration of them, just as Snape will never forgive Harry for having seen those memories.) He loses his trust in the Über-Father of the entire saga, Dumbledore, who is presented as fallible and manipulative (okay, he was shown as that before, but less openly).
    Houseelves: I didn’t mean just Dumbledore’s explanation. I meant the entire Kreacher subplot. Note: listening to Hermione always is worth it. If Sirius had bothered to treat Kreacher better… Which is not to say that Sirius, locked up in that house with his mother’s portrait and Kreacher, doesn’t deserve pity himself. But still, it’s worth observing that the “good” characters, not just the Malfoys – i.e. the Weasleys, and Sirius – take the slavery of Houseelves as the natural state of being and never question it.
    In any case, I think it’s more than clear that the defeat of Voldemort is far from the only thing necessary – I suspect that Harry will have to bring down the entire magical world the way Buffy rewrote anything written for Slayers and Watchers, because it’s clearly rotten to the core.
    Also interesting: we got our first Slytherin – except for Snape – who is presented as being smart, capable and despite extreme snarkiness on the “good” side of things – Phineas Nigellus, the portrait. Actually, Phineas is who Snape might be if dear Severus finally manages to grow up. Between him and Sirius, it’s hard to say who is more stuck in adolescence. (During the scene in the kitchen, I half expected Harry to say Buffy’s “what are you, twelve?” line to them both.)
    Lastly: Remus comes in for some moral ambiguity as well. He’s the ultimate nice guy and great teacher, but he did look away as a teenager while his friends were bullying someone, and this despite knowing better and despite being a prefect. Compare this with Neville who had the courage to stand up to Harry, Hermione and Ron in his first year when he believed they were acting wrong, and to Hermione as a prefect who is not afraid to go up against Fred and George when she sees them irresponsibly damaging first years, despite being their friend.

  4. neshaffer October 15, 2003 at 1:55 pm #

    Re: Some observations
    Because Sirius in his way was just as much projecting James into Harry as Snape does, albeit for opposite reasons. And Harry was willing to be James for him, which isn’t good if you have to forge your own identity.
    I agree about this. Although I was happy that Harry at last had a parental figure he could actually love and respect, Sirius was looking to replace his own loss of James with Harry. What a ‘shipper like myself hopes for, as I did in the case of Angel and Connor, was that the two would actually come to see each other for who they really were and love each other for who they really were. And I mourn the loss of that not happening in the case of both ‘ships.
    But still, it’s worth observing that the “good” characters, not just the Malfoys – i.e. the Weasleys, and Sirius – take the slavery of Houseelves as the natural state of being and never question it.
    And it grates on my nerves every time it happens, just as much as it grates on Hermione’s. It was part of the reason I had that little mini-rant in my Goblet review.
    In any case, I think it’s more than clear that the defeat of Voldemort is far from the only thing necessary – I suspect that Harry will have to bring down the entire magical world the way Buffy rewrote anything written for Slayers and Watchers, because it’s clearly rotten to the core.
    Oh, absolutely. You don’t notice it so much in the first couple books, or even that much in Azkaban. The Wizard world has its bigots, but for the most part, they allow muggle-borns and women equal opportunities. It seems fairly enlightened. Then towards the end of Azkaban and into Goblet and Phoenix, you get the underside of the Wizard world, the way it can descend so quickly into fascism, the way anti-human prejudice is so ingrained in it. It adds a morally ambiguous flavor to the “heroes” of the story, and it creates a scope of conflict that goes beyond the “Oh no, Lord Voldemort might take over” problem. All of a sudden, you’re not so sure it’s black-and-white, Wizard world against Voldemort. It’s the Wizard world against itself on a number of levels, with Voldemort sitting in the background waiting for the Wizards to do his job for him–they’ll destroy themselves and he doesn’t have to lift a finger.
    And I like how this has been there all along, but we don’t see it until Harry is old enough to see it. It’s like Buffy going to college in season 4 and all of the sudden the black-and-white world of demons bad, people good is muddied.

  5. oyceter October 16, 2003 at 4:52 pm #

    Had an interesting conversation with Scroll a while back in her LJ about emotional heroes vs. pragmatic side characters a bit back, which sounds a bit like the Harry rushing in problem. Hermione’s not quite as pragmatic as Jack and Sloan in Alias or Wesley and Giles in Buffy and Angel, but I can definitely see her getting there (esp. in darkfic, heh).
    Other than that, I think the people who commented before said pretty much everything I wanted to! But yeah, very glad that Hermione’s house elf campaign has been vindicated, because that part of Goblet really pissed me off.

  6. neshaffer October 16, 2003 at 5:10 pm #

    I think it was supposed to piss you off
    that part of Goblet really pissed me off
    As it worried me. It was presented in Goblet uncommented on, and Hermione was somewhat presented as the fool for worrying about the elves. But if Dumbledore’s comment at the end of “Phoenix” was any indication, there will be a major reckoning for the humans in terms of their treatment of the elves. Rowling just chose not to have that reckoning take place in Goblet or Phoenix, but she always intended on having the reckoning.
    Hermione’s not quite as pragmatic as Jack and Sloan in Alias or Wesley and Giles in Buffy and Angel, but I can definitely see her getting there
    I’m thinking you’re right. Hermione does the “stop, wait, think” thing and Harry ignores her. And Ron plays the loyal sidekick most of the time, “I’m with Harry.” The problem with Hermione as the voice of caution that Harry really needs is that Rowling portrays her as a bit annoying and someone not to be taken seriously. So even though she’s right, readers tend to blow her off just like Harry and Ron do.
    Perhaps in future books Rowling is planning on having the vindication of Hermione, where Harry acknowledge the value of having her around in a way that readers can’t help but acknowledge. Maybe during the house-elve’s rebellion it’ll happen!

  7. oyceter October 16, 2003 at 5:26 pm #

    Re: I think it was supposed to piss you off
    I think Hermione’s definitely going to be vindicated, along with the rest of the “silly girls” that Harry starts out thinking not much of (Parvati and Lavender, Ginny, Luna, etc. Ok, maybe not Parvati and Lavender). I really like the idea of it all being in Harry’s POV, which never hit me before. This is probably why I was so worried and angry about the house elf situation in Goblet, because before catching on, it felt very much as though Rowling the author/creator was saying “Pishposh, Hermione is silly” or something like that. Goes along with one feminist critique of the first book I read in Salon, where the writer pointed out that Harry and Ron got to be heroes while Hermione was the annoying know-it-all who still had to be saved from a troll because she fainted.
    I’m thinking Harry and Ron are really going to have to start taking Hermione more seriously in future books, given where Harry’s rush into it heroics have gotten him in this book.
    And I can’t wait for the world shattering war that’s brewing in the distance.

  8. neshaffer October 16, 2003 at 6:34 pm #

    Have you read any interviews on Rowlings’ view re: feminism?
    I have a tendency to walk around with the naive viewpoint that all women are feminists, because people know and follow what it’s their best interest. I get a big surprise when I meet women who are not.
    I haven’t read anything about Rowling’s view on the subject, but just because a woman choses a boy as her pov character doesn’t make her non-feminist (I have a tendency to identify through male characters in books and shows, hence my slight obsession with characters like Angel, Connor, Harry Potter, etc).
    The true mark of a feminist or non-feminist is the way they depict their female characters. I don’t think the Harry Potter books would appeal to me if they didn’t have strong, intelligent and talented women like Hermione and McGonagall, etc. For example, I’ve never been able to get much into Lord of the Rings. The female characters in those books are symbols or non-existent.
    I hope you’re right and Hermione is given a little more respect from both Harry and Rowling, because a lot of young women identify with Hermione, like they did Willow, Buffy, etc.

  9. oyceter October 16, 2003 at 11:23 pm #

    Re: Have you read any interviews on Rowlings’ view re: feminism?
    I actually haven’t read many interviews with Rowling at all. However, from the one or two I did, I know she used to be a Hermione type person as a kid — the know it all, the unpopular smart kid. So one hopes that she pokes fun at early Hermione because she’s gently laughing at herself and not with a feeling of scorn. I don’t know if Rowling is a feminist. It does seem really odd to me to have females who aren’t feminists, but I guess it could be backlash against the perception that feminists are all man-hating and whatnot? Getting off topic here…
    I remember that article’s point about Hermione and then about McGonagall compared to Dumbledore, who always knew what to do. Whereas McGonagall is shown as getting teary and too emotional for good judgment in the first scenes with baby Harry, etc. I do think McGonagall has very much vindicated herself with Umbridge though. I seriously felt like standing on a chair and cheering whenever she put Umbridge down. I also think it’s interesting that the past two books have had these shady female characters — Umbridge and Rita Skeet(??). Then there’s the sktechy Trelawney, who is not taken seriously by anyone but Lavender and Parvati, also shown to be silly girls.
    But I am sitting here hoping that it only looks like that because Harry’s view of the opposite is shifting greatly as he grows up.

  10. neshaffer October 17, 2003 at 9:01 am #

    A variety of women, a variety of men
    There are smart women, heroic women, shady women, silly women and down right evil women (Bellatrix) in Rowling’s books, but there are also silly men (George and Fred), childish men (Sirius), down right evil men (Voldemort), heroic men, and cowardly men.
    So it balances out for me.
    And as for Harry’s view of the opposite sex, I think he’s always been pretty fair. I’m just glad he finally got some smootchies in the latest novel!

  11. buffyannotater October 17, 2003 at 1:40 pm #

    Book Recommendation
    I have been loving the new series by Jim Butcher, The Dresden Files, which is a really cool mix of mystery and noir, and fantasy. It’s sort of like Harry Potter and Angel were combined–it’s the story of an inner-city private detective/wizard who helps out the Chicago PD on supernatural crimes. The books have everything from vampires and werewolves to fairies and wood sprites, and are a cool mix of satire and suspense, sort of, again, like a Whedon show. All genres–comedy, horror, drama, sci-fi, fantasty–converge in really cool ways. I originally heard about the series because James Marsters did the audiobooks for the first two volumes, but whether that is a turn-on or turn-off for you, the books are really good on their own merits. Got through the whole series in 3 weeks.
    If you’re interested, the books are: (1) Storm Front; (2) Fool Moon; (3) Grave Peril; (4) Knight Life; (5) Death Masks
    They’re all relatively short (around the 350 page range), and quick reads. Maybe not the deepest writing ever, but actually surprisingly well-written and crafted, and the best part, even though each book is a different mystery, unlike most in the genre, there is an arc that flows from book to book, and the characters are affected in each book by events that happened in the previous ones.

  12. buffyannotater October 17, 2003 at 1:42 pm #

    Oops!
    Actually, the 4th book is called “Summer Knight.” “Knight Life” is the name of a Peter David book I just bought.

  13. neshaffer October 17, 2003 at 2:31 pm #

    Thanks for the recommendations!
    And it’s good to see you lurking in LJ again. You’ve been gone for a while now!

  14. buffyannotater October 17, 2003 at 5:56 pm #

    Yeah, I’m slowly returning to LJ-land…
    My grandma was sick for the past few months, and died a few weeks ago. I was very close to her, so I wasn’t much in a posting-mood for a while, especially not the LJ, because on the one hand I felt too down at the time to get that personal in the journal, but on the other hand felt weird talking about myself and not mentioning that. But anyway, I just saw a few movies and some Broadway shows I’m gonna want to post on, and perhaps a parallels between “Kill Bill” and “Buffy” post, if I have the time.

  15. neshaffer October 17, 2003 at 6:13 pm #

    I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother
    I lost my grandparents when I was in college.
    I’m glad you’ve stayed a presence on the board during that time. How are you enjoying the season?

  16. buffyannotater October 23, 2003 at 6:15 pm #

    Re: I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother
    Thanks, Masq. That’s really sweet of you.
    I’ve tried to get on the board as much as I could to take my mind off it, and the new season of “Angel”‘s actually been helping a great deal, also. Honestly, from the first moment “Conviction” started, I had this warm feeling of comfort food, raising my spirits. Some people choose sappy family dramas for their comfort food; I choose the noir/horror show about the vampire with a soul! I’m so happy there are people out there like me who are comforted by moral ambiguity, and feel more uncomfortable watching an innocuous show like “Seventh Heaven”! I may be liking this season even more than I would otherwise (not that I wouldn’t like it, but I am just giddy over it) just due to this emotional transference thing where this hour a week–anticipating it, and finally watching–makes me very, very happy, takes my mind off the unpleasant stuff, the struggling to catch up with schoolwork I missed when my grandma was sick, the bouts of sadness, etc. But besides that, I’m very, very happy with this season so far. In the first four episodes, there hasn’t been one clunker so far…”Unleashed,” which was probably the weakest, still wasn’t as clunky as “The House Always Wins” last year…I really love how they’re handling Spike, and how his and Angel’s relationship is being handled. I loooove the Fred stuff, am intrigued by the Gunn stuff, and really want them to give Wes and Lorne more to do!

  17. neshaffer October 24, 2003 at 9:36 am #

    Re: I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother
    I may be liking this season even more than I would otherwise (not that I wouldn’t like it, but I am just giddy over it)… I’m very, very happy with this season so far.
    I don’t know how much you’ve been reading my LJ, but I dreaded this season. I actually sympathized with, and wanted to join, those people who were going to boycott the season. It was the memory wipe in “Home” that did it for us. Taking away people’s memories, especially memories of hard times that cause them to grow and change, alters the people that they are. We were deathly afraid we would not have the Wesley, the Fred, and the Gunn we knew from season 4. And we were angry that the reason ME appeared to do this was to placate new viewers who didn’t want to be “confused by back-story”.
    But as you can tell, I am participating in the fandom this season and doing my analyses. In some ways, Fred, Gunn, and Wesley aren’t quite themselves. And not just because they’ve been thrust into the whole W&H scenario, either. And Angel isn’t quite himself, either. But there have been hints, really, really subtle ones, that the memory wipe will be discovered (mostly in Angel’s odd behavior) and there will be consequences.
    I have a feeling it will be Wesley who discovers it first. That will give him something very Wesley-ish to do, and it will hopefully give him back his edge. Plus I’ve heard rumors that episode 7 is a Wesley episode. Can’t completely avoid those spoilers.
    Crossing my fingers for a satisfying season.

  18. buffyannotater October 24, 2003 at 11:06 am #

    Re: I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother
    I have a feeling it will be Wesley who discovers it first. That will give him something very Wesley-ish to do, and it will hopefully give him back his edge. Plus I’ve heard rumors that episode 7 is a Wesley episode. Can’t completely avoid those spoilers.
    I think it will be also. He’s the one who seems to have the most trepidation at what they’ve gotten themselves into, or, at the very least, as always, questions everything. Moments such as him trying to speak to Angel about Spike in “Just Rewards,” trying to mull over the amulet lead me to believe that he’s the most likely to discover this. I also am having trouble with the mindwipe. I am not as completely averse to it as you are storywise, although they do need to earn something like this. I truly hope that we hear something soon about what they think happened the past two years. I read some theory somewhere that the spell operated similar to the Dawn spell, but in opposite. The outcomes of the events of the first 4 years weren’t changed, despite the addition of Dawn. Now, obviously this is more difficult with Connor, because while Dawn didn’t affect the first 4 years of Buffy much, the past 2 years (arguably 3 years, since the second season could be seen, on the grand scale, as being the season that set up the events that led to Connor’s conception) were basically all about Connor, in a manner of speaking. Every character and major event of the year was influenced by his birth, kidnapping, etc. But maybe these constructed memories don’t change the outcome…In other words, Wes remembers he had a rift with Angel, and betrayed him, but has a different memory as to why the rift occurred, and so on and so forth. That’s as satisfying a way I can come up with to rationalize it if they don’t discuss the past 2 years again. I would be majorly bummed, though. Right now, I am having the most amount of trouble deciding if this is Wes-who-was-dark-for-a-while or a Wes who never was…Does he remember his affair with Lilah, even? I am really getting impatient for that upcoming Wes-centric episode, because, besides some small, intriguing character moments (because AD is that good an actor), I think he’s being the most short-changed this year.
    And I am completely unspoiled, but I do have another theory about how they can find out about the mindwipe. This is complete speculation, but [I’ll give you some space in case in case you don’t want to hear the spec, because it is one of those specs that I just have a gut feeling might be possible. Again, sacred solemn oath, though…COMPLETELY unspoiled]…
    I’m thinking that it would be really interesting, if they could bring CC back, if Cordy would wake up from her coma, and not have been affected by the memory spell. Perhaps the mystical nature surrounding her coma could have protected her from it. She says something about Connor to Wesley (maybe Fred, even, but since Wesley was the first to keep a big secret about Connor to himself, it seems fitting that he’d be the first to find this out) and the discovery continues to ensue from there, with Wesley doing research into spells that could do something like that. I’m picturing a nice 2-3 episode arc (if they’ll even do those anymore! pffft), including returns from CC and VK, and a whole lotta angst.

  19. neshaffer October 24, 2003 at 9:44 pm #

    Re: I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother
    the past 2 years were basically all about Connor, in a manner of speaking. Every character and major event of the year was influenced by his birth, kidnapping, etc.
    Now you know why I am so mental about the mind wipe. Most fans are not as hyper-aware of Connor as I am : ) so they don’t think about this much. But if they were re-running season 3 on TNT, or if the season 3 DVDs were out, or people just re-watched season 3 of AtS on video, they would see why the memory wipe had to have turned Wesley, Fred and Gunn’s memories into swiss cheese! There is no way they can be walking around with Connor taken out of their minds without replacement false memories. A complete alternative history to replace Darla’s pregnancy episodes, the Tro-clon prophecy, the kidnapping of Connor, the division between Wesley and the gang, Angel’s absence during the summer, etc, etc.
    And of course, nothing Cordelia could tell them about her time in the higher dimension and after her return would be the least bit useful with Connor taken out of the story. So ME can’t bring Cordelia out of her coma until they are ready to deal with the memory mojo.
    My own little pet theory is that ME also can’t bring Lilah back until they are ready to deal with the memory mojo. It would raise too many questions in Wesley’s mind. Unless there is a whole complicated alternative story about how he ended up having an affair with their worst enemy, a story which would confuse the “newbie” viewers AND the old loyal viewers both, no Lilah at W&H.

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