MuggleCast 226 Transcript (continued)



What If: Episode 225 Responses


Andrew: It's still plenty far away. Anyway, let's now get into those What if responses I was just talking about. This first one comes from Sophia, 19, of Seattle. She writes:

"Hello, I think if Harry was female, it would be interesting to see how that would change his relationships with adult members of the series like Snape and Sirius. Part of the reason Harry was so close with Sirius was because he reminded him so much of James. If Harry was Harrieta..."

As we called him last week.

"...I don't know that they would have been as close. I also wonder how Snape would have acted if Harry was Harietta and not a miniature James. Would Snape have been nicer to Harry if he was more like his mother than his father? Thanks, love your podcast. Sophia."

Jamie: I don't want to go here. [laughs] This sounds so weird.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Jamie: If he was more like Lily than Harry then the whole - that's very weird. I think we should move on immediately.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: Well, maybe - this makes me think maybe he would have connected with other people, with female characters in the series. [emphasizes "she"] She would have connected with female characters in the series. Maybe her and McGonagall - [laughs] Harietta and McGonagall would have bonded.

Laura: Well, didn't Harry and McGonagall sort of have a bond? I mean...

Andrew: Yeah.

Jamie: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Laura: I mean, she's very - yeah, so I don't know that...

Jamie: She trusts him and when he says, "I'm here on Dumbledore's orders," then she's like, "Yes, Potter," straight away, "We'll secure the castle," and stuff.

Andrew: Yeah. Micah, could you read the next e-mail?

Micah: Sure. Next e-mail is from Giulia, 14, of Brisbane, Australia, and she says:

"Hi MuggleCast, I think that if Harry Potter was a girl, the fandom that exists today would not have occurred."

Andrew: Woah!

Micah: [continues]

"I don't think that many people would like to read a book or see a movie about the fate of the world and its population being in the hands of a teenage girl."

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: Ouch! Good grief!

Micah: [continues]

"There are a few reasons for this. First of all, women are known for being able to multi-task and this could be a serious issue when trying to save the world because our heroine would continuously get side-tracked..."

Laura: What?!

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Micah: [continues]

"...making the 'HP' series much longer than seven books. Second of all, we generally associate major roles of responsibility with men."

[Jamie and Micah laugh]

Micah: [continues]

"For example..."

Laura: Oh my God!

Micah: [laughs] Is this - wait, I want to make sure this is a girl. This is...

Laura: Is this real?!

Andrew: I think this is a girl.

Laura: Yes, it's a girl!

Micah: All right.

Laura: What is wrong with you?!

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: [continues]

"For example, humans perceive God as a man and the Devil as a man also, so it would seem fitting that the hero of a story would be a guy. These are just a couple of thoughts that sprang to mind when listening to your discussion. Just wondering what your thoughts were. Giulia."

Well, let's get your thoughts on the table, though. What do you guys think? Would the series have been as successful?

Laura: I don't...

Jamie: It would have different, wouldn't it?

Laura: Yeah, it would have been...

Jamie: It couldn't have been written in the same way, but it would have been just different. I mean, I'm sure - I mean, isn't the The Hunger Games about a girl? Or like Twilight is about a girl.

Laura: Yes!

Andrew: Yeah.

Laura: And so is His Dark Materials which was also a series being published around the same time as Harry Potter.

Jamie: True.

Laura: So you can't really - I don't think you can measure it that way. I mean, yes, it would have been different because obviously the perspectives between a male and a female character would have been - you couldn't have written Harrietta and had her doing all the same things Harry did, obviously. But to say that it wouldn't have been as successful? I think that's BS, I mean, if I'm being quite frank.

Micah: Yeah. I mean, I argued on the last show I thought that it probably wouldn't be as successful. I just think you would lose a very large demographic if it's a teenage girl growing up as opposed to, in this case, a guy growing up and...

Andrew: Yeah.

Laura: But what's the largest demographic of [laughs] Harry Potter fans?

Andrew: Girls.

Laura: So...

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: Yeah, but I think it reaches more than just that, is my point, and I guess it also depends how you define "successful," like on what level? Is it going to be the billion dollar franchise it's become? No, probably not. I mean...

Laura: Yeah, but that would be like saying that - okay, for instance Chronicles of Narnia, who's the main character in that or at least in the first book?

Micah: The lion? [laughs]

Andrew: I don't know. Who is it?

Jamie: [laughs] The wardrobe?

Laura: No, Lucy, a girl.

Andrew: Oh, Lucy.

Micah: [laughs] The wardrobe.

Laura: It's a girl.

Micah: Come on!

Laura: Wow.

Micah: Come on!

Laura: Okay, I thought you guys...

Micah: The witch! The witch!

Laura: ...have read them. [laughs]

Micah: [laughs] We're naming all the three things in the title.

Laura: Yeah.

Jamie: Yeah.

[Andrew laughs]

Laura: So, at any rate - I mean, those books were enormously successful and still are today. So...

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: But they couldn't make a third film, they had to sell it to another company. So...

Laura: Yeah, well, that's because the movies were bad.

Andrew: [laughs] Yeah, I know. I'm just kidding.

Laura: [laughs] But...

Andrew: But the other thing to keep in mind is at least the public - remember, they had to change "Joanne Kathleen Rowling" to "JK Rowling" because Scholastic and Bloomsbury were concerned that a female author would have turned people off. Now, were they right? We'll never know, but there is definitely concern in the publishing community, I think, at least about...

Laura: No, I mean...

Andrew: ...boys will not read a female author's book.

Laura: Right, I'm not denying the fact that there is gender bias. I mean, yes, that exists in our world and certainly because of certain perspectives - with all due respect, Giulia, I think you unfortunately are holding this perspective [laughs] of the idea that men are somehow better than women. I'm not sure if you actually believe that or if you just think that society believes that, but at any rate it's that perspective that allows people to take issues like this and so easily say, "Oh yeah, well, it just would have been totally incomparable. You couldn't have actually published this book with a female character."

Andrew: Mhm.

Laura: I don't know.

Andrew: Well, here's one more e-mail and then we'll wrap it up. This person disagreed with us. This is Rosie, 20, from Florida.

"Can we please talk about how f'd up it is that MuggleCast, a male-dominated podcast, thinks that the story would be worse if the main character was a girl? I don't think the story would have been any different if Harry was a female. Like you said, JK Rowling is a brilliant woman and would have had the same story in her head. I'd also like to touch on the fact that Micah said in the last episode that Voldemort couldn't be identified as any gender because he didn’t know whether he 'got all his parts back.'"

[Everyone laughs]

Jamie: Nice on, Micah. That's funny.

Andrew: [continues]

"Since when is gender defined by what you have in your pants? There are plenty of transgendered men and women out there who would be offended by that statement. Your gender does not equal what is in between your legs."

As Micah mentioned moments later, he was trying to lighten up the conversation a bit, so he wasn't serious about that point. Anyway, back to the e-mail.

"That all being said, I really think you need a regular female on the podcast to give a better perspective on things. It would make your show more successful and give females in the audience someone to identify with. I remember back when you used to have a woman on the show (whose name escapes me)..."

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: Hi, I'm Laura. How are you?

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: [continues]

"...and thinking, 'Wow! A girl who is just as nerdy as me! She's smart and not afraid to say her opinions! Awesome!' But now I feel like every time a gender issue comes up on MuggleCast, the conversation is completely one-sided with no female insight."

Okay, so she goes on a little bit more. But anyway, Rosie, valid points. It was kind of inappropriate for four guys to talk about if Harry was a girl. [laughs]

Jamie: Well, it depends how you were talking about it.

Micah: Well...

Jamie: [laughs] I mean, were you talking about it the way that she's saying you were talking about this?

Micah: No, she said you said the story...

Laura: They probably were.

[Everyone laughs]

Micah: No, but she's saying we said the story would be worse. The question is, would it have been as successful?

Jamie: Ahhh, yes...

Micah: I don't think we said the story...

Jamie: ...which is clearly a financial consideration rather than it would be worse because a female was in it, right? Which is what you didn't say.

Micah: Right, I don't think we were saying that. It just - I don't know, would MuggleNet exist? Would we be having this podcast right now?

Andrew: Right, the question is valid because Harry Potter is so popular. It is the most successful franchise of all time, so that's why were asking the question asking...

Laura: So, the question you're asking is whether or not Emerson Spartz would have read Harry Potter if it was about a girl.

[Everyone laughs]

Jamie: Emma Spartz.

Andrew: Yes.

[Everyone laughs]

Andrew: [laughs] Emma Spartz. We're going to make that the show title and then see if he listens.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Jamie: Emma Spartz, yeah. [laughs] Definitely.



Chapter-by-Chapter: "The Parting of the Ways"


Andrew: Let's now get into Chapter-by-Chapter. This is a big Chapter-by-Chapter segment because we are wrapping up Goblet of Fire. We're looking at Chapters 36 and 37. This is the penultimate Chapter-by-Chapter series, of course. We're going to go into Order of the Phoenix next. And some people emailed in and said, "Wait, you haven't done Half-Blood Prince yet," and we're going to skip Half-Blood Prince because we analyzed it for our first a hundred episodes, and that's enough... [laughs]

Laura: [laughs] Yeah.

Andrew: ...so we're not going to go through it again.

Micah: That's true. Very true.

Andrew: So, Order of the Phoenix will be the last one and Micah is going to start us off with Chapter 36.

Micah: Yes, "The Parting of the Ways." So, just to kind of I guess remind everybody, what's just happened is they have uncovered Barty Crouch, Jr. being this impostor for the last year or so at Hogwarts, and Dumbledore takes Harry up to his office to meet with Sirius but also to question Harry about the events that took place in the graveyard. And Dumbledore said something interesting to Harry. He said, "If I thought I could help you by putting you into an enchanted sleep and allowing you to postpone the moment when you would have to think about what has happened tonight, I would do it. But I know better. Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." So, I was wondering if this was a reference to his own experiences with what went on with his sister.

Jamie: That sounds right, yeah.

Laura: Yeah, I would say so.

Andrew: Definitely.

Jamie: Because when he told Harry at King's Cross Station, he was all like, "Can you forgive me? Can you forgive an old man?" kind of how it's taking a long time type of thing. I think that's a good point, yeah.

Micah: Then as Harry beings to tell what's happened, there's this moment where Fawkes comes over to him, and it's described like Fawkes almost empowers Harry to be able to retell what happened in the graveyard even though he's in such a weakened state. My question was just, what kind of magic is it that allows Fawkes to do that?

Andrew: Doesn't the presence of Fawkes kind of - I don't know, doesn't it change your mood or something like that?

Laura: Well, he does have healing powers.

Andrew: Yeah.

Laura: And doesn't he actually heal him? I mean, in that scene.

Micah: He does later on, yeah.

Laura: Yeah. So, it could also be a mental thing as well and not just a physical one.

Jamie: Isn't he supposed to strike boldness into the hearts of the pure, and weakness into the hearts of the horrible or something like that? Didn't they say that at some point that's what he does? Perhaps that was in...

Micah: It sounds really good.

Andrew: Yeah.

Micah: But I don't know if he said it.

[Everyone laughs]

Jamie: I didn't just make that up, I definitely got that from somewhere.

[Jamie and Laura laugh]

Micah: I was going to say, you could write your own series.

Jamie: [laughs] I think it was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but I could be completely wrong. I honestly don't know. Perhaps I did just make that up.

Andrew: Mmm. No, I think that - that seems to ring a bell. I mean, we know about the phoenix tears but...

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: ...I can't specifically remember something about just the mere presence.

Jamie: Yeah.

Micah: That's...

Andrew: But I wouldn't be surprised. Maybe when the Phoenix Song is also in the air...

Micah: Yeah.

Jamie: Oh yeah.

Micah: No, it could be - because it says...

Jamie: Yeah, yeah, I think it's that.

Micah: It said just like something warmed inside of him, like he felt like this strength that he was able to carry on this conversation.

Andrew: Yeah, Jamie, you're right. I just looked it up. "The song of the phoenix gives strength and hope to those it sings for, 'increasing the courage of the pure of heart and striking fear into the hearts of the impure.'"

Jamie: Oh yeah.

Laura: Wow, look at you, Jamie!

Andrew: You're almost exact, Jamie! [laughs]

Jamie: Oh, well, what can I say? What can I say?

[Andrew and Micah laugh]

Jamie: Thank you, everyone.

Andrew: I got that from the Lexicon, by the way. That's my brain. Jamie has a brain, I just use the Lexicon as a brain.

[Andrew and Jamie laugh]

Micah: I was going to call it "Jamie's moments of inspiration" or something like that.

[Andrew and Jamie laugh]

Micah: So, Harry continues to tell the story of what happened in the graveyard and then we get to the moment where he tells them how Voldemort took his blood and now has his blood running through his veins, and Dumbledore has that all-important gleam of triumph that Harry thinks he sees for like a fleeting moment. And this ended up being so much speculation about what this gleam of triumph was for...

Laura: Yeah.

Micah: ...so many years, I guess until the final book was released. But - I mean, what exactly was the gleam of triumph, though? Was it just because he knew now that Voldemort could be defeated?

Laura: Yeah, I think so. Isn't that what was later implied?

Micah: I think so.

Laura: Also - I mean, because Dumbledore was being a bit of a slippery git if you will and putting Harry up as a pig for slaughter. So, I guess at this point he knew that they had some sort of plan they could work with.

Andrew: Yeah. It's just a shame Dumbledore was never really a good communicator until maybe the next book when he's like, "Sit down, Harry. I'm about to tell you everything."

Laura: Except he didn't actually tell him everything.

Andrew: And then - right.

Jamie: Yeah.

[Andrew and Laura laugh]

Andrew: I remember we had fun with that. I think in Book 7, we were like, "Oh, so he was lying that whole time." Or even Half-Blood Prince, too.

Micah: I wonder - or is it that Voldemort could never really kill Harry because Harry's protection was now inside of Voldemort?

Jamie: No, no, it is that, isn't it? Because he said that when - yeah, when he rose and took his blood he bound them together, even more so then they were bound together before, and that's the gleam of triumph because Dumbledore's plan was coming together.

Andrew: Yeah.

Laura: Yeah, but didn't he - wouldn't he also at that point have known or at least had some idea that one of Voldemort's Horcruxes was inside of Harry?

Jamie: Yes. Well, he could have known that already because when he tells Snape that that fateful night when a part of his soul latched to him, then he probably knew that which means that him taking his blood and linking them further together binds them both to each other, and binds them both to the same fate or something.

Laura: Yeah, which means Harry has to - I don't know.

Micah: Check the Lexicon.

[Everyone laughs]

Jamie: Yeah.

Micah: No, just kidding.

Laura: When in doubt...

Micah: Yeah. So, we learn that Harry and Voldemort's wands share the core of Fawkes' phoenix feather, and I think this is just more information, again, coming from Dumbledore that he's known for some time, because he even says that Ollivander called him - or messaged him, I guess. I don't think they have phones - and let him know as soon as Harry purchased the wand that it was the same - the twin of Voldemort's wand.

Jamie: Mmm.

Micah: So, after Harry finishes the story, Dumbledore takes him down to the hospital wing, and a lot of different events take place but he ends up going to sleep, and his sleep is interrupted by arguing between Fudge and Professor McGonagall, and it's over the fact that not only did Fudge bring a Dementor into Hogwarts but it performed the kiss on Barty Crouch, Jr. And I wondered, why did Fudge believe that he had any need for the assistance of a Dementor? He had Snape, Dumbledore sent Snape to go down and get Fudge and to bring him up to the castle, but he could also have called for human beings. He could have called for any number of Aurors, he could have asked for Dumbledore. Why bring a Dementor, other than to further the plot?

Laura: He's an idiot.

Andrew: Yeah, and it's just...

Jamie: He's a coward as well, yeah.

Andrew: It's just another sign that Fudge is a messed-up guy, and it's something to look forward to in Book 5 when we see him fall apart more, because - and as we'll talk about in the next chapter, he - nothing is ever reported about this in the Prophet, so...

Micah: Right. So, the parting of the ways begins as Fudge and now Dumbledore who has joined in the conversation, argue with each other about Voldemort's return. And it said that Dumbledore kind of looks at Fudge with the same level of intensity that he did when he busted into Moody's office and saw the impostor Moody there essentially about to kill Harry. And it seems as if he's looking at Fudge as a real person or - you know what I mean? Like, he's seeing him as who he really is for the first time.

Laura: Mhm.

Micah: And he doesn't really like what he sees.

Jamie: But I think he doesn't like him because he's sort of obsessed with power, and he's obsessed with protecting his position and stuff which is exactly what Dumbledore hates because he knows that he can't trust himself with power and it's typically the things that we don't like about ourselves that we don't like in other people.

Andrew: Well...

Micah: Oh, that's a good point.

Andrew: Yeah, and Dumbledore is working hard to try to prove that Voldemort is back and here is Fudge completely denying everything. I mean, it's got to be extremely frustrating.

Micah: Yeah, it's an unbelievable amount of denial. I mean, even when Harry tries to give his own proof of being in the graveyard and what he saw, he names the Death Eaters that were there, and Fudge just simply passes it off as having read old reports of trials. Now, is Harry - who is at right now, what, fourteen years old? - really somebody who's been digging in the old trial reports from the Ministry and just randomly spewing out names of Death Eaters? I mean, come on. It just shows how vain he is. And then McGonagall points out that the death of Cedric and Barty Crouch, Sr. - they're not deaths that were the work of a raving lunatic, and Fudge just says, "Oh, I see no evidence to the contrary." I mean, he's just getting to the point now where he's really wearing blinders and not...

Laura: No, he's ...

Micah: ...wanting to admit the truth.

Laura: ...literally putting his head in the sand.

Andrew: I mean, I'm surprised he's even there facing all this - all these remarks from McGonagall and Dumbledore. If I were him, I just would have just peaced out of there if I wanted to hide from all this truth.

Micah: Yeah, exactly. And he goes on to say, "It seems to me that you are all determined to start a panic that will destabilize everything we have worked for these last thirteen years!" So, that really says it all. I mean, he's more concerned about order and protecting his own position than he is about the future safety of the entire community. And Dumbledore gives him the choice. He says, "You can either be remembered as the Minister who saved the wizarding world or the one who allowed Voldemort to return to power."

Jamie: That's a great line. Great line.

Andrew: And he's going to pick the latter.

Micah: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.

Jamie: [laughs] Yeah.

Micah: Or otherwise we wouldn't have the next few books.

Andrew: Well, really though, what could have Fudge done if he was like, "Okay. Yeah, I'm going to go - I'm going to save the wizarding world"? What's he going to do? We all know Harry is the one who has to do it anyway.

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: So...

Laura: He could have made it a bit easier for him.

Andrew: Yeah, I guess.

Micah: He could have worked with him instead of against him.

Andrew: Ahhh, this is true.

Laura: Instead of turning the entire wizarding world against him.

[Andrew laughs]

Micah: Yeah. So, Fudge essentially threatens Dumbledore. He brings up the fact that he allowed him to hire a werewolf, and he allowed him to keep Hagrid, and he's allowed him to teach really whatever he wants to his students. And this is all...

Andrew: The old turn-the-tables trick, take the attention off of me.

Micah: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: [laughs] Let's bring up all of Dumbledore's problems.

Micah: Yeah. So - and this was laying the groundwork for the Ministry to take over the school...

Jamie: Yeah.

Micah: ...in the next book. But it's like - Dumbledore has been teaching to students the same thing for many, many years, so why do you think just now it's okay to step in and change his teaching process?

Jamie: I don't know if he's actually scared of Fudge, is he? Fudge is so impotent in his power. He just doesn't seem to have any actual power or anything to him at all. And also, how's he going to stop Dumbledore hiring werewolves and keeping Hagrid? I mean, he's not - is he breaking laws? I guess he is kind of breaking laws if Hagrid keeps his wand, but it just seems like an empty threat, to be honest. I don't think Dumbledore would be scared of that.

Micah: Yeah.

Andrew: And maybe Fudge had made clear to him in the past that he wasn't cool with it, but he'll let it slide anyway...

Jamie: Yeah, maybe.

Andrew: ...because him and Dumbledore had a better relationship, so maybe this is his way of being like, "I trusted you. You were doing these things and I let them slide, and now you're kind of turning your back against me, and in the meantime I've been good to you..."

Micah: Right.

Andrew: "...so what the hell?"

Micah: So it's exactly what you were saying. It's like he's turning it all on Dumbledore now instead of it being about Fudge.

Jamie: Yeah.

Andrew: Mhm.

Micah: And probably the most telling thing that happens in this entire scene is Fudge starts to walk away, and Snape kind of pulls him back and shows him the Dark Mark. And it's still burning, not as bright as it was before, but he mentions that's why Karkaroff ran off. But Fudge just refuses to believe. It's almost like you can take all the evidence and put it in front of him - you can bring Voldemort and put him in front of him, he's still not going to believe it's Voldemort.

Andrew: Well, he does in Order of the Phoenix when he sees him.

Micah: Right.

Andrew: So, did Fudge genuinely not believe he was back, or was he just saying this so he could kind of, I don't know, maybe focus on it himself, take a look at the evidence and really think about it, talk with other people in the Ministry? It just seems impossible that he genuinely deep down believes he's not back.

Jamie: Hmmm, I don't know. I don't think he believes that, or perhaps he has told himself that he believes it and then he believes it, if you know what I mean. But deep down, I think he's so scared of it he won't even entertain the thought, maybe.

Laura: Yeah, I agree with that.

Micah: Yeah, I think he's just - he believes Harry to be nothing more than a good storyteller, and he thinks that Dumbledore is buying into the crackpot theories that Harry is coming up with. And he even mentions not giving all the information over to the Ministry that's gone on at the school, and the things that Harry - the fact that he can speak to snakes and the fact that there has been all these incidents that have happened, and they've kind of been pushed under the rug by Dumbledore. But as soon as Fudge leaves, Dumbledore puts his plan into motion almost right away. He tells Sirius to take his human form because this whole time, he's been as a dog, and he makes him and Snape shake hands. And this was one of the scenes that I would have liked to see in the movies. I mean, all this stuff is completely cut out of Goblet of Fire. There's no mention of any of this, and one of the people that Dumbledore mentions that Sirius should start go rounding up - he talks about Lupin, he talks about others, but - was Arabella Figg. I didn't know - did anybody catch this the first time reading knowing that she was the one who was looking over Harry?

Jamie: I didn't. I didn't, no.

Laura: I remembered her name. Yeah, I was like, "Hmmm." I was also like eleven...

[Everyone laughs]

Laura: ...when I first read this book, so...

Andrew: Right.

Micah: Yeah. And then he tells Snape that basically, "You know what you have to do," and I'm assuming that he's going back to have to work within Voldemort's inner circle. And the chapter just ends with Harry being overcome with so much emotion as to what's taken place over the course of these last few hours, and Mrs. Weasley is shown as being the motherly figure comforting him, so you really get to see the relationship between the two of them. And then there's also this brief moment where Hermione catches something at the window and it kind of breaks up all the emotion that's taking place, and that's really how the chapter ends.

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