The U-Bend #7: Imaginary News

by Andrew Lee and Robert Lanto

“Important stories he thinks the public needs to know, eh? I could manure my garden with the contents of that rag.”

-Rita Skeeter (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

Over the past couple months, there have been a rash of faked, or otherwise false (yet official looking), news stories. Everything from movie set visits, photos, the titles of book 6 (personally we’re looking forward to Harry Potter and the Toenail of Icklibogg) and other more minor things (movie casting/script). So what do all these events have in common? The people who wrote them pulled a Jayson Blair. For those of you who don’t know, Jayson Blair was a New York Times reporter who faked a few stories (i.e. lied). So, the question is what kind of an impact these kinds of stories have on the community? Well, here are a few stories that we know to be true. BeLIEve us.

Love on the set of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Movie?

An unnamed source told us that Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter) and Katie Leung (Cho Chang) have fallen in love. While rumors of Daniel and Katie have been flying for some time, it was not until recently that a picture of the two of them snogging has confirmed these reports. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) have no comment on this story, but someone close to the production of Goblet of Fire has stated that the two practicing for the Harry/Cho kissing scene. However, fans should know that Harry and Cho do not kiss until Order of the Phoenix, leaving no doubt that the two have fallen in love with each other. The unnamed source working on the production of the movie has also stated that Daniel and Katie have been snogging before takes, after takes and sometimes during takes. ‘It really slows down production,’ the source added. No one at Warner Brothers was available for comment, but screenwriter Steve Kloves stated the two must be in love, as he had already cut the Harry/Cho kissing scene from his adaptation of the fifth movie.

Prisoner of Azkaban DVD Features

An unnamed source close to the DVD production of the Prisoner of Azkaban has let a few details slip. Of course everyone is interested in which cut scenes would be included on the DVD. Luckily the source has come through and said that one of the cut scenes includes Harry using the invisibility cloak to sneak through the Gryffindor common room, although he does a bad job of avoiding other students. Another scene would involve an explanation for Professor Flitwick’s new look, but there was no mention of any scenes explaining the creators of the Marauders Map. The source did say that the cut scenes would be found after playing 2 hours of mini-games as surveys indicate that children love to play games. Other features include cast interviews, staff interviews and a costume gallery. Also included is Giraffe’s Picture Safari, a look at all the paintings shown in the film with the giraffe as a host. Finally, the menus are to be narrated by the shrunken head as, ‘everyone loved that head.’

Dobby the House Elf Spin Off Series Announced

In a mid-morning press conference Bloomsbury Books has announced that a Dobby the House Elf series will be coming for Christmas. Written by J.K. Rowling, the series will follow the house elf during the time between his liberation at the end of Chamber of Secrets to the origins of his job at the start of Goblet of Fire. Spanning some 8-10 short novels, Dobby moves from the Malfoy’s home to London where he tries an odd assortment of jobs. Each book will have Dobby in a different job from Gringotts bookkeeper to a Quidditch referee. ‘Fans will enjoy the part where Dobby works in the London Underground as a train operator,’ Rowling added.

Reading MuggleNet Shown to Lengthen Lifespan and Improve Health

Researchers from the University of Timbuktu have announced that reading news items and editorials from the popular Harry Potter website MuggleNet can lead to an increased lifespan and improved health. The study was conducted over several months and tracked many MuggleNet users. The site’s webmaster Emerson called the news, ‘good for everyone’ adding that maybe he should charge for the benefits. Researchers added that prolonged exposure to MuggleNet could have a negative impact and that, ‘reading some editorials on the site seems to take a lifetime.’

Okay, so as you see (well to an extreme) the damage a fake news article can cause. No one believes that Daniel and Katie are in really snogging all the time, but if this had appeared on the front page would you be as certain? This is the nature of the internet, unfiltered and unchecked information running wild. The problem with these phony news stories is that they just have to have a minimum amount of supporting evidence to sucker people in. They used to say seeing is believing. Now, that isn’t even true anymore. The recent rash of fake photos proves this. It looks like Katie Leung is sitting next to Emma Watson and that really looks like the locked door is open, but none of it is true.

So what are we to do? Personally we now take a ‘wait and see’ approach to any new or controversial information. There is nothing worse than reading something, believing it is true, then only to find out it is false. The problem with the ‘wait and see’ approach is that it usually involves waiting for either Warner Brothers to confirm it (which can take a very long time) or another official source to confirm it. But trust us, it is a lot better than getting suckered into believing that Michael Moore will be directing the next movie (if this is true expect a new scene where Dumbledore has a ten minute rant against the Bush administration) or that J.K. Rowling plays background witch number 12. And now with the increasing frequency of these fake news items it’s hard becoming increasingly difficult to sort truth from fiction.

Also, in the search for getting all the latest information about everything Potter, you ruin one of the best aspects of the series: the surprises. One of the things Robert and I are happy is that we didn’t have to deal with all the scanned pages floating about prior to the release of Order of the Phoenix. There is no problem with staying up to date, but if you ruin absolutely everything (or even a key moment like a death) before you read the latest book or see the latest film, what’s the fun in that? So perhaps the best thing to do, if you ever want to know anything new about the books or movies, is wait for them to appear on the official sites. Sure, it’ll be longer and all your friends may talk about that ‘cool new spoiler’ but in the end you will enjoy the finished products a lot more.

But, don’t worry if you spoil something for yourself now and again. It’s human nature to be curious about things. So visit MuggleNet, read and enjoy! Don’t let a few people’s pranks on the Potter community ruin your fun. If it sounds too strange to be true, it probably is. Just take everything with a ‘wait and see’ approach and you’ll be fine. Oh, don’t forget to tune in next week for our exclusive interview with J.K. Rowling… or not.