Plagiarizing “Potter”

I have been part of the Harry Potter fandom a long time. I remember when MuggleNet.com first launched. I remember being made fun of at school and coming home and burying my head in a Potter book and finding comfort and adventure. I remember the midnight premieres of the books and movies and screaming the Potter Puppet Pals’ “The Mysterious Ticking Noise” at the top of my lungs in a packed movie theater with dozens of other crazy Potter fans dressed up to the point they could put the actual actors to shame. This was and will always be one of the biggest parts of my life.

That being said, I can’t imagine finding out that J.K. Rowling stole her work (this is ENTIRELY hypothetical) from other authors and passed it off as her own. What if Harry Potter was a compilation of ten different authors’ works that Rowling consulted to create one entire story that touched millions if not billions of lives? What if Harry or the Weasley twins or Dumbledore had already existed in the form of another character? How would the fandom respond? In essence, we would all be shattered. No doubt it would be disappointing, but should we abandon the series? Should we neglect all the good and magic it has created just because the author plagiarized? Does it take away from the story itself?

Back in August of this year, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie was released. I love this book series, and although I don’t think it did the book justice, I enjoyed the movie as well. One day I was searching the series on the web, and I came across the words “Cassandra Clare Plagiarism.” I was intrigued. I did some research. Turns out, for those of you who missed it, back in 2001 Cassandra Clare, the author of the series, was involved in a plagiarism scandal targeted at her Draco fan fiction series. Multiple lines and even close to whole chapters were taken and put into her works.

At least giving her some credit, part of the work was original, and personally, I think she is a good writer. But one of my biggest pet peeves is when an author, or other creative minds like musicians, steals another’s work. It just detracts from that author’s overall talent. It was also said that she bullied those who called her out, but there’s not much out on this because a lot of the relevant information has been deleted from the Internet. Years later, the first of the Mortal Instruments series was published in 2007 with most of the scandal forgotten.

I was talking to my friend’s brother the other day about this topic, and he said he would never read the series again. I asked him why, and he said, “because the characters are based off of Harry Potter characters.” Personally, I see no resemblance, but there are articles online that do. One article I found said that the way Clary and Jace’s relationship was described in the Mortal Instruments series was similar to Harry and Draco’s in the Draco trilogy. Honestly, I don’t think it matters. If she wants to recycle pieces of her own work, I see no problem with that. I see no relation between the Harry Potter and Mortal Instruments series except for the fact that the latter’s author was involved in a Potter fan fiction scandal.

Should I stop reading Mortal Instruments then? Should the fact that Clare was involved in all this turmoil be a deterrent? Should I ignore quite a brilliant story, in my opinion, based on the author? I don’t know. I started reading the books before I knew about the scandal, and now I’m engaged in the series. But here’s the overwhelming question: “What’s more important, the author or the story?” Yes, the author becomes the celebrity and deserves credit, no question. But there are those who say to never see the movies or never read the books because of Clare’s past. Is that fair to the fans who love these characters and feel for these characters? Or the actors that have put in so much effort to bring these characters to life? What if (hypothetically) J.K. Rowling turned out to be a plagiarist? Would you stop reading and watching Potter? Would you disregard the characters you’ve grown to love and care for? I certainly wouldn’t.

It becomes a battle of morals and ethics versus the choice of choosing to continue to read the books and watch the movies. What would you do?

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