Friendship, Love, & Bravery – Rediscovering What Really Matters in “Harry Potter”
As the Marketing Director for MuggleNet, I get hundreds of emails each week from Harry Potter readers around the globe regarding various topics. Some ask how they can become more involved in the fandom, if there is any validity in the latest rumor, or most often as of late, to comment on the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play – specifically, its casting choices. I always respond to emails, partly because I enjoy discussing Potter with other fans and partly because it is my job. However, lately, I found myself unable to form responses that were, let’s just say, politically correct or appropriate. I really can’t speak my opinion in an email, where I am responding in a professional context, regardless of how much I want to. Today, after reading Facebook comments on our latest Cursed Child article, I decided that I’ve had enough. It’s time to get my feelings out, to try to help remind the Harry Potter fandom of what matters. Time to set the record straight – as I see it, anyway.
I want to remind everyone that the opinions in this article are my own, and the responses from fans were taken from public tweets and/or Facebook posts on MuggleNet articles.
Straight off the top, let’s start with a reminder of why we are all here. We fell in love with the story of a messy-haired, green-eyed, eleven-year-old boy wizard traveling through life as he deals with the trials and responsibility of being “the Chosen One.” I am going to assume that everyone reading an article on MuggleNet, the world’s No. 1 Harry Potter fansite, has read the novels – so for argument’s sake (not that I believe anyone is going to contradict me here), let’s pretend the movies do not exist for the time being. In regard to the novels alone, what was it about Harry’s stories – and those of his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, that made us lose ourselves in their world? I can tell you what it wasn’t. It wasn’t their eye color, or their skin color, or their hair color. It was their love, their generosity, their humor, their tragic losses, their humility… need I go on? We aren’t obsessed with Harry Potter because Hermione has(d) big front teeth, because Harry wears glasses, or because Ron has vibrant red hair. We found ourselves in the characters through their adventures in friendship, bravery, and love. In essence, we fell for their personalities, the traits and qualities that made them relatable human beings, people whom we could see ourselves in and learn from. Right? Since I can’t hear your response, I am going to assume that we agree.
Now that we have established why we are all here, let’s talk about Cursed Child. Remember, the films do not exist in this article, and I urge you to remind yourself of that in this moment.
The Cursed Child casting is spot on. 150% could not be more perfect. They hit the ball out of the park, landed a slam dunk, absolutely, positively, hands down, hit the nail on the head with their casting choices. For the most part, fans would agree with that sentiment.
— Diana Valtersen🐢🦦 (@rodaycastle) June 4, 2016
You’re probably reading these thinking, “Hermione isn’t black!” “Ron isn’t a vibrant ginger!” “That’s not Daniel Radcliffe!” – and you would be right, if we were discussing the films – but remember, they don’t exist in this article. Before we move on, please watch this behind-the-scenes video released by the production.
So now I ask of you, why does Hermione’s skin color, Ron’s hair color, or the face of the actor portraying any particular role matter? We have already established – and you agreed (I lied, I could hear you) – that the reason we love these characters is because of what is inside, not outside. Everything within these images, and through the behind-the-scenes videos that we have been shown, prove that the casting is right on. Did you see that look of adoration between Ron and Hermione? THEY’RE SO IN LOVE. The devious grin of Rose Granger-Weasley? She has definitely spent time with her Uncle George. The sass behind the quiet confidence of Harry? His life isn’t perfect, but he is alive – thank goodness.
My point is this: Just like your brown hair, shoe size, height, weight, eye color, etc., etc. doesn’t define you – why should it define the characters that we love? Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a continuation of the novels, the books that we love, that we return to time and time again. Within them, we are limited only by our imagination, and nothing else. We can picture the characters in any way that we wish, with any skin color, sexual orientation, eye color, gait, laugh, smile – the list goes on. What we aren’t able to imagine? The traits that we discover they possess – love, friendship, bravery, truth, loss, humor – those are there no matter what they look like. Those are what define a great character, what defines who we are as people.
It is time that we stop defining literary characters by how they are depicted on screen. When the films don’t exist – where, as a continuation of the novels, they very clearly do not as far as Cursed Child is concerned – a character’s appearance is not what defines them, but rather what they give to the world, how they make us feel, and the experiences that they live through. Literary characters live on paper, in our imaginations, in our dreams – not on a screen. Ron’s red hair can have faded. Harry can look mature. Hermione can be black! Who are we to judge a character’s appearance, when ultimately looks fall away, and what we remember is how much we love Harry’s sass, Hermione’s intelligence, Ron’s humor? Those traits are what we look for in life, in friendship, in love. Why should we dismiss those that exemplify them merely because they don’t look like actors on a screen? The characters are a part of us no matter where we go, no matter where we are, no matter who portrays them. They’re family, and will always be there to welcome you home – no matter what they look like.