“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve.”
As rankings go, at least so far during this Harry Potter rereadathon, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is one of the better books in the series. The Order of the Phoenix largely deals with propaganda waged by the Ministry of Magic and I recommend it to readers who are interested in fantasy with realistic political themes. Smear campaigns, propaganda, and government corruption are issues that will remain a large part of our lives and the Order of the Phoenix stresses the importance of educating ourselves and questioning sources, the media and powerful authority figures in the digital age of click-bait and fake news.
I can’t help but wonder if willing students of History, Law, and Government and Politics enjoyed the Order of the Phoenix. This is one of the less popular books in the series amongst the fandom and I find myself surprised by this. Similarly, I find that many history enthusiasts, like myself, are major fans of the A Song of Ice and Fire series… and I don’t mean casual viewers. This is my personal reflection, so I would love to hear your thoughts on whether the subjects we enjoyed learning play a key factor in which book genres we consume.
Though the pacing was inconsistent at times and several themes were imperfectly and chaotically explored, rereading the Order of the Phoenix through an adult lens was enlightening. This brings me to question whether the themes were comprehensible for its target audience because, as a child, my unsophisticated mind did not, in the slightest, register the gravity of the politics being explored.
I had far too many thoughts on the Order of the Phoenix and this blog is basically my personal Pensieve, so get ready for some relentless rambling!
1. CHO DESERVES OUR SYMPATHY
Whenever I stumble upon a character assessment of Cho Chang, I encounter a high volume of venom directed at the grieving Cho. “She’s so weepy” is the common attack hurled at Cho and I find this line of reasoning devoid of any empathy. I think this calls for loud disapproval as I don’t believe that this is an appropriate message to send to anyone: that we should be ashamed of our emotions.
Cho Chang loses her boyfriend, Cedric Diggory, after he is murdered by Lord Voldemort. This is a very valid reason to cry… and cry a whole river. Given that we should all be mental health advocates, isn’t expressing emotion and grief valid especially given the circumstance that Cho is faced with? However, it is also important to understand why readers have adopted this attitude towards Cho Chang and these reasons are two-fold:
- Harry Potter considers it irritating
- Ginny Weasley isn’t “weepy”
Harry’s frustration with Cho for repeatedly breaking down in tears is more so in line with the fact that Harry is a classic male teenager who’s uncomfortable and unequipped to deal with shows of emotion. Whatever action Harry is frustrated with should not be taken as the gospel truth of what is right and wrong.
Hermione Granger explains to Harry and Ron why Cho has been frequently emotional allowing us to see things from Cho’s perspective. Ron Weasley, on the other hand, understands that realistically Harry can only be attracted to someone who possesses the traits he finds attractive and Cho doesn’t match what Harry is looking for in a girlfriend.
Harry shouldn’t feel compelled to date Cho. He’s had a lifetime of grief, and Ginny being a more emotionally contained person plays a role in attaining and preserving the peace Harry so longs for. This doesn’t mean that Cho is in any way deficient and undeserving. Nobody is wrong or right here. Harry and Cho are simply incompatible. Ron and Hermione do wonderfully well here as a duo to teach us both empathy and being true to what you want.
2. HERMIONE V LUNA = HARD FACTS V WILD SPECULATIONS
Remember how I trashed Hermione for trashing Luna Lovegood? Yeah, well, here I am… eating my words. I choose hard facts over wild speculations.
What we saw here, for those of us who are MBTI enthusiasts, is Ti (introverted thinking) v Te (extraverted thinking). Ti users (Luna Lovegood) seek accuracy and, as a result, find it difficult to rule out, well, a lot and often avoid generalisations. Whereas, high Te users (Hermione Granger) prefer to deal with solid proof and hard facts. They are efficient and prefer making fast judgements which is necessary for law and order. For me, or anyone, to ask Hermione to be open-minded to wild theories is akin to demanding Hermione to play pretty with conspiracy theories.
Hermione attacks Luna’s ideas, but she doesn’t *hate* her. Hermione and Luna approach logic in two wildly different ways; it was only natural that they would butt heads, and I completely understand Hermione’s frustration because I, too, am a person who needs to see some friggin’ concrete evidence (law school, baby) especially if a person should choose to assert questionable opinions and beliefs! But present a good case, make it make sense, and I’ll change my mind.
3. REALISING THAT I ACTUALLY RELATE TO HERMIONE GRANGER
Yeah, I know, you all relate to Hermione. Because she reads books and was socially awkward at the start. But books and social awkwardness aside, there are a lot of other things about Hermione that I find myself relating to. Tactless? Oh, yeah, I definitely can be. Stubborn? As a goat. Confrontational and passionate? Cross my values, cross my principles, and get ready to see a real-life demon. Facts-oriented and loves a good debate? Yes, and I will shut you down if what you’re saying is absolute nonsense.
Here is my moral quandary: Hermione Granger is J. K. Rowling’s self-insert and that woman gives me the heebie-jeebies. There are a lot of questionable things that Hermione does post-Prisoner of Azkaban which were left unchallenged or unquestioned. J. K. Rowling is too sure of her own self-righteousness to hold her self-insert accountable. She’s too close to the picture to deliver character growth to Hermione believing herself incapable of being morally wrong.
Rowling gives me major Dumb Daenerys vibes. We’ve cheered her on for so long that she believes that she is the only one who knows what is right. In contrast, though George R. R. Martin saw himself in Daenerys for all the privileges of luxury and wealth that was taken away from him, he forged ahead and did not, and I am guessing that he will not, spare Daenerys for her faults. In short, George R. R. Martin did to Daenerys what J. K. Rowling failed to do to Hermione.
Hermione Granger is one of my favourite characters during this reread because I can’t not root for a character who is very much like me. But neither am I going to pretend that I approve of some of her actions. She has many inspiring traits, but she has her fair share of troubling flaws too. And I will always have Fleur and Sirius as the other two relatable characters of the series. I love Fleur for her high standards and for her ability to graciously accept her own shortcomings. And I love Sirius because much of his trajectory in life is similar to mine – total douche in our teens who later develop a better moral conscience… but not exactly perfect either, and perpetually restless and easily bored.
4. A NEW DRINKING GAME COURTESY OF HARRY POTTER
I propose a new drinking game: every time Harry Potter says, “Er,” you gots to take a shot. And for my halaalies out here, we gotta eat a whole chilli pepper. Don’t look at me all incredulous, we are the spice, the drama, the garam masala, we can handle it just fine.
What are your thoughts on Cho? Is the fandom too harsh on her? Is this the right message to send? What do you think of the Hermione v Luna beef? What are your thoughts on J. K. Rowling now? Do you feel differently towards her now? Will you take on the Harry Potter drinking/all spice challenge? Let me know in the comments!
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