While this blog is mostly been a professional blog, I’ve also begun to focus more on literature and novels again. I’ve always been a Harry Potter fan and with all of the discussion surrounding the new Fantastic Beasts movies, I’ve come to the conclusion that writing my thoughts about these things isn’t entirely out of place here. Pop culture and literature is still part of my job, especially now!
Now, onto my very blunt opinion about what’s happened with Rowling and the Potter Universe:
There has been a lot of discussion as of late on the biggest upset in the Fantastic Beasts timeline: McGonagall’s age. Many fans say that Rowling is infallible and she will reveal more with time; many say it was a mistake; some even go so far as to make very bizarre claims of Time Turner usage and the like. But I think it boils down to this – Rowling is playing in her universe, but sadly, in so doing, she is truly challenging the loyalty of her fan base and risking the future of Harry Potter.
We’re stretching to make it fit.
While many out there are ready to come to Rowling’s defense, there is one sadly obvious thing I’ve noticed: all of the articles that have come out to make the timeline work fail to site the one time that Rowling actually mentions how old McGonagall is – the 2000 Scholastic interview (http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2000/1000-scholastic-chat.htm) when Rowling blatantly states that McGonagall was about 70, which fits with the estimated birth year of 1935 that is put together by her tenure at Hogwarts in ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ and the information in ‘Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies’. While this article (https://www.hypable.com/when-was-mcgonagall-born-age/) does the best job at explaining why she may be older than we think, it’s still riding on huge holes (such as stating that she took a leave of absence that is conveniently never mentioned anywhere else). I believe that Rowling always meant for her age to be as she stated…until now. Rowling is trying to draw on her own loopholes because she WANTS to. She wants to play with McGonagall’s age, so she is.
I agree with the hundreds of fans who say that Rowling doesn’t miss these things. There is no mistake in her timeline. She is bending it, at will, to fit her own purposes, simply because she wants to. So this begs the question: does a writer owe their fans anything? The answer lies with each individual. Personally, I think they do owe their fans after their novels have reached a certain level. After all, the fans are what launched this story to this level of fame, but Rowling has already become oblivious to this. Cursed Child was a canon disaster that Rowling gave her stamp of approval. Fans rejected it as as canon and have deemed it great fan fiction, but the case of Fantastic Beasts is simply too big to ignore. She didn’t write Cursed Child, so the fans can write it off more easily, but she IS writing these films and because there is no novel base for them, we can’t just brush them off.
Is she taking fan loyalty for granted?
There are many other fandoms that face this type of thing when writers begin to just simply write too much and go too far – televisions shows when the story simply gets too played out; timeline and character issues in the Star Wars books and movies; even Tolkien had to re-write The Hobbit when he wrote the Lord of the Rings. We’re beginning to run into the same issue here. Rowling is still finding a goldmine in Harry Potter, literally and figuratively, and decided to go back into it. This isn’t wrong or problematic until she decided to mess with it too much. Has she gone too far?
For me personally, I think she has. Fantastic Beasts is riddled with issues and pointless characters:
- Ministry employees apparating into Hogwarts Grounds when we know that the Anti-Apparition Jinx dates back to the 1600’s.
- Dumbledore teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts when it was never mentioned anywhere else.
- Human Nagini, who is, SURPRISE! a maledictus, not a snake (and pretty much ignored through this film, so hopefully there’s more to it).
- Leta’s entire storyline seems absolutely superfluous: she was set up in the first movie as an important character and in this film, she just…dies?
- The new blood pact which is an issue on its own (there’s no way that Dumbledore and Grindelwald made this after Ariana’s death, but they had a three way dual at the time of her death, so that doesn’t work) AND it really, really undermines one of Dumbledore’s HUGEST character defining moments in the HP series – he didn’t want to face Grindelwald bc of Ariana’s memory and because of his love for Grindelwald. It gives so much humanity to Dumbledore and Rowling has chosen to take away from that.
- Why is Nicolas Flamel even there?
- Too much info-dumping; if you’re not a major HP fan, things FLY over your head
- Dumbledore has another brother? I’m oddly ok with this one because I believe that the theory of Credence being Ariana’s obscurus (https://nerdist.com/fantastic-beasts-crimes-grindelwald-dumbledore-explained/) is not only phenominal but also plausible. It’s SO classic Rowling, if nothing else is in this film. It’s the only brilliant move in this film – IF it’s true.
It’s about the money, isn’t it?
While we’re reeling over all these strange and weird issues with this movie, I have to ask: is this about money? Over the past few years, we’ve seen tons and tons of new editions of HP books and supplementals come out constantly. We don’t need this much new stuff – it seems SO greedy. We didn’t need a 20th Anniversary American edition of the books. THESE BOOKS AREN’T AMERICAN. Does it sell? Sure, but it starts to lose its charm when you realize that all of the money made off of ALL these editions just go to a few companies and a single person. While I’ve never pegged Rowling as a greedy person and still don’t, Rowling used to write these supplements for charity. Even when a few of these items do profit charity, it’s not nearly as much as before the Harry Potter money train really took off full steam. Even I’ve fallen victim to giving her more of my money, such as for the Hogwarts House editions, but it’s just becoming superfluous and ridiculous, in my view, and Fantastic Beasts is no different. She’s stretching it all too thin and it’s really showing.
I think we’ve reached the limit of Harry Potter’s ride of glory. I can deal with a few excuses for apparating into Hogwarts Grounds and the ridiculous notion that Dumbledore simply taught other subjects (both blatant movie changes for the sake of visuals), but the McGonagall ridiculousness is just the nail in the coffin’s head for me. I will continue to watch the Fantastic Beasts storyline but it is tinged heavily with disappointment. Perhaps I’ve just spent too long in this world, but Rowling is helping me move on.