Before the tragic news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, JK Rowling had set the Internet on fire when she announced that she regretted marrying off Harry to Ginny instead of Hermione. Emma Watson agreed with her.
As one article pointed out: “Tumblr may never forgive JK Rowling for destroying its childhood.”
Many fans were devastated. Some felt betrayed. Others felt trolled for the purposes of publicity. But the consensus was that JK Rowling had no business changing her own story. According to award-winning novelist John Green, the books “belong to their readers now, which is a great thing – because the books are more powerful in the hands of my readers than they could ever be in my hands.”
In “The Greatest Story Ever Interacted With,” I talk about how fans who participate in the story such as Harry Potter “…no longer see the story belonging solely to the original author because they have fed it with their emotional, intellectual and creative energy.” But clearly fans don’t have to engage in typical interactive storytelling behaviors, such as writing fanfic, to develop a sense of ownership over the narrative. Community participation alone inspires ownership and can even create splinter groups, such as the “(relation)shippers” — Harry/Hermione shippers, Hermione/Viktor Krum shippers, Draco/Hermione shippers, etc. — who either adhere to cannon or create their own preferred version of events by merely stating a preference.
And usually it’s a strong one.
As for me, I never really did understand the relationship between Hermione and Ron until this came up, but “Romione shippers” have showing me the light. Hermione is so high strung that she needs someone more relaxed and supportive than Harry. That I can kind of see. I wonder if Rowling understands she’s dealing with narrative interaction on the level of Christianity and its adherents, and not merely “fans.”
As if there were ever such a thing as a mere fan…