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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
HBP and ships

Okay, fine, it's a post about Ship Wars. How silly is that from a slash fan?

First, I have to say that I was one of the people who not only never saw Harry/Hermione, but who did see Hermione/Ron telegraphed loud and clear. JK Rowling is clearly of the "bickering = love" school of romance (agree or disagree with the strength of those romances, such a school exists. As my first thoughts upon meeting my own husband were, "I could have a fight with this man and we'd come out the other side," and we've proven that time and time again - as recently as last night - I don't see bickering as necessarily a negative.).

But subtext is subtext, and if people saw enough to make Harry/Hermione viable, they're not stupid, or necessarily engaging in wishful thinking. That is, they don't need to hate Ron or think that Harry would be a better match for Hermione. All they need is to see that these two have a lovely, strong friendship with a great deal of respect for each other, which is *there* and *true*, and if they don't see bickering as romance, or otherwise don't see a Hermione/Ron thing, or think it was too heavily foreshadowed to actually happen (something Rowling has done - Snape=active Death Eater, anyone?) - well, it's just the sort of friendship that could grow into a romance with very little effort.

I'm avoiding the Harry/Ginny thing because I was really happy Ginny had gotten over her crush - I probably would have liked it better if she had, and then fell for Harry all over again in a more mature way, but I don't know. I'm a slasher. I want Harry unattached.

Just because they saw something others did not, or didn't see something others did doesn't mean they're wrong or stupid or whatever.

And why am I saying all this? Because of Remus/Tonks. For some people on my flist, Remus/Tonks came as a pleasant surprise - a bit of happiness in the middle of the funeral. For others, it was more unpleasant for what it did to Tonks - few of us saw her as the moping type. And to mope so far as to not be able to use her inborn talents - ouch. I'm a big Tonks fan, and I truly disliked that whole thing. And, of course, I'm a Remus/Sirius slasher, and seeing one of my favorite pairings made more difficult almost gratuitously was harder than seeing Harry date Ginny. And there were those who saw Tonks as queer and liked her that way, and to see her not only as straight, but crying over Remus was not pleasant for them. (I personally had no opinion one way or the other. I just thought OoTP Tonks was way cool. HBP - not so much.)

But, some of you are saying, "Big deal. Sirius is dead and it's been a year. Why shouldn't he move on, and why shouldn't he move on to Tonks? Why can't he be bisexual?" And if that were the only problem, I'd nod. I'd deal with the out of left-fieldness and the characterization of Tonks, and be happy that Remus found someone else.

But there are others on my friendslist who saw the pairing before HBP came out. They clearly saw something between the two of them that I can't. That I missed entirely. Just like the Harry/Hermione shippers saw something between those two that I missed, and didn't see what was going on between Hermione and Ron. And I don't like it because, while a current R/T doesn't do anything to R/S, hints in OotP destroys it. Because it would mean that while Remus was living with Sirius he was also giving signals to Tonks.

And, yes, I can see non-romantic explanations for all the Remus/Sirius stuff in OotP, but I found the romantic ones easier to make. And judging from all the R/S stories, I'm not the only one. This doesn't mean we can't be wrong. I don't mind being wrong - okay, I do, but it's happened before. I mind feeling stupid and betrayed. And I'm guessing the H/Hr people are feeling that way, too.


See, here's what I have trouble understanding: don't we, as fans, know that what we're playing with is subtext? What shifted, when I wasn't paying attention, which gave so many of us the sense that we have the right to grouse when canon contradicts the subtextual readings of it that we like best?

I'm a huge Remus/Sirius fan, for instance. I love Remus/Sirius as a pairing, and I even think it's very nearly canon. But it's not canon, not technically; and if Rowling wants to show us Remus interested now in Tonks, she gets to do that, because she's writing the books. And if it means we have to work a little harder to show Remus and Sirius together (which I don't personally think that it does; I'm of the "Remus could be bi, and besides, Tonks is pretty queer herself" school of thought), that's the risk we take in writing active fandoms.

Or to take another pairing example, I've always had a fondness for Harry/Snape. (That's arguably Alan Rickman's fault, I imagine, but that's neither here nor there.) After this book, Harry/Snape is a lot harder to write than it used to be! But I wouldn't dream of griping about how Rowling chose to write Snape's actions in this book; it's her sandbox, after all, and I've always known that this pairing (which I enjoy so very much) is a bit of a stretch, not actually supported by canon, yadda yadda.

It's not that I don't sympathize with those whose WIPs have been Jossed (Rowling'd?). And I understand how one could feel frustrated when the creator's sense of the characters diverges from one's own sense of them -- there's that interesting question of whether a character can behave in an OOC way in canon, not just in fanfiction. But on the whole, I don't see why a character doing one thing now (Remus holding Tonks' hand, for instance) betrays our sense of who the character was in previous books (Remus living with Sirius, e.g.)...and I don't like the notion that because we're fans, we're entitled to have the characters follow the arc we want to see.

I don't think fans are entitled to have characters follow the arc they want to see, but I think fans are entitled to express their opinions when they don't like what they DO see, which is why all this outrage over the H/Hr shippers' reactions seems so weird to me.

Also, I think fans are entitled not to be mocked by creators when they see things the creators don't see. The ship wars have become as ugly as they have in part due to Rowling's continual feeding of them. She will say very ambiguous things, write what to many people is a very ambiguous text (and keep in mind her writing style is primarily a mystery writing style even though she is writing in the fantasy genre--mystery and not romance, but mystery and not straightforward, either) and then, when she has built up both sides of the debate with these little comments here and there, and finally reveals the truth, she will allow herself to participate in one side's mockery of the other and allow it to go on the internet for the world to see?

So. Not. Cool.

(no subject) - (Anonymous)   Expand  

What Rachel said *g*.

But also-- I totally get what you mean about the effect of R/T having been telegraphed in OotP, but really? I think the telegraphing boils down to two things: (1) The possibility of reading their interaction when he introduces her to Harry by her first name as flirtatious, which, while a possible reading, is certainly not the only one, and (2) the facts that they know each other, they're cool and sexy characters, and there aren't a lot of women in canon to pair Remus with.

The people who were shipping them beforehand may have seen some signals that it was a viable pairing, but I *don't* think the signals they were seeing were as strong as the subtext that the R/S shippers were picking up on-- or, for that matter, as the H/Hr subtext, which would have been very strong if the books were a romance and following the rules of the romance. R/T prior to HBP was basically founded on "They're pretty, they seem to like each other-- why not?" That's a fine basis for a ship as far as I'm concerned, but it's a very different sort of ship-fodder than what the R/S folks were building on.

Well, I didn't see R/Hr, but I didn't see R/Hr because I was comparing them to people I know and I thought any relationship between them would be a disaster. I know couples who bicker, but their bickering is not as mean as R/Hr's!

I personally hate being teased, especially by men. My father teases and I just loathe it--he's learnt not to do it to me, that I don't think it's funny, but.

I don't see R/T either, I never did. It seems to me that it was very forced, almost a reaction to S/R shipping and an attempt to quash the rumours. She doesn't strike me as straight either!

You'd think some people have never heard of poly...

For what it's worth, despite the fact that I'm not a writer of fic myself, I totally NEVER saw Harry and Hermione together and it was crystal clear to me that Hermione and Ron would get together. That was obvious (to me) starting (if I remember correctly) in PoA.

I've just finished rereading OotP, and while I could plausibly see Remus as being quietly, in the privacy of his own mind, more than platonically affectionate toward his friend, I can't see Sirius as anything but straight. He just comes across to me with a large, glaring Extreme Lack Of Gaydar Resonance or something. Always has.

Nod. I'm that way with Ron - he reads as totally straight to me. (Hermione might be a bit more open to experimentation.) A lot of this is perception.

It's funny that people sometimes forget that we all think ahead in stories like this. I've read some comments that yes, indicate that the person is looking to the author more as the provider of correct backstory to their fanfic rather than as someone writing her own story. But that's not what's mostly going on, especially not with regard to complaints about the ships, that I can see.

As a writer and editor (that sounds so pretentious, but really I just mean to say this is what I do at work), a lot of the stuff I do is about looking at stories for how they read. Part of that means if you set up an expectation or send the reader off on a tangent, it's going to weaken the effect of the story. Now, as it happens I did see H/G telegraphed and R/Hr telegraphed way in advance, but even I thought it was more done in the way of telling me what the author was thinking--I never felt with these characters that they would make a great couple personally. So I can see how, if someone has come to the conclusion in reading the H/Hr scenes in the books, that these two *would* make a great couple, that it might be ultimately disappointing to have that shoved aside for something else. And I think it's fine for them to suggest that their storyline might have been more meaningful--why not?

It's possible that JKR's voice is better being satirical about things other than romance, and people are disagreeing with the views on romance she puts forth. I don't think that's a case of them not getting what she's written, or denying her right to tell her story, or expecting them to write what they want. It can just as easily be a reasonable negative reaction to what they read.

When you think about it, the fandom is so vast that there's no way Rowling could please everyone, all the time. There are just too many people, with too many viewpoints. Rowling could be as smooth and sweet as ice cream in her interviews and I'm sure someone would STILL claim she was "mean" to her fans or something.

As you probably know, I'm one of those R/T shippers. And honestly, I wasn't expecting it to be canon. I shipped them post-OOtP because I thought they were a cute couple.

With Tonks' characterization - sigh. I know how wet she comes across, in contrast to the spunky Tonks of OOtP. I think there are reasons for this, and we are not seeing them because we are only seeing Tonks through Harry's eyes. Bob knows Tonks has reasons to be depressed besides Remus - she saw her aunt kill her cousin, she has family on opposing sides in this war, she probably misses Sirius, and we don't know how her parents feel about the Black Family Follies.

The thing with Tonks is, in a way, she just can't win with some readers. If she's upbeat and outgoing, she's an obnoxious Mary Sue. If she's depressed, she's weak and wimpy.

I think too, with romance, we are conditioned to expect lots of UST and groundwork and buildup because so many fanfics - het and slash alike - have romance as their centerpiece. Romance ficcers have the leisure to build things up slowly. Rowling, meanwhile, is trying to cram a lot of romance into a story that is, at bottom, about other things.

In a way, HP is like a blank slate. I'm not a literary critic or even a lit major, so my reach is definitely exceeding my grasp here, but perhaps we could call the HP series and its fans a study in postmodern criticism? A lot of us see different things, because we are different people and looking for different things. I really didn't see R/S (though that is neither here nor there as far as fanfic is concerned, ficcers write what is not canon all the time) in the canon, nor did I get the "gay" vibe off of either Remus or Tonks. For all we know, Mundungus Fletcher could be gay, or Charlie Weasley. For a lot of the subtext, it boils down to "You say tomato, I say tomahto."

Finally - Rowling, in her last interview, made it pretty clear that this "shipping" was new to her, and furthermore, it appears she is only really familiar with the Trio end of shipping. I don't know that it crossed her mind that Remus and Sirius were thought to be a couple. And, in the end, it's really her story to tell.

Wait. You mean Mundungus *isn't* gay?

(Mundungus is a canonical cross dresser - yes, as a disguise, which tells me that the everpresent fanfic "glamors" don't exist, but maybe he likes it, too. Which doesn't mean he's gay. I have a lifestyle crossdresser on my flist who prefers members of the opposite sex. He was recently bashed, too, in the neighborhood in which he's lived, in his skirts, for years. :( )

Interpretate, interpretate, interpretate, there'll always be something left

The beauty of fanfic is :
you can write one fanfic and make it Remus/Sirius together during the OotP and then Remus hooking up with Tonks after Sirius' death as a way to deal with his grief


you can write a fanfic where Remus has always been straight and was with Tonks during OotP, and they're a very serious item during HBP


you can even write a fanfic where the Remus/Tonks pairing is purely a cover story because Remus is the liaison of Snape (whom he's shagging) (huh, doesn't sound like a good rational but i'm sure soon enough there'll bve well written fics like that)

You can do all of those at the same time, and you can enjou them.

That's the beauty of subtext, we can ignore or aknowledge it at will. I mean, most of the time subtext contradicts itself anyway... metaphores in one body of art are rarely all consistent with oneselves (oh, I remember all the wank we went into in the Buffy fandom about the evolution of the vampire metaphore during various seasons)

There's nothing that should stop any H/Hr shipper right now to write H/Hr fics. There's never been.

So what is it about ? Finding out if you're "right" canon ? Racing ships running for the lines of arrival and the pairing that exists at the last page is the one that "won" ?

JKR is not the ultimate arbitrer of what ships are interesting and fun. There's not reason she should be. We're the audience, we're the ones with the liberty and the power to interprete at will and build on what she writes. It's a wonderful position.

We don't need to feel concerned by authorial intent in any way.

You probably know this much better than I, but I was told there's one midrach about rabbi discussing a point of the Torah and one of them was appealing to G*d to agree with him, various miraculous manifestations occur but the other rabbis refuse to accept it as an argument because now that the Law has been given to humans, it is their role to interprete it.

I find it to be extremely applicable to literature in general.

I don't know if there were Remus/Tonks hints before HBP though, at least any that I saw. (Of course I never see anything, I'm subtext-blind. Though I did see Ron/Hermione, and it didn't keep me from slashing either one of them and still won't.)

I mean, in an interview with J.K. Rowling she did seem surprised that people on the net were shipping them before HBP came out.

As for Tonks' characterization, I don't know. If she was really supposed to only be upset because of Remus, that is a bit odd to me, but, I don't know.

And I don't know how to feel about people who are upset over the book. I'm not, even though my (very non-canon) ships were scuttled. But I admit I'll be disappointed myself if developments with Snape turn out the way they have in the last book.

I don't know what to say. I doubt I'll rant about the last book either, even if that does happen. But when I think of what Kohta Hirano did to Walter I put my fingers in my ears and say "La la la..." so I'm not on higher ground.

If she was really supposed to only be upset because of Remus, that is a bit odd to me, but, I don't know.

I find that assuming R/S makes that aspect of the R/T make more sense-- if Tonks was attracted to Remus before, and was a little jealous of Sirius, and then failed to save him, that could easily exacerbate her survivor guilt to the levels we saw.

I refuse to believe that JK Rowling never reads fanfic and has not at all been influenced by it, and that her books are reading more and more like fanfic.

Honestly, if I were a published author and I knew that there was fanfic written about my universe, I would A. jump for joy and B. Not read a word of it. That can get dangerous.

Our ship is sinking

And, have you seen potterpuffs. It makes me squee all stupid, and one of the icons is, in fact, a pick at the witherwings.net letter "Hermione/Ron. Because I read the books."