Pepperpots and Trouser Shocks: Cross-Dressing in Geek Culture

Cross-dressing is wrong? Riddikulus!

You’ve seen the movies, you’ve read the books; cross-dressing is a common theme in fiction. It’s in mythology, history, folklore, literature, operas, plays, movies, television, and even music. Most importantly though, it has caught the attention of the alternative and dare I say? nerdy aspects in the pop-culture experience that we call life.

There are a few different kinds of plot points based on cross dressing. A very popular one, especially by those such as Shakespeare is one I like to call: Girls in Caps and Trousers. Women dressing as men have been both a cultural and historical phenomena. Some are trying to find their lost loves, some to fight in a war, and some just want the same privileges and opportunities their brothers get. Since there are many of examples of this particular trope (Japanese anime has hundreds of them) I will stick to only a couple.

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Fanfiction Fridays: Secret Keeper by ermalope

Personally, I’m not the biggest slash fan. Oh, I’ll read it. I’ll read the hell out of it. But there’s always something about a story that doesn’t involve slash that just pulls me in. Of course, seeing as this is fanfiction, finding one that’s slash free and well written presents a challenge in and of itself. This brings me to Secret Keeper by ermalope.

Spoiler Alert! This doesn’t happen.

This particular fic features a budding friendship between, of all people, Severus Snape and James Potter. I’ve actually read a number of believable fics between these two—surprisingly slash fics, but I digress—but this one is probably my favorite.

During the first war with Voldemort, when the Potters go into hiding to protect their son, Dumbledore suspects that one of James’s friends has betrayed them. Furthermore, they need a secret keeper Voldemort would not suspect. Though James and Lily are adamant in choosing either Sirius or Peter, Dumbledore suggests—you guessed it!—Severus Snape.

This suggestion does not go over well.

And it’s nice to see that it takes both a while to convince the Potters and Snape that this is merely the safest option, and not that it is a ploy by Dumbledore for entertainment value. And while the fic is mostly very serious, ermalope does spice it up with some added bits of humor, especially in the dialogue.

Dumbledore finished his tea and said, “So, to business. Can you guess what this little side project of yours will entail?”

“Not telling anyone else that I’m the secret keeper of the Potters,” Severus muttered.

“Especially Voldemort.”

“I can’t even tell him? I would never have guessed,” Severus said in the same miserable monotone. Dumbledore smiled humourlessly.

Because the Potters were in such a rush to cast the Fidelus Charm, and because they cannot leave their home for their own safety, it falls to Severus to bring them supplies every week or so, a task he does not enjoy.

Potter’s eyes narrowed, but he stepped back to let Severus in. “What are you doing here?” he spat as he watched Severus materialize out of thin air.

“Believe me Potter, if I didn’t have to be -” he stopped, and said in a more silky voice, “I’d expect more gratitude from you. I am saving your life. Part of this duty requires me to ensure that you don’t starve, as much as it would satisfy me if you did.”

Potter’s eyes, which had been still narrowed in intense dislike, widened – now horrified. “Couldn’t someone else… Sirius, or Peter, or… anyone do that?”

“Of course, Potter, practically everyone was falling over themselves to offer, but I, personally, couldn’t refuse such an honour,” Severus sneered.

This doesn’t happen either.

The friendship between the two is slow going. While James is the one to push for it more, Severus doesn’t forgive easily, and he has an understandably hard time letting go of all the horrible things James subjected him to while in school, which does halt any progress the two make in getting along significantly.

On top of all this, McGonagall doesn’t trust Snape, and she also enlists one of his students to follow him around and spy on him while he’s teaching at Hogwarts. Furthermore, once James gets back his invisibility cloak and starts going out, it creates more problems. The one scene where these two issues collide into each other in the latest chapter is quite memorable. Needless to say, Severus’s reaction to the Potters leaving their hiding place brings out a few laughs, especially because by the time that happens, he has grown to care for James just a little.

Severus almost toppled out of his desk chair. “Wha – Potter! How – WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”

“Look, Snape, I don’t like it any more than you do. But I had to contact you.”

“You could have just used a patronus, like EVERYONE ELSE IN THE ORDER!” Severus shouted.

“Where’s the fun in that, though?” James grinned, seating himself at a desk in the very front row.

“This isn’t a game, Potter!” Severus snarled.

James frowned at a potion stain in the middle of his desk, and then glanced up at Severus. “Look, I know. I do. I thought that a patronus showing up might be a tad disruptive in the middle of one of your classes, so I came here myself and waited for you to be free. We need your help.”

“What, did the Dark Lord show up at your doorstep?” snarled Severus.

“Not yet. But Dolohov did.”

Severus said nothing for a moment, but smiled lazily. “Ah. So. You’ve come to beg me to –” his smile vanished. “Hang on a second. Dolohov is right outside your house because you got yourself caught in a pub, and you react by leaving your hiding place to tell me about it?”

James raised one eyebrow. “It would appear that way, wouldn’t it?”

“How are you still alive, Potter?”

Eventually, during this conversation, the aforementioned student walks in.

Unfortunately, Severus didn’t get the chance to elaborate on those feelings, because they had been intruded upon. Charity Burbage had wandered into the classroom several moments ago and had been staring from one man to the other silently, eyes wide, for those past several moments.

They stared back. In that instant in which the back of his mind whirred for a solution to this dilemma, Severus somehow noticed how remarkably like a deer caught in the wand-light James Potter looked when he was startled.

After that instant, he came to his senses and snapped, “Can I help you, Miss Burbage?” as though she had interrupted an ordinary discussion between himself and another staff member.

“Uh –” she said. “I was just – I’m just a little early. For class.”

Severus stared at her. “Class starts in an hour and a half.”

It was Charity’s turn to blink. “Does it? I’ll go, then.” She all but ran from the room.

James smirked. “I’m a little early for class, Professor. Who was that?”

“Oh, no one,” Severus replied ferociously. “You know. Just one other person who has seen you! Not only that, she’s seen you with me! I’ll have to wipe her memory or something.”

James snorted. “And I bet you will.”

Severus continued, oblivious to James’s quip. “Dumbledore will never let me do that, of course. Maybe I should reason with him. What matters now is Dolohov.”

As of current, Secret Keeper is fifteen chapters long, with over forty-thousand words. It’s another story that hasn’t yet been completed, but neither is it abandoned. Ermalope has done an amazingly good job on this story thus far, and it is something that I look forward to reading whenever I see an update. Check it out here, and leave the author a comment or two if you like it.

Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon)

Those of us here at LGG&F worked tirelessly to compile and vote on the top 10 canon and top 10 fanon pairings in Geekdom. You have no idea how hard it was to come to a consensus on what was actually canon or not!

THE CANON LIST:

1. Princess Leia/Han Solo

“I happen to like nice men.” – Leia

“I’m a nice man.” – Han Solo

“No, you’re not.” – Leia

The space pirate and the princess, Han helps Luke rescue Leia from the clutches of the evil empire and the rest, as they say, is history. If you like couples that start off hating each other, then this is the couple for you! Han and Leia participate in many a witty jab at the others expense. Meanwhile, the sexual tension between the two is so thick even Chewbacca notices it. Sure, there was a brief and confusing time when it seemed that maybe Luke and Leia where going to get together—*shudders*—but real Star Wars fans and a blood test quickly cleared that up. Thanks, George Lucas, for giving us this great couple!

2. Doctor/Rose

“How long are you going to stay with me” – The Doctor

“Forever.” – Rose

Okay, so Doctor/Rose. The Doctor is a traveler through time and space and the last of his species. Rose is a young shopgirl from London whom he meets and with whom he travels for two seasons (all of the Ninth Doctor and the first season of Ten). They have adventures and fight everything from ghosts to Satan. The Doctor helps Rose realize her value outside of being a shopgirl while they learn new things. Rose helps the Doctor move past his depression in being the last Time Lord alive after the Time War. They are separated into parallel universes while saving the Earth, but later reunited. The Doctor at one point is separated into a Time Lord and human self, and the human self chooses to return to the parallel universe with Rose because he can commit to her in a way the Time Lord Doctor cannot.

The Doctor and Rose share this intense love of discovering new things even when they’re potentially dangerous. They sort of have an unspoken understanding that they love each other (it’s not verbalized until pretty much the last time you see Rose). Their relationship involves a lot of hugs and lust and shared amused looks/eyesex, etc, etc.

3. Willow/Tara

“I am, you know.” – Tara

“What?” – Willow

“Yours.” – Tara

Both witches Willow and Tara meet at college in a Wicca group where they discover they are the only two real witches. After several altercations with monsters, Willow and Tara begin to grow closer, leading Willow to question her previously assumed heterosexuality. Eventually, Willow follows her heart to Tara, and since then the two have been one of TV’s best same sex couples.

4. Xavin/Karolina Dean

“This is my beloved’s home, and now it is mine. I will die for it. Will you?” – Xavin

Karolina Dean is an alien that absorbs solar energy into her body and can shoot it back out at you just as fast. She is an openly lesbian character in the Marvel team known as the Runaways. Xavin is a shape-shifting gender-fluid skrull prince/princess who is engaged to Karolina. Their relationship starts off rocky. First, with the two teenagers coming to terms with their marriage, and then with Karolina struggling over the fact that Xavin is not always a woman who she is attracted two. Despite this adversity and the constant bad guys trying to kill them, the two manage to find an enduring love for the ages.

5. Usagi/Mamoru:

“Mamoru, please say it once more.” – Usagi

“Again? But I’ve said it fifty times!” – Mamoru

“Please? One more time?” – Usagi

“Okay, for the last time. Marry me, Usagi.” – Mamoru

Whether we’re talking about Serenity/Endymion, Sailor Moon/Tuxedo Mask, or even Serena/Darien, these two lives are always linked. In the manga, anime, musicals, and live-action series, their relationship varies in its depiction but their devotion to each other can’t be denied. I’d like to talk primarily about their relationship in the live-action series, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon, because this incarnation of the story has the most unique depiction of their relationship.

Unlike in the anime, the two develop feelings for each other as Usagi and Mamoru first, rather than realizing they were lovers in the past and beginning a relationship from there. The affection they have for each other is so strong that Usagi’s crush on Tuxedo Mask is actually eclipsed by her feelings for Mamoru after a lot of distress on her part as she sorts out her feelings. When the pair learn of their past in this series, unlike every other incarnation, it nearly destroys their relationship, rather than solidifying it. They learn that their affair was essentially the downfall of both their kingdoms in their past lives and at first try to stay away from each other to avoid repeating the tragedy. They realize, of course, that they can’t simply stop wanting each other and decide that they will not be ruled by their past, that they choose to love one another now, in the present, despite the probability that they are doomed to bring about ruin by doing so. It is this choice that I think strengthens the Usagi/Mamoru relationship as opposed to the “Miracle Romance” of the other incarnations of the story. This is not to say that I don’t think their relationship in the manga/anime/musicals is any less true or beautiful, just that the implications of fate working against them, as opposed to, in their favor makes their choice to be together that much more impressive in PGSM.

6. Westley/Buttercup

“As you wish.” – Wesley

One of the greatest love stories you will ever read anywhere and also one of the funniest. Westley starts out as a poor farm boy working for Buttercup. She mistreats him horribly, but soon she falls just as madly in love with him as he is with her. When Buttercup thinks Westley is killed, she abandons hope and nearly marries an evil prince, but Westley soon returns, because, well, “death cannot stop true love; it can only delay it for a while.” Buttercup and Westley also share one of the greatest kisses in all of history. If you don’t like these two, then you might just have no heart.

7. Jane Eyre/Edward Rochester

“I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. To be together is for us to be at once as free as in solitude, as gay as in company. We talk, I believe, all day long: to talk to each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. All my confidence is bestowed on him, all his confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character—perfect concord is the result.” – Jane Eyre

Jane and Edward are not the typical lovers. They are twenty years different in age; she is poor, obscure, and little, while he is rich, well known, not handsome (though does posses a fine pair of dark eyes), and while athletic in build, is not particularly tall. They are not beautiful in body, but they are in mind. Jane is plain, but she has a sprightly and empathetic disposition, coupled with a strong sense of justice and a surprisingly quick temper. Rochester is dark and brooding—*swoon*—with a sarcastic sense of humor, but he is passionate, especially when it comes to Jane (Bow chicka bow wow). Their love is not instant; it grows through the time they spend together and the trials they are put through. Though they have societal differences, it is their spirits, their mutual affection, and compatibility that make them such an amusing, beautiful, and ultimately romantic couple.

8. Apollo/Midnighter

“God, I just love you to bits sometime.” – Midnighter

What to say about Apollo and Midnighter? They where originally introduce in Stormwatch, which was in a universe outside of the normal DC universe. It has often been pointed out that these two characters are simply the gay version of Batman and Superman, and while they do share many similarities. They are also extremely badass superheroes willing to kill for those they love. The two are subtle about their relationship in the beginning, but soon share their relationship with their teammates. They eventually get married and adopt a little girl. Word to the wise though, super villains, if you mess with this family you may end up without a head… or worse.

9. Arwen/Aragorn

“I choose a mortal life.” – Arwen

“You cannot give this to me.” – Aragorn

“It is mine to give to whom I will. Like my heart.” – Arwen

A timeless love that crossed cultural divides and racism. Arwen gives up her immortality to live a short life as a mortal with Aragorn, despite her father’s disapproval and the concerns of her people. There is actually not much said about Aragorn and Arwen in the actual series, though there is plenty in the book’s massive appendix, as well as in the movies. Arwen’s and Aragorn’s love is pure and sweet, the kind of a noble knight for his faithful lady. It’s a classic that we love.

10. Joker/Harley

“Aw, c’mon, Puddin’. Don’tcha wanna rev up your Harley? VROOOM VROOM!” – Harley Quinn

What’s a romance list without a little mad love? A bad one, that’s what! Harley and the Joker don’t have a stable relationship, not by any means, but if you ask fans about comic book romances, they will more likely than not mention Harley and her Puddin’. Let’s be serious: their love is deranged, sick, twisted, and maybe a little bit sweet. The Joker himself worries that he might care too much about Harley in some comics. Unfortunately, that doesn’t bring about a change in Joker; it just makes him want to kill poor Harley! Well, Harley can change him right… no, probably not.

THE FANON LIST:

Kida/Anri/Mikado

Kida, Anri, and Mikado all are high school students that secretly run different gangs in the city. Yep, anime… go figure? Despite running rival gangs, the three maintain a friendship and eventually work together. Their love is epic and there is just too much of it for one person. So maybe Kida had some other girlfriend—screw her! She wasn’t nearly as cool as Anri and Mikado! Congrats to our list’s only OT3.

Dean/Castiel

Move over, Wincest fans! Profound bond coming through! Only two pairings were almost unanimously voted for on this list, and Dean and Castiel were one of them. An angel and his hunter, the eye sex alone may be enough to point out how totally in love they are. Castiel fell from heaven and died for Dean twice. Castiel is the first person Dean has ever trusted that wasn’t family (Bobby doesn’t count; he was basically their dad). Dean, however… insists that he’s straight… yep. But the fans know Dean is lying. And to prove it, the fans dominate every online couples contest. Castiel and Dean won best couple in a poll done by Spoiler TV, and are now going head to head with Faberry and Klaine (both from Glee). Castiel and Dean, their love is heavenly!

Snape/Lily

Another paring almost unanimously voted for by our writers. Snape always loved Lily. Always. Fans of the Harry Potter series adore Snape so much that his happiness wins out over the birth of Harry Potter. A slew of fanfics were written describing the beautiful love between Lily and Snape. After all, JKR admits that James was Lily’s second choice… because you know, Snape called her a mudblood, but if he hadn’t done that she totally would have married him, because she loved him way more than James. Snape and Lily, in the minds of fans, they will always be together.

Batman/Superman

They’re best friends, best buds, best pals! They are as close as two men can be… Let’s be honest, Batman and Superman are a little into each other. There is a reason Apollo and Midnighter were created, and that reason is that fans saw the sexual tension in droves. The relationship between Batman and Superman rivals that of even the most avid Batman/Robin fans. Their love is chaotic and often filled with problems, mostly because of Batman’s abandonment issues, but despite all this fans are convinced it’s Batman and Superman forever.

Sam/Frodo

There are several Tolkien scholars that would smack me over the head right now if they new this couple made the list. Sam and Frodo are war buddies… brothers… okay, fine, lovers trying desperately to save Middle Earth despite only having each other, and I guess Gollum, to rely on. So this may be one of the most contested pairing on this list. Some people love them; some people hate them. But hey, if they found some happiness with each other during these troubling times, who are we to judge?

Kirk/Spock

A fandom that boldly went where no fandom had gone before! Kirk and Spock hold the honor and distinction of being the original slash pairing. You don’t want to mess with Kirk/Spock shippers. Like all things that involve Star Trek, Kirk and Spock are a pairing ardently defended and upheld by the fans. And who could blame them? Both characters are bachelors for life and seem to only care about each other and a ship. Okay, that may be an over simplification, but you see my point. When Spock is going through the Vulcan mating cycle of Pon Farr, it takes rolling around in the dirt with Kirk to help him find release. Ladies and gentleman, the original slash pairing!

Jason/Kimberly

They’re the ship you shipped before you knew what shipping was. Well, maybe that’s only true for me, but whatever. Throughout the first three seasons of Power Rangers (IIRC—Jason left sometime in the third season, but I may be mistaken) and especially in the episodes prior to Tommy’s arrival, there were strong hints that Jason Scott and Kimberly Hart were romantically interested in each other, or at the very least shared a closer bond with each other than they did with the other Rangers. From the beginning of the show, when the group was in danger these two always seemed to seek each other out in the chaos, for protection, for assurance that the other was safe, for shared strength. Whatever the reason, they almost invariably grabbed or at least looked to each other in moments of peril. Classroom scenes and schemes which involved splitting up often shows Kimberly and Jason together, and even when Tommy and Kimberly were dating, for the time Jason remained on the show there was still a closeness he and Kimberly shared. Jason/Kimberly shippers got the biggest gift of all in the form of Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie which, as far as I’m concerned, made the couple canon.

France/England

The characters in Hetalia are anthropomorphized countries, so France/England is based partially on the diplomatic history between France and England, like they reimagine a proposed treaty between the countries as a marriage proposal, etc. England is portrayed as a stuffy, superstitious, sort of uncool guy, whereas France is a flamboyant, womanizing/… manizing, wine- and food-loving layabout who solves his problems with love.

Light/L

Ah, what can be said about L and Light? Their relationship certainly isn’t healthy. Much like Harley and Joker, there is a lot of abuse and manipulation happening here. Unlike our two favorite clowns, however, there is a mutual respect and understanding. There is also the kink factor. L handcuffs himself to Light in order to ensure he is definitely not Kira. Boy, did that spawn some porny fanfiction. And show of hands who thought they were going to make out in the rain in that last episode? Yes, I said last episode! Are there episodes after L? No, there are not, but there is always fanfiction.

Harry/Draco

Harry stalked Draco all through book six of the Harry Potter series then saved him from fiery death in book seven. Draco loves to pester Harry all the time, but we know he really just wants Harry’s attention. This couple is probably one of the most intense love/hate relationships on this list, but as every fanfic everywhere has said, there is a fine line between love and hate. Harry and Draco prove that more than anyone. So what if both Draco and Harry got married and had kids with weird names? That’s actually an alternate universe, thank you very much. We all know that Harry married Draco after the events of Deathly Hallows, that’s just fact.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2… kinda.

Well, the day has finally come. The last of the Harry Potter movies has been made, and with its release in theaters all the hardcore fans can enjoy the epicness of witnessing the conclusion of such a beloved story while simultaneously crying that it’s over. Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life for years now. I was about twelve when I read the first three books, and now ten years later, sitting in the theater for the final movie, I feel as though my childhood has come to an end with the franchise. Harry Potter is someone I grew up with, and he’s been such a huge part of my life, so this was also a depressing day for me. I know it sounds sad, but I have to wonder what I’m going to do with my life now that this is over… well, there’s always PotterMore and fanfiction.

So I went to see the movie with my good friend Tsunderin two days after the release. Normally, I go to the midnight showings, but something about me has always procrastinated anything involving Deathly Hallows. I’m the kind of person who can read all the books in the course of two or three days, but it took me a week and a half to read the last one my first time through. The obnoxious spoilers I had shoved on me beforehand didn’t help. Mostly, even though I suspected it was going to happen since Goblet of Fire, I didn’t want to see Snape die. That was the first chapter I read in the last book, because I refused to believe it to be true, and when I went back and read normally, I had to keep telling myself that the words on the page would change and Snape would live in order to make it to the very end.

But alas, this review is about the movie and not my broken heart for my all-time favorite character. But as Snape is so plot essential, I guess I’ll get to talk about him for a bit too in this review.

So this movie picks up right where Part 1 left off. Voldemort has the Elder Wand and Harry has just buried Dobby. Thus, he and his two mates continue on to find the last remaining Horcruxes and destroy them.

All in all, this movie was pretty epic. I do not, however, think it can stand by itself as a movie. It’s called Part 2 for a reason, and I would have enjoyed it much better had I watched the first half again before going to the theater. Pretty much, Deathly Hallows ended up being five hours long, so they just decided to slice it right down the middle. Part 1 doesn’t really end, and Part 2 doesn’t really start, if that makes sense.

I’m not calling them bad movies, not by any stretch. Deathly Hallows would have suffered immensely had it been any shorter, and sitting in a theater for both halves at once would have been too much. All I’m saying is that each half absolutely needs the other.

Part 2 is fairly fast paced once our favorite trio makes it back to Hogwarts, though I wouldn’t call what happened beforehand slow. They return, and then they battle… and that’s pretty much it. It’s like watching a two hour long climax. I was reminded of the battle in the last Lord of the Rings movie. You know, the one that never ended, kind of like the Dark of the Moon fight now that I think about it. The difference being that the Deathly Hallow’s battle seemed more broken up and didn’t run like one great big scene. Many things divided it, as it needed to be divided to allow the audience a moment’s rest, such as Snape’s memories and the Ghost of Ravenclaw.

You know, I’m not really sure where I should go with this post. You see, I feel as though I do better talking about things I hate. That said, I can find something to hate in anything. I loved Thor, but all I did was rant at that movie. This isn’t really the case with Deathly Hallows. I’m pretty content with how everything turned out. If there’s one thing that bothered me—other than Snape dying, but I’d have been pissed if he lived, so that’s a moot point—I would say Bellatrix’s duel with Mrs. Weasley. Julie Walters and Helen Bonham Carter are superb, but I expected more from their fight. In the book, it was so epic that even Voldemort stopped killing people to watch. Everyone stared as Mrs. Weasley ripped into Bellatrix and screamed in all the rage caps lock can muster, “YOU BITCH!” In the movie, it’s kind of like, “oh, time to kill Bella.” It still earned a round of applause from the audience, but still…

Oh, side note, I liked how Lupin was not the unlikable douchebag he becomes in the book. It made his death much more saddening. I’ve never really supported Lupin and Tonks, but I really liked the whole hand thing the director did with them. Unfortunately, Lupin’s, Tonk’s, and so many other deaths happened right after Snape’s. So much time was spent with Snape, and he’s the one that matters the most out of all the dead people, that when the movie cuts away to show everyone else, the audience doesn’t really get an appropriate amount of time to mourn him. I suppose when we see his memories that would be a great time to burst into tears, but his death overrode everyone else’s. So I was sitting there like, “Don’t care about Fred even though I did in the book. I only care about Snape at this point.”

Another thing with Snape, Harry doesn’t use his true loyalty to mock Voldemort as he does in the book. That’s not really important; I just liked that scene. And speaking of things that were cut out, Kreacher didn’t lead a house-elf rebellion in the name of Regulus Black. Oh, well. The movies are long enough as it is, and we can’t have everything. Though at the very least, they could’ve let Harry repair his original wand.

By the way, Harry, yes, you coming back to life was just as retarded on screen as it was in prose. But unlike many authors who pull this tripe, J. K. Rowling at least took the time to allow it to make sense with the rest of the story. Basically, there’s a reason for it other than Harry is just special.

The ending is a really big letdown, but it was in the book, too. I thought Albus Severus Potter was cute, but the whole future scene just doesn’t seem to work. And it came across even poorer on screen than it did in the book. I thought that it was more like a pretty bow wrapping up the story in a Happily-Ever-After than it was an epilogue (well, they do deserve a happy ending, considering everything else they went through). At the very least, they could have tried to make the characters look older, and they did to a small extent, but not nineteen years older. Not old enough to have children already at Hogwarts.

Oh, I know something that pissed me off to no end in this movie that I can rage at. This is something that pissed me off in the books, too, and while the movies on occasion lessoned my rage, they enhanced it in other parts.

The treatment of the Slytherin House.

Before anyone rolls their eyes, thinking that I identify as Slytherin or that I just love it because I secretly want to bone Snape and Draco and kick puppies on my spare time, let me just say that I’m a Hufflepuff. And I could rant on Hufflepuff’s portrayal as well, but I’ll do that later.

Throughout the books and movies, the Slytherin House has been constantly demonized. People who go into it are automatically dismissed as evil little Death Eaters for no other reason than what a talking hat said. Granted, there are founded reasons to the preconception, but even the good Slytherin’s are also ostracized and do something bad at some point in their lives. Slytherin is a House where people “make their true friends,” but such a thing is never shown. I actually loved the scene in the sixth movie between Pansy Parkinson and Draco on the train. Because her asking him with genuine concern whether or not he was all right finally made a Slytherin relatable on a small level and showed that they are also capable of being people.

But no one else sees them as people. They see them as evil blemishes on the world. When McGonagall orders the Slytherins to be locked in the dungeon and the other houses cheer? Bitch please. Yeah, let’s lock all the Slytherins up because Pansy Parkinson said something stupid and predictable. Sorry, first and second years, you dared to not only get an education, but to exist as well! Shame on you!

Is it any wonder why they all grow up to be Death Eaters, besides parental ties? I mean, there’s certainly nothing for them on the side of light but scorn. One could even argue that this is one of the reasons that prompted Snape originally to join Voldemort. He was a Slytherin who liked the Dark Arts. Does either of those things make a person evil? Well, apparently it does to the rest of the population. Not only was Snape picked on for being Lily’s friend, he’s was scorned for having interests of his own that did not fit into cultural norms. The world of Harry Potter seems divided into two sides, good people who study defense of dark magic, and evil people who cast dark magic. There’s no social middle ground for people who simply like learning about dark magic. They’re evil. Plain and simple.

And if one can argue that the Slytherins are written off as disgraceful, they can certainly claim that Gryffindor is shoved up on a pedestal and praised more than it deserves to be. Now, Gryffindor does provide our protagonists, and Slytherin the antagonists, so to an extent, yes, we should side with more with the Gryffindors—you know, this is turning more into a review of the series as a whole, which I feel is appropriate now that it’s at its end, but I doubt I’ll be able to talk about everything I want to regardless, because there’s just so much—but it’s just so poorly executed that I can’t help getting upset. Why are the Gryffindors good? Well, they’re brave and they wear red. Why are the Slytherins so bad? Because they just are.

Again, I think this ties back to social stipulations. The Wizarding World is by far a more biased and bigoted place than our own. At the very least, more racist. I mean, think of the goblins. And even those who stand for Muggle rights still think that they’re better than the Muggles (let’s just mind-rape them all! Obliviate!) So the Slytherin House producing the vast majority of bad wizards the world has ever seen and being shunned as a House of evil makes sense within the context of the story. The problem here arises when we, the audience, are meant to scorn Slytherin for everything despite the circumstances and worship Gryffindor. Tell me, does Neville really earn those ten extra points in Philosopher’s Stone, or is it just a potshot so Gryffindor can win the House Cup? Is Dumbledore justified in not expelling Sirius Black when Snape almost gets eaten by a werewolf? Does Snape deserve to be threatened with expulsion for being the victim of such a horrible prank while Sirius doesn’t suffer any consequences to speak of? I mean, the only time Dumbledore gives a shit about Draco is when Dumbledore’s about to die.

This sort of opinionated mindset applies to all four Houses. Ravenclaw is nonexistent with the exception of Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang, and a quickly tacked on Horcrux. Hagrid calls Hufflepuff a House of dunderheads in Philosopher’s Stone and the idea sticks throughout the remainder of the series. Well, we have a good and an evil House, so I guess we need a smart and a dumb House to show diversity.

I have to wonder why the Hufflepuffs and the Slytherins aren’t the world’s biggest BBFs. They certainly have a lot in common, and it wouldn’t be hard for the students to connect with each other on an emotional level, considering the negativity they have to put up with from the rest of society. Like Slytherins, who are never shown as “true friends,” the Hufflepuffs are never shown as the hardworking, just, and loyal people the Sorting Hat says they are. So the basis of a friendship is there—but no! The Hufflepuffs are always eagerly lining up behind Gryffindor and Ravenclaw to applaud widely whenever something awful befalls the Slytherin House.

And “lining up behind” is exactly what they do, both Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws. Even in the movies, both these Houses are shunted behind the other two. They exist so Hogwarts can have four Houses. No other reason. It’s a shame that they’re never properly explored. And this doesn’t just apply to the books and movies, but to any and all merchandise as well. Hell, even my Harry Potter Lego set—which is awesome, by the way—only has Gryffindor and Slytherin.

This seems like a bad marketing strategy, since a lot of people identify as Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. I myself have a lot of pride for my House, despite Hufflepuff not being real.

The obvious imbalance between the four Houses is what detracts from the series the most. Yes, Gryffindor needs more time with the audience, because that’s where Harry is, but to the exclusion of the other Houses? This is such an intricate world, and we want to explore it.

With the introduction of Luna, or even Cho Chang, we could’ve learned so much more about Ravenclaw than we did. With the introduction of Cedric Diggory in Goblet of Fire, and the consequences of his death in Order of the Phoenix, we could’ve learned so much more about Hufflepuff. And this one infuriates me quite a bit. Harry was not Cedric’s friend, or at the very least not a close friend. They were acquaintances. Cedric was the kind of character to get along with a lot of people, so it would make sense that he was close to someone other than Cho. Then, in Order of the Phoenix, Harry starts bitching that his fellow students only want to know what happened because they’re curious, and that’s how everyone else is described. Curious. I just wanted a Hufflepuff to punch Harry in the face. I’m sure witnessing a murder is tragic, but the people Cedric was close to deserve to know the truth.

Imagine that your friend is murdered, and someone else who wasn’t close to him or her knew how everything went down and refused to tell you anything. Was it painful? Was it quick? Did your friend suffer? You wouldn’t know. Neither do the Hufflepuffs, and we get nothing from them regarding Cedric’s death.

I could go on for hours on this topic alone, so let’s move on.

Harry Potter offers a wide variety of characters, but for the length of the books, it only really explores those in Gryffindor. I maintain that the biggest problems arise from a lack of development in Slytherin. An audience doesn’t need to agree with the antagonists, but it still needs to understand their drives.

Draco Malfoy, for instance, remains a two-dimensional bully until Half Blood Prince, when finally the Malfoys are given an identifiable motivation—that being an overwhelming love for their family. Narcissa was just as excellent in the movies as she was in the books, and surprisingly we see more of it in the movies. In the film adaptation of Deathly Hallows, she gets her son and she gets out—by the way, I love the Voldemort hug and the look or pure misery on Draco’s face during it—and it shows that the Malfoys are more loyal to family than they are to the Death Eaters. This makes them a wildcard, since they’ll help whichever side they need to, light or dark, in order to keep their son safe, which makes me wonder why the hell Lucius Malfoy looks back on the final battle longingly in the movie. That did not happen in the book. He was not torn between Voldemort and his son. The moment Draco fell into danger, he wanted out. The Malfoys are an interesting group. It just took so long to get to them. The payoff in this case, however, was well worth it.

If only the payoff with Voldemort could have been just as good…

He’s the main antagonist, but he’s a flat, clichéd villain. He’s not compelling in the slightest, up to the very end, and the movies showed no more insight into him than the books did. What’s his motivation? I guess it’s to be a Mudblood-hating, murderous douchebag who wants to live forever, just like every other villain in every other story. Nothing sets him apart as unique in his personality. Nothing. J. K. Rowling even stated that he was always evil.

And thus shattered the suspension of disbelief.

People aren’t born evil. They’re not, and the majority of the fanbase cannot connect to Voldemort on the mere grounds that he’s a psychopath (or a sociopath, not sure what the difference is). Having a psychopathic villain is not a crime when writing a novel, let me make that clear. The problem in this instant is that Voldemort had so much background and potential to be a well-rounded character, and he’s not. He grows up in a Muggle orphanage, and I think it’s safe to say that he’s abused or neglected there, and on top of that he has this magical power that he cannot control. Moreover, he doesn’t have the mentality to control it or use it wisely. He’s arguably such a powerful wizard because he withdrew into himself as a child and focused on harnessing this power and letting it grow. Then Dumbledore comes along and gives him this hope that he’s not alone, that there’s a wonderful world out there for people like him, and Voldemort opens up to Dumbledore. He doesn’t trust anyone before Dumbledore comes, and then in a moment of excitement he spills his soul out to a man he hardly knows, and Dumbledore betrays that trust. He treats Voldemort as an evil burden who needs to be watched, rather than as a child with severe problems who needs help.

In a way, Dumbledore is just as responsible for the rise of Voldemort as he is for Grindlewald. Unfortunately, we’re not supposed to sympathize with Voldemort on any level despite the above, because he’s presented as someone who’s simply evil.

Like I said, there’s so much more to talk about, but this review’s long enough as it is, and my hands hurt. In the end, I think I’m just disappointed. Lock the Slytherins in the dungeon, indeed.