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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Unexpected Sexism in 'The Cursed Child' | Hannah Billie Perry


On 30th July, I happily donned Ravenclaw facepaint and red lippie to stand in line at Waterstones Piccadilly and gleefully grab my copy of the much-awaited script of The Cursed Child. I was pumped. For a lifelong fan, it was the perfect way to bid a fond farewell to the franchise that changed, no, shaped, my very existence.

How very disappointed I was.


Look, everybody knows that there's been a whole mixed bag of feeling towards the script in general. The plot's iffy, the writers seem to shy away from what, on page, CLEARLY seems to imply the start of a homosocial relationship between Scorpius and Albus, and some of the stage directions are just plain awful (I'm thinking particularly of the very last page, where Harry and Albus 'just slightly melt together' following their reunion. Come on, guys).

But there's one part of the script that I just can't look past, or forgive. And that's JK's massive betrayal of the female characters, and how badly she has let down so many female fans in doing so.

*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD*.

Let's start with the most offensive example, because this is the one that REALLY grinds my gears: Professor Hermione Granger, professor of Defence Against the Dark Arts, in a parallel universe which doesn't involve a husband named one Ronald Bilius Weasley.

In this universe, The Yule Ball obviously went a bit more smoothly for Ron, who has ended up married to Padma Patil. And despite having brains, beauty, humour, kindness, and intellect, Hermione... ends up with nothing. And to put it bluntly, she's a massive dick.

Portraying Hermione as a bitter, disenchanted shrew is a gross offence to her character
Why did JK approve a script which shows Hermione as alone, bitter, and disenchanted? Hermione would've never ended up how she's portrayed in that reality. Hermione Granger is an original #girlboss, and a hell of a catch as well. Why not have her married to Krum, instead? Or, have her happily single, immersed in her work? The Hermione who loved learning and books wouldn't speak to students this way - ESPECIALLY not the son of, y'know, her BEST FRIEND at school. Even if she and HP had had a tiff and didn't speak any more, I can't believe that she would be reduced to this level of caricature:

'Ron: Have you done something with your hair?
Hermione: Just combed it I suspect.
Ron: Well...combing it suits you.'

Not cool, JK.

The female characters in general are reduced to nothing more than props with mouths - there to jump in with little one-liners to help move the action on whenever Jack Thorne remembers that, hmm, nope, this play really does need more than Harry, Albus, and Scorpius in it.

Would Professor Minerva McGonagall, the one who duelled Snape right out of the castle to protect her students, really bow down to Harry Potter's 35 year old tantrums? The Professor McGonagall that I grew up with would've told Harry where to go.

And, look, we all know what Warner Bros did to Ginny Weasley. I can't believe that JK has willingly approved something AGAIN that portrays Ginny as nothing more than a sounding board for Harry's gigantic ego and ill-informed opinions. And would Ginny Weasley, Sports Editor of The Daily Prophet and famous ex-Quidditch legend, say this to Minerva McGonagall, who she hasn't seen, presumably, in nearly twenty years?

'GINNY is first through the fireplace, and then HARRY.
Ginny: Professor, I can't say that ever gets more dignified.'

Have the female characters in the franchise not suffered enough?
Fuck dignified. Never mind that her son is potentially permanently lost in an alternative reality - nope, what Ginny Weasley really cares about is perfecting the art of crossing her legs whilst exiting a Floo Powder gate.

These are just a few examples of the ways in which the female characters of The Cursed Child are reduced to slim shadows of their former fictional selves. I don't know what I was expecting when I opened the script at 1.30am on 31st July, cheese toastie and tea in hand, but it definitely wasn't this.

You fucked it, Jack Thorne. You fucked it.

BRB, just going to try and Obliviate The Cursed Child from my sad, weary brain.

Feature image © We Heart It

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6 comments

  1. Interesting but I wasn't surprised. I think a lot of people, reading the JK Potter novels young, read more into Hermione and Ginny than is really there - they're all about Harry really... I don't think JK writes great female/feminist characters or storylines.
    I saw the play and assumed it was teaching that had at least partly made her like, meaning she never reached her potential in life, which made sense to me...

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  2. I have not read The Cursed Child. I refuse to.
    I have loved Harry Potter ever since I picked up the first book in 1999 while on holiday at my grandparents' house (we got things slower in South Africa). What I do not love is JK Rowling. She has come out with statements that don't sit well with me. Coming out to say Dumbledore was gay as unnecessary in my opinion. Not because I have anything against his sexuality but because the books were these magical things that anyone could pick up and read and see in them what they wanted to see. Giving extra details on characters ruins that. I think she should not have released any information about the characters that was extra to the book. It breaks the spell because now your favourite character has this added dimension that you didn't interpret from the book. She should allow her work to speak for itself and for people's imagination to run wild with the words she's written.

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  3. I haven't actually read this before but this is interesting, thank you for sharing! You have such a lovely blog here, keep up your amazing work pretty lady! x

    adelelydia.blogspot.com

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  4. Nooo, I hate when this happens with a later book or film! All my favourite characters get changed and I can no longer relate to them, I don't feel welcome in the author's world anymore; it's so sad! A bit off topic but it reminds me when they ruined Clara for me in Doctor Who, it breaks your heart when you live and breathe the original characters >< xx

    elizabeth ♡ ”Ice Cream” whispers Clara | (lets follow each other on bloglovin or instagram)

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  5. While I actually quite enjoyed CC for what is was and like being back in the world, I totally agree: as a feminist, I found the treatment of the female characters SO disappointing. It literally makes no sense for Hermione to end up that way if she were to be divorced as she is such a headstrong intelligent and amazing character. Shit, if they were gonna do that storyline they should've made Ron the bitter divorcee! Amazing post xx
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