Thoughts on JK & HP
Thoughts about Harry Potter’s expanding world. This started as a Facebook thing but I don't like putting long stuff on Facebook. Sorry if it's rambly but I'm doing this between meetings. Yuck meetings. Anyway...
Let me link to people who have written way more succinctly and proficiently then me on this topic:
JK hasn’t really added new stories. These are like wiki entries as blog on the pottermore site. I don’t understand the cries of “She’s left out <insert specific culture here>” The magic world of HP strips all culture to replace it with the culture of magic. Think Hogwarts covers all of England? That means you get Welsh and Scottish and Irish and English all mixed together. So I find that the new schools to be in line with what’s come before. You can say that the other schools from books cover Europe but there’s no Polish, Dutch, Swiss, Italian or any of the myriad of culturally different countries of the continent represented in the schools. This is classic scope creep. It’s hard to do especially when you don’t have a narrative to smudge details with. Expressing the raw world building is clumsy. (Although the new one from today “Rappaport’s Law” is a bit more Narrative like, and also less controversial.)
The skin walker story is where I have a problem. I feel for her a little because there’s so much misinformation around this particular (I don’t know the right word…belief? I think that’s right, though when I say it out loud it sounds wrong mostly because it's a belief I don’t share, so my mouth is full of incredulity and doubt) belief. Past writers have inferred things about the belief and also just straight up made things up. They’ve mixed up European werewolf lore with it, and christian demon lore and pop culture. It’s a mess, and one that Native American’s are very sensitive and vocal about, especially because it’s a daily part of their living culture and not something that has faded into myth or legend. Which is where I stop feeling bad for her because if you do some easy research (like Wikipedia easy) you’d have all the information. So when you make some new things up about it, even if it’s in context with how you’ve treated other culture and legend from previous books, you are following in the footsteps of ignorance if not outright racism. It also seems like she singled out Native people for a harsh history against Magic folk, though I think that is just because they happen to be the first in this series of the growing HP history. Which is also a concern.
She hasn’t dealt with the really big parts of history. If the magical communities of North America and Europe knew about each other before colonization, why didn’t they stop it? Why didn’t they intervene to prevent the genocide of all those Native peoples? Why didn’t the Native magic people intervene or ask for help from Africa or Europe? If they did what was their response? For that matter where was magic during WWII and the Holocaust? What was happening at the Ugandan school while the slave trade was booming business? These are historical events that reach beyond cultural differences. It shouldn’t matter that there is a separate magical culture in each of these continents when these massive events are taking place. Or are we really to believe that the whole of the magical community just stood by and let the muggles destroy each other. Commit atrocities against each other. That’s the real problem with expanding our understanding of the magical history of the HP world. Will she be able to answer these questions in ways that don’t repaint everything she’s written previously. It seems like something that’s just impossible to get right the first time. Especially on the massive stage she is forced to perform on now.