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06 July 2006 @ 11:21 pm
Snape -- the villain who mildly embarrasses his arch-enemies!  
Mike Smith versus The Half-Blood Prince.

Okay, so this was what I've been waiting for since last July and I never even knew.

Mike Smith is a random anime and WWF nut (but in a good way -- more on that later) who took it upon himself to read and review HBP. Now he's au fait with fandoms in general, but he's not affiliated with HP. Moreover, he hadn't read the first five books making him -- very importantly -- not at all biased with regards to outcomes, characters and shipping.

I only read this book once. I didn't look forward to it at all because I was so afraid of how it would jumble fanon, and that is all kinds of screwed up.

There are many points to be made about Smith's reviews -- how much bad it highlighted in the book, how it confirmed my impression that the whole thing was a drag from start to finish, and how it threw up a lot of stuff that I hadn't even noticed because a) I knew too much and b) I am not possessing of an analytical mind.

Two really good quotes, to entice and enchant you:

Yeah, so far the Death Eaters have turned out to be Snape, Minister of Being Totally Pwn3d, Señor Draco the crybaby, Crabbe and Goyle the trannies, and Voldemort who can't even be bothered to show up for the damn book.

Did I mention he was funny?

It's the same problem I have with five-year-olds knowing how to make Unbreakable Vows, or this arbitrary rule about under aged wizards being forbidden from using magic. It's all well and good to make a bunch of rules, but if you can't enforce them, then what's the use? Snape is amazed when Harry guts Malfoy like a fish, wondering who taught him how to do that. Hey, stupid, it was you, and all you had to do was write a twelve-letter word in a book and forget to clean out your old classroom. Strangely, Apparition seems to be the most carefully controlled magic in this world, which strikes me as bizarre, since it seems to be much harder to learn than all the Dark magic about spontaneous bleeding and soul-cleaving and flat-out murder. And yet Harry has to peel vegetables by hand. Is the irony here deliberate on Rowling's part, some sort of commentary on the misplaced priorities of the government? Or did she simply lose track of how all this stuff was supposed to work?

I vote for the latter.

However, the real big thing it did for me concerned shipping. Ironically Smith is an avowed hater of shipping as a concept. He declared himself in favour of 'gen', which I always take to mean 'that which does not contain romance'. This scans, because he's into comic books of the Marvel persuasion.

Me, I am a romantic. Shipping is what it's all about. Not this ship or that ship, or the indefatigable rightness of one pairing as opposed to another, or even plain old smexing. Just the happiness I feel when I see X and Y getting their groove on.

So I suppose this begs the question of why I read children's adventure books, or even anything that's not Harlequin romance or yaoi scanlations. The answer is that I do read these things, voraciously. And they let me down every single time.

The way I see it, 'gen' as defined by Smith -- i.e. anything that encompasses a realm of plotting outside that of Notting Hill -- does all the work establishing meaningful, deep and enduring relationships, but doesn't follow through. It's like a football match where no one scores, but the play is exciting and goals have been set up numerous times only to fail to happen. Whereas Mills and Boon and NWS yaoi are like one footballer slamming the ball into the back of the net again and again and again, all by himself on the pitch, and from a distance of about two metres from the goal mouth.

If you all stuck with me through that, what I'm trying to say is that from pointedly relegating romance to the back-burner, adventure and fantasy and what-have-you spend a lot of time developing characterisation that romance can let fall to the wayside. The backstory makes the story … and as for romance, that's where fandom comes in.


This train of thought naturally led me to segue to the state of my own romantic life (dead in the water). I'm reading one of those romance books right now, True Believer by Nicholas Sparks (he wrote The Notebook … I won't say it). It is unbelievably tedious, if only because I've read too many ghost stories of late -- and not the cool, evil kind, the emo speaking from beyond the grave to covey their message of eternal love kind. What struck me when I was reading the latest part (it's a reading experience akin to walking through quicksand) was how the currently single female protagonist described her life as a currently single female. She felt like she had nothing to look forward to on a Friday night. Given how unexciting the whole book is, I'm not surprised, but I was a bit sickened.

I always assume that I'll get married and have kids and stuff. But, like most assumptions, it's not really based on fact. Some people are weirdly obsessed with the whole idea. These same people would call me weirdly obsessed with Harry Potter. Do you see where I'm going with this?

I wouldn't call myself a loner because I have several very good friends and a whole host of acquaintances (outside the internet, I mean), but I get quickly and severely irritated when these same people distract me from more important things -- reading, writing and the internet. I think there is a difference between hanging out with your friends in real time and having a brief and controlled interaction with them online. I like both, but I certainly like the latter more. Because I like to be alone. I like to do things on my own. Not one of my hobbies involves real contact with other people. So why would I suddenly want to share every second of every day of my life with another person? Aside from escaping the scorn and pity of my relatives, I mean. And there would be lots of that. Because to them, unless you fast-track yourself to marriage by having boyfriends and proper relationships or going out with the intention of achieving same, then you're either a lesbian or a complete oddball. The way my relatives are, being a lesbian -- with all that entails in terms of being 'not normal' and 'freaky' in their eyes -- would be the preferable option.

Maybe I'm too young to see the first blush of romance as anything other than the first step on to a long slippery downward slope, or I'm too cynical to believe that anyone can keep it alive in a marriage. Obviously, no one I know is married yet (why? Because we're all twenty) and the marriages I do see -- my parents' and aunts' -- are hardly shining examples. After twenty-five years, my parents don't have anything left to say to each other, so they talk about tarmacking the courtyard. If I could believe that they were really fired up over that, it would be okay. But they're doing it to increase the resale value for the eventual benefit of myself and my brother. Sure, I get and appreciate the awesome love you're supposed to feel for your kids, but subsuming yourself into that sounds scary to me. Some people don't live as if their world is 'I' centric. I do.

And the funny thing is that, unlike the protagonist in True Believer, I have something to look forward to on Friday nights. Hell, I have something to look forward to every night. Even just within HP fandom there's enough to keep me amused, and now that I've started straying outside of it there's even more. Sadly, the interest I feel in the new Pirates movie, in SGA and in Tenipuri, are only signs of how much HP has fallen in my estimation. If I end up ten or twenty years from now still in a fandom, I won't mind. Maybe in twenty-five years I won't have anything left to say about Harry Potter, but you can bet there'll be something else to sound off about. And I can dip in and back out as often as I choose. Fandom, the commitment-phobe's dream.



I think I'm after getting bed-sores from sitting so long, though. Be warned: if you read Smith's review, be prepared for the long-haul. Bring snacks.

And to end on a good note: another quote. Remember …

Jesus loves werewolves too.
 
 
Current Mood: soresore
Current Music: Somewhere Over The Rainbow (God knows why)
 
 
 
kabeyk on July 6th, 2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
Being alone is good. So is being cynical. Society's obsession with pairing people off is bad. Surely Friday nights are better when you're single, because you get to go out with friends, and don't end up staying in alone with a bottle of red wine (ahem).

So they talk about tarmacking the courtyard

I don't ever want to get to this stage. My parents do it and it's terrifying.

I think I agree with everything you've said here.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: boykissscoradh on July 6th, 2006 10:47 pm (UTC)
[laughs] I stay in every Friday night, and Saturday night too, but that's the way I want it. I've always been a bit stubborn that way. When I know what I want I do it that way, come hell or high water or even peer pressure. 'Strong personality,' you know. [preens]

Yet it's what we're all supposed to aim for. When I'm fifty, I want to be going to comic cons and shit like that, which I don't have time, money or inclination for now. I want to take up NASCAR or something. Not tarmacking.

hey, but aren't you speaking from the corrals of happy coupledom, eh? eh? :P
Online I'm a Giantparthenia14 on July 6th, 2006 10:43 pm (UTC)
I commented, and LJ ate it. :(

- married ages
- still a loner
- love escapist literature including HP.
- can't entirely deal with HP online fandom because it messes with my head.

I think that sort of covers it, but less elegantly.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Fangirlscoradh on July 6th, 2006 10:55 pm (UTC)
Heh ... I wasn't trying to draw parallels between being a loner and being single, just that people tend to assume that if you're one you have to be the other. As for being a married loner, well, only you can judge that, but you seem nice and friendly to me!

I love escapist anything. I relish the thought of being a knowledgeable geek in something a little cooler than HP. One of the animes, maybe. xD

HP fandom is frankly ridiculous. I just like a forum for posting vaguely-related almost-original fiction dressed up as having something to do with JK's world.

hehe.
The Fancatus Bureau of Incestbalefully on July 6th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
It's funny; I always had loads and loads of good friends I did things with all the time, but the further and further I fell into fandom, the less and less I wanted to do things with them (wow, that was a lot of double words right there). Now all the real life friends I ever look forward to doing things with are the ones who are also in fandom, because that's all I really want to talk about most of the time. When I spend time with non-fandomers, I get bored and irritated SO FAST, it's unbelievable. I can't imagine I'll ever find someone I'll be able to connect with enough to fall in love with at this rate -- why would I want to spend time with a boyfriend or girlfriend when I could be reading fic or screaming like a child over a TV show I just downloaded?
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Doctor?scoradh on July 6th, 2006 11:07 pm (UTC)
That's exactly what I was thinking. Some people bow out of a fandom when they get bored or too mired in it; others -- possibly us -- move on to new fandoms and never really leave the circus.

So, to my mind anyway, the fandom thing is big enough to encompass the time and effort people usually spend on dating. Not to say I wouldn't fall for the right man, but actively looking? Dating as a hobby or pastime? Nah.

And if there is no man who doesn't understand the fic- and dl-related screaming, then there's still the fic and dl. Win-win situation.
patron saint of the mediocre: me; larsthrupenny on July 6th, 2006 10:59 pm (UTC)
Because I like to be alone. I like to do things on my own. Not one of my hobbies involves real contact with other people. So why would I suddenly want to share every second of every day of my life with another person?

I'm exactly the same. I can't be around other people 24/7 because it make me feel itchy, almost. I need my space. If I ever get married I want separate but adjoining houses.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Deep wizardryscoradh on July 6th, 2006 11:11 pm (UTC)
This is my take on the perfect marriage:

We each have our own apartment. We see each other a couple of times a week, sleep over, go out to films and stuff, but don't live together. Even when the kids arrive, they spend one week at my flat, one week at his. Christmas, we go to New York and eat Chinese.

I really have thought about that a lot.
(no subject) - mrsquizzical on July 7th, 2006 12:35 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on July 7th, 2006 07:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
mad_martha on July 6th, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC)
So I suppose this begs the question of why I read children's adventure books, or even anything that's not Harlequin romance or yaoi scanlations. The answer is that I do read these things, voraciously. And they let me down every single time.
This is why Black Lace novels aren't sexy. Because on paper sex isn't particularly sexy without the backstory to add depth and interest, and as with the romance novels they don't do plots very well. There has to be more to make it interesting ... a bit like people, really. They're only truly interesting when you see the fuller picture, quirks and all.

As for being a loner ... I can only say "word" to what you said. I like having people around, but I don't necessarily want to have to interact with them all the time, or even most of the time - I've come to the conclusion that this is why I do a lot of my best writing at work, because there are always people around but they aren't constantly expecting me to talk to them or do things with them. I do like to know people are there, though. Besides, while I can see the benefits marriage has for society as a whole - and I've always believed that it's a societal construct designed to benefit the community, not the individual - I'm not convinced that it's entirely successful for the people involved. My parents were married for 42 years; believe me when I say that talking about tarmac is only the start of the slippery slope.

Personally, I'd far rather write.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Cat personscoradh on July 6th, 2006 11:15 pm (UTC)
It isn't at all sexy, you mean. There are one or two rare examples where this is not the case, but they're the exception that proves the rule, not the other way around.

I like to know people are there, too. But in an odd way -- I'm at home now, with parentship and brother, but I like it best when all three are gone. I know they're coming back, but I relish the solitude. Even though our house is plenty big and I can go all day without seeing them even when they are there.

I haven't any opinions on marriage per se. I was thinking before that I'd like best to be divorced (the way women in Jane Austen's time wanted to be widows). You get the kudos of having been married, official proof that someone wanted you 'that much', without the hassle of actually being married. I hope that works out for me. ;D

Me, too. I can't say that sometimes I'm not afraid of old age on my own, but I only have to look at some marriages around me to see that's not the worst case scenario.
(no subject) - mad_martha on July 6th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on July 6th, 2006 11:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Ian Anonphysixxx on July 6th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
i stopped reading it a while ago after reading his take on Chapter 2... for this very reason:

excerpt
If there were some neutral personality trait to him, something I could get attached to and appreciate regardless of his affiliation, then his goodness or badness wouldn't be important.

He's basically treating this Book 6 like it's a Book 1, as if he should be spoonfed Snape's motivations and know it from the onset, not having read any of the other stories, nor given any of the information we were with OotP.

So, the whole review will be buggled with him comparing a series he hated from the onset, of which he's only read the latest book and none others with a storyline from a comic that he loves, ahs been with from the beginning, and probably fills the 'holes' of any plot or characterization deviances with whatever he needs to (subconsciously) to have it make sense. Comic books (especially MArvel's) tend to explain alot of things. In fact, their policy is, every 4 or 5 issues, they have to treat it like there's a whole new set of fans and basically 'explain' things in the narrative.

You're not gonna get that with a novel and OF COURSE a character who's 6 books deep will seem flat if you've only read the sixth one.


so, i was like 'he's just gonna piss me off by not realising this and taking it in consideration'...

oh, and i don't think the PM around the setting of this book was TOny Blair. Wasn't it John Major around that time?
Ian Anonphysixxx on July 6th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
oh, sorry, i mean the Mike Smith thing.
(no subject) - scoradh on July 6th, 2006 11:23 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - physixxx on July 7th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on July 7th, 2006 07:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on July 6th, 2006 11:21 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on July 7th, 2006 07:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jehnt: misc - fashion - sunglassesjehnt on July 6th, 2006 11:34 pm (UTC)
i'm constitutionally incapable of writing a short comment. jesus.
You know, whenever I read your entries about relationships and so on, I feel better about myself because I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE.

So why would I suddenly want to share every second of every day of my life with another person?

You know, what I think is funny is that while there are some people who I quickly can't stand spending time with, there are others who could hang around forever and I probably wouldn't even realize they were there. Like, my best friends are all people who I can spend lots of time with. I think this is primarily because we're all of the loner type, and so we each sit around doing our own thing, like reading separate books, or listening to music on the ipod, or whatever. We talk and play games and go out every now and then, but most of our time is spent in solitary activities. Then there are the other people, who won't listen when I say I'd really just like to sit and stare into space for a while, thanks, because if I don't I'll get a migraine, and I hate those people because by the end of the day I DO have a migraine and WILL be very mean to them. And then they cry. And I'm not at all sympathetic, because I told them it would happen. So any spouse/long-term BF would have to be a member of the former group, rather than the latter. I think it's kind of ironic, though, that while I don't really want to be interacting with people, I do like to know they're around. Like, the possibility of interaction must be there, but the interaction doesn't actually have to happen for me to feel like I've gotten my social quota for the day.

And about marriages, I dunno. Maybe some people burn out. Most of the marriages I see frequently (ie, the ones in my family on my dad's side) seem really good. My grandparents have been married 65 years and, I don't know, it's just cool to see how their relationship works. They've just recently learned how to use a computer (and the internet, lololol) and spend a lot of time like, looking stuff up online together. It's UNBEARABLY cute.

What I think is funny though is all my friends who like, HAVE to be dating someone. Of course, I also think it's funny just to date for dating's sake. Like, if I know it won't work out, what's the point? It would just be a waste of time and emotional effort that could be better spent elsewhere.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Twistyscoradh on July 8th, 2006 12:08 am (UTC)
No worries!
You know, I'm always terrified of people misrepresenting me, even to themselves. I'm not sure why this is or whence it sprung, but there you go. And I was afraid that people would think, because I don't want to be with any boy, that I'd have to want to be with a girl instead. Now, if I was a lesbian I wouldn't mind (duh), but as I once read in a Maeve Binchy book, if I'm not, I don't want all that baggage kthanx.

It's good that people get what I'm on about, is what I'm saying. It's like the mists have cleared, the more I think about this and how, well, I made myself unhappy NOT because the boy didn't fancy me back (who knows what'd happen if I ever, like, made a move) but because I'd programmed myself to think that way. Because failure to gain his affection was the worst thing to happen to me in the history of the world TM.

As I've realised, I have plenty of hobbies -- ones I'm good at and enjoy. Just the same as getting into the LotR or DBZ fandoms would be inexplicable and difficult on my part, so would dating for the sake of it. Of course, there may one day be a perfect DBZ fic out there that shakes my notions of what it means to be a fan ... but in the meantime, I'm doing a bloody good job of living without it.
Re: No worries! - jehnt on July 8th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
Nicole: kongterkey on July 6th, 2006 11:37 pm (UTC)
Not one of my hobbies involves real contact with other people. So why would I suddenly want to share every second of every day of my life with another person?

Same here. I always figuired my ideal mate would be someone who has his own computer, in another room, knows how to shut the fuck up while I'm reading, and knew what he was doing between the sheets, but didn't feel the need to cuddle all night. Hell, I'm all for the idea of seperate bedrooms. Mostly I'm all about getting a tax write-off for being married and having two parents for any children I produce. I just would rather be alone than listen to someone whine for the rest of my life that we never do anything and blah blah blah.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Not impressedscoradh on July 8th, 2006 12:00 am (UTC)
My parents were arguing tonight because ... get this ... my dad didn't want Ma up a ladder painting the shed roof in case she'd fall off. She was acting like he was her father and he'd refused to give her his Visa with which to run amok on Amazon. (OK small bit of wishful thinking/displacement there). For cripe's sake. I've been my parents' mediator and marriage consellor since the age of ten. You'd think after all this time they'd have learned to get on better, not worse.

So yeah, I so dig how marriage turns your life into one big swimming-pool size truck of love. Not.
(no subject) - terkey on July 8th, 2006 12:09 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - scoradh on July 8th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
gwathhenationgwathhenation on July 7th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
The drive for pairing yourself off (especially in women) is one of the illusions I hate most in our culture. I have no problem with pairing off based on genuine emotion, but I see so many people who are just looking for just about anyone, so long as it's someone, to satisfy the need to not be single. It's ludicrous, at best.
I tend to find couples annoying at parties, they make things awkward and there are PDAs right and left. Friday nights with single friends are incredibly more fun then Friday nights with friends+couples. But, as usual, that is not what society dictates.
We're all too young to marry I think. Some of my friends defend it, but I honestly don't think that it is a good idea to get married at least until you're 25, many after. You look at the divorce rates and you wonder why people don't just wait it out a little. Especially if you live in a small town like I do, and you never leave, what kind of perspective could you have, how could you know what you want, and know that you'll want it in the long-term. Most people my age have no idea what they want to do when they get out of university. Of course they're not contemplating getting married now.
I loathe society....just...x_x

And I agree with you about the fandom thing to. There's always something new to be passionate about. Maybe it's a little different because I am a One True Way-er, but even so, before I got into R/S it was LOTR and non-ship HP, and a million other things, the vast majority of which I am still obsessed with but have just kind of gone into a long sleep. When R/S runs out on me, I'll have already found 12 other things that have taken up those hours and those feelings. It's OCD, yes, but I never feel greater than when I'm passionate. It also kind of ties back to love for me, because I don't think I could manage/enjoy any relationship in which the other person couldn't be passionate. I look at my family and see history-obsessed pratically Russian dutchness. I look at the only person I've ever claimed to love and see every mutual book, movie, anything that we ever shared an obsession with. People who aren't like that bore me, things do run out, do become tarmack and so forth.

Anyways, that was all very rambly and pointless, basically I just second what you've been saying.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Arabesquescoradh on July 7th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
Just the thought of spending that much time -- let alone being all intimate -- with someone I only had lukewarm feelings for, and was only involved with because I felt I had to be ... well, reading over that sentance says it all, doesn't it? I don't know if you've ever seen Mona Lisa Smile, but it just shows what smacked-up shit can happen when you buy into that whole mindset. RESIST! RESIST! STEAL SOME POWER FROM STAR TREK AND RESIST!

I am really loving on Prince of Tennis right now. I also feel alone because my tiny slice of fandom is all about teh HP luv. But I just thought I'd mention it.

And right now my future SO would want to really get to grips with the how much we must mutually dig Tez or it'd be going nowhere. Fast.
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(no subject) - scoradh on July 7th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on July 8th, 2006 09:24 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - scoradh on July 7th, 2006 11:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
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(no subject) - verdenia on July 17th, 2006 11:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Verdeniaverdenia on July 17th, 2006 11:34 am (UTC)
and yeah, I read HP fic and fandom while my bf plays W.o.W. and such. We're still keeping separate [each with roomies] flats, but don't know how much longer that'll last. We do spend most of our time together, but many, many hours are in separate rooms, doing our separate compy stuffs. It's fab.

I vaguely-thru-the-net know someone who bought herself a duplex years ago, and now she lives in half, and her hubby lives in the other half. Sounds pretty ideal. I think I'd like to have that someday. Maybe.
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Matildascoradh on July 17th, 2006 10:11 pm (UTC)
Word. I reckon about 90% of marital strife revolves around things like: who cleans the bathroom, vacuums, cooks meals, washes the dishes, washes the clothes. If you could nullify that by doing all your own stuff, while he does his stuff ... it would be pretty damn near to harmony, don't you think?