you cannot imagine the ways in which this day of filming ruined my life

On the casting of Noma Dumezweni and representation. Also: Hermione Granger is NOT White

As always when marginalised or oppressed groups gain a little ground, the privileged panic. The instinctive (and some would say natural in this current society) reaction for some is to feel robbed.

The opportunity to see a new actress with an exciting and fresh take on a beloved character clearly strikes many as a loss of some sort. I’ve heard people claim the move is ‘political correctness gone mad!’ or ‘to appease the SJWs!’.

In reality, of course, the move is neither. To assume a black actress was only selected to appease critics is ludicrous, as it implies these people could not imagine a black actress selected on her own merits.

Especially in the case of this particular casting of Noma Dumezweni, who is a Lawrence Oliver award winning actress of critical acclaim, it’s obvious that talent was taken into account!

And yet so many white people are angry. They are defensive. They feel Hermione has been ruined for them somehow. They feel she’s been stolen.

“They’ve taken my Hermione away! I’ll no longer be able to relate to her now she’s black!”

Despite their insistence that their negative reaction to a black actress taking on the role is not rooted in racism, more a ‘loyalty’ to the character, they can’t see the racism inherent in that train of thought, and if only they would stop to think, they might see why so many brand them as racists.

To start with, Hermione is never stated as white, so nothing is being stolen. The only description of Hermione’s skin in the entire series states Hermione was looking ‘very brown’ in the Prisoner of Azkaban, following a holiday. This description leaves her character’s race entirely open to interpretation.

And yet despite this lack of textual evidence, white people have claimed Hermione as their own, whilst claiming to defend the original book series and their strict adherence to canon.

In this society, when skin colour is not disclosed most people will naturally assume that white is the default. This is an inbuilt racist reaction, which is often times not intentional, but still exists. We are so used to seeing white faces in media, that often our brains will take the leap to assume that any character of undisclosed race is white. This is a reaction we must work to unlearn. It suggests that for a character to be anything other than white, this should have to be explicitly stated, even proved. Why should POC always be the exceptions to the rule? Surely a character of no described race can be read any way at all? This is simply common sense.

Another thing the naysayers are missing in their outrage is that they are in for a wonderful opportunity. They are having a new critically acclaimed actress portray their favourite character at a later stage in her life, as supported by JK herself. This should be terrifically exciting for fans of Hermione Granger and the Harry Potter books, and it’s almost sad that the racism of some people is preventing them from basking in this wonderful news.

I’ve seen many people attempt to argue that Hermione simply cannot be black because she does not look or act black. These statements are often followed by the (deceitful) words: ‘but I’m not a racist’.

What does acting or looking black mean? Surely the only thing all black people have in common is the fact they are black? Just as the only thing all white people have in common is the fact they are white.

What is it about Hermione which prevents her from being black in their eyes? Is it her curly hair? Her bossy voice? Her slightly large front teeth? Her intelligence? Her status as the main heroine of the Harry Potter universe?

None of these descriptors should indicate that Hermione could not be black.

All this comment tells us is that the person whose mouth it comes out of has some preconceptions about black people based in stereotypes, which again, might not be intentional racism, but still IS racism.

As a woman of colour myself (albeit a very light skinned one!), I understand how it feels to crave representation, and what it means to see people that look like you on screen or in books. It’s a very validating, warm feeling, and something which is tremendously positive. It’s not about being PC, it’s about representing the real world, which is beautifully diverse.

This casting in particular, at this point in canon, is also excellent, because it forces people with inbuilt, unintentional racism to see a person first, race second, whilst still acknowledging that race. These people know and love Hermione. Now they shall have to love her as a black woman. These fierce defenders of ‘canon’ shall have to grow up and accept that JK Rowling herself has given her support to Noma Dumezweni, and now black Hermione Granger IS canon, so they’d better get defending her!

The fact that a black woman is playing Hermione does matter. It does. It’s not racist to notice that in a society where most of our fictional heroes are white men, one of the most beloved fictional heroines of our generation is going to be a black woman.

It matters in the sense it will send a message, that white is not the default.

It matters because black women face a very particular raw deal of racism and sexism rolled into one. It matters because actors of colour are so often denied roles they are perfectly right for, on the basis of skin colour. It matters because in a world where so many casting calls only audition white actors for characters of no specific race, unless explicitly told to do otherwise, a black woman has clearly won the day through her talent.

It matters because people who go to see The Cursed Child will come away with a different picture of Hermione Granger from that of the gorgeous Emma Watson of the films, and whatever headcanon they imagined when reading the books. They will be shown a different interpretation of one of their favourite characters, which should open their minds to the vast possibilities for all characters they read about. This will literally change the way people visualise when they read. That’s massive.

At the end of the day, Hermione Granger is a fictional character of no specified skin colour. She is NOT white. She was never white. She has always been open to interpretation in terms of race. This is nothing new just because a black actress is taking the role. There is no need for outrage. Your white Hermione is valid, but so is someone else’s black Hermione. There is no confirmed race here. 

Emma Watson played Hermione Granger beautifully, and Emma happened to be a white woman. Noma Dumezweni is yet to show us her take on the role, and she happens to be black. Neither actress playing the role discounts the other or their portrayal.

And lastly:

To all those people who say Hermione is their favourite character and yet now are complaining about the casting of Noma Dumezweni, because it ‘ruins’ her for you, then I have to tell you: Hermione Granger was never your favourite character to begin with, was she, really?

Rowling does NOT regret Ron and Hermione's relationship.

In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit”

Thats it. Thats all she said.

It is official, the sunday times and hypable are jerks. The full wonderland article is available to read now and though some of the quotes that were released ARE actually said, they were taken completely out of context with the initial ‘sneak peeks’. 

But more importantly all the sites and news reported this story with the headline rowling 'REGRETS’, putting a negative spin on the entire thing and sparking massive fandom wank. Even the sunday times article was titled 'JK ADMITS HERMIONE SHOULD HAVE WED HARRY' 

she does no such thing. she regrets nothing. and I feel I was totally correct in assuming it was a publicity thing. Imagine the spikes in traffic these news outlets got from their totally false headlines. So A+ sites, you not only took it out of context but used words and phrases she never used herself. And Emma too! It was reported that Emma agreed with her, when you read the article (below) it comes off like the opposite. It seems to me thats she’s just as much a Romione shipper as she ever was.

And can I just take a moment to applaud Emma’s reluctance to filming the tent scene? Whether you liked it or not, it DID imply harmony when there was none and i think its a good job on Emma for not wanting to do something that was so different from the book just because the filmmakers wanted to. So even tho Heyman and Kloves weren’t trying to keep Jo’s story the same, at least someone was. SO ANYWAY,

Jo has been massively criticized, the fandom boarded ship and went back to war, everything was chaos for a few days,

Congrats, Sunday Times, Hypable, you are both literally Rita Skeeter. And oh yes I blame those two. They are the root, they’re where it started and they are the ones that chose the headlines and set the tone for everything that followed.

Click the read more for the full interview (i’ve left in the stuff not related to the ships too), if anything whats actually said makes Hermione and Ron’s relationship more real. Because most people knew they’d need some work, but that they’d make it anyway.

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Matthew B. Roberts (Outlander Writer & Producer)
Twitter Q&A | Oct.23, 2016

MATT: Taking a short break from writing … How about a #Droughtlander Q&A? 

FAN: which episodes have you written in s3? 
M:  I’m writing 2 eps and co-writing a third with #ToniGraphia

FAN: Have you finished filming Block 2 (episodes 3 & 4- correct?)?
*the episodes are not in sequence*
M: Not quite

FAN: where is your favourite spot in Scotland and can you speak any Gaelic?
M: No I cannot speak Gaelic

FAN: have you always had an interest in photography, I really enjoy your images.
M: Thank you … and yes, I’ve always loved photography

FAN: from season one to 3 and… To 4… Which is the most challenging?
M: each one is (was) challenging.

FAN: what will be your fav scene this season?… make a riddle if you please
M: I won’t put that into PRINT

FAN: any female directors for S3 and if so, can u reveal?
M: Yes!  and no i cannot…

FAN: What has been your favorite location or  interior set thus far of any of the seasons?
M: The Great Hall and the Star Chamber were both stunning in person and on camera Well done @jongarysteele and team

FAN: Do you ever get emotional for characters?
M: Of course… moving scenes move me.

FAN: how has it been in the writers room this season with all the new writers?
M: The new writers fit right in.  Smart, fun, love the books, and have tons of enthusiasm.

FAN: do you have a favourite quote from the books (that made its way into an episode you wrote perhaps)?
M: My favorites usually make into the episodes i write.

FAN: one average how long does it take to write an episode?
M: We generally take a month from outline to script but it can vary.  Hope that’s vague enough

FAN: how much is Print Shop going to make us cry a) a lot or b) a very lot?
M: I’m not sure… but there might not be enough tissue in the world.

FAN: Are you surprised by the passion of this fandom?
M: Only surprised at how personal it gets sometimes.  I think some forget we are people and have actual feelings

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Anything You Want Or Need

Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love. How on earth can you explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love? Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity. -Albert Einstein

Artist: @heartstringsduet (whom tumblr won’t tag, huzzah)
Rating: If we were using UK film ratings, 15? Y’know, strippers, Blaine’s imagination, Santana’s boobs, Kurt’s thighs…
Word Count: ~9K
Warnings (if any): sex work (strippers), brief mention of canon character death (Finn)
Fic Summary: The last place Blaine expects to find happiness is in the back room of a strip club, and yet… (Meet cute, essentially.)
Notes: Title lifted, not that it bears any significance, specifically, to this story, from Ray Kurzweil’s ‘The Age of Spiritual Machines’. (I could elaborate on why I’m choosing a phrase from a sentient AI to title a story about sex work, but I’m sure it’s fairly obvious, really.) Also, massive thanks to misqueue for going through this for me and helping to make it something that actually works instead of just floundering uselessly in endless middle. My gratitude is truly bottomless.
Also up at the AO3.

You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you…

Blaine Anderson isn’t supposed to be sitting in a dead car on an abandoned street in suburban Ohio. He’s supposed to be drinking overpriced alcohol in an airport lounge, waiting for his flight back to his home and his actual life. He checks his phone, and the battery flicks from 7% to dead just as he unlocks it. He blinks slowly and breathes through his nose, and then reaches for his bag to find his charger, only to find it isn’t there and is, probably, still at his mother’s house. He can’t even call her to ask her to check, or to mail it to him. He pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs, closes his eyes against the rain and mutters a curse into the cool recirculated air.

Beyond the windshield, the rain – which has been a steady drizzle the entire time he has been in town with his mom – turns predictably into a downpour, hammering a miserable tattoo on the glass, and he sits and watches for a moment. It is, he thinks, as he pulls his jacket over his head and throws the door of the car open, proof that there is absolutely no god. No higher power is watching over him today. He is, he decides, as he steps out of the car into the sticky humidity of the late evening summer rain - right into a puddle that splashes over the top of his shoe and ruins an almost new pair of $5000 bespoke Oxfords - completely alone down here. Just the same as everybody else.

He swears again, slams the car door, and dashes across the street and beneath the awning of the only place that he can see in this cow town that looks open. In his shoes, his bare feet swim in what feels like sludge, uncomfortable and disgusting, and he’s sure he can feel gel dripping down the back of his neck, collecting tacky in his collar. It’s awful. He straightens his jacket with a firm tug, grimaces at the pants which are stuck to his thighs, and thinks again: If there were a God, he’d have a cell with a battery that actually lasted one goddamn day. He has work back in New York that he needs to get to, has a meeting he has to make that could change his life, and if he even makes his flight, he’ll be shocked. He’ll be amazed, even. But right now, he’s stuck beneath the awning of the one place open at this time of day, with the keys to a car that won’t start in one hand, his wallet in his breast pocket, and a dead phone.

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3 Stars
Directed By:Robert Schwentke
Screenplay By:Brian Duffield, Akiva Goldsman  and Mark Bomback
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet and Miles Teller.

Synopsis:Now on the run from Jeanine (Kate Winslet) and the rest of the power-hungry Erudites, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and Four (Theo James) search for allies and answers in the ruins of Chicago. They must find out what Tris’ family sacrificed their lives to protect and why the Erudites will do anything to stop them. Side by side, Tris and Four face one seemingly insurmountable challenge after another, as they unravel the secrets of the past and – ultimately – the future of their world.

Jeanine is on the hunt. The Erudite leader is hunting for divergents and she’ll kill the troublesome Tris Prior and her Dauntless lover, Four if they get in her way. The couple run first to the peaceful Amity for shelter and then to Candor where they hope that the faction’s black and white view of life will protect them from Erudite and the Dauntless soldiers under Jeanine’s control. 

And, so begins two hours of a mostly entertaining, but wobbly film. 

Divergent was a big surprise for me and I think the film industry. It was smart, entertaining, packed with action and slowly, but realistically rose to an explosive and violent end. I looked forward to the follow up. What would happen to Four and Tris now that they are on the run, leaving behind a trail of dead bodies and a situation too insane to believe? 

Insurgent answers that question and yet falls short of the tension that made Divergent such an entertaining film. 

One of Insurgent’s weaknesses is its inability to explain the root of the divergent problem. In the first film, we didn’t exactly know what Tris was and why it made her so important. The mystery added to the suspense. It was probably better that Tris never dig into why she was different, but once Erudite, controlled Dauntless and slaughtered Abnegation, there could be no more secrets. But, after two films I’m still not sure what the big deal is about being divergent. They can belong to more than one faction, but technically a lot of people belong to at least two factions; the faction they were born into and the one they choose commit to. So, what’s the big deal? I mean, besides the fact that they cannot be controlled like sheep. 

Throughout the film we see Jeanine not only capture, torture and kill people who have the unfortunate fate of being divergent, but we also see ant-divergent propaganda. And while Jeanine gets away with this treatment of citizens from multiple factions, she searches for the perfect divergent for her testing of the Box. (if it has an official name, I didn’t catch it)

The Box is a positive for the film. It’s a place where every aspect of what makes the film good shines. The special effects, the performances and the sound design are added together into action packed and suspense filled sequences. We see characters connected to the box, through wires embedded into their bodies against their will. If that’s not enough of an injustice, they are then put through simulations so intense it could be mean their death. Through Jeanine’s experiments we learn several things. One of them is that Jeanine is so cold and calculating in her goals she goes from power hungry to pure evil. There were moments when I just wanted someone to kill her.Through the experiments we also learn that there are different levels of being a divergent. Some people can be 10% divergent and others can be 100%.

Jeanine and her people are willing to do anything…ANYTHING to get their hands on a 100% divergent. This is where a lot of the drama stems from. Erudite has this godlike power of being able to get to anyone anywhere. They raid other factions, they kill people, they steal the freewill from others. It’s really intense and sometimes a bit silly, how far Jeanine’s power reaches and how far her people are willing to go for her. Especially, since they don’t exactly understand what it means to be divergent or why it matters. 

The hunt for divergents takes us to three areas that we did not get to see in Divergent. Amity, Candor and even the Factionless. This was a lot of fun. It’s really great seeing the differences between the groups. For example, Candor, I always saw them as simply truthful. I imagined husbands hurting their wives feelings by saying, “yes, honey. That dress does make you look fat.” This film gave me a clearer idea of what it would be like to live in a world, under a government that truly saw things as black vs. white, right vs. wrong or truth vs. lie.  Candor’s justice system is so compelling, because it is frightening. They can literally get you to reveal your truth, no matter what. 

Truth is a major theme in the film. Jeanine is on her violent campaign in search of the “truth,” from the founders of the factions. While, Four and Tris struggle to find the truth within themselves and in their relationship. These characters are thrown into life and death situations that intensifies their relationship faster than normal. They are not just in a new relationship. They are in love and they have to make constant decisions to fight and die for each other. It’s intense. 

Especially, because Tris is a martyr. Martyr, might be too strong of a word, but she is good at heart. Tris is the quintessential YA heroine, because she is young and although she has seen evil it has yet to tarnish her. She is kind of a leader in her new world of bandits, but she is incapable of making the cold choices that other leaders make in times of strife and war. No one will die for her. She cannot accept it and so she will always sacrifice herself even if it defeats the greater good. Even if it means giving the bad guys exactly what they want.

While watching the film I felt a bit uncomfortable, because something was off. I spent way too much time trying to figure out what it was. Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller are three actors I love due to their performances in TFIOS and Whiplash. I have always enjoyed Octavia Spencer and Naomi Watts in films and Kate Winslet is one of my favorite actresses of all time. And, yet the performances were…off/ About an hour in,  I figured out the problem. It’s the dialogue. The dialogue is awful and takes the film from what could have been 4-5 stars to a 3.

Honestly. I liked the story and how everything unfolded and unraveled after Divergent. I ship Four and Tris lots. Found Eric and Jeanine to be worthy villains and even went ohh at many of the twists and turns. But, that dialogue ruined so much. It was so stilted and awkward that academy award winning actresses couldn’t make it work. When the credits rolled on to the screen and I saw three screen writers listed, I understood. When a film has more than one name listed as writer, unless it’s writing partners, the film almost always have huge flaws. It usually means the script was taken away from the original writer and the new people did a patch job. It felt as if Insurgent’s dialogue style was from three different perspectives that just didn’t mesh.

The special effects and graphics almost make up for the sloppy dialogue. Watching Tris maneuver through simulation after simulation was insanely fun, riveting and amazing. The level of skill and creativity that went into the design of those sims really showcases what I love about CGI. A lot of film enthusiasts think that CGI is ruining storytelling, but I think it’s making dreams come true. Watching Tris go from reality and sim wondering which is real, truly adds much needed tension to the film and puts you on edge. I, for one, loved yelling SIM in my head as I guessed what I was about to see.

At the end of the day, I liked Divergent a lot better. It was just better developed and a sleeker film, but I think Insurgent is fun and romantic. It suffers from middle film/story blues, but that happens sometimes. Not everything can be Catching Fire or Two Towers.  What matters is that I enjoyed the film and look forward to the next installment of the trilogy.

For more info: IMDB page and Goodreads page.