[Show music begins]
Eric Scull: This is a special episode of Alohomora! recorded live at LeakyCon 2014.
[Show music continues]
Caleb Graves: Hey, everyone, and welcome to our live Alohomora! podcast here at LeakyCon Orlando!
Michael Harle: [as Professor McGonagall] Quiet down, everyone. I do not usually permit people to clap while I am talking.
Caleb: All right, Professor McGonagall. It’ll be all right. So for those of you who don’t know us, we’re going to introduce ourselves really quickly. My name is Caleb.
Laura Reilly: I’m Laura Reilly.
Kat Miller: Kat Miller.
Noah Fried: Noah Fried.
Michael: Michael Harle.
Caleb: So how many of you guys are regular listeners of Alohomora!? Awesome.
Kat and Laura: Woo!
Laura: Thank you!
Caleb: Thank you so much for coming. We’re excited you’re here.
Laura: How many of you guys just came for the pizza?
Laura: It’s coming.
Kat: On the way!
Caleb: So today we… if you listen to our show regularly, you know what we do, but for those of you who don’t, what we do is we take a chapter of the Harry Potter series evey week, and we discuss it. Right now we’re in the middle of Order of the Phoenix, and Dumbledore’s Army is just getting formed. So if you want to catch up on the episodes, they’re all online, but when we do live shows, we do something a little bit different. We talk about things that are related to the books but also what’s going on in the Harry Potter world outside. So most of you probably know that J.K. Rowling recently released a little bit of new material on Pottermore.
Caleb: And someone’s really excited about that.
Caleb: But J.K. Rowling gave us a little bit of an insight into Harry, Ron, Hermione, and a few others down the line at the Quidditch World Cup. So a litle bit of new canon material in not too consequential… but it made a lot of ripples in the Harry Potter fandom and the way the media perceives it. So a lot of what our panel is going to be about today is J.K. Rowling adding to the Harry Potter canon even though she’s writing no more books, at least right now, and how we feel about it. So we’re going to just veer into “Should J.K. Rowling stop adding to the Harry Potter canon, or do we just want to take in as much as we can?” And it’ll trickle into other things as we talk, and then we’re going to hear from you guys [unintelligible] for the end of the panel. So Michael…
Caleb: Are you a big fan of Pottermore?
Michael: I’m a big fan of the new information on Pottermore.
Caleb: Okay, so start us off, Michael. Tell us what you thought about the new material on Pottermore.
Michael: I think it was… for me, personally, it was really exciting to be able to live in the world again and see, especially with the new, recent updates, actually what’s going on in the world currently, right now. That was really exciting to know that those updates from the Quidditch World Cup were actually supposedly live. So that was really exciting to go back and live there again.
Laura: Yeah, I think the new Pottermore material… I’m someone who is – and I’ve always said this on the show – a little bit in the anti-Pottermore camp. The information’s great. It’s just not the easiest to access, so I just thought, “For how small the information was, for how much the media responded to it…” Their headlines were saying, “J.K. Rowling [unintelligible]” new practically Harry Potter book about it, and that was echoed… that echoed in the time when she released the interview comments about also stuff that happened down the line with the trio, so it just [unintelligible], but that’s what we have now.
Kat: Because yeah, what we got was not a new Harry Potter story. There was a half a percent of new information.
Kat: No, really. That’s it. Almost nothing. And it was completely blown out of proportion. New Harry Potter…
Kat: Yes, yes, it is.
Kat: So… great.
Laura: So I guess I want to pose the question to you guys: How do you feel when stuff like this gets released? And Pottermore is obviously going to keep trickling out. Do you guys get excited over it, or do you react in a little bit of a way like, “Guys, calm down. It’s not that big,” or do we feel that same feeling that we get when we had the books? I’m sure not really, but…
Kat: I am pro Pottermore. Always. I love Pottermore. I am caught up on it. I have 100% on everything. Obviously.
Caleb: Well, you’re a Ravenclaw.
Kat: Yes. Right?
[Audience, Kat, and Laura laugh]
Laura: I still can’t beat the boggart.
Kat: I have, like, 12,000 Potions points. I mean, I am on there all the time. I love Pottermore.
Noah: Frankly, I think Pottermore could have been done a little bit better. I know in the beginning it as Sony, I believe. Now she’s with… I forget.
Kat: I don’t think we know, yet.
Noah: I think it just could have been done better. And I know they have to incorporate how[ever] many millions of fans in a day, but with some of the graphics and the games, it should have been changing all the time, and everyone’s just going on for that information.
Kat: It is changing all the time. You have to go back on there.
Noah: It’s true. I haven’t been on for a while at this point.
Laura: Yeah, I…
Noah: [unintelligible] making that [unintelligible]
Michael: The artwork’s really pretty, though.
Laura: It’s gorgeous!
Laura: But even that point you just said in that you have to go backward. We have to work for our information now, which is fine, but it’s not just being presented to us like it was a book release, and we know it, and we can have it and buy it, and it’s there. We have to really seek it out and put time and effort into getting it and remembering not just for the new stuff being released but go back to if we’ve already beat[en] the boggart, now we have to beat it again.
Kat: Yeah, I think everybody would prefer an encyclopedia. I mean, right? Yes.
Caleb: It’s the missing thing in the Harry Potter fandom.
Kat: It is. But I mean…
Caleb: The promised encyclopedia that never was.
Kat: It never will be.
Noah: She could be working on it. For all we know, it could be in the works.
Kat: [laughs] I don’t think so.
Caleb: But it is funny because whenever Deathly Hallows was released, and that was the last Harry Potter book, we obviously still had movies, but there was this missing the new material for so long. We didn’t have any new Harry Potter material to enjoy, and then here we are several years down the line. We’re – what? – just recently passed seven years – right?
Caleb: Since Deathly Hallows was released, and we’re finally getting new material, but now there'[re] mixed reactions. And maybe it’s a… we’re all in a similar camp here because we’re all at LeakyCon, but that was not the case when this Pottermore material was released and certainly not the case when Rowling did the interview with… I can’t remember if it was the Guardian or some other newspaper that created a lot of firestorm about Harry and Hermione, Hermione and Ron, and then how the media responds to Rowling adding pieces of material to the Harry Potter canon. So we’re going to talk on that.
Laura: Okay. Well, I have issues with just how much you have to pay attention to absolutely every outlet now. I mean, the Ron/Hermione comments… you couldn’t avoid that no matter where you were. That was headline [unintelligible] 11 o’clock news. But other stuff like that, bits and pieces… even Lupin’s backstory… we did a whole special episode on that. We were crying, and we loved it. It was amazing, and but it… there was other stuff that’s always being released, and certain things get attention, and certain things don’t, and I miss things that way, and I feel like… I don’t know. I feel like there’s almost a status thing now. Am I not a legit Harry Potter fan if I haven’t read every single thing or heard every little bit of interview? It’s harder now.
Kat: Well, and that comes with all the different platforms that it’s being released on, right? So the technology and how accessible it is to everybody. Michael has the PlayStation games or whatever that none of us have.
Michael: The interesting thing with that is just… quick survey: How many of you have actually been on Pottermore itself? Okay, that’s…
Michael: … the whole room.
Michael: Now how many of you have actually played Wonderbook[: Book] of Spells or Book of Potions?
[Kat, Laura, and Michael laugh]
Kat: Yeah, four or five.
Michael: Four or five people…
Laura: And on this panel, just Michael.
Kat: Just Michael. Yeah.
Michael: And with that, the expense to get something like the Book of Spells or Book of Potions… because you need the package with the Wonderbook. You need a PlayStation 3 and a Move Controller and an Eyetoy camera just to play it, and that comes [to] over $100, obviously. And but there is a wealth of new information in that game if you really want to find out all of the canon information that is written by Rowling.
Noah: Michael, do you only get the information if you complete the chapter, complete the game, and then you get it? Sort of like a prize?
Michael: Yeah, you have to complete certain parts of the levels to actually get anything.
Noah: So what if you wouldn’t? You just suck at [unintelligible]?
[Kat, Laura, and Michael laugh]
Kat: Do you suck at video games, Noah?
Noah: I’m really good at video games, but for those who aren’t good, they wouldn’t be able to read it.
Michael: There’s someone here.
Caleb: Who’s this?
[Caleb and Laura laugh]
Caleb: Would you like to introduce yourself?
Eric: I’m Elvis Dumbledore.
Caleb: So Elvis Dumbledore, what are your thoughts [unintelligible]?
Eric: [as Elvis] Thank you very much.
Caleb: So we’re talking about how we feel about J.K. Rowling adding new things to Pottermore like the recently released material, and should she stop adding things to the canon? These pieces. And now video games. Have you played the Wonderbook[: Book] of Spells?
Caleb: Have you ever played a video game?
Caleb: Okay. Then he’s going to be really valuable for this conversation.
Laura: Well, if I can comment on the video game thing, even I’ve never played the Wonderbook stuff, but I’m really jealous. Once I saw… I think you wrote a review for MuggleNet or something about it, and I was looking, and I was like, “I want a [unintelligible].” I feel left out, but I’m not going to buy all of that stuff that you said because that makes me… just talking financially, the video games are not the only thing. We’ve all been to the theme park this week, and that stuff, I guess, was considered extended canon, even just walking around Diagon Alley, and there'[re] little bits of things, and not everyone can afford to come to Orlando and pay [for] the theme park tickets, and even now, there’s a play being released. Not… that’s a very excusive amount of people [who] are going to be able to see that, who can afford it.
Eric: I remember when Book 7 came out, though. People were reading the book, and they didn’t think the epilogue should be there and considered canon. And it’s within the book. It’s within the parameters of the books, within the pages.
Kat: Those people are nuts.
Eric: No. Are they any more nuts than the people who are saying, “None of this extra stuff that JKR herself is penning is […] canon”?
Kat: They are equally nuts. And anything JKR writes, in my opinion, is canon. Period. I don’t care where it’s released, where it comes out.
Audience Member: What about if she says [unintelligible] is different than what she writes?
Keith Hawk: Kat, if it’s not in the books, it’s not canon.
Noah: That’s right.
Keith: If it’s not in the books, it’s not canon at all.
Kat: It’s agreed. The canon is in her head.
Keith: What about when she makes a mistake?
Michael: Well, there…
Kat: So everybody makes mistakes. She can’t do math.
Michael: There was an interesting that happened, actually, with Wonderbook[:Book] of Spells because in that it’s revealed that wizards who are not pure of heart who attempt to cast a Patronus are consumed by maggots.
Laura: Right. Wow.
Michael: If… however, everybody said, “What about Umbridge? Why wasn’t she consumed by maggots?” And Rowling… what was neat was the fans actually did a lot of speculation – we actually talked about it a little bit on Alohomora! – and in the end, Rowling confirmed the suspicion about – maybe she heard our suspicions – that pure of heart does not mean “good.” It means you’re pure in your intent, and you think you’re completely doing the right thing. But that was very confusing when it was initially presented, and this was information that she still ended up having to clarify after she had presented the main piece of information, so… and it wasn’t through other means. It was just through, I think […] random interviews that she confirmed that. I mean, for goodness’s sake, we found out that the Hufflepuff hourglass jewels are diamonds on Twitter.
[Audience and Kat laugh]
Laura: I didn’t… just because you mentioned Hufflepuff… it’s not like everyone doesn’t share information. I’m Gryffindor on Pottermore. There is material that is now exclusive to if you just get sorted into different houses. Those descriptions… all that Hufflepuff description? Obviously, we all read it. We all found it. But if we’re on technical terms, only the Hufflepuffs got that. Which is… it’s cool. I like it, kind of.
Noah: Well, I meant the thing we’re talking about [is] canon here, and it’s actually more complex because there’s story content of events happening, such as the Quidditch World Cup, and then there’s commentary on those events. Extra tidbits, which I don’t know if that’s even canon or if that’s just canon law from the [unintelligible] the line of the book series. You know what I mean by that distinction?
Laura: Mhm. I mean, I’m with Kat that anything that’s said or is canon… it’s just not… yeah, I’m not saying it’s not canon. I just don’t know how I feel about it.
Kat: I love it.
Michael: Well, that’s the thousand students at Hogwarts.
[Audience, Caleb, and Eric laugh]
Eric: I have yet to find [unintelligible]. Now that’s a mathematics issue.
[Audience and Kat laugh]
Kat: Right. We already know she can’t do math. That’s okay.
Laura: Some of us can’t.
Eric: I hate to bring the films into this, but if we’re thinking about, say, for instance, Lord of the Rings, the extended editions… are they canon? Well, they are adaptations, but at the same time, stuff gets cut because they need a theatrical runtime that people can see that they push out. And so I think books are much the same way. She could give us family trees of everybody – because you know she wrote them in that café in the ’90s – in the Harry Potter series, but it would be boring book. That would be a sucky, sucky Harry Potter book.
Eric: Unless she branded it an encyclopedia, but then if that’s an encyclopedia, is that canon?
Kat and Laura: Yes.
Kat: Yes, absolutely.
Eric: Why is that canon but what she writes on Pottermore is not canon?
Kat: I’m not saying [that] it’s not canon. I think it is. Anything that comes out of her head, in my opinion, is canon. Period.
Laura: Is it?
Kat: It’s Jo’s world.
Laura: Yeah, I feel like I’m not… the authorities would say, “No, Jo. Just what you’re saying is not real. We’re… just leave it.”
Kat: Just remember, she’s listening to this.
Laura: Yeah, I know.
Laura: She’s sitting right here.
Eric: I mean, we have [unintelligible]. She’s under this table. There’s a [unintelligible]. I don’t think that canon should be limited to a time and place. I mean, there are some authors who would abuse the privilege [unintelligible] their own work – George Lucas is one of them – but I think that we are in good hands and have always been in good hands Jo, and if there’s a detail that just didn’t make it into the seven books when she was hustling to meet all the deadlines and wrote them, it’s still part of my world. It’s still part of the canon for me.
Laura: Yeah. How do we feel, then, about… with Fantastic Beasts being released? Those are [unintelligible]. I mean, we talked. We did a whole show on it, but that’s another thing now that that’s… it’s the world. It’s canon, but it’s not even Harry Potter, really. It’s the wizarding world, but it’s not Harry Potter.
Michael: Well, like the play that will be coming out about Harry’s non-magical life, which will be super fun…
Kat: It’s so upbeat. Awesome.
Michael: The interesting thing with this… and that play, while supervised by Rowling, won’t be written by her as I understand it. This screenplay for Fantastic Beasts will be written by her, but I’m sure most of you… if you know a modicum about film, you will know that there are going to be a lot of people who are going to come in and do excessive treatments on that script, and they’re going to edit the heck out of it, and it’s not going to be exactly what she wrote. And yet, becuse part of it will be, it is kind canon, but it is also, I believe… correct me if I’m wrong: There are people from the original Potter films who are actually going to be involved in this, so there’s an attempt to actually make the aesthetic of Fantastic Beasts continuous with the [Potter] films, so and we know that the films are not book canon.
Kat: I think it’s going to be Harry Potter-canon adjacent.
Laura: Yeah. That’s a good way of putting it.
Caleb: So we’re talking a lot about what actually is canon, and that could probably go on forever, but I think a really important element is why she is adding to the canon. And this is where I think there is the sharpest divide between the ultimate fans, like we all are here at LeakyCon, and the way that the media perceives J.K. Rowling. If you follow any channels of media from when Fantastic Beasts was announced to even the Pottermore short essay, the response in the media… I saw articles from the Huffington Post, the Daily Beast telling her to basically stop looking for more outlets of profit. As if J.K. Rowling needs more profit.
Caleb: And I think that’s something that we can all agree on. I won’t speak for everyone. Please, later, when we open it up, share your opinions if you disagree. But most of us, I would venture, would say that she is not in it for profit. But maybe we can speak to why they think this way of her. Because it seems like J.K. Rowling, more than a lot of people in her position, is targeted in this way. When she chooses to open up the world of Fantastic Beasts or she releases something on Pottermore or she doesn’t deal with Sony to do a video game, why do they go after her so much after she has given the world so much?
Kat: Especially after – remember, she was on the billionaire list, right? And then she donated so much money that she got off of it. So it’s still astounding people still say that.
Eric?: I think people, media outlets can’t recreate what she’s created. They can’t do it. So they have to go after her about this because Harry Potter still affects everybody [who] has ever read it in such a way that if she writes new content, we’re logging on to our computers within hours. She suddenly has this other book out that we’ve read, and not Harry Potter, we all drop what we’re doing, and we go get it because that is the impact that she has had. So the media to any article at all, more often than not, they’re trying to write something negative. Any media at all that has to do with this hot story that she is out because everything she does make world wide news.
Noah: We’re just trying to get news, man.
Eric?: That’s what it’s about.
Michael: Well, and as Elvis said earlier…
Michael: … there is actually now an element of George Lucas because…
Kat: That’s a swear word.
Michael: But I think that was actually addressed that some of the new stuff with Ron and Harry and Hermione business, and she said it in a much classier way – super classy, actually – but she basically said, “If that’s what I’m ever doing then you’ll know I’ve lost my mind.” And she was directly speaking about Lucas.
Laura: Okay, so I guess we want to… the question that you proposed… sorry, that was weird.
Laura: Should she stop? I do think we have different thoughts on this.
Kat: I’ll go first.
Kat: The only thing is that I want it all in one place. Because I know we’ve touched on this, but it’s so hard for everybody. What about that six-year-old person, who doesn’t have Twitter, doesn’t have a cell phone, [who] loves Harry Potter so much and would die for that information but can’t get to it?
Noah: Everyone has one these days.
Kat: I agree but not the ones [who] live in Africa.
Laura: Yeah, that’s exactly where I’m at, which is…
Kat: No, I mean…
Caleb: … but you want it all together?
Kat: I want it all together. I want it in one place.
Laura: That’s exactly where I’m at because I’m very frustrated with this technological divide that’s happening between people [who] can have all of the Potter and people [who] can’t. I don’t think that’s what it should be about. I don’t think that’s what books were ever about. The books are so accessible to so many people, and it’s not all bad. It’s great that Potter is at their fingertips more, and a lot of it’s free. Not all of its money, but she didn’t do as much as she wanted, but I want it in a form that everyone can have. Everyone can access it.
Noah: I think from a business standpoint, maybe she is even pressured to create some additional writing for games and other stuff. She needs to prostitute her words a little bit by these businesses…
Noah: I’m a writer, so I can use that word.
Kat: Noah. It’s Noah. [laughs]
Michael: It’s Noah, you’ve heard the word.
Noah: She’s prostituting her words…
Eric: She doesn’t have to do anything…
Noah: … for Harry Potter stuff.
Eric: She can and has said no [unintelligible]
Kat: Probably, yeah. That’s probably true.
Noah: So then, what are these choices, The Book of Spells is great, but is she playing those games? Are kids playing those games?
Eric: That one is a Sony game, and her site made a deal with the devil…
Eric: … with that Sony agreement, but that doesn’t mean that it was any less content and any less full of her love for everything she does.
Noah: That’s true.
Michael: And to speak a little more, perhaps, positively about the new stuff that’s come out – because my thing, of course… no, I think she should keep putting out information – is that Wonderbook[: Book] of Potions and [Wonderbook: Book of] Spells… they’re actually beautiful games for what they are. They have very nice graphics. It’s clever how it tries to make the wizarding world immersive with new technology, and I know a lot of people throughout the years have demanded a massive multiplayer online role playing game of some sort for Harry Potter, and the closest thing we got to that, I would say, was Pottermore PlayStation Home, if any of you ever got to play that. And it’s still up. It’s very quiet now.
Laura: Michael is the only one running around it.
Michael: Yeah. [laughs]
Kat: No, no! We have play dates! We do!
Michael: We run around and snap photos of ourselves.
Kat: And we dance on the Gringotts steps. It’s a lot of fun.
Michael: Yeah. So that stuff is being provided. It is unfortunate that there is, as we were saying, that technological divide between who can have it and who can’t, but the fact that it is out there is very nice that we have those options. The video games were also, for what they were, in my opinion, quite lovely, and they had canon information with the Wizard Cards that were in them. That was the first appearance of all those Wizard Cards. So…
Caleb: So my thought, I definitely agree that, no, she shouldn’t stop. And I have a lot of similar concerns. When I read the Harry Potter books I was completely obsessed about them. I knew every single detail: I could list off members of Dumbledore’s Army, people who were in the Slug Club, things like this. I wanted every single thing I could. So when the technological divide, for lack of better phrasing, started, I was a little frustrated by it. But now that I’m getting older, I’m not as concerned about it as I used to [be]. I think it’s really great that it’s being able to be experienced in a lot of different ways, that different people can connect with it in different ways because I think, no matter what, we will always still have the books. I think that it’s great that Jo and whoever is keeping it alive in different ways. I’m not as concerned about missing details or missing things as much as I used to. I don’t know if that is coming with being older and being more far removed from the books, but I’m not as worried about the divide anymore.
Eric: Is that…? Could that also be you’re valuing the new content a little less?
Caleb: I don’t think it’s that because I still… whenever I woke up to the Pottermore nightly release and 15 text messages [asking], “Have you read this?”…
Caleb: … I still logged onto Pottermore and was enraptured by reading new work by J.K. Rowling, so I’m just not as concerned about little things like not being able to play a video game because the things that matter, in my opinion, are available to everyone. Pottermore is free. Get an account.
[Eric and Kat laugh]
Kat: Eric. Help us.
Laura: My apologies.
Eric: I mean, I would more or less agree with what Caleb said here, and I think that the Pottermore stuff is, in a way, extraneous. That doesn’t make it not canon. I think there is a priority that we have to assign to all the works collectively, and this priority is the books in terms of that’s the story that she wanted to tell. Perfect or imperfect, that’s the story that there is, and this other stuff is just meant to really satisfy that need within all of us to live in that world a little more. Each of those… that’s what those things help us to do. The update by Rita Skeeter, for instance recently, is like, “What’s Harry Potter up to 12 years later?” or so, and of course that just helps us to deal with the loss of such a great book series because it’s over. So I support the reissuing of this content. I look at it as canon; I look at it as that friendly update from Jo saying, “Here’s what they’re up to now; I know you miss this. Here you go.”
Kat: What makes me happy is that clearly she’s still thinking about it every day. It’s the living that world in her head, which makes me really…
Noah: You think she’s having trouble moving on?
Kat: I don’t care if she is.
Caleb: If you read the… she’s clearly not having trouble moving on. She’s writing a new, fantastic series. If you guys haven’t started reading the Cormoran Strike books, you need to.
Kat: Definitely. Yeah.
Caleb: Those books are amazing. But like you said, she still can end it.
Kat: Right, which is great. I mean, that’s all we want, right?
Laura: It’s nice to know that she hasn’t completely left it behind. See, when you see people like Daniel Radcliffe, let’s say, who just wants to… he’s grateful for it, but he’s like, “All right, I’m moving on now,” and an author can easily do that, especially with such a world-wide phenomenon, be like, “No, we’re not going to talk about it anymore. I’m someone else.” But she’s still thinking about it and making us happy.
Caleb: So we’ve certainly talked enough, and we hope that you guys have some thoughts on the matter. We would love if you had a question or wanted to shared your thoughts on these things. We have a microphone set up here in the middle. Feel free to come up, and we will all chat together. Please say your name.
Audience Member: Is this on?
Kat: It’s on, yeah. Just talk loud.
Audience Member: Yeah, okay. So I’m Talia. Yes, I was at MISTI-Con. I had a couple of things to say, so I wrote them down.
Michael: We love a listener who takes notes.
Audience Member: So about the media being all negative, I thought a lot of times the media likes to build someone up, and someone like J.K. Rowling can only build her up so far before “J.K. Rowling did this, and it’s awesome!” gets sort of boring for the newspeople. It’s not boring for me, but the newspeople want to tear her down a little bit because if you’re just talking about someone positively for so long, and then people want to dig deeper and find out all the not-so-positive things, which is something that I’ve noticed, I think that’s why they might be getting a bit more negative about it.
Kat: Yeah, but we will never do that in all [unintelligible].
Audience Member: Yeah, no, no, no. I’m not saying that all media… I’m just saying that a lot of media people sometimes do that.
Kat: They suck, so come get your news from us.
Audience Member: Yeah, no, I do.
Michael: And the important thing about that to note is that, of course, Rowling, I think, is very aware of that because that’s who Rita Skeeter is.
Audience Member: Yeah, no, that’s what I was thinking is that Rita Skeeter is one of those people, like she did in Harry Potter. Harry Potter was all famous and stuff, but then she wanted to figure out bad things about him. Just why? Most of the book, she was being really [unintelligible]. And I also agree about wanting to have everything in one place but mostly because I actually can’t access a lot of things, and I know Caleb said that Pottermore is free, but computers aren’t, and computers that can run Pottermore are actually really expensive, and I actually didn’t have my own computer until less than two weeks ago. And I don’t have a smartphone, so I can’t go on apps or anything, and I do not have a computer, so I couldn’t access a lot of these things, and of course, I’ve made a Pottermore account, but I can only use it when I was at my grandmother’s house, and she lives half an hour away from me, and I can’t see her everyday.
Michael: I will say that, from the beginning, Pottermore’s goal was to be everywhere and was made to reach out to as many people as it was absolutely possible to do in all forms. That was what the CEO said, and that is what the new CEO said as wel – that they want Pottermore everywhere so that people can see it. It may not work as well as the written word, as books have, as we can see, because there are places in the Harry Potter books that don’t have Pottermore, but knowing that that’s their goal and knowing that there’s also, simultaneously, at least in the United States, an effort to get kids, even schools, to have tablets and access to the Internet as a basic human right in the next generation of kids, knowing that public libraries exist with free internet access and things like this all around the country… it’s getting better.
Audience Member: It’s definitely getting better, but I’m just saying that…
Michael: That’s something that at least Pottermore is really… I feel that they are trying and are going to be better in the next five, ten years.
Kat: Yup. Thank you.
Laura: Thank you so much.
Audience Member: Hi.
Audience Member: I’m Amanda. I don’t see you.
Audience Member: Hi.
Caleb: Check out this girl sometime later tonight because she has a really impressive Bellatrix costume if you haven’t yet.
Audience Member: Hi. I guess I count myself as a super fan, but I bear the unpopular opinion that I do want her to stop because I feel like in some ways things are going here, there, everywhere, not necessarily for us because obviously, it’s canon, and we do love the content, but for an outsider, it almost cheapens the fandom. They’re like, “Oh, look what Harry Potter is doing now.” I guess that’s where the media comes in criticizing, but sometimes it’s like J.K…. and I don’t want her to go backward. More content, yes, but when she came out and said the thing about Harry and Hermione, I’m like, “JK, just no, please. If you got a mistake, keep it to yourself.”
Laura: Yeah, I definitely respect what you are staying, and I am a lot it in your camp. Not all the way because of how I feel, but I am a very large fan of when stories are fully told, and they end on a high note, and they step away. I love complete stories. I love when TV shows say, “Okay, we only have five seasons. We’re doing five season, and we’re out.” So I definitely respect that opinion that it’s been pulled, and I am so satisfied with Deathly Hallows, beyond satisfied, that I can see we’re you’re coming from.
Audience Member: I can’t remember his name, but the guy [who] wrote Sherlock Holmes, apparently he just kept writing things because people wanted it, and it got to the point that people were like, “Ugh, this actually isn’t any good anymore,” and I don’t want that to happen to Harry Potter. I don’t want to wake up one morning and go “Ugh. Really? No. Ugh.”
Kat: That’s a valid point.
Eric: That was an interesting case because Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to stop and actually threw Sherlock Holmes off a waterfall…
Audience Member: Yeah.
Eric: … and the fans, who just kept writing, and then he couldn’t just block email. I mean, he had letters at his place of business. That was an everyday problem. People angry – you cannot kill the best detective ever – so they forced him to go on, and that maight be why it was lower quality or later judged to be of lower quality because he did not want to be doing it versus Jo positively still wanting to be doing this and therefore, giving it her all.
Audience Member: I feel like she’ll never let it happen, but you never know.
Eric: You never know. Thank you, Amanda.
Audience Member: I know we brought up [that] there’s lower class people who can’t access Pottermore and stuff like that and Africa. I live in rural Canada. I live 1.6 kilometers away from a major city. I can’t get Internet legitimately unless I pay $200 a month, and then it’s capped at twenty gigs, upload and download completely so…
Laura: I bet you Pottermore sucks that right up.
Audience Member: Yeah, so I went on Pottermore when it first came out, and I got an angry phone call from my Internet provider. It was like, “Yeah, you need to stop whatever you’re doing.”
Audience Member: And I’m a YouTube-er, too, so it’s like I haven’t uploaded content in forever because if I’m at home, I can’t have Internet, and I live 1.6 kilometers from a major city. Because there’s not enough people in my community, so they deemed that there’s no Internet there, so there'[re] people in Third World countries with better Internet access than me. [sighs]
Kat: Another reason we want the encyclopedia.
Audience Member: That was my biggest thing: Yes, we have stuff on Pottermore, and we can have stuff on video games, but can we also have that information in book form for those of us who like books and want everything? There’s no reason they can’t have them in both formats whatsoever.
Kat:Cheers to that.
Audience Member: And if you don’t live in the States, or if you don’t live in the UK, how…? It’s really expensive and really difficult to go to the theme parks or Leavesden Studios and all of that stuff… this is my first time in Orlando. I’ve been all over Europe before […] because my dad ended up working in Europe, but if you’re Canadian, you’ve got really kind of nothing unless you live in Toronto, and then I thnk the exhibition tour went around. So I’m feeling now that the whole Harry Potter thing is more catering toward the, “Hey, you live in a major city in the US, so we deem you lucky enough to even have the chance of being able to see this at all,” and that’s not really cool because the biggest thing we learned in Harry Potter was that it’s equality for all.
Audience Member: And that’s not what’s happening.
Laura: If you’re not the “realest” fan…
Audience Member: Yeah, it’s…
Laura: If you haven’t gone to the Exhibition, gone to the Studio Tour, gone to the theme park in Japan…
Audience Member: Well, you haven’t done this, you haven’t done that, you haven’t done that, so you’re probably not a real Harry Potter fan, and I’ve had people tell me that because I don’t spend a lot of time on Pottermore or I don’t have the video games or this or that. I have four Harry Potter tattoos.
Audience Member: I have inked these onto my body permentantly, and it’s “Well, you’re probably not a real fan because you’re not a super fan or recently, I think the Daily Mail focused on the ultimate Harry Potter fan because she’d spend 40,000 pounds or something on merch. That doesn’t make you a better fan than someone who can’t afford that, and it bothers me that that’s what the fandom is becoming part of.
Michael: What’s your name by the way, though?
Audience Member: Izzy.
Kat: Hi, Izzy.
Audience Member: So I like to be a trouble maker. [laughs]
Michael: We like that here.
Kat: Me, too.
Michael: [laughs] As a separate issue, you shouldn’t let anybody tell you that you’re not a real fan.
Kat: Damn right.
Audience Member: I don’t really deal with that very well, but that’s the thing is, is what if they say that to someone who is 11 or 12 and isn’t 23 and super confident in who they are and what they believe in and stuff like that? I mean, anyone who has Harry Potter tattoos has probably run into people who are middle-aged women or men going, “Are you sure you want that on your body forever? Is it really that big of a deal? It’s Harry Potter.” But we’re comfortable in what we feel as fans. I mean, you guys have Alohomora! and stuff like that, but we also have to think about the upcoming Potter generation.
Audience Member: That don’t have the midnight premieres and stuff like that. It seems like every single time you turn around, it’s you need money to be part of this fandom instead of you need to have a love of books.
Eric: Izzy, what’s your local bookstore? What bookstore would you be hitting if there [were] another Harry Potter book?
Audience Member: It would probably be Box of Delights where no one [unintelligible].
Kat: That sounds [unintelligible].
Audience Member: Yeah, but If I’m where my parents are, most of the local, independent booksellers that I went to all of those big events at have shut down. Legitimately. There was a huge one that had a Harry Potter event that was three stories high, and it was one of the largest independent bookstores in Canada, and it shut down. I don’t even remember what it was called anymore. That’s awful.
Eric: Well, even if they do end up, let’s say, coming up with some publication to send out all the Pottermore updates to every bookstore they can possibly get it in, you’re still going to have to probably deal with a chain.
Audience Member: Yeah.
Eric: Because it’s easier. You’re still going to have to try [to] find the next biggest… it’s like going to the city for Internet. It wouldn’t be much less difficult even if they did publish it.
Audience Member: But I do know if it came out that J.K. Rowling had published something else, everyone would try [to] get copies of that book even if it was a small independent bookseller because they know it would sell.
Kat: Yeah, Cuckoo’s Calling.
Audience Member: Yeah, but when they found out that it was J.K. Rowling.
Kat: Right, that’s what I mean.
Audience Member: But I actually called my mother as soon as that came out and was like, “Where are you right now?” because I was somewhere where I couldn’t get to a bookstore, and she was like, “I’m on my way home. What?” and I was like, “You need to go to the bookstore and get a book!” “Why?” “J.K. Rowling wrote a book!” “No, she didn’t. Stop going insane.” I was like, “No, you need to go find this,” and she walked into the bookstore. It was a big chain bookstore, and she was like, “I need this book by Robert Galbraith,” and the people looked at her like she had five heads like, “Why are you so panicked about this author no one knows?” And she was like, “J.K. Rowling wrote it,” and the lady was like, “No, she didn’t,” and then it came out the next day, and there [were] no copies of it anywhere in the city because each bookstore in a major city had one copy that was a tiny artist that no one knew. So that’s the biggest thing. J.K. Rowling’s name on a book? It sells millions, so everyone has a chance of getting it. Meanwhile [on] Pottermore and stuff like that you have to dig for information, and I don’t have time for all of that now. I’m an adult with jobs, so…
Kat: Thank you so much.
Laura and Michael: Thank you.
Kat: Hi, Terrance.
Terrance Pinkston, Jr.: Hi, guys!
Noah: What’s your name, son?
Audience Member: My name is Terrance Pinkston. I’m from San Antonio, Texas. I work for a little site called MuggleNet.
Michael: It’s funny because he works for MuggleNet.
Terrance: Anyway, so I just wanted to go ahead and give my thoughts real quick on the canon discussion. So what I think needs to happen is well, firstly, my opinion of canon was closed at the end of the seventh book.
Kat: What did I tell you about that?
Terrance: Yeah, I’m sure he agrees with me. But that was it. I mean, the story was complete. Anything that’s within those pages is considered canon. What I consider Pottermore and everything else – all these little tidbits of information that we’re getting – is extended canon. That’s not… yeah, fan fiction as well. But we also got to think about… as fans, we have to start thinking about new media as canon, but we have to open up our minds and say, “Because the next generation is evolving, and technology’s evolving, and there are no more midnight premieres. There are no more book releases or anything like that at this time, but we still need to consider Pottermore as in that extended canon, and I just wanted to get your thoughts on that.
Noah: I totally hear that, Terrance. Actually, I was going to bring it up before, but there’s something about… call me “old-fashioned” but a book. Imagine publish[ing] a book. A writer reads their words in a book form. That makes it special in a way. And when you put it on the Internet and social media… even Pottermore, as full as it is… it’s still another medium. And it’s such a shared space. It’s just not the same thing as a book that someone can privately engage. It’s online somewhere [where everyone] is engaging simultaneously. And I think that cheapens the words a little bit just because of the medium. Obviously, that’s changing. And the canon and this subjective argument that we’re having: Is is canon? Is it not? But I think that in some books, that is pure canon. That is a very pure canon. It’s in book form. Everything else is a sort of additional material that each reader can decide how much they want to take of it, but it is not quite the same.
Kat: What if it was in the book before, and it got cut out? And now it’s on Pottermore? Still canon.
Terrance: Well, we don’t know that.
Kat: But Jo does. And I [unintelligible] her [unintelligible].
Terrance: Well, she does, yeah, but that shouldn’t be considered canon. That should be considered extended canon.
Kat: Disagree. Disagree. Sorry.
Caleb: So we don’t have much more time, so if we can just keep questions to about a minute or so, so we can get everyone down.
Audience Member: I want to say something similar to what he was saying about extended canon vs. canon. I am a huge of Harry Potter, and I have always been a huge fan from when I first read it in second grade just before the seventh book came out. I did not find out that Dumbledore was gay until seventh grade, five years later. Because I did not go searching for that info, but I love the series. And there are fans like that who love the series, but they don’t go on Pottermore or search out that info. And I feel like it’s just… it should be kept to the books. I love the new info. But I feel like canon and extended canon should be two different things.
Michael: Can I respond to that really quickly?
Michael: As far as specifically the issue of Dumbledore being gay, as a gay individual myself, I think that that was a big deal in how you read Deathly Hallows because it changed that whole aspect of Dumbledore and Grindelwald for me, reading that. And so that was kind of upsetting to see that that was even outside of the book because that’s not how I read it the first time. So… and I love that bit of information, but it was like, “Well, if you had wanted that to be appended, that should have been in the book.”
Kat: Why do you think that’s why it wasn’t in the book? Because she didn’t want him to become… that’s not what she was writing about. That wasn’t her message.
Michael: Well, she was being… I think it had… oddly enough, we have to consider no matter how recent it seems, 2007 was a different time, and Rowling is very socially conscious. She is very [unintelligible] in how she approaches things. So I do think she was trying to be as careful as she could with how she did, and she did it in a really good way. But at the same time, I think you have a very fair point that, yes, that does severely affect how you read the book.
Kat and Michael: Thank you.
Audience Member: Hi, I’m Connor, and first of all, Kat, I completely agree with you: If J.K. Rowling came up with it, it’s canon.
Kat: Thank you.
Audience Member: And also, J.K. Rowling… can the author of a work write fan fiction about the work?
Eric: It’s not fan fiction if the author wrote it.
Kat: There you go.
Laura: Unless it directly, I guess, contradicts the plot. Goes backward and does something completely different.
Kat: So I think unless they state it’s fan fiction.
Michael: Let the boy finish his [unintelligible].
Caleb: Yeah, let’s [unintelligible].
Audience Member: And just the way I see with the information is that she shouldn’t stop just because Harry Potter started off… at its essence, it is a book series, but it became so much, and to the fans – people who are going to be at LeakyCon, people who grew up with the books – it’s something that’s had such a lasting impact. It’s something we’re always going to be thinking of, and it stopped being just a book series when it became so huge. And so in the back of my mind, I was always wondering, “What other wand woods are there available that weren’t mentioned?” All this information that she did come out with in Pottermore. So just as long as there are the fans who are going to be asking those questions, I really appreciate having the answers that she releases there.
Kat: Completely agree. Also, good for you.
Noah: Thank you, Connor.
Kat: Thanks, Connor.
Audience Member: I’ll be quick. My name’s Bridget. There are two facts that are necessary for you to understand where I’m coming from. I live in Hawaii. It cost me $1,200 to get here – just for airfare – and that’s cheap. Usually it’s about $1,400. And the other thing is, I’m a teacher. I work at a school. I work with preschoolers. I play Harry Potter music during their naptimes, so I’m getting them when they’re young.
Audience, Laura, and Michael: Yes.
Laura: Brainwashing them.
Audience Member: That’s what people are saying! And I tutor middle schoolers, especially boys, in literature. So I push Harry Potter a little. We’ve read Harry Potter the last three years. I’ve had students who don’t know about Pottermore. And these are kids… the school provides iPads for them, and they’re required to have laptops. So they haven’t done a very good job of maintaining the information. So I had a parent come to me and say, “You should have told my son about this on a Friday because he’s stayed up all night, and he fell asleep in class and got detention.” That’s not my fault!
Laura: It happens.
Audience Member: So this is where people who have access to it, and they don’t know about it, and that’s the age group that they’re going for. These are sixth graders and seventh graders and eighth graders, and they don’t know about it. And I also had a kid come to me crying because his parents wouldn’t take them to [the] Wizarding World [of Harry Potter] because this is the one family trip that they’re going to take probably for five years, six years, and they were going to Disney World. So the accessibility is [unintelligible] even if you’re in a first world country where you have Internet, and knowledge about it is a big issue. I’d be the first one to like, “Okay, let’s go to MuggleNet now, and here’s HPL, and we can go and find other things that you can do.
Eric: There’s nothing more powerful, I think, too… even with the Internet, there’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth. We should not ignore the potential of words or having a teacher guide us into something or the knowledge. That is still, I think, the primary way that human beings should learn anything is by word of mouth.
Audience Member: And we only have one bookstore, too. I live on the main island. I live in Honolulu, and we have one bookstore. Once Borders closed… one bookstore. We have one Barnes & Noble. So we don’t really have a whole lot, and Western culture isn’t as big as Eastern culture. So we have a lot of anime and manga stuff but not so much Harry Potter and that thing.
Eric: Did you know that you can get it? I would say, “Read that to your classes, and read it in public as much as you can. Everybody clap for this teacher.
Kat: Thank you, yes.
Caleb: Thank you.
Kat: Last question.
Audience Member: All right, all right. I’m Polly. I just wanted to say really quick[ly], “While accessibility isn’t quite [unintelligible], I feel I’ve been lucky and I’ve been able to go to all [of] these things, but I am very glad, and I appreciate it, and I wish Jo would continue to expand the canon and everything because when… I grew up with Harry Potter, but I didn’t. My very first midnight book release was Deathly Hallows, actually, and I was 11. So I feel like I was very young when it was already over, so now, and we keep getting stuff, and I’m older, I just appreacite it a lot more, to be able to still have that childishness even though it’s over for the real cnaon, but I still consider it real because I’m able to be older and still have things since it was over while I was already super young.
Caleb: Hey, I’m 25, and I got to do a lot of midnight releases, and I still go [unintelligible] this new stuff [unintelligible], so I totally feel that.
Michael: We just had… it was national. If any of you know about Geeks Who Drink, they just did a Harry Potter pub quiz all over the US, and I was standing with a friend in the lobby, and we were looking around going, “This is just like the midnight releases. There'[re] hundreds of people here, all excited about Harry Potter.” But they’re in their 20s and up because they have to be able to drink.
Michael: So yeah, it’s definitely a basic. That’s [unintelligible].
Kat: Should we wrap up with a show of hands maybe? Who wants Jo to stop? Only Keith and one person in the back.
Caleb and Kat: And Terrance.
Laura: Yeah, everyone we know personally.
Kat: So who doesn’t want her to stop? Okay, Jo, you heard it: Don’t stop. Thank you very much.
Caleb: Thank you all so much for coming.
Caleb: Things that you’ll want to know: We have T-shirts up here, and they look really awesome.
[Show music begins]
Caleb: They mirror us going into the bricks of Diagon Alley [at] Universal, and there’s pizza in the back. Please grab a slice.
Kat: Thanks to our friends who have [unintelligible].
Eric and Michael: Open the Dumbledore!
[Show music continues]