Harry Potter is both the boy who lived and the story that never ends. For the most part, this is a very good thing. Who doesn’t want J.K. Rowling to share more delightful tidbits on Twitter, or revisit the Potterverse in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them? In the case of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child it’s best if we pretend the thing doesn’t exist, but we all have our swings and misses. Yet Rowling’s latest series of supplemental pieces on Pottermore have made it clear: Pottermore is The Phantom Menace of the Harry Potter franchise. You know, that Star Wars movie nobody groups with the good ones? Harry Potter now has its Anakin Skywalker, complete with his improbable plotting and questionable acting.
It didn’t have to be this way. Harry Potter was doing so well with not ruining itself. J.K. Rowling seemed unable to let go on Twitter, but for fans, it’s also hard to let go. It made sense, and her little morsels of information were fun. When it first started, Pottermore was fun because who doesn’t want to take the quiz and find out, definitively, which house they’d be sorted into?
But then J.K. Rowling, a Scottish woman, decided to write about Native Americans without doing her research. Naturally, there was backlash. All she needed to do was make some sort of statement to show that she was aware — her themes revolve around tolerance and learning about other cultures. But instead, she merely continued adding content to Pottermore, because that was clearly working well.
The most recent extra story about the American Hogwarts — Ilvermony School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — features less culturally thorny areas, but it has a boatload of telling instead of showing. In her fiction, Rowling excels at juggling the show-don’t-tell balance, and even when she leans a bit heavily towards “telling,” it works because it’s from the mouth of someone interesting like Dumbledore. This dry account is not particularly engaging — and for one of the most engaging stories in the world, that’s a crime. Pottermore can continue to exist with its fun quizzes and the occasional bit of lore about wands or the school. But for the love of Merlin, it needs to stop posting original stories if they don’t measure up.
The Harry Potter franchise is above Phantom Menace-ing itself. Don’t force us to use a Time Turner on you, Rowling.