I went and saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on Friday. I loved it. I loved it despite the 3D (which generally gives me a headache). I loved it despite the dummy a few seats down who would laugh during quiet, dramatic moments. I loved it despite the nibbling chipmunk behind me who gnawed loudly on her popcorn (HEY PEOPLE: You put a kernel in your mouth, close your mouth, and chew. An individual piece of popcorn does not require three bites with your front teeth.)
Popcorn and inappropriate laughter and 3D aside, it was a great movie–a great end to a great series. However, I have a big complaint, both with the books and the movies: I hate how Ginny is not treated as an equal.
As I’ve discussed this with fellow Potter fans, I’ve heard a few explanations/rationalizations. I don’t think any of them hold water.
Some fans point out that Harry pulled a Spider-man and told Ginny that they can’t be together because she’d be in danger. There’s two problems with that: first, she’s already in danger—especially when crap hits the fan at Hogwarts—so he’s not really shielding her from much. Second, he told the same thing to other people throughout the series—heck, he told the same thing to Ginny more than once!—and it’s never stopped anyone from disregarding his advice and helping him anyway. It’s like Rowling was purposely keeping Ginny out of the way…
Which is exactly what other people cite: that adding Ginny would change the dynamic of the books. It’s always been Harry, Hermione and Ron, and adding a fourth would…not make it just Harry, Hermione and Ron anymore. This is true, but it’s a really, really stupid excuse. The structure should fit your story; you shouldn’t shoehorn the story to fit your structure. As soon as Rowling made Ginny awesome and brave—and HARRY’S GIRLFRIEND—then the dynamic of The Three must change.
Because there’s a very real problem here. Ignoring Ginny and leaving her out of things (when the Spider-man/Mary Jane excuse is so obviously a plot device, not a plausible character-driven reason) turns Harry into a jerk. Why does Harry ignore Ginny during important moments? Is it a lack of trust? Is is a lack of interest? Is it a lack of caring? At the risk of crass hyperbole, Ginny becomes a booty call.
Seriously. That’s what she is to Harry. He doesn’t view her as a skilled companion compared Ron and Hermione, or else he would let her help out. He doesn’t see her as trusted advisor, or else he would consult with her as much as he consults with his other two friends. We can’t say that Harry is too busy to spend time with her, because he spends lots of time with Ron and Hermione. And we can’t say that Harry’s lack of communication with her is because he can’t confide in anybody—because he does confide in people. He confides in Ron and Hermione.
Harry trusts and likes and cares more about his platonic friends than about his girlfriend. And that bugs the heck out of me, because that’s not a healthy relationship AT ALL. It relegates Awesome Ginny to Generic Romantic Interest. She’s someone who he can kiss and pine about (though he doesn’t pine much) but he has no respect for her otherwise.
Of course, I’m not saying that Harry Potter is actually a jerk and that Ginny is actually a booty call, because I know that’s not how Rowling intended them. What I am saying is that Ginny’s exclusion from The Three is plainly a plot device designed to maintain the consistent Ron/Harry/Hermione dynamic, and when we extrapolate the implausibilities of that plot device to their rational conclusion, there’s no choice but to see Harry and Ginny’s relationship as shallow and lousy. And that bugs me.
(P.S.—and SPOILER: Implausibilities aside, I want to add that I was extremely annoyed with the final shot of the movie. It’s the epilogue, showing Ron, Hermione, Harry and Ginny all grown up. The camera watches the four of them as the Hogwarts Express prepares to leave, and then it zooms in slightly and cuts Ginny out of the shot. Now, I realize that Ginny is a somewhat late addition to the party and that we have a sentimentality for the other three. But MAN—couldn’t they have found a better way to honor The Three that doesn’t seem like it’s purposely excluding Ginny? Remember: this is the woman who—aside from all the other things that makes her awesome—is the person our hero has ostensibly been committed and devoted to for 19 years. And then the director says “One of these things is not like the others” and cuts her out of the frame. I don’t get it.)