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8:58 a.m. - 2010-03-27
Race musings and...Harry Potter?

With the Census, the open bigotry of the Tea Partiers, the new rumblings from the anti-immigration jerks, a few racially provocative movies swirling through this year's Oscars, and the steady rise of bi-lingual signage and packaging, I find myself thinking about race fairly often these days.

I think about how it was just a flip of the genetic coin that landed me with this pale pink hide of mine, if a different swimmer had gotten to the egg first I might have had the swarthy skin of my Da's side of the family. That instead of his green eyes and gapped front teeth I might have gotten that curly black hair and nut brown skin. And then how would have my life played out? I wouldn't have been a model, that's for certain. As it was I had to bleach my hair to work. I had to look 'whiter' to totally qualify as model-worthy.

Empirically my younger sister is prettier, yet her darker skin and maybe her 'too exotic' high slanted cheekbones put her out of the running to be considered the right sort of meat to hawk pudding and dorky clothing and breakfast cereal. Why?

What the hell is 'white' anyhow? From a genetic standpoint I'm on par with President Obama. I, too, have a foot in each camp. Yet I'm 'white' and he's 'black'. Which box will he check on his census form? Which should I? My kids turned out pretty white looking too, are they diluted enough to be all white yet? What's their box? The ex has just enough Native American mixed into his DNA to often be spontaneously offered the secret handshake and 'family' discount when attending local pow-wows. (Something he takes shameful advantage of, the man loves his beads and knives, nevermind that 85% of his nearest kin are redheads so translucent they burst into flames if exposed to direct sunlight.)

I used to work with a guy who identified as black, yet would also make jokes about his Sicilian grandfather and how a staple at his family holiday gatherings was baked ziti with chitlins.

It's all so arbitrary! Alex used to say his generation shouldn't be dubbed 'Y', it should be called 'Beige'. "Nobody is pure anything anymore, Mom. We're all mutts, so why not get past the labels and let everybody just be themselves?"

I'd always say that was a good idea and I didn't know why any of it was so important to so many people.

Truly I don't.

Okay, enough with the deep musing, someone stumbling in here for the first time might get the wrong impression. Really I'm all about the frivol and have all the intellectual and character depth of a mud puddle.

To wit: Our local Blockbuster store is closing so the other night we went over and took advantage of their clearance sale. Mick picked up a clutch of those gory revenge movies he likes so well. Wolf scored a Zelda game for his DS and a cheat code guide. Me? I bought: 'Juno', 'Star Trek: The Voyage Home', 'Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince' and the original 'Fame' which I only had on VHS (ditto the Star Trek). I can watch my old VHS on the machine in the bedroom, it being a mixed one that plays both video and dvds. I don't mind watching tapes at all. But my computer, of course, only plays dvds and I like having the option to watch my faves on this humongus monitor that's barely a foot away from my face with my headphones firmly clamped over my ears so I don't have to deal with slurred (but familiar) dialog because of my hearing loss. On my computer, here in my chair, all the lights off, I can lose myself inside my beloved movies in a way I can't when trying to watch them on the TV across the room from my bed and forever having to decide whether to stay alert and upright to keep my glasses on or to snuggle down with them off and deal not only with the slurred soundtrack, but the blurred image too. Works well enough as my stalwart against nightmares and as a brain quieting electronic sleeping pill, but sometimes I really want to watch a movie and not use it as a soporific.

Watched the Harry Potter night before last and once again rejoiced in the death of Michael Gambon's Dumbledore. Man, I've loathed his interpretation! None of Dumbledore's wicked humor and steadiness of demeanor. Gambon's Dumbledore was a histrionic biggety jerk. I think Richard Harris had it so right and mourn his death if for no other reason than being denied the pleasure of seeing his Dumbledore through to the end.

I'm very curious about how and where they've divided the last book to spread over two movies. I agree the story in 'Deathly Hallows' is a huge cumbersome beast. I am also curious about how Ron's character will play in. Cinematically he's never been more unnecessary. Even in the book he's more plot device than major player, his disappearance from the story for over 300 pages hardly makes a ripple. It's only Hermione's mourning for him that keeps him involved at all.

A lot of Potter fans have wondered how someone as brilliant as Hermione can be so desperately in love with a doofus like Ron anyhow. Why not Harry? What the hell does she see in Ron? He's not gallant or particularly smart or kind or talented. So wtf is the deal?

I think I'm rather qualified to answer this one.

Because there's only room for one superstar per relationship. Because someone who burns as fiercely as Hermione can't possibly make a life with someone whose own light is just as searing. Because equals tend to cancel each other out. The fight for supremacy is fricken endless if you're with someone who takes up as much space as you do. Even if you both mean well. I honestly think this is why Jolie and Pitt have put that crowd of children between them. There has to be a buffer of some kind or the whole thing is reduced to ash.

Too lopsided of a relationship is difficult, yes, but not as tricky and hard as two thoroughbreds trying to pull a farm wagon. Someone has to give way. Someone has to be willing to step back and be okay with being the steady-on one.

Ron is used to being just one of those Weasleys. The non-starter of the Weasleys too. He's perfectly suited to be Hermione's claque. What with showy, mondo cool Bill, Charlie the risk taking dragon guy, Percy the fussbudget A student Head Boy, those crazy twins- Fred and George with their giddy humor and love of spectacle, and of course Ginny The Only Girl. What else is Ron for if not to love and be the ground for someone like Hermione to launch from? And Hermione has the brains and heart enough to adore him for it. To see him as valuable and necessary.

The trouble comes when Ron sees no honor in his role and when Hermione stops seeing her light as something wonderful. When Ron starts bitching at Hermione for being who she is, when he makes her feel like shit and slaps her down for the very things he once claimed were wonderful about her, when Hermione the Mudblood tumbles down into being 'less than' because of where she came from and what she never knew about herself until recently, that's when it all goes hurtful and bad.

In the denouement Hermione and Ron figure out how to live together and make it work. But that's a book, innit? That's a fricken story, a fairytale. In real life it doesn't always go the way the author (and even the audience) would like it to. In real life "And they lived happily ever after…" is bullshit.

Much love, ~ Hermione

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