Well, this has been interesting. You’d think that I would have been familiar enough with the, uh, fervency of fans when it comes to “shipping,” but I have to admit that I was surprised by the reactions in email to Penny’s essay. Some accused the Lexicon of no longer being impartial. Some have pointed out that Rowling’s statements seem to indicate that Hermione and Ron have a budding relationship and that Harry doesn’t enter in to it, so speculation on that score is “against canon.” Others have criticized the Lexicon for joining the shipping debate at all because they find the whole thing distasteful or even inappropriate.
Let me remind everyone of a couple of things. First of all, since relationships have become a part of the canon in books four and five, it is perfectly reasonable for the Lexicon to include information on the subject. Secondly, since virtually nothing is actually told to us about any relationship between any main characters except that of Harry and Cho, pretty much anything put forward is going to be speculation.
Put those facts together and that means that the Lexicon should and will publish well-researched, thought-provoking essays on the subject of relationships (“shipping”), and that these essays will speculate and draw conclusions from hints in or interpretations of the text. You don’t have to read them if you don’t want to.
One other point needs to be made. The Lexicon has never really been completely impartial. Pretty much every essay, for example, involves speculation and drawn conclusions. Even the more factual parts of the Lexicon include a few “facts” which have only been deduced or assumed, not proven. This is unavoidable. We try desperately hard to research away the uncertainty, but sometimes we just have to go with our assumptions and hope for the best. Take the day-by-day calendars, for example. You can read in the explanatory text on the pages the level of research that was done to try to put those calendars together. Even with that kind of careful work, the day-by-day calendars are filled with speculation, assumption, and guesses. They’re pretty darn good guesses, but they are nevertheless guesses.
So why don’t I have a Harry/Ginny or a Ron/Hermione essay? Because so far, no one has submitted one. Rather than complain about Penny’s piece, why don’t some of you fire up your word processors and write me an essay? I can’t promise that I’ll publish it, but I’ll certainly consider it.
And what “side” am I on in this debate? I’m not telling.
On the subject of artwork, however, some valid objections have been raised. I chose the pieces I did because they represented some of the scenes which Penny referenced in her essay. However, as a few folks pointed out, the scenes depicted almost seemed to show Harry’s relationships with characters other than Hermione. I think that’s a good point. With no disrespect intended to Marta at all, I will be looking for suitable replacement artwork for that page. I’ll place Marta’s work elsewhere in the Lexicon. I haven’t heard from her specifically about this issue, but I don’t think she’ll be offended if I move her artwork off that page.