Sunday, July 15, 2007

Harry Potter and the Ministry of Disinformation

(This is an expansion of a comment I left on Ashley's Ink On Paper. Ashley is cool and funny and a good writer and a social activist and a HUGE Harry Potter Fan, and you should be reading Ink On Paper on a regular basis.)

In just a few days the final book of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will be released. Its contents are one of the most fiercely guarded secrets in publishing. Millions of Harry Potter fans will plow through the book in the hours and days following its release, hoping to discover all of its secrets and surprises for themselves before someone else stumbles along and blurts out the ending.

I heard reports - for the first time, just the other day; this is something I was unaware of at the time - that when people were waiting in line to buy their copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, spoilers would drive by and shout "XXXXX DIES AT THE END!", revealing the book's surprise death. (I won't mention it here, because there will always be people out there who don't know how the books end yet.) Now there are concerns that this will be done on a larger scale this time around. Fans are being advised to wear earplugs while waiting in line in order to avoid hearing spoilers.

My thinking is this: In the event of a Spoiler Attack, everyone in the line should begin shouting out the names of various characters and plot twists: "GINNY DIES!" "HAGRID DIES!" "RON AND HERMIONE DIE!" "HARRY AND VOLDEMORT KILL EACH OTHER!" Litter the air with so much noise that the spoiler's signals can't get through.

Same in the blogosphere. There will be plenty of people trying to spoil the surprises as soon as they become available. So why not start filling the Internet with false rumors now, to at least buy a little time for those slower readers?

Here are some (fake) HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS SPOILERS to get the ball rolling:

And here are a few more fleshed-out ideas for sowing misinformation:
  • The book will open with Ron and Hermione having once again spent some time together during summer break. Well, they did a bit more than "spend time": Hermione is now pregnant with Ron's baby, and is due to give birth before the end of the school year. Sybil Trelawney has now made another apparently legitimate prediction that suggests that Voldemort is currently less interested in Harry Potter, and is more interested in Hermione's unborn child...

  • The house-elves dissolve into civil war, with one side led by Dobby and loyal to the memory of Dumbledore, and the other side led by Kreacher and loyal to Voldemort. Will the centaurs join forces with one side or the other?

  • After the climactic final confrontation with Voldemort, the scene shifts to a small padded room in an insane asylum where a deeply troubled seventeen-year-old with tousled black hair and a scar on his forehead has spent his days since his eleventh birthday, locked in a fantasy world of magic and wizards and flying broomsticks, where he is both a sports star and the most important boy in the world. As the story ends his sole possession, a plastic snow globe with a magic castle inside, falls to the ground and shatters, and the light begins to fade from his eyes...
Enough of this noise out there, and people won't know what to believe. For a little while.


Ashley said...

Thanks for the mention!

And your last idea about Harry being completely insane and none of it really happened, I wrote a story like that. So I hope that's not what happens or my story is pretty much done for.

D.B. Echo said...

The whole "snowglobe fantasy" thing goes back to the final episode of St. Elswhere. As Howie Mandell's character packs up and heads off to a new job, we see an outside shot of the hospital, with snow falling. Then the image shakes, and shakes again. Then we see the hospital is actually inside a snowglobe held by a young boy sitting on the floor of a small, cramped apartment. A man, one of the doctors from the show, stands near him, watching him stare at the snowglobe. Another man, whose lunchbox and helmet identify him as a construction worker, enters, and is revealed to be the man we have known as the hospital administrator. He says something like "Has he said anything today?", and the other man says "No, just like every other day, he just sits there and stares at it." So the entire run of the show was just a fantasy of an autistic boy.

The smashing snowglobe, of course, is from Citizen Kane.

I wrote a short story that suggested that the Star Wars prequels were both a fantasy and a premonition experienced by a very evil little boy:

Sandy said...

Ha ha. That was an interesting one. I too hate spoilers. What i do is i dont hear the world unless and until i have hte book in my hand.

Great writing. i m gonna link you.


Anonymous said...

In line for the Empire Strikes Back, someone shouted, "Darth Vader is Luke's father." Didn't ruin the movie, though.


joy said...

To this day, I can't hear Susan Stamberg's voice (on the rare occasions that she is heard on NPR nowadays) without recalling her revelation of the Darth-Vader-is-Luke's-Father secret on the air. I had diligently avoided reading anything about the Empire Strikes Back during its production and during all the movie release hype. I wanted it to all be fresh when I saw the film. Then Susan interviewed some kids about the movie and chose to air some 6-yr-old's comment revealing this secret. Only time I've ever written a nasty letter to a broadcaster I used to really enjoy listening to. I'm still bitter about this spoiler these many decades later ;-) joy

D.B. Echo said...

I remember that from 1980 to 1983 the big question was "Was Darth Vader lying to Luke?" There were good arguments being made on both sides: by undermining Luke's faith in those who had trained and guided him, Vader could be significantly weakening a valuable Rebel asset, and possibly turning him to the dark side. Just before Return of the Jedi came out, I was in a department store and they were selling RotJ bedsheets festooned with a black-clad Luke Skywalker, and the buzz was that Luke would be a bad guy in the last movie.

Then Lucas went ahead and confirmed that Vader was Luke's father right after Luke fought a bunch of muppets with a lightsaber set to "stun".

CS said...

But haven't you heard? Cedric isn't really dead! He was recruited by Voldemort to lure Harry to him after the Triwizard tournament, and is now helping to plot the overthrow of Hogwarts. And Dolores Umbridge had an affair with Dumbledore and then tried to blackmail him, which is why he had to disappear. But then Voldemort gets "saved" in the final book, declares his allegiance to the good side, and is raptured up.