Ok, so, I’ve beaten this horse to death, but not on Medium. Also, I’m bored in the house and I’m in the house bored. So I’m gonna go there. Again.
I don’t like Ginny Weasley.
I don’t think she “had a personality in the books, but Movie Ginny was done dirty.” I think Book Ginny AND Movie Ginny were both done dirty. They could have both been developed in a much more organic, believable, all-around better way. Ginny’s character was developed poorly, almost lazily. Everything about her character is told to us, not shown. We never see her do whatever Bat Bogey Hex thing she’s apparently so great at — we just hear about how great it was, after the fact. We don’t see how she develops into a skilled Quidditch player, practicing in secret. We’re just randomly told this at some point in the books when Harry + friends are playing Quidditch together. Like, give us a scene where she hexes someone and everyone sees and it’s amazing. Give us moments that hint at Ginny’s character having that inner fierceness, underneath her shy exterior. Give us hints of Ginny trying to make something of herself, whether through Quidditch or whatever, rather than just inventing what sounds like the most badass, least-emotionally-high-maintenance character and then shoving that down our throats. This is what makes Ginny’s character development feel so lacking. It almost feels like, midway through writing the series, JKR’s editor was like, “But Harry should have a love interest,” so JKR quickly took inventory of all her female characters, picked Ginny because hey, red hair like Harry’s mom (gross), and then just totally rewrote her to be the Perfect Teenage Boy’s Dream Girl, without taking any time to organically develop her character. It’s fine for Ginny to ultimately be developed into this fierce, independent character, but we have to see how she gets there. We have to relate to her own growth as a person, and see some semblance of ourselves in the character. I mean, we feel this way about the Golden Trio, but we also feel this way about more minor characters like Neville and Luna. We see a bit of ourselves in those characters — in Neville’s journey of getting over people’s (mostly low) opinion of him and finding his own self-confidence; in Luna being unapologetically herself, quirks and all, even while knowing that people laugh at her. These are all struggles that humans relate to. Ginny’s character should have been given this same treatment. We can’t just have this totally new-and-improved, independent, badass character shoved into our faces, without that character earning that development.
Speaking of independence and badassness—I think Ginny gets a bit more credit here than perhaps she deserves. No doubt, she has some degree of fierceness, but in the many instances people love to cite as evidence of said fierceness, Ginny kind of just sounds straight-up mean. She hexes Zacharias Smith because he annoys her, instead of just, I don’t know, ignoring him or walking away. (And it wasn’t because he was harassing her, or bullying her. He just asked her what really happened in the Department of Mysteries — which, even if Zacharias is kind of annoying — can you blame him? Everyone was talking about that event, and after it happened, the Ministry just backtracks on every mean thing they’d ever said about Harry, and suddenly Voldemort is back. It’s natural to be curious about that. It’s kind of a big deal.)
Ginny also has a temper. In Book 6, after Harry s̶t̶u̶p̶i̶d̶l̶y̶ mistakenly uses the Sectumsempra spell, Hermione (rightfully) gets upset with him. The following exchange ensues:
“Give it a rest, Hermione!” said Ginny, and Harry was so amazed, so grateful, he looked up. “By the sound of it Malfoy was trying to use an unforgivable curse, you should be glad Harry had something good up his sleeve!”
“Well, of course I’m glad Harry wasn’t cursed!” said Hermione, clearly stung. “But you can’t call that sectumsempra spell good, Ginny, look where it’s landed him! And I’d have thought, seeing what this has done to your chances in the match –”
“Oh, don’t start acting as though you understand Quidditch,” snapped Ginny. “You’ll only embarrass yourself.”
Like, really? What is that? First off, nobody goes off on Queen Hermione like that — and it is so obvious who was in the right during this argument that it’s not even worth explaining. And second, that’s just mean, to use someone’s weakness as ammo to attack them. I don’t recall Hermione ever insulting any other character’s intelligence or grades simply because they weren’t as good as hers, or rubbing her own academic accomplishments in people’s faces — because Hermione’s not a dick.
And, Ginny treats Fleur awfully when Fleur stays with the Weasleys after getting engaged to Bill — I mean, even if you don’t like her, you don’t get to call her Phlegm, and imitate her, and not treat her with respect. Ginny didn’t trust Bill’s judgment; she didn’t trust that he had his reasons for choosing her. Let’s not mince words here; Ginny was being jealous and catty, because Fleur was beautiful, and because both she and Molly assumed that Bill was choosing Fleur for her looks, rather than for actual reasons. (Which is offensive both to Bill and to Fleur. It completely disregards any trust in Bill’s decision-making, as though Bill isn’t an adult capable of choosing a great person to be his partner. And I mean, aside from Fleur making the occasional insensitive comment, I think her character is great. Fleur is smart, she values her family, she recognizes when people do something selfless for her, and she remembers it — aka, being grateful to Ron for helping Harry save her sister, Gabrielle, even though Ron literally did nothing. If being slightly out-of-touch because of your upbringing is your literal worst quality, there are way worse things to be.) So, I don’t think Ginny making fun of other people, or yelling at other people, or hexing other people because she feels like it, translates to “super cool and badass character.” We shouldn’t praise Ginny for being a straight-up dick in the name of “fierceness.” Women can be fierce and still be kind — like Hermione. Or they can be fierce and no-bullshit — like McGonagall. Or they can be their own definition of fierce and independent — like Luna. Ginny is literally a boy’s definition of what a “strong woman” should be — which means she’s attractive (above all else), requires little emotional intelligence from her partner, and also likes sports. Yawn. Thank you, next.
As far as Ginny being a love interest for Harry, I also don’t see it. I actually shipped Harry/Hermione, or Harry/Luna, or Harry with fucking nobody because seriously, how many people actually end up marrying their teenage girlfriend/boyfriend, and who remembers how terrible our teenage-selves’ judgment was? What were Harry’s reasons for liking Ginny? That she was attractive, and she spoke Quidditch? That she didn’t cry much; that she required very little emotional understanding on Harry’s part? For fuck’s sake, Harry. If I didn’t think you were fratty enough already.
Additionally, I don’t think the reasons Ginny liked Harry were all that great, either, and I don’t think the reasons why Ginny liked Harry are things that Harry is particularly proud of. Ginny’s kind of a fan-girl, but it’s made pretty clear in the books that being called “The Boy Who Lived” or “The Chosen One,” and generally being singled out for his fame, makes Harry uncomfortable. Harry ultimately just wants to be normal. But Ginny doesn’t really look at him like he’s normal. (Conversely, both Hermione and Luna don’t take to Harry because of his fame. They treat him like a normal person; they call him out when necessary, which is a lot; and they like him for his friendship, even if sometimes he’s not that great of a friend. I swear that I do like Harry, but I also love to pick on him.) Additionally, there’s a moment in Book 6 where Harry breaks up with Ginny because he needs to hunt down Voldemort’s horcruxes, as they’re the only way to beat him. Ginny says something to the effect of, “I knew you weren’t going to be truly happy unless you were hunting Voldemort. Maybe that’s why I like you so much.” Which like, I don’t expect Teenage Ginny and Teenage Harry to be the most insightful of people. But, Ginny, no honey. Just no. Harry doesn’t WANT to hunt horcruxes. He doesn’t like that he’s just had this burden thrust on him. He doesn’t go hunt Voldemort because he wants to, because he’s some hero and he wants the glory. He does it because he knows he has to; because he’s the only one who really can. He’s the one with the unique connection to Voldemort. He’s the one who Voldemort basically selected as his foe; he’s the one who’s consistently fought and escaped Voldemort. It can’t really be anyone else; it has to be Harry. And Harry knows that. But for Ginny to say that he “hunts Voldemort because it makes him happy,” almost shows how little she really knows Harry, or Harry’s wants and needs. It shows that perhaps she still kind of glorifies Harry; that she’s still a bit of a fangirl. And, fan/hero relationships aren’t a great combination. Relationships should be between two equals, between two people who regard and treat each other as human beings; not between people who idolize nor who demonize the other person.
Also, this isn’t a romance story. This is a story about good overcoming evil. It’s a story about how bigotry tears us apart but love and acceptance can heal us. STORIES DON’T ALWAYS NEED A ROMANTIC SUBPLOT. You can have a good story, with characters that you come to care about, without there being a romance. And, the story can still have a romantic subplot, just not with the main character. I mean we got Bill and Fleur; we got Tonks and Lupin. Can’t we leave it at that? Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny are just awful matches, IMO. But my gripes with JKR’s taste in character relationships is another post for another time.
The argument I’ve heard quite often during debates over Ginny’s character is that we don’t like Ginny because she’s the popular girl who’s everything we’re not/we’re jealous of how awesome/athletic/beautiful/intelligent she is, etc etc etc. Ok, Jan. First off, it’s not fair to reduce this to jealousy or insecurity, instead of actual reasons — that’s a little insulting to our intelligence. To address that counterargument, I don’t think she’s awesome. Katie Bell and Angelina Johnson are equally, if not more, athletic — but I take no issue with their characters. Fleur is arguably more beautiful — and I don’t dislike her character. She and Bill are my favorite HP couple. I think Fleur’s character had a great arc — she’s not just beautiful; she also doesn’t take shit from anybody, she knows what she wants, she’s smart, she’s kind. She’s not superficial, like everyone thinks she is. And, she’s forgiving — she forgives Molly and others who initially treat her differently because of their own assumptions about her personality. As far as intelligence — Hermione is more intelligent, but I love her character. She’s not just intelligent out of the blue, it’s not just “raw talent”— while she is naturally bright and inquisitive, we also see how much work and discipline and diligence she puts into her studies. Her identifier — as being the intelligent one — is earned. My issues with Ginny’s character have nothing to do with Ginny being some kind of It-Girl that we all wish we were — I’m nearing my thirties, so I really could not give less of a shit about being an It-Girl, as I’ve already accepted the fact that I am a pajama-wearing, geeky weirdo who much prefers staying in and takeout and who spends way too much time analyzing characters in books and movies.
Anyway, after all the talk I’ve done on Ginny’s character with other people, in previous blog posts, on the Twittersphere, I still had all this word vomit to say on her character here. I still love the books —and if it wasn’t already painfully obvious, I really fucking love talking about the characters, and especially talking about how Ginny should have been developed better and how Draco should have had a better arc. Justice for both of these characters, TBH. I mean, can you imagine how much better the Potter books would have been if we’d had a really thoughtfully-developed, fleshed out Ginny? Someone that we could really root for, someone we actually cared about? So many other supporting characters had far better development than Ginny — and the fact that Ginny’s character development left much to be desired was a wasted opportunity for another well-written character. It was a wasted opportunity to add even more dimension and depth to this world, and to Harry’s friendships. Maybe James Sirius and Albus Severus (what? these names, seriously) will make better relationship choices.