What’s Wrong With This Cover? Harry Potter on EW
March 31, 2007

Got my Entertainment Weekly in the mail yesterday. It featured one of three alternate covers promoting the stars of the upcoming Harry Potter movie. (Also a Time Warner production, don’tcha know.) Let’s look at these pictures. Here’s the title character:

Harry Potter EW Cover 1

Ok, picture’s a bit boring, he’s a wizard, he’s got a wand, he’s doing something magical. Here’s the other boy:

Harry Potter EW Cover 2

Well, I can see that they didn’t bother thinking up anything different for him to do. Now here’s the girl:

Harry Potter EW Cover 3

Ah. She’s just standing there to be looked at, not doing anything but glowering at us. Is there some reason she doesn’t get to gesture? That she’s shown as passive instead of active? Beyond her sex, I mean?

On the bright side, it’s kind of cool that these are infinity covers — each has in the bottom left corner pictures of the other two, which have in their corners more of the same.

22 Responses  
Heidi M. writes:  

Heh subtle but accurate. Nice catch, Johanna!

Jonathan Miller writes:  

“Put down those wands and stop posing, you idiots. We have studying to do.” ;-)

Nat Gertler writes:  

I get a totally different vibe — the two boys are cowering behind their weapons, Hermione is just facing you with the sheer strength of will.

Barney writes:  

Actually on the three I’d say that the one of Harry and the one of Hermione are in keeping with their characters: Harry is always more inclined to take action while Hermione comes at problems from a more intellectual pov (In this picture I read her expresion more as “I’m smarter than you” than come hither.) Ron however is usually… well goofy. He’s way too serious here.

Johanna writes:  

And I’m perfectly willing to entertain an argument based on their characters. I’m not very familiar with them myself, since I’ve only seen one or two of the movies … the “two boys alike” just struck me odd, since that didn’t match what little I knew of them. (I like your description of her expression.)

Evan Waters writes:  

Hermione’s stare is commanding enough, really.

David Oakes writes:  

I agree Hermione’s stare is commanding, not sultry, and perfectly in keeping with her character. On the other hand, she’s the one more lilkely to know the right spell or have some magical do-hickey or gee-gaw. So it’s a wash

On the other other hand, if they had a cover with an under-age girl grasping a rod and thrusting it at the reader, doesn’t that just open them up to charges of “denying female power in favor of patriarchal psycho-symbology”? (Or just exploitation, period, given the number of “How long until she is 18″ clocks out there on the Internet…) Even if she was treated the same, there is just no winning here.

Johanna writes:  

“People would complain anyway” is a copout, David. We don’t know what would have happened if all three covers had the same pose because that’s not what we were given.

David Oakes writes:  

“People would complain no matter what we did, so we went ahead and let Michael Turner draw Power Girl” is a cop out.

“Giving Hermione a wand would have disgruntled a knee-jerk segment of the population, but boy, are we afraid of sexual overtones on a cover” is a cynical statement of how powerful the Wal-Mart lobby is these days.

I honestly don’t think they even imagined for a second the consequences of giving Ms. Watson a wand. I don’t think they ever thought about it at all. Not even to the point “What is she supposed to be doing?” Just like I don’t think they ever considered any other pose for Ron, even though “Competant Mage” is even further from his character than “I don’t need a wand, you silly boy!” is from Hermione’s. One size fits all, boys get column A, girls get column B.

(This is not meant to be snark, or even some sort of “Gotchya!” that deftly proves my point. But if the three covers had been Harry and his two gal pals, and only he had a wand, would you have even noticed? Or is it only the “Female as Oddity” that allows for “Female as Powerless”?)

(And I have just laid claim to my own private corner of Hell by validating all of the Harry/Ron Slash-fic out there…)

David Oakes writes:  

Actually, no, I do want to make it a “Gotchya!”. I’m weak…

1) If Hermione had a wand, and Ron didn’t, would you have noticed?

2) If Hermione had a wand and Harry didn’t, would you have noticed?

(Dear lord, I would hope Tibetan Yak Hearders would have noticed that. They are advertising “Harry Potter and…”, a movie about the young wizard, Harry Potter, and everyone *but* Harry has a wand? How dumb a photographer do you have to be to think you can get away with that one?)

3) If Hermione had a wand, and both Ron and Harry were distaff, would you have noticed?

(Except perhaps to rant about the stupid photographer who doesn’t know Harry Potter…)

James Schee writes:  

I think they should have had the covers done like this:

Harry with a broomstick, since that’s one of his biggest strengths.

Hermione with a book, as she’s always doing research.

Ron… with either a rat or little owl I guess.

Johanna writes:  

Oooh, little animals are always good. And more atmospheric than what we got, which look like costume tests.

Jim Kosmicki writes:  

I’ve heard that the actress playing Hermione is balking at being known only for the HP movies and is trying to get out of the last few movies (I can’t believe that they didn’t lock them into iron-clad contracts, but it’s what I’ve heard). So it could be that she or her agent or her publicist wanted something less “wizardy” as well. We will obviously never know for sure, and we can only go on the message that they send as they are, but there could be more reasons than just patriarchy.

and I think I agree with the general mood of the earlier posts, it’s really Ron in his copycat pose that comes off the worst (of course, he’s also the worst actor of the main cast too, so maybe it’s the best they could get from him). At the very least they could have referenced the earlier posts and had his wand sparking or blowing up or spouting frogs or something.

Nat Gertler writes:  

The kids were (and I haven’t checked, but in some cases presumably still are) minors.
At least in the US, there would be great problems with a contract that locked a minor into a 10 year deal that would take them well past the age of majority.

Rob Staeger writes:  

Maybe I just don’t share the Potter love that a lot of folks, feel, but I think all three of them are lackluster covers.

david brothers writes:  

I’m with Rob. Speaking as someone who hasn’t actually read a Potter novel, all three covers do absolutely nothing for me. They’re kind of generic. “Hey kids, wizards!”

Lyle Masaki writes:  

Jim, I don’t recall how it went down exactly (so far I’ve disliked the Harry Potter movies, finding that they prefer the scenes that allow for fx over scenes that reveal the characters when paring down the books so I didn’t pay close attention) but the gossip sites that reported Watson wanting to quit the character reported that she signed to continue to do all seven films a few days later.

Anyway, I can see all three covers fitting the characters. Ron looks like he’s trying to cover up a severe lack of confidence and Hermione has that “Oh really?” look that fits the character. (I’ve always thought of Hermione who doesn’t threaten to use a spell, she calmly tells you to stop and if you don’t… zap.) Too bad that the Ron & Harry covers look so similar to draw that question.

Thomas Gerhardt writes:  

We all know Hermoine can wipe the floor with both Harry and Ron, if she chooses to do so :)

Barry writes:  

She doesn’t look passive to me at all. She looks like I’d better not mess with her or she’ll kick my ass with our without a wand.

Shawn Levasseur writes:  

To have the boys in the exact same pose was a mistake. The point of multiple covers is for each cover to be distinct.

Shawn Hill writes:  

I do think in this case that Emma Watson is very much in character, and is portraying Hermione as the reasoning, rational and most intelligent member of the threesome. It’s interesting that in their triumverate Ron is Heart, she’s Brain, and Harry’s what — soul? Spirit?

Now I’m trying to think of instances of women using their wands in the series; the wands in all cases seem like such flimsy little phalli, when it’s really force of will that counts. Ron’s Mom uses hers to cook, IIRC.

13th Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction & Fantasy Fans « Words From The Center, Words From The Edge writes:  

[…] wonders at the posing of the three Harry Potter stars on the cover of Entertainment Weekly in What’s Wrong With This Cover?. It’s interesting to point out that aside from the first commentor (who is female and agrees […]


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