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“I Killed Sirius Black” Resonates With Me!

July 22, 2009

Once again, I find myself defending Bellatrix Lestrange. Or if not defending her, perhaps one could say, endearing her.

Here is a video of lovely Bellatrix’s gate crashing.

How can a woman not love another woman who shows up uninvited and unannounced, spreads fire all around the joint, hollers out how she is the one responsible for upsetting the boy-hero by taunting him with a sing-songy, “I killed Sirius Black” (an older male hero, who has been proven through flashbacks to be little less than an out right snobby-bully member of the in-crowd) and daring the boy-hero to come and get her. And as a mother, I do appreciate her timing. She arrives right when Harry is having naughty thoughts about Ginny. HA!

And please don’t get all pomo-loopy on me, and claim I’m suffering from a form of racism/internalized racism because I do not object to the use of Black as a villain name. Black, in this case, is merely the name of the man that Bellatrix has killed, and incidentally is her name before she marries the Death Eater Lestrange (Ugh,for her taking his name). Although I could wade into the waters of POMOism and question why Rowling chose the name Black to represent the bad family in regards to anti-racism rhetoric while making that family the main ones obsessed with pure-blood elitism, –thus making them the Hitler-ish oppressors. When in all honesty, black in a context with stars just reminds me of space, as in outer space, as in the background in which the stars hang. Don’t you love how much digression is written in order to ward off potential POMO attacks? Dementors! They are just jealous that people like me don’t get all snared up in pomo masturbation. (Hint: That is a joke on me for allowing myself to get tangled up in mindless pomo-ish blather).

What I don’t appreciate in the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (the flim) is how Bellatrix has been overly sexualized. For instance, when she is goading Snape, she stands behind him breathing seductively down his neck. In reality (or should I say in the book, LOL) when Bellatrix challenges Snape’s loyalty to Voldemort at Spinner’s End, she does so at a cautious distance, bracing herself for a possible duel because questioning loyalty is fighting words. Also, up on the Astronomy tower Bellatrix stands behind Malfoy, her nephew, goading him with the same breathless seduction (the whole scene is made up just to show more Bellatrix I supposed, because in the book, Bellatrix does not go to Hogwarts with the Death Eaters). Everyone knows she has eyes for one wizard, and one wizard only, and if she was a he it would not even be questioned that her acts of loyalty were anything but pure right-hand man type loyalty.

Hollywood has been so successful in vilifying Bellatrix that many moviegoers have expressed an anticipated desire to see her killed instead of the true villain who is reaping the most havoc, Lord Voldemort. Granted the desire for Bellatrix’s death does exist in the book (especially by Neville Longbottom) but never does it overshadow everyone’s wish to see the backside of the Dark Lord. I guess that’s what happens when menz make movies. A woman’s villainy is always a hundred fold compared to a man’s villainy.

25 Comments
  1. The Fabulous Kitty Glendower permalink*
    July 22, 2009 7:59 pm

    When Margie reads this post, she will look up to the Heavens and scream WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??????

    Margie, don’t suppress my Harry Potter love. 🙂

  2. July 22, 2009 8:45 pm

    Ha, Kitty. You know me so well 🙂

    It did take me until the end of the 2nd para to realize this was even about Harry Potter. So, the scream was delayed by that much 😛

  3. July 22, 2009 9:55 pm

    I didn’t like Bellatrix in the book, she was a sniveling sycophant. But Helena Bonham Carter AS Bellatrix — well, it’s hard to stay immune to that.

    And yes, aren’t she and Sirius cousins?

    Just FTR, I guess I am just pomo enough to think there IS something to the use of “Black” for that family name. Because Sirius’ mother was on Voldemort’s side too, as I recall. (Same thing with the Malfoys — “mal”, first names “Draco” and “Lucius” which could be interpreted as a reference to “Lucifer” and isn’t the mother’s name “Narcissa”?)

    • The Fabulous Kitty Glendower permalink*
      July 22, 2009 10:36 pm

      Well I’m pomo enough too, that is why I mocked myself. I just didn’t want to get tangled up in it because Rowling does write with a color contradiction.

      For example, if we are to associate color with meaning, what about the purity part? Why not make their surname, White? Rowling mixes up the tropes, yes, she uses Black for the side of the bad guys, but, what they desire is what Aryans (whites) desire.

      Yes Sirius and Bellatrix are cousins, first cousins I believe.

      Technically, Black’s parents were not working on the side of Voldemort, they just sympathized with his quest.

      “Come on, Harry, haven’t you seen enough of this house to tell what kind of wizards my family were?” said Sirius testily.
      “Were—were your parents Death Eaters as well?”
      “No, no, but believe me, they thought Voldemort had the right idea, they were all for the purification of the Wizarding race, getting rid of Muggle-borns and having purebloods in charge. They weren’t alone either, there were quite a few people, before Voldemort showed his true colors, who thought he had the right idea about things….They got cold feet when they saw what he was prepared to do to get power, though. But I bet my parents thought Regulus was a right little hero for joining up at first.”

      Meaning, the Blacks were all in to pure-blood elitism in the aristocratic sort of way (or perhaps we can say passively, but still supportive). Whereas, Voldemort (a half-blood) supposedly wanted to rid the world of all half-bloods (Harry Potter), mud-bloods (Hermione Granger) and blood traitors (Ron Weasly).

      I guess I just think it is ironic, that it is the Blacks (a surname) who wants “pure” blood but it was/is whites (a race, an ideology, Hitlerish) who/that wish for a pure race.

      I understand that the “mal” and Draco and Lucius all mean “bad,” but are you connecting it with the color black, or are you staying in the vein of it meaning not the good guys?

    • The Fabulous Kitty Glendower permalink*
      July 22, 2009 10:42 pm

      I didn’t like Bellatrix in the book, she was a sniveling sycophant.

      Remember the ol’ Book of Genesis allusion (well, at least that is what I thought about it), Aaron and Moses are similar to Bellatrix and Narcissa,

      “My only son…my only son….” [said Narcissa]
      “You should be proud!” said Bellatrix ruthlessly. “If I had sons, I would be glad to give them up to the service of the Dark Lord!”

      Wow, how that last line of Bellatrix’s could be deconstructed.

  4. July 23, 2009 12:30 am

    I guess I was thinking how white people/white supremacy uses the metaphorical concept of “blackness” to equate with evil, villainy, satanism, etc. So she used the name “Black” as a way of saying, “These are the bad guys.” And yes, she’s confused, because she also has them espousing the ideology of white supremacism, at the same time. But hey, us white-brained people’s analysis can only go so far. It’d be a bit much for her to NAME them White like the policies they espouse — I mean, wouldn’t that be like saying that ALL white people are evil or something!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!??!?!?!? We couldn’t have that!?!?!?!1111!?!?!/11/1/1?!?!? Not all white people hate black people!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

  5. atheistwoman permalink
    July 23, 2009 12:52 am

    “A woman’s villainy is always a hundred fold compared to a man’s villainy. ”

    Yes, and it happens over and over and over again. And there is something telling that this time it is really a witch they all want to burn in the village square? And as you said, a witch who dares not to suck up to their boy-hero. Oh NO.

  6. JenniferRuth permalink
    July 23, 2009 9:45 am

    I thought that Bellatrix was meant to be practically in love with Lord Voldemort? I was always disappointed with that – that she couldn’t just be crazy loyal.

    Voldy wasn’t really in the sixth book – apart from flashback scenes.

    • July 23, 2009 5:02 pm

      I always inferred crazy loyalty. I guess it is what the reader takes a way from the book. However, I am afraid that heteronormativity has been projected onto Bellatrix and Voldemort’s “relationship.” I haven’t found much actual text to support a love (in the traditional sense of the word) for Voldemort that many do assume and perpetuate. One would think liberal feminists would rejoice in the occupational approval that Voldemort gives to Bellatrix. Unfortunately, Hollywood and the trope of a woman always loving a man and not being able to do anything for any other reason than her love for him has monopolized that liberal feminist trope.

      Nevertheless, as I said in my post, if she was a he their relationship would not have been called anything but having an extremely loyal servant/master dynamic. Well, some theorists may go as far as to stretch a homoerotic dynamic, which would be feasible if both parties were participating, but, that is an impossibility since Rowling has made it absolutely clear that Voldemort is incapable of love. Of course, Rowling can come back and assert ideals not supported by the text, such as she did when declaring Dumbledore gay, something, I feel have been influenced by fanfic and others desiring to get involved in how the story should unfold or could have unfolded.

    • atheistwoman permalink
      July 23, 2009 5:13 pm

      Am I the only one who thinks that fanfic is more than a little bit gross?

    • July 23, 2009 5:50 pm

      Am I the only one who thinks that fanfic is more than a little bit gross?

      And somewhat stupid, or if not stupid, insipid. There is a cheating-ness that I cannot get pass. Many devoted readers of Jane Austen recommend and love books that people have written that take the original characters further or deeper, but, I cannot bother with them.

      However, I have read Jean Rhys,’ Wide Sargasso Sea (a prequel to Jane Eyre) and appreciate that it was written, because there seems to have been a purpose in writing it. The movie however is way too steamy. Again, menz making movies.

      And I gave Margaret Atwood’s, The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus a chance, but I hated it. I thought a great opportunity was squandered.

    • atheistwoman permalink
      July 24, 2009 12:51 am

      Bwahaha! At the thought of someone calling a retelling of Homer fanfic! I suppose I am writing Genesis fanfic then am I? Oh Kitty, you don’t realise what you’ve done! ;-).

    • July 24, 2009 1:44 am

      After your comment, I assumed that I made an academic blunder, but this is what wiki (not saying wiki is academically reliable, but shrug) says of fan fiction:

      Fan fiction as it is now understood began at least as early as the 17th century, with unauthorized published sequels to such works as Don Quixote.[4][5] Older precursors include the Epic Cycle supplementing the works of Homer and the various re-tellings of King Arthur’s tale which spread around Europe from the 8th century AD onward.[citation needed] (For example, there were no fewer than four continuations by other hands of Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval.) Another precursor is in medieval Arabic fiction, where story cycles were formed as different storytellers added sequels to an original story, such as story cycles revolving around Harun al-Rashid or Sinbad the Sailor. Some tales were also parodied by other storytellers. Many of these story cycles and parodies were incorporated into the Arabian Nights. For example, “Wardan the Butcher’s Adventure With the Lady and the Bear” is parodied by “The King’s Daughter and the Ape”, “Harun al-Rashid and the Two Slave-Girls” is parodied by “Harun al-Rashid and the Three Slave-Girls”, and “The Angel of Death With the Proud King and the Devout Man” is parodied by “The Angel of Death and the Rich King”. Sometimes even parodies were parodied, such as “The Angel of Death and the King of the Children of Israel” being a parody of “The Angel of Death and the Rich King”.[6] When the Arabian Nights was translated into French at the beginning of the 18th century, many imitations of it were written in France.[7]

      The turn of the 19th century saw parodies and revisions of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland by authors including Frances Hodgson Burnett and E. Nesbit. In addition, there were several fan-authored versions of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories. In the 1920s and 1930s, fans of Jane Austen wrote stories based on her characters and published them in fanzines. In 1945, C. S. Lewis adopted certain elements from J. R. R. Tolkien’s then largely unpublished legendarium (mostly Númenor, there spelt Numinor) and incorporated these into the last novel, That Hideous Strength, of his Space Trilogy. (Given that Lewis and Tolkien were personal friends, this could be seen more as an “homage”).

      I guess one could quibble about how fanfic is not usually published, therefore once something is published the genre changes from fanfic to something else, like “serious canon,” but who decides?

    • atheistwoman permalink
      July 24, 2009 12:40 pm

      I did not mean it that way. I just meant usually with religious/Greek/Roman things, those end up being the “themes” of something, from what I have heard. The only time I had ever heard of fanfiction was within the past two years, on the internet, unpublished and absolutely absolutely horrible bordering on pointlessness and pornography. Which is why I said it was more than a little bit gross. But then I only read it once or twice and never again, so perhaps my perceptions are skewed. From what I can tell, the retch-inducing term fangirl as used by grown women is also tied up with that.

    • atheistwoman permalink
      July 24, 2009 1:04 pm

      Oh and I just realised it sounded as though I was laughing at you, but trust me I was not. I was laughing at the the thought of fanfiction being applied to “Serious Writers TM,” ad then I was laughing at myself…

    • July 24, 2009 4:44 pm

      No big deal, I just wanted to be clear. And as far as religious literature, I’ve never given it its demanded reverence. It seems to be all fiction to me. It is one of those silver linings I have discovered. Before, when I knew very little about religious mythology I felt my parents failed me, now I see their neglect was a service. Because now, I don’t have to sort through the conflicted guilt of possibly being disrespectful. It is quite liberating.

  7. July 24, 2009 12:46 am

    The whole “Dumbledore is gay” thing totally pissed me off. It’s classic — he’s “safe” gay because his relationship was in the past and is not discussed except in very idealized terms. But now Rowling can say she has a “gay” character and have all her main characters pair off at the end of the series and spawn like good little hetbots. (Sorry for the spoiler, but geez.) That ending pretty much ruined the entire series for me.

    • July 24, 2009 2:01 am

      I had a problem with that gay bit too Amy, as I mentioned in this post. However, at the time I could not put my finger on what irritated me. It just felt like too much carte blanche after the fact, you know.

      I totally agree with the safe gay aspect.

  8. July 24, 2009 9:17 pm

    now I see their neglect was a service. Because now, I don’t have to sort through the conflicted guilt of possibly being disrespectful. It is quite liberating.

    Golly yes Kitty! I remember, one of my few trips to Sunday school, hearing the story of The Coat of Many Colors (I even remember the visual aid) and thinking of it like a bedtime story or something. That’s all the bible stories were to me, stories. I wasn’t indoctrinated enough to realize that some people took them as TRUTH. So now, even though I’m plagued by sometimes making biblical references when I don’t even realize it, just because I’ve heard so many other people say “through a glass, darkly” or whatever, I don’t struggle with having BELIEVED the stories or built my life around those teachings.

  9. atheistwoman permalink
    July 24, 2009 10:15 pm

    Oh me too. I never was taught the bible as literal truth. I was shocked when I realised midlife that some people did! And I still have not had any first testament. I guess the safest way to atheism is through the old testament…

  10. Lithp permalink
    April 24, 2010 5:46 pm

    The point of putting nothing into the books to out Dumbledore from the closet is to avoid stereotyping. It completely defeats the message if Dumbledore has a gay lisp, wears pink, & constantly flicks his wrist.

    The point with Dumbledore is that he was a normal person, except for the facts that he was the most powerful Wizard in the world & basically the Big Good, the main opposition to the Big Bad, Voldemort.

    Ergo, when Rowling revealed that he was gay, the message you were supposed to get was one against stereotypes. This didn’t exactly work, though, because people’s minds are always in the gutter. I’ve heard more than my fair share of “Dumbledore has Harry in his office a lot, he must be gay &/or a pedophile.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t always a joke.

    As for seduction, I don’t believe that’s meant to be used in a sexual context. In commentaries of Star Wars, for instance, the verb used in conjunction with someone going over to the Dark Side is “seduced.” They were seduced by the Dark Side of the Force. They were seduced by power. Et cetera. “Seduced” literally means:

    “Etymology: Late Latin seducere, from Latin, to lead away, from se- apart + ducere to lead — more at tow
    Date: 15th century
    1 : to persuade to disobedience or disloyalty
    2 : to lead astray usually by persuasion or false promises
    3 : to carry out the physical seduction of : entice to sexual intercourse
    4 : attract”

    Only one of these definitions has anything to do with sex, & as we can see from the etymology, it’s a modern interpretation of the word.

    • April 24, 2010 9:25 pm

      I am not sure what you are going on about. I believe you have mixed several different posts into one. Nothing in this post talks about Dumbledore being gay. And if you are referring to the other post, I stand by what I said; I don’t care if Dumbledore is gay. Not only do I not care about Dumbledore being gay or not, I don’t need him to have a “gay lisp, wear pink, & constantly flick his wrist” to imagine or believe he is gay or not. It is your projection if you assume, I or anyone else here defaulted him as heterosexual. Maybe you are referring to people in general, if so, you should be more precise, because this is an old post written by me, a radical feminist who always ( because of a history of mistreatment by commenters) have to approach all comments with suspicion. People who already accept that someone can be gay or not without heteronormative signifiers (stereotypes) understand the possibility of a different sexuality than what is portrayed and/or assumed by the dominant narrative of our society. So again, I don’t care if Dumbledore is gay. As someone said upcomment (in the Dumbledore is gay thread), perhaps it was Rowling thumbing her nose at fundies. If that is the case, so be it. But for my ilk, her “revelation” does nothing. We are already at an understanding that all people are not automatically heterosexual or desired to be tracked into heterosexuality.

      As far as the seduction thing in this post, I do find it so droll when people pull out the dictionary, the point in my post is, the film (which I went back and addedt in parentheses in case there was future confusion, but I did think the clip would be enough evidence that I was talking about the film and not the book) did in fact sexualized Bellatrix. Women are over-sexualized in films even when their character is not in the original source, i.e. the novel. That was my fundamental point. In the books Bellatrix was a loyal soldier, not some hottie McHottie using her feminine charms to seduce men into complying with her wishes.

  11. Lithp permalink
    April 25, 2010 2:22 am

    “I am not sure what you are going on about. I believe you have mixed several different posts into one.”

    Yes, I’m sure I did.

    “Something about gay people.”

    I was saying that Rowling was trying to make statements on stereotyping, in terms of race & otherwise. I don’t know exactly what was meant by “indicating in the text that he was gay,” but I’d say that Rowling made the right decision by not doing whatever it was.

    For example, you seem to be indicating that you don’t like how female characters are typically thrust into a sexual role. Well, what I’m saying is along the lines of, “Dumbledore didn’t need to do anything to show that he was gay, because otherwise, he acts normally.”

    You see, some people have a way with words. Others, such as myself, have not way.

    Then again, maybe there wasn’t any big point. As I recall, she mentions it kind of off-handedly when a question about Dumbledore’s love life is asked in an interview. And she did make note of it on a script for Half-Blood Prince. Maybe she just decided that Dumbledore was gay, but never really intended on doing anything with it?

    “As far as the seduction thing in this post, I do find it so droll when people pull out the dictionary, the point in my post is, the film (which I went back and added in parentheses in case there was future confusion, but I did think the clip would be enough evidence that I was talking about the film and not the book) did in fact sexualize Bellatrix.”

    I thought Bellatrix was gross, honestly. An awesome villain, but she kind of looks like an 1800’s prostitute.

    However, it’s true that I misread what you were saying. I thought you said it was described as seduction in the books.

    “Women are over-sexualized in films even when their character is not in the original source, i.e. the novel. That was my fundamental point.”

    Maybe, but for Bellatrix, I got a LOT of sexual vibes about her & Voldemort. Not even really “sexual,” more “romantic,” but not in a good way. Now that I’m probably making less sense than I was originally, I should note that I haven’t seen anything past Order of the Phoenix, & so am probably not in a position to comment about this.

    • April 25, 2010 5:14 am

      Maybe, but for Bellatrix, I got a LOT of sexual vibes about her & Voldemort. Not even really “sexual,” more “romantic,” but not in a good way. Now that I’m probably making less sense than I was originally, I should note that I haven’t seen anything past Order of the Phoenix, & so am probably not in a position to comment about this.

      I remember having this same conversation when the last book came out so I am confident in making this suggestion. If you were to go back and find every piece of dialogue between Voldemort and Bellatrix (we are talking about the books, not the films) and find all the narration when it pertains to the two of them and read each word very closely you will see that assuming a romantic/sexual relationship is truly heterosexual projection. I did this exercise. Instead of sexual/romantic it is more like a very dedicated soldier, one who will die for his (Bellatrix) commander (Voldemort). Instead of portraying Bellatrix as a loyal and competent soldier (with no ambition of becoming the leader, but very much the right hand “man”) she was sexualized and made into a strumpet. That is why you thought 1800-century prostitute. It was not an accident. In the novels, no one would have mistaken her for an 1800-century prostitute.

  12. Lithp permalink
    April 25, 2010 5:42 am

    Mention is made about her being a beauty that was destroyed in Azkaban, but like I said, I haven’t seen the latest movie, so I don’t know how overhyped she is. I will agree with you that the movies certainly placed her into a Femme Fatale type role.

    As for the books, I don’t doubt you can interpret it both ways. It is a G rated series.

    “J. K. Rowling stated in an interview that she had always intended that Molly Weasley would be the one to kill Bellatrix, for two main reasons: Firstly, so that Molly could “have her moment” and show that simply because she had dedicated herself to her family didn’t mean that she wasn’t a powerful witch, and second, to show the clash of Molly’s “maternal love” against Bellatrix’s “obsessive love” She considered Neville might be the one to kill Bellatrix as revenge for torturing his parents.[11] ”

    This is the closest thing I can find to an official commentary on the matter. Again, I think that “obsessive love” doesn’t necessarily mean of the romantic kind, but it could.

    Personally, I view Bellatrix as harboring unhealthy romantic feelings towards Voldemort. Is this a heterosexual projection? Perhaps, but I’ve just always viewed Voldemort as a psychopath, & psychopaths frequently have unrequited lovers.

    Voldemort himself, however, I think is asexual.

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