Dec 10 2013
by Adam Esquenazi Douglas
We all just want to belong.
Most of our adolescence is spent trying to find that one collection of people whose oddities and idiosyncrasies match up with ours enough where we don’t have to think how in the grand cosmological scheme of things we’re more alone and isolated than we’ll ever realize. Even the Lone Wolf finds pleasure in knowing that they are part of a long line of stoics and solitaries dedicated to lonely lives.
Of course, we’re always drawn to fiction that makes these choices for us. The various Justice Leagues, the Houses of Westeros, even in a certain light sports franchises allow us to take a breather and let geography or who wears the coolest cape take over in finding a place for us. I’d argue that one franchise tickles this social itch better than any. The one series that made us all want to be the boys and girls who lived: Harry Potter.
As we first tiptoed across the ancient and mysterious corners and corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, we were as perplexed and anxious as young Harry himself in anticipation of the “Sorting Ceremony.” Rumors of wrestling trolls or other terrifying tasks were flying as freely as the Fat Friar. We had no idea what exactly what was going to happen, but lucky for us we had an eleven-year old boy to sacrifice.
We all know what happened after that: a hat sang, shouted names, and slave labor served dinner. The mystery of the Sorting Ceremony was demystified, and the world of pop culture had a brandy new set of cliques to cling onto. The sensation of the Harry Potter Hogwarts houses has inspired countless acts of fandom and fanaticism, with plenty of merchandise, fanart, and gallons of tattoo ink spilled. We all like to belong, and Ms. Rowling proved it beyond a Dementor of a doubt. And we ask ourselves, where do we belong? Brave Gryffindor, hard-working Hufflepuff, brainy Ravenclaw, or shrewd Slytherin?
But what if Hogwarts enrollment expanded? What if other members of popular culture were sent owls on their 11th birthdays? How would they fare? Where would they fall? Fasten your invisibility cloaks, ready your Elder Wands, and for Merlin’s sake DON’T EAT the “toffee”-colored Bertie Bott bean, wizards and witches, Hogwarts is starting a new semester. Now, sit still and keep your hat on.
I don’t suppose Hobbits need some description nowadays. We’ve all seen the Lord of the Rings films, and I’ll wager some of us have even read the books they’re based on (yes, there are books!) Recently Middle Earth has returned to the silver screen, this time pulling a Phantom Menace and prequelizing the adventures of the (quite cool) One Ring. This time taking the Eye of Sauron’s spotlight is Bilbo Baggins, “uncle” of LOTR protagonist Frodo Baggins.
In the films and books, Bilbo is (initially) displayed as a creature of comfort, loving long meals and even longer puffs of pipe-weed. He is incredibly reticent to join Gandalf and his company of dwarfs, much-preferring to give in to his more homebody “Baggins side.” But, loyal to a fault, Bilbo accompanies the Master of Magnetism anyway, and shenanigans ensue.
With his humble and faithful personality, Bilbo seems a shoe-in for Hufflepuff. Heck, the books even say that Hobbits enjoy wearing yellow, one of Hufflepuffs colors. Add the Hobbitean habit of multiple meals a day and the Hufflepuff common room being located right by the kitchen, and the answer seems more and more apparent.
But the Sorting Hat is only so effective because it knows to look beyond the superficial. Hermione Granger on first appearance and description sounds like the world’s greatest Ravenclaw what with her love of knowledge and study. But her crest features the lion’s roar of Gryffindor…and so does Bilbo’s.
Bilbo Baggins does love a cozy chair near a roaring fire, but at the end of the day when adventure calls, he answers. Even in old age, when he’s barely able to speak, walks with a cane, and is wrinkled past recognition, Bilbo still craves the esoteric allure of the unknown and daring. In fact, his parting words (in the LOTR films at least) are, “I think I’m… quite ready for another adventure!”
Gryffindors are pure nerve and pure dare. They are the bravest of the brave, and while Bilbo certainly has his moments of fret and fear, he rises above them still, and as Hal Jordan once taught us, bravery is not absence of fear. It is having fear, and acting in spite of it.
So say hi to the Fat Lady, Mr. Baggins. Don’t worry, the common room has plenty of squishy chairs waiting for you.
I promise, my next comparisons will be able to ride roller coasters.
The Imp of King’s Landing, Tyrion Lannister captured the heart of every viewer of HBO’s fantastic and fantastical Game of Thrones series, and really made us fall in love with his stunted legs and mismatched eyes in the pages of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Despite it all, Tyrion managed to rise above every man, woman, and Hodor in Westeros to become everyone’s favorite little Lannister.
Tyrion is rarely seen without a goblet of wine in one hand, and an old book in the other. With no real swordsman skills to speak of, Tyrion must sharpen his only remaining weapon: his mind. Day and night he reads, nearly as thirsty for wine as he is for knowledge. He loves to learn, almost as much as we love him.
And this sharpening is to a fine point. Time and again Tyrion’s wit and wisdom win him favor in the game of thrones, helping him to escape or ascend whatever particular problems falls before his deformed face. While many seek the Iron Throne, Tyrion always shies away from the position of power. Unfortunate, as I’d take a wise ruler over a balding religious nut, a sadistic blonde bastard, or a ginger with a big, mean dog.
But before you start draping the blue and bronze of House Ravenclaw, remember there are two types of smarts: book and street. And while Tyrion certainly has plenty of information ascertained from the printed page, more often than not he succeeds from his insight into the human spirit. He knows what turns us on, what boils our blood, what will be our undoing, and how often the three are so shockingly similar. How ironic that, despite his stature, Tyrion sees so far beyond anyone else.
Some call that scheming. Some claim Tyrion’s just a manipulative little demon monkey, playing sinister songs we helplessly dance to our death to. Some say he’s a brilliant fool always doomed to fall under the weight of the massive heart he wears in plain sight on his shortened sleeve.
He’s a study of chaos. The ID versus EGO heavyweight grand championship. Tyrion is a brain with fangs.
Where else could he be other than the dank dungeons of Slytherin?
Now, now, I love Tyrion ten-thousand times more than any of you and it would break my heart to itty bitty bits to think of him in the same house that once sheltered such undesirables as Tom Riddle Jr., Bellatrix Lestrange, and Pansy Parkinson. But as Tyrion himself proves, no one should ever judge a book by its cover, no matter how short its spine may be.
Slytherin isn’t a bad house, it’s just characterized by ideals that some may consider unsavory, and has had a fair share of rotten apples in its bushels past and previous. Slytherins are crafty and clever, able to manipulate circumstances to their needs and necessities. Sure, it’s somewhat shitty, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. In the game of thrones both in Westeros and our own world, you win or you die, and since no one wants to meet the old gods and new anytime soon, it only makes sense to make use of your god(s) given talents and perservere. Slytherins recognize that while idealism is nice, only the strong survive and nature doesn’t give a hoot how fairly you live your life. Call me a monster, but there’s a reason Ayn Rand is a celebrated author.
And besides, not every Slytherin is a Crabbe and Goyle. Severus Snape was the lamb in wolf’s clothing of the Harry Potter series, Horace Slughorn was a pretty rad dude, and even the Malfoys managed to find forgiveness. Slytherins are easily the most misunderstood of the Hogwarts houses, and are certainly the bastards of the bunch. And while he may be a true born Lannister, Tyrion knows that all dwarves are bastards in their fathers’ eyes, so either fight or start riding pigs.
Still not convinced? Tyrion hated being imprisoned in the Eyrie’s sky cell. Ravenclaw Tower would probably trigger some PTSD in the guy. And hey, Ravenclaw already has a token little person, so head downstairs, Mr. Lannister.
JAY AND SILENT BOB
European Unrealtors? Weep for us Yanks across the sea. Growing up with the Harry Potter series made it very difficult to accept that the fruited plains of these United States were bereft of any school of sorcery. America only had one brief mention at the Quidditch World Cup in Goblet of Fire, and while we understood that this was a British book series, it didn’t make the lack of the stars and bars any easier.
But if Hogwarts was to start a foreign exchange student program, there’s no duo I’d want to see have hijinks in Hogwarts’ hallowed halls more than heterolifemates Jay and Silent Bob.
The genius offspring of film auteur Kevin Smith, Jay and Silent Bob have been movie stars, ridden in the Mystery Machine, and even said naughty words in front of the Almighty Herself. They’ve seen magic and mayhem plenty in their lives, and Hogwarts seems as fine a place as any for the adventure of Quiet Robert and Co.
But first comes the sorting and while I’d hate to see Bluntman and Chronic part ways, I just can’t believe they’d sleep under four-poster beds in the same room. So let’s do this alphabetically and begin with Bob.
Silent Bob is one of the more mysterious figures in cinematic characters. Bits and pieces of his sordid history have been revealed, leaving a trail of ever-crumbling bread crumbs as to where exactly this tight-lipped drug dealer really comes from. We know he loved a woman named Amy, he always wanted to be a Las Vegas dancer, and, for real, he may or may not have the powers of the Force. Or maybe Silent Bob really is a wizard in disguise. After all, some believe he’s an instrument of God.
There is one consistency we do have for Bob, though, and that is he is never seen without his foul-mouthed little chucklehead chum, Jay. And anytime Jay’s life is in danger or his character is called into question, Bob is there to act the silent shield. He’s never said that he loves Jay, but actions always speak louder. While the first insight we get into Bob is right there on front street with his name, Bob’s silence comes second to his ceaseless, (sometimes) senseless loyalty to loyalty.
And hey, selling Schwag ain’t no easy thing, either, so add hard-working to Silent Bob’s resume as well. Hell, he even continued to dabble in the drug trade after making millions in copyright royalties, so, clearly, he’s dedicated to dope. I think underneath that overcoat, we may just find ourselves a ballcap-wearing badger.
As for Jay, well, make like Silent Bob and hear me out.
Jay is not clever, not brave, and probably can’t even spell loyalty.
But while Jay’s shortcomings certainly outmeasure his hair length, there is one quality he has in spades, even if his sense of it stinks worse than ten Golgothans: logic.
Throughout the View Askew films, Jay is infamous for his rambling monologues discussing and dissecting a number of troubles and topics from meeting Martians to a future run by primates. Jay analyzes situations to the umpteenth degree, highlighting outcomes, consequences, and possible solutions. And while his clarity may actually be quite clouded, and yes, the sign on the back of the car did clearly say “Critters of Hollywood”, his love for logic is unmatched. He’s the Karl Pilkington of the Askewniverse. He’s Remedial Aristotle’s top student. Even the Powers on High deemed him prophet.
There is only one house for Jay, and, despite its location, their commons room is about to get a whole lot higher.
Agree? Disagree? Bust out your Quick-Quotes Quill, wizards and witches, and let’s hear it. Got any ideas for future Assorted Hats? Don’t be a troll in the dungeon, I think I ought to know!
Adam Esquenazi Douglas is a playwright who was born in Texas, grew up in Arkansas, was raised by a Jewish man and a Cuban woman, and, somehow, he doesn’t have an accent.
He is co-host of two podcasts, The JimmyJew Podcast Extravaganza and Schmame Over, which can be found at http://jimmyjew.libsyn.com/ and http://schmameover.libsyn.com/ respectively, as well as on iTunes. He is a contributing writer to www.GamersSchmamers.com.
He currently lives in Brooklyn where he drinks far too much coffee.
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