Friday, August 22, 2008

We lie. There IS such a thing as a dumb question.

The question every librarian is asked most often at the reference desk is not "Where's the bathroom?" but "Can I ask you a dumb question?" To this, I usually respond, "There is no such thing as a dumb question."


There is such a thing as a dumb question, and the MTV Movies blog has asked it: Team Bella or Team Hermione? Whose side are you on?

Let's look at this question.

To ask a person to take a side in an issue, you must ask them to take one side or another concerning the same issue. Clowns are scary vs. Clowns are funny. Either way, it's a question about clowns. When MTV asks "Bella or Hermione?" they're trying to get people to take "sides" on two completely dissimilar things. It was one thing to ask, "Should Harry ride off into the sunset with Hermione or Ginny," because all the characters were in the same book and Hermione vs. Ginny was two sides of one issue. That is, of course, if you only read every other word of the books and couldn't see the Ron/Hermione coming from miles away. By asking "Bella or Hermione?" MTV assumes that Bella and Hermione represent two sides of the same issue, and they don't. They're not even in the same book.

Bella is a narrator and Hermione is a secondary character, to start. I suppose they're both book-smart, but the evidence we have of that for Bella is somewhat minimal at best. The theme of Twilight is romance and the theme of Harry Potter is the battle between good and evil. Hermione is resourceful and stands up for herself. Bella cooks dinner for her father and lets other men stand up for her. Even the book's perspectives are different: Twilight is first-person and Harry Potter is limited third-person. Bella is remarkably average and Hermione is remarkable. I don't particularly like either character, and that's about all I can see they have in common.

Would someone please explain why this is even a debate? I mean, I guess the blogger wants to compare the main female characters of two bestselling YA series, but so what? Even the bestseller numbers are dissimilar: Breaking Dawn's first print run (2 million) was only 16.67% of that of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (12 million). I like a spirited debate as much as the next person, but this is not a debate. This is comparing apples and pineapples.

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