I was notified today that I'd received an anonymous review on a silly little Community fic I'd posted on fanfiction.net a few years ago on, and that I needed to log into my ff.n account to moderate it. Which I did do, and having done I spent a few moments looking over reviews I'd posted on other people's stories over the years.
I noted two recurring themes. There were several reviews complaining that the author had written a Weasley-style prank that relied on a potion or a charmed artifact or what have you to force another character -- usually Snape or Draco -- to perform some action. This is a relatively common fanfiction trope, and one that never fails to bother me. Readers of the Harry Potter series will no doubt recall that one of the three Unforgivable curses is the Imperius curse, which gives the caster "total control" over his or her victim. My feeling is that if controlling someone by means of a spell is unforgivable, so too is controlling someone by means of a charmed artifact or a potion.
The other thing that will invariably get me to comment on a Harry Potter fic is religion. Consider some of what we know about the Wizarding world:
- The Hufflepuff house ghost, the Fat Friar, was a monk.
- The Wizarding world's only known hospital is named after a Christian saint.
- They celebrate Christmas.
- They use "God" as an interjection, even pureblood supremacists. ("'God, this place is going to the dogs,' said Malfoy loudly." Prisoner of Azkaban, chapter six.)
- Ariana Dumbledore and James and Lily Potter have quotes from the Bible on their tombstones.
All the available evidence suggests that the Wizarding world is at the very least culturally religious, and that some witches and wizards are observant Christians. Yet many fanfic authors routinely treat religion as a Muggle curiosity. Here's something Ginny Weasley says in a story I reviewed: "I know that muggles believe in something called religion strongly and they hold onto it along with their so-called God to save them." Other authors treat the characters like Wiccans, using "gods" as an interjection: "Daphne, she's… Gods, there are no words that even come close." I know that the point of fanfic is to do something outside the bounds of the canonical universe, but nevertheless, both practices bug me.
One thing I don't normally comment on is spelling errors. I mean, if I commented every time someone mentioned Harry's lightening scar or referred to a character as a looser, I wouldn't have time to do anything else. I was, however, moved to comment on the fic that spoke of a "chorine-fogged pool," just because the mental image made me laugh. And then there was this review, which I reproduce in its entirety:
"Sirius took out his wand and raped the brick wall behind the pub ..."