Up until now, I’ve always identified as Ravenclaw. When I started to question my Hogwarts House, I started taking a lot of online quizzes, I mean… a lot. As I took them, my friends continuously asked me what house I was in, who I identified with, where did I belong. Me, clinging Prisoner of Azkaban to my chest, shrugged my shoulders at their questions. People around me told me I would be a Ravenclaw, or a Gryffindor, definitely not a Slytherin, but MAYBE a Hufflepuff. Everyone else telling me I reminded them of Luna Lovegood, Nymphadora Tonks, maybe even a bit of Ron Weasley. I had everyone identifying me, but had no way of identifying myself. I didn’t know where I belonged in the Potterverse yet, but I was anxious to figure it out.
Like Harry fighting against being placed in Slytherin, I fought hard against Gryffindor. Nothing against Gryffindor at all, but I wasn’t brave enough, I didn’t want attention, but Ravenclaw came through and I clinged on. However, there was a house that matched in equal measure and that was Hufflepuff. Quizzes are weird. They give you a percent scale. So, I would be Hufflepuff-32%, Ravenclaw-28%, Gryffindor-23% and Slytherin-17%. That Hufflepuff number was big right? However, as much as I wanted to be in a house, I didn’t know much about Hufflepuff at the time to want to place there. In the movies, there was no one in the Potterverse that was a proud and out Hufflepuff except for Cedric Diggory and Nymphadora Tonks and I just couldn’t connect with them. I’ve always been a big person on character identification. Especially if you can relate to that character strongly and learning about yourself in the process. I didn’t identify with Cedric or Nymphadora (well… okay… I did a bit with her, but… it was still barely) so I choose to dismiss it, telling myself that it wasn’t for me. This also came with my own sense of internalized Hufflephobia. The house that no one knew. The house that no one wanted to belong in. The house that everyone made fun of. It was enough to make me cringe at the thought of being apart of it. I was so scared to be made fun of for being a Hufflepuff that I completely shifted my focus from it. So, I held onto Ravenclaw, but something kept nagging at me, telling me that it wasn’t a right fit. Even though I was creative and had my own individuality. I wasn’t exactly witty or had the biggest intelligence or wisdom (not calling myself dumb, but math is hard okay?). This was up until Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them landed on shelves and in theaters that I finally could open my perspective and know who I truly was, and how deeply Newt Scamander not only resonated with my personality, but empowered a sense of who I am.
So, little history before we get into it, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the book, was written by Newt Scamander, a Magizoologist who traveled the globe to write and help people learn how to take care and know about beasts. I remember being fascinated with Newt from the moment I opened the little textbook. He was so dedicated to his craft. It read like a long journiesworth of hard-work and dedication that I couldn’t help but admire and want to imitate. It was amazing to read what he accomplished and to know that his knowledge had helped a lot of people in their quest of learning how to understand beasts and more. Then, I learned he was a Hufflepuff and that blew my f*cking mind. It was an eye opening experience to finally read someone who was this cool and brilliant was in this universe. It was my first real glimpse of what a Hufflepuff could do, then the movie came out and dear Merlin, everything came into f*cking perspective.
The announcement for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016) was scary. I kept thinking, “how were they going to make this small little book into a gigantic world with not only one, but three movies attached to it? More importantly, how were they going to portray Newt?” I still identified as Ravenclaw, but slowly inching my way to discovering my true self and true
house because of Newt, so with the impending movie, I was scared I was going to have to go back into my Hufflehole for fear of being judged. Nevertheless, I was excited, especially when the announcement rang out that Eddie Redmayne was attached to the Magizoologist. It was almost like a dream come true. Finally, the day came, as I sat in the theater, I waited for that hint of the familiar world of Harry Potter, but wanted something new, something from the perspective of a different point of view. It was beyond anything that I had ever imaged. The person who I looked up too since the field guide had finally come to life and he was everything and more that I ever thought I needed and could want.
Newt Scamander isn’t your typical type of hero, in fact, he’s exactly the opposite. He’s the opposite of what a leading man is. After I watching Fantastic Beasts, I found myself defending him at every single level. My friends were angry that he wasn’t like Harry Potter. They complained that he was “too weird” and “obsessive” about his craft, that he wasn’t anything like Harry, Ron, Hermione or even Neville, but that in my eyes, made him perfect to me. That type of hero spans throughout most of juvenille or young adult fantasy and it doesn’t seem to slow down. It had been done many times before in the likes of Percy Jackson, Clary or Jace (Mortal Instruments) or Will (Ranger’s Apprentice Series). When figuring out why Newt was so important to me, why I was so ready to identify with him and defend him to everyone and anyone, I stumbled upon a video from Pop Culture Detective named “The Fantastic Masculinity of Newt Scamander.”
“The Fantastic Masculinity of Newt Scamander” is a brief and lovely character study about Newt Scamander. It identified that he’s not your stereotypical leading man.
While we’re so used to Harry Potter, a kid that we’ve grown up with, learning how to be a brave and adventurous Gryffindor. Newt is the opposite. We watch Newt as an adult, in his late twenties, so about the age that Harry Potter fans first reading the series are now. Newt has already been on adventures. We’re in the middle of his story not the beginning. He’s figured himself out already and doesn’t compromise himself through the movie. We’re not watching him go from a boy to a man, he’s already a man. He didn’t ask for the adventure, it’s a byproduct of what he has to do to keep his creatures safe. Newt’s soft, sweet and quiet. He observes and takes information in before acting unless it’s for his beasts. He’s kind, but standoffish when you first meet him. He able to connect with his creatures rather than with people. He’s patient to his creatures, and not often with people, but he has a dedication that so many would love to match in their own careers. He’s confident and compassionate. This is the protagonist. He’s not giving a gigantic speech over fighting for a cause, but he immediately tries to protect his friends and what he holds dear. He’s not the type of hero that you see in this kind of story, not the “man” that you expect him to be and goddamnit it’s so refreshing to see someone like him now.
I noticed that in defending Newt to everyone, it felt like I was defending myself. Most of the things that people had to say about Newt, closely related to the things that people have said about me. I am a bit weird, I’m very shy and almost always quiet. I’m patient, especially when interacting with others who don’t understand, and try to be dedicated and put a lot of passion in the things that I knew I can do. I’m soft and sensitive, but I also have a lot of heart while being completely standoffish with others at first but observant. It’s hard for me to connect with people so I connect with films and the people inside of them. I’m empathetic and dedicated and loyal to my friends and family. I was defending Newt, but I was also defending myself, I was defending all the Hufflepuff qualities about me to people who didn’t understand me, like they didn’t understand Newt.
It felt like seeing yourself from the inside out. The quizzes didn’t seem necessary anymore. I knew what I was. A Pottermore quiz from JK Rowling herself couldn’t tell me I wasn’t a Hufflepuff. I started to feel bad that I ever thinking that Hufflepuff was something to be ashamed of. For all the years I buried my Hufflepuff qualities inside of me, but they were always shining through. So, that’s when I put my foot down and knew I needed to embrace being apart of a house that praised kindness, dedication, fair play and patience. Through identifying so closely with Newt Scamander, a man who doesn’t even have much of a backstory yet and looking at my own traits throughout the years, I finally stopped worrying and learned to embrace what it means to be a Hufflepuff.