I went into this screening having never seen or read any Harry Potter before and I was surprised by a few things, not the least of which was that the film was well-crafted and actually pretty decent. I mean, there are the typical story issues– for example, whenever they run into an intractable problem they’re always like, “I’ll just take this luck potion” and you’re all, “well then why don’t they just do that all the time?”– but overall, the big Hollywood kid movies continue to be more thoughtful and coherent than the big Hollywood teen/adult movies. Nobody in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince survives the detonation of an A-bomb by hiding in a refrigerator. I was surprised the film was set in contemporary times and not in some sort of Ancient Middle Earth. The most surprising thing of all was that I found myself agreeing with the consensus view among Evangelical America that these films (and presumably books) are threatening to the Real American Way of Life. Given the nonsensical belief system of Real America, their objections to the film make perfect sense on several fronts.
1) It’s furrn. Though the English are among the least objectionable foreigners and will send what they consider to be an army wherever we tell them, it’s still unsettling when our children come too strongly under their influence. For example, I was encouraged by some of Harry’s subtle British sarcasm, and the assumption that children might be able to get it. But in Real America, not even adults are supposed to get that stuff. And their cultural values are still a bit askew. For example there’s a lot of what we would consider underage drinking–yes most of the time it’s “butter beer” but it’s also wine. I’m not sure how that got by the MPAA. Oh wait, I am sure. The movies make a lot of money and Hollywood is run by Jews.
2) Favorable depiction of hippies. There are several hippies in this film, including this loopy chick who wears animal costumes and funky glasses and who kind of saves the day a couple of times when her spacey comments turn out to be important. Also, Harry’s surrogate family is this group of old weirdos headed by a woman who doesn’t comb her hair. They all live in a house that is like six stories tall and about 1,200 square feet. Their unconventional family unit cannot be hindered by the man’s conventional family unit and they don’t care who knows it! The wizard kids have all abandoned their families to come to this dirty commune run by unkempt oldsters who believe in alternative medicine. Even I was pretty disgusted by all of this.
3) Pedophilia. Like the little league world series, the original films obviously made a nice chunk of revenue from pedophiles leering at the abundant chicken ass. Unfortunately, the ravages of age have age have hit Emma Watson hard and she is no longer everyone’s secret nymphet. But this could actually exacerbate things from a Christian point of view because they thrive on plausible deniability in these situations. Now you’re forced into awkward comments like, “she’s becoming an attractive young woman.” Yeah, “becoming.”
There’s also a bit of Lucasonian pedo subtext, like this old teacher who never associates with anyone his own age. He’s initially discovered living as a hermit who does nothing but stare at photos of his old students. Once reinstated, he suddenly warms to human contact. He doesn’t spend much time with the other professors, but he loves having students stay after class and slipping them potions or having them over to his house for ice cream. It’s even said that he “collects” his students. Gandalf tells Harry to sacrifice himself to the old pedo and Harry says, “you mean I should… let him, collect me?” with kind of a disgusted look on his face.
There are also some more direct depictions of sexuality. For example, the wizard kids all go to school at a hippie commune called Dumbledork and play this sport called swooschlestick where they ride around on brooms. One of the boys shoots an alpha glare to the girl of his desire while posed on his broom in such a way that it is clearly meant as a phallic symbol. I guess these kids are about eighteen, but for the American values voter/illiterate, that is still too young for the kinds of sexual innuendo that pop up in the film. Particularly since not a single person in the film seems to be married and the film targets our children. The fact that most Americans probably think ‘snogging’ refers to sex only makes things worse.
4) It’s pagan. I think the Jesus-tards have a point here. As I said, I had no idea that Harry Potter was set in the present day and more or less in our world. It’s one thing if wizards and witches are running around in some fantastic pre-Christian setting, but quite another if you depict a world that is pretty much like our own in which Christianity is replaced by paganism. Particularly so if the change constitutes an improvement. You have to realize that, for Christians, all of this hocus pocus is real. For a logical person, Harry Potter kind of skips over a bunch of imaginary stuff, and then replaces it with other imaginary stuff. It’s like a superhero movie. But in the Christian mind, it is taking away real stuff and replacing it with equally real stuff and asserting that the second batch of stuff is more fun and generally better. For them, replacing Christian hocus pocus with pagan hocus pocus kind of like making a fun movie set after the Nazis won and we have world fascism. I mean, here are a bunch of people dressed like witches or cultists, meeting before an altar of an owl in a torch lit hall and muttering incantations. I can see how this would be upsetting to someone who believes that imaginary things are real. My point is that Christians aren’t crazy because they are angered by Harry Potter, they’re crazy because they are Christians. Within that insanity, objecting to Harry Potter makes perfect sense.
1) Faggoths/alternative types are evil. All of the bad guys in Harry Potter look like they are into some kind of alternative or underground music scene. It seems like Harry is the only person capable of recognizing that the traitor is obviously the kid with the bleached hair. If you haven’t seen the 90’s HBO documentaries Paradise Lost 1 and 2, you really should. They are about how these three metalhead teens in Arkansas were convicted of murdering three children with literally no physical evidence and mountains of circumstantial evidence indicating their innocence, including a passed polygraph. The theory, presented and accepted in a court of law, was that the kids formed a satanic cult and sacrificed the boys to the devil. And every Real American knows that Marilyn Manson caused Columbine and that Judas Priest makes you kill yourself and so forth. So clearly, the Harry Potter villains would have never been able to operate in Real America, where they would have been suspected immediately and the film confirms that wearing too much black is a sign of Satanic influence.
2) It’s all real! One of the basic tenets of Christianity is that dinosaurs and man coexisted at one time and that this is the source of the myth of dragons. Some Christians believe that Dinosaurs still exist (Seriously! No, they seriously do, read this.) So they can take solace in the fact that Harry Potter legitimizes their beliefs by including dragons in its ontology. The same thing goes for magic. Christians believe that witches and demons cast magical spells on people and that these spells can actually work. So even though occultism is depicted in a favorable light, at least it is taken seriously within the film so it kind of legitimizes Christian insanity, from the perspective of an insane person. It’s kind of like how people who believe we are being groomed for alien colonization also believe that Hollywood films favorably depicting aliens are propaganda engineered by aliens and their human minions and that this supporting evidence makes them LESS crazy.
I have no idea what JK Rowling’s actual agenda is. She wouldn’t be the first woman to embrace pagan traditions as an anti-patriarchal contrast to Christianity. Maybe she just thought it would be cool if there were wizards in a contemporary setting. Either way, the result is fantastic because this is just a kid’s story, but it has these kernels that are bound to stick in Christian teeth. It’s delivered in just such a way that Christians cannot raise objection without confriming their lunacy and thus humiliating themselves, in the same way you would come off as a creep if you were to publicly say at which film in the series you began to be attracted to Emma. Or stopped being attracted to her. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it subversive, but I enjoyed the film more once I saw why it is so infuriating to fundies.