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How Hollywood De-fanged Potter’s Radical Politics

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 1: more than a movie review

by Megan Kinch

The recent movie focuses on love lives of the three main characters rather than their political activity
The recent movie focuses on love lives of the three main characters rather than their political activity

The Harry Potter novels include a significant political subtext, which is at least as important as the teen romance or coming-of-age aspects. In Deathly Hallows the novel, the political subtext becomes the main storyline as a holocaust-style persecution of wizards without ‘pure blood’ begins. But perhaps inevitably the movie adaptations do not do justice to the political themes. The recent movie adaptation of part of the last book, Deathly Hallows 1, heavily sidelines the radical politics of the novels in favor of focusing on a love triangle between the main characters. This makes for a weak storyline that de-fangs the important political message in the book- that sometimes illegal, principled opposition is not only desirable but necessary in the fight against evil.

Author J.K. Rowling is often represented as having been, pre-potter, a desperate single mother on welfare writing in coffee shops. While the novels were written under these conditions, Rowling was also a well-educated and experienced activist. She worked full-time in Spain for Amnesty International, a very competitive position that requires a serious commitment to human rights.  Probably because of this background, Rowling has an excellent understanding of political persecution, and especially details the way state bureaucracies can be the impersonal agents of evil policies under a cloak of legality. In the novels, Harry fights not only against the evil Voldemort and his minions, but also against an entrenched bureaucracy and a culture that hides inequalities under a seemingly stable society.

The basic plot, which cannot be ignored even in the films, is that Harry, Hermione and Ron give up everything for their political struggle. They drop out of high school, they go illegal, defy the government, belong to an underground organization [The Order of the Phoenix], operate out of safe houses and forests and even raid offices of the government and banking offices. This is all done in principled opposition to the Dark Wizard Voldemort and a corrupt bureaucratized government that has been heavily infiltrated his evil minions. This is revolutionary activity.  But the movie version does not present it as such and de-emphasizes these radical aspects of the plot, thereby entirely missing the dramatic sweep and action present in the first half of the last novel.

The persecution of muggle-born wizards is barely shown in the movie [muggles are ordinary, non magical humans].  In the book the magical legal system- always unfair- is completely perverted and used to legally strip muggle-born wizards of their wands and their freedom based on blood purity.  Minor inequalities and prejudice (such as that against werewolves) always present at a low level throughout the series, turns to serious persecution.  There are deliberate analogies with the first phases of the Holocaust.  Rowling skillfully presents a picture of magical bureaucrats as similar to Hitler’s desk-murderers- bureaucrats who commit horrible atrocities with the stroke of a pen.

The novels recognize the importance of alternative media for political struggle.  The mainstream press [The Daily Prophet] is shown as unreliable and unprincipled, eventually deteriorating into a fear-mongering propaganda machine for the Voldemort-controlled bureaucracy. For a while the alternative but above ground media [ The Quibbler] publishes the real news, but it ceases to print after the daughter of the publisher is kidnapped.  In the book friends of Harry [Lee Jordan, with Fred and George Weasly as frequent guests] start broadcasting the real news from an underground radio station, encrypted with a password. This radio station becomes a critical link for the resistance, which is scattered and weak.  Although we are treated to some radio broadcast updates in the movie, they are delivered by a disembodied and professional sounding voice, not our friends the Weasleys. This undermines the important message- a guiding principle behind the meda coop- that in a serious situation it’s becomes necessary to produce your own media and not to rely on ‘professionals’.

The novels make it clear that in this phase of struggle the characters romantic lives take a backseat to their political activity, as Harry breaks up with the love of his life [Ginny Weasly] so as to avoid making her a target for Voldemort’s forces, who are known to use torture and kidnapping as tactics. The ‘love triangle’ that becomes the focus of the movie isn’t even really present in the books.  In the books, the relationship between Harry and Hermione is totally platonic- Ron is shown as jealous, but the feeling is entirely without foundation. In the book Harry says to Ron: “I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It’s always been like that.  I thought you knew.” This conveys that men and women can be close comrades and friends without being involved romantically. But in the film, Harry and Hermione are shown dancing romantically, and Harry’s line to Ron about his brotherly feeling towards Hermione does not even make it into the film.  This completely undermines the important message that jealousy is counter-productive and has toxic effects, which is an important feminist message for young people.

This ‘love triangle’ focus of the movie completely sidelines the most important – and exiting- political aspects of the book. De-fanging the real message of Harry Potter makes for a much weaker movie, but probably one that is supposed to be ‘more palatable’ to mainstream audiences. Young adults are shown as slaves to hormones- preoccupied with their personal lives even as a life-and-death struggle unfolds.  It strikes exactly the wrong chord at a time when the youth of Britain are rising up, filling the streets in protest against a political system that refuses to represent their interests.


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Megan Kinch (Megan Kinch)
Toronto Ontario
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is a writer and editor with the Toronto Media Co-op.

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Comments

Radical politics

If the politics in the Potter books were radical, then you wouldn't have to draw out basic explanations and interpretations for us, since the politics wouldn't be so veiled -- if not ambiguous.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".   He's not a hero of mine, but he has an important point: we should be able to come into the open with statements about important issues.

It's particularly easy to erase muffled and/or ambiguous statements.

Comparable problems happen with satire.

This isn't to say that we only should be straightforward and direct (as opposed to artistic, etc), but radicalism does have to be prepared to come out with revolution, and get down to focusing on it.

Anyway.. basically I'm saying that the politics barely had teeth (let alone fangs) to begin with.

Things that matter

I have not read or watched any of the Harry Potter series, so I have no idea whether or not any of the ideas in the books or movies could be considered radical, but I disagree with some of your statements more generally.

When you use the Martin Luther King quote "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," I find that you use it to critique an article just because it may not speak to issues that personally matter to you.

No one can really judge what the "things that matter" are in a sweeping global sense, can we? Maybe to you it's revolution, straightforward writing about radical politics, or something else. Maybe to others it's queer rights. Maybe to others, it's getting their kids clean drinking water at school. Maybe to Megan, the gender roles being presented to millions of young people do matter. They do matter to me. I find it interesting to see hollywood movies that in some way challenge stereotypes or "mainstream" gender roles, perceptions about patriotism, war, corporations, etc.

I often perceive that anything "mainstream" is often scoffed at by many radical activists, journalists, etc. Sometimes, it strikes me as a judgemental and vanguard-radical-elitist element of activist bubble syndrome. Sometimes, it strikes me as a sincere, well thought out critique. I see yours as the latter for sure, but still disagree. I think one can critique mainstream movies or anything else, but recognize their importance at the same time.

To me, "mainstream" things are often just as important as anything else. How could movies and books followed by millions and millions of children, youth, parents, guardians, and others not matter? They are probably one of the things currently most dear to millions of children and youth 'round these parts. The stories and narratives that contribute to shaping children and youth politically and otherwise matter to many people, including myself.

And I would actually argue that "getting down to focusing on it" would be more effective if "focusing on it" included finding creative ways to reach new audiences, interest youth, and hopefully spark more participation in radicalism, revolution, social movements, etc.

If I look back to all the feedback I've received over the past decade regarding my writing and articles over the years, invariably activists involved in radical politics say that their favourite piece is some straightforward and direct journalistic article about activism or organizing against resource extraction. And invariably, family members and others who are not involved in activism, organizing, or radical politics say that their favourite piece is one of my earlier more story-telling narrative pieces, weaving fun snippets and more personal experiences into a story about serious issues and the "radical politics" of everyday community struggles in Central America. Either that or the recent rape rant, which arguably deals with both "radical" (unfortunately...) ideas and is a commentary on something being pretty widely discussed within much broader audiences - not entirely unlike what Megan's critical look at Potter does. Interestingly, that rape rant had hundreds more facebook shares than anything I (and most anyone, I think) have ever posted on VMC or any of the MCs. Who knew?

So basically I would argue that it is also about what audience any particular piece is aimed at. I think this piece has the potential to interest many more people than many straightforward and direct articles. People in my life who are not already engaged in radical politics tell me that they find most straightforward and direct pieces boring. They appreciate humour, creativity, and fun; basically, they like the more artistic and less didactic pieces. I am all for writing analysis for people already engaged and involved, but think that it is just as (or more) important to reach out to people who are not already engaged or involved. I also think that the Halifax Media Coop seems to be doing some pretty awesome work to report on "things that matter" to a broader spectrum of local people, without sacrificing radicalism, revolution, or anything else.

If this Harry Potter critique gets some 12-year-old boy thinking critically about gender roles and stereotypes for the first time, or if it draws new readers to the Toronto Media Coop, then I personally find that more important and effective than the last bunch of straightforward and direct articles I have posted myself.

Awesome piece, interesting potential discussion re Media Coops & audience.

Saludos to you both!

Sandra

Talking about what matters

It's true that there's some valid disagreement about what does and doesn't matter, but I basically agreed with Megan's points about what does matter -- alternative media, fighting persecution, etc.  What I object to very much is the idea that radical politics can be hidden beneath the surface of books, under a sort of a veil.

We aren't living under a totalitarian regime that prevents us from openly talking about things that matter, so let's do that.  Megan is doing that, but the books themselves clearly aren't.

Sure, the books evidently start to bring up these sorts of issues, but that doesn't amount to radicalism.  "Liberal" is a much better label.

The books reach a lot of people, but are those people really being encouraged to rise up to bring about radical change?  Or do others still have to step in to take on that role?  I think this article would be redundant if the books actually went far enough.

radical politics not veiled in books

Thanks for the comments, glad to see I've sparked a discussion. I am actually not arguing that the radical politics in the books hidden under the surface at all- to the contrary, the critique of bureaucracy and legalism, as well as the radical methods of organizing are quite out in the open in the books. You can't possibly miss the holocaust persecution of muggles, for example. There is an entire chapter "the greater good" that discusses the importance of prefigurative politics and is against the end justifying the means and really has no other point than to discuss how well-intentioned organizing can go bad.

 

You can miss it all in the movies, in the movies it is under the veil as a subtext, whereas in the films it's a major theme.  And yes, Rowlings critique is Liberal. When they eventually take power, they only reform the laws and put their own people in power, they don't retake the state under workers control or anything like that. But it's radical liberal- under fascism fighting for human rights can be 'radical', even it's not necessarily revolutionary. Although it could be- the 1789 French Revolution was after all for bourgeois democracy and we can't argue that it wasn’t a revolution.

stories & veiled messages

Yeah, again, I have no idea re the books and movies, but might pick up the first one just to see what the big deal is...

But re direct or veiled messages, again, I think direct rhetoric really turns a lot of people off. I don't think it has anything to do with a totalitarian state or not. Everyone has a different starting point, and I really believe in the power of stories. I can attribute a lot my political views back to reading literature and stories. And, well, probably a majority of the world still explains and understands the world, culture, history, and pretty much everything largely through stories and oral history. Some may be more explicit, some more "veiled," but that's the beauty of stories, isn't it? I think that if they were not effective, they probably wouldn't have stuck around for thousands and thousands of years...

Thanks for the shout-out

to Halifax. I'm glad you think our approach is working!

:)

well, i've never been there, but admiring some of the HMC's work from afar...

Love this article! Also, if I

Love this article!

Also, if I was in HP's situation I would totally read the Dominion News Co-op.

*my captcha is "justice ungoes" weird.

thoughtful activism

Compared to much of what I see and read on the net, this article and the attached comments are amazingly thoughtful. Only one of the reasons I go to mediacoop at least once a day. I cannot imagine a society (and I am rather utopian in many respects) in which everyone is interested in the same kinds of radical, revolutionary journalism that usually appeals to me and people like me. In any society we are going to have a mix of people with different interests and the progressive media should reflect this - that is the essence of people's democracy in my view. Brecht made the excellent point that socially engaged art must be entertaining or most people won't be interested in it. Art - books, film, music, - need to speak to people in ways they can relate to and ways they are interested in. My feeling is that in our country - Canada - at this point in time (2011) many people are actually put off and scared by films or books that are overtly political. So all the more reason for producing subtetly subversive entertaining media. Mediacoop does a great job of producing a diversity of engaging stories - stuff I can share with all kinds of friends, family and colleagues. Let's fight the good fight but let us do in flexible, open and inclusive ways...

  What is liberal to one

 

What is liberal to one person is radical to another. 

Clearly these themes were too radical for mainstream media, and they felt they had to be excluded.

What people, especially children and young teens like about Harry Potter, is that it shows them as rational human beings, doing important things. Children are not proto-humans with zero judgement, as they are often shown in books and media. The problem with the movie is that it once again reduces them to hapless victims of their own hormones, unable to focus on what is important: overthrowing an unjust, evil regime. 

 

Judy Blume, the writer who for generations was the first writer to introduce girls to relationships in the context of *actual puberty* (that is, hormones, sex drive, menstruation) was a terrible writer, but quite radical in her own way. As such, her books were banned. You can't go out and tell 12 year olds 'Become radical activists and join the black block. Schools or the media might like, notice before they get their hands on it.

 

The other thing too many authors don't appreciate about children: their ability to understand subtlety...something you clearly share. 

 

Lets be honest here. Who's going to let their children read truly radical literature? Overthrow the government, kiddies, they're raping the land and stealing our future! I don't think many parents would be okay with their kids reading Marx, and to be honest, most kids don't care to.  Potter is like radical 'gateway' literature. You know what? I retract that. Potter is the most radical piece of literature kids are likely to be exposed to, beyond fictionalized Nazi resistance children's literature, such as Number the Stars, or The Upstairs Room.  Did you read the Potter books? Did you miss the part where Hermione struggles for the rights of an enslaved race, when most people think she's crazy and that 'they're perfectly happy' in their subservient role, despite clear abuse, lack of rights or representation? Did you miss the part about how their beloved teacher loses his job because of a disease (werewolfism), suffers incredible discrimination, and is eventually the subject of a witchhunt (reminiscent of the AIDS crisis, no?). Or how about the rampant discrimination in the books against wizards born of 'impure blood'. Please point out to me where the radicalism is 'veiled'. The kids in the books recognize many examples of discrimination (while at sometimes blinded to others by their culture), join illegal underground clubs dedicated to self-defense and questioning government leadership set up alternative media,  and are basically the architects of the second generation of the underground resistance against a totalitarian regime. Failing to see the veil here..

Hi Madelyn, I'm the same

Hi Madelyn,

I'm the same anonymous who wrote the "well I read the..." comment below.

The reason it seems to me that the politics in the potter books are mostly just in the eye of the beholder (which does not make those readings invalid in any way) is because although it depicts the characters doing a lot of stuff that radical people might do, it does not have much of an analysis to go along with the actions.

Yes, Hermione stands up for oppressed house elves, but the situation is mostly played for laughs, with Hermione as the butt of it for caring too much. And yeah, the kids stand up against a genocidal regime. But if it's supposed to have a larger message about resistance, it doesn't seem to be much more than "If an evil wizard takes over your country with his dark magic, the good guys should fight back." You can make the same argument for almost any fantasy novel being radical -- the good guys trying to reclaim state power from the evil wizard is a genre convention.

I think it's important to create radical, thoughtful analyses of Harry Potter and other parts of mass culture, but I think it's a mistake to consider them as having political content in themselves. We can read the Lord of the Rings as being an allegory for world war one if we want to, but that doesn't mean that message is necessarilly in there. Both fans of nazi resistors and modern day white supremists recomend the Sound of Music on their websites.

If we see these things as having a political message in themselves, we risk forgetting that the meaning of cultural products is often hotly contested by other factions.

 

Well, I read the Harry

Well, I read the Harry Potters books as they came out, so starting when I was like 12 or something. By the time I read the second-to-last book, the series just wasn't doing anything for me so I never bothered to read the last one. But this review makes it sound quite interesting!

Harry Potter is significant because it's the book of the tv generation. I know a lot of folks where more than half of all the books they've ever read are in that series. Sure, that may be a problem in itself, but these are often fun, interesting people who just don't like reading books.

It's true that (at least in the books I've read) any political content one might find in Harry Potter is mostly in the eye of the beholder. But all the more reason for political people who like those books to take the time to produce politicized understandings of them!

I believe that this goes for mass culture in general -- it's significant simply because so many people consume it! Yeah, it's often some damn annoying shit, but at the moment I'm more or less completely disconnected from it, and I've found that has created a barrier between me and many of the folks I meet. That doesn't mean I'm going to sit down tonight and watch Dancing with the Stars. It does mean that spending some energy finding access points to mass culture (like Harry Potter) is important and worthwhile.

keep it up,

-anon

Right, this is exactly what I

Right, this is exactly what I come to MediaCoop to read... Harry Potter. Great. That's really fascinating. Here are a few things you could have written about INSTEAD of this:

- Insurrection in Tunisia and riots in Algeria

- Rising food/commodity prices worldwide

- China's move to limit rare earth exports

- Huge floods in Brazil and Australia

- 60,000 "red shirt" protesters taking to the streets in Bangkok

Help out

All very important stories, of course. However, considering the MC network runs on a budget of less than $60,000/year, kinda hard to get reporters to these far-flung places. The mandate is underreported news and grassroots perspectives, especially with a local focus. (These are our guidelines in Halifax, anyway.) If you have leads on grassroots perspectives from any of these stories you mention, please cover 'em, post a blog, or e-mail an editor! 

Hey annon! This is a media

Hey annon! This is a media coop, and anyone can write and post stories. I encourage you to create an account and write up a story about Tunisia,or  raising food prices, or red shirt protesters. We always need contributers, this is our media and we make it.  If you look at my other posts I contribute regularly on many other serious topics as well, but I think that there is a place for left reviews and readings of popular culture, not to the exlusion of other news but in addition.

the politics in potter

I have not seen the movie but have read the books. I did find the political narrative to be both radical and clear in the books - never veiled. How much more obvious can we get then Voldy seeking to eradicate all of the so called "mud bloods" and how much more radical then a plan to over- throw such an evil despot?? A very strong political narrative made these books readable.

 

poo poo on the movie for being such a piece of crap! 

Great article! will book mark your site. 

err

"But the movie version does not present it as such and emphasizes these radical aspects of the plot.."

Should be DE-emphasizes me thinks..,

I agree with the author, the films have ignored most of the good stuff, politicaly anyway, that was in the books.  Not much of a suprise really,. but good to let those that don't read 'em know they are only getting a scrubed version,. .

I think I should have added

I think I should have added to my previous comment by way of clarification  - that I had been responding to an earlier poster who suggested that the potter story one the whole might not be very radical if the OP had to offer an analytic digest for us. I disagreed with him 

 

 

Potter Politicts Put there On Purpose

(thanks for the correction, have fixed it.)

I really disagree that these politics are 'in the eye of the beholder'. In the movies yes, and in the first books, yes- the world is at first presented as non-political and magic and only later do you get a growing awareness of the inequalities.  But J.K. Rowling really put political stuff in thier. She takes a strong stand against tourturing prisoners for example, and explicitly links the 'war on terror' in our world with the bad policies of the ministry of magic- imprisoning people without fair trials on flimsy evidence- for example. The muggle prime minister is even brought in to link our world and their world.

There is a long history of inclusion of subtext in childrens novels- it is no contreversy to read the christianity in c.s. lewis, or the athiest subtext of 'his dark materials'. combined with Rowling's background as an amnesty international staffer?  Clearly this was put here on purpose.  I do see it as sexist to argue that Rowling, a woman, put the political stuff in 'unintentionally' in what was intended to be a light and fluffy children's novel.

 

His Dark Materials

Yeah! Thanks for mentioning that one! I've been meaning to check out the others after *loving* the first novel in that explicitly atheist, explicitly non-black vs white, and explicitly anti-Narnia series!!! Similarly to what you describe above, however, the movie The Golden Compass was entertaining, but totally obliterated some of the most important points the novel is actually making, in my opinion.

Hmmm, I wonder if anyone has done a comparative critical review of some of the central ideas in the Narnia series vs the Dark Materials series...

Actually, I was browsing the sale rack at the Burnaby Public Library after I came back out west and it was *crazy*! It seemed like the Bby PL has some total right-wing fascist censoring librarian in charge of the pre-teen/teen section or something. Along with a bunch of pretty crappy books for youth, I found a bunch of interesting novels dealing directly with a whole variety of issues: racial tensions and hatred in a small town school where white townies and First Nations kids from the neary reserve both attend; a young angry kid who has run-ins with the cops; a teen novel set inside a rehab/psych facility, narrated in the first person by an anorexic teenage girl; a novel about a 9-year-old black Jewish orphaned kid in the 1940s who loves baseball but is partially rejected by both the black and Jewish communities; etc!!! There were also a lot of gay literary fiction compilations in the sale bin. WTF?! Too bad for all the youth and parents, but too good for me at a quarter a pocketbook. So $1.50 later, I've got some materials for a potential review of some solid fiction for youth, inspired by this review of yours. (plus, great excuse to read awesome books while taking a break from reading supreme court cases...)

To all those who continue to explain how other issues are vastly more important than this one, I would echo Megan's comment that anyone and everyone is encouraged to take the few minutes required to set up a free account and post away, joining the rest of us who spend countless hours of unpaid time writing and contributing to the Media Coop and the various locals about whichever issues we each feel are important or timeworthy or fun! Many people find that they don't have the time, skills, or desire to write/photograph/film/etc for the Media Coops, but still want to take part. Contributing to the comments and discussions is awesome. (Donating/Sustaining is of course awesome). But there is also a "Featured Discussion" box on the homepage of the MediaCoop.ca each month, asking readers what they would like to see covered. Anyone can post a link, a comment, a story idea, etc. Links about events and timely news suggestions are usually included in the Dominion's Fortnight-in-Review. So that might be a more productive place to suggest what subjects you think are more important to be covered, as opposed to criticizing Megan for posting her piece on an open-posting participatory site to which everyone is encouraged to contribute. The Featured Discussion for February - "Another Month, another 1,000 stories: What should we cover in February?" - is currently going on here: http://www.mediacoop.ca/group/1496/discuss/5719

I mean, whose parents had their 6-year-old kid watch radical documentaries exposing and denouncing the torture committed during the dirty war in South America or during the 1980s in Central America? Possible, but unlikely. Activists, radicals, progressives, syndicalists, feminists, migrant justice workers, and pretty much all communities have children around us - whether our own, nieces/nephews, grandchildren, friends' kids, neighbours, etc. So I fail to understand how it can not be important to write about children's literature and films that include themes of social justice, when kids might otherwise be watching or reading racist sexist homophobic garbage...

Besides, fiction is sort of like it's own universe. So it's kind of like, you know, well, you had to *be* there... ;)

- Sandra Cuffe, contributing member @ the Vancouver Media Coop

[double post removed]

[double post removed]

This is a very interesting

This is a very interesting and persuasive analysis, and I agree that the Harry Potter series is radical in the ways that you have described in the article. However, in a major way the Harry Potter series is not radical, and that is in matters of gender and sexuality.

The hero is Harry Potter -- a male --, which is not surprising as female heroes are almost non-existent in major heroic works. Although there are female lead characters in fiction (less so in those that revolve around a heroic figure), they are not heroes in the conventional sense, in the 'masculine' sense of embodying the virtues of stoicism, courage, perseverence etc.

The male and female characters are gender stereotypical, including Hermoine, who may be intelligent, but is not a serious challenge to the patriarchy owing to her overall femininity and heterosexuality (and to her secondary position relative to Harry Potter). 

Dumbledore was declared, after the series was over, to be gay; which is inconsequential and was not in any way referred to in the novels. In other words, he was a 'closeted' gay character.

To have been truly radical on matters of gender and sexuality, HP would have had to problematize gender, gender roles and the relationship between men and women. However, it did not even begin to do so, and finished off with the main characters getting married and having children! That's about as conventional as it gets, almost :S.

This is a very interesting

This is a very interesting and persuasive analysis, and I agree that the Harry Potter series is radical in the ways that you have described in the article. However, in a major way the Harry Potter series is not radical, and that is in matters of gender and sexuality.

The hero is Harry Potter -- a male --, which is not surprising as female heroes are almost non-existent in major heroic works. Although there are female lead characters in fiction (less so in those that revolve around a heroic figure), they are not heroes in the conventional sense, in the 'masculine' sense of embodying the virtues of stoicism, courage, perseverence etc.

The male and female characters are gender stereotypical, including Hermoine, who may be intelligent, but is not a serious challenge to the patriarchy owing to her overall femininity and heterosexuality (and to her secondary position relative to Harry Potter). 

Dumbledore was declared, after the series was over, to be gay; which is inconsequential and was not in any way referred to in the novels. In other words, he was a 'closeted' gay character.

To have been truly radical on matters of gender and sexuality, HP would have had to problematize gender, gender roles and the relationship between men and women. However, it did not even begin to do so, and finished off with the main characters getting married and having children! That's about as conventional as it gets, almost :S.

Radicalism

@ Anonymous in Toronto

The point of Hermione's struggle being laughed off was to show later how easy it is to be blinded to other's injustices. Harry and Ron laughed her off..but they saw that she was right all along at the end, and they had been in the wrong I'm really thinking you didn't follow the books that closely if you missed that huge moment.

I really don't understand how you don't see the obvious parallels made in these books. You're supposed to be able to identify with the characters...so why wouldn't you identify with their struggles? There is also an immediacy to the Harry Potter books that aren't in Lord of the Rings or other fantasy stories. The Harry Potter series is set in our worlds. There is a government set up very similar to ours, media outlets very similar to ours (newspapers/video chat/letters), banking systems (gringotts), prejudices, wars, propaganda that all have clear parallels to our modern society and culture that the Lord of the Rings clearly lacks. Harry's society is a recognizable mirror of our own, where Frodo/Rand/ Belgarion/the Starks clearly live in one very different and with few to no cultural similarities to our own.

 

@ Komal

 

Again, I'd like to point out..you can't be obviously and directly radical when it comes to children's literature. You can ask questions, bring up situations, but you can't write a book that ends in 'and they all lived in a polyamourous triad happily ever after', and expect it to make it past parents/school boards and into children's hands. Many people still truly believe that a friend relationship between women and men is impossible without some sort of sexual dynamic. Although I'll agree with you and say the books weren't extremely radical in terms of gender and sexuality, they certainly weren't as awfully cliche and overblown as they were portrayed in the movie. The idea that every movie's central theme has to be a love-triangle, now there's a backwards concept.

 

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