Harry Potter is an atheist – hooray!

Okay, okay – it’s just Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter – not the fictional boy wizard himself. But still pretty cool. Daniel has always mentioned that he’s not particularly religious, but in his latest interview with Esquire he officially “comes out” as an atheist.

“In an interview with Esquire magazine, Radcliffe risked the US box office prospects of the new Harry Potter film by declaring himself to be an atheist.

In a pronouncement that will dismay America’s religious Right, which has long voiced suspicions about Potter’s “anti-Christian” message, the 19-year-old actor said he did not believe in God.

He also expressed his admiration for Professor Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist and bete noir of Evangelical Christians.

Radcliffe has been reticent on the subject of religion in the past, but in an interview to promote the latest instalment in the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, released on July 15, he said: “I’m an atheist, but I’m very relaxed about it. I don’t preach my atheism, but I have a huge amount of respect for people like Richard Dawkins who do. Anything he does on television, I will watch.”

He joked: “There we go, Dan, that’s half of America that’s not going to see the next Harry Potter film on the back of that comment.”

JK Rowling’s stories of the schoolboy wizard are taken very seriously by some Evangelical Christians in the United States. One of the largest Christian groups in the country, Focus on the Family, denounced the books as “witchcraft”.”

I wasn’t one of those fangirls who immediately thought Daniel Radcliffe was some sort of hottie. I was way too preoccupied oggling Alan Rickman (and I still am). But I have to admit, Dan has really grown on me. He’s getting cute now that he’s not jail bait anymore, and every time I hear him in an interview he’s witty, intelligent, and nice. But now he’s an out atheist and a fan of Richard Dawkins? Definitely going up on my list of cute famous atheist guys I have no chance with!

Is a battle ever too hard to even bother?

I mentioned a couple of days ago that our student group was going to start fighting religious aspects of our public university’s graduation program (I didn’t get many comments, so I’m going to assume you all just sort of passively agreed with me). I sent out an email to our club for feedback, and I received a lot of great advice on who to contact, various things to consider, etc. Most of the feedback was positive and contained the humble comment that this was going to be a difficult battle. I’m fully aware of that, especially knowing Purdue. It’s an extremely conservative university, and it…well, generally ignores any student activism that takes place about its policies.

But I received one email that was a bit of a downer from a staff member at Purdue (who I know to be an atheist activist). He said the Provost would surely politely blow us off, promising to look into it but never speaking to us again. I thought, yeah, so what? I know it’s going to be difficult and we’ll have to deal with bureaucratic bullshit, but we know what to do. He then told me to not even bother, and to spend the club’s efforts doing projects we could actually succeed at.

Well boo on him.

At what point do we just sit down and shut up because doing anything would be too difficult? Because it would likely lead to failure? Even if we can’t get the obnoxious “Amen” singing removed, our fight is at least symbolic. We’re showing the university that we don’t agree with what they’re doing, and we’re showing others who agree with us that they’re not alone. I mean, you could have told all the Anti-Prop8 protesters to just go home, because judges obviously aren’t going to be swayed by some signs (well, hopefully), but should they have? No, I don’t think so.

I think this is a problem the atheist movement faces a lot mostly from the outside – people asking why we’re so angry, what’s the point, don’t we have better things to do? It’s just a bit disheartening when I hear a fellow atheist telling me “Don’t bother.” If we don’t bother, who will? If the national government wants to institute a time for prayer in school, do we just sit back and say “Well Big Brother is too strong. No way they’d listen to us,” and throw our hands up in the air? No, we try our damnedest to fight it.

I think this can all be summed up by one of my favorite quotes:

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” – Albus Dumbledore

This club has waited two years building up our good reputation before attempting something that will likely piss off the campus. Now’s the time to do what’s right.

Harry Potter and the Horrible Video Games

There’s a new interview over at IGN about the 6th Harry Potter game for Wii. It looks like the new game will be just as craptacular as the 5th on. Yes, I bought the 5th Harry Potter game for Wii, but let me take a moment to explain myself. I’ve been a rabid Harry Potter fan since I first started reading the books when I was 11. Upon buying my Wii, there were practically no other games out other than Wii Sports and Barbie Ice Princess or whatever other junk they’re trying to sell to broaden the Wii’s target audience (to include 5 year old girls, apparently). While desperately scanning Gamestop’s selection, my eyes paused on Harry Potter. The conversation in my head went something like this:

“Don’t do it,” said Logical Jen. “It’s a mass marked piece of crap meant to have 12 year olds waste their mommy’s money.”

“But, but,” pouted Fangril Jen, “it’s Harry Potter. And for Wii! I can wave my Wiimote around like a wand and be magical!”

“It’s fifty dollars-”

“I WANT TO BE MAGICAL!”

And so I wasted 50 dollars. I amused myself for about an hour by flying a table around the Gryffindor common room and into the faces of my classmates. After that I was seriously disappointed that I couldn’t set everything on fire. If you give me a wand and the ability to make things spontaneously ignite, I don’t want to just light a fireplace. I want a Slytherin first year running around in fear. And honestly, would that be all that different than the chaos that goes on in the books? I’ll even settle for Filch chasing me around for being bad – as long as it’s realistic!

After the initial glee of foolish wand waving, however, I realized the game had absolutely no plot. It was an endless list of pointless mini games sending you from one end of the castle to the other. Not only that, but the Wiimote controls were so shoddy that you couldn’t even perform the spell you wanted half the time. I can go on and on about how horrible the game was, but I’ll sum it up in saying it is the only video game I’ve ever sold back to a store. Even Super Monkey Ball has somehow managed to stay on my shelf (it’s a great dust collector).

So why am I ranting about a game I gave up on over a year ago? Because it looks like EA Games is doing absolutely nothing to make the new Harry Potter game any better. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I know this is just an easy cash machine for them, and making real gamers happy isn’t their goal. But it’s the principle of the matter.

They can potentially use the Wii Motion Plus to get great control for spell movements…but do they? No.

They can have endless amounts of interesting things to include from the book…but do they? No, they’re “true to the movie,” which is like saying it’s Harry Potter filtered through yet another level of shittiness.

They’ve had extra time to work on the game since the movie was pushed back…but do they? Of course not (Though it may have been beyond that point, I’m cranky, so I don’t want to give them the benefit of the doubt). Why try to make a game excellent when mediocre still makes you money?

I know my whining isn’t going to do anything about it, but it still annoys the hell out of me how games (and movies, and books, etc) will sacrifice quality for money. It’s the same reason why we’ll never see an full story Pokemon game for Wii. While it would be piss-your-pants amazing, Nintendo can make just as much money pumping out simpler sequels for their hand held systems. I just ask that someone stops me from buying Harry Potter 6 for Wii before the rabid fangirl in me takes over.