Better to suffer with Shaun than with any more Rowling


Whoa, this is a long video, an hour and 45 minutes long. It’s worth it, though, and it’s not so much a video as a monologue, so you can just plug in your earbuds and listen as you get other work done, like I did.

Anyway, it’s Shaun talking about the Harry Potter universe. I’ve never much cared for Potter — I appreciated that it got my kids reading — but I struggled myself to get through just the first couple of books, before they got so long and even more tedious. I also only got through the first few movies before giving up, and found them awfully unforgettable. It sounds like Shaun had the same impression of the stories that I did, but to research the video, he read all the books, watched all the movies, including that terrible Fantastic Beasts crap. Only then did he dig into this analysis.

The basic message: Rowling is inherently conservative, opposed to any kind of systemic change, a neoliberal Blairite, and it shows in her stories. The most telling point is that she created a fantasy world with slavery, and none of the ‘heroes’ even try to change it, except for Hermione, who is treated as an obsessive joke. In fact the whole arc of the whole series ends with the status quo preserved, only different players in charge.

Well, now I know why her books left me so cold, and I’m glad I didn’t push on to try and read them all. Poor Shaun.

Comments

  1. says

    He doesn’t even mention Quidditch, which was the thing that made me give up. Every book had to have a long Quidditch match, which was a stupid game that made no sense (worse than cricket or football), and which all the characters seem to find supremely important.

  2. remyporter says

    Whenever this topic comes up, I always have to reference the other series about tweens learning they have access to magical powers: Diane Duane’s Young Wizard’s series. It’s illustrative in its differences- magic serves to make the characters more connected to the world (instead of fucking off to a special magical society and forgetting the problems of the real world), magic demands acts of service from its practitioners (and the temptation towards selfishness can put your magical abilities at risk), and Diane Duane is emphatically not a TERF.

    Also, rather powerfully, the series spends a book asking the question: “If you’ve got all this magical power, why haven’t you cured cancer?”

    (there’s one book that deals with autism, and the original edition is… not great in its representation; well intentioned but drifting into the “autism is a superpower” trope- the revised edition still has rough parts but is much better executed)

  3. says

    That’s another of the points Shaun brings up: if wizards are so powerful, why didn’t they stop Hitler? Apparently, the answer is in Fantastic Beasts, which I haven’t watched and won’t be watching, in which the chief bad guy in the story is trying to stop Hitler, and presumably at some point in the story, that will be revealed to be a Very Bad Idea.

  4. moarscienceplz says

    “you can just plug in your earbuds and listen as you get other work done, like I did.”
    Is there a way to disable the video feed on Youtube? I have a limited data plan, and what amounts to a nearly 2 hour movie would probably kill my whole month’s allotment.
    I have the full set of HP audiobooks, and I like them. Jim Dale’s dramatizations are a lot of fun, and since the books range from long to looooooong, I can get a lot of chores done while listening. I agree that if I had tried to actually read the whole series, I probably would have dropped it by the middle of book two.
    Someone once asked JKR who her LEAST favorite character is, and she answered, “Hermione”. I think this reveals a lot about JKR, and it’s not flattering. I, personally, think these should be called the Hermione Granger Adventures because Hermione does all the research to have the needed info at the right time, she diligently practices her magic spells (I haven’t actually counted, but I’d bet she saved Harry’s life or liberty at least twice as often as he did hers), AND she is the best moral compass of the three protagonists.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Who is “Shaun”? Apparently they are so famous that they only need one name, like Cher or Bennifer, but I have to confess that I have no idea who it is.

  6. moarscienceplz says

    “If wizards are so powerful, why didn’t they stop Hitler?”
    Who’s to say they didn’t? The Allies DID win the war, after all. If the British PM consults with the British Minister of Magic (and they does (n.b., I’m trying to use the singular ‘they’ here, but it sure looks weird)), then surely the Chancellor of Germany would do the same with their counterpart.

  7. microraptor says

    Harry Potter is the story of a boy who gets the credit and fame for something his mother did, then skates through school without ever applying himself to anything besides sports and fighting because the authority figures in his life always bend the rules in his favor so that he doesn’t have to actually bother exerting himself on anything that doesn’t interest him. He inherits two fortunes and a house, and doesn’t even attend his final year of school while still somehow being allowed to not only graduate but become a wizard cop (a job for which he didn’t come close to meeting the grade requirements) because again, the rules are bent all the way around in his favor.

  8. blf says

    moarscienceplz@5, “Is there a way to disable the video feed on Youtube?”

    Yes there is. One example (not tested), youtube-dl can download only the Audio (output slightly edited for readability):
    $ youtube-dl -F 'https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1iaJWSwUZs'
    [youtube] -1iaJWSwUZs: Downloading webpage
    [info] Available formats for -1iaJWSwUZs:
    format code  extension  resolution note
    249          webm       audio only tiny  50k, webm_dash container, opus @ 50k (48000Hz), 38.44MiB
    250          webm       audio only tiny  71k, webm_dash container, opus @ 71k (48000Hz), 54.05MiB
    251          webm       audio only tiny 126k, webm_dash container, opus @126k (48000Hz), 96.10MiB
    140          m4a        audio only tiny 129k, m4a_dash container, mp4a.40.2@129k (44100Hz), 98.00MiB
     …

    In addition, a trivial Generalissimo Google™ search finds extensions for various browsers that play only the Audio (again, not tested). Both VLC and mpv are also reported as being able to play only the Audio. I myself have used mplayer to play only Audio, albeit from a previously-downloaded full-AV.

    I strongly suggest testing to ensure the possible answer is downloading (mostly-)only-Audio, and not the full-AV then discarding the Video.

  9. says

    On the Mac, I use something called ClipGrab — you enter the URL, and then you have the option of downloading in various formats, including MP3. This video crunches down to 5.5mb when you do that.

  10. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 8

    Allied wizards were too busy fighting the eldritch machinations of Hess’ Ahnenerbe sorcerers has they each raced across the globe to find ancient Atlantean, Hyperborean and Nacaal artifacts, Where did you learn history?! ;)

  11. seachange says

    Eliezer Yudkovsky writing as Less Wrong has a fanfic Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality that points out all the ridiculous things in the original stories. He acknowledges the implicit evil and screwed up nature of the JKR wizarding world, and then runs with Harry being a humanist exception who screws it back. It’s a fun read.

  12. PaulBC says

    I’m not inclined to trash Harry Potter. I thought the movies had great acting, plotting, and special effects. I read the books along with my kids when they were younger and enjoyed them, as well as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books. In fact, I prefer Riordan’s breezier style, but I also think they’re derivative, essentially with the same premise of kids with special powers and destinies, not that this was new when Rowling took it up. I get the point that they are culturally conservative. In fact, the whole idea of a “special” class of humans with innate power is appalling, but it kind of goes with the territory.

    When I was young, I read some of Edith Nesbit’s books (e.g. “Five Children and It”). I think they might seem really boring to kids today, but they stand out in giving agency to the child characters.

  13. PaulBC says

    I will also admit I’m a sucker for character arcs like Neville Longbottom from nebbish to hero. I’m no fan of Rowling the person, but again, I’m not going to trash a series of popular children’s fantasy books whose problems are not unique* among fantasy books.

    *There was a weird slogan of California Almond Growers “The water needs of almond trees are not unique among trees.” Kinda like that, yeah.

  14. says

    RE: Hermione and slavery – she fought against it because she too was considered a second class citizen by many in the wizarding world.

  15. cartomancer says

    I’ve not read the books, nor seen the films. I’ve picked up bits and pieces through cultural osmosis of course. It seems broadly harmless stuff as far as it goes (the fiction, that is, rather than the woman’s appalling bigoted views).

    I did see an interesting couple of videos about how Harry Potter is very popular among LGBT people in the US, and this has caused signficant anxiety since its creator went off on one.

  16. seachange says

    I can’t believe I’m defending JK Rowling.

    Okay between my last post and this I have watched 30 minutes of the video. I’m bored, and it’s a waste of time. I too have read all of the HP books and the Casual Visitor. I haven’t seen the extra movies or the detective novels. If he talks about them later, well too bad, he shouldn’t have been a boring waste of time or have given us a peek ahead of time.

    Camille Paglia writes longwinded post-modernist stuff, but she does you the honor of telling you what she’s gonna tell you so you know where she’s going. She also has real points and makes a few early to show you you should stick with it. Shaun does not do this. I don’t know Shaun or his rep, so I don’t owe him anything. I’m not going to waste any more of my time watching something that he himself has deconstructed on himself. Because JK Rowling has already done this.

    The Casual Visitor is a close analog of the whole Harry Potter shebang. It is an adult story told to adults. All of the analogues in this story to HP are shown warts and all as the evil uncaring fucks that they are. Evil is shown truly for what it is and she is not confused about it. All of the fictional children in this fictional? story are either are aware that adults that are like the HP adults don’t care about them or they learn it the hard way repeatedly. This fits my own observation of adults as a child, and the observations of children waiting in line for the books at the huge bookstore (remember those?) with me and Rick when they first came out they talked to us.

    Partly because their parents were there, we knew what we were talking about unlike their parents, and we were all fans. The fact that we were weren’t heterosexual and didn’t have children of our own freaked their parents out, actually. They were trapped by social convention though. (Like the perry the platypus canadian edition story, really). Some of the smarter kids realized this and this made them even more eager to talk to us. Bwa ha haaaaa!

    These RL children were NOT confused about the evil of all the adult HP characters. Only Shaun is. The reason these RL children wanted to read these stories is because they weren’t the bullshit cutesy wutesy heavily edited pap they were normally fed and which gets fed to children on the regular.

    The story of CV, aimed at adults, is an overt tragedy. HP is only not because it is aimed at kids.

    (Yudkofsky was considering making his own story a tragedy, but changed his mind so it has a happy ending).

    As evidence that most RL adults don’t get it is that reviewers of CV at the time were fully and truly of the belief that adults in Casual Visitor were “good people” simply because from a fascist unthinking authoritarian views of these reviewers they should-and-must be good simply because of where and when in society they are ranked or their power in the society of RL Britain. But instead of leaving it unexamined like she does in HP she does lots of foreshadowing in CV. All of the adults (who I mention again are analogues to the folks in HP) even the ones who do not have power and who think of themselves as good, are not presented as good and never were. Everyone in this story is awful. Like real life. As a result children suffer and die because of it.

    Gosh, JK Rowling supports orphanages. Who knew?

    The reviewers at-the-time didn’t read the adult story CV closely like adults with an adult point of view. They were still reading it like children with a childish point of view.

    Casual Visitor addresses pretty much every single point that Shaun has made so far 30 minutes in. Is Shaun a child? Which makes me think he hasn’t read it, or that he’s being disingenuous when he is pretending he isn’t criticizing just for the fun of doing fun criticizing. There’s nothing wrong with criticizing just for the fun of criticizing, like he says. But I’m not going to listen to one hour and forty five minutes of it.

  17. seachange says

    @18 Blake Stacy

    The science of science in a magical can’t be wrong, because magic and because story. The world in which the science occurs is objectively and repeatedly proven as well as can be done by Harry (and Hermione! who is smarter than his is and is respected for it and is described in that way by the author and is all the more dangerous for it) the scientific method in that world to work.

    The fact that this same science doesn’t work in the real world, which is what the reviewer you have linked to says and has a problem with, is silly. Of course it doesn’t.

  18. KG says

    seachange@19,
    The title of Rowling’s adult novel is The Casual Vacancy, not Casual Visitor. Have you actually read it? I’m guessing from your comments that English is not your first language, so you may have read it in translation, but Casual Visitor would not make any sense as a title in relation to the plot.

  19. PaulBC says

    seachange@19 I had some trouble following that. I think CV is actually The Casual Vacancy, not visitor. (I’m not familiar and had to Google to get this far.) I completely agree with this:

    These RL children were NOT confused about the evil of all the adult HP characters. … The reason these RL children wanted to read these stories is because they weren’t the bullshit cutesy wutesy heavily edited pap they were normally fed and which gets fed to children on the regular.

    My daughter liked the movie Deadpool when she saw it at around age 12. I was appalled by the sociopathic behavior, and could barely watch, but both of us understood that we weren’t watching a movie to find role models. (I don’t hate “dark” superhero scenarios and Logan is one of my favorites, but he’s not a sociopath, just a guy with a troubled past.)

    Harry Potter novels are engaging because they touch on people in morally significant situations making tough choices. You can critique their environment or the choices they make, but that doesn’t make it less interesting (other things might if you’re just not a fan). Kids enjoy these novels because there’s a lot of stuff going on and nobody is watering it down it to avoid upsetting them.

  20. birgerjohansson says

    If you feel like reading about wizards from an adult point of view, I strongly recommend the novels by Richard Kadrey.
    Start with Sandman Slim, then Kill the Dead and Aloha From Hell.
    Most (but not all) wizards are assholes, most (but not all) angels are assholes, god has a bad case of multiple personality syndrome and has physically split into several gods, most of them assholes. One or two denizens of hell are OK.
    One of the few fantasy series that pulls off having black humor among the misery.
    William Gibson wrote about the first book “It is the best Spaghetti Western I have ever read” 😊

  21. says

    The most telling point is that she created a fantasy world with slavery, and none of the ‘heroes’ even try to change it, except for Hermione, who is treated as an obsessive joke. In fact the whole arc of the whole series ends with the status quo preserved, only different players in charge.

    I guess my interpretation is slightly different. It would seem that Harry and Ron aren’t necessarily fans of slavery, but, yes, it is true they don’t try to change it. Rather, it seemed to me the takeaway is that, once the likes of Harry, etc, are in charge, slavery will just somehow magically (yep, went there for obvious reasons) go away because those in charge don’t practice it. How’s that going to stop those who do from keeping their slaves? Stop asking questions!!!
    Ultimately, where I’m going with this is that it did seem to me that Rowling does offer a solution to the problem…but her solution is absurd. (And, lucky for her, she didn’t have to bother mentioning anything about slavery in her world after the “heroes” win and so she didn’t have to try to make sense of her supposed solution.)
    On a somewhat separate note, the topic of slavery (droids, for example) is why I struggle to enjoy Star Wars at times (I bring it up as it also has a large nerd following). There aren’t really any true heroes in those stories, either. The Mandalorian has presented us with a character who is more of an antihero in ways and so that, I think, helps to make that show work. Actually, Han Solo probably really helped hold together that original trilogy by being an antihero, now that I think about it. And perhaps Luke starting out as a dweeb who grows into being a hero also helped. He’s also not expected to be solving all of the galaxy’s problems and so he never has to express views regarding slavery.

  22. PaulBC says

    Leo Buzalsky@24

    It would seem that Harry and Ron aren’t necessarily fans of slavery, but, yes, it is true they don’t try to change it.

    In Ron’s case at least, I think it’s very realistic to have characters who seem reasonable enough but are acclimated to injustice of which they’re not the target, and for which they’ve never seen a practical alternative. That explains most of human existence. Though I think a novel like Kindred by Octavia Butler gets at this a lot better, presenting actual historical slavery as a clear injustice, while not denying the moral ambivalence of those who grew up in such a society.

    In Harry’s case, you might expect him to be appalled, but he’s come from such an abusive environment, that he might be able to ignore a lot of what’s going on around him.

    I think for all of Rowling’s personal failings, particularly her transphobia, there’s no smoking gun in Harry Potter. She didn’t claim to be presenting a blueprint for utopia.

  23. Walter Solomon says

    PaulBC @22

    I don’t hate “dark” superhero scenarios and Logan is one of my favorites, but he’s not a sociopath, just a guy with a troubled past.

    They’re both antiheroes. While Deadpool is more gleeful when killing, he and Logan only kill evil people and both seem to be equally unremorseful about it.

    The punisher is also an antihero. The first anti-hero in comics, though, was Namor the Submariner way back in the 30s. He actually flooded NYC and he wasn’t brainwashed or being manipulated by evil. It was his clear headed choice based his war against the surface world. After all that, he was still meant to be considered a hero not a villain.

  24. PaulBC says

    Walter Solomon@26

    While Deadpool is more gleeful when killing, he and Logan only kill evil people and both seem to be equally unremorseful about it.

    This is not strictly true. In the movie, Deadpool escapes confinement only by killing everyone else there (my memory is a little hazy, so hopefully this fits others’ recollection of the plot). In fact most superheroes have little regard for collateral damage (a point that’s been used in storylines) but Deadpool seemed to kill with glee and primarily out of calculated self-interest, whereas Logan is driven more by desperation. I get the desperation thing.

    I’m also not even being a movie critic here, just saying which movies I like and which can barely watch.

  25. astringer says

    microraptor @9

    Couple of typo’s:-

    H̶a̶r̶r̶y̶ ̶P̶o̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ Charles Windsor is the story of a boy who gets the credit and fame for something his mother did, then skates through school without ever applying himself to anything besides sports and fighting because the authority figures in his life always bend the rules in his favor so that he doesn’t have to actually bother exerting himself on anything that doesn’t interest him. He inherits two fortunes and a house, and doesn’t even attend his final year of school while still somehow being allowed to not only graduate but become a w̶i̶z̶a̶r̶d̶ king.

  26. seachange says

    There are easier ways to take down JK Rowling as an author and there are easier ways to take her down as a person. She’s a big fat target. They don’t take an hour and a half.

    If my critics had actually read the book they would have seen from what I wrote that I had read the book.

    I am deeply unconcerned if you think I can read and write English. You did read me anyways! Therefore it was adequate.
    You: are silly. hee hee

    I am deeply unconcerned that you don’t think people can be imperfect and get the title of a book wrong. The book IS as described by me. If you yourself had read it you would know? And Shaun’s criticisms of Ms Rowling in that first half hour are criticisms of how children think. I am not requiring you to read me for an hour and forty five minutes. If imprecision bothers you, you are absolutely entitled to ignore everything else I say. Nothing super vital to anyone’s life is happening here.

    That you have chosen to go ad hominem implies to me that you think that Shaun’s criticism is not actually criticism for the literary value of it or that his criticism is not actually about the criticism just-for-fun that he acknowleges.

    I can’t read your mind. What your words tell me is that you think that Shaun is attempting to criticize the person and not the literary work at all. You seem to be upset that I have treated him at face value when you yourself are duplicitous and don’t think he should be taken at face value and you also seem to think he himself is duplicitous and shouldn’t be taken at face value.

    Now I will do some childish ad homimen back at ya!
    I can play this game too, it’s fun! Aww did I get in the middle of your mindless politpolizei reeducation camp mindset?

    Ms Rowling’s genius (such as it is, I do not claim she is a good writer or a good person nor do I claim she is at all right about transfolk) is sneaking the evil that is real life adults and how it harms children past all the parents. And getting kids to read as a result. Some of the clueless mommies in the line at the huge bookstore took their children out of the line because of the conversations Rick and I had with the other children. Part of this is that butt-fucking gay homosexuals really really like the book, gosh. Part of this was them realizing that these books allowed their children a view into how adults actually behave. Oh noes!

    Some of the bookstore staff approached and asked to censor us because they on the face of it were losing business. We were fine with that, we just wanted our books. Suprisingly to both of us we were defended by other parents and two very articulate and hyperintelligent young girls, and also that they pointed out to staff that in previous opening night releases they sold all out anyways. The manager came out, we were allowed to stay.

  27. says

    @20 seachange,

    The story claims to be explaining real-world science. It fails to do so. It gets Mendelian genetics wrong, for goodness’ sake.

  28. ORigel says

    I love the HP series. Not defending the neoliberal slant of the books, or the house elf slavery, or the TERFiness of the author.

    As for HPMOR…I dislike it. I hate the egotistic main character, I hate the sexism, I hate the unrealistic characters, I hate the author’s terror of death. The only thing I like about it is the badassery of Quirrelmort. There are much better fanfics out there.

  29. Walter Solomon says

    PaulBC @27

    This is not strictly true. In the movie, Deadpool escapes confinement only by killing everyone else there (my memory is a little hazy, so hopefully this fits others’ recollection of the plot).

    It’s been awhile for me too. I do know a fire started where he was being held captive but I don’t remember if he started it on purpose or if it was a result of the fight he was having.

    In fact most superheroes have little regard for collateral damage (a point that’s been used in storylines)

    This is especially true of Superman who seemingly has no compunction in engaging in fights that can level a city in the middle of town.

    Deadpool seemed to kill with glee and primarily out of calculated self-interest, whereas Logan is driven more by desperation. I get the desperation thing.

    Well, Deadpool is a hitman before he gains his powers. If you’re going to be employed in a job that requires you to kill people you know little about, I guess it helps if you enjoy taking human life. That said, he was also shown to be able to fall in love and be self-sacrificing in the film as well so ‘Pool isn’t a complete lost cause.

    Logan was basically a wreck and at the end of his life in Logan. You can tell he doesn’t want to fight anymore so I agree with you there. That said, he still doesn’t seem to have much remorse for the people he kills and young Logan, going by nearly 20 years of X-Men films, has always been shown to be an unremorseful killing machine who has a penchant of going berserk if not exactly being gleeful.

  30. Pierce R. Butler says

    … inherently conservative, opposed to any kind of systemic change…

    Brian Aldiss observed decades ago that this pattern applies to fantasy fiction across the board: the protagonists fight against outside disruption, prevail, and the hobbits return to the Shire.

    Conversely, in science fiction, regardless of who wins, most often the status quo ante is forever changed.

  31. llyris says

    JkRowling is reminiscent of Enid Blyton, in all it’s unexamined classist, sexist, racist glory. (They are still in print today). But it is also seen through the lens of Thatcher’s Britain. I guess that makes them more understandable.
    But with all that interminable awful quidditch rubbish.
    I just didn’t think they were very good books, even though I still like Enid Blyton despite all the cringeworthy bigotry. They’re a bit too harsh and mean and I don’t really want my kids to read them.

  32. Pierce R. Butler says

    PZ Myers @ # 11: … I use something called ClipGrab…

    Wikipedia:

    The ClipGrab installer for Windows includes installCore,[11] an advertising software module classified as a potentially unwanted program (PUP) or potentially unwanted application (PUA) by some anti-malware products. Due to the use of installCore, ClipGrab has been described as “loaded with crapware”.[2] Virus reports on the ClipGrab forum have not received a response from the developer.[12][13] Articles on ClipGrab from 2018 onwards are more critical, and classify the software as malware, rather than as a helpful consumer product, as in reviews from 2011-2015.

    An alternate download without InstallCore is also offered.[14]

  33. Pierce R. Butler says

    Oops, somehow cut off from my # 35: No mention made of Mac version of ClipGrab.

  34. Aoife_b says

    @29
    So is there a point to all the paragraphs, or do you feel compelled to give a contrary opinion on a woman who disappointed a lot of us?

  35. PaulBC says

    Pierce R. Butler@33 That’s an interesting distinction between science fiction and fantasy, and I don’t think I’ve heard it before. I am also not sure how seriously to take it.

    Conversely, in science fiction, regardless of who wins, most often the status quo ante is forever changed.

    (Just digressing below on whether I agree.)

    In a novel like Childhood’s End the entire concept of what it means to be human is changed. On the other hand, in a typical alien invasion story (taking War of the Worlds as a prototype) the happy ending is that the earth is “saved” and sort of back to normal. Of course, it’s altered as with any catastrophe, but the moral isn’t “that Martian invasion really gave us a new outlook on our place in the universe.” I mean, it could be the moral but it’s usually not.

    Plenty of plots have been developed since either of those, and I imagine at least some authors are consciously rooting for or against the status quo. Dune (or does that qualify as fantasy?) seems committed to preserving institutions. Well, as far as I made it, which was God Emperor of Dune. Granted things do change, but I don’t think the fundamental values do.

    Science fiction and fantasy readers are not usually looking for a “slice of life” narrative (exceptions?), so it’s understandable if plots can be often be divided into “Hero preserves that which is good against evil threat.” and “Hero overturns that which is bad, resulting in happy change.” (And in some cases–especially in fantasy–the “change” is the restoration of an earlier golden age.)

    There is one asymmetry, aside from genre conventions, namely that science fiction deals with possibilities (whether believable or not) and fantasy resides in a self-contained framework. So science fiction is in a position to explore human destiny, good or bad: life after “first contact”, after intelligent computers, after some cataclysm. Fantasy can’t really do that, except metaphorically. So there’s more reason to explore a changed status quo in science fiction than fantasy, in which the outcome has no external relevance.

    I’m still not sure I buy the premise. Also, considering the authors who’ve written in both genres, do they really switch their outlook? I feel that the preservation vs. reform distinction is more closely connected to authors and their readers.

  36. says

    Sounds like this video is basically an expanded, sourced version of a screenshot I’ve repeatedly seen of a post, apparently from 4chan and apparently from 2017. (Found it!) The text runs:

    It very neatly describes the way liberals see the world and political struggle.

    Lots of people complain about the anti-climactic ending, but really I don’t think it could any other way. I’d like to imagine that there’s some alternate universe where Rowling actually believed in something and Harry was actually built up as the anti-Voldemort he was only hinted as being in the beginning of the books. Where he’s opposes all the many injustices of the wizarding world and determines to change their frequently backwards, insular, contradictory society for the better, and forms his own faction antithetical to the Death Eaters and when he finally has his showdown with Voldy, Harry surpasses by adopting new methods, breaking the rules and embracing change and the progression of history. While Voldemort clings to an idyllic imaging of the past and the greatest extent of his dreams is to become the self-appointed god of a eternally stagnant Neverland, Harry has embraced the possibility of a shining future and so can overcome the self-imposed limits Voldemort could never cross, and Voldemort is ultimately defeated by this.

    But that would require a Harry that believed in something, and since Rowling is a liberal centrist Blairite that doesn’t really believe in anything, Harry can’t believe in anything. Harry lives in a world draught [sic] with conflict and injustice, a stratified class society, slavery of sentient magical creatures, the absurd charade the wizarding world puts up to enforce their own self-segregration, a corrupted and bureaucracy-choked government, rampant racism, so on and so forth. But Harry is little more than a passive observer for most of it, only the racism really bothers him (and then, really only racism against half-bloods). In fact, when Hermione stands up against the slavery of elves, she’s treated as some kind of ridiculous Soapbox Sadie. For opposing chattel slavery. In the end, the biggest force for change is Voldemort and Harry and firiends [sic] only ever fight for the preservation and reproduction of the status quo. The very height of Harry’s dreams is to join the aurors, a sort of wizard FBI and the ultimate defenders of the wizarding status quo. Voldemort and the Death Eaters are the big instigators of change and Harry never quite gets to Voldy’s level. Harry doesn’t even beat Voldemort, Voldemort accidentally kills himself because he violated some obscure technicality that causes one of his spells to bounce back at him.

    And this is really the struggle of liberals, they live in a world fraught with conflict, but aren’t particularly bothered by any of it except those bit that threaten multicultural pluralism. They see change, and the force behind that change, as a wholly negative phenomenon. Even then, they can only act within the legal and ideological framework of their society. So, for instance, instead of organizing insurrectionary and disruptive activity against Trump and the far-right, all they can do is bang their drum about what a racist bigot he is and hope they catch him violating some technicality that will allow them to have him impeached or at least destroy his political clout. It won’t work, it will never work, but that’s the limit of liberalism just as it was the limit of Harry Potter.

  37. Pierce R. Butler says

    PaulBC @ # 38 – Well, I did (try to) cover my butt with that “most often”…

    … I imagine at least some authors are consciously rooting for or against the status quo.

    Alexei & Cory Panshin’s Earth Magic comes to mind, a sort of inversion of fantasy themes influenced by Carlos Castenada and modern feminism.

    Dune (or does that qualify as fantasy?) seems committed to preserving institutions.

    Good example: the feudalism there gets rocked, but endures.

    Science fiction and fantasy readers are not usually looking for a “slice of life” narrative (exceptions?)…

    Many short stories. Lots of fantasy authors from Lovecraft to de Lint just want to lift the curtain, take a snapshot, and drop the curtain again; sf does the same, though perhaps with more zingers.

    And in some cases–especially in fantasy–the “change” is the restoration of an earlier golden age.

    I think, but don’t have the book on hand to look up, that Aldiss uses the word “reactionary” in his description of fantasy. The Return of the Reign of Rightful Royalty dominates an awful lot of plots (another reason to call Star Wars fantasy).

    … considering the authors who’ve written in both genres, do they really switch their outlook?

    Consider Poul Anderson, who worked both sides of that street for decades, always with the clever individualist winning: I suspect you could made a decent case he worked out a storyline and then built a world around it, including genre. Then again, authors of more disruptive intent – Michael Moorcock & Harlan Ellison come to mind – wrote sf so “soft” that it seems mostly fantastical… Hrrrmmm.

    Aldiss published his first edition of sf history in ’73; I haven’t laid hands on either of the later versions. His insight does seem to apply better to the sf&f of that period than to newer stuff from the last 49 years; perhaps he updated the formula I parroted without sufficient consideration (though it clearly does apply to the Potterverse, and Hollywood’s version of sf has a long way to go to catch up to 1973).

  38. Deep Myth says

    @cartomancer
    Thanks for the rec of James Somerton’s video. I understand much better criticism of how Rowling handled Dumbledore’s gayness.

  39. Deep Myth says

    I love Shaun. I love how he stood up to BS, right when so much of Youtube was Gung Ho anti-feminist (2016): his takedown of Sargon, Cinema Sins, Black Pigeon Speaks, and “race realism”, etc. I was eager to hear Shaun’s take on J K Rowling.

    But I find myself agreeing with @seachange. I cringed when Shaun said that HP’s ending was more depressing than Orwell’s 1984. I’ve got to disagree there. Orwell was much more depressing than HP, and I wonder about anyone who thinks otherwise. Shaun also thinks that the HP series payoff is weak because it didn’t free all the slaves, etc. IDK. I thought it made HP’s story more real, that bad systems don’t vanish overnight because of a few won battles. Although, I’m still grateful for Shaun’s take, and I agree that it’s too easy to hand-waive evil & thereby condone it, and Rowling definitely does this.

  40. says

    And this is really the struggle of liberals, they live in a world fraught with conflict, but aren’t particularly bothered by any of it except those bit that threaten multicultural pluralism. They see change, and the force behind that change, as a wholly negative phenomenon.

    Um…which “liberals” are you talking about, exactly? And which change do they (we?) “see …as a wholly negative phenomenon?”

  41. says

    Also, just because someone is reluctant to embrace radical change because they fear it’s unpopular, doesn’t mean they “see change as a wholly negative phenomenon.”

  42. says

    And no, I didn’t support either of them in the primaries…but truth be told, none of the other candidates turned out to be all that viable either. Agreeable, yes, but not viable. I voted for Sanders both times, but not with any illusions that he’d have made a more effective campaigner than either Clinton or Biden.

  43. PaulBC says

    I saw the change from Obama to Trump “as a wholly negative phenomenon” and even the wake-up call wasn’t much of a silver lining. It was great to see people motivated to action, e.g. in the Women’s March, the protests against the Muslim ban, and the 2018 elections. But it was basically a matter of being set back a few steps and with effort regaining some but not all lost ground. This is the political story I have been watching my whole life.

    On the other hand, a lot of cultural changes since the 80s have been positive. I can’t say the same for most policy changes, with the “very serious people” in the thrall of small government, free-market voodoo. That said, ACA was an improvement over the desperate state of American healthcare that preceded it (and yes it was based on a rightwing market blueprint, so no exception to the previous point). While I don’t like the way Trump and the GOP carried out their tax scam in 2018, the increases that adversely affected people like me, making my high property tax and mortgage interest no longer a big win, were probably changes for the better. The corporate giveaway, not so much.

    In short, some changes are good, some changes are bad. Another thing that’s actually good, which is probably where I part ways with the Vicars of the world is a level of stability that makes it possible to plan your life from year to year. The incredible thing about the GOP tax scam is how changes just came down like a load of bricks, no phasing in. I can adapt to any tax schedule. The problem comes when I adapt to one I think is there and the rug gets pulled out.

    I am not really sure what this has to do with Harry Potter. By all means, the elves should have been freed immediately. That’s an urgent moral issue. But the plot arc was not about reform. It was about addressing an urgent crisis. “Change” to rule by Voldemort and the Death Eaters would be (dare I say) a wholly negative phenomenon. Maintaining the status quo, while not a great outcome, is clearly preferable and in the context of the story may have been about the most anyone was going to manage under the circumstances.

    BTW, Voldemort’s death wasn’t entirely an own goal as suggested in the quote in @39. Neville’s killing Nagini destroyed a horcrux, and the destruction of other horcruxes also helped. So basically it was a collaborative effort against one specific “existential threat” (as the kids say) and not a general reform movement.

  44. says

    @#47, Raging Bee:

    Uh, which party’s primaries had both Trump and either Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, pray tell? I know reading comprehension is a lost art, but even so…

    And no, Hillary Clinton wasn’t merely against “radical change”, she was against any significant change at all. Her whole campaign was “if we’re very quiet and meek and don’t ask for anything whatsoever from the 1%, then maybe the mean Republicans will go away”. She spent the entire time between her narrowly-won primaries and the election kicking the base in the teeth, and entirely deserved her loss. Her only positive point of appeal was her gender, but frankly an incompetent, evil woman is not actually an improvement in statecraft over an incompetent, evil man. (Now if only she would really shut up and go away — the other day, she was on CNN praising Al Queda because they once fought the Russians. Throw yet another example on the pile of things that apparently Democrats are willing to support which they would be screaming about if a Republican did it — along with lying under oath, increasing funding to proven murderous cops, and using fictional casus belli to start wars.)

    And as for Biden, his whole shtick was “I’m going to unite the country and work with the Republicans”, and although it was certainly more likely that he would work with the Republicans than with the left, given his history, after 4 years of Trump if you thought that unity with the Republicans was even possible, let alone desireable, then frankly your classification as “liberal” may be in doubt but your classification as “idiot” is not.

  45. kaleberg says

    The politics of Harry Potter are pretty awful. Since the magic itself was rather pointless, I got the impression that Rowling was trying to do parody with limited success. Mind you, I enjoyed reading the books. They were a good pastiche and hit the beats well, especially in the earlier books. The movies were awful. The ending wasn’t very good either with Rowling pulling the The Hallows or whatever out of a hat. (How could a children’s story that every child was extremely familiar with not have come up, even in passing, at a major wizarding school?) Worse, everyone seemed to just go back to work in the end. There was no sense of closure. A lot of magic world book series end with the passing of magic and lessons learned. Others end with a hazy happily ever after which is fair even if it is really just a lot happier for a fair while after. Harry Potter just went back to work. I suppose that is realistic, but I felt we were owed more.

  46. PaulBC says

    The Vicar@49

    [Clinton] entirely deserved her loss

    This is exactly the problem I have. Who gives a flying fuck who “deserved” anything?

    Electing Hillary Clinton still would have been a better outcome than electing Trump, which not only harmed “neoliberals” but also set everyone to the left of them back years. Progressives aren’t doing better now than they were in 2016. If the standard of an election is whether it “punishes” the deserving, 2016 was a resounding success.

    Reading my sister-in-law’s facebook posts during that election, I concluded that the primary goal of the left was to stick it to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who I would not have even heard of otherwise. Well, it worked. I mean, she’s still a representative from Florida, but she’ll probably never be a big party operative again. Hooray! I have a simple theory that you are most likely to attain what you put most of your effort into. When more effort goes into destroying DWS’s career, perhaps “deservedly”, than keeping a fascist out of the White House, there should be no surprise about the outcome.

    Speaking of Harry Potter, I remember a number of memes comparing Hillary Clinton to Dolores Umbridge. So Rowling’s work may resonate more on the left than you’d think.

  47. PaulBC says

    And just to get to specifics, Trump’s election is the sole reason that the Supreme Court is now packed 6-3 with Federalist Society justices. If Clinton had been elected, all other things equal, she would have been in a position to nominate 2 justices. I say “in a position” because I’m sure McConnell would have come up with all kinds of new “rules” for not seating any new justices. And 2 because Anthony Kennedy might not have retired.

    It was not about Clinton or Trump let alone what either of them “deserved.” It was about avoiding the disaster of lining up rightwing power in all three branches of government. In fact, Trump could have done a lot more damage that he actually accomplished, mostly due to his fixations and overall incompetence. But by the standard of SCOTUS appointments alone, it was a no-brainer in 2016 to elect any Democrat over any Republican.

  48. vucodlak says

    @ The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs), #49

    You know, if you could make your points without lying your ass off, we might have some points of agreement. But this? This is pure horseshit:

    Her whole campaign was “if we’re very quiet and meek and don’t ask for anything whatsoever from the 1%, then maybe the mean Republicans will go away”.

    Clinton’s campaign came down to:
    A.) promising a continuation of the Obama administration’s policy agenda

    B.) saying “I’m not Trump” over and over, which is true but not really sufficient

    Her only positive point of appeal was her gender, but frankly an incompetent, evil woman is not actually an improvement in statecraft over an incompetent, evil man.

    Incompetence was not why I (nor, I’m guessing, most of the other people who voted for Sanders in the primary) don’t care for Clinton. Hillary Clinton is extremely competent at statecraft, and would have been an improvement over Trump in every conceivable way.

    Let’s take a look at a few things that definitely wouldn’t have happened under Clinton:
    1.) Continuous federal attacks on transgender people, including, but not limited to, the ban on transgender service members
    2.) The expansion of the War on Drugs
    3.) The massive emboldening of literal fucking Nazis
    4.) The weakening of NATO and other key alliances, which led directly to Putin’s current little war-criming spree
    5.) WALL. Just, fucking WALL.
    6.) The further weakening of the already supremely-shitty ACA
    7.) The tax giveaway for the ultra-rich
    8.) The near-complete dismantling of every environmental policy gain we’ve made in the last 50 years

    I’m not saying we would have made a lot of, or even any, significant progress under Clinton, but at least it wouldn’t have been a rocket-sled ride into a Nazi-infested cesspool.

    Problem 1 for me with Clinton is that she’s an authoritarian asshole, albeit not in the same way or to the same degree that Trump is, with an abiding love for the surveillance state. She made that clear in the very first primary debate. Problem 2 is that she tells lies that are rather telling about how she really feels about certain parts of her base, such as when she praised Nancy Reagan for her AIDS activism, then had one of her peons release a truly pathetic not-pology. Problem 3 is that she promised to continue Obama-era policy, a great deal of which was shit.

    But incompetent? Would have been as bad as Trump? Fuck off, and keep fucking off for putting me in a position where I feel I have to defend Hillary Clinton.

  49. says

    It is pretty great but darn is it long so I still have two thirds to go. I did add a bog standard comment on the tribalism of assigning “good” and “bad” guys.

  50. KG says

    Let’s take a look at a few things that definitely wouldn’t have happened under Clinton:
    1.) Continuous federal attacks on transgender people, including, but not limited to, the ban on transgender service members
    2.) The expansion of the War on Drugs
    3.) The massive emboldening of literal fucking Nazis
    4.) The weakening of NATO and other key alliances, which led directly to Putin’s current little war-criming spree
    5.) WALL. Just, fucking WALL.
    6.) The further weakening of the already supremely-shitty ACA
    7.) The tax giveaway for the ultra-rich
    8.) The near-complete dismantling of every environmental policy gain we’ve made in the last 50 years
    – vucodlak@53

    Yes, yes, but apart from that, what would Clinton ever have done for us? ;-)

    If my critics had actually read the book they would have seen from what I wrote that I had read the book. – seachange@29

    Actually, you could easily have got everything specific you said about The Casual Vacancy (which wasn’t much) from the Wikipedia article on it. It was the fact that the “Casual Vacancy” on the parish council caused by the death of Barry Fairbrother was what got the entire plot going, while there is no “Casual Visitor” as far as I recall, that led me to semi-seriously question whether you had actually read the book. FWIW, I accept your assurance that you did.

  51. StevoR says

    @44, The Vicar : If you supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries or Joe Biden in the 2020 primaries, you are one of them

    And if you supported Trump instead? What does that make you?

  52. Pierce R. Butler says

    vucodlak @ # 53: … a few things that definitely wouldn’t have happened under Clinton: … massive emboldening of literal fucking Nazis …

    Not so sure about that. Look at the massive emboldening of racists lashing back against Obama – and imagine a parallel, aided & abetted by the same lie machines, reaction by misogynists.

    But yeah, even so, we’d’ve been better off than with what we got.

  53. pacal says

    I found Shaun’s video essay interesting. I did not agree with everything he said but it was interesting. As for boring. Whatever.

  54. PaulBC says

    My read of a lot of people on the left (assuming that’s a fair characterization of Vicar) is that they’re a lot more motivated by “punishing” false friends than moving closer to passing a progressive agenda by working against their opponents, who still control federal politics (and have a lock of SCOTUS for crying out loud). To be clear, that’s not true of all progressives. I think “the Squad” is just fine, for instance, and need to be there reminding the Democratic party of the people it claims to represent. I’m not a huge fan of Bernie Sanders stylistically, but if he had just stopped calling himself a socialist, and aligned as an “FDR Democrat”, which is fairly accurate, I’d be a lot more enthusiastic.

    I voted Sanders in the 2020 CA primary, a calculation that made more sense before the shit hit the fan (pandemic, etc). However, the real action, politically speaking, was what went on in Georgia, consisting of classic GOTV work, driven by Stacey Abrams and others, and seizing a rare opportunity to elect two senators when Trump was convincing his base that the whole election was a fraud.

    Here’s the thing. The “punishing” left is not ineffectual at all. They’re great at punishing. Hillary Clinton got punished. Debbie Wasserman Schultz got punished. All the career dweebs expecting cushy White Home advisor jobs in 2017 got punished. So hooray for that. You set a goal and you carried it out.

    But it’s not a goal I’m very interested in. I think, for instance that healthcare and access to higher education without going into debt are important. I’d accept a “progressive” solution. I’d accept anything in between that and the crap we have now. But as long as a group sees this, effectively, in moral terms of who “deserves” to be in the White House, we’re dead.

    I mean, I think Trump “deserved” to win the 2016. He ran a pretty amazing campaign, tickling exactly the worst instincts of a certain class of voters, exploiting the electoral college system masterfully, getting just enough votes in WI, MI, and PA that Hillary Clinton’s campaign had ceded, idiotically, believing that their working class constituents didn’t matter.

    I mean, I can look at it as a chess game. Who played a better game, Fischer or Spassky? That’s one question. Now let’s say there are 3 SCOTUS seats dependent on what happens in Reykjavík. In that case, I don’t give a flying fuck who played a better game. I do care who wins, and if it’s because the better player (with a worse outcome) . If the better player was distracted by a loud noise or similar, my reaction is going to be relief, not disappointment.

    Let me repeat, I do not give a flying fuck who “deserves” what in politics. What are people like Vicar smoking?

  55. Rob Grigjanis says

    PaulBC @59:

    My read of a lot of people on the left (assuming that’s a fair characterization of Vicar)

    I think the appropriate term for The Vicar and mnb0 is “left-accelerationist”. Which is, as far as I can tell, indistinguishable from “right-accelerationist”.

  56. dianne says

    I think Trump “deserved” to win the 2016.

    Actually, Trump’s performance in 2016 was pretty pathetic. All the economic indicators said a Republican would win. He had Putin’s support and help in the ongoing smear campaign against Clinton. He had a fanatic base. He still managed to lose and only “won” because of the electoral college. He should have won the majority easily. He is, as always, a loser.

  57. PaulBC says

    dianne@61 I agree with most of that. I think the GOP could have fielded a stronger candidate and captured some of the “middle”, which really did exist, more so then than now. Now I’m literally blanking on who there was (besides Cruz, gack). Kasich might have been able to win the general election just on seeming innocuousness. Jeb! ran a laughable primary campaign, so maybe not him even if he was an early favorite.

    You may be forgetting that Obama had >50% approval ratings despite a segment of the public that hated him. It wasn’t such a bad year for continuing a Democratic presidency (regardless of predictive models), and the economy was looking up. The Democratic party had reasonable expectations of choosing an establishment candidate and pushing them through.

    But I mean narrowly in the context of the endgame of the 2016 general election, Hillary Clinton did some really dumb things, relying on a computer model that said they’d win the three states that made a difference and failing to campaign there (or at least as much as they should have). Schumer openly laughed at blue collar voters, saying in July 2016 “For every blue-collar Democrat we lose in western Pennsylvania, we will pick up two moderate Republicans in the suburbs in Philadelphia, and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin.” This is disgusting, not because it was a complete failure, and for instance Orange County, California went to Hillary Clinton (which would have been big news if she had won). It is disgusting because it amounts to the party turning their back on their core constituents.

    The Trump campaign did some smart things, and stayed loyal to his core constituents, racists and other “deplorables.” At that point in the general election (“pussy” tape and all) he should have been toast, but thanks to the electoral college, and intentional tactics to exploit it, he became president elect under the US constitution (based on some particularly asinine rules, but still the constitution).

    Hillary Clinton almost certainly still would have won if Comey hadn’t made his announcement. Still I think Trump played a much better final round given his position.

    To get to my bigger point though. It doesn’t matter what anyone “deserved” either morally or in terms of game playing. It was catastrophic to have Trump inaugurated as president, and we will be paying the price for many years to come (and we’re still paying the price for W’s “daddy issues.”).

  58. StevoR says

    @62. PaulBC :

    Now I’m literally blanking on who there was (besides Cruz, gack). Kasich might have been able to win the general election just on seeming innocuousness. Jeb! ran a laughable primary campaign, so maybe not him even if he was an early favorite.

    The Repub klown car for 2016 included as well as Cruz, Kasich and Jeb Bush (the early favourite) -as noted : Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsay Graham, Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki, and Mr ‘Frothymix” Santorum.

    Yeah, I had to look that up too :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Republican_Party_presidential_primaries

    Some of those would also have been absolutely horrid but I think in hindsight we can say the very worst of worst “won.”

  59. anat says

    The Vicar, various: Well, since a lot of the thread is not about HP or Rowling but on policies of various Democratic politicians, here is something I was not aware of: The Biden international labor agenda. Looks like even a centrist liberal can work for change in some classical economic-left areas.

  60. StevoR says

    @43. Deep Myth

    …But I find myself agreeing with @seachange. I cringed when Shaun said that HP’s ending was more depressing than Orwell’s 1984. I’ve got to disagree there. Orwell was much more depressing than HP, and I wonder about anyone who thinks otherwise.

    Seconded 100%.

    Orwell’s 1984 has to be the most deptressing novel I’ve ever read. One of the most powerful and best written but also yes, absolutely the most depressing ever.

    Oh and talk about SF that supports the (fictional uber-dystopian) status quo..

  61. says

    @43 Deep Myth

    Actually, it is more depressing. In 1984 the protagnoist had to be tortured mentally and physically to the point of selling out the one person dearest to him to accept the system and was a completely broken person afterwards. In HP the protagonist supports the system happily without much prompting from anyone and despite the fact that the system failed him and many other people repeatedly. People this unreflecting and ,missing in awareness are more of a let-down than someone whose compliance had to be enforced with nothing but utmost violence and cruelty.

  62. StevoR says

    @ ^ AugustusVerger : I see what you are saying and that’s a valid point but I know which oen was a more depressing -and memorable – read / watch.

    HP was basically “fun” of sorts with magic and fantasy and exotic creatures and “escapist” where the “good guys” (surface level) “won” whereas 1984, well, none of that..

    The sad (or on reflection disturbing) thing is how easy Rowling did make it to overlook the absolute cruelty, incompetence and evil of her wizarding world and to – like the characters in it esp her heroes – not to think about it too much.. Oh elves, wait elves are slaves (& no one seems to care) but this character’s comic relief, phew, he’s free and .. nothing, slavery for all the others and denigration of the girl trying to free them all, Oh hang on, DRAGON! Wow! Boo, awful teacher, cool Hippogriff, Uh oh, Voldemort, yay transforming into animals, etc.. It is really creepily well buried and forgotten about which, yeah the more you think about it..*

    So, I guess more Huxley’s seductive (ish) ‘Brave New World’ than Orwell’s in your face sadistic, grungy, miserable grimness.

    Wonder if a) people will now start asking JK Rowling about it and B) whether she** might address this in some possible sequels that focus on & deal with the issues of house elf slavery etc .. esp C) from the house elf / goblin / second class sentient peoples eg Centaur, Merperson etc .. POV?

    ** Or fan fic writers in the Potterverse even?

  63. says

    @67 SteveoR

    I simply find that there’s actually a fairly upbeat message buried in 1984, namely that the oppressors have no argument against the humanity of the protagonist other than torturing him and threatening to release frightened rats onto his face. It’s only in this environment that O’Brien dares to lecture Winston about the superiority of Ingsoc because otherwise it would be easy to pick holes in his political theory. If Ingsoc was really this great, they wouldn’t need this, but it’s actually terrible enough that even that idiot Parsons subconsciously hated it (if his kids didn’t just make it up).
    The Ministry of Magic by contrast not only failed the protagonist, its failings were openly acknowledged in-story. They were incapable ot handling Voldemort in the first war, needing a clandestine civilian group founded by Dumbledore to pick up the slack and even then Voldemort only perished thanks to a rather unlikely chain of events that wasn’t planned by anyone. In the second the Ministry falls to Voldemort in record time because it’s run incompetently and because it’s basically in alignment with Voldemort’s wizard-supremacist prattle anyway. And yet even though the protagonist witnessed these failures first-hand, the series ends with ministry left in place largely unchanged and Harry becomes an enforcer of its rule.
    Imagine 1984 ending with Winston convinced by O’Brien’s twaddle about Ingsoc, ranking up to Inner Party, and him torturing dissidents himself. Now that would be a way darker ending than the original one.

  64. says

    Finally got around to watching the video. If Seachange @19 got as far as his analysis of Casual Vacancy and didn’t agree with it, I’d be mighty fucking curious what the fuck their knucklehead thinks was wrong with it. Indeed the final conclusions of the video are, while an unoriginal summation of many other people’s contribution to HP discourse, a perfectly lucid and reasonable takedown of the whole proceedings – not just the way the adults function in the series, but the way the young hero and the voice of the universe itself in those books are wronghearted and bullshit (my words, not his, which were reiteration of anon 4channers “blairite liberal”).

    Your focus on the evil of adults and the children suffering has fuck-all to do with the analysis at hand. The only thing that could possibly support that reading is if you ponied up some evidence from the books that HP and company grew up to become evil, as heritors of the status quo at the end of the series. Do you have any actual counter-argument for his critique of CV or did you even get that far? You were mighty confident to talk shit about the video after watching 30 minutes of it.

    I guess that’s fair because the only parts of HP that I’ve read were quotes people excerpted to mock her crap writing skills. These books are successful because they are wish fulfillment of someone with a selfish child’s morality, because they included a new zodiac / Meyers-Briggs knockoff for wand nerds, and because JK was positioned by privilege to take advantage of the dying book industry’s monomaniacal marketing desperation.
    -.

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