Harry Potter has always been fucked up.
Let’s just clear the air on that one.
We open on an orphan child kept in abusive conditions by adoptive parents who despise him for even existing. It is quickly revealed that the abused child is cursed, and soon enough he is saved from his abusive condition and introduced into a secret society. One he had no greater right to join than the fact that apparently his parents were of this secret class of people.
Over many books, written like Classic Doctor Who episodes, we would learn that our Harry was in fact the savior of the Wizarding Race. And the more I saw that plot line developing, the less invested I was in the franchise. I remember that the boy wizard had to go to their special wizard bank, and it was basically an anti-Semitic fever dream. Goblins, running a bank. Goebbels would have told them to tone it down.
It did not come on like a light bulb. I had other things on my mind. But, every time I saw that character pop back up he became more problematic.
I was raised in a certain way, subjected to a certain kind of education. The end result of which is that I get British people, and their schools. The author of those Harry Potter books revealed a great deal about their own background by choosing that kind of school as a setting.
What is Hogwarts any way?
We are told it is a school for wizards. A place where those who are born into an elite supernatural class of people are educated. And that is the overarching theme of the books. Harry is special because his parents were special. All the other characters exist in relation to Harry. Because, Harry is the chosen royal savior of the story. It is Harry who will vanquish the menacing evil. Because that is his destiny from the start.
I’m slow to judge. I don’t have much time to care about children’s literature. I was aware that the author had struck a goldmine. I didn’t want to seem jealous, but my gut was skeptical.
This is the second or third time I’ve decided to write about why I really do dislike those books and the franchise spawned from the wizarding world… of a rather nasty woman.
We don’t know much about the author of these whimsical novels. Joanne Rowling was fortunate enough to get signed to Bloomsbury Publishing, a legacy firm with the reputation to force a bestseller. When interviewed Rowling was candid in saying she had a friend from school who “believed in her” and encouraged her to just write something.
So she wrote… something.
What the fuck did she write?
The abused boy gets a redemption arc… great… the redeemed boy becomes the heroic youth, excellent… Is this just Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” stretched out into absurdity? Yes.
Yes, Harry Potter is what happens to Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” when a bunch of children’s book editors force it through a machine that makes them rich. Harry Potter is problematic because no one was thinking about what they were doing.
People who needed to make a considerable sum of money all got on with a story. They made their money, and then, they kept making money. So, they didn’t care because the money was being made.
The problem with Harry Potter is that it starts with the so called “sorting hat”… this formal ritual that determines what kind of a person you are. This magical hat divides new students by social class. Labor, Management, Leader, and Slytherin.
To her credit, Rowling does start out presenting the fascists of her wizarding world as bad. But, their very existence within the greater college that is Hogwarts implies they are necessary. That the old guard aristocracy determined to revive fascism are an essential part of the fantasy world of this school for wizards.
As the novels progress, Harry wins because he must win for the novels to progress. They set a pattern, and that pattern is determined by the premise that some kind of magical justice will prevail. Harry will defeat the current personification of evil, because that is what he does. Because his parents were very special people…
And that is where we spiral into a bunch of bloodline bullshit that makes this whole story inherently fascist.
Harry Potter is inherently fascist.
I have always been proud of the fact that I never read Harry Potter books. Now I understand one of the reasons why; it is bullshit.
I haven’t actually read the books, either. I remember that we listened to the first HP audiobook on the last road trip I took with my family, and found it charming enough. Devil knows it has been hard to avoid over the past couple decades, so you should be proud. I’m a bit surprised it has taken this long for people to pick up on all the bullshit ideology Rowling packed into her stories.