Harry Potter: Why Is It Problematic? · Miscellaneous

HARRY POTTER AND THE PROBLEMATIC ASPECTS NO ONE ACKNOWLEDGES [PART 3]

Disclaimer: I am not personally attacking anyone. These are my honest and unadulterated thoughts that had bothered me for a while. Harry Potter is the first book (series) that I read. I grew up with the story and the journey has, and always will be magical. This does not, in any way, alters, minimizes or eliminates the fact that they are one of the most problematic books of all time. I would request to those reading this post: please be civil in the comments section. Thank you. Let’s get shady.

I’m here with the last part of this post. You can find the first part here and the second part here.

1. Fantastic Beasts is set in Harlem during the 1920s but it doesn’t look like it: Fantastic Beasts, more than a new story, was a chance for Rowling to amend her past mistakes. Unsurprisingly, she didn’t. Harlem Renaissance took place during the 1920s. It is believed that the African-American arts were reborn during this movement. This movement brought a revolution in the intellectual contributions of Blacks. Harlem was one of the most popular destinations for Blacks. Around 300,000 African-Americans had moved to Harlem by 1920. This brings us to the old argument, where were the Blacks in Fantastic Beasts? The cast and characters were white-washed. During such an important time in Black History, there was just one Black character in the story. This is either the lack of research or considerable writing on Rowling’s behalf or her ignorant and inconsiderate attitude. It is the complete expunction of Black contribution to art and literature. J.K. Rowling set her story during a landmark movement of Blacks, a Black neighbourhood, and whitewashed it.

2. Everyone except Gryffindors can pack their bags: You can look up the dictionary and find that Gryffindor is a synonym for perfect. A majority of the main characters are Gryffindor including the golden trio and the second trio except for Luna. Another thing that bothers me a lot is, Gryffindor is necessarily associated with ‘good’ and ‘brave’. Now, these two don’t always go hand in hand. For example, Bellatrix. Bellatrix was far from good but was sure as hell brave and courageous. Rowling actions show that she prefers Gryffindor over other houses. Preferring a quality, or illuminating it as ‘better’ than the other simply undermines other qualities of a person. It implies that a brave person is better than a kind or intelligent or ambitious person which is absurd. This originates from the fact that how poorly the other houses are represented. But then, underrepresentation is Rowling’s speciality. Cedric was the perfect white boy, Harry’s competition, and we didn’t see much ‘Hufflepuff’ there. When we come to ‘Ravenclaw’, I have a hard time believing that Luna is one. She is a great character, yes. But, answer this, who’s more likely knowledgeable – Hermione or Luna? And, really, Luna does have some rubbish beliefs.

3. Newt Scamander – the problematic ‘cinnamon roll’: Newt Scamander a.k.a. the Hufflepuff cinnamon roll every human fell for is the person who created the Werewolf Register. Now, if you’re thinking that it is a remarkable contribution to the wizarding world, let me tell you that…it’s not. Someone who creates Werewolf Registers to provide the government with a list of werewolves is inviting discrimination against them. Again, lycanthropy is used as a metaphor for stigmatized illnesses and I discussed how disgusting this metaphor is. Newt Scamander is largely possible for the prejudices and bias werewolves face. This would, in a way, be similar if our government had access to a list of all humans diagnosed with stigmatized illnesses such as HIV/AIDS which, quite obviously, won’t be cool.

4. J. K. Rowling – the brain behind all of this: She has done enough to deserve a spot here. I do not have a lot to say because all of what I’ve talked before has come directly or indirectly from the author herself. Whether it be handling a character’s sexuality or race without any context. Or her blatant arrogance and blocking people on social media who call her out. Every time she has tried to portray her work as diverse or inclusive, she has only made it worse. Casting Johnny Depp, and not just casting him but being “genuinely happy” with it was disappointing but not shocking. You would think that a woman with so much influence, wealth and power would be considerate enough to stand true to her word but she’s simply ignorant. If David Yates says that Dumbledore will not be explicitly gay in the movie, do you not think that Rowling’s influence can include this explicit revelation in the movie? Of course, it can. She can. She chooses to be like this. And if you piss her off, she has the ‘mute’ option.

That’s it. We are at the end of this post which I absolutely loved writing and reading about. It is upsetting to see a favourite author acting in such way. And, I really do not want to hear that it is the writer’s or the creator’s choice to diversify their art because it is not. I don’t want to hear that J. K. Rowling owes us nothing because she does. If readers wouldn’t have read her books she wouldn’t be where she is. If we support the art, it is the artist’s job to support us.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed. Let me know in the comments what you think.

Love,

Sidra.

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27 thoughts on “HARRY POTTER AND THE PROBLEMATIC ASPECTS NO ONE ACKNOWLEDGES [PART 3]

  1. I never knew about the first point. It would’ve been a crazy good opportunity for Rowling to finally give us some real representation but of course she thwarted it. I agree with all your points here. I’m glad someone is finally pointing out the flaws in Newt. I like his character a lot but that aspect of him really troubled me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I came across it while I was researching myself and I had to include it since its complete ignorance on Rowling’s part to delete Blacks from Harlem. He does have flaws but I still enjoy his character.

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  2. Wow, these are some wonderful points to consider when reading these books. I must admit, that when I was ten, I read the series in blissful ignorance of all of these things. But now, older and wiser, I am starting to see Miss Rowling’s faults. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  3. This was an amazing post. I, too, read and practically idolized the Harry Potter series as a kid, but as I’ve grown older and seen people debating the books on pretty much every platform available, I’ve started taking notice of the problematic aspects. You mentioned a couple interesting ones I’ve never thought about; I love how you talked about Fantastic Beasts being set in Harlem, because I had no idea! (And why was it I had no idea? Because there wasn’t any black representation in the movie! I’m totally with you on this one.) It’ saddening because the books have so much potential to be inclusive that isn’t capitalized on. While I still love the stories that they tell, I have to admit: they definitely have their fair share of flaws.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I’m glad you liked it. I was also ignorant when I first read the series. But I saw people around me talking about it and came to terms with the flaws it has. I, too, discovered a lot of problematic aspects of the series while I was writing this post. I agree. With so many characters in the books, it could’ve been so much more diverse and inclusive but Rowling just brushed it off and still does.

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  4. Some good points. I would say the Newt Scamander point is mostly bad because of J K Rowling trying to draw parallels to hiv as I think you already discussed. Creating the register itself, it kind of makes sense? I don’t know what methods were used, which could quickly make my thoughts on it change, but Newt is interested in all magical creatures and from a scientific point it was valuable data. The animagus already has registries and they couldn’t turn people. And then there’s Fenrir avoiding the registry and only a few people knowing about Remus, it doesn’t seem to be used/available by everyone. Don’t know why I’m thinking so hard on this, it’s fictional in the end.

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    1. I understand what you’re saying. My issue here is that if there’s a register in existence for a werewolf to register themselves, they’ll be practically offering themselves to be discriminated against. We already know that werewolves face too much prejudice in the wizarding world and to top it they’ll have to hand over their identities to the government. Yes, maybe a werewolf can avoid registering themselves. But the problem lies with the idea of having them registered.

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  5. These are some genuinely interesting points here. I think the extreme craze over her works was mostly because her fans were young and sentimentally attached to the series and because it was actually pretty different as a concept at the time. Now that we can subjectively look at it from a future, detached POV we can effectively deconstruct it, something i find to be a blessing. (And hope we don’t get caught in the quagmire of internet backlash in the process)

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    1. I completely agree with you. I do love the books but that isn’t an excuse for the obvious flaws it has. Of course, no art is perfect but to blindly uphold it as the best is wrong. As readers have grown, they’ve started acknowledging the aspects that don’t sit right which I’m really happy about.

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  6. Your second point on Rowling’s undisguised preference for Gryffindor is something that troubled me when reading the books, too. Gryffindor is held up to be the superior house, upholding the values that one should supposedly aspire to, championing bravery as a more desirable quality than kindness or intelligence. The books make no attempt to hide this.

    Personally, I identify mostly with Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, but I found those two houses to be underrepresented in the books. As you point out, only one of the two trios is not in Gryffindor. While I understand that Harry is in Gryffindor and most of his friends are likely to come from his own house, it creates an imbalance, as well as the implication that Gryffindor is the outstanding house within Hogwarts.

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    1. I agree. I think Hufflepuff might get their fair share of representation because of the Fantastic beasts movies but Ravenclaw still remains forgotten. It has always bothered me that Gryffindors superceded the other houses.
      Even though the focus was on Gryffindor because of the protagonists, I think there were certain parts of the story that intentionally made readers look down upon other houses.

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  7. Very good points, especially the one about Rowling herself. I feel like Harry Potter now has a bitter taste in my tongue because of how she acts and reacts: blocking people when they don’t conform to her beliefs, and casting Johnny Depp and being happy about it, even going so far as to selectively pick out words from his ex-wife to make her followers believe that nothing happened. Truly disappointed with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I agree. Instead of making it better, Rowling keeps spoiling it whenever she says something. I was so disappointed when she picked a selective portion of the statement in her defence. It was definitely not her place to do so.

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      1. Good thing Amber Heard QT-ed her to clarify to everyone that what Rowling did was selective lifting, or so many more people would have supported her choice to cast Johnny Depp

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  8. I’m happy you made this first point because this is the reason I waited until FBAWTF was available on DVD to watch it. I was disappointed with the lack of representation and I’m not a fan of the series; however, I was excited when I heard Jessica Williams was cast for the 2nd film because it finally felt like there would be black representation in the wizarding world. Lack of representation has always been my number one critique of the wizarding world.

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    1. Yes. When the movie was released I saw a few people remark upon this situation. I was disappointed by the amount of whitewashing done in the movies. There are still 4 movies left but I hardly think Rowling will make good use of them with regards to representation.

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  9. That last point though!!!! YES! PLUS, not to mention all the domestic violence allegations against Johnny Depp. People still keep casting him and making him a rich man. I love me some Johnny Depp acting but seeing him on-screen knowing what I know definitely gets in the way of my enjoyment.

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  10. Agree with you on the Gryffindor one! I get why Rowling made that house the center of the story (since the protagonists are from there) but the first few books were overly focused on that one while it shunned all the other houses to the side. Not realistic at all.

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  11. I agree with you on all of those points. I never got around to reading or watching fantastic beasts, but that reason is definitely true. There aren’t many non-white characters in the regular movies either. It’s pretty sad. Also, I wish that the houses had been expanded upon. There were not many inter-house friendships, which was sad. Any friends that the trio had outside of each other were barely spoken of. I felt that we had more expansion of the houses in pottermore than the actual series, which is kinda sad since pottermore was just supposed to be an extra game for fans.

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    1. You’re absolutely right with all that you said. Lack of diversity and representation in the books is a major issue. The houses could’ve definitely had more volume. Pottermore was a huge disappointment. Whatever didn’t make it to the book was there on Pottermore.

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      1. I loved pottermore when I was 11 and had just finished the series. Now I think they took the old games off, like the potion making one and the wand choice one.

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  12. Was any part of Fantastic Beasts set in Harlem? The Woolworth Building is in Lower Manhattan. Tina’s apartment is in Midtown. I could be wrong, but I don’t think they ever went north of Central Park.

    The Werewolf Registry…*checks the wiki*…huh, I’d forgotten about that. That’s definitely due for a retcon.

    That’s an interesting take on Gryffindor. The usual criticism is that Slytherin is portrayed as universally evil. Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff may get the short end of it in representation, but they’re mostly benign. I can see where you’re coming from, though. Rowling takes pains to label Hufflepuff as the most virtuous house and then doesn’t show them as more virtuous. She labels Ravenclaw as the smartest house, but our main representatives of them are Cho and Luna who, while not stupid, don’t fit the mold nearly as well as Hermione would.

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