Have there ever been any good criticisms of this series?

Caliban

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2016
Messages
130
Location
UK
Agreed with most things there. The reason there’s more deaths all round in the movies when it comes to death Eaters is because there are hundreds in the film and in the book if you actually look at the numbers there are a lot less. I think it’s no more than 60 at the Battle Of Hogwarts aand that’s including just random supporters not just Death Eaters.
 

Anushka Mokosh

Matryona Marzanna
Joined
Aug 31, 2012
Messages
2,964
Agreed with most things there. The reason there’s more deaths all round in the movies when it comes to death Eaters is because there are hundreds in the film and in the book if you actually look at the numbers there are a lot less. I think it’s no more than 60 at the Battle Of Hogwarts aand that’s including just random supporters not just Death Eaters.
Maybe, but their number in the books makes even less ground for the critique the blog is making. Let's take it that your estimate is correct. 60 of them killed over 50 people. That is almost one death per bad guy just in the final battle. And mind you, of those 50 people, many were children, teenagers. And mind you, a large majority of the defenders were kids who did not yet even graduate. They have no concrete battle training because their Defense Against the Dark Arts was carried out by incompetent people for the most part. And it was not consistent. Jinxes are all they know.

And how many died during the entire reign of terror? As I mentioned, Potterwatch had a segment where they commemorated all those who died, wizards and muggles alike and it was a regular thing.

Not to mention how many will live with consequences because there were werewolves there at the final battle. Or how many became a hollow shell of a person because Dementors were there.
 

Caliban

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2016
Messages
130
Location
UK
Yeah. I wasn’t really on about the blog argument. Just thinking out loud about how much it winds me up that there are hundreds of Death Eaters in the movie when in reality there are far less.
 

Anushka Mokosh

Matryona Marzanna
Joined
Aug 31, 2012
Messages
2,964
Yeah. I wasn’t really on about the blog argument. Just thinking out loud about how much it winds me up that there are hundreds of Death Eaters in the movie when in reality there are far less.
I was just continuing with ruminations on the blog based on things you pointed out.
 

Caliban

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 28, 2016
Messages
130
Location
UK
I was just continuing with ruminations on the blog based on things you pointed out.
Must admit that I’m struggling with why we’re a couple of posts into a discussion about whether or not people were killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. Of course the Death eaters killed people that is the most blindingly obvious statement ever so either the blogger made a mistake or is deliberately being facetious or an arse or whatever but it’s not even an argument it’s just stating a correct fact over and over again.

The mistake or whatever isn’t even anything near to the main argument of the blog it’s one line which I genuinely struggled to find when looking through and though it is there it’s a little aside that isn’t really relevant.
 

Anushka Mokosh

Matryona Marzanna
Joined
Aug 31, 2012
Messages
2,964
Must admit that I’m struggling with why we’re a couple of posts into a discussion about whether or not people were killed in the Battle of Hogwarts. Of course the Death eaters killed people that is the most blindingly obvious statement ever so either the blogger made a mistake or is deliberately being facetious or an arse or whatever but it’s not even an argument it’s just stating a correct fact over and over again.

The mistake or whatever isn’t even anything near to the main argument of the blog it’s one line which I genuinely struggled to find when looking through and though it is there it’s a little aside that isn’t really relevant.
IMO, they are being facetious throughout the blog post making any conclusion they make rather unsupported. I did not just comment on the kill bit, but also the elves.

EDIT: Facetious might not be the exact word though. It is less done as comedy and it is more malicious in its intent.
 

Anushka Mokosh

Matryona Marzanna
Joined
Aug 31, 2012
Messages
2,964
Okay, yes, I know that this is technically a thread for a critique of Harry Potter and not a critique of a critique of Harry Potter. But still. It annoyed me. If this needs to be moved, I'd appreciate heads up so I can copy it prior to deletion.

Harry Potter and the Popular Consumption of Hegemonic Bourgeois Moral Ideology | Eruditorum Press

Harry Potter never kills anyone.
Considering that horcruxes are practically sentient beings, he does kill.

He barely ever fights anyone.
I don't think that Voldemort is a no one. Neither is Bellatrix. Nor several Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries. Snape isn't a nobody either. Malfoy too.

But he manages this by hiding in a tent when the war comes, while Neville actually fights the Death Eaters in Hogwarts, and his mates form a resistance cell and an underground radio station
Harry goes on a secret undercover mission to destroy horcruxes and without accomplishing that, all that Neville and his mates from resistance cell are doing is worth nothing. While I love Neville and while I love what he had done in book 7, without destroying the horcruxes, that all would amount to nothing. Arguably, Neville just made Snape's job harder and Snape was trying to protect the students.

One could argue that Harry could have had a better way to go about the horcrux destruction. Maybe recruit more people, let more of them in on the secret, take someone more competent than two other kids who like himself are yet to graduate, but he hardly just hides in a tent. He broke into two out of three most secure buildings in their world. Gringotts and Ministry of Magic. That is not nothing.

Yet Harry accepts the necessity of killing Voldemort. He passively accepts (as he pasively accepts everything) that killing Voldemort is his destiny.
Actually, no. There is a discussion about the prophecy between Harry and Dumbledore about what prophecies are worth where they question the whole Choseness and the need for Harry to abide by the prophecy. Harry asks if it means he has to kill Voldemort and Dumbledore poses a what-if. What if Harry never knew about the prophecy? And Harry affirms that he would still want to put a stop to Voldemort, that he would still be the one who wants to put a stop to Voldemort. That is not a passive acceptance of destiny because the entire concept is questioned. Ultimately, it is Harry's choice.

Luckily, as in every other instance (something Voldemort rightly points out), something comes between him and the ugly necessity. Wormtail dies when his own hand strangles him, assorted Death Eaters fall over and accidentally kill themselves and their friends in order to oblige Harry.
Harry is a symbol for those resisting Voldemort more than anything else. He is important for their morale. Of course that many would be trying to save him and put themselves in harm's way to keep him out of harm.

It is not as if Harry would have had to kill Wormtail in that situation so that is really not a necessity. It would have made it easier, but the entire point of a hero is to not take the easy path.

Death Eaters most definitely do not fall over and kill themselves and their friends. They are taken down by the assorted defenders of Hogwarts who put in a Herculean effort to do so and paid a heavy price in the process. One of most prominent deaths in the entire battle is that of Bellatrix Lestrange who is killed by Mrs Weasley of all people. The fate of other Death Eaters is left ambiguous because they don't really deserve a post-script in the epilogue. The fate of heroes is what matters. But bear in mind the following, Centaurs took them down with arrows. Grawp stomped on them. Madame Sprout and Peeves threw deadly plants on them, Neville and Sprout actually lobbed grown mandrakes over the walls. McGonagall animated statues to take them down. The defenders used lethal tactics right there. Short of throwing Avada Kedavras, they did everything they could. (I will get to Avada Kedavra a bit later.)

In the same way, Voldemort gets shot by a wand, acting of its own volition out of loyalty to Harry.
Definitely not in the same way as anything previously noted.

In the Potter stories, killing is categorically wrong, evil, unforgiveable. So the goodies fight the magic-Nazis with jinxes that make you fall over. Luckily, the magic-Nazis also (for some reason) generally refrain from using the killing curse. Meanwhile, Voldemort clearly and explicitly needs killing... and Harry is Chosen to do it... yet he can't do this without either
Well, again, no. Avada Kedavra is categorically wrong, evil, unforgivable because all that spell does is kill and only with a certain intent in mind. Killing through other methods and depending on intent, not necessarily so. And something the author keeps forgetting is that spells have rules. Many spells entirely depends on intent. It is not enough to just swish the wand in the right way and say the right thing. There is also the mental part, the intent to cast the spell. Patronus Charm is one such spell which requires particularly strong happy memories that have a certain purity to them. Cruciatus is another one where one must really mean the harm they wish to inflict. Likewise, to cast Imperius one must really have the desire to control someone, to override their will.

Avada Kedavra is the fourth one. As I previously mentioned, Crouch Jr. says that an entire classroom could cast an Avada Kedavra his way and he wouldn't even get a nosebleed. Avada Kedavra is part power and part intent. It is not enough to just be powerful, you have to have a strong malicious, or at least petty, killing intent. And it is not enough to just have an intent, but you must also be powerful. That means that many of the good guys who are powerful (like Minerva) probably can't cast it because they cannot summon a strong enough malicious killing intent. Harry could not even summon a proper Cruciatus to hurt Bellatrix after she murdered Sirius because his desire to hurt was coming from a place of pain, but he is able to summon a proper one when he does it out of indignation at McGonagall being spat in the face. Similarly, Death Eaters cannot cast a Patronus Charm because they lack the requirements other than power. I don't think that anyone could make an argument that Bellatrix is not powerful enough to cast a spell at least. All of that leads to a rather reasonable conclusion. Magic is intent-sensitive.

Furthermore, many of Snatchers and other followers (even some Death Eaters) were not top notch wizards. They are simply not powerful enough to keep shooting off Avada Kedavra after Avada Kedavra even if they can summon the right intent. The author also seems to forget that most of the "goodies" are children, teenagers who hadn't had a fighting education worth mentioning. The position of arguably the most important teacher when it comes to fighting has been filled by a different teacher every year. There was no consistency to what they were taught and many of those teachers were incompetent. And mind you, this is not just Harry's generation. This is numerous generations before him ever since Dumbledore said no to Tom which was even before the first war.

Voldemort doesn't need killing. He needed to kill a few people maybe to accomplish his eternal life, but he doesn't actually need to kill most of the time. It is just easier and he sees no value in any life but his own. And I already got around to difference between the act of killing and Avada Kedavra.

a) using the unforgiveable killing curse, or

b) getting very lucky (i.e. Voldemort accidentally trips over the hem of his own robes and falls onto the tines of a passing threshing machine).
c) Using a cutting spell on Voldemort's juggular.

d) Using Sectumsempra to exsanguinate Voldemort.

e) Using a charm that blows things up.

f) Using whatever Mrs Weasley used on Bellatrix.

etc. etc. It is not a dichotomy.

Luckily, luck always comes to Potter's rescue (as, once again, Voldemort rightly points out), and - through sheer good fortune - there's some complicated business that means Voldemort gets killed by a sentient wand that, like so many expedient creatures before it, stands in front of Our Hero and does all the difficult, icky stuff for him.
It is not luck. That is explicitly pointed out in the books. Is it luck that Lily Potter was willing to die for her child? Is it luck that Harry made connections with people who were willing to die for him? Is it luck that Harry was willing to die for his friends? The book thoroughly rebutted Voldemort already there so I fail to see the point of trying to use an already, in-universe rebutted argument.

(This is in the books only, by the way. In the movies, Neville kills Voldemort by killing the snake - the last Horcrux... an act which weakens Voldemort to the point where he just falls to pieces. Seriously, go and rewatch the last movie. Neville is totally the real Chosen One in movie canon.)
Every destroyed Horcrux weakens Voldemort. The movies just make it more obvious because there is a theatricality to how Ralph Fiennes portrays it. Same thing happens in the books.

The Harry Potter stories are among the most successful, profitable, influential, widely-read books and widely-watched films produced by the Western culture industries in recent years. Like Star Wars and Doctor Who before them, they've had an enormous impact on millions of people - probably even more so than previous franchises. An entire generation feels that they 'grew up with' Potter his classmates. When some members of that generation took to the streets of London to protest tuition fees in 2011, some of them carried placards saying 'This Never Happened at Hogwarts', and chanted "Expelliarmus!" at the armed riot cops who were kettling and attacking them.
Yes? Peaceful protesting in face of violence is bad? I don't get this paragraph. It is left hanging. It is just there.

(Parenthetically... this sort of thing bears very little relation to any of the actual political valences or imports of the stories themselves, which are soft-liberal at best, and often highly charged with reactionary implications. There seems very little in any of the stories to suggest that the (unelected) Ministry of Magic's various enforcers might be a threat to democratic protest - at least not until the Ministry gets infected with the foreign virus of Voldemortism. Indeed, there is no democratic protest in the Wizarding World.
Actually, there is. Corruption is high in Magical world and Wizards are disjointed, scattered around the country just living their lives as is. The only reason Voldemort could so easily infect it "with the foreign virus of Voldemortism" is because it is already corrupt, hollow, and prejudiced. He simply exploited the weaknesses.

I will just point out how flawed their justice system is. An innocent man ended up in jail for years because those various enforcers did not give him due process. And Buckbeak was to be slaughtered through no fault of his own. And Harry is given a harsh punishment willy-nilly because Minister did not like him anymore. Lucious Malfoy buys his way out of pretty much anything for which he should end up in Azkaban.

The schools protests against Umbridge and she metes out medieval punishments. Goblins protested and rebelled because of how they were treated and limited by wizards. It was quelled in blood several times. There is plenty to suggest that those non-elected various enforces might be a threat to democratic protest right there if you actually bother to read the books as they are written.

Rowling's own politics notwithstanding. She seems like a perfectly nice - even, by current standards, conscientious - liberal, outspoken about supporting welfare, the need for rich people to pay their taxes, and the undesirability of persecuting gay people, etc. I give her no kudos for such bare minimums, but it puts her above many in her class.
As the author previously mentioned, Rowling has influence. When she says that, it carries a meaning to all the people who follow her. When she promotes all of those lovely, nice things, it bears much more weight than when it is done by a venom-spewing and completely anonymous blogger. I will count myself too in the latter.

And it is easy to preach that the rich should pay their taxes when you aren't rich. When you are rich and do it, that is quite a bit above the bare minimum. Actually, when you are rich, there is not much need to concern yourself with many things. But she does.

However, for instance, her Potter stories feature precisely one non cis-het character... and he's only gay because the author decreed him so outside of the books... and his gayness is signified via one disastrous relationship that sapped him of all common sense and morality, and which he found so destabilising and immiserating that he never had another romantic or sexual relationship of any kind ever again.
a) For most of characters, their sexual preferences are left unmentioned. And most characters are young teens who will rarely be outing themselves very easily.

b) Dumbledore had other issues at the time. It is unjust to say it was only his infatuation with Grindelwald that led him through that and it is never stated to be so, but it is something he associates with it. It is something that culminated in the death of his sister whom he might have killed himself. It is a trauma he had been carrying with him ever since. He shuns everything he associates with it and it is not just romantic love for another person, but also ambition and power. In other words, that is how the copes and it is not limited to his so very gay love for Grindelwald.

c) The books also show that any love can be unhealthy. Bellatrix loves Voldemort. It is undeniable. Snape loves Lily. Neither of those two is healthy. There are more examples, but I need to start streamlining this.

Rowling's greedy, big-nosed, "swarthy, clever-faced" goblins are unsettlingly reminiscent of Nazi anti-Semitic ideas, in that they are clearly both evil bankers and also sneaky communists who fail to understand 'human' notions of private property based on trade. The books also feature a race of cutesy, servile elves who love to work and obey, roll their huge bulging eyes, and speak in what is recognisably a kind of parodic pidgin 'black slave dialect', i.e. "I is not doing it Sir!". An entire species of happy drudges, depicted as pickaninny Uncle Toms. Absolutely ****ing awful.)
This paragraph completely disregards the framing. Both of those races have a history of their own. They both have a reason as to why they are the way they are and it is not so black and white. Every member of that race is not the same and does not have same ideas nor comes from the same background.

There is an entire bloody history between goblins and wizards. Goblin Rebellions are mentioned all the time. And Bill Weasley clearly states that there is a lot of bad blood on both sides. It is commented several times that both the wizards and the goblins have their own share of blame for the way things are and that goblins have reasons to be resentful. Bill mentions that some Goblins believe in their own notions of property. They have a culture of their own that is different from that of wizards. Their notions of property are not necessarily framed as bad. They are just framed as problematic for our heroes. And while Goblins have their own notions of how their products should be handled, they still adhere to how it is done.

As for the house-elves, are they "a race of cutesy, servile elves who love to work and obey, roll their huge bulging eyes, and speak in what is recognisably a kind of parodic pidgin 'black slave dialect', i.e. "I is not doing it Sir!""? Sure. I don't think that anyone would argue that. But is that portrayed as good and right? Bloody no. It is framed as something needing to be changed. The elves need to be liberated and treated like the magical brothers they are. That is in the books. Literally. But the question of how is not an easy one. We have Hermione's attempt and it is portrayed as misguided and silly because in its essence, it was. However, it does not mean that it doesn't need to be changed just because the approach of a teenage girl is not a good one. For centuries or even several millennia, the elves were indoctrinated to act and think in a certain way. Their liberation first must liberate their minds before anything else can do done and the books do not shy away from that. Kreacher, Winky, and Dobby all exist to show why elves are the way they are and why it needs to be changed.

In a way, Goblins and house-elves work as a foil to each other. Both have been undoubtedly treated abominably by wizards and made into servants of sorts. It made Goblins what they are and it made house-elves what they are. The wizards did not treat them as magical brothers that they are and that shaped them.

I could go on with that kind of stuff (the books give me plenty of scope)... but the point here isn't really to engage in a point-by-point trashing of the politics of the Potter novels. My point here is that these stories have come to be enormously significant culturally, gaining traction in lots of heads and being co-opted for political rhetoric even in radical or activist situations regardless of their objective content.
Actually, that does seem to be the point. The entire post is about all the ways the Potter books suck, but the argument is made from a faulty premise and the conclusions hang in the air completely disconnected from the point that is being made. The evidence used does not hold up to modest scrutiny. Either the author is pushing their own agenda and intentionally twisting things from the books or they were speed-reading books to the point where they missed the forest for the trees. The books simply do not give the scope for this because they are just cherry-picking bits from the book and twisting them to fit a certain narrative.

As noted above, the moral philosophy underpinning the books is muddled at best. Now, that isn't a tremendous problem.
---
As it happens, I do think that film-makers know how important moral questions are in their mass-market dramas. Just look at almost any big budget narrative cultural product. They are all, almost without exception, morality plays of some kind or another. That goes for 12 Years a Slave as much as for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. When George Lucas used to talk about Star Wars, he used to explicitly say that he set out to create a synthesis of modern moral notions in movie form (via Campbell, of course).
The entire paragraphs here lean on points that were not made. There certainly might be inconsistencies in the books, but they are not supported by anything the author wrote prior to this paragraph. The book might be an example of capitalist something, but this post fails to give adequate arguments as to why simply because their knowledge of the source material is flawed at best.

So, you probably see where I'm headed with this. One reason why the Potter franchise has been so hugely successful (remembering that in a bourgeois culture the 'success' of a cultural product is, ultimately, its profitability) is because it has, like Star Wars before it, hooked into some very widespread feelings among people in Western (and Westernised) culture about morality. If the purpose of profitable art is to hold the mirror up to culture, something as profitable as Potter must have done so quite well.

The point is that Rowling's difficulties and self-contradictions and inconsistencies on this issue of killing people - and, by extension, the self-contradictions and inconsistencies that other writers get themselves into - mirror and express and dramatise the faultlines in bourgeois morality.

For all my blather, it's actually a very simple point that I'm making: our culture kills people, and relies upon killing people, and is built upon mounds of bodies... yet we enjoy telling ourselves that we think it is wrong to kill. But this impression - that killing people is WRONG in a blanket sense, and that we don't do it - is entirely an impression of the privileged. It is something that we can get away with believing if we are lucky enough to be far enough removed from the filthy realities of exploitation, oppression and mass murder that underpin Western capitalist culture, and/or from any immediate and pressing personal need to fight it.
Our culture does not say it is always wrong to kill no matter what. Otherwise, the legal system would be rather different. Our culture believes that murder should be avoided, but that the intent plays a role in all of that. Killing because you enjoy killing and Killing because you are trying to protect your life are two very different things which is something shown in the Harry Potter books. In fact, they are even more clearly defined with the introduction of curses like Avada Kedavra where intent is the driving force. There is no gray area with Avada Kedavra. You have to have a malicious intent to use it. It is murder in cold blood by default.

Again, this is really where it is best shown that the author is trying to bend the actual elements from the books to fit their narrative. They want to show our culture to be something so they are scrambling to make an argument. They are actually right here though. The books mirror our own morality. After all, art imitates life. But they are entirely wrong as to what is shown in the mirror because they have put on black-tinted goggles before looking into it and everything is black now.
 
Last edited:

Titus Groan

Active Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2018
Messages
27
I just think the ending sucks. I don't mind a happy ending involving a marriage and children, that's nice, and I think it was a lovely way to take us back to the cupboard Harry started in. He finally finds a loving family, huzzah!

But I think a happy ending needs to be a satisfactory one, too. It's tiny! Just a wee thing at the end of the last book. It reads like the ending of a book thats meant have a sequel come after it. I'm a big believer in 'going in late and leaving early'. If you're going to take us into their married adult lives, take us there! Don't just handwave and pair all your spares. Yes yes, so and so are married now and have kids. The End.

Then again that's probably a matter of taste, I know plenty of people who really liked the ending. HP will definitely endure regardless, one of the most read books of all time. If anything criticism is good for its endurance in the cultural consciousness.
 
Top