Let's try to determine if Harry Potter was actually ever any good.

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Dear Escapist friends,

pretty soon the... eagerly anticipated (?) sequel to J.K. Rowlings Fantastic Beasts and where to find them is gonna come out in theaters and this has gotten me thinking: was the Harry Potter series at any point genuinely good? Like practically every person my age I grew up with the Harry Potter books (I have mixed feelings about the movies) and for someone in the same situation asking this question might be a bit like asking if Christmas was ever any good. Of course Harry Potter is good. It brought so much joy to us when we grew up. Was it, though? Let's approach this question without the sentimentality I, and many others, bring to this particular franchise.

There are elements to the Harry Potter series that, I think, mostly hold up. The good old hero's journey, the campbellian monomyth has been adapted countless times, some of them well, but what I respect the Harry Potter series for is that it mostly manages to distract the reader from how basic and straightforward its actual plot is. Looking at the series as a whole it's about a boy growing up to defeat an evil tyrant, at this point we're expecting something better even from video games. What works about the Harry Potter series is that each book is individually interesting, even if they never really add up to much. Each book poses a mystery. Where's the Philosopher's Stone and who's the one trying to steal it? What's in the Chamber of Secrets and why is it important? Who is Sirius Black? Who put Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire? What's with the visions haunting Harry, now that Voldemort has come back? What are Horcruxes? While Rowling actually manage to conclude this series in a satisfying way? (The answer to the last one is "No.", for the record.)

It's not much a surprise that most of what Rowling has been writing outside of Harry Potter have been murder mystery crime novels, at their best the Harry Potter books are structured in a similar way. They present a mystery, they give the reader, generally, enough clues to figure them out for themselves and they have all the little red herrings and surprising twists the genre needs to keep the reader engaged.

What I'm also gonna give to the series is the fact that it mostly does worldbuilding right. Not that it has good worldbuilding, mind you, what we find out about the series' society of wizards makes less and less sense, the more you think about it works because it tells you just little enough to keep your interest alive while never telling you so much that you start to wonder how in the hell it's all supposed to work... which the books don't have much an answer for. The books convey an atmosphere that's genuinely fairly unique, a specific equilibrium between the morbid and the cozy, the sort of thing that can be embarassingly comforting to read on on a winter's night, even as an adult, when you realize that a lot of it isn't exactly good. It's a specific flavour or urban fantasy, somewhere between better Tim Burton, worse Terry Gilliam (He should have gotten to direct these movies, goddammit) and saner Jean Pierre Jeunet. Not quite goth but somewhere in the same hemisphere.

There are also elements to the books themes that I'd defend. What it all amounts to, a diverse group of people settling their differences and coming together to fight a villain and his henchmen, most of them aristocratic figures obsessed with "purity of blood" and quietly enabled by a corrupt ministry that keeps a democratic appearance while being almost entirely in the pockets of rich, pure-blooded families is... well, there's at least some semi-functional social commentary there. Rowling does a lot to cheapen these themes and it's rather humourous how her commitment to them seemed to wane, the more money she made but, you know, at least it's there.

For all that does work about Harry Potter, there's also a lot that doesn't, though, and frequently it doesn't get brought up because people aprroach it with more good will than it deserves, mostly for reasons of personal childhood nostalgia. I don't mean to dwell on formal issues like both the hero and the villain being remarkably dull characters (To give credit where credit is due, it does have a pretty strong supporting cast), how the story ends in an awfully anticlimactic fashion and what exactly Rowling was thinking when she came up with shady, hook nosed goblins running the magical banking system. Okay, no. I know exactly what she was thinking when she came up with that.

The fundamental flaw of the Harry Potter series is, that it's not nearly smart enough to correctly handle the themes it approaches. For an entire generation of kids and teenagers they became, rather than a series of simplistic adventure novels one may look back fondly as an adult, a persisting guideline for their own political self expression. Harry Potter, whatever its qualitites may be, became the Atlas Shrugged of progressive centrists. There is a number of amusing, if frustrating, anecdotes from the ComicCon panel and I urge everyone looking for a distraction from the tiresome leftist diatribe I decided to go on while talking about a series of childrens books, to read it:

https://ew.com/movies/2018/07/21/fantastic-beasts-impeach-trump/

while I, more than most people, think that a persons political views should, essentially, be rooted in their personal ethics and while I think that opposing fascism because you relate it to the ideology of villains you read about in a children's book is better than... well, not opposing fascism, I think this is indcative of the greater flaws of the series and the dangers of not being able to move on from it as a grownup.

Harry Potter presents a narrative with simple morals. There is nothing wrong with that, especially not considering that it was written for a very young target audience, the problem is, it applies these morals to a variety of issues that, while a few layers of abstractions removed from it, are very much rooted in reality. In short, Harry Potter is the attempt of an obscenely privileged person to write about the struggles of class, race and status and with all due respect, she's not nearly smart enough to do so in spite of her own privilege. Rowling, I'm sure, meant well when she chose to depict various types of insitutional evil through simplistic caricatures like Lord Voldemort, Cornelius Fudge, Dolores Umbridge or Lucius Malfoy. The inhumane totalitarian, the corrupt politician, the everyday sociopath, the rich fascist. What she failed to convey in her depiction of institutional evil is an understanding of the actual institutions, why the magical society embraced a figure like Lord Voldemort and why, realistically, another one will eventually take his place once he's death.

There is a lot to be said about the Star Wars series, a franchise that does have a few things in common with Harry Potter, one of them being that it's also targetted towards an audience of adolescents, but to George Lucas' credit: After he got the simple narrative of the original trilogy out of his system a part of him did realize that the story wasn't told quite yet, that there's more to it, that there was something to be elaborated on. The original trilogy expected us to accept that there was an empire, that it needed to be overthrown and that there was a potential for something better. The prequel trilogy, for all it's flaws, rather than following Luke, Leia and Han in building a better world, decided to look back and ask "Why was there an Empire, how did Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader and where exactly did it all go wrong" and that's one of these questions a lot of media is afraid to ask "Where did it go wrong". We're obsessed with hero that represent the very best of humanity, our potential, but very rarely does entertainment media confront us with what we are at our worst.

We get some idea where Lord Voldemort came from but we fail to learn how exactly he managed to rise to power. To gain support. To maintain it long after his apparent death. And this is where the series stumbles. Where it doesn't live up to its own potential. It still, overall, promotes positive morals, there's very little about it that'd strike me as genuinely harmful for a person growing up the way something like Twilight is (And believe me, I could have a field day with it) but the worst thing a fan of it could do is failing to move on from it.

Contrary to the memes, I don't think that Harry Potter is the dullest franchise in history. I mean, it's not the Marvel Cinematic... you know what, no, low hanging fruit. A lot about it is still enjoyable, there's a lot about it I remember fondly and maybe the Fantastic Beast movies will add up to something worthwhile that positively recontextualizes the series as a whole, unlikely as I find it. Still, there's a lot about it that's very easy to citicize if one approaches it with a critical mindset. So that's my personal answer to the question posed in the title of this thread. Is it actually any good? Sure, it's fine, I guess.

That sure was a roundabout way to get there, wasn't it?

Talking about Nazi Wizards? Careful, or this'll wind up in R&P...

I think the series stood up pretty well as a kids book. Pretending it is a good book for adults, beyond a casual read or a nostalgia trip, is a stretch. And the series shot downhill when JK Rowling decided to turn Harry into a complete bell-end in book 4 / 5.

In short, Harry Potter is the attempt of an obscenely privileged person to write about the struggles of class, race and status and with all due respect, she's not nearly smart enough to do so in spite of her own privilege.

Yup. Overly simplified single dimensional caricatures work well in a kids tale. They don't hold up to any meaningful inspection, they shouldn't be expected to, and anybody basing their entire political outlook on that is a muppet.

Well, you certainly put more thought into this than I'm sure even Rowling herself did! Full disclosure, I've never read the books (I was in my early 20's when the first movie came out,) and I have only seen the first 3-4 films, so I'm basing everything I've got to say from that context; take from it what you will. I've alluded to the ideal in several other threads recently that while all entertainment certainly can be critiqued through an intellectual electron microscope, sometimes said exercise is largely... unnecessarily discounting?

As you said yourself, the target audience is children; most children probably aren't capable of understanding complex socio-political ideas beyond the most rudimentary levels if at all; what onus fell on Rowling to accurately and entirely represent those complexities for the intended audience? Not saying it couldn't have been done or that it couldn't have been done better, but I'd ask "why bother?" Surely, a basic foundation of "good vs evil, fair vs unfair" is enough, and as children grow from childhood into adulthood, those basic premises are built upon through increasingly complex experiences. And from the perspective of the author, I'd offer perhaps it was never her intention to try to accurately and entirely convey those complex ideas; rather, her adult experience, her take on "real world issues," was simply the skeleton around which she fleshed out a fantasy world and its myriad characters, i.e.: rather than setting out to depict "a prototypical totalitarian," she simply wanted " a powerful bad guy."

Now, trust I'm not arguing that anything you've said is "wrong," subjectively or objectively, but to answer your question, I'd say yes, Harry Potter is good insofar as it serves its purpose for its audience. I ate baby food for months before cutting my first tooth on real food, but what purpose does it serve to critique it from adulthood for its lack of flavor, variety, mushy texture, etc.; I'm here today, so baby food did SOMETHING right, and I doubt Gerber's "rare steak paired with a fine, red wind" baby food paste would have gone over too well for my infantile taste buds.

Catnip1024:
Talking about Nazi Wizards? Careful, or this'll wind up in R&P...

I think the series stood up pretty well as a kids book. Pretending it is a good book for adults, beyond a casual read or a nostalgia trip, is a stretch. And the series shot downhill when JK Rowling decided to turn Harry into a complete bell-end in book 4 / 5.

In short, Harry Potter is the attempt of an obscenely privileged person to write about the struggles of class, race and status and with all due respect, she's not nearly smart enough to do so in spite of her own privilege.

Yup. Overly simplified single dimensional caricatures work well in a kids tale. They don't hold up to any meaningful inspection, they shouldn't be expected to, and anybody basing their entire political outlook on that is a muppet.

EDIT: Aaaaand while I was typing, someone said it better with fewer words. Story of my life.

The books got kids reading in droves and provided a gateway to even better literature. And that means they served a noble purpose, even if it is just a pretty average British boarding school yarn with magic.

The only real problem with Harry Potter is the inconsistent world building. Rowling is no Tolkien. She relies a lot on Deus Ex Magicka, while neglecting how it pokes holes there to fill in holes here.

Harry Potter is great alone for the way it crosses generational gaps. Harry Potter is not something you had to get into as a kid and bring with you into adulthood. Anyone of any age can enjoy Harry Potter, and that is a wonderful thing.

In terms of films, I prefer the first 2 movies the best honestly. To me after the second movie, Harry Potter lost its "magic" and warmth.

I've never read the books (was too old when they came out) but I've seen most of the films. While the hero and villain may not be that interesting and the whole thing is essentially Star Wars with brooms instead of X-wings and wands instead of lightsabers it did have fantastic supporting characters.

It may not be fair, but there's an air of "It's popular, so it must be dreck" hipsterism that hangs over something like this at least as much as any "you're privileged, therefore you don't get to talk about issues of class and race" might hang over Harry Potter.

But honestly, I'm finding the increasing incidence of "privilege" being used as a bludgeon to silence people regardless of what they actually have to say or whether they have a significant stake in the issues at hand a source of ever-increasing frustration.

As far as Harry Potter itself goes? What metric are we using to define "good", here? I've read plenty of fantasy that had deeper, more thoughtful worlds, more convincing systems of magic, characters with more developed histories. None of which necessarily prevented some of same from being tedious, unreadable garbage.

I've read plenty of fiction that sought to provocatively address issues of the day and only ended up reading like preachy sermons, incompetent attempts to indoctrinate, or simply one-note ramblings of someone who had "gotten religion" and could no longer be bothered to talk about anything else.

I have read all of the main Harry Potter books aloud to audiences twice. There are bits that are annoying, pieces that are contrived, moments where misunderstandings are allowed to twist plotlines when they could have been resolved whole books earlier if characters had been forthcoming to one another, and had little reason not to be.

There are also characters who develop in plausible ways and resonate long after the last book is put down, individual conversations that are believable and heart-felt, pay-offs that are arguably as good as any in modern literature.

Arguably, Harry Potter is the reason there is a Young Adult market today- and why "Young Adult" is seen as its own genre and viewed as legitimate market by the big publishing houses. Arguably, it's a good portion of the reason that anyone puts down their phone or tablet long enough to pick up a book (even if, yes, that book might be on that phone or tablet).

So, yeah... I think it's good.

Even as I will nod with understanding or agreement in the face of many criticisms. Even as the whole Harry Potter commercial empire gets a little overwhelming.

Universal Studios will eventually move on to a different license, Pottermore will become an abandoned domain, chocolate frogs and "every flavor" beans will become curios. But I think it entirely likely that my grandchildren will read The Sorceror's Stone as well as A Wrinkle in Time and The Phantom Tollbooth and The Hobbit.

It's accessible, likable, and identifiable. And that will remain as social mores flip another one hundred and eighty degrees.

I think it's a fine introduction to the genre if someone has never read or seen anything like it before. In that sense it's quite good. Now, I don't think it holds up to other more complex stories but as a children's book/movie series it isn't really meant to do that. Comparing it to fiction intended for primarily young adults will of course have it come off lacking.

Saelune:
The only real problem with Harry Potter is the inconsistent world building. Rowling is no Tolkien. She relies a lot on Deus Ex Magicka, while neglecting how it pokes holes there to fill in holes here.

Tolkien wasnt a great writer either. Much of the story is pretty banal. Nor was his character great. But his world building was incredible, making the fictional world lived is a feat not many can reproduce.

You know what, instead of comparing to Tolkien, is she better than GRR Martin or Robert Jordan or Anne Maccaffery

Eh. I think you're a tad critical about its uses in a way it was never intended to be used. Certainly it has some social themes but I don't think the intent was ever to really delve into them? Like it would be cool to see a novel that delves into them but I think it's fine for a kids' series to be shallow? Or tbh really anything can be shallow it just fulfills a different itch. I think really the criticism boils down to the books aren't actually deep, they just hit the surface of a few concepts that do deserve sole deep talk just I don't think it has to be in these books? Would have been cool would have been better but looking at them for what they are I think the entire point is they were enjoyable and charming enough

trunkage:

Saelune:
The only real problem with Harry Potter is the inconsistent world building. Rowling is no Tolkien. She relies a lot on Deus Ex Magicka, while neglecting how it pokes holes there to fill in holes here.

Tolkien wasnt a great writer either. Much of the story is pretty banal. Nor was his character great. But his world building was incredible, making the fictional world lived is a feat not many can reproduce.

trunkage:
You know what, instead of comparing to Tolkien, is she better than GRR Martin or Robert Jordan or Anne Maccaffery

My comparison was about world building. I do not consider myself a good judge of good 'writing'. My first and foremost criticism of HP is that magic does whatever Rowling needs it to do when she needs it to do it, and I don't like that.

Samtemdo8:
In terms of films, I prefer the first 2 movies the best honestly. To me after the second movie, Harry Potter lost its "magic" and warmth.

Isn't that kind of the point? The books got darker over time. The films get darker both figuratively and literally as they progress as well.

I can sympathize, but from film 3 onwards, the films got a distinct aesthetic that the first two didn't have.

Hawki:

Samtemdo8:
In terms of films, I prefer the first 2 movies the best honestly. To me after the second movie, Harry Potter lost its "magic" and warmth.

Isn't that kind of the point? The books got darker over time. The films get darker both figuratively and literally as they progress as well.

I can sympathize, but from film 3 onwards, the films got a distinct aesthetic that the first two didn't have.

And yeah I get that was the point, but I feel by film 3 it got dark TOO SOON.

I do like when they fully matured by Order of the Pheonix and onward because least the last 3 films felt consistant in tone.

Hawki:

Samtemdo8:
In terms of films, I prefer the first 2 movies the best honestly. To me after the second movie, Harry Potter lost its "magic" and warmth.

Isn't that kind of the point? The books got darker over time. The films get darker both figuratively and literally as they progress as well.

I can sympathize, but from film 3 onwards, the films got a distinct aesthetic that the first two didn't have.

No. From the third movie onwards the movies lost a distinct aesthetic that the first two did have. I didn't touch on the movies specifically in OP but... well, they are a very mixed bag as far as adaptations go. You can claim that with the third one they grew more mature and darker but, honestly, more than anything else they just decided to have a really dreary color palette. Sure, the stories got darker in the books too but having the characters wear dull clothes and depicting all the settings in dull colors... it didn't exactly play to the series overall strenghts. The Harry Potter series would have really benfitted from having the same director adapt the whole series. Of course remaking it completely is probably out of the question for a very long time, seeing how iconic some of the performances are. Unless Radcliffe, Watson or Grint manage to become much bigger than they are now, chances are they are gonna be remembered as Alan Rickman movies before anything else.

I've been reading the series ever since my grandmother bought the first one for me (wow, was that over 20 years ago? Damn I feel old...) I still like the books, especially for the world-building and (to me anyway) impressive use of the Chekhov's gun trope.

I will say there are flaws, though, such as the romantic elements that aren't the best. But I still love the series to pieces, and that's good enough for me. (Even if I don't see "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" as canon.)

trunkage:
You know what, instead of comparing to Tolkien, is she better than GRR Martin or Robert Jordan or Anne Maccaffery

Worse than Martin and McCaffrey, better than Jordan imho.

Callate:

As far as Harry Potter itself goes? What metric are we using to define "good", here? I've read plenty of fantasy that had deeper, more thoughtful worlds, more convincing systems of magic, characters with more developed histories. None of which necessarily prevented some of same from being tedious, unreadable garbage.

I've read plenty of fiction that sought to provocatively address issues of the day and only ended up reading like preachy sermons, incompetent attempts to indoctrinate, or simply one-note ramblings of someone who had "gotten religion" and could no longer be bothered to talk about anything else.

I'm going to second this feeling - there are plenty of young adult/childrens books that attempt to tackle relevant issues in a complete and mature way, and they are generally reviled as anything from "too boring" to "only exists to be assigned in english class". Going to a series of books that include earwax flavoured jelly beans and expecting to find an exploration of Rousseau's theory of government is asking a bit much, and even if they tried it won't be as good as just reading commentaries on the topic.

Worry less about how well the themes are explored, and more that they are explored at all. I've not read Fantastic Beasts, but I feel quite confident in saying that attempting to base a critique of government on anything in it is extremely stupid. That said, at least people read the book and had those thoughts at all. Maybe a few of those hundreds of thousands of people will even crack open a book on philosophy or read a wiki article or listen to a podcast and learn way more about the topic and become another thinker who would not have otherwise existed if not for a book about a dork, a nerd and a ginger.

Harry Potter was my favorite series growing up. Last book is kind of garbage, though. It was pretty clear Rowling didn't actually have a plan all along for how the series would end as she said. Everything came together in a rush of Deus ex Machina in the last book. It was bizarre, she wasted so many pages on dead end camping trips and introducing irrelevant plot elements that all the actually important revelations and quest goals were rushed by at breakneck speed.

"Gee, I wonder where Voldemort hid the next Horcrux, let me just tap into his mind for the 5th time this book and find out!" "Oh, good thing that Voldy was stupid enough to leave the last piece of his soul completely unprotected sitting on a shelf in a not all that hard to find room. Good thing too that dumb as toadstools Crabbe knew how to cast a spell for one of the only things that could destroy a Horcrux!" "Good thing RON of all people is able to speak a magical freaking snake language perfectly after hearing it once while coming out of a stupor FOUR MONTHS AGO!!" I could go on and on and on.

I don't even get it, who in the editing process read the book and thought it was ready for publication? It's sad when a creator gets too famous and editors get too scared to do their job properly.

You kind of lost me when you started talking about real world politics.

jademunky:
I've never read the books (was too old when they came out) but I've seen most of the films.

Funny, I never knew you could get too old to read books.

The experience of reading itself was compelling and evocative, therefore, yes. That itself is worthy enough to be called 'good'. We need things like that in our lives.

In the long-term it was kind of emotionally and intellectually frustrating. So it's the equivalent of junk food - it tastes good immediately but there's no real nutritional sustenance.
At least in this case there's no real-world consequences to our moments of shallow enjoyment. So in the end, yes, it's good.

PsychedelicDiamond:
In short, Harry Potter is the attempt of an obscenely privileged person to write about the struggles of class, race and status and with all due respect, she's not nearly smart enough to do so in spite of her own privilege.

Just going to go ahead and address this point.

JK Rowling wasn't super privileged when she started writing Harry Potter. In fact she was on welfare and nearly homeless with a child. The Harry Potter books made her obscenely rich, but that doesn't mean that she never experienced struggles with regards to class and status. I'll give you the race one though.

CrazyGirl17:
I've been reading the series ever since my grandmother bought the first one for me (wow, was that over 20 years ago? Damn I feel old...) I still like the books, especially for the world-building and (to me anyway) impressive use of the Chekhov's gun trope.

I will say there are flaws, though, such as the romantic elements that aren't the best. But I still love the series to pieces, and that's good enough for me. (Even if I don't see "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" as canon.)

The problem with Harry, is that for all the he's a good kid - and he is - he's also a bit of a twat. I mean it makes him a million times more relatable to the audience and he's what, 17 at the oldest in the books? I don't expect the same sort of rational decision making out an emotionally traumatized teenager so yeah he makes dumb, heat of the moment decisions that due to the shit that is his life tend to have tragic consequences.

I mean you're right, Wizarding Britain is largely populated with fucking idiots. And I don't give a fuck how much Snape loved Lily Potter, he still threw in with the Death Eaters and as such should have been hung from a fucking parapet. And that includes everyone left over from the last battle of Hogwarts: every fucking adult should have been executed as traitors.

EvilRoy:
I've not read Fantastic Beasts, but I feel quite confident in saying that attempting to base a critique of government on anything in it is extremely stupid.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a small book Rowling wrote for fun and charity. The content is literally what it says on the cover and it takes less than 30 minutes to read through it. I assure you that no critique of governments, fictional or otherwise, exists in it.

OT: Being an adult fan of HP is rather cringeworthy, yes. They were among the best reading experiences I had as a kid, and the books are still a great example of a damn good Finnish translation.

Gordon_4:
I mean you're right, Wizarding Britain is largely populated with fucking idiots. And I don't give a fuck how much Snape loved Lily Potter, he still threw in with the Death Eaters and as such should have been hung from a fucking parapet. And that includes everyone left over from the last battle of Hogwarts: every fucking adult should have been executed as traitors.

It's explicitly stated that the last time that happened, everyone claimed they were mind controlled so they had to be let go. Which makes sense.

Ok, yeah, the wizards have multiple, infallible methods of determining whether or not this is the case they just don't bother using, which is a bit odd.

McElroy:

EvilRoy:
I've not read Fantastic Beasts, but I feel quite confident in saying that attempting to base a critique of government on anything in it is extremely stupid.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a small book Rowling wrote for fun and charity. The content is literally what it says on the cover and it takes less than 30 minutes to read through it. I assure you that no critique of governments, fictional or otherwise, exists in it.

OT: Being an adult fan of HP is rather cringeworthy, yes. They were among the best reading experiences I had as a kid, and the books are still a great example of a damn good Finnish translation.

McElroy:

EvilRoy:
I've not read Fantastic Beasts, but I feel quite confident in saying that attempting to base a critique of government on anything in it is extremely stupid.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a small book Rowling wrote for fun and charity. The content is literally what it says on the cover and it takes less than 30 minutes to read through it. I assure you that no critique of governments, fictional or otherwise, exists in it.

OT: Being an adult fan of HP is rather cringeworthy, yes. They were among the best reading experiences I had as a kid, and the books are still a great example of a damn good Finnish translation.

I am now even more confused as to how we got from that to the story linked in the OP, but like the book in question, couldn't be bothered to really read it. I'll take the blame for that one, but I want to point out my parents refused to buy me Clifford the Big Red Dog when I was a child and university later sucked all the remaining joy out of my personal reading.

I did see the picture though. They went right for Bowie on that character design.

EvilRoy:

McElroy:

EvilRoy:
I've not read Fantastic Beasts, but I feel quite confident in saying that attempting to base a critique of government on anything in it is extremely stupid.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a small book Rowling wrote for fun and charity. The content is literally what it says on the cover and it takes less than 30 minutes to read through it. I assure you that no critique of governments, fictional or otherwise, exists in it.

OT: Being an adult fan of HP is rather cringeworthy, yes. They were among the best reading experiences I had as a kid, and the books are still a great example of a damn good Finnish translation.

McElroy:

EvilRoy:
I've not read Fantastic Beasts, but I feel quite confident in saying that attempting to base a critique of government on anything in it is extremely stupid.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a small book Rowling wrote for fun and charity. The content is literally what it says on the cover and it takes less than 30 minutes to read through it. I assure you that no critique of governments, fictional or otherwise, exists in it.

OT: Being an adult fan of HP is rather cringeworthy, yes. They were among the best reading experiences I had as a kid, and the books are still a great example of a damn good Finnish translation.

I am now even more confused as to how we got from that to the story linked in the OP, but like the book in question, couldn't be bothered to really read it. I'll take the blame for that one, but I want to point out my parents refused to buy me Clifford the Big Red Dog when I was a child and university later sucked all the remaining joy out of my personal reading.

I did see the picture though. They went right for Bowie on that character design.

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them movies are not based on the book by the same name. The book, as far as I know, is just a textbook on some of creatures in the Harry Potter universe. As a matter of fact these movies aren't based on a book at all. They're prequels to Harry Potter but they only exist as movies. Rowling did write the screenplay, though.

PsychedelicDiamond:

EvilRoy:

McElroy:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a small book Rowling wrote for fun and charity. The content is literally what it says on the cover and it takes less than 30 minutes to read through it. I assure you that no critique of governments, fictional or otherwise, exists in it.

OT: Being an adult fan of HP is rather cringeworthy, yes. They were among the best reading experiences I had as a kid, and the books are still a great example of a damn good Finnish translation.

McElroy:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a small book Rowling wrote for fun and charity. The content is literally what it says on the cover and it takes less than 30 minutes to read through it. I assure you that no critique of governments, fictional or otherwise, exists in it.

OT: Being an adult fan of HP is rather cringeworthy, yes. They were among the best reading experiences I had as a kid, and the books are still a great example of a damn good Finnish translation.

I am now even more confused as to how we got from that to the story linked in the OP, but like the book in question, couldn't be bothered to really read it. I'll take the blame for that one, but I want to point out my parents refused to buy me Clifford the Big Red Dog when I was a child and university later sucked all the remaining joy out of my personal reading.

I did see the picture though. They went right for Bowie on that character design.

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to find Them movies are not based on the book by the same name. The book, as far as I know, is just a textbook on some of creatures in the Harry Potter universe. As a matter of fact these movies aren't based on a book at all. They're prequels to Harry Potter but they only exist as movies. Rowling did write the screenplay, though.

That seem weird to me, but I guess its a pretty good title so I can see the attraction. Maybe it features a lot of the beasts in said locations as part of the plot?

EvilRoy:
Maybe it features a lot of the beasts in said locations as part of the plot?

That is what people expected, some of them wanted, and what they absolutely did not get.

I don't know about childhood nostalgia. The first book was published when i was 17. I didn't read it until after the movie had been released and was on cable (I watched a few minutes once). The most nostalgic thing for me is that I bought a used paperback copy of it in a bookstore that I loved that no longer exists.

Harry Potter is a fun read (most of the time), but it's always been one of those "don't think too hard" pieces. Rowlin g is ham-fisted and clumsy and does really bad job at relaying her points, and this is a series I'd rip to shreds if...well, I've already ripped it to shreds in terms of critique, but I might actually literally rip the books up if they weren't also dumb fun.

They're not that deep, they're not that clever, and the deus ex magicka means they're often written with escape clauses, but hey, that's Star Wars. Just replace "magic" with "the Force" and I can make the same complaints.

Are the books really good? Depends on what you're looking for. Me, I was looking to kill time while my car was being repaired, and it was a fun read. If I was looking for an intelligent political treatise, I'd ask myself why I was reading the further adventures of Orphan Jesus and the Two Apostles.

I was too old when the books came out to be in the target audience (although I have read the books since mostly to understand the references and be able to converse about them with my nieces and nephews) so I don't really have the "nostalgia" factor going. But I can address this issue...

PsychedelicDiamond:
For all that does work about Harry Potter, there's also a lot that doesn't, though, and frequently it doesn't get brought up because people aprroach it with more good will than it deserves, mostly for reasons of personal childhood nostalgia. I don't mean to dwell on formal issues like both the hero and the villain being remarkably dull characters (To give credit where credit is due, it does have a pretty strong supporting cast)

Well, you solved that one yourself when you brought up

PsychedelicDiamond:
There are elements to the Harry Potter series that, I think, mostly hold up. The good old hero's journey, the campbellian monomyth

Now, its not a requirement for the hero's journey to feature the bland main character and far more interesting side characters... but its a common feature of big, successful franchises that often also use the "hero's journey" because its comforting and familiar story structure. Cracked.com explained it better than I could, so here's the link (also, its just a funny vid.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrbKuOaVF3k

So that is why Harry is blander than his co-stars, and Voldemort just reflects that because he is (again familiarly) a reflection of our hero. Better stories might have figured out that common "reflection of the hero" villains CAN be more interesting than the hero (look at just about every Batman villain... ever) but that's really the only fault of JK's on that score. Harry being bland is a feature, not a flaw, and part of what makes the story a success.

Yes, it was. See? That was easy.

I read it is a teenager. As near as I remember it's fine. Nothing amazing that you need to have read, but certainly perfectly adequate as an adventure story about a young hero who was destined to beat a magical manifestation of pure evil.

PsychedelicDiamond:
We get some idea where Lord Voldemort came from but we fail to learn how exactly he managed to rise to power. To gain support. To maintain it long after his apparent death. And this is where the series stumbles. Where it doesn't live up to its own potential. It still, overall, promotes positive morals, there's very little about it that'd strike me as genuinely harmful for a person growing up the way something like Twilight is (And believe me, I could have a field day with it) but the worst thing a fan of it could do is failing to move on from it.

On this specifically. Have you seen dragon ball? If so, do you remember that time when Goku defeated the red ribbon army. All of them. In pretty much one fell swoop. Well, I took it that something like that was going on. Harry Potter's world is one where some people are immeasurably stronger than others, even before any politics and help. At one point Dumbledore just straight up knocks out all of a team of cops sent to arrest him, within a second, without seriously harming them. He doesn't need to because they are barely a threat to him. Voldemort has succeeded in making himself close to immortal. He can kill pretty much anyone he wants to if he really puts his mind to it, he can teleport around in several ways, can read Harries mind across the world and may or may not have cursed his own name. This kind of power difference takes away an important element of our politics, that we are all powerless when alone against a group. This simply doesn't hold for Voldemort and he presumably leveraged that to instill fear into others and get more power. In that way Harry Potter just isn't altogether analogous to our world and our politics.

The rest of the answer answer would be that part of his following was racists (the Malfoys), some other parts sadistic nutjobs (Bellatrix) attracted to Voldemorts way of doing things, and the rest people who thought he would win and didn't want to get on his bad side (that rat guy whose hand got cut off, the Malfoys again). It is not that hard to see where those people came from. There was a lot of racism in the Harry Potter world. The school they go to has four alignments: brave (hero's), hardworking (saps), smart (nerds) and pureblood (racists). There was also a lot of cruelty going around. Remember how the government uses inhumane happiness sucking demons as their prison guards? Remember how the school janitor was in favor of torturing the students? And like you said, the trust in the official powers that be was understandably fairly low. Everyone has infiltrated everyone else. So all of that and there are always some crazy people around.

And I'm not really sure Voldemort doesn't really matter all that much. He's just really evil and needs to be stopped. Where he came from and the politics of how he got followers is less interesting than the events happening in the story right now.

Pseudonym:

On this specifically. Have you seen dragon ball? If so, do you remember that time when Goku defeated the red ribbon army. All of them. In pretty much one fell swoop. Well, I took it that something like that was going on. Harry Potter's world is one where some people are immeasurably stronger than others, even before any politics and help. At one point Dumbledore just straight up knocks out all of a team of cops sent to arrest him, within a second, without seriously harming them. He doesn't need to because they are barely a threat to him. Voldemort has succeeded in making himself close to immortal. He can kill pretty much anyone he wants to if he really puts his mind to it, he can teleport around in several ways, can read Harries mind across the world and may or may not have cursed his own name. This kind of power difference takes away an important element of our politics, that we are all powerless when alone against a group. This simply doesn't hold for Voldemort and he presumably leveraged that to instill fear into others and get more power. In that way Harry Potter just isn't altogether analogous to our world and our politics.

Yes, I have seen OG Dragonball. Not in a long time, to be honest, but I have seen it and I remember some of it quite fondly, unlike Dragonball Z, which I think is really awful. Now, Dragon Ball established rather early that Goku was from an alien race that's physically superior to humans and that, when pitted against normal human enemies, Goku would probably wipe the floor with them, even before he trained with Muten Roshi. That was, of course, before Dragonball Z came along and turned a lighthearted story about a goofy kid travelling the world to recover magical wishgranting balls into endless, repetetive wankery about which alien superhero can wipe out more planets with their farts. But I digress. Yes, it is established that Voldemort and Dumbledore are exceptionally powerful wizards but the books mostly treat magic capabilities as a result of study and practice, rather than something some people are just inherently more powerful at than others. In fact a lot about the greater themes hinge on acknowledging that the wizards who think they're better at magic, just because the can trace their wizard ancestry back to ancient times, are full of shit. Dumbledore and Voldermort are exceptionally powerful wizards because they're very old and dedicated most of their lifes to studying magic. Young Tom Riddle, before he managed to cheat death by using horcruxes, could have probably been stopped.

Pseudonym:
The rest of the answer answer would be that part of his following was racists (the Malfoys), some other parts sadistic nutjobs (Bellatrix) attracted to Voldemorts way of doing things, and the rest people who thought he would win and didn't want to get on his bad side (that rat guy whose hand got cut off, the Malfoys again). It is not that hard to see where those people came from. There was a lot of racism in the Harry Potter world. The school they go to has four alignments: brave (hero's), hardworking (saps), smart (nerds) and pureblood (racists). There was also a lot of cruelty going around. Remember how the government uses inhumane happiness sucking demons as their prison guards? Remember how the school janitor was in favor of torturing the students? And like you said, the trust in the official powers that be was understandably fairly low. Everyone has infiltrated everyone else. So all of that and there are always some crazy people around.

And I'm not really sure Voldemort doesn't really matter all that much. He's just really evil and needs to be stopped. Where he came from and the politics of how he got followers is less interesting than the events happening in the story right now.

The fact that wizard society is, in a lot of ways, lagging behind muggle society, in some regards almost seems to be stuck in the middle ages, was actually always one of my favourite parts of the books. I think they gave away some potential by never really adressing it. Actually, one of the things that really rub me the wrong way about them is that they treated Hermiones campaign to liberate house elves as a joke much of the time. It's... very hard to seperate the books entirely from Rowlings public persona, a persona that never endeared itself much to me, but it's one of these matters where it seems to me that Rowling tried to score some good girl points by including a progressive cause but never fully understood how that cause relates to real life.

See, you say Voldemorts background and his ideology isn't as interesting as the immediate events of the plot but personally I think it is. And maybe that's just my viewpoint as an adult but I'm pretty sure by the time the last few books came out most of its readers were adults and people in the latter half of their teens. Voldemort in general could have used some character development.

PsychedelicDiamond:
The fact that wizard society is, in a lot of ways, lagging behind muggle society, in some regards almost seems to be stuck in the middle ages, was actually always one of my favourite parts of the books. I think they gave away some potential by never really adressing it. Actually, one of the things that really rub me the wrong way about them is that they treated Hermiones campaign to liberate house elves as a joke much of the time. It's... very hard to seperate the books entirely from Rowlings public persona, a persona that never endeared itself much to me, but it's one of these matters where it seems to me that Rowling tried to score some good girl points by including a progressive cause but never fully understood how that cause relates to real life.

See, personally I'd say that its Hermione's approach that is made the joke (trying the trick the elves by leaving them hats just insults them, for instance, demonstrating that she's not really listening to the people she's supposedly fighting for) rather than the cause itself where most people (on Harry's side at least) tend to recognise she's got a point. It's made abundantly clear that even before it slips under Voldemort's control the wizarding world is...really not great with other races. Hell, thats one of the reasons why he's able to infiltrate the Ministry as well as he does, there's already plenty of people already there who think like him just on a smaller scale. It even becomes part of the plot in a minor way; Harry treating Dobby with basic respect is what earns him brownie points from Griphook, who is astounded a wizard would treat a House Elf that well. I think its woven ina bit more than just Rowling going "whoops, sort of created a race of slaves, better address that later..."

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