Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

To All,

Sunday evening I went to experience the latest installment of the Harry Potter movies. As I attended the second to last show on Sunday evening (I don't work Mondays) the theater was quite comfy and I shared it with only a few folks. My seat was middle center, slightly raised.

Going to the movies is one of the few occasions that I break my diet. If in a theater I MUST have popcorn. There would be something karmicly wrong if one did not have popcorn and a soda with a movie.

Having read the books I find that this movie was more in tune than the last one. It was dark, and did not deviate significantly from the book. However, none of the Harry Potter movies have truly grasped the dark and brooding nature of the books.

I don't believe that if these books were written in the United States today they would receive the same support that they currently enjoy originating from Great Britain. If you haven't read any of the books I would suggest starting with the first to take my meaning. It is a good short book that can be devoured most efficiently and without much fuss. In it you would find that in America the Dursley's would be guilty of child abuse. SEVERE child abuse!!! This does not come through in the movies at all. The movies show the Dursley's as generally unkind but nothing like the books.

This has caused me to further wonder as to whether any of the great literary childrens stories could be written in our modern, politically correct, sanitized, see/hear/speak no evil society???

Published today would Hansel and Gretel shove the wicked witch into the oven OR would the neighborly social worker come by at the last moment and save them? Would the manly woodman wielding the vicious axe slice into the wolf saving Little Red Riding Hood OR would Red spot some abnormality and call 911? Would Alice face the drug addled Mad Hatter OR would she interact with a more stable character?

These children's stories were all written in a day and age when children were dying on the streets, orphanages were horrible but far better than the alternatives and EVERYONE KNEW IT!

Through Harry Potter JK Rolling brings back the dark and allows the heroes to truly shine a light in the dark places. By so doing they have real accomplishments, not the banal inane trivialities of Americas sanitized childrens literature.

I remember on Saturday mornings(decades ago) I used to watch Johnny Quest. Johnny had his bodyguard Rick. On Saturday mornings RICK KILLED THE BAD GUY! There wasn't any gore but no mistake was made: Rick pulled trigger, gun went off, bad guy died. Rick also used a variety of tools available as well. Neither I nor millions of other children turned out traumatized by Rick. What do our children learn from today? A purple dinosaur...? Smurfs...?

I am afraid that if they tried to air Johnny Quest today as it was then dozens, nay, hundreds, of child psychologists would emerge from their offices much as ants at a picnic. Too violent, they would say. Too graphic, they would expound. I am certain the word "traumatized" would be repeated until all Americans would think it were so, irregardless of the truth.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that in our world with all of its marvels and wonders it can also be a terrible and violent place, populated by evil people. If we continue to shield our children from this reality they will NOT be prepared nor capable of responding well when they are confronted by it.

Thank goodness that for a time there is Harry Potter and his crew to show them that sometimes you must get your hands dirty in order to take out the garbage.

Your thoughts?


Doug Horner

PS - I really do miss Johnny Quest :(


MichaelK said...

Man, it must have been a long time ago, you mean Roger "Race" Bannon, not Rick I think.

(Quite fond of throwing barrels, I believe...)

I think you need to catch up on some Venture Bros. these days. :D


Robert Enders said...

I read at a college level, so I don't read Harry Potter. But for good, non-PC books by American authors I would recommend:
"Fight Club" by Chuck Palanuik.

The Timeline 191 series by Harry Turtledove.

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card.

"The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier. This book was required reading at South Side High School. The movie based on this book is rated "R". Notice that certain events, language, and dialogue that can appear in novels and even literature can cause a movie to be rated "R". The reason for the double standard is that very young children are more likely to see a movie than read a book and imitate what they see.

LP Mike Sylvester said...


I read at a college level as well...

I love the Harry Potter books...

The wife and I (She also reads at a college level) have read all of the books and enjoy watching the movies. We went on Monday night...

Mike Sylvester

Robert Enders said...

I was just messing with you, Mike. There is nothing wrong with kiddie books. In fact, "Ender's Game" is now published by Scholastic and is being marketed as a children's novel.

Personally, I like sci-fi more than fantasy. Part of me hopes that I live long enough to see the technology in the book get invented in real life. "Red Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson was published in 1993 and has characters who were born in the 1960's and 70's living on Mars. Realistically though, if I take good care of myself, I might live long enough to get a postcard from Olympus Mons from one of my great-grandkids.

jon said...

The potter series will be looked upon in the future as classics. They are extremely well written and captivating. Doug the answer to your question is in every brother Grim, Anderson etc... fairy tale converted to a Disney film since 1930. Disney always cuts the gore, the tragedy ect.. Out of the story. Remember the "A Team” a TV show that was made in the middle of the "lets not show violence" on TV movement. 8-15 people with large caliber automatic and crew served automatic weapons firing at each other for five minutes at point black range..... and no one shot...

And we didn't even have Paul Helmke to tell us guns were bad back then!

Parson said...

"Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card.
My favorite book of all time. There has been talk of a movie for a while.
We can only hope Hollywood doesn't trash it like they did to Starship Troopers. That is a great book but they made such a crap movie for it.

Robert Enders said...

You can do a lot more in a book than you can in a movie, although you can do a lot more in a movie now than when "Ender's Game" was written.

Right now they are still working on a script. Although I wonder if the movie will get made the same way "Hitchhiker's Guide" got produced: Wait for the author to die so he can't exercise creative control.

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