20 July 2007

Harry Potter -vs- Star Wars

The final Harry Potter book comes out tomorrow, and I can't wait to read it (after my lovely wife does - she's a much speedier reader than I am). And since young Mr. Potter is in the news, I thought I'd pass along a quick comment.

Some people (Christians in particular) object to Ms. Rowling's positive depiction of magic. That tells me they either 1) haven't actually read the books or 2) didn't understand what they read.

Now, I'm not one of those who thinks the books are covertly Christian or anything like that, but neither do I think they're advocating evil behavior. In fact, one of the things I love about the HP books is fact that evil is portrayed as destructive, unattractive, greedy, ugly, half-dead, etc... as it should be.

And I greatly appreciate the fact that the HP marketing machine hasn't pushed the bad guys on us. You can buy a Chocolate Frog or a bag of Bertie Boyt's Every Flavor Bean, but there aren't any kids running around in Voldemort costumes on Halloween. Nobody thinks Wormtail is cool, despite his shiny silver hand. Nobody aspires to be like Draco Malfoy. That's a very, very good thing.

Compare this to recent Star Wars movie, in which the demonic Darth Maul is clearly portrayed as one of the coolest guys on screen - he's got the best weapon (double-light sabre), and his face is plastered all over t-shirts, halloween masks, etc. Where was the moral outrage over this glamorization of evil? Why weren't there any hand-wringing magazine articles about the positive portrayal of evil in Star Wars, both on screen and (especially) in the merchandise. Not that I want to see more hand-wringing... my point is the people who object to Harry Potter are barking up the wrong tree.

I'll take Harry Potter over Star Wars any day.


Orangeblossoms said...

Yeah. I finished chapter 10 before coming to church this morning, because I'm just that obsessive. Now I have to think about a sermon.... yeah, a sermon! Loved this post, by the way, I agree about the depiction of evil in HP. It is bad, half dead, and wrong. The good stuff is complex, too. Having to struggle for good is much more realistic!

Dan said...

Thanks for the note!

My father-in-law and his fiance were visiting, so we took advantage of the free babysitting and went out to a book store at midnight on Friday to get the nwe book - even though one was coming in the mail Sat morning, from Amazon. :) This way, we each get to read it at the same time.

revolution said...

just wanted to say that i'm another pastor who is in total agreeance with you that the potter books are the greatest.

although i do have to admit that my wife and i are quite smitten with Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine because they are both evil geniuses. Unlike Yoda and Obi Wan, using Anakin as bait and then going into hiding when they fail.


Lisa said...

Here here! I agree Dan. As an HP fan I'm presently on page 453 of book 7. I turned off the phones, shut down the computer (until just now) and sat around all weekend blissfully lost in the world of HP. I love the books, and the incredible imagination of the author. Rowling's depiction of evil, good, and friendship (not always depicted as an easy road) is thoughtful and intelligent. As for magic... well... it's just my opinion that LOVE is magic... and who can say that is a negative thing?

Dan said...

Yes - Love is magic, and love is the source of much magic (in HP world as well as in real life).

I was particularly struck by the scene in book 7 (don't worry - I won't give anything away) where Harry's grief protects him from seeing the Voldemort-induced visions... and Harry recognizes that Dumbeldore would have called it love.

Gabe said...

Now wait just one minute bub...Star Wars is the gretest adventure story ever (next to Lord of the Rings and HP of course)! You know I'd say that, right. I'm totally in agreement and note what a great observation. It is disconcerting that folks instantly jump to condemnation for HP without knowing at all what it's about simply because the story portrays Withches and Wizards. In particular I have problems with Christians who denegrate HP while lifting up The Narnia Series or The Lord of the Rings. And when you get to the heart of their concerns, it doesn't seem that it has to do with the story at all, but rather with the beliefs of the authors or some other tangential issue. If you can accept fiction for what it is, then it's really just a matter of filtering the negetive and clinging to the positive messages portrayed.