Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Take: Harry Potter

It's here! The post I've been planning for weeks!! I know you are SO EXCITED! I've been really busy the last two days so spare the pointed questions as to where this update has been. Today my dog Charlie ran off and then we found him after hunting around for him.....and I had to unpack boxes of textbooks at home so I can clutter my parent's house rather than the space I don't have in my apartment...I've been busy.....

If you weren't waiting for this post, don't ruin my life by telling me you weren't. AKA: don't be a killjoy.

On to the important things.

There is always a conservative and liberal debate over anything. Politics, books, television shows, radio, media, and movies are replete with the debate of the right versus the left.

I heard the debate over Harry Potter from the time I was in High School. I had never read the books and even having Lord of the Rings in the house was a reach for my parents, so Harry Potter was OUT of the question. I never watched them and avoided them like the plague. I just knew they had to be horrible.

After writing my C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien comparison paper this semester my curiosity was piqued. What was the difference between Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and J.K. Rowlings Harry Potter? Why do critics come down so hard on one, while not the other?

Tolkien's books appear to be allegories on the surface. However, when you research back to his intentions and his interaction with other allegorical writers like C.S. Lewis, you would quickly find he did not agree with hidden meanings in his fiction and criticized those who wrote accordingly. His fiction, though written with seemingly apparent similarity to the sacrifice of Jesus, was not written to vividly portray that picture. Tolkien wanted to write good mythological literature--that's all. He did a pretty good job and the movies have been a big success after them.

Harry Potter has neither boasted nor claimed to be allegorical. After 6 movies and the release of the first part of the seventh now in theaters, it was time I investigated. So I borrowed the movies from a sweet girl at school. She loaned me 1,3,4, and 5....but had loaned out 2 and my watching was a bit broken...but this is what I have gleaned from my point of view thus far.

The first three Harry Potters are really most innocent. We meet a young wizard named Harry who has a power of which he doesn't know the depth or value. As he grows, his audience grows with him and sees his conflict and the fight against evil that he begins to face.

As I started the 4th movie, The Goblet of Fire, I thought, "What's the big deal? Why is everyone so against these?"

By the end of the fourth movie I could see the conflict and the struggle and the darkness the movies brought. Harry finally meets the enemy Voldemort in a fight for his very life. It was dark and I'm pretty sure I got goosebumps. The fifth movie continues Harry's struggle as well as his seeking deeper understanding of his power and the reasons behind his constant fight. It was dark as well.

Because of these things I deduced several thoughts:
1. Harry grows as his audience does. WHen the movies first came out the young audiences began watching and as Harry grew and faced trials, so did the audience that started watching him as children. It's the growth of young children into teens....only Harry's trials are somewhat different than most.
2. The movies contain similar elements to other magical movies like LOTR (Lord of the Rings). HP (Harry Potter) has magic and the fight of good versus evil. HOWEVER, HP also has elements that confuse watchers. For example, in LOTR watchers know from the beginning the good and evil sides. There is no doubt or mistrust. In HP I found myself trusting professors or the "good guys" only to find them later showing selfish ambition or working for a cause other than absolute good. So who was I to trust? Good wasn't always good.....this is not usually not a good way to teach kiddos leaves gray areas rather than absolute light and dark. Voldemort seemed to put the whole picture into perspective when he said, "There is no good and evil. There is only power and those too weak to seek it." I believe this is what the movie seems to promote: power, and the struggle to attain it.

The Bible is clear in showing God's views of witchcraft...

Deut 18:10
"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer"

Deut 18:14
"For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so."

2 Kings 17:17
"Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire, and practiced divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him."

2 Kings 21:6
"He made his son pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and used divination, and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD provoking Him to anger."

2 Chron 33:6
"He made his sons pass through the fire in the valley of Ben-hinnom; and he practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger." 

SO,'s definitely there. Magic gives us another place to show empowers the individual dangerously as they find their support and power from another place other than dependence on God. It's dark and it is NOTHING to play around with. I'm not talking about rabbits in a hat and card tricks....please don't get me wrong. I'm talking about dark magic...Dungeons and Dragons, Ouija boards, communicating with the other world, palm readers...stuff like that. It's dangerous and it's serious.

But here's my dilemma: if conservatives have such a problem with the witchcraft in Harry Potter, then why allow their kids to watch Disney? Let's face it, I grew up on Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves......those are CHOCK FULL of magic! If conservatives see the problem with the witchcraft, then why allow their children to watch those movies with just as much magic? Is it because Harry Potter is darker than the Disney movies? Is it because we have allowed traditional "fun" movies to override our common sense of the obvious infiltration of the magical world?  

Here's my take: Harry Potter does contain magic and it does contain more darkness and less of the obvious fight of "good versus evil" as is seen in other movies like Disney or LOTR. However, magic is in ALL of these movies. Children should be educated in what God says about magic before they watch any of them.....parents can use these opportunities to teach their children about Biblical principles if they take advantage of them. However, if the need for conservatism remains, as is prevalent and necessary in many lives, then parents should consider if their choice of one magic over another really achieves the purpose they desire. Do kids see the problem with magic and witchcraft? Or just a problem with a certain movie series?

Honestly, I enjoyed the movies. But I'm nearly 21...I've had lots of teaching to prep me for the darkness and the storyline waiting in them. 

Will I be watching them again? Yes. 
Will I go see them in theaters? If I have someone to go with, maybe so.

Would I let my little kids watch them? Would I recommend them to every family? No. It's just something I can't with good conscience recommend to everyone.

And that, for what it's worth, is my take on Harry Potter.

Because He lives,


Tony said...

How do you feel about the books vs the movies?

I read the first Harry Potter book many years ago, and thought it was just bad writing. I have ignored Harry Potter ever since.

God's Gal Sarah said...

Honestly, I haven't read them to know. The movies were my first introduction...I don't know if I'd go read them now. I just don't have the time at the moment.