Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Murky Moral Worldview

I saw the new Harry Potter movie over the weekend. I thought it was the weakest entry in the series, but that's not the point of this post. I want to address the mindset of these movies. Each depicts adults as either evil, superfluous, kindly but ineffectual, or obtuse to the point of mental retardation. Have you noticed this trend? Those who harbor the keenest understanding are children, for the most part. They are more observant, empathetic, and sensitive to the realities around them. They are more reliable in a fix than anyone else.

Another problem with the storyline is its rebelliousness, and its manipulation of the audience into embracing persistent disobedience as reasonable. Adult rules all to often are portrayed as stifling, moronic, or counterintuitive. Since this is the case, Harry and his friends consistently violate them at every available opportunity; rules are made to be broken. Often, they have no choice but to smash the barriers set before them. This theme runs throughout the movies, starting with the first one.

The cinematic preoccupation with enlightened children in a world of stupid grownups is one that began in the 1980s, I believe, with movies like E.T. It thrives today in the Harry Potter series.

I find the films mildly diverting, with their fantastic special effects and interesting creatures. But I've never understood the popularity of the movies or books. I've read literally dozens of novels and short stories that offer a much grander and more coherent basis for moviemaking, and viewpoints with moral clarity, not mixed or detrimental messages.

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