Friday, July 15, 2005

In Praise of Muggles

Been writing about retail a lot this week, so why stop now? I noticed that the newspaper insert for Cub Foods—not really known for its selection of books—says this: “Muggles! Get 40% off the new Harry Potter book at Cub! Releases Saturday, July 16th. While supplies last.”

I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other about Harry Potter. I know a perfectly literate and intelligent adult who has read all the books, and likes them, but I doubt that I’ll ever read them. A few years ago, Yuriko wanted to watch the first of the movies on video, so I watched it too. It wasn’t bad, but I still didn’t feel like reading the books.

When and if Lilly and Ann want to read them, they can. Which is appropriate, since they are children. I read plenty of children’s books when I was a child. Harry Potter missed me by a few decades. So it goes.

Muggles, if I remember right from the movie, are ordinary people—the sort that cannot or do not learn magic, unlike the cool characters that inhabit the boarding school that Harry Potter attends. One aspect of the movie that irritated me was the cartoonishly awful depiction of the muggles family who actually raised Harry Potter.

His adoptive mother was, I think, actually his aunt, and she and her husband wanted Harry to have nothing to do with magic. The reason? They were narrow-minded, unimaginative boors, according to the story. Never mind that internecine feuds among magicians, as obscure as tribal politics in the Hindu Kush, had resulted in the death of Harry’s parents, with a price on his head to boot. Later, Harry and his mates regularly face deadly peril—is it any wonder his adoptive parents wanted him to grow up to be a barrister or an estate agent?


At 12:31 AM, Anonymous sam said...

Having read the books, the sources for Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon's ire are more complicated than mere fear-of-the-unknown. Aunt Petunia, it has been suggested, was jealous of her sister's powers. It further enraged her that those powers were (in her mind) directly responsible for her sister's death and the subsequent forced-adoption of Harry. She is angrier still that Harry shows all the same kinds of powers she resented her sister for, and (mind, she is a haggard middle-aged middle-class ill-tempered bitch) takes it out on him as a result.
Uncle Vernon has a deep seated desire to appear absolutely normal. He aspires to wealth and elevated class status he probably won't ever attain, though continues to behave as if he were quite wealthy. Harry represents a direct and obvious threat to his aspirations and his ego. Everything about Harry is utterly unnatural and he hates him for it. In addition, he is not directly related to Harry and thus feels there is no reason to take him in or treat him any better than vermin if not for his wife and threats from the wizarding community. He is also a fat bastard by all accounts.


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