Muggled Thinking

« August 2011 »


Every once in a while, Big Hollywood publishes a piece that justifies me leaving it in my RSS feed. It doesn't happen often, especially since they lost Victoria Jackson to a site that could meet her increasing demands for birdseed, mineral oil, and gently-used colanders. But it happens from time to time, and this time, it's the work of Andrew Price.

You don't know who Andrew Price is, because Andrew Price isn't famous. And not even not famous like Greg Gutfeld isn't famous. No, Andrew Price is just some ambulance-chaser who blogs about film. Price was, in fact, responsible for the last two Big Hollywood items I tossed into the pile for potential column inclusion. The first one complained about how Hollywood villians have become simplistic moustache-twirlers, because they lack the complex motivations of the T-800 from "Terminator" and Darth Vader.

By the way, the complex motive he cited for The Terminator, which apparently puts the Schwarzeneggerbot on par with Captain Bligh? "Relentlessly followed his programming." So, yeah. Andrew Price has got a way to go before he's worthy of proofreading Pauline Kael's old shopping lists.

And speaking of relentlessly following his programming, Price pulls one of the oldest conservative tricks in the book in the second piece - picking a wildly popular and famous work of fiction, then twisting reality beyond recognition to "prove" that the character is a conservative. That work of fiction? ACTUAL TITLE TIME!

"Harry Potter: Conservative Hero?"

I don't know whether the question mark was from Price, or one of Big Hollywood's editors, assuming those latter mythical creatures even exist, but clearly, someone knew that, even by Big Hollywood standards, Price was pulling stuff from so far out of his colon that a question mark was mandatory. Let's work our way through his "evidence", shall we?

First up, "anti-government themes". In other words, the Ministry of Magic stuff. In Price's tea-stained world, the Ministry of Magic is like a magical version of the EPA and FDA, constantly interfering in honest, capitalistic wizards' plans to make mountains of gold by dumping tons of dragon shit in the Thames and sell cheaply-made exploding wands from house-elf sweatshops. This is, of course, bullshit.

Yes, the Ministry of Magic turned evil. But you may recall, at the time, JK Rowling did a bunch of interviews where she stated, outright, that the Ministry of Magic was satire aimed straight at Tony Blair's Britain and its actions in the post-9/11, Iraq War era. And even if she hadn't told anyone that outright, all you had to do was read the fucking books. Even for someone whose target audience is pre-teen children, Rowling is not one to lean heavily on subtlety.

If Harry Potter were a conservative hero, he'd have abolished the Ministry of Magic at the end, plus cut off federal funding whatever wizarding organization hands out Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Condoms at Hogwarts. Instead, the Ministry just gets a new boss, and continues its mission full of hope and change and stuff. As opening arguments go, this is like stepping up to the debate podium, shitting yourself, and dry-humping the moderator.

Price does slightly better with his next point - "pro-capitalism themes", in which he points out that the government is mainly boring and dull, and all the shops in Diagon Alley are bright and fun. Also, the Weasley brothers are entrepreneurs. This has the benefit of actually being somewhat true and occasionally in the books, at least.

But Price seems to be under the impression that a British author portraying government offices as dull, and bureaucratic is making a political point, instead of a cultural one. "Offices are boring, shopping is fun" is not a conservative value, even if it was basically Dubya's response to 9/11, once he finished reading an even simpler children's book than Harry Potter.

Next, he says the Death Eaters are a "cult of personality", and are evil, and therefore cults of personalities are evil, and since conservatives hate CM Punk's entrance music, Harry Potter must be a conservative. Somehow, seven books of non-stop Dumbledore worship, including the founding of a GUERRILLA ARMY NAMED AFTER HIM, doesn't count. I'm not saying JK Rowling is a communist, I'm just saying I bet there's a lot of people sitting around coffeeshops wearing pointy hats and T-shirts with a stylized, bearded face on them in the post-Hallows fictional universe.

His next point cracks me up, both because it's blindingly obvious and yet still wrong at the same time. Ready? "Rejection of Moral Relativism". Yes, there is a fair amount of absolute good and evil in a book about the goodest wizard in the world taking seven years to figure out how to kill the baddest wizard in the world. But on the other hand, Snape. Even Voldemort is given a slightly sympathetic backstory. Rowling may only have a couple of shades of gray in her authorial paintbox, but she did actually use them.

The Value Of Hard Work And Self-Reliance? I believe it's ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Unlike most modern heroes, Harry is actually nothing special. He’s not smarter or wiser or stronger or faster than the other kids."

He's the MOTHERFUCKING CHOSEN ONE. Also a Quidditch champion. The entire series exists for the express purpose of telling us just how special Harry Potter is. The series apes Joseph Campbell, not Ayn Rand. That's like saying Luke Skywalker got to blow up the Death Star because he majored in aiming at Tattooine Community College. Having already stretched his argument to the breaking point, here Price has taken the tattered shreds of his argument and done a little dance with them in the hopes you'll think they're ribbons.

There's also a strained attempt to tie how the children in the books turn out based on how traditional their families are, but it's no more ridiculous than anything else in the article, and anyway, the Weasleys really are the Duggars of the wizarding world.

And finally, he addresses what he sees as the biggest obstacle to his theory - Dumbledore being into dudes. Price's response to this is that first of all, there are gay conservatives, and second of all, Dumbledore is the ideal conservative homosexual. You can spend seven years reading all about his life and watching movies about his day job, and the fact that he's gay never comes up once. He never kisses a dude, holds hands with a dude, mentions his "domestic partner", or anything. You only find out about it in news reports after he dies.

And in that, Price is accidentally the least wrong he has ever been, and ever will be, in his entire life. Because of all the things in all seven books and all seven movies, Dumbledore's sexuality is the one thing JK Rowling was very, very conservative about.