Harry Potter and the Downfall of Western Civilization

by MaxPower

The real threat to Western Civilization as we know it is not Osama ‘Hiding-in-a-cave’ bin Laden, but rather the much hyped and in my view much overblown Harry Potter. I am SURE that someone reading this will ‘absolutely love’ Harry Potter or think it is ‘brilliant’, so this is my stinging rebuke.

Harry Potter idealizes and is a figurehead for all that is wrong with Western Civilization; in essence the dumbing down of everything to a level of a 12 year old. Nothing can be complex, confusing, or difficult to read. Everything must be cut and dried, ‘news snippets’ or written so a child can make sense out of it. ‘Oh I’m to busy to try and figure out what this means’ moans the average middle aged citizen of the Western World, ‘Condense it into 3 words or I’m not interested’.

It is from this academic apathy that hits middle-aged members of our society that we get this recent ‘Harry Potter’ craze. The book is written for children, simple as that. The syntax is simple. The word choice – elementary. There is no social commentaries, hyperbole, or hidden meaning in the story. The sentences are jazzed up with words that aren’t even words. Anyone can make words up, it doesn’t take a grumpet (or a muggle if your so inclined) to do so. So the book is for children, then why do I continually see grown, professional adults reading ‘Harry Potter’ on my daily commute to work? Would you read Winnie the Pooh on the train or bus? I should hope not – nothing against Winnie the Pooh I may add, yet it is a book to be read to children by adults, not read by adults for entertainment purposes.

‘But I like it and it encourages reading’ the adults moan, oh well if it encourages reading THEN its ok. OK for a school child but not for an adult. If an adult needs to be coerced into reading to better his or her intellect as is appears the case, the Western World is indeed in dire straights. There was perhaps a time when reading contemporary thought provoking articles or books may have been in vogue, but now it seems that adults are keen to have literary discussions on the merits of Harry Potter, the poor little orphan boy. I return to my point of the craze being brought on by adults. Children lack the foresight and depth of reasoning needed to encourage members of their peer groups to do anything. Adults see a craze in the making and jump on the bandwagon, children more often than not are the beneficiaries of the adult’s temporary lack of insanity. For proof witness the ‘must-have’ toy of the year which always shows up around Christmas time. Children do not establish this ‘must-have’ toy, it is the adults who start and perpetuate the craze. Did you see children buying Furby toys for hundreds of dollars a couple years ago? Of course not, just as like now you see adults perpetuating the Harry Potter craze on children.

And the reason why adults perpetuate fads and crazes is because they want to live vicariously though their children. ‘Ohhh they didn’t have toy X when I was a child’. Now some may say there is no harm in reading anything, even if it is a children’s book. Possibly, but what I am rebelling against is the attempt by these persons to foist Harry Potter off on me, as a novel of outstanding merit. ‘But it is so good they croon.’ Ok well I enjoyed reading ‘Hello Moon’ when I was a child, why don’t you go read that and come back to me after and we can have a philosophical debate on where the moon actually goes when it goes to bed. Have we completely lost the ability to enjoy complex articles detailing the workings of our world? If so, no jihad on the evil Western dogs are needed, we will fall apart ourselves.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t suppose everyone read Austin, Shakespeare, Keats or Friedman on their way to work. I recently tried to ready Milton’s Paradise Lost on the train and failed quite miserably, having a hard time keeping up to the allusions to Greek and Roman mythology while others were shoving by me. All I am espousing is reading for intellectual enlightenment and not solely child like pleasure.

Now to the Harry Potter feature length movie. How could I see this coming and being a raging success. Oh wait a child’s book is not easy enough to read I need to see it on a screen taking away any possibility of creative thought. Children did not pay 90 million US over the first 3 days of the film, the culprits are adults. (Although possibly to a lesser extent – one can not dump their children off at the movie threatre and some MUST accompany them even to a child’s movie.) To counter this Harry Potter threat we have Lord of the Rings coming out in December. Based on the famous J.R.R. Tolkien books, it was recently rated the best novel in the 20th Century. A story full of exciting prose, intelligent weaving together of multiple story lines, and analogies which have been compared for everything from Tolkien’s view on the English middle ages to World War I or II. This is a book I would not be embarassed to read, a book that while could be construed as a young adults book, offers up more insight and pleasure when read with age. (Other such books are George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm – both with rather simple syntax, but striking and intense social commentary)

The Lord of the Rings movies were not pushed out as quick as possible after the stories were complete to gain as much market exposure as possible, rather were kept in story form until the art of computer animating the intense lands of fantasy imagined by Tolkien were technically feasible. I would like any Harry Potter fan to show me the depth of character and story needed for a scene that will be famous come Dec 19th. Where Ian McKellen’s Gandalf the Grey full of Shakespearean wrath confronts the Balrog (symbolic of infested and inherent evil) with the words ‘Thou shall not pass’ and goes down in fire and glory. Only to be resurrected as the immensely powerful (and somewhat de-humanised, which comments on how power effects the person) Gandalf the White.

Do yourself a favour, put down Harry Potter and pick up a book with some actual substance behind it. Western Civilization will thank you for it.

  • Harry Potter and the Downfall of Western Civilization
  • by MaxPower
  • Published on December 1st, 2001

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