Eruditorum Press

A magical ritual to pay my rent

Skip to content

Jack Graham

Jack Graham wrote about Doctor Who and Marxism, often at the same time. These days he co-hosts the I Don't Speak German podcast with Daniel Harper.Support Jack on Patreon.

30 Comments

  1. Etana Edelman
    November 30, 2018 @ 1:21 pm

    I don’t think Rowling understands what rape is. In HBP the only reason Merope’s rape of Tom is considered bad is because she conceived a child “without love” which resulted in Voldemort.
    Also, you forgot to mention one of the worst things about the Queenie Goldstein plotline; this character who is clearly implied to be Jewish (She has the same last name as the only Jewish character in Harry Potter, although maybe that’s just the only Jewish surname Rowling knows) join up with the series’ Nazi analogues.

    Reply

    • Jack Graham
      November 30, 2018 @ 5:48 pm

      The idea that Queenie and Tina are Jewish had completely flown over my head.

      Reply

      • Etana Edelman
        November 30, 2018 @ 7:20 pm

        I’m starting to think Goldstein may be the only Jewish surname Rowling knows. Or it’s just the laziness that led her to name a character Cho Chang.

        Reply

        • davie
          November 30, 2018 @ 7:55 pm

          Rowling is about the same ages as me, so she probably did the Scottish O Grade in English.

          And the set book for that course ?

          1984

          In which there is the Daily Hate.

          Reply

          • Etana Edelman
            November 30, 2018 @ 10:03 pm

            Oh my god.

          • Rodolfo Piskorski
            December 1, 2018 @ 5:09 am

            She didn’t live in Scotland at that age.

          • Camestros Felapton
            December 1, 2018 @ 11:27 am

            1984 was a set book in English O Levels also (at least for some exam boards)

        • Haze
          December 3, 2018 @ 11:07 pm

          Or she is just reusing surnames given that the WW is quite small so most characters are ancestors of HP characters? As is the case for loads of other characters in the film.

          Reply

          • tachyonspiral
            December 4, 2018 @ 9:58 am

            Could be either, really. You’re right that it’s the kind of thing she does, but she reused Evans without meaning to.

  2. Sam Keeper
    November 30, 2018 @ 4:06 pm

    it kinda rocks that you pegged this as a film directed at continuity buffs, because the two continuity buffs I’m close to are aghast at how Rowling seems to have totally given up on any sort of coherent continuity. of course, part of the problem is that she won’t stop gossiping about fictional people, so there’s this mountain of extratextual stuff that is treated as hard canon… until it becomes inconvenient for the next movie, of course.

    this extratextual material is particularly great because not only does it not repair some of the problems in the main texts, a lot of the time it makes them much worse. so, Lupin isn’t just bitten by a werewolf, he’s bitten by Fenrir Greyback who specifically enjoys preying on children. oh and all that subtext in the books that inspired Lupin/Sirius wolfstar fic? well, she goes out of her way to make that not a thing, because god forbid Lupin and Sirius actually have some moments of queer happiness.

    this plus her extremely dodgy understanding of history and politics makes me conclude she’s not interested in continuity-as-such, in the exploration of a speculative alternate world… she’s really just in it for the gossip and the ability to assert her authorial dominion over the truth of the text. really, it’s surprising she’s been so lenient comparatively on fanfiction when her whole project seems to be designed to clamp down as much as possible on alternate interpretations.

    oh I will say though, I think fantasy is a fine place to explore issues of sexual assault and personally when it’s handled well it’s the only way I can interface and grapple with subjects that are otherwise too triggering.

    unfortunately one of my biggest triggers is “author clearly does not recognize that they’ve written a story about sexual coercion” so, I’ll probably be skipping this film. :/ that’s unfortunately one failstate fantasy authors stumble over a LOT.

    Reply

    • Jack Graham
      November 30, 2018 @ 5:50 pm

      Great points, thanks.

      It’s funny how often the stuff that seems most aimed at continuity buffs then goes ahead and screws up the continuity. I know you don’t watch, but continuity porn Doctor Who does this constantly.

      Reply

    • Etana Edelman
      November 30, 2018 @ 10:08 pm

      Rowling has a terrible understanding of sexual assault. What happened to Umbridge is pretty notorious but there’s also the implication that Voldemort is evil because he’s the product of rape.

      Reply

  3. Etana Edelman
    November 30, 2018 @ 10:19 pm

    I wonder if Queenie’s character derailment happened because she’s a typically feminine character. Look how Rowling treats the more feminine women in Harry Potter.

    Reply

    • Davie
      December 1, 2018 @ 1:16 am

      Would you mind expanding on that, Etana ? Genuinely intrigued to know.

      As a Scot myself I’ve encountered over the years several professional women in Social Work, and so many, many of them are like JK Rowling – very prim, very educated and very, very sure of their own rectitude. I’ve also encountered many of their clients, and a common complaint from that second group of single mums, drug addicted teenagers and abused schoolkids is the extent to which they feel their social worker attempts to impose a storyline and a resolution into their lives, rather than actually allow them to express themselves naturally.

      It’s an interesting reflection. I think the world gained a successful and at her best pretty readable author, and ducked the bullet of a lousy would be social engineer screwing up the lives of troubled people.

      Reply

      • Davie
        December 1, 2018 @ 1:27 am

        …and they are also extremely gossipy !

        Reply

      • Etana Edelman
        December 1, 2018 @ 3:33 am

        Look at characters like Lavender Brown and Fleur Delacour, who are highly feminine and mocked and punished for it. Fleur has to prove she isn’t shallow in order to get her redemption but Lavender is unceremoniously mauled to death by a werewolf. Look at how Umbridge’s “girliness” is used to portray her as abhorrent. Or look at Harry’s two love interests; Cho Chang is rejected because she cries too much in favor of the tomboyish Ginny. And Rowling’s self-insert Hermione has no female friends.

        Reply

      • Rodolfo Piskorski
        December 1, 2018 @ 5:12 am

        Rowling is from the West Country.

        Reply

  4. Rodolfo Piskorski
    December 1, 2018 @ 4:36 am

    I’m sorry, but this is literally ahistorical ideology. This is fake history of the 20th century with wizards. Wizards have a different history, because they have a different culture, and different prejudices. It’s been obvious in the books that wizards are less sexist and racist than Muggles and have been for centuries – because all their prejudices run along magical lines.

    And I think you completely misunderstand the meaning of death in the original novels and the meaning of Voldemort’s evil, which is a rejection of vulnerability.

    Anyways, the original Harry Potter films were not good films and were certainly not good Harry Potter adaptations. This one at least feels like you’re reading a Harry Potter novel.

    Reply

  5. Rodolfo Piskorski
    December 1, 2018 @ 4:42 am

    “he even tells them not to respond after the aurors kill one of them”

    That was a false flag. His shape-shifting henchman blended with the Auror group and killed the witch to incite hatred against the Muggles. It’s #WizardFakeNews

    Reply

    • Christopher Brown
      December 1, 2018 @ 4:10 pm

      In a way, that’s worse, as it’s basically providing a further alibi for police violence.

      Reply

  6. Rodolfo Piskorski
    December 1, 2018 @ 4:46 am

    “Rowling isn’t that self-aware about the horror of consent-violation that she routinely depicts as charming whimsy.”

    What the actual fuck? Bewitching someone to love you is held up as one of the most fucked up things one can do in the books.

    Reply

    • tachyonspiral
      December 1, 2018 @ 8:24 pm

      Not really? Sure, it’s portrayed as disturbing from the perspective of Harry when he gets sent chocolates spiked with love potion (which Ron then eats, in a comedy scene), but Fred and George sell love potions and they are presented as lovable troublemakers. Molly Weasley admitted to making one when she was younger, as part of a funny anecdote she entertains the girls with. To say this is presented as “most fucked up” is a serious stretch.

      Reply

  7. Rodolfo Piskorski
    December 1, 2018 @ 5:05 am

    Having finished reading it, I have to say it’s rather serious you stake so much of your reading on your misunderstanding of Grindelwald’s infiltration of the Auror contingent in the rally scene.

    Also, the Battle of Hogwarts must sit awkwardly next to your depiction of political passivity.

    Reply

  8. Rodolfo Piskorski
    December 1, 2018 @ 5:07 am

    Also, Dumbledore doesn’t dress in the films as he is described in the books, which you criticise, but then you criticise that most characters – in the films – dress as 40s and Victoriana.

    Reply

  9. Camestros Felapton
    December 1, 2018 @ 11:23 am

    I think around the paragraph that starts “incoherently” I thought the film had been completely eviscerated…then there’s more.

    A public service.

    Reply

  10. Christopher Brown
    December 1, 2018 @ 4:08 pm

    A fantastic piece for everyone to find right here.

    …sorry.

    Reply

  11. Charles Spencer
    December 2, 2018 @ 1:49 pm

    Lovely post, very clever. Big question – why even watch this film in the first place? Surely you have better things to do. I’d rather watch ISIS beheadings than sit through Magical Creatures or whatever it’s called.

    Reply

  12. David Ainsworth
    December 3, 2018 @ 4:07 pm

    I’m late to the thread, but here are a few scattered thoughts:
    On consent, and this has been previously discussed, it’s interesting that Rowling is so unconcerned about something like Polyjuice Potion. When it’s used to “copy” Harry in the seventh book, he’s told that if he does not consent his hair will be forcibly taken. And the earlier usage is, of course, non-consensual. One wonders how readers would feel about Slytherin House members non-consensually polyjuicing Hermione. It is telling that we see no evidence of a course at Hogwarts all students must take concerning the ethics of using magic.

    Goblins and property are an interesting case. I’m unconvinced that there’s a coherent critique of communism here, given that the Goblin understanding of property rights is presented as absolute and incoherent. If a sword is owned by the goblin who crafted it, not only are we in a preindustrial system, but the implication is that any labor prior to the crafting of the final thing isn’t part of that rule. Otherwise, the metals in the sword would still belong to whoever mined them; the enchantments would belong to whoever created them originally; in short, the question of ownership becomes incoherent if more than one person puts labor into crafting a thing. Even if it’s read as “goblins collectively own all goblin products,” in practice Rowling not only refuses to explore the implications but she rejects those that ought to exist even outside that definition. If the goblins operate a bank, surely money in accounts there is being “borrowed” and used by the bank to make more money. But we see no evidence of that. There is no wizard credit card; no wizard credit at all, that we see. They appear to be literally on the gold standard.

    The goblin property plot is an example of a point where Rowling could have delivered more cutting social commentary (not on the edge, more like mainstream commentary) by being less focused on nowstalgia. Suppose instead that Griphook explains that the Sword of Gryffindor was only licensed to Godric Gryffindor, not sold to him. Maybe he complains as well that human wizards keep disabling the goblin owner-rights-management spells.

    Reply

  13. Haze
    December 3, 2018 @ 11:00 pm

    Aiming the film at the sort of people who get excited just because Flamel is in it (etc) isn’t necessarily a bad move; the number of those sort of people is huge, making hardcore Doctor Who fandom seem insignificant in comparison. But it’s also mostly young people, people younger (I think) than Jack. Still, I bet there’s more people in that category than there are who are not but are still invested enough to get annoyed at the sorts of things that annoy Eruditorum readers.

    Wasn’t the Harry Potter series, particularly book 7, about a popular antifascist movement? And don’t Dumbledore, Newt et al at least approach on this here? Clearly the main enemies of Grindelwald as the series progresses are not going to be “the police”.

    Reply

  14. Przemek
    December 20, 2018 @ 10:12 am

    “Accepting death is the ultimate passivity, you see, and passivity is the ultimate virtue for Rowling. This is why the basic horror of Voldemort is that he doesn’t want to die.”

    “There’s a potentially interesting story in what the wizards would do when muggle scientific and technological progress surpassed their magic.”

    These quotes made me think that you would probably find “Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality” interesting. The ideology behind that fanfic is, of course, completely batshit insane, but if you largely ignore it you get a thorough exploration of the biggest problems in Rowling’s HP books. The wizarding world being dangerously stuck in the past, wizards vs. technology and science, wizards vs. magical and actual racism/sexism, the horrible way teachers are treating the children at Hogwarts, passive acceptance of death presented as horrifying – it’s all there. I’m not sure if you’d enjoy reading it but it’s certainly thought-provoking.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.