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:headdesk: - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Okay, you all know I love academic BS.

Correction, I love good academic BS that can make a name for itself.

I'm reading a collection of essays called Reading Harry Potter, which contains an essay called "The Fallen Empire," talking about HP as being ambivalent about the British Empire (not condemnatory enough, since Bill and Charlie have obviously colonial jobs, though at least the books pay lip service to other cultures). Among other sins, she points out that it is a British school which "promotes international goodwill, the inspiration for the battle against evil, and stands as the emblem of enlightened thought."

This is apparently a huge sign that the books have neocolonialist leanings.

It couldn't simply be a result of the fact that THE BLOODY BOOKS ARE SET IN BRITAIN. If the center of the conflict was somewhere else, if some other place were the inspiration for the battle against evil, then that's where the books would be set. Ya know? And unless the essayist is suggesting that British writers either shouldn't write heroic fantasy or should never set it in Britain, I'm not entirely sure what the point is. Things have to actually be set in a place, and by definition, that's where things are going to happen.

I'm just sayin'.

I feel a bit...: annoyed annoyed

18 comments or Leave a comment
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: November 19th, 2004 11:36 am (UTC) (Link)
(Ah, good. I've been wanting to use this icon again.)

Hmm, yes. Maker forbid a series set in Britain, with all British characters, should actually *gasp* not be slamming Britain.

Then again, if people can slam a show for being anti-lesbian for inflicting the same harm on a lesbian couple that it does to all its straight ones, I shouldn't be surprised at this weirdness. Though it doesn't lessen the desire to better acquaint some of these people's heads with a brick wall...

(Sigh. Speaking of BSing, I really need to get my brain to click on this blasted SJ paper.)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2004 11:38 am (UTC) (Link)
It's not so much asking for a slam of Britain as it is making what the author treats as a reasonable request, which is that Britain not be treated as if there's anything particularly special about it, and every other country in the world be given equal weight. Because, you know, that would be all fair and stuff. That it would cause a very bizarre diffusion of focus in the story seems not to be a major concern.
akilika From: akilika Date: November 19th, 2004 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, the story is second to social themes. You have to have a framework to please everyone first, and then kind of wind the story around that.

Yep . . . that seems to be the only viable option.

Blegh. ^^;
mamadeb From: mamadeb Date: November 19th, 2004 11:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I believe I have that collection - it was written before OotP, right?

They all condemn Hermione for *shock* dressing up for the Yule Ball, and allowing Madam Pomfrey to shrink her teeth below the original size. Because a smart girl should NEVER give in to societal ideals of looks by wearing a pretty dress or doing her hair, or fixing a dental problem. That is, "Hermione became socially acceptable only after she had a complete makeover."

Except - Viktor stalked her for months before asking her to the ball, which means he was attracted to her way before the Yule Ball. *And*, except for her teeth, which even her best friends (granted, Harry and Ron, who aren't the most observant sorts) didn't notice, she went back to normal right afterwards because it was too much bother.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 19th, 2004 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Ooph. I haven't gotten to that essay yet.

It does seem to have been pre-OotP. I realized we had a dearth of HP criticism in the library and ordered some. But so far, it seems to be less an interpretation of the books than a set of opinions that people want to express and chose random elements of the HP books to address.
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: November 19th, 2004 12:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
There's also the fact that except for the people who either loved or hated Hermione (Ron, Harry vs. Draco, Pansy), no one seemed to notice or really care. Neville wasn't gaga over her. Terry Boot didn't have a comment. The way I read the books, it seems to me that Hermione is a pretty girl (just not a supermodel) who dresses up nicely. The people who know her casually could tell that.

The people who know her really well didn't think of her as pretty. It's not that she isn't; it's just that when you're good friends with someone, you don't sit there going, "Boy s/he sure is good looking, isn't s/he?" It's just not something you think about. (At least I don't. Maybe I'm the odd one.)

The people who hate Hermione know she's insecure about, say, her teeth, and focus on that to just see her as buck-toothed. But Hermione is more than the big teeth and she is pretty, and when it's thrown in their faces like it was at the Yule Ball, they have nothing to say.

Erm...yeah. Just saying.
mamadeb From: mamadeb Date: November 19th, 2004 12:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Basically, yeah.

This is especially true of Ron and Harry, who don't really even think of her as a *girl* - witness Ron's shock at the realization. She's *Hermione* and that's that.

But nice dress robes and a different hair style isn't enough to make someone not pretty into a a beauty. It is enough to make someone pretty *prettier* if the dress robes and hairdo are flattering.

It's more effort than she wants to do for ordinary days. Why didn't they pick that up, I wonder?
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: November 19th, 2004 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Erm...since when was Romania a British colony???
alkari From: alkari Date: November 19th, 2004 01:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
And of course, the fact that Bill and Charlie got jobs overseas couldn't possibly be because (gasp!) they were bright young men who went out and obtained jobs that suited their talents and their interests? I mean, young people these days NEVER go and travel or work overseas ... so it must mean that there is still a colonial empire.
scionofgrace From: scionofgrace Date: November 19th, 2004 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
It couldn't simply be a result of the fact that THE BLOODY BOOKS ARE SET IN BRITAIN.

Thank you for a good laugh for the day. Apparently, these folks wouldn't know Occam's razor if it beheaded them.
narnian_dreamer From: narnian_dreamer Date: November 19th, 2004 02:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
That reminds me of feminist critics who criticize authors for not providing varied representations of female characters in novels that are set in 18th century frigates. There are no female characters not because the work is inherently misogynistic, but because there were no women in the merchant marine in 1787.
katinka31 From: katinka31 Date: November 19th, 2004 03:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

My daughter was pestering me for a Dora the Explorer figurine at the store today. When we finally paid for it and I handed it to her, I said (without thinking), "Here you go. Your very own Dora." ;)
swatkat24 From: swatkat24 Date: November 20th, 2004 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)


Reminds me of the Tolkien-critics who *insist* that Sam stabbing Shelob is misogynistic (Sam=male, sword=phallic image; *big* and very poisonous spider=female genitalia; stabbing=penetration;isn't that obvious?). *g*

gryffin23 From: gryffin23 Date: November 20th, 2004 06:08 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Heh

that's really taking criticism too far and forgetting utterly about the story. Simple explanation: Sam stabbed Shelob while trying to rescue Frodo because she was going to eat him. That's not misogyny, it's practicality. I'm all for literary critique and analysis but sometimes a big scary spider is just a big scary spider
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 20th, 2004 06:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Heh

Ah, yes, but you see spiders are always representatives of the feminine and therefore his choice of a spider clearly points to inherent misogyny.
gryffin23 From: gryffin23 Date: November 20th, 2004 06:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Heh

Really? I didn't know that spiders always represent the feminine but now that I think of it, yeah. There is that legend about Arachne who thought she could weave better than Athena and Athena turned her into a spider. Hence why spiders are arachnids. I think.
Anyway, sometimes it seems as though people are actively looking for things to be offended by. And we HP fans can always fob them off in a small way by reference to Aragog.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: November 20th, 2004 06:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Heh

Oh, yes. I've heard that one. And the back-up evidence for Tolkien's misogyny is, boiled down to its essence, "There are no strong women!" Except, of course, for Galadriel and Eowyn, whom they always seem to forget.
queenrikki_hp From: queenrikki_hp Date: November 21st, 2004 02:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I've read the book and I remember reading that particular article and wondering whether or not it's author had been involved with illicit substances. I can't help but say that I found all but one or two of the articles in this book lacking.

18 comments or Leave a comment