Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Fundie Freakazoids

With all the Pottermania going on, we should remember that some people REALLY don't like Harry Potter:

That's an excerpt from the movie Jesus Camp. Of course, some people derive enormous sadistic pleasure from the fact that Harry Potter drives some Christian wackos nuts:
In any event, my enjoyment of the books is enhanced by the knowledge that it also drives the fundamentalist right nuts. Ever since the books gained great popularity, they've been on the warpath against Harry Potter, as you can see from the excerpt from Jesus Camp above, in which we see the head of the camp telling children that Potter should be put to death. (Talk about Republicans for Voldemort!)
To be fair, the woman doesn't say Potter should be put to death. She says that had it been in the Old Testament, Harry Potter would have been put to death. Of course, if Harry Potter had been in the Old Testament, then I imagine it would have been quite different. Maybe sections of it would be less excruciatingly dull.

Anyway, it's funny how seriously these kids books get taken. CLS on Classically Liberal has an explanation for this odd phenomenon:
But fundamentalists do think that there is truth in these books. Unlike most rational people, they do believe that witches and spells exist. They have no choice since the Bible condemns such things. To say they don’t exist questions the infallibility of Scripture. Most people are not offended by the theme of the Potter series because they don’t believe the “dark forces” actually exist.
I'm not sure I buy this explanation entirely. The bible has condemnations of a lot of things, but the idea of the occult seems to touch a nerve. Not as much as sex does, but more so than wearing clothes made from more than one kind of cloth or keeping holy the Sabbath. Fundamentally, I think these people object to use of the imagination for creating anything outside their own narrow conception of Christianity.

This Potter hysteria is exactly analogous to the fundie hysteria about Dungeons & Dragons in the '80's. In a way, I'm surprised they're still at it. Dungeons & Dragons was easy to demonize because most people don't actually know what it is, and geeks back then were not as well understood or accepted as they are now. But attacking Harry Potter makes you look colossally stupid, because everyone at least knows what Harry Potter is. And people like him. And he's essentially decent. So it's hilarious that they're painting him and his pals as tools of Satan. Doesn't the Christian right wing have more political savvy than that? Shouldn't their grand poo-bahs get the message out that attacking Potter will not help the already desperate Republicans in the 2008 elections?

I can understand attacking hip hop lyrics or Grand Theft Auto III or violent movies, because those things often do revel in immorality. But as far as I can tell, the moral underpinnings of the Harry Potter books are pretty conventional. If Harry Potter had been a science fiction story, with cool technology instead of cool magic, they probably wouldn't care. But because it's a "Petronus charm" instead of a "nanotech countermeasure", some people get all a-lather.

Sometimes I'm annoyed that Harry Potter is so popular. I read the first book and have seen all the movies and they're fun, but I don't find them so utterly fantastic. But if Harry Potter is driving a subset of the fundies mad with jealousy and driving them into fits of rage that make them look like a bunch of dumbasses, then I'm all for it.

As a parting gift, I suppose I have to post this Jack Chick cartoon on the evils of Harry Potter:

People have very different ideas about things than I do. I am constantly amazed at how human beings inhabiting the same physical reality can have such radically different beliefs about things. Was The Enlightenment just a pipe dream? Sometimes I think so.


Blogger Scully1013 said...

baahahhaaha - that is the greatest blog title I've read in a long time. Great post too tho

8:15 PM, July 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That Jack Chick kills me! I know that you will dig this: over at www.316now.com are a bunch of short films based on actual Jack Chick tracts! Like "Angels" and "Bewitched" (about witchcraft and LSD) and a bunch more. Like I said, you will dig it the most.

2:29 AM, July 26, 2007  

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