The Therapy Sessions
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Harry Potter gets embroiled in French politics
He might need a bath now.
From Joanne Jacobs:
A French literature professor at a teachers' training institute thinks Harry (Potter) "glorifies individualism, excessive competition and a cult of violence," which he thinks is bad. A philosophy professor responds that Harry Potter is a socialist tract.
The Star summarizes:
The five Harry Potter books -- enormously successful in French translation -- are stuffed with "neo-liberal stereotypes" which caricature approvingly the "excesses of the Anglo-Saxon social model," (Ilias) Yocaris wrote.
Thus all representatives of the state (the Ministry of Magic) are lampooned as ridiculous, or incompetent or sinister. Harry goes to a "private" school, whose "micro-society" is a "pitiless jungle" that glorifies "individualism, excessive competition and a cult of violence."
Public institutions are unable to protect individuals. Au contraire, Harry Potter and his friends find that they have to break the magical state-imposed rules to protect themselves from evil forces.
...Le Monde last week published an equally erudite reply to Yocaris. Far from being a capitalist lackey, Harry Potter is the first fictional hero of the anti-globalist, anti-free market, pro-Third World, "Seattle" generation, according to Isabelle Smadja.
...Harry and his friends show great concern for the "house elves," the unpaid servants of the magical world. The fact that the elves are mostly content with their lot is, says Smadja, a "pertinent" critique of globalization.
Even worse, many of the wicked characters have French names, such as Voldemort (flight of death) and Malfoy (bad faith).
Actually, the Harry Potter books are about optimism and hope, argues King at SCSU Scholars, quoting Diane Durante of (shudder) Capitalism Magazine. Good can triumph over evil, if it's got the guts to fight.
The Potter series is very popular in France, perhaps indicating that not everyone there is a left-wing intellectual.