One of my goals as a writer is to be banned in some form. Having a banned book is almost the greatest literary achievement when you consider it's happened to the likes of Mark Twain, Dan Brown (I'm not sure he's really an idol for any writer), the creators of Merriam Webster and American Heritage Dictionaries, John Steinbeck, Toni Morrison, Bill Martin Jr., Ronald Dahl, Anne Frank, Louisa May Acott, Ernest Hemingway, Chuck Palahniuk, Shel Silverstein (did you know he originally published through Playboy?), and many others. Amongst the countless authors with banned manuscripts is J.K. Rowling during the early years of the Harry Potter saga.
Rowling was criticized for "support" of the occult, views on accepting death, political criticisms, Christian and anti-Christian allegories, and most recently, her support of homosexuals. The reason many writers are ridiculed for their books derives from the belief that novels influence formative generations, which has been seen with On the Road and The Lord of the Rings. Many have commented on the gay themes in Harry Potter and have proposed the question Did the content of the books influence the Harry Potter generation to be pro-gay?
All that magic and Dumbledore still hid in the closet.
Although the Huffington Post is often criticized from an alleged bias, it often provides us with some interesting information.
In this article, it's suggested that many believe the Harry Potter series was so strong that its readers, The Harry Potter Generation, adopted many of its "hidden" messages.
What started the controversy was J.K. Rowling's announcement that Harry Potter's mentor Albus Dumbledore was gay.
During eras of intense social activism, it seems as though socially-aware books and socially-active authors can influence the upcoming generations. Those who started out with the first of the Harry Potter series were likely to have read the final installation in college, at the time in which most young adults share their first experience in progressive activism.
During high school, many teenagers come across the ideas and beliefs they will follow for years to come, but there isn't much of a window to go out into the world and shout out ideologies and combat preexisting norms prohibiting them from exercising their personal values.
In college, however, you might be the odd man out if you're not standing up for what you believe in. On any level, this can be one of the most memorable times in an adult's life. One exemplar is the current Chick Fil A controversy, which in some sectors is a mere joke. Around many universities, however, students and professors are boycotting the fast-food chain for, not it's beliefs, but for making significant contributions to organizations wishing to deter opposing viewpoints of preexisting, religious-based norms.
With that said, it's fair to say the Harry Potter series remains a threat to some people. Teenagers, soon to be young adults, are receiving compelling viewpoints from the media they consume during the time they construct their own beliefs and prepare to implement them in public displays.
As far coincidence goes, the time frame of the Harry Potter series and the new strength behind sexual equality movements is perfect.
Formative Years & Literature
Let's face it, right now the country is in ideological turmoil. We're at a point where the only thing slowing down progress is progress. Why Harry Potter is back under the light of scrutiny relates the number of similarities between current events and the notions within the Harry Potter series before much of the protests began:
1. Heroes like Harry Potter would "occupy" certain prominent locations to resist negative social consequences, while characters like Ron would "leak" progressive threats.
2. Much of the magic in Harry Potter matches up with the creation of an invisibility cloak and nanotechnology-based medicine, insisting books still influence technology like Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, and Arthur C. Clarke.
3. In Harry Potter there are quite a few religious allegories, but most of them are puzzling. There's a strong resistance towards Christianity in the series, but at the same time Harry Potter dies, experiences the afterlife, and comes back one last time to save his people.
There are many more similarities, but perhaps they are just that: Similarities.
On the Road by Jack Kerouac faced the same public outcries during the height of The Beat Generation and the tremendous social and cultural changes in the 1960s and 70s. The book spoke quite a bit on race and was often blamed for everything that went wrong in America during the constant battle for equality. Some said the book was patronizing the battle for racial equality, while others said it blended black and white in perfect harmony.
The book also explored recreational drug experimentation just when those who followed The Beat Generation follow suit. In the same regard, Rowling is often criticized for her pro-gay stance within her writings. Those who believe same sex marriage should be widely legalized support the book for a primary character being gay and having no real consequence. That is, it's never really brought up in the same way heterosexuality is often left unsaid or assumed. They also support the notions of challenging authority, which is primarily present in the book to influence children to challenge false truisms and authorities. Arguably, challenging ideas is all part of growing as a human being.
Of course, those who oppose homosexuality and/or same-sex marriage blame the book for corrupting young, malleable minds. Perhaps I don't need to say much about this stance because it's been prevalent for too long as it is.
Personally, I wouldn't say The Harry Potter Generation supports gay rights because of the books themselves. Just like with On the Road, the books found success because they represented evolving ideas of a younger, progressive generation. It's possible many people always wanted equal rights all across the board, but needed some powerful ideological support such as that from a franchised series of novels. As far as blaming books for a new wave of protest and "radical" thinking, it may be that less progressive mindsets are always trying to rationalize their embedded views by prexisiting texts and using opposing media as scapegoats.
It's a sticky argument, though, so I'm wondering what YOU think. Let me know in the comments.
DO YOU THINK TEXTS LIKE HARRY POTTER CAN INFLUENCE AN ENTIRE GENERATION?
In the meantime, here's Part 1 of a conspiracy-themed video about Harry Potter's secrets.
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Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.