Thursday, October 4, 2012

What I Don't Understand About Harry Potter/Why Forrest Gump Ruined My Life

A lot of people really like Harry Potter. I mean, in case you didn't know. It's pretty indie and underground, but basically the story is about a kid who has a shitty life until he finds out he's a wizard, and then he has a shitty life but there's magic and also a haunted boarding school with a borderline abusive, definitely neglectful staff.

It's not that I hate Harry Potter, or I think I could do better myself or something. I very much enjoy Harry Potter. I just occasionally start picking at the things I love, like a scab, until the whole thing dissolves in my hands in a mess of blood and Neosporin. The more I think about it, the more the entire story is super depressing, and very confusing to me. Here are just a sampling of things I don't understand:

1. What the fuck is up with that school? In his first year at Hogwarts, Harry almost dies about eleventy-bajillion times. The reader is asked to believe that Hogwarts is this awe-inspiring place of childhood dreams and happiness, but think about what happens to these poor kids. You're what, nine, eleven, whichever, and you get plucked from your family and sent to live in a spooky old castle where ghosts wander about freely and some of your teachers may or may not be terrorists actively working to murder you and your fellow students. There is a dorm you can be assigned to that will statistically up your chances of becoming an ally of evil forces, and the entire place is booby trapped to the point that if you accidentally end up in the wrong place (with a little help from your friend the staircases, who change their architecture just to fuck up your day), you could get ripped apart by a giant three-headed dog. This is not safe. This is not where you'd want to be as a child. And these kids are frequently working with highly volatile substances, like vegetables that can kill you with the sound of their voice, spells that can make you vomit slugs, and even more teachers who might be terrorists. If I were a wizard, I would homeschool my kids, because I can guarantee that living at Hogwarts would have totally traumatized me.

2. If they have time travel, why don't they use it to go back and kill Voldemort when he was a baby? The time travel in Harry Potter confuses and enrages me. Okay, the wizards have time travel. They have created a means by which they can go back and right the wrongs of the past. They use it so kids can double major. The rules of Harry Potter time travel are kind of wishy-washy, aren't they? You're not supposed to see yourself in the past... unless you know you're going to see yourself? Or something? It was okay to go back in time and save Buckbeak's life, but not to turn back time to save Cedric Diggory when he died? Some fans assert that traveling into the past to change events would be futile, as whatever a person is dealing with in the present is the consequence of circumstances that already happened, meaning that any attempt to change the past has already failed the moment you set out to do so, and everything is fixed along an already decided pattern in time. For example, Harry could travel back to cast his Patronus and save himself and Sirius from the Dementors because he had already done so... does this make anyone else's head go all hurty? The Time-Turner also doesn't seem to be able to send anyone into the future, so if it can't change the past and you can't get a peek at the future, the only thing it's good for is explaining to the present version of yourself how very clever you're about to be a few days ago. But if wizards are able to manipulate the space/time continuum, why don't they just... go back and kill Voldemort when he was a baby?

3. Adults are putting way too much pressure on these kids. I remember reading the last Harry Potter book, where the Aurors show up and they're like, "Hey kids, we're probably going to die on this dangerous mission, put on these Harry Potter disguises so the bad guys don't know who to kill. Thanks." Okay, you know what? Fuck you, Aurors. You guys are employed by the Ministry of Magic. You are adults who have chosen to live a high-risk life in a dangerous career. Ron and Hermione? They're teenagers. They're not getting paid to take these chances. They're being emotionally manipulated into it. "Do this, or your friend will die." Yeah, that's a choice someone should ethically put to someone whose frontal lobe is still developing. And if it's so damned important for Voldemort to not get a hold of Harry Potter, why not put him in a secure location and keep him there? Like, off the top of my head, The Room of Requirement at Hogwarts, or inside one of those TARDIS-like trunk things The 10th Doctor Barty Crouch was using to hide Mad-Eye Moody in? Clearly, wizards are able to manipulate dimensions to make things bigger on the inside, so why not make Harry Potter a nice little house inside a shoe box and then put that shoebox where Voldemort can't find it? Or just keep feeding him polyjuice potion to make him look like someone who isn't, you know. Cursed from birth. Don't make the poor bastard fight for his life for the entire seven books.

Yes, I realize that if they did literally any of this stuff, the books would not have a plot or a setting and basically not exist, and no, I'm not the greatest monster of our age, I don't want Harry Potter to not exist. But I have a lot of free time, and thinking is is the curse of the Time Lords.

Now, months ago I mentioned that some day, I might tell the story of when Forrest Gump ruined my life. I can't believe how many of you are interested in hearing that story. I also can't believe it wasn't pretty self explanatory:

My name is Jenny. On average, I still hear someone pronounce it "JEH-nay" about twice a month. In my nightmares. My constant, constant nightmares. That freaking movie ruined my name. I was a freshman in a new high school. I had braces and no breasts and very few friends. I mean, that shit all got sorted out later, but I had to endure a fair amount of "I... was... run-ning" for a while there. Also, she was pretty rapey. And if you read the book, the whole reason she's into Forrest is because he's hung like a science experiment. Not fair, dude. Not fair at all.

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