Is a series of novels by a hack writer who was in the right place at the right time and now everyone of my generation (i.e. millennials) wanks themselves silly over, to the point at which they actually make Quidditch into a real sport and ask the author to magically overturn the Brexit referendum. They are also massively overrated.
Trustafarian Jesus saves the world.
And in a bit more detail?
Do I really have to? Can't I just get on with the iconoclasm already?
Since it's you, alright then.
Harry Potter is a teenage wizard whose parents died in mysterious circumstances and has a lightning shaped scar on his forehead from the attempted murder of his parents by Voldemort, the greatest evil wizard the world has ever seen. Apparently the power of deus ex machina, sorry, motherly love, cause Voldemort's death spell to backfire and kill him, but his spirit is seeking revenge against "the boy who lived." Harry, however, is sent to live with the Dursleys, an obviously middle class and Tory voting and Brexiteering suburban family in Surrey, who abuse him by beating him like a red headed stepchild and sending him to live under the stairs. Yes, Virginia, we're only ay chapter one of the first book and already we're fending off an army of strawmen that makes me think I've really upset Worzel Gummidge. However, none of this matters because Harry Potter is SPESHUL. He is, by accident of birth, the heir to a fortune in magical gold coins and has a place at a magical school and there he meets his two best friends, Ron, a slightly thick kid whose sole purpose is to asspat Harry for the rest of the series, and Hermione, who is the bossy know it all girl.
Harry then proceeds to get into countless scrapes and adventures usually as a result of his own foolishness and stupidity and then gets bailed out by the powers that be because he's SPESHUL. Often these incidents are riddled with plot holes. There is an overarching plot involving Harry growing up and Voldemort, a villain whose entire motivation is little more than "for the evulz," seeking revenge on him. Because Voldemort was lacking in imagination enough to simply smother Harry with a pillow when he murdered his parents rather than blast him with a spell that is acknowledged as being quite difficult to do and which, despite in the text as being stated as being a totally unavoidable death spell, is actually quite easily circumventable.
Where Harry Potter falls down the most, though, is that it is so fricking morally unambiguous, and revels in it, but then denies its own black and white nature. The entire moral compass of the series basically revolves around Harry, who is the boring indestructible hero who gets new powers as the plot demands and is saved by a constant stream of deus ex machinae. For instance, in the fifth book we are introduced to a minor villain called Dolores Umbridge who is allegedly on the side of "the good guys" but is still an unpleasant person, what with her basically appointing herself the Inquisition. Aha, you might think. Moral ambiguity maybe. Good is not nice and all that, hm? Oh no. Even though one of the actual good guys tells Harry that not everyone who's a nasty piece of work is a Death Eater (one of Voldemort's cronies), by the seventh book she's on the side of Voldemort anyhow. Oh, and that's after Hermione, who is definitely one of the good guys, arranges for her to be gang-raped by centaurs as a punishment for her villainy. Which, of course, nobody calls her out on as disproportionate retribution because Hermione is a friend of Harry "Trustafarian Jesus" Potter and therefore can do no wrong.
Speaking of Hermione, in the same book, she secretly sets a magical trap by which anyone who betrays Harry and his "resistance" to the regime of Dolores Umbridge is scarred for life with "SNEAK" across their face. This is said to be a permanent affliction. It is no so different from the punishment used by Voldemort, the big bad, for betraying him, but it's okay because Hermione's one of the good guys. S'there.
Harry also gets many exceptions made for him. In the first novel, the rules on participation in the (brain dead, but we'll come on to that later) wizard sport of Quidditch and the age limit for same are bent to make way for him because of his "natural talent." In the second novel he breaks rules with gay abandon but blind eyes are turned in just as gay abandon. In the fourth novel he benefits from a third party trying to frame him by having him entered into a deadly tournament as part of a plot by the Big Bad to have him killed off gruesomely (which fails thanks to more dei ex machina) and everyone else just goes with it even though the ENTIRE PLOT OF THE FREAKING NOVEL could have been averted by simply discarding Harry's entry into said tournament by reason of eligibility. In the fifth novel he acts like a little bitch constantly and resorts to throwing tantrums constantly, which gets him into more hot water, but excuses are made for him and dei ex machina take place. All because he's the fucking designated hero and therefore can do no wrong.
I've been mentioning dei ex machina a lot here. Let's list some of them, shall we? Yes, let's.
- Harry is saved from certain death by basilisk poison by having a phoenix cry on him, even though the ability of said phoenix to do this was never mentioned before.
- Harry is saved from certain death by death spell fired from extremely powerful wand by the sheer coincidence of having his wand be made of similar materials and the existence of a previously unmentioned and most likely ass-pulled law of thaumaturgy that never appears before or since.
- Harry is saved from certain death RIGHT AT THE OUTSET by dint of motherly love being one of an increasing number of exceptions to a certain death spell, which NOBODY ELSE benefits from, ever, in the series. Actually, by the last book it is possible to avoid an Avada Kedavra (said spell of certain death) by taking cover, but more on that later.
- Harry becomes mega super great Quidditch player because he gets the best broom paid for out of his trust fund. Actually, a lot of Harry's problems are solved by his trust fund, of which this is only one.
- Harry is able to save the day because one of his friends is given a FUCKING TIME MACHINE TO SOLVE CLASS CONFLICTS. Why didn't they just time-travel back to the days when Tom Riddle, who would become Voldemort the big bad, was a child and run him over or dump a toaster into his bath or something? Bang. Entire plot solved. Fucking hell. This, incidentally, is why you don't put time travel in fiction lightly.
- All the time Dumbledore bursts in
and shouts, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING YOU MOTHERFUCKERS!" saves Harry from himself.
- Harry pulling a sword out of a hat which has never held a sword before or since.
- Everything to do with the Deathly Hallows.
Yes, that's a lot of dei ex machina. It also leads me to another list, and that is a list of failures of imagination by characters which could have solved vast portions of the plot. This is probably because J. K. Rowling herself lacked imagination or the ability to proofread and benefitted from the protection from editors that authors of her popularity seem to have, and an inability to make the laws of magic in Harry Potter internally consistent.
- Magical combat seems to play out like either a duel or sniping from cover. In an early book, when challenged to a duel, Ron tells Harry that if it doesn't work, Harry should just punch his opponent and run. This pragmatism is sorely missing from the rest of the series. In book seven when the bad guys have the good guys cornered behind a statue and are sniping at each other with death spells, none of them think to, say, cast a giant fireball into the ceiling to collapse it on them, to animate the statue and have it crush the good guys to death, to summon mirror images of themselves and charge, or even to summon animate fire in the form of beasts to burn them to death, which they have previously done to Harry in another scene and therefore can do it. Or they could cast Sectumsempra (a spell which basically allows you to cut things up at a distance) or other force-type spells to demolish their cover.
- Certain spells are "dark" and not used by nice people. The distinction is totally arbitrary. Transfiguration is not considered "dark" in general yet turning someone into a fish while they are on land and having them suffocate is probably an effective and horrifying murder method. Yet the aforementioned cutting at a distance spell, which could have legitimate uses in, say, construction or engineering, is "dark" and not allowed. That's like saying that a power drill is evil but chloroform is not.
But then this is J. K. Rowling and the access media don't care. When she wrote other books under a pseudonym, they were panned for being shite but immediately she was unmasked as the author of these turd-tomes they all of a sudden wanked themselves blind over it. Spare me. She could have made the last one called Harry Potter and the Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom and people would still have bought it. She could have written the phrase "you daft cunts will buy anything" 50,000 times in one book and people would still have bought it because, after around book 5 or so, she was merely going through the motions and it shows. And the fans don't care because they are the worst type of consoomers out there. In fact, once Harry Potter became popular it became increasingly clear that she was writing solely for the CONSOOME PRODUCT, THEN GET EXCITED FOR NEXT PRODUCT market. The films are guilty of this as well, what with the last one being split into two instalments entirely so Warner Bros could double-dip their brain-dead target market, and the shitty fanfic stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and the expansion of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them from a text referred to in the book into a film series, and then the inevitable wokewashing whereby she decides all of a sudden that Dumbledore is gay despite there being zero clues to this in the text, and that Hermione is black despite her being specifically described as brown haired with freckles and pale skin, and so on and so forth. But then, she hasn't been relevant since 2008 so, gotta keep flogging that dead horse, right?
Harry Potter is also responsible for some of the worst excesses of fandom. That My Immortal was indecisively a parody or serious is testament to the hordes of shitty fanfic that it spawned. You can tell Harry Potter fans at a distance. They are invariably in their early to mid thirties (i.e. my age) and brag on social media (which was a mistake) about how they have been "adulting" and how they wish they had got a Hogwarts acceptance letter. They think that public figures they don't like (usually Donald Trump) are akin to Voldemort. They don't read anything else. The men have hipster / soy beards (overly bushy, waxed moustache tips, the sort of beard that is the mullet of the 2010s) and the women tend to be goddess sized and make shitty vlogs wherein they go on about how it's an UHMAYZING BOOOOOK. They consoome product rabidly. They end up working for "news" websites that spew clickbait and listicles (i.e. Buzzfeed, HuffPost, Vice, etc.) and think this makes them JURNALIZTS (it doesn't.) They claim that Harry Potter is the best thing ever and totally meaningful and politically relevant (it's not, it's about how a trustafarian Jesus analog saves everyone from themselves by dint of his Mary Sue powers and designated hero status) but deride Star Wars as movies about space wizards for children (the Original Trilogy at least had way more meaningful and honest content than HP could ever dream of, though I'll grant that the Prequel Trilogy was iffy and the Sequel Trilogy was worse than blood on the toilet paper).
But back to what's at hand. The worst thing, though, about Harry Potter, is the one-dimensionalness of the characters. The only character with any moral ambiguity is Snape, the alchemy / "Potions" master, who is basically J. K. Rowling working out her frustration at how she never understood science in general and chemistry in particular (she actually admitted this). Everyone else is a fucking cardboard cut-out. Hermione? Brains and social conscience! Ron? Doesn't really have a character! Harry? Designated Hero! Malfoy? Stereotypical snobbish school bully who OF COURSE joins the big bad. His mates Crabbe and Goyle? Brainless thugs because OF COURSE they are. Dumbledore? Basically Gandalf except without the motivation to actually do anything relevant to the plot! Everyone in House Gryffindor (Harry's house)? All the cool kids! Everyone in House Slytherin (Malfoy's house)? Designated villains and mooks for the big bad later on! Everyone in the other houses? Redshirts! COME ON. Subtlety, thy name is not J. K. Rowling.
Oh yes. I almost forgot. The final confrontation with the big bad lasts all of half a page. After four books just to introduce him and three books to set it up. Deary me.
"Ah, but Hazelnut, it is aimed at kids!" I hear you sneer. Doesn't matter. Alice in Wonderland was aimed at kids but that has a lot of honest content and meaning to it (albeit about either mathematics or drugs, depending on who you ask). Just because something's aimed at kids doesn't mean it's immune from criticism. The "space wizards for children" defence is hollow and deserves to be called out for same because it assumes that you can feed children any old shit or, worse, that you should. Sorry, but Harry Potter might be aimed at kids but it's still a crock of overrated, rancid, poorly written (J. K. Rowling's fetish for adverbs has to be seen to be believed), shite. It is the Marvel Cinematic Universe of literature.