I’ve been noticing something about Harry Potter: it’s obviously a fantasy, where the reader (a child) fantasizes they are in the world. A magical world of spells and wands and flying brooms heroes and villains!
But there is no chance the reader could be part of that world. Firstly, the wizard world is hidden. You apparently have to be a wizard to get to the secret platform at the train station. Their shopping district is also secret. They have their own newspapers. They live in their own parallel world they hide from the rest of us. Most wizards seem to be descended from a long line of wizards.
Secondly, one cannot “become” a wizard, one is born a wizard. This strikes me as especially un-American (well they ARE British after all…). Even though occasionally a wizard is born to a Muggle (non-wizard) parent or even parents, no one ever starts out a Muggle and trains to be a wizard. And yes, I know a female wizard is called a witch in Harry Potter land. If that is the thing you are most concerned about for this post, then never mind; just stop reading please.
This all goes back to the Princess fantasy: the fantasy goes-
- I deserve better than my current lot in life
- My parents / life are actually unjustly foisted upon me
- My “real” parents / life / what have you are fabulous
- At some point I will be rescued from this ersatz life and brought into the fantasy life I deserve
…all of which is of course malarkey.
I blame the Messiah notion– the idea that someone external to yourself is going to come around and save you, just because they feel like it. Until then, you just sit tight and wait!
But how does this relate to Star Wars, you are asking. What? You weren’t asking that? Well shame on you! The relation is this: in the first trilogy, the Force is seemingly something you practice, like Kung Fu. There is a bit of destiny involved, because Luke’s father was “strong in the Force,” but for the most part we follow the Kung Fu movie arc where the student studies at the foot of the master.
THEN, betrayal: in the prequel trilogy, Lucas decides that now, you are basically BORN with the Force- it’s some kind of weird microscopic bullshit. If you aren’t born with it, well then tough. That’s just great. Note that even in feudal Japan, which basically had a caste system, you could be a warlord badass; you just wouldn’t be royalty.
So let’s generalize “being a wizard” or “being a princess” or “having the Force” to just “being fabulous.”
Here’s the especially disturbing part of this: while I obviously like the Puritain Work Ethic fairy tale, where you can get magic powers and be fabulous through practice, I believe that to the majority reader, there is an actual appeal to the unreachable nature of the fantasy. It’s this:
The reader is in no danger of being blamed for not being fabulous. Because they weren’t born to be fabulous. Yeah my life is sucky, but it’s not my fault– Not a wizard, not a secret princess. Oh well!
So I say: Fuck that!