Monday, July 18, 2005

W is for "Wretched"

Somehow I missed this reference in the opening chapter of Harry Potter VI:

Consider page one of book six, for example, in which the Prime Minister is waiting for a telephone call from a President of an unnamed "far off country" whom the Prime Minister regards as a "wretched man." Three guesses which President she had in mind.

No way, dude! If J.K. Rowling is anti-American, this is a pretty damn subtle way of expressing it. When I read it, I was thinking more ... Putin. Or the president of Bulgaria or Malaysia or even some made-up country. But since this scene takes place late at night, it does make sense in terms of time zones that the call is coming from the United States.

But the rest of this post is really silly. Rowling is anti-American because she insisted on a British cast for the films? Yeesh. Conservatives in particular should appreciate the terrorism metaphors - Hogwarts has installed special high security procedures ("defensive spells and charms, a complex array of countercurses, and a small task force of aurors dedicated solely to the protection of Hogwarts School"). Harry has a flyer from the Ministry of Magic on "Protecting Your Home and Family Against Dark Forces" which advises informing on friends or neighbors "acting in a strange manner" who may be cursed. This reads as satire, but in context the threat the characters face is quite real.