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

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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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  1. Delta Juliet
    Delta Juliet

    When I was 9 or 10, Karate Kid came out. My name being “Danielle” was completely ruined by that movie.



    October 7, 2014
  2. Addy

    Haha, my name is Adrienne. If you’ve ever seen Rocky you’ll understand what my entire life has been filled with :-p.

    February 19, 2015
  3. Delta Juliet
    Delta Juliet

    Oh I’ve seen it once or twice 😉
    I feel your pain!

    February 20, 2015
  4. watergirl

    Talk about another author that frequently rips off other sources. I don’t understand the popularity of HP. He never really did anything except a patronus. Hermione was really the smart one with the skills.

    I actually predicted the last book. Why? Because it was Return of the Jedi. In fact, when Ron started arguing with Harry about Hermione, I was swearing like a sailor. Lets not forget the direct ripoff of Narnia and the Legend of Author.

    March 3, 2015
    • khan

      Not what happened.

      August 6, 2015
  5. Kat

    I found your blog by your recap of Grey, and never having read the original series(by choice for various reasons) I’m now reading through your recaps and enjoying them immensely.

    In case you haven’t seen it, I just wanted to share this. It addresses a tiny point of one and hits your point 2 on the head. 🙂

    How Harry Potter Should have ended.

    June 22, 2015
  6. khan

    Sorry not sorry, your point about time travel makes you seem silly. If you’ve time traveled to the past, then you’ve already been back, which means everything that happened was the result of the time travel. They didn’t change the past by saving buckbeak, their future selves had already done it but they didn’t realize because they hadn’t gone back yet. If you were paying any attention you could probably tell from the movie that nothing changed the experience the past selves had, but they were suddenly explained. You can’tveven pass information back in time or the ministry would never allow students to have time turners because then they’d be able to cheat on tests. Basically it allows you to have more time but not to change anything or do anything that can’t be explained by witnesses using other means within the rules of that universe. No one can see you in two places at once or have information on things before they happen; that would violate the conditions for giving you a time Turner. Hermione was pretty careless about using hers, but fortunately no one paying attention was smart enough to figure out out.
    It doesn’t make my brain hurt; it just seems like a really logical, basic explanation, but then again I’m pretty well acquainted with Sci fi. My first book experience with time paradoxes happened when i was twelve and i read the first in-depth delving into time travel backwards via fiction when i was 14 – the rules, constraints, ways the universe would stop you if it looked like you were about to create a paradox, how you’d have to track continuity in both directions in that dimension to determine causation – and later read counterarguments on how you could exploit loopholes that the universe clearly wasnt paying attention to and finally asimovs arg that time travel shouldn’t be happening at all because you’d even displace air particles and photons with your reemergence, though arguably the logistics of drawing arrwos backward in time cover that – the universe is a place such that you have already been back, so that doesnt disturb continuity because it has already been disturbed. Really just depends on what view you take. I side with the non-Asimov argument, since Asimov is wonderful and brilliant but unfortunately not a physicist.

    Also what the he’ll do you mean it’s not the place you want to go as a child? He’ll yeah i wanna go. You mean you don’t? Wuss. Someone wouldn’t have been in gryffindor. Which increases your likelihood of being in slytherin by 8%, assuming i don’t know anything else about you. I know that’s not how you’re supposed to use bayesian probability but whatever. Speaking of slytherin, correlation not causation; I’m sure you have heard that before. Being sorted into slytherin doesn’t necessarily make you more likely to turn dark.
    Last, seriously? You don’t want child abuse and youre going to keep harry in a TRUNK for 7+ years?! That’s worse than the dursleys! XD
    Harry didn’t come under attack because voldy recognized him by appearance; voldemort lured him out by threatening his loved ones and also knew where he was because the horcrux thing. Polyjuice would be useless. The prophecy said it had to be harry; fidelius charm probably also useless. Or voldy would just crucio it out of the secret keeper and Harry would be a sitting duck. Also they didn’t want him to be clueless about the wizarding world when he was such a famous figure. People needed to know he was alive and well after stopping voldy. The government refused to believe voldy was back and would have seen no need to protect harry or remove him from the public eye, or, after book four, lend credence to what they thought were lies. Dumbledore didn’t have the resources. Room of requirement is a terrible idea considering how easily it can be breached, and even secure it isn’t safe considering the damage crabbes fiendfyre did toit.
    As for the ruse in book seven, they were all legal adults at that point except for Harry; fully capable of making their own decisions in the eyes of the law. No pressure was added; they all chose to help. Notice ginny wasn’t there even though she would have done it, because she wasn’t yet of age. You can argue that 17 is too low as an age of majority, but the fact remains that your argument is invalid since they were all adults.

    August 6, 2015
    • Cutecat213

      Someone might read advanced physics, but I’m thinking you might have skipped basic math somewhere along the way.

      “Someone wouldn’t have been in gryffindor. Which increases your likelihood of being in slytherin by 8%,”

      I’m actually… pretty sure it increases your chances of being in Slytherin by, like, 25%. At LEAST.

      May 23, 2016
      • Réka

        I know I’m 4 years late, but… yes, 8%. 1/4 is 25%, 1/3 is 33%. So the chance is 8% higher.

        April 8, 2020
    • SavaFiend76

      Oh good Lord, all the rabid defenses of Harry Potter when actually there were some very valid points made in this blog post. There are 50 Shades fanatics out there who will defend the series just as fervently.

      I know I’m commenting years later but if anyone wants a laugh, check out Cinemasins on YouTube. They have “Everything Wrong With…” each of the HP movies and it’s hilarious!

      May 13, 2018
  7. Jennifer

    My name is Jenny and I feel your Forest Gump pain. When people in high school called me Jen-ay I’d tell them, “shut the fuck up Forrest.” I know this post is old but I haaaaaaaaaate that movie. And it wasn’t very good.

    September 13, 2017
  8. SavaFiend76

    Oh good Lord, all the rabid defenses of Harry Potter when actually there were some very valid points made in this blog post. There are 50 Shades fanatics out there who will defend the series just as fervently.

    I know I’m commenting years later but if anyone wants a laugh, check out Cinemasins on YouTube. They have “Everything Wrong With…” each of the HP movies and it’s hilarious!

    May 13, 2018

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