Harry Potter: Mature Content, Young Target Audience
I feel like it's a given that I would start with Harry Potter, if only because so many people love this series. Even if this loses me some readers right off the top, I honestly cannot say that I could recommend the actual book series to anyone. Not really because of any religious reasons; I just don't like to read it. Now, before you go running away, here's why:
1. The book is really bad for younger children. No, seriously, the morals here SUCK. Basically it asks children to step into a world where:
- Children are routinely, viciously abused. Considering the number of children who have read this series, what a great time to promote the message that if you are being abused, tell a teacher right now. But no, in this book THE ADULTS IGNORE IT!?! And there is even some insinuation that Dumbledore and the other adults knew and wanted this to happen so that Harry
- would fall into Stockholm Syndrome for the first people to ever be kind to him. What is up with that? And don't even let me get started on the fact that Dumbledore thinks it is okay to traumatize Draco by putting him through the whole "murder" scene, when he could have just kidnapped Draco and sent him off to America somewhere to be safe.
- Then there is the mixed message on bullying. We have Draco, who, because he is part of the "wrong group" is permanently vilified as an arrogant bully. He is one of the active antagonists throughout the entire work, and the heroes find it amusing to pull one over on him. In fact, our beloved Harry Potter is so incapable of controlling his temper against the bully that he curses him with a (for all he knew) immediately deadly spell. Now, let's replace Hogwarts with a real school, the spell with a gun, Harry with a modern bullied teen, and we have all the tools for a BIG problem. Conversely, there is good old James and Sirius, equally vicious and spiteful; apparently even worse than Draco (he never humiliated Harry by hanging him upside down naked). I mean we are talking criminal behavior here. But they were "Griffindors", they probably "didn't know what they were doing," and Snape was a creep--so that makes it all okay? The book sort of recovers by making Snape and Harry work it all out, but it never really addresses the fact that Sirius attempted murder and never seemed to repent (Sociopath anyone?). So now we realize the "good guys" are at best criminally dangerous (Harry with his spell) and at next best mentally-insane potential killers. If any child actually acted like the characters in this book, they might even risk felony charges and expulsions (yes that is really happening).
- The bad people in the book are the only comparatively good parents. At least as good as any we see. I mean, poor Molly and her husband mean well, but really. They let their children participate in several criminal actions, they never actually try to support Ron and Ginny fitting into the real world (despite knowing that Ron is having a particularly hard time), they can't discipline their twins (who are a whole new level of danger), they fail to help Harry escape his abusive family (despite the fact that they should have seen it given how skinny and malnourished he was), et cetera, et cetera. Heck, they are fully behind the whole "Let's send a child up to confront the Dark Lord, because thanks to a prophecy from a women who is mostly worthless and the word of an old man that helped bring about the first dark lord, nothing can possibly go wrong! Then there are the Malfoys. Admittedly, they are bad people in general. But, I'm talking about them as parents. While they involve their son in the dark lord's world, it is pretty clear they didn't realize what they were getting him into. They at least thought the dark lord was good. Dumbledore and his lot have no such excuse for pushing Harry into the same threat. In fact, the Malfoys are the only parents that seem to actively work to protect their child and are willing to put their son at the forefront of their lives. Sure, they spoil him, but Draco clearly feels confident that they support him. He is healthy, well-fed, he talks about how they are proud of his skills and intelligence, he seems to believe that his family wants to see him at Christmas, he is surprisingly loyal to his friends (and he does have them). Narcissa goes above and beyond to try to rescue Draco, even endangering Snape, who is obviously an old friend (which means they were kind enough to befriend the outcast, abandoned little boy from their school). Both Malfoys are clearly willing to abandon master and home at the end, if just to rescue their son. So, ultimately, they seem to be the better parents here. But the book spends much of their page-time going on about how evil they are and how wonderful the Light families are. Narcissa or Sirius. . . who would you leave your child with?
- It is alright in the "Harry Potter" world for children to disobey any and all adult commands. Sure, drive a car under-age. Sure, go up and face a dangerous animal when you are told to evac uate. Sure, sneak out at night to wander around "forbidden" places. Sure, start investigating things adults have told you to keep out of. Why not? The adults sometimes actually want you to disobey! FYI, if I tell my son not to go into a certain room because it has a dog that bites and he decides to go croon to it, I am ripping the Harry Potter book to shreds.
- It is actually highly advisable that you Mis-trust any and all adults. They all lie. Or want to kill you. Or are part of a dark cult that wants to kill you. Or are crazy sociopaths that want to take you home to live with them. Except creepy old men who give you candy. And dark, mean men who verbally abuse you, but really meant to protect you. And young men who get on the bus with you and start giving you chocolate.
- The whole end goal in this series is for the child to die for the good of everyone. Because twelve hundred adults with powerful magic (Snape, Dumbledore, and the other teachers weren't exactly weak here folks) couldn't get their act together to kill one bad guy and would rather send a kid out to die in their place. And him surviving was more of a fluke than planned out.