Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Easy targets

Using the internet to make fun of inconsistencies in a children’s fantasy story isn’t clever or funny. It makes me feel like I’m in the skit where Dana Carvey asks The Shatner what the combination was for a safe he opened in an episode of Star Trek, 20 years previously. I would have embedded the clip, but it is nowhere to be found on YouTube. But picking holes in Harry Potter is cheap and easy, so I’m going to do it.

This post contains spoilers from all 7 books. Bite me.

  1. No-one loves their kids. The story starts with Harry miraculously surviving a murder attempt, and it’s revealed later that when his mother threw herself in the path of the spell, the force of her love for him caused it to rebound. But… the killing spell has been around for centuries. Surely in that time SOMEONE would have noticed that sacrificing yourself to protect a loved one causes rebounds?
  2. No-one minds slavery. It’s tradition in the wizarding community that non-human sentient beings are not worthy of equal rights and status. The worst impacted are the house elves, who are kept as slaves. EvPicture of Kreachereryone just accepts it, because that’s how it’s always been done. (The house elves seem to enjoy it, but then they live in that same culture too.) But… every year, at least a 3rd of the new kids at Hogwarts were raised by non-wizards. And Hermione is the first one to ever do anything about the whole slavery thing? 
  3. Everyone is far too naïve. Polyjuice Potion allows anyone to appear to be anyone else, and it’s something that most 13-year olds can make with easily obtainable ingredients. The kids exploit this multiple times through the series. Super-secret groups have passwords, but most buildings are completely insecure – if the doorman knows your face, he’ll let you in.
  4. The Sorting Hat/House system. In order for the school to run smoothly, the number of kids in the houses, in each year, need to be roughly equal. Each house has to have fewer children than dorm beds, the class sizes have to be manageable, and you want each house to be able to field a Quidditch team. Most real schools do it randomly, or by an objective way to divide the student body into 4 (or 6 or 8 or however many houses they have). Hogwarts works on the Sorting Hat principle, by which each kid gets into the house that they want to. (We know it’s desire-based because Snape got into Slytherin, despite not meeting one of the stated requirements). So in order for the school to work, every year the new kids need to WANT to be equally divided – otherwise the system doesn’t work. And it’s been said before, but… who chooses Hufflepuff?
  5. Someone hired the Dementors. Dementors are floaty wraith creatures Picture of a collectable toy Dementorthat hate you. Interaction with a Dementor ends one of two ways – it sucks out your soul, or you cast a Patronus spell which chases it away. We first meet the Dementors in the 3rd book, where they’ve been hired to guard the wizard prison. Various characters question whether it’s a good idea to have nightmare monsters as guards, but no-one ever explains how they were hired in the first place. How did anyone negotiate a contract without getting their soul devoured? And more worryingly, how are they paying the Dementors?

There are several other things that make very little sense in the books, but these strike me as being the most egregious – and I haven’t seen them called out elsewhere. (I haven’t looked very hard.)


  1. Dumbledore dies??? You spoiled everything, dam you internet.

  2. It's not real.
    Only the real world is consistent - and then only just.