Trailer Trash: The Children's Hour



The latest installment of the Harry Potter behemoth premiered at midnight and is projected to set new box office records. Or something. I have to admit that I never took to this franchise. Never mind that being the comics geek that I am (or was) I never got past the whole Books of Magic thing (read more on that here), but there's also something off-putting about the Hogwart's thing.

Maybe Pink Floyd's The Wall made too strong an impression on me, but there's also something a bit too Spartan about the whole Hogwart's scene. I'm talking the idea of separating kids from their families in order to essentially train them as warriors. It's especially striking in the first film when the very young actors are forced to engage in magical warfare and face real jeopardy.

I know a lot of people whom I respect who love the Potter books to pieces so maybe they are able to look past some of the more dissonant notes in the melody. Or maybe it's just that I don't really care for the basic concept either way. None of the films made much of an impression on me, and I could never make much headway with the books either.




Then there's this film, which seems a more plausible update on the Potter story. Meaning that in real life, you wouldn't have a bunch of charming eccentrics dealing with magically-gifted children, you'd have a bunch of modern Mengeles, doing their damnedest to weaponize any superhuman potential, much like the Academy in Firefly:
Set in the strange and oppressive emotional landscape of 1983, Beyond The Black Rainbow is a Reagan-era fever dream inspired by hazy childhood memories of midnight movies and Saturday morning cartoons.

Deep within the mysterious Arboria Institute, a disturbed and beautiful girl (Allan) is held captive by a doctor in search of inner peace. Her mind controlled by a sinister technology. Silently, she waits for her next session with deranged therapist Dr. Barry Nyle (Rogers). If she hopes to escape, she must journey through the darkest reaches of The Institute... but Nyle wonʼt easily part with his most gifted and dangerous creation.



And then there are the not-so-gifted children. Since we seem to be hellbent on creating a social Darwinist update on feudalism, the plot of this film seems particularly timely as well:

The Hunger Games takes place in the future, after the fall of North America. The book is set largely in the new nation known as Panem, which has 12 districts and one giant, ultra-rich Capitol. As punishment for a past rebellion against the glorious Capitol each district has to send a "tribute" to the Hunger Games every year. One boy and one girl (ages 12 to 18) are sent into an outdoor arena and forced to fight all the other tributes, Thunderdome rules apply. The main character is Katniss Everdeen, who has been chosen to represent District 12.

Childhood was one of the great innovations of the 20th Century, at least in the Western world. It's kind of sad to see it teetering on the brink. It's definitely something worth fighting to preserve.

A word to the wise.

UPDATE: How could have I forgotten this one? Very odd Gaga-type vibe here, but I can't quite put my finger on it. These girls look like they're in their 20s, so maybe that's why it wasn't quite connecting. Thanks to a helpful reader for the reminder.

UPDATE: There's also Tower Prep, which is running on the Cartoon Network. This has a pretty good pedigree in that Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series) and Glen Morgan (The X-Files, Space: Above and Beyond) are the showrunners, I just can't stomach more teen angst right now. Apparently there are elements of The Prisoner in it as well.

As per usual, there are a bunch of tips and links in the comments section. So if you haven't yet, dig in.

33 comments:

  1. Interesting parallel, Christopher … The Children's Hour … a timely piece about the sadistic ruination of a private girl school's teacher's career & another woman's suicide by hanging, all due to the know-nothing hearsay & implicit gossip spread by a malicious child, and drawing a synch with the weaponised student body in Joanne Rowling's unprecedented multi-million-dollar franchise. In my magic tradition, us kids were/are guided, not by Mengele-types, but by loving mentors keen on us not being turned into fodder for the world theatre, as you might think your heads-up to those of us who share Facebook earlier today over the <a href=">Mormon Transhumanist Association</a> presupposes.

    Thanks for this, man,
    Anadæ Quenyan Effro

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  2. Don't forget the upcoming Sucker Punch, which seems to fit in with this paradigm as well.

    The film follows a young girl in the 1950s about to be lobotomized as she attempts to escape an asylum with her inmate friends.

    Snyder has described the film as "Alice in Wonderland with machine guns", including dragons, B-52 bombers and brothels. Snyder's wife and producing partner Deborah Snyder concludes, "in the end, it's about this girl's survival and what she needs to do to be able to cope." In November 2010, Warner Bros released the official synopsis for the film:

    “Sucker Punch” is an epic action fantasy that takes us into the vivid imagination of a young girl whose dream world provides the ultimate escape from her darker reality. Unrestrained by the boundaries of time and place, she is free to go where her mind takes her, and her incredible adventures blur the lines between what’s real and what is imaginary.

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  3. No singularity for posthumanist:
    Observed in this manner, the brain's overall complexity is almost beyond belief, said Smith. "One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor —with both memory-storage and information-processing elements — than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth," he said.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-11/sumc-nim111510.php

    Sorry for the offtopic, but this kind news are "stop the press" -category

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  4. http://veritasindagator.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/the-destroyer-and-the-beast/

    Very obvious Obama posing on cover of Newsweek as Shiva, the Destroyer, Newsweek dated 11/22/2010

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  5. Chris, your going to have to warn about the graphic nature of your video selections! The third really was triggering my PTSD! But I agree on how childhood has become just a horrible phase to get through until one reaches adulthood, no love, no compassion. I and other Pagans out there who are willing to speak out HATE Harry Potter. The use of CHILDREN as Spiritual Warriors, and the support this series has, well we're talking essentially third world child soldiers here. When Nixon was elected President, he brought in Henry Kissinger as Secretary Of State. Both were members of the notorious Bohemian Grove scene. There's this whole view that abused children, well you crack the egg, and the child becomes this powerful shaman wizard. That's the real Harry Potter back story. Then there is the stories of Project Monarch, of ritualistically sexually abused girls then used by the intelligence community to blackmail their enemies. Check the internet! Then there is the organization known as "The Finders" taking children to special schools in Mexico to be used an thrown away by the intelligence community. The Finders were even investigated by Washington, D.C. Police and US Immigration authorities. The investigation was shut down by the CIA. I know cases like these are true! Something I don't talk much about these days, but I served as an Investigative Field Investigator for 3 years for the now Scientology destroyed Cult Awareness Network. I've met young adults destroyed in this process! Childhood is dying, and with it our civilization! Only the Pre First Contact Nuclear event, and the total destruction of those in centralized authority can prevent it!

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  6. Dear Christopher

    The following paragraph could tell us where the inspiration for these movies comes from. What do you think?

    "Monarch slaves are regularly abused at the Grove for the entertainment of Bohemian Grove members in kinky sex theme rooms, such as the dark room and the necrophilia room. Secret NWO order business is conducted in the small, dark lounge with a wooden sign naming it U.N.DERGROUND. Slaves are hunted in the woods for sport, and occult rituals, including infant sacrifice, are held outdoors in the Grove."

    Source:

    The Illuminati Formula Used to
    Create an Undetectable Total Mind Controlled Slave
    By
    Fritz Springmeier and Cisco Wheeler

    Regards.

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  7. Growing up, I was a rather ambitious reader. Although I missed the Harry Potter trend by a few years, I know my nine year old self probably would have disliked the series.


    I read a lot of the late 80's cyberpunk chuck full of weird misconceptions about the early internet.

    However; when you think about it, cyberpunk kinda touches the same themes as Harry Potter. Replace “magic wands” with “fiber optic cables nano-robots VR helmets AI software programs....”

    Heck, these parallels exist in the real world!

    “Cell Phone” = “Wand”

    “There's an app for that” = “Magic Spell”


    ...would that make the Internet the source of the “Magic”?

    ...


    Anyway, Sucker Punch is a great example of your previous post.

    The main character is imagining a fantasy world to "escape" from the real world. However; what happens in the fantasy world motivates the protagonist to change her real world. [Or at least I think that's the plot; it's never completely stated in the trailer]

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  8. In a similar vein, the 70s horror movie The Fury featured telepathic teens being manipulated by shadowy agents in order to use them as psychic weapons:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SEFRWjATqM

    I've not read any of the Potter books but it is odd how they took off. You have a writer who creates a clever but derivative fantasy series. Then all of a sudden its being turned into a movie franchise. When has any literary property provided the material for a seven blockbuster picture deal? And in such a short time frame? Also of interest is how Rowling managed to keep the entire series from being Americanised. Even Lord of the Rings had its fair share of US actors.

    I guess I'm wondering why Rowling suddenly shot to unheard of levels of fame for a kids writer while others working in the same genres either end up in relative cinematic (seen any $200 mil Terry Pratchett movies?...) obscurity or find their works being mashed to oblivion in the Hollywood dream factories? Potter went from book to movie series in, what, four years? No delays, no development hell, just banged right on to the screen with the producers - probably for the first time ever - obeying most of the author's demands. Remember the first film came out about the same time as Lord of the Rings, so the suits had no way of knowing the fantasy genre was having a renaissance.

    The skeptic in me says it's because Rowling is an attractive lady with a good rags to riches backstory & her work at least gets kids reading, but maybe there's other reasons?

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  9. Does anyone remember this episode from the original Outer Limits?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Special_One_%28The_Outer_Limits%29

    Though devoid of the supernatural elements of Potter/Outer Limits, the BBC produced a show called Codename Icarus in the early 80s with similar themes - prodigies, secret schools, militarisation of young people:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uSYgnIUvdZc

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codename_Icarus

    On a more lighthearted note the short story 'Christmas Treason' is probably my favourite 'special ability' piece and was written in the early 60s. What starts off as a seemingly childish tale of friendship suddenly warps into a satire on nuclear disarmament - absurd and hilarious in equal measure. Review here:

    http://variety-sf.blogspot.com/2009/08/james-white-christmas-treason-novelette.html

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  10. I just got round to watching the first Harry Potter film, and I need to go to sleep now. I'm not sure why there has been so much controversy surrounding the potter films, specially from the Pope. It was a brain numbing experience.

    Anyone that is familiar with the books (I'm not) is bound to say the books are better, and they are the most likely to be the ones that the films are mostly made for. What a waste of energy all round.

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  11. Wotie what? I am sorry to point our your lack of ? BuT you have never seen the Potter movies? That speaks volumes to me about syncronicity and the agenda people play here at the Sun of a occult nature. More militarism at the Stieg Larsson books and movies. The insane premis of Kick Ass. WTF is the prospect of sadistic children the only fodder of the tptb to accept a tolatarian society. Brain dead tomfoolery! Shineforth brave souls! Dennis from the foothills.

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  12. Beyond the Black Rainbow looks promising. It has a stylistic austerity lacking in the other pieces shown here, and a sense of mystery, a premise that can't be summed up easily in one line. We'll see.

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  13. It's been touched on a little on the site in blogposts and comments, but lately every time I walk into a Blockbuster the trailers that catch my attention aren't for movies but for videogames. They are like short films and generally they have what I think are very subversive subtexts.

    I don't know if you have any extra time to apply some of you penetrating gaze to this, but I think it is a phenomenon that is both pervasive and invisible as a cultural influence. I don't play the games, but the trailers sure are effective on me at least.

    (Sorry about all the Donkey Kong ads BS)

    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/tgs-10-deus-ex/704605

    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/tgs-10-deus-ex/704699

    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/e3-2010-star-wars/101181

    http://www.gametrailers.com/video/e3-2010-star-wars/101181

    John H

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  14. I have seen the new film, and have read the books, but I have to say I have become so disillusioned with the whole thing. Regarding the on-line fan aspect of it, I remember in 2000, the Potter on-line fandom used to be fun, but it became co-opted with the commercialism aspect, as well as the politics of on-line fan sites from people who claimed to represent a majority of fans when they didn’t. It didn’t help that JKR became so litigious after the publication of the seventh book. It was funny to see fans, and fan sites, betray the superficial morals from the books, while jockeying for JKR to grace their presence, sad, really. It’s populated by mindless sycophants today. Interesting to see how people from some fan sites get a taste of fame, and it brings out the worst. It’s far more satisfying to create your own original material, if you can, than just be a consumer of someone else’s vision.

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  15. Totalitarian= Complete control of all plebes.Kids in jack boots. Children must be taught to hate, for that is not their nature. Dennis

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  16. Chris I nearly wound up in the Secret School scene of intelligence. My mother served with the Women's Army Corp from 1946 to 1953, mostly stationed at US Army HQ Heidleberg, West Germany as personal secretary of the Commander Of Intelligence. She served in a vault office where there were buttons under the desk which would close a two foot thick concrete and steel door should the Soviets have invaded.

    When I was in Third Grade the Principal came to my room for me. I was called out right after the Pledge Of Alliegence to take a half-day test that was half IQ Test and half Psychic Abilities Test. The test took 3 hours. Here's the strange thing, the Test Administator wore a badge for Fort Monmouth Army Base, New Jersey. One other student was tested, a girl in 5th grade. On the retirment of my elementary principal, I took him a card and talked with him about the incident. Although it was 8 years later, he remembered the day like it was yesterday! He told me the Testing Agent came into his office, demanded a room to do the testing, and declared under National Security Laws that he could not inform school district headquarters! Think Chris, I believe you said your a father, what if your child came home with this story!

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  17. Dennis I think there's a huge need for some books and films that portray the world in a better, more positive and harmonious way. For kids especially.
    That's a challenge for anyone that has something worthwhile to offer, that can write. I don't see how hating is a good way forward for anyone. I just used to have to watch the news when I was a kid, that was enough to bring on the hate. A hate for all hate in the world.

    I remember 'the worst witch' and 'the wishing chair'. I think these are all trying to be an introduction to witchcraft and the paranormal, but fail to embrace the realities of both and they fail to present these subjects in a way that is of any use to anyone. In fact they portray both the paranormal and witchcraft as either fantasy or something to be labelled as occult and feared.

    In the meantime, we have both witchcraft and the paranormal being used by those in the driving seats.
    Which just makes me want to understand it all the more. Seeing as we seem to be being driven straight into disaster.
    Sometimes I wish I did live in a cave.

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  18. Hi Chris,

    FYI http://mikephilbin.blogspot.com/2010/11/newsweek-shiva-destroyer-cern.html

    Alex

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  19. I'm not a fan of the Harry Potter books. Frankly, I find them boring. Trailer trash indeed. ;-)

    I've just started the Chaos series of books by John Wright. Teenagers trapped in a boarding school run by some unpleasant gods, trying to discover their true identity. I think they may be of interest. Highly gnostic stuff:

    In the first installment of the Chronicles of Chaos series, common associations of high school with prison prove spectacularly well founded. The five teen protagonists are hostages in a British boarding school run by pagan gods. Sustaining themes of lost identity from Wright's respected Golden Age trilogy and heavily borrowing from the work of Roger Zelazny, the narrative charts the teens' discovery of their true identities--they're shape-shifters who hail from Chaos--then pits their budding powers against school authorities who have proceeded from acting in loco parentis to being ominous and occasionally lascivious oppressors. Phaethusa, who goes by Amelia after her aviatrix role model, narrates the rich and frequently comic intrigue, which takes full advantage of the alluring juxtapositions that arise when the soul of a "montrosity from beyond the edge of space and time" is trapped in a nubile teen's heaving breast. Mythological references and discursions on the nature of reality may prove substantial barriers for some; Wright's growing fandom will revel in his overlapping frames of reference. Jennifer Mattson
    Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved "

    Link: http://www.amazon.com/Orphans-Chaos-John-C-Wright/dp/0765349957/ref=pd_sim_b_2

    Best, Kimberly.

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  20. Jesus Camp? Evangelical Hogwarts?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RNfL6IVWCE

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  21. if.........
    rowling's magical world did in fact exist, and you as parent knew that your children would confront such 'dark' situations..
    what kind of parent would you be, if you sent your children out into that world lacking the tools or mastery of such to survive?

    you might as well have delivered them 'hog'tied and lain them over an altar to have their throats slit.


    the same can be questioned of the 'reality' we inhabit.

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  22. sorry, afterthought.. should've included it in my previous post.

    rite action...
    lash...


    http://www.metahistory.org/RiteAction/openseason2.php

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  23. sorry again, i just don't have it in a sock this am..

    http://www.metahistory.org/RiteAction/RiteActionintro.php

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  24. I know this is kinda off topic, but I was wondering if you could clear something up for me. So the Romans have raped the culture of other civilizations, borrow aspects they like, and disregard the rest, to hold a favorable position among its citizens? I was sitting thinking about Christmas and Horus, and how all the shoppers piddle about in the material world, and then I think about Thanksgiving and the mass genocide, and how the " Romans " raped and destroyed the American Indian civilization. Sorry if I sound a little stupid, I got good grades in school, but decided to throw everything out and come up with my OWN idea, instead of learning for a grade. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks Chris

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  25. Chris,

    I have to confess to semi-enjoying the Potter movies, but the books are far too tepid and chintzy for me. I only enjoy the movies because I love watching the imagery that results from ANY narrative about magic and sorcery and the occult - how that imagery is put together, what its implications and resonances are, etc.

    I think it's the geek-boy in me that gets off on quests and battles and the supernatural, but with a genuine love for all forms of fantastical story-making.

    I'm also a longtime fan of horror movies, horror/gothic literature, as well as hardcore sci-fi. To me, the last few Potter flicks are horror b-movies for kids, with bits of drama and action thrown in.

    It is disturbing on some levels, that so many horror tropes exist in what is ostensibly a 'fantasy' pic aimed at children, and I do feel for those fudamentalists who exclaim that Potter is satanic and subversive - but as you've pointed out before, all that illuminati/satanic shtick is the new normal.

    So, as a horror fan I feel like I need to say that all this twilight, vampire diaries, potter faux darkness is really the result of a LACK of respect for the dark side of the human/divine psyche.

    In my view the Shadow Self demands witness and engagement, not literalized genocide and atrocities - or conversely, bad TV and film and literature about that dark side, which is really about making money from peoples lack of sophistication with all these tropes.

    I'm rambling a bit, but I hope you get my meaning. The daily mechanisms behind producing this kind of entertainment are far more chilling than any of the pseudo-illuminati/vamp/death fetish crap that is actually churned out. I love a good horror movie or episode or novel, but they require imagination and courage (real subversive qualities), which seems to be lacking in this new normal 'darkness'.

    I guess I love the horror genre because in the right skilled hands it can teach me a lot about compassion and freedom, whereas the new corporate gods love horror because it can help them with exploitation and control. An oversimplification, maybe, but I think there's some truth in it.

    I only say this becuase I think these guys would sell us actual shit in a bag if they could market it to us as chic and sexy and subversive, you know?

    Peace

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  26. Chris,

    I have to confess to semi-enjoying the Potter movies, but the books are far too tepid and chintzy for me. I only enjoy the movies because I love watching the imagery that results from ANY narrative about magic and sorcery and the occult - how that imagery is put together, what its implications and resonances are, etc.

    I think it's the geek-boy in me that gets off on quests and battles and the supernatural, but with a genuine love for all forms of fantastical story-making.

    I'm also a longtime fan of horror movies, horror/gothic literature, as well as hardcore sci-fi. To me, the last few Potter flicks are horror b-movies for kids, with bits of drama and action thrown in.

    It is disturbing on some levels, that so many horror tropes exist in what is ostensibly a 'fantasy' pic aimed at children, and I do feel for those fudamentalists who exclaim that Potter is satanic and subversive - but as you've pointed out before, all that illuminati/satanic shtick is the new normal.

    So, as a horror fan I feel like I need to say that all this twilight, vampire diaries, potter faux darkness is really the result of a LACK of respect for the dark side of the human/divine psyche.

    In my view the Shadow Self demands witness and engagement, not literalized genocide and atrocities - or conversely, bad TV and film and literature about that dark side, which is really about making money from peoples lack of sophistication with all these tropes.

    I'm rambling a bit, but I hope you get my meaning. The daily mechanisms behind producing this kind of entertainment are far more chilling than any of the pseudo-illuminati/vamp/death fetish crap that is actually churned out. I love a good horror movie or episode or novel, but they require imagination and courage (real subversive qualities), which seems to be lacking in this new normal 'darkness'.

    I guess I love the horror genre because in the right skilled hands it can teach me a lot about compassion and freedom, whereas the new corporate gods love horror because it can help them with exploitation and control. An oversimplification, maybe, but I think there's some truth in it.

    I only say this becuase I think these guys would sell us actual shit in a bag if they could market it to us as chic and sexy and subversive, you know?

    Peace

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  27. Harry Potter is for children. The fact that so many adults are enamored with them says something about the infantile nature of our society.

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  28. Never mind that being the comics geek that I am (or was) I never got past the whole Books of Magic thing (read more on that here), but there's also something off-putting about the Hogwart's thing.

    Maybe Pink Floyd's The Wall made too strong an impression on me, but there's also something a bit too Spartan about the whole Hogwart's scene. I'm talking the idea of separating kids from their families in order to essentially train them as warriors. It's especially striking in the first film when the very young actors are forced to engage in magical warfare and face real jeopardy."


    Not being English, I've heard that there is another layer to the development of Hogwarts in the story related to the experience of English private schools.

    This movie really put front and center something that was touched upon in the last two, but not really made overt. Harry and his friends are essentially living under encroaching fascism as Voldemort takes over the Ministry of Magic and makes it implement his anti-muggle policies and muggle-born purgation. The problem is that the previous ministry was simply more tolerant, but still shared much of the anti-muggle sentiment. Anti-human, really.

    On top of that, when Voldemort was defeated by Harry, the people who'd been hiding under rocks up to that point, came out and started a literal "witchhunt" against the Death Eaters and Voldemort's followers. Now, that You Know Who is back, they are again in hiding and those who were persecuted are out looking for revenge.

    In many ways, the adult authority in the film has been shown as being complicit or deserving of this reign of terror while the children represent the only clean faction in the struggle.

    Also, the nature of Voldemort's new reign of terror is presented as pretty insidious. Harry and his friends seem to be in an apocalyptic road movie much of the film as they travel through the wizarding world depopulated by snatchers and death-eaters. People are vanishing and no one is really talking about why or what to do about it.

    It's almost something PK Dick would've imagined.

    John H

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  29. I find action movies highly over-rated. I quite like fantasy and sci-fi, but give me witty conversation. Give me symbolism and beautiful architecture.

    Enough CGI battle scenes. Seen one, seen them all.

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  30. What struck me at the time Harry Potter became popular was the similarities with Harry's origin story to the 1990 computer game spellcasting 101: Sorcerers get all the girls.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spellcasting_101:_Sorcerers_Get_All_The_Girls

    From memory you play a nerdy teenager (with glasses) who has a nasty stepfather that makes him live in the cupboard under the stairs, but escape comes in the form of an invitation to a magical university, but he has to escape first.
    Sound familiar?

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  31. Yeah, I dunno if the Hogwarts bunch were so much being trained as warrior's initially. I think the impetus kind of shifted towards defensive and offensive spells against the Dark Arts because of the threat of Voldemort and his nasties. I believe, according to the books, the magical kids are removed from their families so that they can be taught at a young age how to manage their emerging abilities and to focus, eventually finding some meaningful occupation to adhere to after they graduate.

    Unlike in the non-magical world, our normal world of non-magical people who are referred to as "muggles", where we have to contend with messed up economies, debt, crappy post industrial education institutions that poop out debt drones and the next crop of establishment archeons. If you're a 'muggle' then you can never become magical or have wizard or witch abilities because you have to be born into that. It's exclusive, this Hogwarts, and those that attend it are like some off-shoot of evolved homo sapiens like 'homo occultus' or something. Strangely dismissive of the rest of non-magical kind even though they are, apparently, the minority and their main concern with us is in keeping a low profile about their world. I guess they should be called, "smuggles", in this regard.

    Also, evidently, there are no magical schools or people living in the United States. Only Europe. I guess.

    Whatever. Makes sense in a weird way. America is a nation of muggle technocrats---tinkerers, mechanics, inventors, and scientists---all of which are confounding to the magical folk. They seem facinated by the ability to make things mechanically and through principles of physics rather than waving a wand while uttering obscure Latin sounding incantations to produce their desires and needs literally out of their own conscious will. Crowley would be so proud. Americans don't need magic; we will just invent an APP on our iPhone's. I got your wand right here, Potter! You see what I'm say'in?

    Yeah, you do.

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  32. William, there is one. It's in upstate New York. They, however, find their applicants; it's never about you picking there to go to. Sound familiar? Have a gander here & cheers ~ (•8-o

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