Harry Potter turns 20!

Harry Potter and the Philospopher's Stone in new cover
Harry Potter celebrates 20 years sine it’s oublishing debut

 

 

This week, it was twenty years since arguably one of the most successful fiction series began. This was followed by six other successful books and eight movies, starring Daniel Radcliffe,  Emma Watson and the late Alan Rickman.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (alternatively called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) alone has sold over 100 million copies since it’s release. The series has been translated into over sixty languages and been distributed to over two – hundred countries worldwide.

I think it was about 2000 when I first read the first Harry Potter. I was about eleven (if my date is right). I remember thinking it was very good. Very imaginative. That was when the Harry Potter franchise boomed. I remember the parts about Harry’s parents were quite sad. I cried when I saw the movie near the end.

I liked the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets more. I just loved it; the mischief, the mystery and the overall plot was fantastic. The movie was equally as good.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
2nd Harry Potter book

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had the greatest surprise, when Harry Potter found out who is godfather, Sirius Black, was falsely convicted of being ally of Voldemort (a.k.a He Who Must Not Be Named) and sent to serial wizard prison, Azkaban.

The fourth and fifth books; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows were also good and very well – written. To be frank, the sixth one Harry Potter and the Half – Blood Prince was my least favourite (and my least favourite of the movies). I think it dragged on too long and the end of the movie in particular was a downer. As a result, I haven’t bothered to read the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the movies, which apparently is quite good, funnily enough. Since this anniversary, I might read it after all one day.

 

Of course, the series hasn’t been without its critics. In the height of Harry Potter’s fame, there was worry about its ‘promotion’ of witchcraft, something that is frowned upon in some religions, including some parts of Christianity. That was short – lived. Since I’ve read the books, I haven’t turned to witchcraft, so it’s all good, I guess.

Harry Potter has been a revolution in children’s literature and Rowling has been commended for sparking an interest of reading in young children. I think that’s a great achievement!

So, what makes the series so popular?

Here’s my take based on what I’ve read (which is all but the seventh).

Obviously the fantasy element was a big hit. Children have always been attracted to fantasy and magic. I remember that as a kid how popular Disney’s films were, many of which included magic. Beyond the magic, the overall fantasy of the books have been great and quite original.

Secondly, the characters, while fictional and largely witches and wizards, are characters that people can relate to. Everyone can relate to rebellious teens, friendships, high school competition and more. Plus, there are universal themes: good versus evil (that’s a controversial one, I know since some people think magic is bad period, but bear with me), friendships, betrayal, family, youth rebellion against authority and family are all themes explored in the books and movies.

I think it’s hard not to argue that the Harry Potter franchise is one of the most revolutionary series of fictional literature in the 21st century. It has sparked the imagination of young and old. I don’t think there will be another series that will be as influential as what Harry Potter was – not in the near future anyway.

What is your favourite Harry Potter book and/ or movie? Feel free to leave your thoughts below. 

 

Stop treating LGBTQ+ people as political footballs!

Gay couple just married
Both Coalition and Labor are playing games with the LGBTQ+ community. Image: iStock

Coalition MP Christopher Pyne has outraged conservatives by suggesting, among other things that same – sex marriage will become legal ‘sooner than what everyone thinks’.

Cue the outrage and the hyperventilating. It won’t happen. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has come out publicly and reinstated the party’s position of a national plebiscite. So, conservatives, breathe. It’s going to be OK.

Labor voted down the plebiscite at the start of the year, as did the Greens and other senators. I’m not entirely against the plebiscite. I think it was poorly sold. In my view, it was hijacked by conservatives who wanted advertising standards watered down and there was no (serious) talk about how the process may affect members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Also, there was the issue of it being non – binding, even if the majority did vote in favour of it. Sure, you had people like Peta Credlin (who I don’t mind as a commentator) and Andrew Bolt saying that the Government would be nuts not to follow through with the promise, but still, why  didn’t politicians say that?

In regard to mental health, I have noted a number of times since I started blogging in 2013 about how studies here and overseas do suggest that LGBTQ people, especially youth, are vulnerable when it comes to mental health. While some do challenge this, I do think it should have sparked a lot more discussion than what it did. How convenient of Warren Entsch to bring up the issue… after the plebiscite was already voted down! And no one (understandably) took Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten’s threat seriously.

 

Both sides have stuffed the LGBTQ+ community around. Both of them have treated LGBTQ+ like political pawns. It needs to stop. To the government – if you want a plebiscite, fight for it. If not, scrap it (and prepare for war). For Labor, if you stand by it, then as soon as you win the 2019 election, (which is likely if you look at the polls), then legalise it. Immediately. No pussy footing, no changing minds. Just do it. Or there should be a massive revolt. The LGBTQ+ people are people and do not deserve to be taken for a ride to score political points. So, next election, if you support same – sex marriage, then  legalise it. Immediately.

 

This has become more of a mess than what it needs to be. Enough’s enough.

Is male privilege real?

 

Screen shot of ABC's Hack Live on iView
New episode of “Hack Live” brought on controversy, but also interesting debate over “male privilege”.

I watched the controversial show “Hack Live – Is Male Privilege Bulls***” and I’ve got to say while it caused controversy in which the ABC kind of apologised for, the discussion on male privilege on the panel show “Hack Live” was actually very interesting.

One interesting panellist was *Adrian* (not his real name), who was a part of the Men’s Right’s movement. He, more than other panellists, emphasised what many men face in Australia more than women. These included homelessness and suicide. It was also pointed out that men are over represented in work related deaths as well as the alleged gender pay gap and domestic violence.

 

So, does male privilege exist?

It’s complicated. Economically, there may be a historical bias that favours men. But in areas like family law, mental health and other areas, these things have generally favoured women – from what I can gather. In the UK, there is a severe lack of appropriate shelters for male domestic violence victims. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was similar here. You don’t hear about domestic violence against men in the media as frequently as you hear about women.

I think another factor to talk about is male victims by sexual assault at the hands of both men and women. While there is a slow increase in awareness and female who abuse boys are finally getting exposed, I believe there is still a long way to go, especially on reducing stigma faced by many male victims, both as adults and children.

So, does ‘male privilege’ exist?

Like I said men may have some economic and professional advantages over women – depends who you believe on the age wage gap and poverty after retirement. But, I think there are areas in which women have the upper hand, including custody disputes and family law, awareness on domestic violence and mental illness and relevant services for these men.

Privilege in general

“Hack Live” also looked into – albeit too briefly – intersections of identity and how that plays in the privilege debate. I’ve written extensively about challenges faced by LGBTQ+ people over the years since I’ve started blogging. Is there such thing as straight privilege? I think most certainly! From adequate and fair media representation, visibility in education, LGBTQ+ people of faith struggling to find a place of worship where they feel accepted, (although as I have written before, things are slowly looking up).

In other areas, I think “white privilege” isn’t an overblown concept either, to be honest. I think, while things are improving for people of colour in countries like Australia, I don’t doubt that that some may still face racism in a way that Caucasian people generally don’t have to think about. I believe that there are people of colour who face racial profiling. People of colour and of Asian backgrounds do get stereotyped in a way that Caucasian people generally don’t get. I have also heard a few years ago that a survey (I think) pointed out that some employers tend to look past resumes that have a non – English sounding name. Whether this has improved over the three or so years since the story was on The Project, I’m not entirely sure. I hope it has.

Did anyone else watch “Hack Live”? What did you think about it? What do you think about the concept of male privilege? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments. 

 

 

 

Red Symons Racist? Probably not. Controversial? Hell, yes.

This week, former guitarist and ‘Hey, hey, it’s Saturday’ regular, Red Symons came under fire for “What’s the deal with Asians?” podcast interview on ABC’s Radio National with Beverley Wang, who is Canadian of Taiwanese descent. I didn’t hear the interview (an Andrew O’Keeffe trick, ha!), but from what I read here, it seemed nothing more than satire.

I agree with Andrew Bolt in that calling Wang “yellow” was quite crass and unnecessary. Then again, Symons is well – known for controversy and crassness. I grew up watching him on “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday” back in the early 1990’s. He was a panellist on “Red Faces”, a skit where Symons and other panellists ‘judged’ performances. Red Symons was the ‘bad guy’, well and truly. And some people thought Ian ‘Dicko’ Dickson and Kyle Sandilands were bad on Australian Idol! Sheesh!

Back in the 1970’s, Symons was one of the guitarists in Melbourne – based band, Skyhooks. They were controversial. They caused such a stir that in 1974 due to their provocative lyrics that fours songs from their debut album ‘Living in the ’70’s’ were banned from commercial airplay.

Skyhooks' 1990 'Latest and Greatest'
Skyhooks’ 1990 ‘Latest and Greatest which features two songs that were banned from airplay in 1974.

 

Did they mean any harm? Probably not. It was just satire. Biting satire, offensive satire, but none the less, satire.

With this particular interview, I get race, migration and in particular, boat people are sensitive topics, especially given the ongoing controversy of Nauru and Manus Island, plus the ongoing debate of our refugee intake.  Since then, Symons has apologised and the ABC has deleted the interview from its website.

I hope this is as far as it goes. I do think as a society we do need to be careful, both of what we expect from artists, but I do think it’s important that everyone in the public eye or with a wide platform (myself included), need to be careful not to cause harm to the people we talk/ write/ joke about. It’s a real balancing act.

Did you hear the podcast? Did you think it was offensive? 

Maybe polygamy/ polyamourous marriages are the next step?

Polygamy (polygyny) image via iStock images
Gay marriage then polygamy? Image: iStock

 

I hate to say it,Andrew Bolt may have a point about the slippery – slope argument on gay marriage. I say  “maybe”. I have checked online, and yes, the story does check out. Three gay men in Colombia have had their relationship recognised legally; Victor Hugo Prada, John Allejandro Rodriguez, and Manuel Jose Bermudez. They have been recognised as Colombia’s first “polyamorous family”. According to news.com.au, they now legally have legal and inheritance rights granted to them by the Colombian Supreme Court.

So what does this mean? Does this mean that gay marriage inevitably leads to the legalisation of polygamy? Last year, on an older blog, I wrote an extensive post about the potential hazards that polygamy can have on individuals, families and society. I linked an article by Zainab AL Hammadi.  

Since then, I have read more articles, including from those that have lived in polygamous households, particularly from ex – Mormon Penelope Lane. It was far less than ideal for her as a child. Due to pressure, she wrote another article citing studies from Professor Joseph Hendrich, further reinforcing her point.

Doing this research gave me reason to doubt the slippery slope argument against gay marriage. But I also noted there were differences between the two. So, with the latest revelation from Colombia, what conclusion can we come up with?

As I’m writing this, I’m researching Colombia’s marriage laws and it’s complicated – as there is a marriage law and a de – facto law. For foreigners who get married in Colombia, they have to prove that they’re legally divorced or a spouse has died if they’ve been married before, as well as having other documents such as birth certificates translated to Spanish. Anyway, I’m not a lawyer or an expert on Colombia, so I’ll just leave it at that.

So, this triad has been legally recognised under Colombian law via the Supreme Court. Does this prove Bolt right about what he’s been saying for years? Maybe. Will the legalisation of polygamy or polyamory be able to be argued against? Polygamy (polygyny), yes (as I’ve cited before and linked above). Polyamory? Last time I wrote about this in depth, I said that it was more complicated. At the time, I couldn’t find any conclusive evidence to suggest that polyamory is necessarily bad for men, women, children or society as a whole, unlike polygyny.

 

So, yeah, I’m a bit stumped with this, to be honest. Will it happen in Australia? Maybe. It probably won’t be decided by the Supreme Court as it’s happened in Colombia. Other than that, maybe it’s something we need to think about in Australia. If same – sex marriage is ever legalised in Australia, are we open to recognising polyamorous, or, dare I say it, polygamous unions?

What do you think? Will gay marriage lead to the legalisation of polygamy/ plural marriage?  Feel free to leave your thoughts or any information you know below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media: is it a platform for honesty?

 

Facebook logo
Image: Canva

 

 

 

On Tuesday, Channel Ten’s The Project Mitch Wallis, who said that he had a breakdown when taking a trip in Kentucky.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FTheProjectTV%2Fvideos%2F10154638796028441%2F&show_text=0&width=560

The breakdown spurred Wallis on to start a campaign “Heart on My Sleeve” on both Twitter and Facebook, encouraging people to be honest about their experiences and feelings on social media.

 

I think it’s a good, and frankly, brave idea (I’ll explain why in a sec).

When on social media, especially Facebook and Instagram, most people only upload photos and write posts that reflect the best aspects of their lives. The happy holiday snaps, the cute kids when they aren’t fighting and (usually) not crying, the happy couple pics, you get the idea.

So, I scrolled through the Heart on My Sleeve Facebook Page recently, and it’s quite brutally honest. If you read the pinned post I embedded above, you’d know what I mean. That’s good.

Here’s the thing, will this campaign take off and change the way people view and use social media? That’s what I’m a bit skeptical about.

I said that this campaign was “brave” because people who are too honest on social media, they often get a backlash, either online or in their personal lives. This is especially true when it comes to conflicts with others. And I get that, to be honest. Unless it’s something to do with the law or something terrible has happened, it’s probably best to work out conflicts among you and the person you have issues with.

So, that’s obvious. But what about talking about things like depression, mental breakdowns, grief? What about photos that don’t look the best? Now, I’ve got to say that my Facebook friends are quite honest in how they’re doing. But for some people, especially younger people, this can be intimidating, especially when a backlash is likely.

Thing is, some – if not most people – only want to hear and read certain things and are, unfortunately, critical of people when they aren’t. So, how do we change this mindset? How do we get rid of the fear of backlash because we may have posted something someone may not like? Also, in terms of mental health, when should someone just seek professional help, rather than airing it online? Is there a potential risk that airing certain things will only exacerbate the problems?

Maybe this campaign can extend to honesty in everyday life, not just on social media. Are you OK? if not, talk to someone, a friend, partner, family member or a professional. We all need someone who we can be honest with. Will it work with three hundred “friends” (I think the average number of friends someone has on Facebook)? Not sure.

I think something could be said about this, for both online and the real world (probably the latter more so). And that’s we need to let people be who they are and express how they feel and let ourselves do the same thing. For some people, social media or a blog may be an ideal platform – at least to an extent. But, for others, it may be better to do things more privately; one on one or in a small group. At least then, you may get more sympathy and/ or understanding. Whatever works, I guess. Anything that prevents someone bottling up too much must be a good thing.

What do you think of the Heart on My Sleeve campaign and honesty on social media? Do you think it’ll ever become a regular thing? Leave your thoughts below.