Some Thoughts on Harry Potter… (or, Your Wand is My Smartphone)

Posted: July 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Editorial | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I just watched the finally installment of the Harry Potter film franchise, and I was pretty pleased with it (the two Deathly Hallows films in particular were well done–congrats to director David Yates). While I’m not necessarily a fanatic when it comes to the franchise, I have followed the tale all the way through, and I’ve long felt that the HP universe (the books as well as their cinematic counterparts) has a rather interesting take on how magic is depicted. In some ways it’s the inverse of sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke’s famous proclamation:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

In Harry’s world, though, representations of magic tend to reflect the technological reality that we already inhabit: GPS (the Marauder’s Map), digital picture frames and tablet computers (the animated portraits hanging in Hogwarts, orĀ  the “multimedia” of the wizard-centric Daily Prophet newspaper), or the LED flashlight feature on my cellphone (yelling “lumos!” lights up the tip of the wand). It’s intriguing how Rowling chooses to shape her fictive landscape, magic-ifying the commonplace technologies of our current Muggle-based world. Not that I see this as a failure, necessarily–I do find the parallels thought-provoking and well realized–but I do wonder if this was a conscious move on her part, and what she might be saying with such representations.




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