Revenge of the Nerds Redux: Harry Potter and “Geek Culture”

Image result for harry potter book covers



I read Harry Potter when I was in elementary school, and I remember liking it. The movies were a staple of my early 2000s childhood. Yet the series still persists, now with a new movie and a new play/novel from JK Rowling. The series persistence is not for literary reasons; Harold Bloom’s famous (or rather infamous to Potter fans) Wall Street Journal review of Sorcerer’s Stone gives the best analysis of its failings a novel. Harry Potter persists not as a franchise of novels and films as novels and films, but as a way for its fan base to live out their fantasies. The franchise is not just a British school story with an urban fantasy twist, but an allegory for geeks to get back at their enemies, both real and imagined.

The realm of fantasy is a staple of geek culture, the easiest way for its faithful to slip into escapism. The world of Harry Potter contains the normal world of “muggles” (you and I) and the occult wizarding world. In this context, the wizarding world is occult both in the literal definition of the term–simply hidden knowledge–and the commonly used definition of the occult as a dark sorcery. While there are dark occult implications to the series, the relation of the geek audience to the stories is much simpler. The magical spells are the near endless pop culture facts about comic books, science fiction novels, and anime that they know. In the real world, the obsession with children’s entertainment, often well into adulthood, wins them ridicule. In the world of Harry Potter, this is the characters’ power. Even the Harry-Malfoy subplot within the novels is this narrative, despite both characters’ living in the wizarding world.This basic premise is also implicit in the preponderance of tough female leads in the recent Star Wars movies.

Geek culture’s alleged higher culture over the world of TV sports, sitcoms, and action movies isn’t based on knowledge of real literature or classic films. It is based on the pretense that children’s entertainment is somehow better than “casual” culture.  The Potter narrative infects American political discourse, once again showing the arrested development of most mainstream journalists. During the election, they compared President Trump to Voldemort, the series’ main villain. Rowling herself started the trend, followed by other media typists. The President is not even “literally Hitler,” but the villain of a children’s book.

The political implications of Potter and other young adult franchises are very important as a means of programming Millennials. They would never make connection between the reckless, radical leftist activism Obama administration and the Capital of Hunger Games, or even the antagonists of Potter. The Trump administration will be a Evil Empire they rally against, all because the successful President represents the “jocks” that found their obsessions strange.





2 thoughts on “Revenge of the Nerds Redux: Harry Potter and “Geek Culture”

  1. I think this is really interesting. I loved the Harry Potter books as a kid, but as an adult I can’t stand Rowling’s writing style or all of the plot holes. I think you hit the nail on the head that the books are so popular because they represent wish-fulfillment of kids in school. Great post!


    • Thank you for reading! I enjoyed Harry Potter as a kid as well. Nothing wrong with them as kid’s books. Using them to inform your political rhetoric shows immaturity. Harry Potter is great kids’ adventure, but it’s far from great literature.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s