Business Magazine

Politics Filtered By Fantasy

Posted on the 24 October 2012 by April Whaley @aprilcwhaley

Politics Filtered By Fantasy Mitt Romney at the third presidential debate on Monday, and Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixPhotographs by Marc Serota/Getty Images; Warner Bros. Entertainment.
           At this point in the election, I imagine most people feel as tired and beaten down by the opinions, “facts” and endless commentary hurled at them as I do.  At the start of the election process I’m always excited for the debates.  I scour the news sites for information, go through Facebook every few hours, and want to know everyone’s personal opinions on the relevant issues.  But by this point,I’m so exhausted by the constant arguing and double talk that I’m ready to hang it all up and refuse to even vote this time around.  I still vote though, and I’ll still keep reading every political article I come across as well.  If I’m lucky, occasionally I’ll find an article that will lift my spirits and renew my convictions.
The article that most recently made me smile is a column by Katie Roiphe, a Journalism professor at New York University.  In the article, she describes watching the third presidential debate through the eyes of her 9-year-old daughter.  Her daughter, Violet, watching Mitt Romney speak for a few minutes, decided that he was just like a character in Harry Potter by the name of Dolores Umbridge.  Surprised, at first, she quickly began looking at Romney and the other politicians in a new light.  She realized that she agreed with her daughter’s assessment of Romney.  She saw the “brittle, lacquered, self-satisfied smile,” and “the self-important talk” about what was good for the nation, as characteristic of both Umbridge and Mitt Romney.  Roiphe went on to explain that she also realized what lessons could be learned from this comparison of Harry Potter to real-world events.  She believed that even Harry Potter’s victories are “compromised by exhaustion and loss; ideals are tainted, complicated, twisted, and battered into something else.”  I’ve never heard a better description of the downside of politics in this country.As much as I love fantasy, it still doesn’t occur to me to view the world through a fantastical lens.  As an adult, I suppose I’ve lost that sense of innocence and wonder that allows me to see the very simple concepts in fantasy applied to my own life.  Genres such as science fiction and fantasy are a perfect vehicle for exploring why people act the way they do, because they take ordinary characters and put them in extraordinary situations.  These situations allow the best and worst of humanity to be displayed, and showcase the beauty and despair of human nature.  Fantasy can highlight grief and death, rage, fear, love and joy in unique ways that open our eyes to the universe.  This means that even children’s books like Harry Potter create characters whose personality traits and motivations are very clear and specific.  So clear, that a little girl watching a presidential debate can look at the screen and recognize those personalities in real people.  It reminds me how I want to look at the world, and politics, from now on.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog