The last time I ever saw protesters at a movie was when my parents took me to see Dragonslayer way back when that film was released in the early 80’s, and that was a gag protest; members of the Society for Creative Anachronisms had dressed up as dragons and were carrying around signs that said things like, "This Movie Unfair to Dragons". But I’ve never seen a serious protest at a film. Even when I went and saw The Last Temptation of Christ, there were no protesters there, and that was easily one of the most controversial films I’ve ever actually seen in a theater.
So when Jennifer and I went to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, we were both amused to see people protesting. There was a little tiny group of people standing at the entrance to the move theater parking lot holding signs that said, "God Loves You But Hates Witchcraft!". As in all such things, the number of protesters was far outweighed by the number of people there for the event. There were perhaps four, maybe five people concerned for the souls of the movie goers, and probably hundreds of people there to see the movie, which Jennifer and I had bought advance tickets for a week ago.
Ah, well. We all have to do something, I suppose. And I guess I’m glad that there are people so concerned for the salvation of my soul that they’re willing to tell me not to see a movie.
And it’s a weird world, where sometimes the morally-self-righteous-but-bizarre win a depressing victory or two. In Fargo, North Dakota, according to this article at CNN, a group of students had their field trip to see the movie canceled because some people don’t like the portrayal of witches in the film. You know, this sort of thing makes me sad. These are relatively intelligent people, who think that preventing their children from seeing a film will make those children better people. Imagine how much better the world would be if people like this chose to focus that energy on showing their children that tolerance is good, that there are hungry and sick and needy people in the world who need attention, and that it’s possible to retain your integrity and faith even in the face of things that you disagree with; but perhaps that takes more moral fiber than some people have. I don’t know. On the other hand, I have to give some credit to the folks in Fargo; their argument that because some people consider witchcraft a religion (never mind that the witchcraft portrayed in the film is about as far away from Wicca as Fargo is from Hogwarts School of Wizardry), taking public school kids to see the film would be a violation of the separation of church and state is sort of clever in a really twisted, hypocritical sense. But that would be ascribing intelligence and forethought to these people, which I’m not quite willing to do.
But that’s all beside the point, of course. Last night Jennifer and I went and saw THE movie. I’m told that there were lines of people decked out in robes and hats and t-shirts and what-not, but since we went to the very late showing in the hopes of avoiding the hordes of children, we didn’t see any of that. But I like dressing up for that sort of thing anyway; so I donned the only bit of Potter paraphernalia that I own (a pair of boxer shorts — which no one saw, of course, because they were under my jeans) and a T-shirt with a picture of a dragon on it, and off we went.
I loved the movie. It was well worth the wait; the acting was great, all of the characters were just as I had imagined them (not that hard, really, given how much artwork the books have generated and how careful the producers were to stick closely to popular images), and it was a great story. There were a few scenes in the book that were left out of the movie, of course; but the film was already 2.5 hours long, and none of the missing scenes detracted from the overall story. It was magical, spirited, and fun. I really recommend that you see this movie, if you haven’t already.
You know, here’s what puzzles me about the protesters at the movie, and about those who would ban Harry Potter. The books and the movie make it quite clear that the values that are most important are courage, friendship, teamwork, and love; and that these things are much more important than wizardry and magic. Doesn’t it sound like these people who would ban Potter are trying to tell us that holding tightly onto a specific religious doctrine is more important than those human values? Isn’t there a war going on because some people feel that there own religion overrides everything else, even the teachings of their own religion?
Ah, well. Go see this movie. Enjoy it. Be like Harry Potter and the kids in Hogwarts, and let your loyalty, courage, intelligence and love make you a better person.