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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is Harry Potter the Antichrist?

Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter

Alan Moore thinks he is. I’ll let Darren Franich at PopWatch start to explain:

Harry Potter is one of the most beloved fake human beings of all time. He was the central character in a series of novels that rescued the whole notion of “reading books” for a generation of children. He was the star of a film franchise that grossed several kabillions of dollars globally and redefined how Hollywood makes movies. And he is also the Antichrist, a being whose birth has been prophesied for generations, whose awful reign will cast an eternal shadow over our misbegotten planet. At least, that’s the argument put forth by Alan Moore — the brilliant comic book writer best known for writing Watchmen and complaining about Watchmen — in the newest entry in his long-running League of Extraordinary Gentlemen series.

And now to Laura Sneddon in The Independent, who received the only review copy of Century 2009, Moore’s new graphic novel:

At no point does Moore use the words “Harry” or “Potter”, but a magical train hidden between platforms at King’s Cross station, leading to a magical school where there are flashbacks of psychotic adolescent rage and whimpering children pleading for their life, all strewn with molten corpses, does rather suggest a link to the Boy Who Lived. A hidden scar and a mentor named Riddle, though possessed as he is by the real villain, completes the picture.

The headlines almost write themselves – “Alan Moore says Harry Potter is the Antichrist!” – yet they miss the point. When the Antichrist is met, overgrown and high on anti-psychotics, raging at the education system that let him down and sounding peculiarly like Harry Enfield’s teenage Kevin, he is surely no stand-in for one particular character but of the current obsession for replacing stories with money-generating franchises. Today, film rights are bought before publication, comics are written as storyboards, and teenage celebrities are given memoirs.

(FYI, Century 2009 is available now from Amazon U.K.. It will be released in North America on July 10, and is available to preorder at Amazon U.S. and Amazon Canada.)

Okay, so Moore doesn’t really think poor old Harry Potter is the Antichrist. But his cultural criticism — at least as Sneddon interprets it — is trenchant. Through this prism:

Is Harry Potter the Antichrist? Does the Harry Potter-ization of pop culture represent, as Sneedon describes it elsewhere in her review, “a modern culture rotting at its core”?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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