Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reading Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire for the First Time

"Seeing isn't believing, believing is seeing." - The Santa Clause

What if you were kidnapped, tortured, witnessed the death of a friend, and finally, when you managed just barely to escape, you told someone who was responsible for the atrocities you'd endured, and you weren't believed? Your word is being questioned, either because the individual believes you are too young to know what you're saying, or because they've deluded themselves into believing their own personal truth. It could be a mixture of both. What would you do?

I just finished reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the first time. I've loved all the other books, but the end of GoF just left me writhing in frustration. A frustration I know will worsen when I start Order of the Phoenix later this afternoon. Harry isn't believed by the Minister of Magic. He fought for his life with Voldemort and only just escaped. He feels helpless and weak, in terrible pain, fighting back memories of Cedric's death and what does Fudge do? He accuses him of having hallucinations and not being trustworthy because he's parseltongue. Can you imagine the rage Harry must have felt? I've never undergone moments when my word hasn't been believed. I've never been looked straight in the eye by someone and know they don't believe a word I'm saying.

When Christ was placed on trial, when people proclaimed his death sentence, he underwent the same experience as Harry, all because people refused to believe the truth. Why would lies be more prone to believe than truth? Why would people, especially people in authority, prefer to believe lies instead of deal with the truth and solve the problem? We've been doing this for centuries. When Hitler rose to power, the West turned a blind eye to him, refusing to believe him capable of the whispered atrocities. Even the neighbors of the Jews dragged from their homes ignored the niggling fear in their minds and believed instead they were merely being deported. By not finding out the truth, these people, these so-called innocents, were just as guilty as the murderers.

So were we, so was England, so was anyone and everyone who knew, deep down, that Hitler was a monster and yet chose to do nothing. Fudge is one of these bureaucrats I despise so much. He chose to live in his perfect little world, uninterrupted by fear and truth. But does his preferred ignorance actually stop the danger from evolving? Of course not! And we have Harry, poor, desperate, terrified Harry who tries so hard to make people understand when they're just not capable of understanding. I admire Dumbledore. Far more than I thought possible. He never doubts Harry's word, never doubts what Harry saw and experienced. He's on the opposite end of the spectrum from Cornelius Fudge. Just because we fear something doesn't mean we should not accept its existence.

Fear needs to be faced, it needs to be acknowledged and understood, and it needs to be fought. We only destroy ourselves by pretending evil doesn't exist. We make the end result far worse by not fighting back. We live in a world of evil. It may not seem as blatantly obvious as Voldemort, but it exists just the same. And we won't be believed when we speak out against evil, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't speak out anyway. A few seeds of truth will fall on fertile ground. When we let fear keep us silent, that is when we are truly lost. Harry will never reach that point in his life, and I pray that neither will I.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thoughts on Masterpiece Mystery's Sherlock

"Watson, come at once if convenient. If inconvenient, come all the same." - Sherlock Holmes, no matter the era or actor

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Sherlock Holmes. A friend introduced me to him about 8 years ago and my life hasn't been the same since. Not that I'm complaining, mind you, but it's difficult loving a character that most people think was either gay (shame on them!) or (as in recent films) completely infatuated with Irene Adler. *tsk, tsk* Not that I dislike Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes (in fact I find him highly amusing and entertaining), but a part of my heart winces every time I imagine him and Irene together. Some things should never have come to pass. So naturally when I heard that a new series was being made, one in which Sherlock Holmes would be thrust into the heart of modern London, I doomed it to failure. Nothing and no one could possibly make such a ludicrous idea into a success, I ranted! Well, it seems I was wrong.

I loved the new Sherlock Holmes movie, you know. And that surprised me. I had no idea there would be two surprises in the same year and that I would come to love the new Masterpiece Mystery! series entitled Sherlock as much as that crazy new movie! Or, dare I say it, even more. Because as much as Robert Downey Jr. entertains me, he's not quite the right appearance for Holmes, in my own mind. Not that I could see Benedict Cumberbatch (yes, it's all right to snicker) boxing 5 rounds with some of the bruisers RDJ took on, but I can definitely picture him fencing the pants off a villain at some point (not literally). Benedict is Holmes. He was Holmes for me within 1/2 an hour and that, my friends, takes some doing. Especially since I never fully accepted RDJ as Holmes, even though I love the film. You might be asking, how does Holmes fit into modern society? Very well, thank you. He's socially awkward, the same as Victorian Holmes, or in Sherlock's words, "I'm a high-functioning sociopath." Can you argue with that type of logic? Nope. Holmes is the same no matter what era he's zapped into.

The writing, I confess, can be good or bad, defining whether the Holmes will be a success or not. But with this brilliant new series, I see Holmes, just as I've always seen him. Rude and obnoxious and undeniably brilliant, with a hint of attraction thrown in just to gain a lady's interest (such as myself). Most women are drawn to Holmes because he has no interest and it makes us curious. I just know that Benedict will make Sherlock a success. Does this mean I'll stop loving Jeremy Brett? In what universe! I love many different versions of Holmes, including Frank Langella's stage production where, saints preserve us, he too fell in love with Irene Adler (read my thoughts on the stage play). What is the power that mysterious woman holds over Holmes? But anyway, all that aside, I'm glad I've given Sherlock the chance to impress me.

That first episode was a humdinger and waiting an entire week for the next installment will be torturous. But wait I will because I am going to show PBS that one more household can love a modern Holmes. Not that my parents are complaining: Mom loves him and Dad chortled at Holmes' smart witticisms. It's awesome knowing I won't be watching alone!