Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In the same boat: Alice Cooper and Harry Potter

The inspiration for that unlikely sounding comparison was this story from Finland : Alice Cooper Banned from Tampere Arena on Religious Grounds. ""The [Lutheran-based charismatic revivalist] group Nokia Mission and others use Tampere Arena for their events, so the venue's management did not want Alice Cooper appearing in the same hall. The contract which we received from Tampere Arena specifies that no artists may perform there who 'incite evil and the power of darkness'," promoter Kalle Keskinen told YLE."

The venue manager clearly does not know Alice Cooper, his stage show, or his work. Vincent Furnier (Cooper's real name) is a declared Christian whose stage act is and was taken from horror movies and literature, not from any Pagan religions or any form of Satanism. It was strictly entertainment, with stage effects provide by the likes of magician James Randi. Fans who understood his act were able to appreciate both the ghoulish I Love the Dead and the sweetly sentimental You and Me ... and those fans included Groucho Marx, Mae West, and Salvador Dali.

Vincent has been married to the same woman for more than thirty years, with never even the vaguest rumor of scandal, and has raised three children, now all successful adults. He is known for clean living, and more- from Wikipedia: "In 1986, Megadeth were asked to open for Alice Cooper for dates on his US tour. After noticing the hardcore drug and alcohol abuse in the band, Cooper personally approached them to try to help them control their demons, and he has stayed close to front man Dave Mustaine ever since; Mustaine in fact considers him his "Godfather". Since conquering his own addiction to alcohol in the mid 1980s, Cooper has continued to help and counsel other rock musicians battling addiction problems, who often turn to him for help. "I've made myself very available to friends of mine - they're people who would call me late at night and say, 'Between you and me, I've got a problem.'" In recognition of the work he has done in helping other addicts in the recovery process, Cooper received in 2008 the Stevie Ray Vaughan Award at the fourth annual MusiCares MAP Fund benefit concert in Los Angeles.” Clearly, the only way he could be considered unfit to appear on stage in Finland is if they know nothing of him.

The same thing is true of Harry Potter. Many ministers have denounced the Potter books as an introduction to the occult, teaching children magic, or being used as an introduction to witchcraft or Wicca. No one who has actually read one of the books could make any of those claims.

The sine qua non of the fantasy world Rowling has created is that witches and wizards are born, not made. If you were not born possessing the power, nothing can ever give it to you. It is strictly genetic, and sometimes the children of witches don’t have it- they’re called “squibs”, and it’s considered a tragic situation because they can never learn magic they don’t already have. Even Hogwarts School of Witchcraft doesn’t actually teach magic per se; it teaches one to control the magic they already possess as a birthright- indeed, if you didn’t demonstrate involuntary magic incidents as a child you will never be invited to Hogwarts, no matter how exalted your family. In fact, save for the emphasis on a single hero, the Potter series very closely resembles the “X Men” sci-fi series. So much for teaching magic.

In seven books, eight, if you count “Tales of Beedle the Bard”, not once in all those thousands of pages does anyone (not even a villain) invoke a Pagan god, spirit, or power. Not once is any Pagan religion named or even referred to. Not once is any kind of religious ritual performed or even referred to- the closest thing to it is a potion recipe, and that smells more of Shakespeare than Crowley. The only holy words quoted are from the Bible. The only holidays celebrated are Christian holidays. So much for the claimed introduction to Wicca.

I would make it a strict rule that one must have read a book before discussing it, let alone taking action on it. That is, I would make such a rule except that if I did, there would be only eleven people in the country who could discuss the healthcare proposals- and I’m not one of them.

Never mind.

1 comment:

Diggitt said...

What a great entry, Joel.

I can't help adding that if something refers to paganism, so what? With two thousand years of bad press, pre-Christian religions are not easily going to be equated with anything but devil worship.

But *sigh* it's such a bum rap.