The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

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The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Megabot » 2018-06-27 11:24pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxgO8nwdqnw



This video on Harry Potter makes the argument that the magical community's "Statute of Secrecy" law to hide its presence from the rest of the world completely falls apart with the existence of muggleborns. Basically, if magic was entirely hereditary then the wizarding world remaining hidden would be believable, but having muggles born with magical capability should completely change the world in any sensible universe, as many of those muggleborns would be born into the communities of persecuted minorities and wouldn't just turn a blind eye to the suffering of their fellows. They'd have the power and ability to help out, with the video suggesting things like leading slave revolts and putting a stop to ethnic cleansing and the like, which of course would reveal the existence of magic to the muggle world AND completely change the course of history...and if the magical community itself is actively preventing that sort of thing from happening, what does that say about them? Or instead are every single one of those aforementioned minority muggleborns simply fine with ignoring the suffering of their fellows while they live in the relative safety and isolation of the magical world...which as the video says makes no sense and ignores how humans are, and comes to the conclusion that J.K. Rowling simply didn't think things through about the implications of her work and worldbuilding.

These implications were present from the beginning of the franchise, but it really reared its head with the advent of Fantastic Beasts, which shows that America, with its long history of persecution and slavery within its own borders, has its own extensive magical community complete with its own wizarding school where any muggleborns would be whisked off to. Obviously this all could easily be solved simply by removing the existence of muggleborns and making characters like Hermione pureblood wizards, but then how would we get our cheap racism allegory and the "anyone can be a witch/wizard" wish fulfillment fantasy?

On another note, "Kill Andrew Jackson with magic" is my new favorite phrase. :D

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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-28 07:25pm

Megabot wrote:
2018-06-27 11:24pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxgO8nwdqnw



This video on Harry Potter makes the argument that the magical community's "Statute of Secrecy" law to hide its presence from the rest of the world completely falls apart with the existence of muggleborns. Basically, if magic was entirely hereditary then the wizarding world remaining hidden would be believable, but having muggles born with magical capability should completely change the world in any sensible universe, as many of those muggleborns would be born into the communities of persecuted minorities and wouldn't just turn a blind eye to the suffering of their fellows. They'd have the power and ability to help out, with the video suggesting things like leading slave revolts and putting a stop to ethnic cleansing and the like, which of course would reveal the existence of magic to the muggle world AND completely change the course of history...and if the magical community itself is actively preventing that sort of thing from happening, what does that say about them? Or instead are every single one of those aforementioned minority muggleborns simply fine with ignoring the suffering of their fellows while they live in the relative safety and isolation of the magical world...which as the video says makes no sense and ignores how humans are, and comes to the conclusion that J.K. Rowling simply didn't think things through about the implications of her work and worldbuilding.

These implications were present from the beginning of the franchise, but it really reared its head with the advent of Fantastic Beasts, which shows that America, with its long history of persecution and slavery within its own borders, has its own extensive magical community complete with its own wizarding school where any muggleborns would be whisked off to. Obviously this all could easily be solved simply by removing the existence of muggleborns and making characters like Hermione pureblood wizards, but then how would we get our cheap racism allegory and the "anyone can be a witch/wizard" wish fulfillment fantasy?
The obvious answer is that the International Confederation of Wizards actively enforces the SoS, as do national governments, and those groups or individuals that try to violate it get crushed. Which, yes, makes the Wizarding authorities culpable in genocide and slavery (among other things), but they were already culpable for mass deaths for not sharing their medical knowledge with Muggles. And is anyone surprised? They (at least the British ones) use soul sucking despair monsters as jailors for minor crimes. And Wizarding America (at least up to the '20s) is in some ways MORE draconian.

Of course, there are reasons for maintaining the Statue of Secrecy- the witch hunts being the one that the European wizards apparently used (and then I guess forced the SoS on the rest of the world in order to make it work, so I guess European Wizarding authorities aren't that different from European Muggle imperialists). But at this point... well, the sudden revelation of a society of minorities with supernatural abilities would lead to chaos and violence under any circumstances, human history being what it is. Basically the X-men scenario. But after Wizards have been secretly tinkering with Muggles' minds, infiltrating their governments, and often killing Muggles in secrecy... it would be far, far worse. So at this point, its the old "riding a tiger" scenario. How do you let go?

Ultimately, though, increasing populations and mass surveillance technology will probably doom the SOS. It is very likely that an irreparable breach is in the Potterverse's future, likely followed by decades of chaos, war, genocide, and fascism, as the old witch hunting brand of theocracy (and its Death Eater counterparts in Wizarding society) make a big comeback. But any attempt to address this would risk breaking the SoS, and making the catastrophe happen sooner.

Its quite horrific when you think about it.
On another note, "Kill Andrew Jackson with magic" is my new favorite phrase. :D
He had it coming.

Incidentally, I also have a fan theory that early incompetence by Union generals in the Civil War was due to one or more rogue wizards casting Confundus Charms on Union generals. And that they tried to Confund Abraham Lincoln, but he shook it off through shear strength of will because Abraham Lincoln was a fucking bad ass.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by ray245 » 2018-06-29 03:49am

I was going to say Lincoln might have wizarding abilities, but I've forgotten about the magical laws in the US.

Although, in regards to gender and race, the wizards are more progressive in that regard? Their wizarding leader in the US is an African-American witch during the 1930s.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Gandalf » 2018-06-29 04:04am

The world building in HP has been messed up from day one, because it creates a powerful class of people who for some reason keep it all to themselves. Their dystopian law enforcement apparently keeps everyone in place, but that just raises further issues.

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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Simon_Jester » 2018-06-29 05:14am

Two worldbuilding notes:

One, Potterverse magic isn't just something you can wave your hand and do spontaneously; it takes training. You pretty much need a wand, and you need specific training to cast spells. Without it, you get some spontaneous undirected magic (as we see in The Sorceror's Stone before Harry goes to Hogwarts), but it's not normally going to be very directed or effective at attaining desired outcomes. Thus, by controlling whether or not a Muggleborn can receive magical training, and to what degree, Potterverse societies may be able to control how much destabilization they can cause.

Two and perhaps more significant, as of the twentieth century, Muggle populations have increased to several times what they were even a few centuries earlier. Muggleborns may have been correspondingly much more common in recent times than in medieval or ancient times, meaning they had more overall impact on the wizarding world. Five Muggleborns per generation of wizards would have a lot less effect and be a lot easier to police so as to preserve secrecy, than fifty Muggleborns per generation.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by madd0ct0r » 2018-06-29 05:15am

Gandalf wrote:
2018-06-29 04:04am
The world building in HP has been messed up from day one, because it creates a powerful class of people who for some reason keep it all to themselves. Their dystopian law enforcement apparently keeps everyone in place, but that just raises further issues.

The HP world is fucking ugly.

It's almost like JKRowling is commenting on the class system of the UK, including those privileged to attend private boarding schools :)
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-29 03:36pm

ray245 wrote:
2018-06-29 03:49am
I was going to say Lincoln might have wizarding abilities, but I've forgotten about the magical laws in the US.
Yeah.

Though another theory of mine (given that the Wizarding US/Congress apparently preceded the Muggle one) is that one or more of the Founding Fathers had Wizarding ties. Specifically, I have a pet theory that Ben Franklin was a squib (IIRC, in the Potterverse more "traditional", ie bigoted, families would sometimes encourage squibs to join the Muggle world, though I can't recall the source). And that Franklin became an inventor to try to duplicate with science the things that he couldn't do with magic.
Although, in regards to gender and race, the wizards are more progressive in that regard? Their wizarding leader in the US is an African-American witch during the 1930s.
Yeah, wizards seem to focus their bigotry primarily on species/magical heritage, while being more tolerant of differences in skin color and gender.

Insufficient data to say how wizards tend to view religion and sexual orientation, though some comments in the books, specifically Goblet of Fire, suggest that a degree of nationalism is present between Wizarding countries.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by ray245 » 2018-06-29 04:06pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-06-29 03:36pm
Yeah, wizards seem to focus their bigotry primarily on species/magical heritage, while being more tolerant of differences in skin color and gender.

Insufficient data to say how wizards tend to view religion and sexual orientation, though some comments in the books, specifically Goblet of Fire, suggest that a degree of nationalism is present between Wizarding countries.
It does pose an interesting problem for African wizards and African-American wizards. Imagine an African-American muggle-born who was a slave, but was accepted into the magical world while the rest of their fellow family members have to endure slavery and lack of any rights for the next few centuries.

And it also brings into question what exactly were the Native American wizards doing when the Europeans arrived.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-29 04:20pm

ray245 wrote:
2018-06-29 04:06pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-06-29 03:36pm
Yeah, wizards seem to focus their bigotry primarily on species/magical heritage, while being more tolerant of differences in skin color and gender.

Insufficient data to say how wizards tend to view religion and sexual orientation, though some comments in the books, specifically Goblet of Fire, suggest that a degree of nationalism is present between Wizarding countries.
It does pose an interesting problem for African wizards and African-American wizards. Imagine an African-American muggle-born who was a slave, but was accepted into the magical world while the rest of their fellow family members have to endure slavery and lack of any rights for the next few centuries.

And it also brings into question what exactly were the Native American wizards doing when the Europeans arrived.
The answer to this would somewhat depend on what Wizarding society was like the Americas pre-colonialism, and we don't really have much information on that. It would also depend on how exactly MACUSA deals with magical children from Muggle families, and that's basically an open question.* But I expect that there were probably some conflicts between native wizards and wizard colonists, though less over race or land than over the SoS. I'd imagine that there were probably cases of Native witches and wizards (and black witches and wizards) trying to intervene to help the victims of Manifest Destiny/epidemics/slavery, and then being arrested by MACUSA (under pressure from the ICW) for violating the Statute of Secrecy. I'd imagine that there would be some lingering resentments over this issue in the present, as well, though it might be less a racial divide than one based on those with Muggle heritage who were forced to leave their Muggle connections behind against the government. Maybe even personal grudges. Wizarding society has small, insular communities with (in Britain at least) an emphasis on family heritage. I feel like that's a society where grudges probably tend to last a long time. So you might have the family of a Native wizard having a feud with the family of an Auror who arrested or killed their ancestor 200 years ago for trying to use magic to cure the tribe's Smallpox outbreak.

*MACUSA's policy in Fantastic Beasts is extremely draconian, prohibiting ANY Muggle knowledge of magic, even wizards/witches marrying Muggles. So it raises the question of how children born into Muggle families are handled. Are they abducted forcibly into Wizarding society, forced to cut all ties with their families? Are they just mind-wiped along with their families/ignored? That could contribute to the creation of Obscuruses, which could be why Newt's claim of one being in America was such a sore point, if its a side effect of their policy that the government likes to pretend doesn't happen. Are they killed to prevent SoS breaches? Those are really the only options, if the policy on interaction with Muggles is as draconian as it appears.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Majin Gojira » 2018-06-29 04:21pm

ray245 wrote:
2018-06-29 04:06pm
And it also brings into question what exactly were the Native American wizards doing when the Europeans arrived.
This and Slavery are two huge things that pretty much every urban fantasy with a long history has to deal with. The main solution I've found is, depending on the rules, have the supernatural of the New World be more focused on dealing with the bigger threat of "Invasive Species" from Europe.

To throw in some accuracy: Plague "Demons" being the first to run rampant across the New World in the wake of Spanish contact.

Supernatural Beings of the New World tend to be...Bigger and nastier than most Old World things, but there are a few which I think can make a dent, or incite activity from the worst of the worst New World species.

Naagloshi, Stone Giants, Wendigo, Unchegila and her brethren, in particular, are things that would be of concern for any invading species, and easily take advantage of European's ignorance.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-29 04:52pm

Majin Gojira wrote:
2018-06-29 04:21pm
ray245 wrote:
2018-06-29 04:06pm
And it also brings into question what exactly were the Native American wizards doing when the Europeans arrived.
This and Slavery are two huge things that pretty much every urban fantasy with a long history has to deal with. The main solution I've found is, depending on the rules, have the supernatural of the New World be more focused on dealing with the bigger threat of "Invasive Species" from Europe.

To throw in some accuracy: Plague "Demons" being the first to run rampant across the New World in the wake of Spanish contact.

Supernatural Beings of the New World tend to be...Bigger and nastier than most Old World things, but there are a few which I think can make a dent, or incite activity from the worst of the worst New World species.

Naagloshi, Stone Giants, Wendigo, Unchegila and her brethren, in particular, are things that would be of concern for any invading species, and easily take advantage of European's ignorance.
We know sadly little about Wizarding America's pre-European culture or wildlife in the Potterverse. I'd love more material on the subject, since US history and politics is a favorite subject of mine, but from the little that we have, I am highly skeptical that Rowling knows enough about the US to do the material justice.
"Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes" When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and Catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy." - Lincoln.

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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by ray245 » 2018-06-29 05:00pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-06-29 04:52pm
We know sadly little about Wizarding America's pre-European culture or wildlife in the Potterverse. I'd love more material on the subject, since US history and politics is a favorite subject of mine, but from the little that we have, I am highly skeptical that Rowling knows enough about the US to do the material justice.
I mean Rowling has said herself that she's not a big fan of history, so I doubt she has down in-depth research into Native American history while she's writing her magical US. There are fanfics that constructed much better magical US than JK Rowling.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Gandalf » 2018-06-29 06:31pm

madd0ct0r wrote:
2018-06-29 05:15am
It's almost like JKRowling is commenting on the class system of the UK, including those privileged to attend private boarding schools :)
Yeah, but after the Old Boys graduate, the ones that get MBAs and come to lord it over the rest of us aren't arrested and sent to Azkaban. :P
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-06-29 07:05pm

With regards to the African Americans, I have no idea how it works, but I do have a theory when it comes to the Native Americans. In our world, the big die off for the Native Americans was exposure to things like smallpox and other European diseases that the Native Americans had no exposure to. And while the magical folk have brooms, portkeys, and Apparition, they had not made first contact.

So, when the Spanish muggles exposed the Native American muggles to those diseases, the Spanish wizards accidentally did the same thing with the Native American wizards. And since they're only more durable to physical injury, not disease, this did not go well for them.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Raw Shark » 2018-06-30 12:22pm

Rowling knows jack about anything including writing a book. She sort of tripped on a shoelace and fell into a hit. I'm not sure that she even realizes that she wrote a setting that is a shit sandwich. I pretty much think everyone in the books is a gigantic asshole except Hagrid, Luna, McGonagall, Cho, Sirius, Remus, Cedric, Mildred, Neville, nearly-headless Nick, about half of the Weasleys (I am not including Ron, but Ginny gets a pass), probably most of the Hufflepuffs, not that we saw much of them because they're not throbbing dicks, and the Bee. The rest of the cast can fuck off.

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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-06-30 05:25pm

I could argue a number of those, but I'll just say that to the extent that Harry is a dick, he's a pretty realistic (even fairly low) level of dick for a teenage boy who's almost certainly suffering from PTSD by book five at the latest.

And I do think that Rowling intended the setting to be dystopian to some extent (the racism analogy and the authoritarianism of the Wizarding government is too blatant, and too frequently called out, for it to be accidental). But its also dystopian on top of that in ways that she probably didn't intend.

I do think that its success is more due to the wish-fulfilment nature of the premise (young abused orphan kid finds out he's a wizard) and Rowling's admitted knack for superficially charming whimsy, than for any great literary merit. Its certainly not a masterpiece of world-building (though I find a certain fun in attempting to patch the holes in its world-building that a more perfectly-crafted series would not have). But I think (from my own personal perspective at least) that she at least knows how to write a teenage boy who feels like a believable and relatable teenage boy.

I also think, though, that she may have lucked out by writing her series right as internet fandom became a big thing. Though maybe "luck" is the wrong word, given the quality of the average fanfic. ;)
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Zixinus » 2018-07-01 11:24am

A possible solution: what if those in minorities and otherwise oppressed people DO help their fellows? Without braking the SoS? The two are not strictly opposite. I'd bet that most wizards would not mind if an oppressed minority used a subtle bit of magic here and there to help their immediate family or throw a few hexes or curses to some deserving slave-owner. Or help out the underground railroad and such.

Sure, they'd not help as much as they potentially can but it is still helping.

I can also imagine that muggleborns would create enclaves for their families and friends that are protected from the problems of the outside world. Enclaves that they'd be busy keeping safe and secret, so they may not focus their efforts on larger things. As well a point of leverage against the muggleborn minorities to restrain themselves and leave themselves out of muggle matters.

Then there is also the factor that minorities would produce relatively fewer muggleborns than non-minorities (so they'd STILL be minorities, even if it did not matter as much), as well as the fact that schooling institutions would be selective against potential trouble-makers.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-07-03 09:39pm

Zixinus wrote:
2018-07-01 11:24am
A possible solution: what if those in minorities and otherwise oppressed people DO help their fellows? Without braking the SoS? The two are not strictly opposite. I'd bet that most wizards would not mind if an oppressed minority used a subtle bit of magic here and there to help their immediate family or throw a few hexes or curses to some deserving slave-owner. Or help out the underground railroad and such.

Sure, they'd not help as much as they potentially can but it is still helping.

I can also imagine that muggleborns would create enclaves for their families and friends that are protected from the problems of the outside world. Enclaves that they'd be busy keeping safe and secret, so they may not focus their efforts on larger things. As well a point of leverage against the muggleborn minorities to restrain themselves and leave themselves out of muggle matters.

Then there is also the factor that minorities would produce relatively fewer muggleborns than non-minorities (so they'd STILL be minorities, even if it did not matter as much), as well as the fact that schooling institutions would be selective against potential trouble-makers.
Oh, some degree of covert assistance would be legally possible, at least in Britain (maybe not in Wizarding America, at least until recently). IIRC, the British Ministry of Magic permitted wizards and witches to break the SOS (and restrictions on underage wizardry) defensively or to save lives (see Harry's defense for using the Patronus Charm in Order of the Phoenix).

Some people would inevitably try to do more to help than the law permitted, though. Pottermore even mentions that a large number of wizards illegally intervened in WW1.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Zixinus » 2018-07-04 12:16pm

You don't need everyone on board for the SoS to work, just the majority of potentially troublemakers. If you do so, the mayority will reign in the minority or allow effective policing against them. You will always have crazies that will want to do something that break the SoS and the wizarding community does seem effective at policing them, so as long as the other members of troubled minority are not hindering that effort it should be possible.

Keeping the SoS is actually somewhat easier in war, especially near the battlefield, because of the general chaos and confusion. Sure, military are more attentive observers than civilians with their head in the clouds, but they may not report every odd thing they see or attribute it to enemy action or other things. Plus chain of command simplifies cleanup.
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The Romulan Republic
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-07-04 05:38pm

Both valid points.
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Re: The World Building in Fantastic Beasts (and Harry Potter in general) is Completely Broken

Post by Captain Seafort » 2018-07-05 06:36am

Zixinus wrote:
2018-07-04 12:16pm
Keeping the SoS is actually somewhat easier in war, especially near the battlefield, because of the general chaos and confusion. Sure, military are more attentive observers than civilians with their head in the clouds, but they may not report every odd thing they see or attribute it to enemy action or other things. Plus chain of command simplifies cleanup.
Assuming they even see anything that would count as "odd" - bangs and flashes aren't exactly unheard of in wars, and even if someone got a good clear sight of spellfire there's a good chance it could be mistaken for tracer.
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