3rd Harry Potter
Movie Promotes
Girl's Violence
towards Boys

There's a scene in the 3rd Harry Potter movie that is expected to find the viewers cheering. (It's also repeated in a flash-back later in the movie.) It's where one of the Slytherin girls makes a sneeringly vicious insult towards Ron, and he hauls off and slugs her.

I'm sorry. I think I got the characters mixed up. It's Malfoy who makes the snide remark and Hermione halls off and slugs him. Whew. Don't want to have anyone get upset, do we. Well, actually, did you find yourself getting angry when I reported that a boy hit a girl? Were you relieved to find out that it was actually only a girl hitting a boy? And it wasn't magic she used. It was physical violence. Is that okay? That's what our culture seems to think. That it's okay for a girl to hit a boy because of something he says or does but not okay for a boy to hit a girl in the same situation. The latter could bring jail time. The former should, but seldom does.

Before I go any further let me say that I love all of the Harry Potter movies. I like their use of fantasy and magic and I like them so much better than the Lord of the Rings movies which, in my opinion are filled to overflowing with unnecessary violence.

Let me also say that there are many times when men are violent towards women. On the other hand, there are also many cases where the man gets blamed when he isn't the violent one but the woman is violent towards him or towards her children.

Interestingly enough, one of the major themes of this movie is that the "Prisoner of Azkaban" was convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse. The case against him magnified during his 12 years in prison with the rumor that he was the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Sounds like another one of those over zealous DA's racking up a case against an innocent man

Like the man in the poster above. In the film, he was one of those cases of false accusations. However, Hermione's crime was captured on film, not by a vacationing bystander. It was in the final script and it was filmed on purpose by the film crew of the new film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Not only is the scene part of this movie, but the actress, Emma Watson is quoted as saying, "It was great fun. We did a couple of takes, and I was saying, 'Come on, come on, let's do it again."

She's referring to a scene where she decks Harry's Hogwarts foe, the ultra-obnoxious Draco Malfoy, after he sneeringly insults her mixed heritage (she's a wizard with human parents). After her character Hermione slugs Malfoy, she exclaims, "That felt good!" As the newspaper article states, "It's a move that Azkaban audiences are likely to cheer, and the punch proved therapeutic in easing Watson's newly developed teen angst."

The author of the article USA Today article, Claudia Puig, seemed to get off on the violence and shrugged it off as an example of "...real girl-power...". Would she get so pleasantly excited if Ron had leveled one of the Slytherin girls for a similarly snide comment? I bet that that would bring out the women in droves to protest, to march on the studio, and probably suggest a boycott of the film itself. My how a little thing like the difference of sex changes the whole picture so, instead of being an act of violence (if committed by a girl on the school yard), it's seen as an appropriate response to mere words. It reminds me of the audience in the Dixie Chicks' video going crazy as the Chicks sing "Goodbye Earl." If you don't remember, the song champions the premeditated murder (and cover-up) of an abusive husband from a two-week old marriage.

As long as we give our daughter's the message that these kinds of actions are okay, and even exhilarating, it can only get worse. If we don't make our voices known to the film's producers, at the movie theater (maybe even booing the scene), to newspaper and TV movie reviewers, and to our own children, then we too are telling them that boys should expect violence against them and just continue to take it without fighting back. I say, let's insure that our girls know that this is violence, and our boys know to report it without feeling less manly because it came from "a girl." It's violence, and the longer we don't accept this fact, the more it's going to come back and haunt us. If this happens on the school yard, the way the system works is that our boys and young men will probably be the ones carted off to jail and maybe even prison. In some states, if the man restrains the woman who is attacking him, he's the one who will most often be charged.

We live in a culture where women are the perpetrators of over 2/3 of all maltreatment of children including 62% of all child fatalities as well as the perpetrators of 1/3 of reported domestic violence cases. Films and society alike have gotten more violent since these women were children. But they learned this violence somewhere. The children today seeing this scene will be similarly impacted as adults, especially because they will, most likely, have the audiences' acceptance of the violence locked in their memory banks. Does it matter?

We've got to stop supporting a double-standard. The power of these messages is even greater with our children, because, in a film where the main characters are so loved, they're the ones actually doing the violence. This isn't the use of the mystical or the use of magic. This is outright physical violence. What an interesting way to demonstrate to our children about handling themselves with the other sex as they mature into young adults.

We encourage you to go to the Warner Brothers message board at boards.harrypotter.warnerbros.com/web/index.jsp and record your thoughts as well as scoops@empiremovies.com. Also consider writing a letter to the editor of your local paper. I hope enough of you complain about this scene so that it gets cut from the dvd.

Sources: The March 19-21, 2004 issue of U.S.A. Today and www.empiremovies.com/movies/harry_potter/prisoner_of_azkaban/index.shtml


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