The missed opportunities of Harry Potter films

Obviously, spoiler alert. Also, I have to make this disclaimer: I have not read the first three books. So, the only thing I can criticise about the first three films is their cinematic quality, not their faithfulness (or the lack thereof) to the source materials. But, I am more confident regarding the other adaptations.

Here, I will solely talk about Goblet of Fire (GoF) and Order of the Phoenix (OP). So far, they are my favourite books in the series and I love them for distinct reasons.

In spite of dark and intense moments here and there (especially during the climax, falling action and resolution), GoF is still a generally cheerful book. To this day, I am still gravely excited about the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball, even though the real me is far from a sports spectator and a party animal. I also adore the expansion of the magical universe where it is portrayed as a global community in which our hero’s home country is a tiny part of it, not its entirety; I am a sucker for such theme. It is mostly a festive of jolliness that makes the child in me rejoice… unlike its direct successor.

OP is gritty AF. In contrast to its more colourful predecessor, the fifth book is nothing but a barrage of grey and ferocious socio-political disheartenment. Dangerous misinformation. Political restrictions of the academia. Institutionally-sanctioned prejudice. The establishment embracing unsavoury individuals, opting to make enemies with ones who are innocent and/or more tolerant. Those are real life issues. To top it all, our hero has to deal with them while suffering from PTSD, adding the emotional severity. For the standard of escapist literature, this novel is a tough read; a reflection of the reality is inescapable.

I have high praises for both and I also had HIGH expectations of their screen adaptations. GoF was literally the first film I watched whose original source material I read beforehand. I was deeply disappointed because, back then, I expected any good adaptations to be literally exact copies of the source materials, albeit in different formats. Took me some time to recognise my own stupidity.

But, even after the slap on the face, I am still disappointed. The feeling of excitement is the only thing it got right. Well, not entirely. It explicitly depicts the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball, two of the three main sources. But, it does not show a single second of the Quidditch World Cup match!

Like, why? No, time constraint is not an excuse! Even when shown in snippets, it still could exude the feeling! Exclusion of the entire match means the audience members who have not read the book cannot experience the excitement in its totality. Therefore, they don’t know the whole story and I am still scratching on the surface here.

I mentioned that GoF is a cheerful book with dark moments. Well, those moments give the story more layers of depth. Ludo Bagman, Bertha Jorkins, Dobby and Winky! They are characters with secrets and their erasure from the film is regrettable, considering they have the potentials to expose the tangling webs of secrets and deceit that grip the novel. I find it intriguing when lightness and darkness balance each other out in a work of fiction. As a result, the film’s darkness is still very lightweight in comparison. But, at least, it is still partially faithful to its source material, unlike its successor.

The novel’s embodiment of desolation mostly did not make it to the screen. Instead, the film is more of an adventure-comedy. Yes, I said comedy. Admittedly, I love its youthful sense of humour and I believe, when done correctly, it would blend well with the bleak storyline. But, the filmmakers preferred to drench the story in sickly sweet syrup, removing the acquired tastes for the sake of palatability.

Where’s the socio-political grittiness? Where’s the mental anguish? Never mind that they are the driving forces. They are the reasons why Order of Phoenix possesses such outstanding profundity! They are the reasons why the novel stands out! They are the soul of the story! The film may call itself Order of Phoenix and some moviegoers believe that. But, deep down, it has an entirely unrecognisable heart. It is a fraud who is beloved by the ignorant and most gullible among us.

Also, the climax of OP the novel is not the fight at the Ministry building; it is, in fact, Harry’s outburst at Dumbledore’s office. It is an accumulation of the suffering he has been experiencing for the past twelve months (and possibly his entire life) and Sirius’ death triggers the cascade of negative emotions. Its climax centres on raw emotions rather than superficial physicality. It can only be achieved by the embrace of emotional depth. You know, something that the adaptation refuses to do.

God, I sound like a total fanboy. I even haven’t reached to another problem present in both adaptations: how they conclude the plot lines.

The novels’ endings are rather bleak. GoF’s marks the beginning of the sufferings our protagonist will endure in the next volume. OP’s shows that, even after everyone believes and starts revering him, he still cannot feel joy because of his godfather’s death. Oh, and I said rather bleak, not completely so. For me, there are still shreds of warm yet unsentimental hope in them. How about the films’ endings? Horrible, of course.

GoF the film ends with a cheerful farewell for the foreign students and Cedric’s death as the only moment of sorrow; there is no foreshadowing of Harry’s own incoming misery. OP the film ends with a sentimental monologue by Harry; his own grief is given a half-hearted presentation. They are all about cloying sweetness. Again, no depth.

Okay, this is the part where I pretend to know what my readers are thinking (LOL! Who reads my blogs, anyway?).

You may argue I am being too harsh against OP and I sincerely acknowledge the possibility. You may also argue that not everything has to be profound which I wholeheartedly agree. In fact, I feel sorry for those proudly flatulent dweebs who think having fun is beneath them. But, after much contemplation, I can say I am fair with my judgement.

People will hate me for saying this: I believe that an adaptation can still be faithful even with significant alteration to the characters and the storyline, as long it cherishes the source material’s deep-rooted spirit. In spite of being a fantasy novel, OP’s spirit is neither escapist nor fun; the narrative commands us to acknowledge our own wretched earthbound existence. Based on what I illustrated before, it is clear how the film refuses to share such burden.

Also, it feels like its script was written by an elitist Pothead with no experience in filmmaking who thinks Harry Potter films must be exclusively made for anyone who have read the books and inclusivity besmirches the prestige of his/her beloved series. To simplify my words: the film’s confusing AF.

Yes, exposition makes a horrible storytelling. But, the audience deserves any implicit hints about why and how the story came into being! Also, Tonks is not properly introduced, Lupin is not properly re-introduced and Percy suddenly appears out of nowhere, inexplicably working for the corrupt ministry! If an adaptation cannot stand on its own and still needs the source material for intelligibility, why bother making one in the first place? Oh, wait. Never mind! Of course, it is all about money…

Now, I am going to be slightly SJW-ish here.

In GoF the film, the Beauxbaton and Durmstrang students make a hell of an entrance. Of course, I am referring to the gender stereotypes-affirming scene that portrays women as unnaturally tender and men as laughably brute. Disappointing, but expected from a Hollywood film. But, in this case, I am infuriated because the original scene is actually very gender-less (I made up that word).

When the visitors enter the school ground, they just walk straight in! No spectacles whatsoever! There is nothing about it that makes us think about genders! If I have to make an assumption, it feels like someone involved in the filmmaking read the books, became infuriated with their debatably feminist nature, decided to transform the co-ed schools into single-sex ones and shoved outdated gender stereotypes to one gender-less scene. It is too PC! Too liberal! We must protect our traditions of lumping complex human beings to superficial and repressive boxes!

See? I told you I would sound SJW-ish.

Now, to finish up my winding rant:

If only GoF the film also has the same complimenting and intricate subplots as the novel does and refrains itself from unabashedly committing gender pigeonholing…

If only OP the film opens itself to non-HP fans and embraces the novel’s dark and fierce spirit that makes it great in the first place…

If only both films do not conclude on such unrealistically positive notes…

I can confidently say that not only they would be of outstanding quality, they surely would elevate the merit of Harry Potter films or even the entire franchise! Even if they fail to elevate the artistic prestige of fantastical and commercial cinema, they surely would have special places in it.

GoF the film would probably not be hailed as groundbreaking regarding this. But, surely, it would not elongate the already-long list of motion pictures that unintelligently depict genders!

If the existing OP film balances its childlike humour with the novel’s sense of desolation, it could result in a high-quality drama-comedy. Who knows? Maybe the film’s merit could surpass the novel’s! Such a rare phenomenon would historical, convincing fans of certain works of fiction that film adaptations have the potential of reaching excellence!

After watching those wonderful adaptations, some Potheads would probably end up being blessed with higher sense of cultural sophistication, enriching their lives through inquisitive musing and love of cinematic beauty.

But, none of those matters, of course! The only noble goal in life to earn profit! Who cares if you have to exploit the feelings of devoted fans?

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I love dark and crude humour

I initially wanted to say something like ‘it is the best tool to deal with the horrendousness that is humans’. But, I withdraw the decision. Not only I would repeat my ‘I love sarcasm and/or satire’ article, it would also not be entirely accurate.

The statement is true in some situations. But, in others, it is simply about being humorously dark. There are times when, with the ‘right’ slants, I can see the jokes in dark matters. No, I don’t believe that instantly makes me immoral. There is a difference between possessing morbid comedic aesthetics and celebrating the morbidity itself. I don’t mind if people cannot enjoy black comedy. But, I do mind when people make this about morality.

Why? Because they love to scream about one thing that they never care about. They constantly screech about their professedly higher yet actually non-existing moral standing. Public image is a number one priority. That’s one big accusation, I know. But, by observing people for years (I love pretending to be an accomplished researcher), this accusation seems on point.

Those pretend saints love to rail against entertainment entities for poisoning the masses on purpose. They believe the entertainment industry forces offhandedness down on everyone’s throat, deceiving us by promoting crude comedies as ‘wholesome’ and ‘family-friendly’. Yeah, no.

No one forces anyone to enjoy certain forms of entertainment. We are talking about risque comedies, not religious and political propaganda which we coerce on children both at homes and schools! In fact, those holy men wannabes want to stop others from enjoying off-colour fun, they want others to have the same taste as theirs. Typical freedom fighters.

Also, I have never encountered any risque comedies marketed as ‘family-friendly’. None! The film adaptation of Deadpool, which outraged helicopter parents, was crystal clear about its R rating! Cards Against Humanity’s official slogan is ‘a party game for horrible people’; even the name alone clearly signals its ‘horrid’ nature! They are always truthfully advertised. Once again, we are not talking about religious and political propaganda we love to coerce on children. Love it when people are being truthful.

Oh, I forgot to flesh out more juicy details about their ‘morals’.

One of my favourite Youtube videos is Jon Cozart’s After Ever After 2. A parody of Disney’s love of happy endings, it contains jokes about transsexuality, mental illness, hurricane Katrina and the brutality of authoritarian regimes. Very taboo stuffs. Unsurprisingly, it caused outrage. But, surprisingly, the outrage was selective.

Laughing at one crude joke, offended by another. At one point, the video was bombarded with such comments. Yes, we are always dainty about choosing our objects of laughter; even the biggest fans of obscenity still draw the lines somewhere. Hell, even jokes that make us laugh can still pain us to some extend. Some of us excuse this selectiveness by citing personal reasons (e.g. horrible past experiences or personal grievances). Inconsistent, but justifiable. Others excuse their selectiveness by citing morality. Not justifiable.

You cannot laugh at one obscene joke and proceed to declare another one as immoral. If morality is indeed your rationale, you would not be picky about it. You would be offended by every single obscene joke, be inclusive with your so-called love of human dignity and acknowledge that every single adversity deserves our sympathy!

Let me ask you some questions: do you think female rape is more noteworthy than the male one? Violent western interventionism more noteworthy than jihadism? Gang violence more noteworthy than police brutality? If you answer ‘yes’ at least once, congratulations! You may look like a fresh apple. But, you are already rotten to the core.

No, I am not talking about all activists. Some do think their causes are the only ones worthy of sympathy. But, others focus on certain causes for personal reasons (I think I have said this before) and they never condemn others to hell for simply having ‘incompatible’ grievances. Mind the air quote.

Now, back to humour….

Arts and entertainment, especially comedy, are constantly sneered at for seemingly not having any purposes whatsoever. Well, purposeful only when profitable. Fortune is and will always be the only merit. Yeah, no.

Beauty and amusement, unquestionably two things we can benefit from both; seriously, not everything valuable in life is material! But, I am also aware that many individuals, the ones I have interacted at least (and there aren’t many of them), seem oblivious to this one benefit: unfolding human nature.

Our reactions to arts and entertainment works expose our stances on social issues, cultures, politics and, as I have been typing about for weeks (I am slow), morality. They greatly reveal the sincerity and deceitfulness of our declaration of righteousness. They can do so through an individual’s psychological state (ethical consideration needed, something that I often ignore) or a society’s sociological circumstances. No need to elaborate on this again.

Oh, another thing I forgot to mention earlier. This may make me look hypocritical. Well, my writing is preachy anyway. Me being a hypocrite is always a strong possibility. So, here I go…

The jokers’ attentions matter. If their dark and crude humour is a literal reflection of their true selves, they are undoubtedly problematic individuals. But, how do you determine if that is the case with certain people?

Well, don’t pay attention to their jokes; do so to their matter-of-fact remarks. Do their sincere opinions share ideological resemblances with their tasteless jokes? If the answer is yes, then they are problematic. You cannot make a racial joke, make a sincere racist statement afterwards and proceed to defend your joke as ‘just a joke’. You have outed yourself as a racist. You have proven yourself to be deserving of hate. Of course, this method’s flaw surfaces straight away.

It only works when the jokers doctrinally complemented their humour with their own straightforwardness. If their indecency is only expressed through comical manners, then tastelessness is the only thing to be worthy of criticism. The existence of ignorance and immorality is not attested by any solid evidences. I’ll get back to it in a moment.

Then, there is another problem: what does ‘funny’ mean? Of course, every knows what it means: a quality that brings out laughter. But, even the most wholesome jokes are not universally loved. There are different factors to consider: unheard of cultural references, alien styles of humour or, as I have discussed before, audience’s sensitivity.

We have talked about offense caused by taboo humour; again, no repetition is needed. But, what if the humour itself is docile and child-friendly? We should remember that they still can be controversial because either the audience is sensitive to the jokes’ subtextual nature or they take things too personally.

The former may or may not be justified. The thing is subtexts can look very vague and heavily reliant on seemingly conjectural reading. Unless we have tangible evidences, good luck convincing people about the ‘harmless’ jokes’ harmfulness. Besides, how do we know that we are not the problematic ones? How do we know that we are not thin-skinned creatures who see non-existent patterns?

Well, if that’s the case, I even cannot propose a single unproven method to deal with such nuisance. Why? Because I am also guilty of it. As much as I have enjoyed many offhanded jokes, I am still catching myself getting offended by the milder ones. Sometimes, I am 100% convinced that the subtexts I see are real as I am terribly familiar with the jokers involved. But, other times, I am just being emotionally delicate, unable to acknowledge my own irrationality.

I have yet to escape self-contradiction.

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How to be an ethical satirist

 

*puts on a mask*

First, we have to define satire. According to Wikipedia, it is ‘a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement’.

The definition gets the general gist of what a satire. Well, mostly. I have a beef with it which I will explain soon.

Overall, there are two types of satire: Horation and Juvenalian. Horation is playful, good-natured and humorous. Juvenalian is unsympathetic, crude and even downright hostile. The former is often used to target people and things we don’t have ill feeling for while the latter is often used to target powerful individuals and entities.

….And I think how people make use of Juvenalian style is barbaric.

I mean, seriously? Making fun of the powerful? How dare they? We must treat them as they are: powerful beings!

I don’t care if they possess power through honesty, inheritance or dishonesty. The possession of power deserves veneration from anyone beneath. It is everyone’s sacred duty to protect powerful ones’ fragile emotions. Refusal to caress their ego is literally more sinful than murder. LITERALLY! So, who are the appropriate targets of Juvenalian satire? The powerless ones, of course!

Minorities, the disabled and even women (assuming misogyny is still severe). Just like it is to not uphold the integrity of the powerful ones, it is a sacrilege to not kick the powerless ones on their tragic faces.

The powerless ones consciously choose to be powerless. They choose which parents they are born to. If they fail to get what they want, they would do shits like embracing marginalised cultures and religions, changing their skin colours to more undesirable ones, making themselves disabled and even changing their sex to female!

Their low status makes them deserve all of the dehumanisation they have received since the dawn of time! They can protest all they want, demanding equal rights.. But, deep down, I am sure that they don’t care about equality. They just love to be subhumans who intentionally harass the powerful ones with their distinctiveness.

They hurt the establishment. They hurt one thing that is more beloved and honourable than everything else.

Now, you know why I find Wikipedia’s definition of satire problematic.

*takes off the mask*

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I love sarcasm and/or satire

Arts

It is a great tool to deal with human beings, God’s most regrettable creations.

Obviously, sarcasm is an asset for comedy. Without it, there would be no satires that call out the ignorance and prejudice possessed by humans, especially the powerful ones. Without it, comedy would just be a completely escapist form of entertainment. But, I also love for it another reason.

For me, it is a great outlet to vent my anger. It is healthier than vandalising properties, angry-eating and mean-spiritedly insulting my fellow human beings. Besides having a more appropriate venting outlet called satire, my sarcasm also successfully calls out the people I am angry at.

Well, because my satire can be very mean-spirited, I still sound malicious. But, at the same time, I have also compellingly (I hope) illustrated how empty-headed and jingoistic some opinions can be. Took me over 365 days and many satirical blogs to get the picture. At the beginning, I only cared about emotional satisfaction.

I am not surprised that I end up writing satires. Satirist Stephen Colbert is one of my favourite comedians; I can relate to his takes on politics, religions and anti-intellectualism. A few of my favourite Youtubers are also known for their sarcastic comments. Either they affirm my love of sarcasm or they are the reason why I love it, I am still not sure. But, I am sure about something: not everyone gets them.

They are accused of possessing undesirable traits when, in reality, they possess ones that are the complete opposite. I have been trying to comprehend why people misconstrue them when I, far from being the most intelligent organism in the neighbourhood, can easily spot sarcasm.

My methods to detect sarcasm is not ‘peer-reviewed’ and their validity is purely anecdotal. But then, almost every single one of my blog posts is anecdotal. So, adding another anecdote should not matter. Anyway, here we go:

Maybe, just maybe, people misconstrue sarcasm because it is not always detectable. In the case of internet comments, some users are skilled at masking sarcasm as sincerity, fooling even the most intelligent among us. But, there are times when the satire is blatant.

The ridiculing comments usually start with deceptive sincerity. Then, either midway or at the end, they ‘punch’ themselves by pointing out their own glaringly shiny irony; by this point, anyone would chuckle (assuming you agree with the comments’ messages). But, strangely, there are also sincere comments unintentionally disguising themselves as satires.

Even though they seem indistinguishable to satirical ones, they are actually easy to detect. Instead of starting with a tone of sincerity, they immediately start with an ironic one. In fact, the entire comments are 100% irony. No punchlines and self-mockery whatsoever. By the time you finish reading them, you are not sure if they are being serious or not.

You probably reply, expecting the commenters to confirm their sarcasm. But, their replies seem to be mere extensions of their original comments. By this point, you are great in disbelief. Surely, it is impossible for anyone to be that ignorant, it is impossible for anyone to be that prejudiced….

And yet, it is possible. Soon, you realise that you just encountered humanity at its lowest moment. You realise that satires don’t always exaggerate their portrayal of mankind. You are terrified that humans can be their own caricatures. When life imitates art…

(Side note: I am pretty sure this so-called method can also be used to detect sarcasm in videos. But, personally, I have only used it on internet comments.)

Even when the sarcasm seems blatant for some, it is still not obvious to others. It is all about subtlety. We must not read and hear words as they are. We must dig deeper to determine whether there is an underlying merit. Took me years to recognise (and appreciate) understatedness. But, such skill is not always needed when watching Youtubers.

Many Youtubers are entertainers and entertainers in general are known for establishing public personas who may be an exaggeration or the antitheses of their true selves. Correct me if I am wrong. But, I notice that ‘traditional’ entertainers often don’t show their true selves when performing. With Youtubers, it is a bit different.

Many Youtube videos are indeed scripted. But, scriptless ones are also bountiful because either some formats should never be scripted (e.g. gaming videos) or the content creators prefer to ad-lib everything. That situation makes it easier for Youtubers’ true selves to surface from time to time.

The shifts between personalities are very noticeable. Just pay attention to their body languages, facial expressions, speaking intonation and choice of words. They often drastically change from time to time. How does one identify which persona is the real one?

It probably does not apply to all Youtubers. But, in many cases, their true selves are more introverted, more thoughtful, more inhibited and kinder than their obnoxious, loud and mean-spirited personas. Even without sarcasm, the contrast is too glaring for one to ignore. The art of subtlety spotting should be futile here. Well, ideally.

In reality, those characters are still seen as the actual personalities, despite mounting evidences to the contrary! More sarcastic Youtubers have it worse because they are accused of non-existing sins! I still don’t know why this shit happens. But, I have a hypothesis.

Maybe some people do not see the transformation intentionally. Maybe they know about the Youtubers’ real personalities. But, they love to hate. Being haters is the only thing that gives their sad, worthless lives meanings. Hate is beautiful, they believe.

Either that or they are just a bunch of dumbfucks who cannot separate facts from fiction, whose intelligence is comparable to one of flies-covered faeces, who ideally should not be allowed to breed even though, despite my obvious hatred of idiocy, my personal ethics still prevent me from embracing eugenics with fucking wide open arms!

But, anyway…

Earlier, I talked about genuinely ignorant and prejudiced people who unintentionally make their statements look borderline satirical. Well, there is another breed of humans who do the exact opposite: self-proclaimed satirists who don’t know what a satire is!

Instead of displaying idiocy and bigotry lampooningly, they do so in a very matter-of-fact manner. There is no embellishment that indicates any traces of ridicule whatsoever. Their statements sound sincere. Maybe, just maybe, they are skilled in making their satires look real. Yeah, no.

Upon meticulous appraisal, those earnest-looking satires disclose their veritable quintessence. That’s not how things stand with those unadulterated utterances which, even after a profusion of enquiries, still look unfeigned with their indiscretion and dogmatism.

Sorry, I am being unclear here. Let me show you some examples.

Example one: Let’s just say I want to mock anti-Semitism. Ideally, I would say something like, ‘All Jews are evil! If they are not, then how come these cherry-picked articles and videos say they are?’. Not the best satirical statement. But, it is still satirical. Clearly, I was badmouthing anti-Semites and their lack of cognitive soundness. Only imbeciles declare otherwise.

Example two: What if I go to the streets and opted to suddenly blurt out ‘All Jews are evil!’? What if I opted to suddenly dress myself as a Jewish caricature, complete with a yarmulke, a prosthetic crooked nose and speak with a stereotypical Yiddish accent while holding the Israeli flag in one hand and a bag of money in the other? You would call me an anti-Semite straight up. No hesitation. In the latter, alternately, some of you would accuse me of being offensive for the sake of it. You would noall me a satirist, not even after a close scrutiny. Why? Because context.

Mind the word ‘suddenly’. The people on the streets were strangers. Nobody knew who I was, let alone being familiar about my social stances. Nobody expected my supposedly satirical anti-Jewish statements. My audience should know about them being my audience. Never ever catch them off guard! They ought to be respected… and even that it’s not enough.

Instead of berating anti-Jewish outlooks, my statements merely exhibited them. Straightforwardly. No ornaments to materialise any lampooning quality whatsoever. In truth, purposefully or not, I endorsed anti-Semitism. I would emotionally torment Jewish people and empower anyone who yearn for their extermination.

I am actually one of the few people who believe motives matter. They are the reasons why we do anything in the first place. Dismissing them is being untruthful. One must always thrive to grasp the whole stories or risk ignorance.

But, one must also thrive to take the outcomes seriously. They should correspond to the intentions. If the dissonance is caused by people’s idiocy and saviour complex, which may happen with example 1, then the problem’s on them; nothing I can do to fix their sorry-ass brains. But, if it is caused by my own tactlessness, which may happen with example 2, then it’s on me.

No matter what my intentions are, nothing can defend me from the explosive wrath of my fellow human beings. Even saying, ‘it’s just a satire!’ won’t cut it. Actually, that would aggravate the situation. I would look like I am putting the blame on my ‘stupid and fragile’ audience. Worse, I would look like an anti-Semite who exploits satire for the sake of indulging his prejudice. The only way for me to fix everything is to repent.

Sincerely. Gullible creatures may be fooled by my fake apology. But, observant beings can smell lies from miles away. If I am not sorry, don’t bother to apologise at all! At least, I am honest about my inconsiderate nature… and more considerate people will understand that I am to be avoided.

Anyway, my point is this: think before you act! If you are going to do a satire, make sure you understand it first! If you do things like shown in example 2, then you don’t know the proper techniques and therefore, you don’t know what a satire really is! Antagonistic reactions to your brainlessness are still within reason and decency. A victim, you are fucking not!

Oh, and speaking about that…

Since the start of the article, I have been making one mistake: using the words ‘sarcasm’ and ‘satire’ interchangeably. They are not.

Satire is a genre of the arts and entertainment that mock certain people for their apparent flaws which the targets seem to be insensibly unaware or even proud of. Sarcasm is a confrontational method of communication in which our words may convey the complete opposite of their literal meanings and it is also one of the many techniques used in satire-making. So, how did I end up with this factual inaccuracy?

Well, regardless of the fact, my mind still cannot set the two apart. Sarcasm is the reason why I was attracted to satire in the first place. Heck, because of the sarcasm, some of my favourite Youtubers’ videos have strong satirical touch to them. Their lampoons are unquestionably rooted from their sarcastic inclination. But, I also have another reason to possess such mindset: because I love being mean.

For me, sarcasm is the reason why some works of satire are laced with raw meanness. It is the reason why satire has that strong and blunt punches to their targets’ faces. Obviously, some people find this objectionable, thinking that even mockery must always be polite, respectful and civil. Yeah, no.

Unlike journalism and the academia, arts and entertainment do not have codes of ethics. There is no inherent obligation for artists and entertainers to embrace those “positive” adjectives, like “neutral” or, which is relevant in this case, “nice”.

Okay, I admit that niceness should be compulsory in some cases. If our targets are ones we truly care about and have no ill feeling for, we should express genuine playfulness instead of pure malice. Well, duh. This is what we call Horation satire.

But, if our targets are ones we not only resent but are also corrupt and powerful (in a general sense), niceness is unessential. In fact, if we are being too nice, we would not be distinguishable from toothless tigers, embarrassingly impotent in exposing the sinfulness of our targets. Call me self-righteous. But, being too nice means we are mere usable bitches of the establishment. Ferocity is a must in Juvenalian satire.

And the article ends here. Seriously, I still don’t know how to make conclusions properly. Besides, as a computer document, the article is four pages long. Quite lengthy for my blogs.

 

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Two reasons to hate Stephen Colbert

 

*puts on a mask*

Wait, why only Colbert? Why don’t we include the others? Trevor Noah, John Oliver, Jon Stewart, Sam Bee, Jordan Klepper, Seth Meyers, Hasan Minhaj. You know, those subhumans.

Reason 1:

Because they are libtard fascist commie cucks! They are ideologically different from me! How dare they? Don’t they know my belief is the only correct one? How can my belief is false when I am the most perfect person on earth? Duh!

Reason 2:

Because they are entertainers! They have one duty: to entertain and entertain only! Entertainment is about fun and one cannot be fun without objectivity and neutrality! It is literally stated in every ‘how to entertain’ book. Every entertainer must bow to the ruling of Global Association of Politically Compliant Entertainers. Heck, even arts schools expel students for skipping the compulsory 100-hour-long ‘objectivity and neutrality classes! Media like Fox News, Breitbart and Infowars frequently report that! Can’t go wrong with right-wing pundits.

How about journalists? Well, their job is to make opinions. Duh! Journalists and pundits are inherently the same. Only fucktards think they are different! The best journalists are the ones who only make opinions.

Actually, no. The best journalists are the ones who make the proper opinions. When I said ‘proper opinions’, I meant the ones that affirm my belief. Again, mine is the correct one.

‘But, good sir, aren’t you being biased yourself?’, some of you may ask. Well, yes, I am biased. But, bias is the prerogative of right-wingers! As I sai-

‘But, sir, aren’t you being unreasonable here?’, some of you may interrupt. Look, the fact is that I am the most perfect person in the universe! Anything that I do, anything that I believe is absolutely perfect! Rejecting me means you are rejecting perfection! Rejecting me means you are rejecting God’s will!

Worship me….. or else!

*takes off the mask*

An extremely short defense of ‘Let’s Play’ (and dispelling the myth of sports cultures’ innate superiority)

I used to sneer at anyone who watched sports for fun. Like, come on! What’s so fun about watching others playing sports which we can do ourselves? Shouldn’t it be fun if we are actually physically involved in the activities? I thought sports spectators were a bunch of imbeciles with feeble grasps of reality.

One day, I found Youtubers. It didn’t take me long to idolise some of this ‘unusual’ breed of entertainers. Not surprising considering their humour and intellectualism (*self-praising cough*) were similar to mine. But, I was surprised that some of them were ‘Let’s Play’ Youtubers, aka Youtube gamers.

As the name suggests, they upload videos of themselves playing video games and millions love to watch them. I was never a video game enthusiast myself and yet, I found myself enjoying Let’s Play. But, one day, I had a realisation: it was surprising that I was surprised by this.

Uhm, that’s confusing. I am sorry. Let me explain.

Growing up, I actually enjoyed watching other people playing games. I loved watching adults playing those difficult games, my cousin playing Suikoden II and my sister playing Pokemon Ruby (a reason why my mom bought me Game Boy Advance SP; Pokemon Ruby was the only game I ever played on the device). I was excited as the actual players. To sum it up, I was already a fan of Let’s Play before Youtube existed. So, my love of Youtube gamers should never be a surprise.

Then, I had another realisation: Let’s Play and sports spectatorship are conceptually similar! Both are about us getting excited by watching others doing activities they (seemingly) enjoy! Throughout the years, I constantly looked down on people for embracing such a ridiculous-sounding concept, not realising I have been embracing a similar one throughout my life! Hypocrisy shredding me to worthless, tiny pieces.

(Side note: I realise how the conceptual comparison is a bit flawed. Let’s Play is not always competitive while e-sports always are, just like what we consider to be traditional sports. But, the spectatorship aspect still stands. I hope…)

Brilliant enough to be the first to have such thought, I am not. Countless Facebook comments have pointed out the same thing. They counter equally countless comments that demean Let’s Play videos and anything ‘nerdy’ in general. Sports fans cannot accept that their beloved culture can be similar to the nerd one.

Never mind the denialism. The hostility is unbelievable and unnecessary. In any similar situations, my old self would react in an even more hostile manner. But, nowadays, I try to replace my hostility with something else: pity. Why? Because one does not have to be a genius to see the mindlessness of their anti-nerd culture rhetoric.

One stupid argument states how sports cultures encourage physical fitness. Sports fans love to believe themselves as people who are collectively in good shape. Somehow, loving sports make them instantly fit. Yeah, no.

Sports culture is all about the reverence of teams and athletes, akin to how nerd culture revere creators and their creations. Embracing the importance of physical fitness is and will never be the core. Can you convince me that every single sports fan is in good shape? Can you convince that those fat sports fans are just my hallucinations?

Fat nerds do exist, including the ones on Youtube. But, there are also people who are both nerdier and fitter than me. Some of the nerdy Youtubers I am subscribed are physically fit, way more than most sports fans will ever be (their physique is often credited for their physical attractiveness).

Going back to Let’s Play format, sports fans love to dismiss it as nothing but the worship of ineptitude, unlike sports spectatorship which is absolutely about admiring talents. Yeah, about that…

Admittedly, untalented Youtubers exist; the constant yelling and crude jokes is their way to compensate. But, being Youtubers can also be challenging. You have to be your own host/actor/voice actor, writer (if a script is needed), editor, director, graphic designer (if one needs catchier thumbnails) and PR person; if you are a Youtube gamer, you have to constantly make commentaries when needed, you are often pressured to upload videos daily and actual gaming skill is an asset.

You know what? I really cannot say whether some professional athletes are actually talented or not; I even don’t have the most basic knowledge about them. But, I can say that the spectatorship also includes watching amateurs playing sports; it is often the case in villages, neighbourhoods and schools. As condescending as it sounds, some amateurs are not talented! Watching untalented players is fine. Pretending that sports spectatorship is all about the appreciation of talent is dishonest.

From all anti-nerd culture arguments in existence, probably the most common one argues about nerds’ supposed lack of maturity. Their obsession with fictional worlds is seen as a sign of unwillingness to grow up. Real grown-ups have learned that only real world things matter. Things like sports cultures. Yeah, again, no.

Immaturity does exist among nerds. But, it is less about their supposedly feeble grip of reality and more about their intolerance of differing tastes (yes, the former is actually a rarity). Interfandom conflicts are excessive in nature and unfortunately abundant. Everyone must love what we love… or else.

… And the same mentality exists among sports fans. They also constantly clash with each other. In fact, their conflicts are more dangerous because they occur on the public spheres. Ensuing vandalism and fatalities are never in shortage. It has been covered too many times by the news. How often do you encounter nerdy fandoms inciting brawls in public spaces?

Also, sports fans cannot claim to be more grounded in reality than nerds are. What is tangible about sports cultures? Nothing. The sports indeed are. But, the cultures that revolve around them aren’t. I repeat, sports cultures are about fans getting excited about sports being played by others, not by themselves. They are excited about teams and athletes who don’t know them personally and probably never will. Their excitement is all about irrational emotional attachments. They are excited about nothing.

I was serious about every single one of my statements…. except for the last one. How can I say that sports fans are excited about nothing? Not only it contradicts the beginning of this article where I acknowledge my own hypocrisy, sports fans are clearly excited about something real. I was just using others’ emotions to vilify them.

Yes, when they substitute reason, emotions can be the path to our own downfalls as shown by many sports fans and nerds. They can fiendishly hate anyone and anything who shatters the divine image of the things they love. Imperfection is blasphemous. Their zealotry is comparable to religious fundamentalists’. Unrestrained emotions are dangerous.

But, when healthily composed, emotions are lovely. Our healthy emotional attachments to certain entities show how we are still able to find things to love. They are confirmations of our humanity, in spite of our constant cynicism.

Or maybe the paragraph above is just me projecting myself on others, falsely believing that what I am experiencing is universal. Did I just my article futile?

Oh, and one more thing before I end this worthlessness: emotions are actually tangible. They are the results of the chemical reactions in our brains. They are not as abstract as I wanted to believe.

I am not sure how the fact contributes to this article. I just want to point out the science.

Music (and a bit of cinema): the lovely/fringe and the dull/traditional

 

I have a new musician to admire: John Coolidge Adams. His music is minimalist. As the name suggests, it is a postmodern style. I don’t know how to succinctly explain what minimal music. But, I can explain how it affects my psyche.

When I listen to it, I feel like I am stuck between two worlds: the corporeal and the metaphysical. It is unusual because most musical works bring me to either one, never both at the same time. I love such balance. It is a feeling which I wish I can experience more. It also gives me a fresh outlook about the arts.

Oh, and when I said I listen to minimalism, I was referring to the works of Adams. I have barely listened to the ones made by other similar composers. The sensation I described was provoked by Adams’ own aesthetics. But, that does not mean I cannot appreciate minimal music in general.

When you listen to it, the postmodern inclination is very audible. But, unlike many postmodern works of art (the ones I have encountered, at least), minimal music does not try too hard to be weird. It sounds odd, sure. But, there is still sincere artistry. I also wish it is being used more as film soundtracks.

I hate how sterile Hollywood soundtracks are. The same boring melodies and arrangements over and over again. Of course, it is unsurprising for mainstream entertainment with their orthodox mentality. But, orthodoxy is not always a bad thing.

John Williams can conjure refreshing tunes out of long-established musical style. Some of the most memorable melodies in Hollywood are his creations. But, he is a rarity. Many contemporary Hollywood composers seem to suffer from a case of creative infertility. They let the strictly-imposed orthodoxy hinder their creativity. They easily give in to the cultural establishment.

Yes, minimal music is odd. But, it is also not entirely distinct from what we consider to be classical music. Why is it so hard to find films that embrace it? Besides Philip Glass, I can’t think of any other minimal composers that compose original soundtracks. This issue is not just about creativity, it is also about pragmatism.

Proper soundtracks mean greater immersion. Horror and thriller films match well with eerie-sounding experimental music, sci-fi films with electronic music, fantasy films with ambient genres like new age. Oh, and speaking about fantasy films….

I love the Harry Potter franchise, the soundtracks included. I applaud John Williams (him again) for composing one of the most memorable theme songs in the history of cinema. I applaud him for including Jazz, medieval music and unworldly ambience for the soundtrack of Prisoner of Azkaban. I applaud Nicholas Hooper for including Celtic influence in Order of Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince But, I am also greatly disappointed.

Apart from the things I said, the music is still plagued with boring cliches. In fact, I also hate its constant lack of ambition. First of all, Harry Potter is set in Great Britain, specifically its technologically-quaint magical world. How come there are only three HP films that use Celtic and medieval European music? Wouldn’t they be more culturally fitting?

Second, the Harry Potter universe is a place where magic exists. How come that none of the soundtracks embrace ambient styles which can evoke a sense of unworldliness? There are lots to choose from. Ethnic music, including the Celtic one, can be ambient. How about new age with its fairy tale-ish inclination? Heck, even minimal music, like the ones by Philip Glass, can be ethereal.

Wait, I said something about this issue is about artistry and pragmatism. I forgot to talk about the latter. My apologies.

As I said, employing more fitting music induces better immersion. But, my statement was in the context of enhancing films’ overall artistry. People don’t realise how it can also be used to generate profits.

The idea of artistry’s profitability does sound bizarre, especially to the most uncultured swines and to cynics like me. But, idealism and craftsmanship stand out in a sea of conformity and mediocrity. They foster uniqueness.

Yes, uniqueness can be a financial suicide. Can be. Not always. With the right filmmaker and marketing strategies, a well-crafted film can still a box office success by being conspicuous. It does sound like a fanciful hypothesis. But, there are notable examples of profitable artistry.

Pixar films came to mind. They are distinct from most so-called family-friendly films. Their emotions are quite raw yet unsentimental. Romance is not the force that moves the story forward. The characters never burst into songs in unlikely circumstances. When there are villains, they are of shades of grey. Relatively defiant, still popular.

Harry Potter franchise itself can be quite defiant. The adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban successfully evokes the feeling of sinister force lurking in every second. The Half-Blood Prince one has pacing and atmosphere so calm, it feels quite soothing. They stand out among other HP films and any films marketed to younger demographics. Again, relatively defiant, still popular.

Easier said than done, I know. But, without doubt, sell-outs are not the only who can money; visionaries can do as well! Knowing the original source material, with its thematics and commentaries, Harry Potter films have the potentials to be even more profound in every aspect, including the music.

Sticking to the already-established styles does not make you pragmatic, it makes you a coward who let himself/herself crippled by risks.

Oh, and I use the words ‘visionaries’ and ‘sell-outs’ too liberally here. I know we should not throw words around just like that. But, I cannot help myself. I admire anyone who still nurture their idealism despite the immense coercion and I hate anyone who easily gives in to even the weakest of all pressures. God, I hope I will never be a sell-out.

My self-righteous rant ends here.

Image credit to US Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

What? 2

I don’t know why. But, I don’t always enjoy shopping for groceries, even though I love to eat. Not to mention that my mind used to be plagued unnerving thoughts while shopping.

At the ‘fresh’ fruit and vegetable sections (In urban Indonesia, fresh produce is not bountiful), I often looked at certain vegetables and thought, ‘there are people who use these as sex toys!’. I don’t know why I had that thought in the first place, considering food sex is not a kink of mine and I hate wasting food.

At the fruit, vegetable and frozen meat sections, I often looked at the produces and thought, ‘I could people with these. I could use them to beat people to death with this!’. This violent thought lingered a lot longer.

One hour and forty-five minutes later.

My mind loves to go everywhere. Instead of thinking about continuing the previous paragraph properly, I prefer to focus on the music I am listening right now (John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine) and to smell the food someone is cooking right now (flour-coated deep fried shrimps and stir-fried broccoli and carrot).

God, now I am distracted again because I am listening to the orchestral rendition of a musical composition written by a Brazilian.

Three days later.

I love to let myself distracted by everything. Foods, music, Youtube videos, life in general. Maybe it’s ADD, maybe it’s Maybelline. I try my best to not be distracted…… and that’s why I am playing an MP4 video right now on my computer instead of typing. Slow claps for me.

I have to pause it now. The video is an almost two-hour-long PBS documentary about Darwin’s evolution theory. It talked about how even Darwin himself didn’t know how evolution happened. But, he knew it happened based on his observations about the physical world, which in this case were the finches on Easter islands.

I hate how people use the word ‘theory’. A theory is not a guess. A theory is something that we come up after the research, not before. A theory is something that can be supported by further researches. When people think about theory, they actually think about hypothesis. Wait, no. Even a hypothesis should be followed by research. It sets off the research; it is not the ending. So, when people think about theory, they actually think about mindless guessing.

As annoying as it is, this ain’t surprising. People love to think scientists are professional guessers because they are projecting. They love to make mindless guesses in their daily lives. To justify that flaw of theirs, they accuse scientists, the so-called educated people, of doing the same. They want to feel good about their horrendeously imperfect selves.

I hate it when people romanticise each other. When certain public figures become more famous because of their good deeds, we love to make Gods out of them. It is unthinkable that they can commit any sins. In fact, we will guilt trip anyone who don’t follow those celebrities’ footsteps, anyone who refuse to admire them. This is reflected in our pop culture.

More of than not, you will encounter lots of highly-moral protagonists, so moral that they are unrealistic. The more critical-minded among us will be repulsed by such unnaturally perfect beings. The villains and anti-heros are more real. Apart from their flaws, they also possess positive traits that can be useful for the good guys.

Traits like the ability to see the shades of grey in life. The villains and anti-heros often have more nuanced outlooks. Not only they are more real, they are more competent! Like it or not, that is why those dark characters can still have large fandoms, sometimes bigger than the ones for the good guys.

I don’t get the Potheads

No, not stoners. Harry Potter fans.

Well, I have yet to read the first three novels and all but one supplemental book. I have yet to read The Cursed Child, the official HP fan fiction. But, I know that I am a fan.

Harry Potter is one of the things I love the most in life. Love the characters. Love the thematics. Love the vast world-building. I’ve also made my own (borderline pretentious) interpretations about the series. Harry Potter is a huge inspiration in my life.

But, if you have read my past articles (as if!), you would know how I despise fandoms, especially the ones where I supposedly belong to. I did a whole article dedicated to bashing my fellow bros aka Pewdiepie fans. I am going to do the same thing to my fellow potheads.

Just like how bros misunderstand Pewdiepie as a persona, I believe Potheads also do the same thing with their beloved series. In this case, they distort the messages to be the complete opposite.

Hogwarts school of hypocrisy and misguided elitism

Potheads love to lump themselves to the four Hogwarts houses. Gryffindor for the courageous, brave and determined ones, Slytherin for the ambitious and cunning ones, Ravenclaw for the witty, learned and wise ones…. and Hufflepuff for the sad, soon-to-be-nobodies weaklings.

Hufflepuff is a sad story. It has an unflattering image not because its values are debilitating, but because they are empowering: Hard work, patience, loyalty and fair play.

It is arguable whether loyalty has an important role in it. But, you cannot deny how important the other three are in our learning experiences, in and outside the classrooms. Learning requires efforts (hard work), time (patience) and ethics (fair play). Hufflepuff’s values are essentials in education.

Don’t get me wrong. I do think every single Hogwarts house cherishes commendable values. We must thrive to embrace them in how we live our life. But, Potheads often forget that Hogwarts is a school and knowing our priorities is key.

You may be a courageous Gryffindor who thinks you can brave the exam. But, if you think you can do so without sparing time for after-class study, you are a prime example of the blurred line between bravery and idiocy. You may as well start a magical duel while wandless.

You may be a knowledgeable and intelligent Ravenclaw. But, if you are too lazy to put them into use and too lazy to learn more, your knowledge and intelligence would have less worth than trolls’ diarrhoeic shit. Do you seriously think mere brain equals instant success?

You may be an ambitious Slytherin who competitively pursues academic achievements. But, if you are willing to cheat to get what you desire, you don’t deserve the rewards. You are not entitled to something just because you feel so. In fact, outside the school setting, you would be considered a felon. It is surprising that Death Eaters are not dominated by Slyther… oh, wait.

I believe that elitism can be a force of good. Demanding the most skilled and learned to perform the most important jobs is reasonable and perfectly human. Not only such elitism is perfectly fine, I think it should be encouraged in our lives. But, that is not the case with Hogwarts.

From all of four Hogwarts founders, only Helga Hufflepuff understood the essences of education. The rest thought education should only be reserved for anyone who possess those irrelevant traits. It is the same as making Gods out of people for simply being rich (whose money may also be inherited). It is a misguided form of elitism.

And just like any forms of misguided elitism, those three Hogwarts houses are racked with barefaced hypocrisy. Despite constantly patting themselves on the back, not every Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Slytherin embodies the values of their respective house.

Peter Pettigrew was a Gryffindor. He did not have the gut to face his ‘best friends’ whom he betrayed, did not have the gut to face Voldemort whom he swore loyalty to. He was too much of a coward to confront the consequences of his own actions.

Slytherins like Draco Malfoy, Severus Snape and Horace Slughorn are strongly driven by sky-high ambitions. But then, there are also Slytherins like Crabbe and Goyle whose only ambitions is to be the ‘little’ bitches of Draco Malfoy, world’s number one Daddy’s boy.

But, by far, Ravenclaw is the worst house regarding this. From all the Ravenclaws that have interacted with Harry, none of them seem to embody wits, wisdom and love of knowledge. Despite her magical prowess, Luna Lovegood is also a conspiracy theorist and literally the Anti-Hermione. Cho Chang is an expert in being a guilt-tripping bitch. Gilderoy Lockhart is a narcissist whose only skills are obliviating others’ memories and stealing their works (I have to give Flitwick a pass. Apart from his magical prowess, we know little about him).

But, the worst thing is, all of the intelligent characters in the series are non-Ravenclaws. Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Minerva McGonagall, Ginny Weasley, Cedric Diggory, Severus Snape, Lily Evans, Tom Riddle aka Voldy, Remus Lupin, the Weasley twins, just to name a few. Heck, even Harry and Draco seem more intelligent than those Ravenclaws.

If you value something so much, why don’t you practice it instead ? Why keep preaching to resisting ears? Is it about trying to impose an air of superiority while simultaneously sneering at others because you suffer from insecurity and trying to compensate for it? I guess we will never know.

Yes, I know this is unconvincing. It is never addressed either by the characters or Rowling herself. This is purely my interpretation. But, I have another opinion about the series, which I am more confident about.

Marauders’ so-called integrity

Say ‘Wormtail was a cowardly traitor’ and every pothead would nod in agreement. Say ‘the Marauders were a bunch of remorseless bullies’ and you would encounter polarising reactions.

Regarding that, the HP fandom community is divided into two factions: one who sees the Marauders (apart from Wormtail) as heroic angels and the other sees them as a gang of bullies.

I belong to the latter.

It is explicitly shown in Order of Phoenix and Deathly Hallows how they made Snape’s life a living hell. They even started bullying him before their first arrival at Hogwarts. They didn’t see him as a human being worthy of respect.

“But, Remus Lupin didn’t participate in the bullying. Also, James and Sirius stopped bullying Snape after the former dated Lily.”

Remus was not a bully. But, his friends were ones and that didn’t seem to mind him. It does not matter if you never participate in it. If you tolerate any acts that harm your fellow human beings, you are also a complicit.

And yes, they did stop bullying Snape after James dated Lily. They did mature as individuals. But, there is still no indication of remorse. End of torment does not mean repentance. It just means the tormenters stop giving a shit about their victims.

In fact, when reminiscing about their past in Order of Phoenix, Remus and Sirius saw themselves as nothing but misbehaved children. I don’t care if you are a six-year-old or a sixty-year-old. If you are a bully, you are a fucking bully! Do not sugarcoat it! Your age cannot and will never absolve you from your sins!

After learning the truth, Harry didn’t end up hating James and Sirius. I mean, one is his biological father and the other is a surrogate. Some of us cannot stop loving our loved ones even after their horrible deeds; it is a human thing. But, Harry also stopped seeing them as perfectly angelic figures. Harry has learned to accept that humans are creatures of many shades of grey.

Closing statements

My identity and a bit of Newt

If I have to choose one house, I would definitely choose Hufflepuff based on the reasons I stated above. But, deep down, I am not a Hufflepuff. I am a Ravenclaw.

My idea of fun involves having intellectual conversations, watching documentaries and arthouse films, visiting museums (another reason why I go out, besides foods), reading and googling (mostly googling) for knowledge that has no practical purposes, (over-) analysing works of arts and entertainment and pondering about everything that intrigues me. People have called me a pretentious little prick, which is not that inaccurate to be honest. I often look down on others for simplistic thinking which I sometimes feel guilty about. Sometimes.

That proves how not only I am staunch Ravenclaw, I can also be anti-Hufflepuff at times. And still, if I am enrolled at Hogwarts (as if!), I would choose Hufflepuff over any other houses. As much I love them, my values cannot be of any service or even appropriate in every setting. I have to admit that mine are far from perfect.

Oh, and don’t preach me about the so-called perfection of Gryffindor. It is a house where self-righteous pricks congregate their self-righteous arses from which they preach their self-righteousness. Instead of genuinely courageous beings, I often see Gryffindors as the fictional equivalents of Social Justice Warriors, constantly derailing their own progressive causes.

I am going on a tangent here.

On Pottermore, there is an article called 7 ways Hufflepuff are way better than you realise. From the title alone, you can tell it is one of those amateurishly-written blogs (yes, I am projecting). Some of the points make sense, albeit weakly argued. Others are unfounded altogether. I would be disappointed if Rowling wrote it herself. But, there is one point that attracts my eyes: the house’s lack of conventionality.

The article uses Tonks’ appearance as a representative of said unorthodoxy. But, it is too shallow of an example. We need something that goes beyond the physicality, something more profound and.. I can think of one example: Newt Scamander.

Google ‘Newt Scamander masculinity’ and you will see articles about how the magizoologist defies the traditional masculinity. Instead of being conceited, insensitive and showy, he is nurturing, emotionally sensitive and unassuming. He is a deviant male lead. Even in this regard, Harry Potter is still a cliche character. Unsurprisingly, deviance like this one is not universally loved.

In his Pop Culture Detective video, Jonathan McIntosh shows how film reviewers from mainstream media outlets criticise the character for his supposed lack of charm. Their minds are still indoctrinated by the cultural establishment to love – and only love – what we have been accustomed to. Feel pity for them.

What is surprising about Newt Scamander’s ‘deviant’ personality is not the deviance itself. Many works of arts and entertainments have violated the norms since the beginning of time and will always do. As zealous as they are enforced, disobedience should be expected once in a while.

What is surprising about Newt Scamander is him not being a major character in an indie or arthouse film. He is a major character in Harry Potter, a profitable franchise with strong mainstream popularity. Pop culture is infamous for its obedience to the establishment. The fact that a form deviance can exist in such sphere is a marvel in itself.

I am disappointed with myself. As someone who loves to analyse entertainment and hates traditional gender roles, I should have spotted it myself.

The lesser bullies

Snape is indeed a well-crafted character. He has sacrificed his body and soul for the sake of defeating Voldemort. It is dishonest for us to dismiss both. But, at the same time, they cannot erase one absolute fact: he is a fucking horrible person!

He abuses his power as a teacher, he preys on vulnerable students and he finds pleasure in torment! Praise his heroism. Praise how well-crafted he is as a character. But, there is no sound justification for us to romanticise someone who can be described as a heartless bully…

… And the same mindset should be applied to the Marauders.

Yes, I know. In comparison (Wormtail excluded), they are a lot kinder, warmer and more virtuous than Snape will ever be. But, again, you cannot ignore the facts that James and Sirius are also remorseless bullies and Lupin consciously tolerates them. They are the reason why his heart is ravaged with a sickness called bullying.

Despite everything, some of you still lay your eyes on the Marauders through rose-coloured lenses. This blog is not the first time I spout such rant. It seems nothing will convince you to take them off. But, I will keep trying.

I have this one trick, though. A trick so painfully obvious, anyone would have thought about it long ago: stop comparing them with Snape! Of course, they would look angelic with him in the picture. From now on, remove him out of it! Judge every single one for who they really are, not for someone else is.

The greater bully will always look worse than the lesser bully. But, like it or not, the lesser bully is still a bully.

It seems to contradict what I said in the beginning about how I love the characters. Well, I do love them because they are very grey.

Okay, a few characters are indeed black and white. The series also has the cliche ‘good vs evil’ theme. But, pay attention and you’ll see how complex many of the characters are.

When we think we know them, they suddenly reveal ‘new’ aspects about themselves; they are like infinite onions where every layer embodies a surprise. They also possess wonderful imperfection; their strengths and weaknesses make them feel more relatable, more human. Real humans are always more complex than we like to think. It’s sad how I have to point out this obvious fact.

We cannot completely hate many of the characters. We also cannot romanticise them as well. Once again, they are of many shades of grey. That’s the reason why I love them.

BvS: a never-ending, action-infested clusterf**k… with moments of surprising depth (a shamelessly late review)

From the title alone, one can tell I will be bashing the film which many people have relieved themselves on for the past two years. So, if you are a fanboy or fangirl who only see imaginary flawlessness in your beloved motion picture work, click away.

Or don’t. Besides bashing the hell out of it, I am also planning to discuss about the film’s positive aspects AND attempting to persuade you to reflect on the dissenting voices. I don’t care if I will be persuasive or sound like a self-righteous prick. Okay, now let’s start with the beating.

First of all, the story is horrendously tedious! Not slow-pacing, but tedious. A slow-paced story encourages us to patiently wait or even to not expect anything at all; we are encouraged to relish the present. This is more common in arthouse films where immersion is crucial and non-negotiable in every scene.

A tedious story, on the other hand, keeps lingering on the same points despite its promise of incoming fresh scenes. It is nothing but a spawn of broken promises and aesthetic disappointment. Unless you are easily awed by mindless jam-packed actions, there’s nothing that can save us from a film’s tiresome pacing.

In fact, BvS is unbearable because of its mixing of tedious pacing and high octane actions. The three-hour-long duration makes it even more gruelling. I left the cinema feeling mentally exhausted. Personally, I don’t mind the exhaustion as long as it is legitimate. A film may provoke strong emotions that last for hours (or days). It may also provoke us to think hard as it is either loaded with information or confusing at the first watch.

Confusing. Also what BvS is to me. On this part, I am not sure if the problem is with me. Maybe I failed to pick up vague hints that can enlighten me about the story. Maybe I was (and still am) unfamiliar with the original source material. If it’s the latter, we have a problem.

An adaptation must be able to stand by itself. The original source materials are its inspirations, not its extensions. If we need to explore them for more info, why bother adapting them in the first place? Is the entertainment really less about quality and more about profit-making? Did I just ask a rhetorical question where I seemed to fake some level of profundity? But, as I said, I am still not sure if the problem is with me.

Oh, and I am going to end the bashing with something predictable: Martha. Arguably one of the most mockable moments in the history of mockable entertainment. Two individuals immediately bond with each other just because their mothers share the same name. The heartwarming charade is so brazenly displayed, its so-called warmth becomes hollow and insincere.

And yet, meaningless and deceitful facades still dupe us. We still hate subtlety because it requires understanding of life beyond what the basic senses tell us. That’s unfortunate since subtlety is one thing that brings depth to works of arts and entertainment. Subtlety helps us to dodge traps like self-conceited pretentiousness, sickly sweet sentimentality or, in the case of Martha: the movie, shameless idiocy.

Enough with the bashing. As I said in the beginning, I will also talk about the film’s positive features. Just because I hate something, that doesn’t mean it absolutely lacks any redeeming values. In this case, it is the not-so-subtle menace shown in two scenes.

The first one is Batman’s nightmare scene. Apart from the drastic change of setting and Batman’s voice, it doesn’t feel dreamlike at first. The ensuing chaos also seems normal. But suddenly, in the middle of the mayhem, winged-demons are arriving from the sky, snatching every single human that is seen as a threat. It literally looks the beginning of God’s wrath.

Except they are not demons; they are not even supernatural. Once you take a close look, you will see they are mere human soldiers, completely clad in black armour and adorned with mechanical wings. But, how the scene was crafted really does wonders.

Camera angle, showing the ‘demonic’ soldiers’ daunting arrivals from the sky. Background music, laced with droning male vocals. The limited colour palette of light brown and black, evoking hell on earth and man’s inner darkness respectively. As a result, those flying soldiers look like they were born among hellfire. Even the wingless and more human-looking soldiers look demonic as well. It is a very nightmarish. But, not the scariest scene ever made.

Heck, it’s not even the peak of the film’s disquieting atmosphere. For me, Lex Luthor’s painting scene is the winner for possessing greater subtlety and requiring more in-depth dissection. The said painting depicts the biblical angels and devils, with the former emerging from the sky and the latter soaring from the underworld.

Its appearance on the scene is very brief. Brief, yet assertive. Once again, the background music was well-composed, this time with haunting string sounds. But, what makes the painting domineering is the remarks of Lex Luthor, who exudes a menacing aura (if I may use the word). He said:

[The painting] should be upside down. We know better now, don’t we? Devils don’t come from hell beneath us. No, they come from the sky.”

That’s not randomness. If you try to interpret it (using logic, of course), the results would be so fitting to the narrative… and internet users have done so. Some think it represents Superman who is probably seen as the devil by Lex. Others think it represents Lex, who sees himself as the ‘angel’ who fell from grace, aka the devil. Symbolism is one boundless space, always open for any sound interpretations.

Subtlety. Yeah, I know. Said that a zillion times before. Bla bla bla bla. But, I want to keep underlining its importance in conveying depth, as proven by the two scenes. Subtlety is the only reason why I don’t hate BvS completely. In fact, I am now open about the possibility of me hating the film less in the future. I might have missed other hidden messages!

Let me change the topic for a while and tell you a story:

I am a Harry Potter fan. I love most of its characters, their quirks and surprising complexities. I love the expansiveness of the fictional universe. I love the thought-provoking thematics, unpretentiously expressed throughout. I love its progressive social stances. I even have made my own analyses about the series, encouraging the growth of my critical thinking skill.

And because of that skill, I cannot unsee its flaws.

Apart from the inconsistencies (which is common in any long-running series), there are also defects like lack of novelty, unexceptional writing style and hasty series finale. I hate how Goblet of Fire and Order of Phoenix, especially the latter, are given poor film adaptations by having their depth thrown away. I also believe Half-Blood Prince understands the HP spirit more than the original source material itself. That’ll stir up the fandom.

I hope you, BvS fans, are still here. I know some of you are rational enough to not make a God out of your favourite film. But, for those of you who do and still adamant about its absolute perfection, let me ask you something:

If I have the ability to shit on Harry Potter, one of the things I love the most in my life, why can’t you accept that BvS, your beloved film, has its faults?

You don’t need to be a pretentious snob to criticise the film. No need to be a Batman and/or Superman hater. No need to be a hardcore Marvel fan. Heck, you don’t even need a highly intellectual mind.

All you need is to accept that imperfection is inherently inescapable, even for the things you love dearly.