I finally convinced my wife to watch one of the Harry Potter films this week. She enjoyed it more than she expected, but remained concerned that these are marketed to children. Echoing a common Christian objection to the series, she asked: What if, by glamorizing magic, it leads kids to the occult? As adults, she admitted, we can see that this is fantasy, but kids are impressionable. I pointed out that the magic in Harry Potter bears no relation to any kind of real-world sorcery (no gods or demons are invoked or manipulated; they merely wave wands around and speak in Latin!). Then it occurred to me: If a movie’s effect on kids is truly one’s concern, Harry Potter ought to be much further down the list than it usually is.
If kids really are liable to copy what they see in their favorite films, shouldn’t we be much less concerned about magic, and much more concerned about glamorized violence? After all, a kid can practice waving a stick around all week and he’s not going to do any harm, but how many times does he need to see his heroes solve their problems by beating up or killing “bad guys,” before he considers trying that? If, on the other hand, a story can legitimately employ violence as a metaphor for the battle between good and evil, why cannot fictionalized magic be used in the same way?
Surely I’m not the first to have thought of this.