BuzzFeed, Step Off My Man Harry
Last week, BuzzFeed chose to publish an article criticizing our “Expelliarmus!” lover Harry Potter, entitled “Harry Potter Is Actually One of the Worst Characters of All Time.” Merely reading the subtitle, “The boy who maybe shouldn’t have lived,” sent us into a rage. Everyone has their faults, we don’t deny that, and Harry absolutely has his, but to go so far to insinuate that perhaps he should have perished in Deathly Hallows, or perhaps even as an infant in Sorcerer’s Stone? That went too far. While reading through the article and giving the author a chance to defend her claims, we became concerned and confused. Was this meant to be satirical? A parody? The author couldn’t be serious, could she? Regardless, we (Alyssa and Lizzie) are here to set the record straight and defend our man Harry.
Let’s go bit by bit to see if we can find some middle ground or eradicate the nonsense stated in that article. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion and freedom of speech, we feel that the character, who saved the entire wizarding world, got an unfair deal and roasted hard. Fear not, Harry, we’ve got your back.
Claim #1: Harry is selfish
How can we make the claim that Harry is selfish because his parents died for him? He was a one-year-old baby incapable of making any decisions. Plus, people like the Weasleys, Lupin, Sirius, Hagrid, Neville, Dobby, and so on risk their lives for Harry because they love him, and they know Harry would do the same thing regardless of the situation (*cue OOTP pop-punk emo Harry* *cue Harry who would rather risk his own neck than have anyone die for him*). In addition, the prophecy actually extends to more than just Harry because it’s about his parents (and the Longbottoms) and which child Voldemort will choose, but it’s totally Harry’s choice to be the “Chosen One,” right? Yeah, no. Moreover, the Dursleys may have risked their lives for Harry, but they never treated Harry with any kindness whatsoever. As for Snape, he chose to risk his life for Harry because of his love for Lily and his debt to James for saving his life back at Hogwarts. To call Harry “selfish” is to discount the morals of the other characters.
Claim #2: Harry took his anger out on others
Yeah, because he’s a TEENAGER. Teenagers are known to be driven by their ever-raging hormones, and Harry is no exception just because he’s the Boy Who Lived. He must endure the ups, the downs, and the embarrassments as well. It’s also good to remind the person who wrote this article that Harry endured Marge’s abuse for a whole entire week, as well as multiple past occasions, just to get his Hogsmeade slip signed by Vernon. Let us also remember Harry was a mere thirteen years old dealing with this. It’s like the BuzzFeed writer wants to discount Harry is underage.
Claim #3: Harry is a “player”
Again, Harry Potter is, at the time of the Yule Ball, fourteen years old. He is a teenager, and while we can’t say his behavior to Parvati is the best at least he makes an effort at first. Harry didn’t want to go to the ball, didn’t want a date, and never wanted to be a champion. He was at the halfway point of his Hogwarts career and was coming to terms with the fact that he was never going to have a simple year of school. We would also like to draw attention that if any fourteen-year-old got rejected by their crush, and then had to spend the evening watching said crush smooze with someone else, they would sulk. We make no excuses for Harry since he could have taken a higher road, but considering all he has been through (and all the growing up he has had to endure at such a young age), let’s let him have this one teenage moment.
Claim #4: Harry thinks he is above the rules (and he’s a punk)
It’s not that he thinks he’s above them – it’s that he just chooses to blatantly ignore them. As does Ron. As do the twins. As does Malfoy. See? Maybe it’s just a guy thing. But hey, Ginny and Luna and even Hermione are prepared to break the rules. We know Draco followed Harry around in Sorcerer’s Stone since that’s how they got caught when releasing Norbert(a). Then in Half-Blood Prince, Draco probably sneaks out just as much considering all of his little tasks from our buddy Voldemort. Back to Harry, there are several instances where his breaking the rules was with good intentions. Some examples include saving the Sorcerer’s Stone, Ginny Weasley, Hermione Granger, Buckbeak, Sirius Black (in Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix [how well that worked out is beyond the point]) and Dumbledore. Also, he’s the son and godson of two Marauders. What else do you expect? You can’t just judge Harry if you’re not going to hold all the other rulebreakers accountable.
Claim #5: Harry was completely reliant on others
Fine. There’s the middle ground. It is common knowledge he couldn’t have done it alone. All good, except then the author said, “Harry is the kid in your class who shows up two minutes before class starts and expects you to let him copy your homework.” Erm, no? You’re wrong? If we refer to Books 1-3, Harry can be found spending his summer holidays doing his homework with glee. And also completing assignments throughout the year. The laziness began later on, and he never directly asks for someone to do his work for him but merely asks for help or a quick look over. Haven’t we all done that? So sorry, but you’re wrong there.
Claim #6: He was a (not nice word) to Moaning Myrtle
We can sum this up pretty easy: Myrtle was creepy. She knew it. He knew it. You know it. We know it. Fairly confident J.K. Rowling knows it. Let’s move on.
Claim #7: Harry loves being the center of attention
Sigh. The evidence the author provided frustrates us. But no, no no, Harry does not. Remember when Harry gave his free collection of books to Ginny? And he gave his Triwizard winnings to the twins? He even stood up for Hermione by trying to point out how brilliant she is to other teachers. Oh, and that time they tried to name Dumbledore’s Army after him? Yeah, he shot that down pretty quickly.
Claim #8: Harry doesn’t listen
We agree about the Occlumency thing. That was totally Harry’s fault. BUT shouldn’t Dumbledore have thought a little harder about whether learning from Snape would be a good idea?
Claim #9: Harry refused to use his brain
Okay, valid, to a degree. But that’s because he’s using his heart. And the two can get mixed up. Harry was tricked in multiple ways. We don’t think it’s fair to completely blame him because Sirius did choose to disobey Dumbledore’s orders and leave Grimmauld Place (not blaming Sirius for his own death. It’s honestly a fluke that he died, and a very sad one at that). If the closest thing you had to family seemed in trouble, you would launch into action, too.
Claim #10: Harry thought only about himself
We may get hate, but it kind of was all about him. That prophecy was pretty clear on who had to attend the final showdown, and while Neville was under the consideration for an invitation, his was declined.
Claim #11: Harry gets the credit for everything
It’s an unfortunate fact of life that comes along with the traditional hero’s journey. He tries to not take the credit for everything, though, and give it where it is due to others. Remember Order of the Phoenix, when everyone is meeting for a pre-DA meeting in the Hog’s Head and people start showering Harry with all he’s accomplished? He shut those praises and suspicions down pretty quickly and tried to bring everyone back to the reality of the situation.
Claim #12: He is arrogant for no reason
Harry is usually the opposite of arrogant, and we prefer to think of him as sassy. Like all sass masters, Harry uses it only to strike back against Malfoy’s verbal jabs and to counter Voldemort’s talk in Deathly Hallows and their final showdown. And even then it’s not really sass; it’s just Harry being himself.
Claim #13: He was stubborn
The writer of the BuzzFeed article admits everyone gets stubborn. So why hate on Harry for doing the same thing? Time and time again this BuzzFeed writer forgets that Harry is growing up throughout the whole series. He is coming-of-age, and that means, yes, he is going to act like a 12-year-old, or a 14-year-old, or a 16-year-old, etc. throughout the series because HE IS THAT AGE. Teenagers are stubborn, especially when it comes to conflicts between friends and teachers who are both mean and unfair to them for no reason. Also, Harry never asked to be the “Chosen One.” Something he repeatedly says throughout the entire series.
Claim #14: He plays the victim
Harry doesn’t play the victim; he IS a victim, as are many others in the series. To undermine this is to completely disregard a person’s struggles and refrain from empathizing with a person, even a fictional character such as Harry Potter. Harry feels what he feels and says what he says. He experiences a lot of pain and trauma over the course of the series, and not being able to know his parents is terribly sad all in itself. And we think Harry is pretty great at recognizing that “life goes on” as he moves past his struggles and traumas with the help of his friends. We think this quote from Half-Blood Prince is a great example of what we’re talking about:
In spite of everything, in spite of the dark and twisting path he saw stretching ahead for himself, in spite of the final meeting with Voldemort he knew must come, whether in a month, in a year, or in ten, he felt his heart lift at the thought that there was still one last golden day of peace left to enjoy with Ron and Hermione.
Conclusion: “Basically, Harry Potter is an a**hole. The series is flawless, the story magical, and the main character annoying…”
Everyone’s allowed an opinion, but this BuzzFeed writer lacks logical reasoning. What makes Harry a wonderful character isn’t always what he does right but sometimes what he does wrong. How can anyone relate to a perfect person? Harry’s imperfections provide a relatability in spite of his magical circumstances, which makes his perspective a beautiful one through which to read the books.
Sincerely, two someones who ACTUALLY read all the books.
What do you think? Is Harry as annoying as this BuzzFeed writer says, or are these accusations completely unfounded? Tell us below in the comments!