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07 July 2009

Sex and Harry Potter

A journalist from Enterntainment Weekly is lamenting the "sexing up" of the Harry Potter movies:
This is a book about wizards. If you want romance, look for a paperback with Fabio on the cover.
Offensive, much? I don't think she has ever read a fantasy book before. Or met a teenager. The idea that teenagers aren't interested in sex and romance is laughable, and the idea that Fabioish bodice-rippers are the only types of literature to address the idea of love, sex and romance is just plain ridiculous. I defy you to find me a fantasy novel that doesn't have a romantic element. Or a "literary" novel.

I mean, yeah. The films are certainly implying a level of... sexiness... that the books maybe didn't. As Meg Cabot pointed out the other day, it's hard to miss the subtext in these two promotional photos:

Ron and his BROOM:
Harry and his wand:
But still, it's not like it isn't there in the books. Harry and his friends are teenagers! Of course they're thinking about touching each other!*

Anyway, Alyssa Rosenburg has some further comments on the matter of sex in Harry Potter which I mostly agree with:
Hogwarts doesn't appear to offer a sex ed class, which I guess makes sense because no one appears to be having sex. It's a really weird false note in a series full of deeply recognized characters.
Basically, she's right. Rowling is clearly very uncomfortable with writing about teenagers and sex (remember the roaring lion in Harry's chest?). Hopefully the films will be able to portray this stuff a little more satisfactorily, if not realistically (because really, we never read Harry Potter for its realism). And if not, there's always fanfic...

*As an aside, I now have an argument for all you people who said that the reason why Dumbledore being gay was never mentioned because everyone is just so okay with homosexuality in the wizarding world that it didn't rate a mention. Remember when Umbridge is making lots of rules for Hogwarts students and says that they are not allowed to be within 8 inches of a member of the opposite sex? Think about it.


What Kate did next ... said...

Oh, okay, okay, you win!

goldilocks said...

A thought on why there's no sex in Harry Potter: maybe because kids aged 9 and up read them? Yeah, lots of kids and teens grew up on the Harry books, but, especially now that the series is finished, young kids are reading the series from beginning to end in one go (ie: not having to wait years to read them all). No sex = more younger readers.
Like your point about the 8 inch opposite sex rule!

Sue Bursztynski said...

So, nobody has noticed the scene in Deathly Hallows where Ginny offers Harry something to remember her by, before he goes on his quest? They get interrupted, but anyone old enough would figure out what she was offering him. ;-)

SBW said...

The HP books really don't have much (anything even? I haven't recently read the 7th book...) about sex, only kissing, and as they are teenagers in the later, "darker" books, I think it's quite unusual that there isn't more about that topic (compared to other teen books I've read!). I agree that J.K. Rowling stays away from that topic! Don't think anyone can complain about the "sex issue" in HP - I'd say it's pretty much non-existant! (And I never even considered the posters of Ron and Harry like that AT ALL! :D)

As for the no sex-ed classes, they also don't have English or Maths etc., but wouldn't that still be important also? Especially for the wizards and witches fitting into jobs in the muggle world? :)

On the Dumbledore comment; I've noticed - you see it more so in the movies - that no one has an issue with race either. When they are being rude to people it's about being full-blood or muggle-born, they don't insult people on race or sexuality, (which is great, of course! but interesting).

Hermionerules! said...

Well, there is no sex in the books. The toughing does not go any farther than kissing. I'm a teenager and I don't like the fact that when I say I like Harry Potter(the franchise), they assume that it's because I think he's hot.