My position on British celebrities who attack our elected officials via snotty tweets and interviews is simple: I’ll give a damn what you think when your own country gets rid of the hereditary monarchy and stops sinking ever deeper into socialism, economic decay and international irrelevance. Spout off after the number of artists and performers moving to the U.S. is offset significantly by U.S. artists moving in the other direction. Great Britain has become the Beach Boys of nations; still croaking the same old tunes, but a depressing shadow of what it once was.
Besides that, it is rude. If there is one nation that deserves Great Britain’s lasting respect, it is this one.
Steve-O-in-NJ scored another Comment of the Day with his discussion of one of the British anti-U.S. tweeters most loved by the Angry Left, “Harry Potter” creator J.K. Rowling. Here it is, in reaction to “Esquire’s Ridiculous Book List Smear”:
Fantasy author J.K. Rowling took it upon herself to troll Vice President Pence and criticize the President, sneering at those fans who have chosen to make contrary opinions known, even condescendingly saying you can lead someone to books about the rise and fall of an autocrat, but not make them understand.
I have to say I am particularly unimpressed by that latter statement, and the attitude it conveys – an attitude that this author is smarter than anyone who disagrees with her, and, more to the point, that she had some profound lesson about human nature to teach the world in the lengthy prose of seven books that were, while they were fun, popular, and very profitable, ultimately only fantasy novels. Their primary purpose, like all novels, is and was to entertain.
Oh, Ms. Rowling drops a profound-sounding thought here and there between the fantastic creatures, faux-Latin spells, potboiler plots, and hairbreadth escapes: that those who seek power often seek it to abuse it, that what you do is more important than who your father was, that being powerful is less important than how you use what power you have, and of course, that racism is bad.
However, none of these are particularly original thoughts. JKR didn’t come up with any of these herself. She might have packaged them up nicely, but no one changes their approach to life because some principle came from the mouth of a plucky young hero or a wise, traditional- looking wizard.
More importantly, no one reads fantasy novels to gain insight into life or to learn great universal truths. That’s what philosophy and history books are for. History will also tell you that sometimes might does equal right, that sometimes good people have to or choose to do bad things, and the fate of the world or a nation never rests on the shoulders of a single boy.
Fantasy is read for entertainment, and as often as not to feed the feelings that go unfulfilled in the real world. I am both a reader and a writer of fantasy. I started with the Wizard of Oz, which accepts space time warps, golems of straw and tin, and powerful witches who can easily be defeated simply by a young girl throwing water over them. Supposedly the message is that there is no place like home, but it is simply a story to entertain children without being too frightening. I read The Chronicles of Narnia, where children take up swords to battle witches, black knights, and sea serpents and come out of it just fine. Christian underpinnings aside, it’s mostly just an adventure.
I read LOTR too, and much as some of it parallels the world wars, it’s hard to get much of a lesson out among epic battles and suspense (and a fair amount of tedium). I read the Conan stuff too when I was 14-16. Those stories served no purpose other than to give an adolescent seeking to escape the tedium of daily life a hero who did what he wanted, when he wanted to do it, however he wanted to do it, and with whoever he wanted to do it, not to mention one who the ladies fell all over. It was all fun, but didn’t teach me much of value.
I have some respect for the fantasy writers of the early 20th century, many of whom, including CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and their predecessor John Plunkett, also known by his title Lord Dunsany, did not hesitate to pick up a weapon and defend their nation when needed. In fact the fighting writers of that time could be the subject of an honors thesis. They also steered clear of politics and didn’t fancy themselves greater than the average person, nor that they held any special insight into the human condition. They definitely knew they would have been out of their league second guessing the real world leaders of their time like FDR or Churchill (a writer of some accomplishment himself).
I have little to no respect for entertainers, even those who have launched very successful franchises, who think that either gives them some special insight greater than the rest of us, or, God forbid, that they are better than the rest of us, including the duly elected leaders. That goes double for foreigners who, frankly, understand our system no better than we understand theirs. By all means, Ms. Rowling, and all you other entertainers out there, say what you have to say, but don’t be surprised or offended if you get no special deference, and are instead asked when your next work is due out.