Problems between the American and British Wizarding communities

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Mon Mar 11, 2019

With two movies down in the prequel extension of the famous "Harry Potter" wizarding world, the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise is exploring different places, faces, and magic that were never seen when the famous "Boy Who Lived" (as Potter is often referred to in the series) left theater screens in 2011. The first of the movies, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," explored the adventures of Newton “Newt” Scamander in New York City. Throughout the course of the movie, Scamander learns many of the distinguishing characteristics of the American and British wizarding systems. However, there appears to be a fine line between the creative but realistic British world and the simplistic American one.

When "Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone" was released in 1997, the term “muggle,” meaning a person unable to perform magic, became part of many vocabularies. In 2012, the Pottermore website added numerous aspects and angles to the global wizarding world, including sections on how the United States of America does their business. For starters, the term “muggle” in American slang is replaced with “no-maj,” an obvious shortening of “no magic.” There was also mention of the wizarding school Illvermorny, formed from a small cottage that expanded from the dreams of children into a monstrous castle. So, that story is somewhat intriguing… But is it actually? Why does the British school get the fancy backstory of four great and powerful founders with personal backstories and the Americans get a simple childlike one? It should be worth mentioning that the creators of Illvermorny were also descendants of the Gaunt family that fled in order to escape pro-muggle-interaction persecution. So now all the reasoning for there being an American school is credited to the famous stories across the pond. And why is it that the most creative name for a non-magic person that Americans can come up with is the not-so-cleverly named no-maj? It is also known that the Americans have a number of laws and prejudices about interacting with the no-majs (somewhat mimicking early 1920s racism), but are we really meant to believe that the American wizarding community is so different from the non-magic one that they elected a black female president, Seraphina Picquery, and yet the British wizarding system had progressive muggle laws that ignore any kind of prejudice to muggles while the muggles themselves had laws imprisoning homosexuals? There Americans are portrayed so far below the British in both the Fantastic Beasts series and on Pottermore, but why? And why are the magic folk above the non-magic folk?

It should be noted that the "Fantastic Beasts" movies are not canon in the "Harry Potter" universe, despite having author J.K. Rowling as part of the writing team. However, Pottermore is a direct extension of the books and any information written there is canon. In my opinion, Rowling did a rather sloppy job creating the American wizarding community and its underwhelming amount of information, and this will sadly never be improved as it is all now considered canon.

 

 

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2019 - Spring - Issue 7
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