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Injustice at Hogwarts

Okay, this is not earth-shattering, nor could I be the only one with the thought, but I watched some of the first Harry Potter movie the other night and I was once again struck by the absolute injustice served up in the penultimate scene.

The whole school is having their final dinner of the term and Dumbledore announces that it is time to award the House Cup – that is, which of the school’s four houses will have bragging rights for the coming year.  Slytherin is the reigning champ and is also, we soon find out, well ahead on points for the current year, while the heroes of Gryffindor are in last place.  So, one would and should think that Slytherin will win again.  But wait!  Dumbledore stands at the podium and starts handing out extra points for seemingly arbitrary reasons having little to do with the school or academics and, once he has done this long enough, smiles and announces Gryffindor as the winner of the contest, furling out Gryffindor’s banners high over the dining hall.  All others, including faculty, cheer, while Slytherins moan.

Now I never read the first book and I would be happy to believe that the film producers got it wrong or left film on the cutting room floor that might explain this obviously arbitrary and heavy-handed action on the part of the headmaster.  One would hope that he had more backing his decision than “Gryffindor good, Slytherin bad.”  But I do think that children watching this movie could easily get the wrong idea, that it is okay to bend or break the rules when you are in charge, so long as your motives are good.

As I said, not earth-shattering, but I remember that it struck me as an odd scene the first time I saw the film and it still strikes me odd today.  I mean, the three young heroes adapted and overcame, defeating an evil-doer and temporarily vanquishing the dark lord to a later movie, but that wasn’t a high enough note to end the movie on?  We also have to humiliate the Slytherins, because they are – oh, I don’t know – Klingons or Orcs or just a bunch of mean kids with hygiene problems?

I mean, it just wasn’t fair!

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