For anyone who grew up in the '90s and early oughts, Harry Potter was a cultural touchstone of epic proportions. The first book was published in 1997, and the final one was published in 2007, while the movies based on the original series continued through 2011. A whole generation of kids, myself included, grew up alongside Harry, Hermione, and Ron, experiencing their loss, grief, joy, and their victory over the Dark Lord, Voldemort, who had taken on extremely relevant undertones in the wake of 9/11. There is a special place in many of our heart for Harry Potter.
Still, one Twitter user pointed out on Friday that when you get right down to it, Harry was privileged in many ways:
I mean, Harry dropped out of school to find and destroy all of Lord Voldemort's Horcruxes so that he could be defeated once and for all, and then he became an Auror, which is more like a magical CIA agent than a cop, but that's splitting hairs.
Some fans were on board with the assessment:
Also invulnerability against the most evil and dangerous wizard in the world— Jim the Hedgehog (@jimthehedgehog) February 24, 2018
Others seemed to be having uncomfortable "aha!" moments:
This made air rapidly rush from my nostrils. Well done.— Ross Hardy (@GeorgiaWonk) February 24, 2018
Not surprisingly, some people wanted to argue semantics:
As described Aurours are the equivilent of the CIA's SAD Paramilatery operators just with no oversight at all— Maurice Walshe (@Neuromancer) February 24, 2018
More like a Federal Marshall or CIA assassin, but yeah.— Dani Matheson (@liz_matheson) February 24, 2018
He went back and finished school after the battle for Hogwarts then went on to sleep with his best friend's sister... and be a cop... a magic cop O__e— Kiba Nezumi (@KibaNezumi) February 24, 2018
this is funny but I can't help but think about how much harry potter is a perfect example of deconstructing the idea of "the chosen one", because it shows in the end that harry potter wasn't even that needed to some extent— Paradox of tolerance, suppressor of oppression 🤡 (@WitchyGrannySex) February 24, 2018
And a few people weren't buying it:
But this isn't the first time someone has made this point. Class is a central theme in the Harry Potter series. Some fans believe J.K. Rowling deliberately used magic as a metaphor for privilege — before privilege became part of the mainstream conversation around race and class. Rowling also made The Root's list of wokest white people for her anti-racist presence on Twitter.
This latest critique offers an opportunity to keep talking about privilege. And yes, we can keep sharing all the books and movies for generations to come.