A few years ago, my wife was first exposed to Harry Potter in the form of one of the movies. Probably the third or fourth, which were much better than the first two Chris Columbus snooze-fests. She was pretty entertained but had an odd criticism. “I don’t like the wands,” she said. She thought, if I’m remembering correctly, that in a world of such high magic, wizards should not need little phallus devices to work their mojo and that their presence diminished the coolness of Rowling’s magical world. It was not something that ever had bothered me, until I started thinking about J.K.’s take on the use of magic in this world.
First, there is the wand shit. Wizards seem to be pretty worthless without wands. Disarming a wizard seems to be a good way to render them helpless. Also, usually wands require some kind of verbal trigger, often in some Latinish phrase, to do its thing. So, this is how magic works…except when it doesn’t. For instance, potential wizard folk are discovered among the non-magical people (Muggles to those Muggles out there. Yes, I hate myself) by the fact that they can sometimes make the inexplicable happen. So, these untrained losers can work magic without wands. Like when Harry makes the glass disappear at the zoo and makes Roast Beefy fall into the snake pit. No wand or pseudo-dead language necessary. Also, in the course of the books and movies, Dumbledore and the like sometimes cast with no verbal, material, or somatic components. So which is it? Do you need the wand or not? Or does the wand allow more predictable control and precision? Whatever.
Another example is the fucking brooms. These are personal flying devices that allow even the most inexperienced wizards to zoom around at will. So, of course these are used all the time to help deal with the many dangers Harry and company deal with all the time. No, wait. These magical and wonderful device are used almost exclusively for one of the dumbest, most ill-conceived games ever invented, involving rings, bats, and three types of balls zooming around an oval soccer pitch. Yeah, that makes sense. If I were a wizard, I’d be riding that fucking broom to get from my couch to the fridge. Walking is for suckers.
And finally, let’s get to wizard fighting. It usually consists of wizards whipping little spells at each other while the other kinda parries them, knocks them away, or dodges them. Occasionally, some magic words are muttered to paralyze or disarm or whatever, but it usually consists of people magicking at each other as I described. I would have liked to have seen Hermione smuggle a handgun from her Dad’s dresser into Hogwarts and blown Voldemort away. I mean, he uses a “killing spell” or whatever on Harry’s parents and he’s the scariest dude ever. Let’s see how he deals with raining artillery shell or a sniper round from a half mile away. Christ, wands don’t even have sights. How the fuck do you effectively aim one?
Or, I could let this shit go because its a wonderful, magical world intended to fascinate and entertain children, not something to be torn apart by bitter grognards.