06 August 2009

Miss Conduct on Mr. Weasley

One of my Sunday pleasures is Robin Abrahams's "Miss Conduct" advice column in the Boston Globe Magazine. She also has a book, and a blog.

Miss Conduct doesn't usually have occasion to discuss children's literature, it being a realm of impeccable manners and politesse. But the New York Times article on drinking (not necessarily of alcohol, but how can we be sure?) in the latest Harry Potter movie prompted her to offer this analysis:

for all the tempest in a butterbeer stein about booze, why hasn’t anyone pointed out that the entire first half of the movie is about drugs? It’s sort of unavoidable when your new main character is a Potions Master. Harry psychs Ron up for the big Quidditch match by making him believe that he’s been dosed with magic steroids, and then takes the drug--oh, sorry, “potion”--himself later in the movie. Love potions are all over the place.
And what's more:
If I were taking a kid of my own to the movie, a little Miss Conduct Jr., I’d be doing a debriefing afterward, for sure. Not about the chemical substances, but about why it’s really not a good idea to fall in love with a lazy, cowardly, self-centered fellow who can’t succeed in anything without your help and then resents you for helping him. 
If it were a little Mr. Improbable Jr. [i.e., Abrahams's putative son], he’d be getting the lecture on why men with quiet courage, little ego, and no fear of looking nerdy--you know, like...Neville Longbottom--are the real men to be looked up to and emulated.
Yes, Hermione's problem is that she's fallen in love with a teenage boy. And there ain't nothing she can do about it.

In fact, I think J. K. Rowling's portrayal of the maddening behavior of teenage boys during their first school dance (book 4) is some of her very best work in the entire series.

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