It's been several years since the last film of the Harry Potter franchise was presented in glorious mundanity. While the film adaptation of the final book left much to be desired (and for that matter the final book did as well), the series still brings much joy, adoration, and in many instances cringe worthy response from fans and critics alike.
One such response is found in the Buzzfeed article titled Harry Potter Is Actually One Of The Worst Characters Of All Time by Lara Parker.
Now there are many reasons as to why Harry Potter as a character is rather two dimensional. That being said, much of what Ms. Parker says is well plainly wrong about Potter. So much so that here is a rebuttal to each of her points.
1) Her first point reads as follows
First of all, Harry was freakin’ selfish. What’s that you say? He sacrificed himself in the end to save the day? Sure, cool, good for him. But let’s think about how many times people sacrificed their safety and possible LIVES for him.
1) His parents.
3) The Weasleys in entirety with the exception of Percy who came around eventually.
4) The entire Order of the Phoenix.
5) The Dursleys, tbh.
9) Pretty much every professor at Hogwarts, ever.
11) Dumbeldore’s Army.
Okay, there are many sacrifices that happen through out the books, but most if not all have nothing to do with Harry, and those few that do have nothing to do with him being selfish. Let's break this down a bit.
Harry's parents are notably the most important and pivotal of the sacrifices in the list, yet Harry was just a baby at this point in time. He had no concept of being selfish, and frankly what sort of parent wouldn't protect their child from being killed?
Hagrid doesn't expressly sacrifice himself, yeah he takes a beating here and there, but he doesn't die. More importantly Hagrid is very much again a parent figure for Harry.
The Weasleys don't sacrifice themselves for Harry, in stark contrast Harry in many ways sacrifices himself for them, putting himself in harms way to save them. A good example is his attempt to save Mr. Weasley. Any sacrifices they committed to had little to do with Harry and everything to do with fighting Voldemort. The same could be said for most of the rest of the list here. Of the few people in the list that sacrificed themselves strictly because of Harry, there are really on three beyond Harry's parents. Dobby, Dumbledore, and Snape. Of those only Dobby is able to be absolutely tied to Harry, the other two are still arguable.
Furthermore, none of their sacrifices make Harry selfish. On the contrary, much of their sacrifice so happened to parallel his own. In each book he has to give up things that make him happy and struggle with the realities of life and his position in the war against Voldemort.
2) Her second point reads:
Harry took his anger out on others: Look, we get it, he had a sad life. But that doesn’t give him an out to treat people like crap. Remember when Harry turned his Aunt Marge into a balloon? Yep. Was it deserved? Maybe. Could he chill the hell out? Definitely. Do some yoga, Harry.
Seriously did Ms. Parker even read the books? Let's take her example and place it into context. Harry did lose control when it came to Aunt Marge, but Aunt Marge goaded him into doing so. Of the few instances where he's actually taken his anger out on people it has been to a degree justified. Mix that with general teenage anxiety and the stress of him being who he is in the wizarding world and anyone would lose their temper on occasion.
3) Harry is a...what?
Harry is kind of a fuckboy: He took Parvati Patel to the Yule Ball and spent the ENTIRE time sulking because his dream girl Cho Chang turned him down. REALLY FUCKING SWEET, HARRY. This is fuckboy behavior 101. That’s all we have to say about that.
Wait a minute here, who hasn't screwed up a date or been put on a blind date and didn't quite get along with the person they're out with? Now let's amplify this sort of problem with A) being a teenager, and B) having never really ever been loved by people. Yearning for someone is difficult enough as it is, let alone trying to ply your emotions away from that person long enough to give attention to an arranged date. Remember the Yuleball was sort of a requirement for Harry since he was one of the Triwizard Cup participants. Had his presence not been required I doubt he'd have actually gone out with Parvati in the first place. His actions may have been immature, but "fuckboy" level, I think not.
4) Ms. Parker doesn't seem to grasp some aspects of the Harry Potter universe and this next point of hers is rather pointless.
Harry thinks he is above rules, which he displays continually by using his cloak to sneak out and be a real punk. Sure, maybe it turned out OK in the end, but what if Neville or Draco had tried sneaking out all the times that Harry did? DON’T THINK IT WOULD BE SO COOL ANYMORE.
Harry obviously doesn't think he's above the rules; contrary to Ms. Parker's assertions, he only ever really acts outside of the rules when it is apparent that it is necessary to do so to save other people, himself, or to stop Voldemort. Only a few instances exist in the books and movies where he disobeys the rules for the shear act of disobedience. Examples of him breaking the rules: Going into the forbidden section of the library to research Nicholas Flamel to discover what the Philosopher's stone was about and why Snape was after it (yes they were wrong about Snape). Going after Hermoine to save her from the Troll. Flying after Malfoy in the first broomstick riding lesson to save Neville's remembral. The list goes on, however notably the few instances where he breaks the rules for the sake of it are: going to Hogsmeade using the Marauder's map, turning Aunt Marge into a balloon (wasn't intentional), making the glass disappear in the zoo and getting Dudley trapped (again not intentional), all other rule breaking was to save others, himself, or to find information to save others or himself.
Had Neville or Draco had actual good reason to break the rules and it lead to either of them saving someone's life, I'm pretty sure they'd get away with it.
5)This claim "He was completely reliant on others." is just plainly wrong.
Remember when he got help for LITERALLY EVERY TASK during the Triwizard Tournament? Yeah, we know he didn’t choose to be entered, but he could have at least TRIED. Harry is the kid in your class who shows up two minutes before class starts and expects you to let him copy your homework. NO, BRO. DO IT YOURSELF. Just a little effort, Harry. That’s all we ask.
Okay, admittedly he was given help during the Triwizard Tournament; however, throughout the series he is rather self-sufficient. He figured out how to stop Voldemort in the final moments in the first film and book, he figured out how to use the Basilisk tooth to destroy the diary in the second book. He alone figured out that Peter Pettigrew was alive using the map and it was he who saved himself using the full patronus even though he only knew he could do it because of a temporal paradox. In the forth book he did escape Voldemort more or less on his own (yeah Priori Incantartum released a few spirits that did create a distraction) but it was he who survived. He also had to get through the maze on his own (the book version was more problem filled than the film version). The fifth book he saved himself and Dudley from the Dementor, and he instructed his fellow classmates in proper DaDA despite constant threat by Umbridge. The fact is that no one is ever one hundred percent self reliant, and Harry proved himself to be both a team player, a capable leader, and strong individual fighter.
6)"He was a dick to Moaning Myrtle." Oh come on, really Ms. Parker...really? Moaning Myrtle is a 30 something year old ghost hitting on Harry while he was in the bath...to be fair she was extremely creepy.
And Harry loves being the center of attention. Remember when Harry insisted on saving every single person underwater during the second task? Yeah, us too. Did Harry really think that Dumbledore, and the Ministry of Magic for that matter, would allow innocent people to drown underwater? We don’t freaking think so. Of course he had to insert himself into the situation and “save” these people WHO DIDN’T EVEN NEED SAVING.
Okay so who doesn't like being the center of attention on occasion, it's only human. But this example by Ms. Parker really doesn't support her claim. Again she takes an example out of context. Imagine for a moment that you're told that something important to you has been taken and two of your best friends, the girl you love, and some young girl you've never seen before are all underwater anchored to the lake floor. Did anyone really think, while reading this part or watching this part in the film, that Harry thought "hmm if I save them all I'll get more attention"? No, he obviously didn't think that, he genuinely thought that they were all in a life threatening situation. Let us also be blunt here, in the very beginning of the book and film it is predicated that the Triwizard tournament was not only dangerous but deadly. So would the Ministry of Magic and Dumbledore put these students into a life threatening situation...well they are holding the Triwizard Cup in the first place, so yes they would. Clearly Ms. Parker didn't grasp the weight of the task and how Harry actually viewed the situation, for him it went from being a competition to trying to make sure everyone was safe. It went from a selfish action to a selfless one, not the other way around. Yes, maybe, they didn't need saving, but that isn't the sort of person Harry is, to leave someone behind to die. This is only emphasized when he brought Cedric's body back after he was killed by Pettigrew.
Harry doesn’t freaking LISTEN. Remember when Dumbledore and Snape told Harry that Voldemort would try to control his dreams and he needed to practice Occlumency? US TOO. And remember when Harry literally didn’t and then Voldemort used him to get what he wanted and Sirius died in the process? US TOO.
What teenager does listen? What teenager listens to a guy who has made his life miserable since the first day they met each other because of a grudge he held against said teenager's father? Come on now, having Snape teach Harry about Occlumency was like asking George W. Bush to teach Hillary Clinton how to govern, it just isn't a good idea. More importantly, Occlumency is difficult and there are far better ways to learn how to do such magic than to have a wizard with a grudge attack you with Legilimency. Had Snape taught Harry correctly and hadn't let his personal feelings for Harry get in the way of that education, Harry might just have succeeded at learning Occulumency.
Harry refused to use his damn brain. Point proven: If he would have used his brain, Sirius might still be alive. CONTROVERSIAL? Maybe. But also, fact: Sirius gave Harry a damn mirror as a way for them to communicate and he cared so much about it that he stored it at the bottom of his trunk so that it could shatter just like our hearts when Sirius died. Sorry.
Actually this one can be chalked up to Rowling not using her brain. Believe it or not she admitted to forgetting about the mirror and had to go back and write in the section about the mirror int he bottom of the trunk to clear up the plot hole. This one is on her, not Harry being stupid.
10)Ms. Parker needs to reread the books and not rely upon the films so much, this one just proves her ignorance.
He legitimately thought only about himself 97% of the time.Sure, sometimes he was actually the victim, but was he really? Remember in the seventh book when his friends risked their lives to try and save his life by transforming themselves into him with the help of Polyjuice Potion? And remember how he threw a fit and was like, “Wah, don’t help me.” And they were like, “STFU, this isn’t just about you.” It isn’t just about you, Harry. Stop acting like it is.
Harry's objection to them taking on his form was because he didn't want them to be attacked. He was thinking of them, not himself. Talk about misinterpretation on Ms. Parker's part. But the initial claim is pretty bold, when almost the entire time he is thinking about other people, even when those people are assholes to him and others. He went back and saved Malfoy, as an example, from the Room of Requirements once it was set on fire. I'll point to Neville's Remembral again in the first book and film, saving Ginny in the second book, saving Sirius and Buckbeak in the third, saving Mr. Weasley in the fifth, trying to save Dumbledore in the sixth, and literally saving everyone in the seventh. He consistently thinks of others more than he does himself throughout the series.
11) Ms. Parker is repeating herself...
He gets credit for everything even though he would have been dead in the first book without the help of his friends. Wow Harry is such a hero! Wow Harry has defeated Voldemort for seven books in a row! BUT HAS HE?? HAS HE?? No. No, he has not. Good old Voldemort would have killed Harry in the first book if he didn’t have help from pretty much everyone, but especially Ron and Hermione. At least be appreciative, man.
Same argument different point. I've already rebutted this same essential argument, but I'll do it again. While Harry does in fact require help throughout the series, who wouldn't? That fact is that all great characters rely on others and in doing so succeed. It isn't his fault that he is given praise for his actions. Nor is the claim that he gets all the credit valid, in the first book (using Ms. Parker's example) both Ron and Hermoine and Neville are rewarded points for their efforts and for helping Harry. The fact is that Harry constantly acknowledges their help and in one of the more cathartic moments yells at them for seemingly abandoning him (the fifth book after he reaches the House of Black). His anger demonstrates his understanding of his need for them.
12)"He is cocky for no reason." Yes he is the "chosen one" and he plays with the title jokingly and sparingly in the series. This doesn't make him cocky. Nor is he all that cocky throughout the series. He is constantly humbled and in many cases humiliated throughout the books and films. The point is that perception of "cockiness" is tempered by his actions.
13) He's stubborn...again name a teenager that isn't stubborn? Name a teenager that isn't stubborn when he's not really in the wrong and being accused of being in the wrong by his best friend and those he considers family? Do that and I'll accept Ms. Parker's claim.
14)He plays the victim....well he is in fact a victim here and in many more ways than most people think.
He was raised by his anti-magical uncle and aunt in a rather cruel way (despite there being a spare room he was forced to live in the cupboard under the stairs for fuck sake). He's introduced to a magical world where he is known by everyone and thus stardom takes affect, making him lonelier than before and often misunderstood by his peers and his teachers. He is attacked by a professor who is inhabited by Voldemort, and from his perspective without reason. He is constantly tasked with thwarting Voldemort as he, his friends, and the school are attacked by him and his forces. Often because he is the only one capable of fighting Voldemort or willing to fight him. His entire life is shadowed by self-doubt, mistrust of others, and discrimination by his only family and remains this way until he gains Sirius.
He is by and large the hero and victim of the series.
15) Ms. Parker's conclusion; "Basically, Harry Potter is an asshole. The series is flawless, the story magical, and the main character annoying AF."
My conclusion: Ms. Parker hasn't a blood clue what she's talking about. Harry Potter is anything but an asshole. Maybe annoying at times, but realistically so. As a character he is a quintessential hero that is going through a very long and punctuated discovery of who he is relative to the world he lives in. His apparent flaws are ones common to teenagers and reflect the reality of being a teen and growing up out of adolescences.
In fact, had he been closer to the character Ms. Parker describes he might just have been more interesting. Harry Potter is, simply, a two dimensional character who's development follows candid tropes common to the hero creation arc stretched out over several books. While his friends and other characters develop more roundly, Harry reflects an almost straight and narrow development that could be pegged to any other hero in any other genre. In this respect Harry Potter is a very bad character, and only in this respect is he a very bad character. None of the reasons given by Ms. Parker reflect Harry or even the stories when looked at within context.