One Day the Potterverse Needs To Answer This Question
When Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling resurrected the Potterverse last year with the blockbuster Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, they gave us a darker, grittier wizarding world than we’d seen or even imagined before. America’s wizarding world in the 1920’s was full of Aurors who resembled G-men and sentenced wizards and witches to death without trial, appeal or even waiting. It wasn’t just a darker diversion of the fantasy world we’d fallen in love with, it was a dirtier, coldly more realistic one.
And while I was wondering how America’s world of witches and wizards could have evolved so differently-what social forces could be responsible for forging such a starker reality,-another question began to snarl and bark in the back of my head. While I enjoyed Fantastic Beasts and am looking forward to seeing what else Rowling has up her seemingly infallible storytelling sleeve, I realized there’s one other story I’m dying see.
Perhaps the greatest commandment in the magical community is the Statute of Secrecy, the law demanding that the wizarding world must always remain hidden from the world of Muggles or No-Majs (non-magics as they’re called in America). It is observed across the entire globe and failure to obey it carries significant consequences. The amount of magic energy devoted to creating and maintaining the fragile veil of secrecy rivals a dozen nuclear reactors. The wizarding world is convinced it’s very survival depends on remaining hidden.
But after seeing Fantastic Beasts, I was left with one Hagrid sized question; why?
J.K. Rowling has occasionally dropped hints that something happened that convinced wizards and witches they had to conceal their presence from Muggles. And given the Statute’s far reaching mandate, it makes sense to believe whatever that was it must have happened world wide. Whatever it was, it was to drive the magic community underground and inspired centuries (maybe millennia) of fanatical secrecy. But I keep asking myself what that something could have been? Because if I was a betting man, I’d put twenty bucks on wizards winning any fight with Muggles ten times out of ten and twice on Sundays.
Think about it. In Fantastic Beasts we saw witches and wizards erasing the memories of an entire city with no Muggles the wiser. We saw them rebuild entire buildings that had been laid waste with a handful of words and a mere wave of a wand. We saw wizards contain massive game preserves in suitcases and create impenetrable barriers of magic and illusions. We saw them duel with telekinesis and lightnings bolts and defy the laws of physics with the same effort it takes to blink. And that’s to say nothing of the miracles we saw wizarding children capable of in the original Harry Potter tales.
Essentially every wizard and witch on the planet is a walking, talking weapon of mass destruction. So you have to ask, what happened to convince a race of virtual demigods to take their entire culture underground and live in secrecy? What world shaking, mind bending card did Muggles have to play up force such an unimaginably powerful civilization to roll over and play dead?
It’s Human nature to exploit the weak. Thousands of years of history has proven this to be as constant as death and taxes. It even holds true today and capitalism is practically built on this truth (in case you have any doubts, ask yourself how much the child labourers who assembled your TV and wove your clothes in third world sweat shops got paid for their trouble). And it isn’t like the Wizarding world doesn’t have examples of Wizard supremacy. There seems to be a sizeable portion of the magic community that subscribes to the idea of their superiority, with no shortage of followers prepared to follow revolutionaries like Grimwald and Voldemmort (and you get the feeling that this thinking goes back further than those two). Even Albus Dumbledore, the Potterverse’s patron saint, was once convinced that Wizards should rule Muggles as benevolent dictators.
So the Statute of Secrecy can’t simply be explained as enlightened thinking by a more powerful segment of society. Human civilization doesn’t, hasn’t and likely never will work that way. And there’s plenty of Wizards who feel it’s their right to rule over the inferior Muggles. So what happened that convinced wizards they had to hide themselves away, despite their overwhelming power?
Amid all the talk of more Potterverse movies following the success of Fantastic Beasts, that’s one story I would love to be told. Who knows, it may be touched on in one of the new books that came out last week (History of Magic and Journey Through The History of Magic), but this is a story we need in our Harry potter lives. And given that the Potter franchise has stated to get a little narrative dirt on it after Fantastic Beasts, maybe J.K. Rowling can stretch her storytelling legs a little and give us a PG-13 flavoured epic.
Now tell me that wouldn’t be a block buster in the making.