Like any red-blooded Gryffindor, I’ve never failed to defend the honor of the Wizarding World against accusations that the books don’t make sense.

Why do folks use trains, floo powder, port keys, carriages pulled by griffins, thestrals, broomsticks, dragons, magical underwater pirate ships and the Knight Bus to get around when they can apparate? Why didn’t someone ever consider using a Time Turner to kill Voldemort or at least save some of his victims?

These types of questions have answers to greater or lesser degrees, but it’s certainly true that witches, wizards, and the world they inhabit are all rather strange. (150 points for catching the Snitch will never make sense.) If you look closely, however, these kinds of oddities are where J. K. Rowling’s genius for world-building really shines.

First: there just aren’t very many witches and wizards. Population estimates indicate that the world is at least 99.97% Muggle, and probably more so. (The basis for this, and other claims, can be found in my longer article.) Next: witches and wizards don’t have to work if they don’t want to. Slughorn got by comfortably filching from unsuspecting Muggles. With almost 1000 Muggles to every witch or wizard there is plenty to go around. Poverty exists, but not like in our world. The Weasleys had plenty of access to food, shelter, clothes, medical care, and even elite schooling, and the Gaunts only lived in squalor because they chose it out of pride.

By contrast, Muggle society is defined by constant struggle. We work hard, or we don’t eat. That constant pressure is the driving force for Muggle innovation. The Wizarding World doesn’t have that driving force, and as a result it has tended to ride along on the coat tails of Muggle society.

Consider the basic economy of the Wizarding World: other than specifically magical items, the Wizarding World doesn’t seem to produce anything. Who provides the food that the Hogwarts house elves use to make their feasts? Who provides the cloth to be made into school robes? Who mines the tin, copper, antimony, and bismuth that go into a cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)? All the basic materials for the Wizarding World probably come from Muggles.

There is also no independent Wizarding culture. Religion, language, music, and even the educational system all derive from the Muggle world. Sure, Hogwarts teaches you how to use magic, but who teaches you how to read and write? For Muggle-borns like Harry and Hermione, at least, you learn in Muggle schools.

Even the Wizarding World’s governments are derivative. In the UK, Her Majesty’s Government is led by the Prime Minister who then picks all the other Ministers. So when the witches and wizards of the UK call their head of government the “Minister for Magic” they’re inserting their top-level government into the Muggle system in a way that is at least dependent if not outright subordinate.

ministry-of-magic-630

Because the Wizarding World is not subject to the unceasing pressure to fight for survival, it has never really developed. It is a primitive society in modern trappings. Only the most ancient of human institutions exist—like universities and government—while all of the modern ones (like corporations and franchises) are absent. Everything from inefficient methods of travel to imitation banks (real ones do more than lock up money in boxes for you) makes perfect sense from this perspective.

So much for wizarding society, but what about the odd behavior of witches and wizards? Without doubt the strangest is the reckless disregard for human life, especially the lives of children. In the very first book, for example, Dumbledore relocates a ferocious, man-eating monster into a school for children as young as eleven years old. He warns the students not to enter the third floor corridor, but in a castle filled with moving staircases where the youngest kids are constantly getting lost, what kind of protection is that? Then he puts a lock on the door, but it’s the kind of lock that students learn to pick on practically their first day. Then there’s the danger of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Or the hazards of playing full-contact sports a hundred feet in the air with an age range of 11-17 in the same league. And these are just the reckless decisions with kids before the outbreak of the Second Wizarding War!

Well, the same power that makes it easy for witches and wizards to live off of the work of Muggles also makes the Wizarding World very, very dangerous. In the Wizarding World, every child wanders around with potentially lethal power from a pretty young age. The resulting fatality rate is much higher than what Muggles are used to. Dumbledore and Grindelwald accidentally killed his little sister in a childhood fight, Luna’s mom blew herself up playing around with potions, and Quirrel is apparently on the run from an angry vampire. Any witch or wizard who wants to kill someone can do it with a single spell. It’s like living in a society where everyone carries a loaded bazooka everywhere they go. Then there are the dangerous creatures (Fluffy is only the second most dangerous creature in the castle after the basilisk) who apparently interact far more with witches and wizards than they do with Muggles. (And by “interact” I mean “try to eat”.)

Although some things, like the time turners, really don’t make sense, for the most part the more you dig into the books of Harry Potter the more impressive Rowling’s world-building prowess becomes. The idiosyncrasies of the Wizarding World and its denizens turn out to be not just imaginative flourishes, but a pretty keen statement on human nature. Without constant, omnipresent struggle our society would tend to atrophy.

The really interesting question that remains is this: what would the Wizarding World look like if it couldn’t depend on Muggles for all its basic needs?

In interesting but potentially brilliant casting news, comedian Amy Schumer will be taking on the role of Barbie for a live-action film.

Take a moment to soak in the news. Now revel in the idea. This could be awesome.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amy Schumer is not only leading the project on screen, but she’ll also have an influence on the script.

Read full article

In interesting but potentially brilliant casting news, comedian Amy Schumer will be taking on the role of Barbie for a live-action film.

Take a moment to soak in the news. Now revel in the idea. This could be awesome.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amy Schumer is not only leading the project on screen, but she’ll also have an influence on the script.

Last year, Sony had their pick of three complete scripts for a live-action Barbie movie. Of those three, they chose Hilary Winston’s. Now that Schumer is on board, THR says to expect her and her sister, Kim Caramele, to rewrite Winston’s original idea.

The plot, given that Schumer doesn’t change the major details, “begins in a perfect land of Barbies where one woman slowly awakens to the fact that she doesn’t fit it. She is expelled from the idealistic land and journeys to the real world, where she discovers that being unique is an asset.”

The outlet also addresses the fact that Mattel has had to deal with plenty of criticism regarding body image and race when it comes to the Barbie toys. Schumer’s casting is a great way to speak to some of those issues, and will hopefully provide a positive and uplifting message by the movie’s end.

There will be, of course, some hesitation given Schumer’s previous work. One only has to look as far as Trainwreck and Inside Amy Schumer to see her comedy is often brutally honest and raunchy. Barbie would be shocked.

But Schumer is an actress, after all, and a brilliant comedian. For this “contemporary spin on beauty, feminism and identity,” she seems like just the right fit.

What do you think of Amy Schumer as Barbie?

It’s arguably the biggest day for Hamilton fans since the release of the original Broadway recording: The Hamilton Mixtape has arrived!

Following years of development, the Hamilton Mixtape was released around the world on Friday, December 2. Mixtape features, well, remixes of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton hits, sung by artists both big and small from various genres.

To celebrate the album’s release, a special #Ham4Ham was hosted at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Thursday night, where names like Ashanti, Ja Rule, Regina Spektor, and Andra Day performed their songs from Mixtape:

Read full article

It’s arguably the biggest day for Hamilton fans since the release of the original Broadway recording: The Hamilton Mixtape has arrived!

Following years of development, the Hamilton Mixtape was released around the world on Friday, December 2. Mixtape features, well, remixes of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton hits, sung by artists both big and small from various genres.

To celebrate the album’s release, a special #Ham4Ham was hosted at the Richard Rodgers Theater on Thursday night, where names like Ashanti, Ja Rule, Regina Spektor, and Andra Day performed their songs from Mixtape:

Stream ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’:

Spotify users can easily stream The Hamilton Mixtape below. You can also listen here via Apple Music.:

And you can purchase a physical copy from Amazon here (you know all the Hamilton fans in your life will want a physical copy):

Hamilton Mixtape tracklist

1. No John Trumbull (Intro) – The Roots
2. My Shot (feat. Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz & Nate Ruess) [Rise Up Remix] – The Roots
3. Wrote My Way Out – Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc
4. Wait For It – Usher
5. An Open Letter (feat. Shockwave) [Interlude] – Watsky
6. Satisfied (feat. Miguel & Queen Latifah) – Sia
7. Dear Theodosia (feat. Ben Folds) – Regina Spektor
8. Valley Forge (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
9. It’s Quiet Uptown – Kelly Clarkson
10. That Would Be Enough – Alicia Keys
11. Immigrants (We Get The Job Done) – K’naan, Snow Tha Product, Riz MC, Residente
12. You’ll Be Back – Jimmy Fallon & The Roots
13. Helpless (feat. Ja Rule) – Ashanti
14. Take A Break (Interlude) – !llmind
15. Say Yes To This – Jill Scott
16. Congratulations – Dessa
17. Burn – Andra Day
18. Stay Alive (Interlude) – J.PERIOD & Stro Elliot
19. Slavery Battle (Demo) – Lin-Manuel Miranda
20. Washington’s By Your Side – Wiz Khalifa
21. History Has Its Eyes On You – John Legend
22. Who Tells Your Story (feat. Common & Ingrid Michaelson) – The Roots
23. Dear Theodosia (Reprise) – Chance The Rapper & Francis and The Lights

What are our favorite performances on ‘The Hamilton Mixtape’?

Chris Pratt is currently on a press tour for Passengers. Jennifer Lawrence may or may not be there too.

Passengers, the new sci-fi epic starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, comes out later this month. The promo tour has kicked off in Europe, with the two stars on hand to answer all our questions.

To entertain himself (and his fans!), Chris Pratt has been updating his Instagram with funny photos and captions from the tour.

Read full article

Chris Pratt is currently on a press tour for Passengers. Jennifer Lawrence may or may not be there too.

Passengers, the new sci-fi epic starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, comes out later this month. The promo tour has kicked off in Europe, with the two stars on hand to answer all our questions.

To entertain himself (and his fans!), Chris Pratt has been updating his Instagram with funny photos and captions from the tour.

There’s some real gold in there, but the best part is when he realizes that fans really want to see some pictures of Jennifer Lawrence — who doesn’t have her own social media accounts — and proceeds to very decidedly not include her!

Update: He did it again.


See some of the hilarious posts from Chris Pratt below:

Finally got that selfie with Jen y'all wanted. #passengersmovie

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Just hanging with my bestie Jen. #passengersmovie

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Here Jen and I pose with @elrubiuswtf

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Here's an extremely artistic and meaningful video I made in which Jen is heavily featured. #passengersmovie

A video posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Another day down with me and my best buddy Jen. #London #passengersmovie

A photo posted by chris pratt (@prattprattpratt) on

Not going to lie — we’re almost as excited for the press interview videos as we are for the movie itself!

‘Passengers’ hits cinemas on December 21