Are we reverting back to beloved childhood books to deal with a disturbing moment in American history? Or is there something more profound at work?
One of the many challenging things about Donald Trump's administration is that Trump himself is so childish, so surreal, and so overwhelming that he is almost incompatible with generally accepted frameworks of reality.
Therefore, having a familiar framework like Harry Potter to help orchestrate one's understanding of modern politics and its main players is surprisingly helpful—if only to give us something to fall back on in these dark times.
Image via Quote Fancy
When many of us read Harry Potter as kids, we never imagined that we'd see an American president in our lifetimes who reminded us so profoundly of Lord Voldemort. Americans would never elect someone who would lean so far into overt evil and hatred, we thought.
Many of us also never imagined that we'd see the day when literal children and young people have provided the strongest defenses against forces of overwhelming evil. Though Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes the place of Harry Potter on this list, the real Harry Potters of this world are Greta Thunberg, Parkland's Emma Gonzalez, the young founders of the movement called Sunrise, and every person who has taken a stand when the people in power seemed powerless to resist. Though these people don't have magic spells at their disposal, they've used their voices to engage and motivate a resistance, and we need many more of them—and maybe even another generation of Harry Potter readers—for real change to happen.
The White House
1. Donald Trump = Voldemort
Image via Social News Daily
Donald Trump has been drawing comparisons to Voldemort ever since he rose to power. Voldemort built his reign on hatred of Mudbloods, which can easily be compared to how Trump built his campaign on a return to a "pure" America, based on an exclusion of anyone who's not white and especially anyone non-white who wasn't born in the U.S. The similarities don't end there: They both had wealthy fathers, they both possess incredibly large egos and tons of rabid followers, they're both prone to fits of rage, and they both might be destroyed by a glasses-sporting hero.
Many have written about the problems with comparing Trump to Voldemort—namely that Voldemort is fake and Trump is very real, and he's done severe harm to people across America. J. K. Rowling herself said that Trump is way worse than Voldemort. Still, remembering that Voldemort was a hollow man who was obsessed with his own image and literally split himself into pieces to continue his bloody rule might give us a window into who Trump is on the inside, as well as the kind of action that might be able to stop him.
2. Ivanka = Bellatrix Lestrange
They're both smart, conniving, powerful, and joined at the hip to their leader and/or father, so Ivanka is easily comparable to Bellatrix Lestrange. Bellatrix is one of the most powerful witches in the series, and Ivanka's political power and cultural sway cannot be understated and should not be underestimated.
3. Melania = Nagini
Melania's eerie, silent, heavily surveilled, and profoundly mysterious presence draws undeniable comparisons to Voldemort's resident serpent.
4. Eric Trump and Don Jr. = Crabbe and Goyle
Large adult sons.
Comparing these slack-jawed goons merits little extrapolation. They're nearly indistinguishable in terms of who they are as individuals, and they follow their leader around, frequently bungle interviews with the press and/or possess little to no magical talent, and thrive mostly on their connections.
5. Betsy DeVos = Delores Umbridge
Image via caffeinatedrage.com
People have been making this comparison since Betsy DeVos was appointed as Secretary of Education. Despite her few qualifications, DeVos was arbitrarily appointed, just like Umbridge was made Headmistress of Hogwarts while Dumbledore was away on one of his doomed quests. And of course, both have done extreme damage to the children they were appointed to educate and the school systems they were appointed to help.
6. Kellyanne Conway = Rita Skeeter
Remember Rita Skeeter, the incredibly annoying journalist who published fabricated stories in The Daily Prophet and ultimately wrote a book full of "alternative facts" about Dumbledore? She's obviously the fictional version of Kellyanne Conway, Trump's former campaign manager and current counselor who invented such events as the "Bowling Green Massacre." It also seems feasible that Kellyanne Conway might've done some time as an unregistered Animagus beetle.
7. Mike Pence = Lucius Malfoy
They're both evil second-in-commands with blindingly white hair, slimy, eerie demeanors, and enough hatred to support conversion therapy and/or to enslave and torture innocent house elves. Enough said.
8. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez = Harry Potter
Out of all the politicians who have stepped up to face off against Trump, only one has managed to mesmerize the nation with her power, energy, and signature circular glasses: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She's been labeled "the only politician with the star power to challenge President Donald Trump," after all. And her version of the Green New Deal is one of the only plans that has presented a strong enough challenge the true Voldemort: climate change (and the late capitalist system that fuels it).
Like Potter, Ocasio-Cortez has been accused of being motivated by a hunger for the spotlight. In the end, though, she seems uniquely poised to save us all from the (quite literal) end of the world.
9. Ilhan Omar = Hermione Granger
Hermione was constantly cursed at and attacked for being a Mudblood. Similarly, Ilhan Omar has been at the center of Trump and his followers' hateful rhetoric because she is an immigrant. It is definitely problematic and inaccurate to compare Rowling's Mudbloods to immigrants—but in a loose sense, both of these groups have been demonized and labeled as impure outsiders and threats to the established and original ruling class by extremist purebloods and/or conservatives, and it's hard not to see the parallels.
10. Rashida Tlaib = Ginny Weasley
If there was an honorary member of the trio, it would probably be Ginny (if not Neville). Since Ginny may be the most fearsome fighter around, she's a natural choice for Tlaib, a powerhouse in her own right.
11. Ayanna Pressley = Ron Weasley
Pressley is definitely part of the Squad, just like Ron was always part of Harry Potter's seminal trio. However, in the seventh book, Ron abandoned Harry and Hermione—just like Pressley recently went rogue among the Squad due to her comments about Israel, and some publications have argued that Pressley has always operated from "within the political establishment," whereas the other Squad members come from outside it and are more overtly radical. Similarly, Ron is a pureblood and grew up in a magical family, while Hermione and Harry both came from far outside Hogwarts and the world of magic. Though she's a key member of the Squad, if anyone would dip out halfway through a quest for Horcruxes/a bid to impeach Trump (if only to come back at a key moment to save everyone), it'd probably be Pressley.
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Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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