Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh

"Harry Potter" and the real-life realization I will talk about now

Three books into my re-read of Harry Potter, and I'm spotting connections and foreshadowing I didn't see before (to be fair, I'm still in the books I read 15 years ago), enjoying both the storytelling energy and the jokes, wondering what a British-accented drawl sounds like — Draco Malfoy speaks like that, and is that different from how Tom Felton played him in the films? — and realizing this:

I find bullies deeply boring.

I wanted to say "bullies are boring," which might also be true, but the first version? Definitely true. I dealt with bullies throughout my youth; I mostly didn't deal with them all that well. They were, annoyingly, kind of a fact of life. I think I worked to forget a lot of what they did to me — to this day, I don't like thinking about them — but I can at least say I never had a bully do anything dramatic or awful (or permanent). So I'm lucky, but I don't feel lucky, because bullies can be poison in human form.

Thanks to Harry's Invisibility Cloak, in Chamber of Secrets we briefly see Draco when he's a) unaware of Harry's presence, b) not bullying, and c) still a jackass. And when Draco knows Harry's around, he's all Harry Potter Is Dumb, Harry Potter Is To Be Mocked, Harry Potter Is A Rotter And So's Anyone Close To Him. He's consistent. (Find some new material, Draco.) I know, Draco has to think about stuff that's Not Harry Potter, but we're not going to see that.

Good. I have little to no desire to see a bully's inner life. (I wrote a short story from the point of view of one bad guy, but I won't write one from the point of view of Draco.) I know there are reasons, often sad ones, that people become bullies; I also don't have to like that some react to those reasons by becoming bullies. It's a choice. One I don't respect. That choice passes pain along, and adds pain and annoyance to the world. It's a choice I try not to make. I have, in fact, since childhood, made the choice not to bully.

But I should have paid better attention to when bullies went after others. Me not thinking about bullies back then meant that other people who were bully-targeted didn't get my help. There are ways to help: take a bully's attention off of their target. Confuse the bully, say. I've long been good at confusing people; bullies would've been good to confuse. Make them go "What?!" Be weird. Be smilingly weird. Doesn't require knowing a bully's inner life to be effective; besides, going after any specific weakness you know a bully has could backfire, because said bully might get especially defensive and aggressive in response. The point is to distract the bully, and to give a cushion to someone who, like me and a lot of us, has had to deal with bullies.

I do, finally, feel lucky this way: bullies were more or less out of my life come college. I don't remember bullying being an issue then at all. But that also means that whatever bullying happened on the University of Oregon campus at the time, I, again, didn't see it.

I can be reminded of it now, thanks to my reading. I can be more aware of it. And I, ultimately, some way, can do something about it.

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