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Snarcasm: This WALL-E Theory Makes So Much Sense That It Doesn’t

wall-e theory

Snarcasm is an editorial column I do when I read something so upsetting, I have to publish something snarky and sarcastic about it. Thanks for indulging, and definitely take everything you’re about to read incredibly seriously.

Hi. Fan theories are both the best and the worst. Kind of like people! But you can’t say the same about Pixar’s WALL-E, a triumph of animated cinema about the reckless, capitalist dangers of mankind passively wreaking havoc on the environ—

“Sinister WALL-E fan theory will change the way you watch the sweet Pixar film forever”

Oh, OK. I forgot we were watching this “sweet Pixar film” all wrong. How, exactly, was WALL-E some sort of overtly nice and go-lucky tale, considering all the dystopian apocalyptic subject matter?

Go on…Snarcasm: This WALL-E Theory Makes So Much Sense That It Doesn’t

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‘Moana’ Is Basically ‘The Little Mermaid’ In Reverse

moana theory

Time for another Moana theory.

A while back, someone on Tumblr wrote a fan theory about Disney movies (shocker), and it’s actually worth consideration (other shocker). The idea is that Disney’s Moana is almost a perfect inverse of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and let’s not forget that both films were directed by the same duo: Ron Clements and John Musker.

What do we mean by these two movies being the same, but also not at all? Well, it’s not a perfect theory in practice, but it does say something interesting about how creative teams can recycle old ideas in ways that still feel new. You can watch this entire Little Mermaid / Moana theory as a video on Screen Junkies News, or keep reading to get my personal take.

From the video:

Tumblr user Intergalactic-Ashkenazi noticed something strange about Moana. Basically, it’s the same story as The Little Mermaid, except every detail is flipped.

Now it’s certainly not every detail, but you can easily cherry pick a few compelling examples. And there are enough of them to argue that this Moana theory is at least somewhat intentional.

Moana and Ariel are both daughters of overbearing, powerful leaders.

I almost reacted, “Well, aren’t most Disney princess movies?” But that’s actually not the case when you think about it. Pocahontas comes close, but most other Disney “father characters” that are even around range in personalities from silly (Aladdin) to wise (The Lion King).

The video doesn’t directly mention this, but the immediate “reverse” for King Triton and Chief Tui is that one fears the land and the other fears the sea. Also, one is mortal and the other has a wicked trident.

But where Ariel is a sea-bound princess longing to venture onto land, Moana is a landlocked princess longing to venture on the sea.

Counterpoint: the directors copied their own homework but made enough changes to keep it from looking obvious.

Ariel goes to a “big scary ocean lady” who turns out to be evil.

Turns out? I don’t think anyone expected Ursula to be good, but I guess the point is that to Ariel, she seemed good, which only makes Ariel continue to look like an outright moron. The best inverse is probably how Moana turns out to be a way better protagonist.

While Moana goes to a “big scary land lady” who turns out to be good.

At first, I thought the idea was that Maui is the inverse of Ursula, but instead it’s saying that Te Kā fits the bill, which I think is correct. If you go further with this, you can say that Moana seeks out a man for help finding the female villain, while Ariel seeks out the female villain for help finding a man. Or something.

Both movies have a magical necklace with a spiral engraved on it. In The Little Mermaid it belongs to the villain, while in Moana it belongs to the hero.

This one’s slightly more of a stretch because the whole “reverse” thing seems selective at this point. On the one hand, the spirals on both objects actually seem to be the reverse of each other (different placement and one’s a shell while the other resembles a wave). And one’s a macguffin while the other is more of a “power.” On the other hand…was the “heart” in Moana ever a necklace? And is green the inverse of…yellow?

I’m officially overthinking this.

The Little Mermaid has a “small good crab,” where Moana has a “big evil crab.”

The video of course shows Sebastian from The Little Mermaid side-by-side with Tamatoa, the crab who sings “Shiny.” This matches up perfectly. Moana theory saved.

In [The Little Mermaid] a human sings about eating the crab. While in [Moana] the crab sings about eating a human.

You could also argue that Clements and Musker are big fans of dramatic irony that spans across their movies. Both theories are probably correct, and some good evidence for this one in particular is the fact that Tamatoa actually makes a joke about how a crab described like Sebastian is more likable than him in a scene after the end credits.

Moana returns to her people and leads them to a new life on the sea. Where Ariel leaves her ocean family for a new life on land.

Also, Moana has no love interest. In fact, you can read this easily as a shuffling of tropes just as easily as you would some big conspiracy. Moana’s mentor, Maui, is a god, while Ariel’s mentor, Sebastian, is the crab. Ariel’s father is the god, the Kakamora are…things…and so on.

But perhaps the most important detail…

What? What is it? What is this clincher?!

The Little Mermaid sings on a rock, while in Moana the Rock sings to her.

I’ll admit, I laughed out loud at this, but only after having a miniature personal crisis of faith. And that’s the Little Mermaid is basically the reverse of Moana theory. Chime in with your own examples of how this theory holds up (or doesn’t) in the suggestion box below.


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Or just say hey on Twitter: @JonNegroni


Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Theory: Why EGO Killed [Spoilers]

This theory about Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 contains spoilers (obviously). But it will still be here when you’re done watching the movie, hopefully. This theory is available as a video (above) or as a transcription (below). 

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was, in my opinion, a fantastic follow-up to one of Marvel’s best movies and much better than the usual MCU sequel. But there is one aspect of the movie that has been driving me and plenty of other fans crazy with confusion, and that has to do with Ego the Living Planet, portrayed in his human form by Kurt Russell.

As you may recall, we find out in the movie that Ego is Peter Quill’s biological father, and the two share genetics that allow them to channel a powerful godlike energy. At first, Peter is thrilled about the truth of his parentage, being promised to help Ego carve out a new world of their making. But he’s instantly broken from Ego’s spell when told the full, sinister story.

Go on…Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Theory: Why EGO Killed [Spoilers]

The LIGHTSABER Theory: Rey Is Not A Skywalker, Solo, Or Kenobi

The lightsaber is the key.

Ever since the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in December 2015, fans have speculated endlessly on the back story of Rey, debating multiple theories that point to who her parents are and why she’s so strong in the Force.

You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’ve all had something to say on this matter because we all know that the second movie in this trilogy, The Last Jedi, will contain “the twist” that defines the new generation of Star Wars, in the same way The Empire Strikes Back did for fans in 1980.

That said, J.J. Abrams has given us a lot to go on when it comes to explaining Rey’s back story. But even if you don’t believe his comments that Rey’s parents don’t appear in The Force Awakens, there’s ample evidence within the movie itself to support that her parents are not Skywalkers, Solos, or Kenobis. And they’re certainly not anything related to Palpatine because that would be far too complicated for these movies to explain.

But Force Awakens does leave plenty of clues for us to put together that will make more sense in The Last Jedi, coming this December. And it all ladders up to what I call The LIGHTSABER Theory. This is the comprehensive theory that outlines how Star Wars: The Force Awakens reveals the most important details about Rey’s origins all by itself.

lightsaber theory

The LIGHTSABER Theory is simple: everything we need to know about Rey and her parents can be surmised by understanding the role of Luke’s first lightsaber, a macguffin that was at one point the main plot device in Force Awakens. Years ago, before the release of Episode VII, Lucasfilm hinted that the story of the movie would hinge on Rey and her friends trying to keep Luke’s lightsaber out of Kylo Ren’s hands. All we knew of Kylo at the time was that he sought Sith relics, especially related to Vader, but they cut most of this out of the final film, perhaps to make the big twist less obvious.

In fact, you can see a blatant hint of this in one of the first teasers for Force Awakens when it’s shown that a lightsaber is being handed to Leia. Eventually, the lightsaber hot potato was diminished a great deal by Abrams (or the producers) and later replaced with our heroes trying to find Luke Skywalker through use of BB-8’s map, but there are still hints of the lightsaber’s ownership struggle, like when Kylo Ren demands Rey give him Luke’s lightsaber on Starkiller Base. “That lightsaber doesn’t belong to you.”

When you watch Force Awakens, you’ll probably notice that it’s unclear what Han, Leia, and Maz know about Rey’s origins. All of their conversations about Rey are cut short for the audience, hinting that they know exactly who she is, but we don’t get to know yet. Many fans claim this as evidence that Rey is related to another character in the franchise, but that’s almost certainly not the case.

Before we dive deep into the crux of The LIGHTSABER Theory, let’s cover a few important details that you might have missed on your first viewing of the movie.

1. Lor San Tekka (played by Max Von Sydow) seems connected to Rey somehow.

lightsaber theory

The fact that Lor San Tekka’s village, which is part of the “Church of the Force,” is so close to Rey’s salvage town is too coincidental to ignore. In fact, it strongly suggests that Lor San Tekka was an Obi-Wan Kenobi-esque character in Force Awakens, watching Rey from afar. His strong connection to Luke Skywalker, as revealed in the canon novels, is a crucial piece of evidence for believing Rey’s identity is known and understood by Luke’s inner circle.

It’s also a bit suspicious that the Millennium Falcon is also within close proximity to Rey, but that’s a theory for another day. For now, we can try to believe it was really stolen, though I think there’s ample evidence to suggest that whoever dropped Rey off on Jakku has a serious connection to the Millennium Falcon.

2. Han, Leia, and Maz know who Rey is, but not at first.

lightsaber theory

When Han Solo first runs into Rey, he clearly doesn’t recognize her. In fact, he assures her and Finn that they can “be on their way” once they’ve dealt with the smugglers on the freighter. But after spending some time with Rey, it’s easy to notice that he’s slowly realizing who she is.

This is supported by how conversations between Han and Maz and Leia that are about Rey are all offscreen. Maz asks Han “Who’s the girl?” as soon as they’re alone, so clearly Maz can discern that Rey is somehow special, and we know Han has told Maz something crucial about Rey’s identity because the next we see of Maz, she’s trying to convince Rey to take Luke’s lightsaber and learn about the Force.

In fact, that entire scene of Rey stumbling across the lightsaber feels like an orchestration. Like Maz purposefully put the lightsaber in a place where Rey could feel the Force guiding her. When Rey goes to find the lightsaber, the door even opens for her. There’s no way Maz would just leave such a valuable relic unguarded, beneath a cantina filled with outlaws, no less. She wanted Rey to get the lightsaber because of something Han told her. Which is why she’s there as soon as Rey finishes her Force flashback, or “Forceback” as Abrams calls it.

This flashback essentially completes the puzzle, or at least the most important parts we can know. After watching it, you can figure out who Rey is, why she was left on Jakku, and who it was that left her. This is the crux of The LIGHTSABER Theory. When Rey has her flashback, she’s taken through several moments in time that appear random, but they’re actually not.

3. The “Forceback”

lightsaber theory

The first scene is a shot of Cloud City, where Luke fought Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back. This was confirmed by Abrams, who has said that they actually wanted to show some of the fight itself but then chose to make it more eery by illuminating an empty hallway. Fair enough.

Then there’s a crash, and Rey finds herself in front of Luke and R2-D2 by a fire, and we hear Luke scream “Nooooo” from when he learned Darth Vader was his father. Then the scene changes to the Knights of Ren and Kylo himself (if that is Kylo) standing around a group of bodies, presumably the next generation of Jedi trained by Luke. Someone goes to attack Rey, or whoever was there instead of Rey, but he’s killed by Kylo.

Then we see a young Rey getting left behind on Jakku with Unkar as an unknown ship flies away, a ship by the way that looks a lot like the one we see as concept art for Rey’s family’s ship, but let’s just assume that’s a coincidence. Finally, we get a glimpse of the future, when Rey confronts Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base. And we hear Obi-Wan Kenobi calling out to Rey. These are her first steps.

What do all of these scenes have in common? It’s pretty obvious, actually.The lightsaber. It ties them all together, and we’re seeing a sequence of events in chronological order. In each of these scenes, the lightsaber is present and something significant happens to it.

lightsaber theory

First, Luke loses it during his fight with Vader. Then, Luke presumably finds it again with R2D2, supported by how he and Lor San Tekka sought out Jedi relics together. I believe finding the lightsaber again is one of the triggers for Ben Solo’s turn to the dark side, and we’re seeing the aftermath of the Jedi Massacre as hinted in The Last Jedi teaser. We know Luke had to seek out the lightsaber himself because Rey finds the lightsaber in the same chest Obi-Wan had. Only Luke would know about that relic.

And then there’s the rain scene. The blue lightsaber must have changed ownership to Ben Solo at this point, but when he became Kylo Ren, sometime after the worst of the Jedi Massacre. In each of these scenes, the lightsaber is the key. That’s how we know who dropped Rey off on Jakku.

It was Luke Skywalker. The lightsaber had to be present when we see her being left on Jakku. And Rey even says this when Maz pressures her moments later, telling her that who she’s waiting for isn’t coming back. Maz then says someone else could come back, and Rey says, “Luke.” Rey actually realizes that Luke left her on Jakku at this point, but she didn’t know it was him. She thought Luke was a myth and that her family would come back to get her, which is what Luke must have told her. The red herring is that we think she wants the person who left her to come back, but really, she just wants answers. She wants to know what happened to her parents.

lightsaber theory

I strongly believe based on the movie that one or both of Rey’s parents were Luke’s Jedi apprentices and that they’re among the bodies we see in front of the Knights of Ren. An alternate way to interpret this is that Luke ends up giving the lightsaber to Rey’s father or mother, believing them to be the rightful heir to the Jedi and angering Ben Solo because Luke doesn’t trust him to carry on the legacy. This would be huge for a villain who’s been set up to revere his grandfather. Luke might even suspect Ben is slowly being seduced to the Dark Side by Snoke as he picks his successor.

The Knights of Ren scene shows us how Luke gets the lightsaber back during the massacre. I believe Luke has been defeated at this point in the scene, as evidenced by what appears to be Kylo Ren holding Luke’s green lightsaber. Then we see Kylo killing one of his own men who is about to attack Luke, but Kylo kills him, perhaps because he doesn’t want Luke to die just yet, or at all.

After surviving this encounter, Luke leaves Rey on Jakku to protect her from the First Order and Kylo Ren, who might suspect another Force sensitive is around. Han, Leia, and Maz would know about Rey because of her parents, but they’re not as familiar with her as Luke is. This would explain why Kylo seems to find Rey so familiar, yet he clearly doesn’t know who she is when he talks to Supreme Leader Snoke.

lightsaber theory

And this even explains why Kylo gets so angry, especially about Rey using that particular lightsaber, which he recognizes the first time he sees it. He wants to be like Vader, and Anakin’s lightsaber is his key to getting there. This would serve as the real source of conflict between Kylo and Rey. Kylo believes himself to be the rightful heir to Darth Vader by blood, but Rey is his natural enemy because she is heir to Luke Skywalker by the sacrifice of her parents, Luke’s true successor(s).

Why do we hear Obi-Wan in the flashback, then? It’s not because Rey’s parents are somehow connected to him. They don’t have to be. Remember, Obi-Wan gave Luke that lightsaber in the first place. And he has the ability to appear as a Force Ghost, calling out to Rey as a way to pass the proverbial torch on to her.

This adds a whole new layer of significance to some of the ending scenes, and overall, it makes The Force Awakens a better movie. Han told Leia about Rey, as we see in her conversation with Finn. So when Rey comes back after Han Solo’s death, she and Leia hug, even though the audience doesn’t realize they know each other. But they do. At this point, Rey knows that Luke dropped her off on Jakku and that Leia has lost Han. When they see each other, they grieve together as if they know one another.

lightsaber theory

And this also adds new meaning to the final shot of Rey offering the lightsaber back to Luke. It’s a full circle moment for her to remind Luke who he is, who she is, and how the Force has brought them together again. We see Luke’s slow realization of this, as he puts the pieces together himself, and we’ll likely start The Last Jedi with Rey convincing Luke to train her. The big twist will be Rey realizing that her parents were killed and that they were Jedi (or one of them was), and Luke’s decision to leave her on Jakku was rooted in his desire to end the Jedi.

It’s also possible that one parent died by Kylo’s hands while another died on Jakku, where Rey might have been raised alongside the Church of the Force. Perhaps one of her parents is someone who used to live there. Luke could have found Rey with a dead parent, wondering where the other might be, then choosing to leave Rey with Unkar by trading the Millennium Falcon (theory for another day), rather than let her explore the Force among its worshipers. But she’s still close enough for Lor San Tekka to keep an eye on her.

At that point, Luke might have given the lightsaber to Maz, or someone else who would eventually get it to her. We can tell from Maz’s bond with Han Solo and Chewbacca that she’s someone the original heroes trust, and she’d be a less obvious suspect for Kylo Ren to go after when searching for the lightsaber.

lightsaber theory

When we finally see The Last Jedi, I believe we’ll learn about Luke’s dissatisfaction with the Jedi order. Perhaps he sought out the temple in order to find out where he went wrong with Ben, only to realize that the Jedi order has always had its flaws, and maybe it’s best just to let the order die, disregarding Lor San Tekka’s wish that the Jedi come back to bring balance to the Force.

Until Rey comes along and starts to question Luke’s shift into being neutral. She could be the literal ray of hope for the light side, even redefining it for a new generation, in part because she learns about the legacy of her parents and decides that she wants to follow in their footsteps and take their place as Luke’s successor. A new Skywalker who isn’t one by blood, but rather, merit. She’s not strong in the Force because she was trained at a young age and had her memories wiped or something, it’s because she’s the result of a new legacy and step forward for the Star Wars saga.

And that’s The LIGHTSABER Theory.

There are still a lot of pressing questions to be answered, like where the Knights of Ren rain scene takes place and who was killed there, for example. And I highly doubt I’ve guessed everything exactly right. Part of me does still buy into the idea that Rey had her memory erased via Jedi Mind Trick, but touching the lightsaber “awakened” her, explaining how she was able to use the Force so well all of a sudden—the idea is that she was trained as a Jedi and had her mind wiped, which is why she doesn’t know much about herself and her name “Rey” may actually be fake.

All that said, I sincerely believe that this theory points fans in the right direction. It uses evidence from within the text of the movie, so it’s simple enough for younger viewers to get it in a pinch.

The Force Awakens preps us for knowing that the lightsaber is important and that a lot of Jedi died. There doesn’t have to be a complicated explanation, but rather a rethinking of what we were shown and why were shown it. Rey doesn’t have to come from nothing. In fact, that’s already being set up in how Finn might become a Jedi from nothing.

Rey has a unique legacy that is both new for the Star Wars universe and still connected to the original characters in a simple, believable way that will make perfect sense when revealed in Episode VIII.


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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Isn’t Really A Remake Of A New Hope

force awakens

Every so often, a fan theory comes along to remind us how good fan theories can actually be when the work and time is put into them. Less than a year ago, EC Henry composed what I believe to be a masterful breakdown of The Force Awakens that (dare I say it) makes the movie just a little bit better.

Is Star Wars: The Force Awakens a remake of the original Star Wars (A New Hope)? I’ve always considered the movie to borrow voraciously from that original film, while also lifting plenty from the other two parts of the trilogy. But many reviewers like myself have talked ourselves breathless about how TFA features yet another “droid on the run” story with Death Stars, cantinas, and a modest chosen one.

But in EC Henry’s video essay below, the case is made that TFA is really a “creative remix” of the original trilogy, and there’s a strikingly good reason for this that might shed light on the future of the entire franchise. I’ll unpack the theory below (with some of my own observations), but here’s the quick 3-minute breakdown.

As EC Henry points out, nearly all of the similarities between TFA and A New Hope occur in the first act of both movies. BB-8’s story is parallel to R2D2’s, and we’re on a barren planet that slowly reveals our hero, Rey, who is reminiscent of Luke in some ways.

The Millennium Falcon departing Jakku, followed by meeting Han Solo and Chewbacca, is where the first act in TFA ends (roughly), which mirrors the end of the first act in A New Hope, when Luke meets Han and departs Tatooine aboard the same ship. Henry also implies that Greedo and Han’s antagonism is mirrored with Han’s confrontation with the mercenaries aboard the freighter.

At this point, TFA’s second act starts to mirror the second half of The Empire Strikes Back. There’s a monster-in-space encounter (Rathtars in place of the asteroid worm) followed by Han deciding to visit an old friend (Maz Kanata as a fill-in for Lando Calrissian). We also see Kylo contacting Snoke in the same way Vader contacts Palpatine.

To save for time, TFA converges the Luke/Dagobah subplot with the Cloud City subplot. Rey goes to a mysterious planet and learns more about her origins and destiny with Maz pulling double duty as a fill-in for Yoda. And just like in Empire, the villains show up to wreck things. Rey is defeated by Kylo Ren (a la Luke and Vader’s first fight) and is captured, similar to how Han is taken away by Boba Fett.

force awakens

From here, TFA mirrors the third act of Return of the Jedi. The Rebels/Resistance meet to discuss their rescue plan and discover “another Deathstar.” The story breaks in two with ground forces on Starkiller Base trying to break down the shields and Rogue Squadron attacking from space, just as the Battle of Endor had two fronts. There’s an epic lightsaber battle happening as the space assault reaches its climax, with the Jedi using fury to overwhelm the Sith (Rey slicing Kylo is quite similar to Luke taking down Vader).

As Henry also points out, there are exceptions to this where small elements of the original trilogy are mirrored throughout (the catwalk scene, for example), but there certainly seems to be a primary structure in place that combines all of the movies in a coherent way. But what’s the point? Why would Lucasfilm do a creative remix like this at all?

The expectations for TFA were always going to be astronomically high, so the strategy here makes some sense. Add all of the nostalgic fan service to TFA as a tribute in order to gain credibility for this new trilogy, so the next two movies can unfold in more creatively bold ways that aren’t enslaved to the source material. Put more simply: they started with a look at the past and ended with a strong look toward the future.

And in one strange way, TFA is basically the movie George Lucas intended to make in the 1970s. Rather than a trilogy, he envisioned the entire arc of Star Wars to be told in a single movie. TFA essentially fulfills that vision and authorial intent, so as someone who had a lot of problems with the film, I’m finding myself appreciating it more for what it manages to accomplish in light of what couldn’t have been done 40 years ago.

Did I miss anything? Add some of your own observations below. And if you like this essay, be sure to subscribe to EC Henry’s channel, and consider supporting him on Patreon for more great videos.


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How ‘Big Hero 6: The Series’ Could Bring Back Tadashi

Big Hero 6 is being made into an animated series on Disney XD, set for sometime in 2017. For those of us still hoping for a Tadashi comeback, this is a good thing.

You can read a full transcription of the video above here

Hey friends, hope you enjoy the video this week. My new channel, Jon in Theory, is growing pretty well so far, and the feedback has been awesome since last week’s Doctor Strange video.

Be sure to send me your content suggestions, even if it involves topics I’ve already covered on this site. I’m even planning an updated Pixar Theory episode, which would be quite the undertaking. Again, send me any ideas you think are worth exploring.

One last thing: I want to plug my weekly live show yet again, The Pixar Detectives, which you can check out on Super News. Every Wednesday at 7pm (Pacific), Kayla Savage and I nerd out about Pixar and Disney movies, and we’ve been doing weekly giveaways, like Pixar T-Shirts, paperback copies of The Pixar Theory, and plenty more.

The audience on that show has become huge in recent weeks, and while that’s great, I’m definitely hoping more of you lovely readers check in as well to see what all the noise is about. Last week, for example, we did a live tutorial on how you can draw Doctor Strange as a Pixar character. Next week, we’ll be exploring Moana during an on-location pre-screening, so be sure to check that out, too.

Alright, that’s all from me. Let me know your Big Hero 6 theories in the comments below!


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The Sorting Hat Is The True Villain Of ‘Harry Potter’

sorting hat

There’s no doubt that the Harry Potter series of books and movies have a clear protagonist and antagonist. From the first page, the stage is set for a years-long conflict between the growing Harry Potter and the power-hungry Voldemort. The very catalyst of this story happens away from page and screen, when Harry becomes “the boy who lived,” but the effects of this crucial moment ripple throughout the entire series.

It’s obvious that Voldemort is a bad person and rarely sympathetic. He murders recklessly and selfishly. He unites dark wizards under a bigoted cause to elevate purebloods. But not enough is said about the environment that made a person like Voldemort happen. We can blame Voldemort’s actions on Voldemort himself, but his values came from somewhere else.

Further, there’s a reason he’s able to grab so much power in such a short amount of time. His power in the literal sense draws in followers, yes, but these people also believe in Voldemort’s vision as feverishly as he does, and we shouldn’t be that surprised by this. The wizarding world is incredibly conducive to having a latent streak of division among its people.

And it all starts with Hogwarts.

sorting hat

There are four houses in Hogwarts, each based on one of the four founders. And each founder has a somewhat simplistic personality trait assigned to each house at first glance: Slytherins are ambitious, Ravenclaws are curious, Gryffindors are brave, and Hufflepuffs are patient. In truth, each founder had some overlap of these qualities, based on the short glimpses we occasionally get into their lives. There’s a reason why these four people were able to come together under one vision, despite some fallout with Salazar Slytherin later on. Each of these traits were more like driving forces in their lives, aided by other characteristics, not conflicted by.

In theory, a four-house system is a competent way to organize the school into appropriate, productive factions. But it has inherent problems that lead to how and why someone like Voldemort can happen, Slytherin or no. It’s not because Slytherins are inherently “evil,” but rather that the school cultivates and fosters aggressive division amongst the students, who are too young to even have established personalities. As a result, they become “who they are” through intense competition and disdain for others who are different.

And this falls on the Sorting Hat, a sentient, magical object who seems to also realize this in Book 5, despite making no effort to do something about it, aside from singing a lofty song about unity that falls on deaf ears. The stranger truth is that the Sorting Hat also admits to some students that their choice gets taken into account, placing the burden of a life’s identity on the mood of an eleven-year-old, whose knowledge of each house is usually based on their immature understanding and influence from family.

sorting hat

This results in what we see throughout the series: divisiveness, paranoia, and close-mindedness. Even a Gryffindor like Ron treats S.P.E.W. (Hermione’s elf rights campaign) as a total joke, because he buys into the self-contained bigotry that the wizards seem content in. It’s no wonder the Slytherins (a group I would be sorted into, undoubtedly) hold so much contempt for the other houses. They’re often accosted and labeled for their mistakes, while other renegades from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff are hardly ever chided for theirs.

Let’s not forget that the last two headmasters of Hogwarts (McGonagall and Dumbledore) were Gryffindors (Armando Dippet might have been, as well). For a long time, both the Deputy Headmistress and Headmaster were from one house, which is a clear sign of lopsided power, not unity. The Sorting Hat even belonged to Godric Gryffindor, which is also indicative of corruption, though unprovable.

There’s something to be said about encouraging children with limited understanding of who they are to spend most of their time with kids who are exactly like them. Though this is somewhat offset by allowing two houses to share a class, tensions are still razor sharp thanks to institutional competition that becomes the focus of each year, rather than a way to incentivize hard work. In practice, the House Cup actually drives students to either cheating to victory or holding passive aggressive angst against other students that never really subsides.

On the one hand, we do see at least a semblance of unity among the adults. In fact, we can only speculate on the house affinity for many adult wizards, like Amelia Bones and Cornelius Fudge, which makes it seem like that past Hogwarts grudges are eventually forgotten by the time wizards finish coming of age. Voldemort’s main lackey is technically a Gryffindor, after all.

For the professors at Hogwarts, we see a lot of loyalty among the staff that crosses house lines, and an unspoken desire for fairness, despite bias. But this seems more like an accident than what we would expect from reality, like with how Slytherin students have a preconceived disdain for Hagrid (a Gryffindor). Snape, of course, regularly mistreats Gryffindor students (especially Neville) and favors Slytherins, even when they’re at their most vile. In what world does that not have a purely negative affect on these kids as they enter adulthood?

sorting hat

There seems to be no concern for this, either. The Slytherins were sent to the dungeons during the battle of Hogwarts, mostly because some automatically sided with Voldemort. Yet there’s no indication that efforts were made to resolve this after the fact. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is apparently considered canon (unfortunately), and the events of the story make it clear that absolutely no effort is being made to correct the errors of the past. When Albus lets himself sort into Slytherin, his anger toward Harry only grows over the course of a few years. It’s not logical, of course. Only grounded in how damaging it can be to isolate kids and provoke distrust in differences.

And again, it all comes back to the Sorting Hat, the only character with the power to change any of this, as well as the only character who really acknowledges that a problem exists. His passivity, in a lot of ways, has contributed to never-ending aggression between people with prepubescent temperaments. He’s the true villain of Harry Potter, in that most of the issues the characters face can be traced back to the flawed rearing system that he knowingly allows to continue. As the (seemingly) only objective force at Hogwarts, he could easily do something about everyone else’s apparent blindness to Hogwarts’s archaic provisions, but instead, he is indifferent to them.

His songs are catchy, though.


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