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Harry Potter is perhaps the most well‐​known escapist fantasy ever written and adapted to film, but the series is much more than a story about good versus evil.

Landry Ayres
Senior Producer

Tricia Beck‐​Peter is the Events Communications Coordinator at the American Institute for Economic Research. Before joining AIER, she was the Alumni Engagement Coordinator at the Foundation for Economic Education. Tricia is a graduate of Flagler College, where she earned her B.A. in Economics. She lives in Atlanta, GA.

Lauren Sander is the External Relations Manager for Foreign Policy at the Cato Institute.

Emma Ashford is a research fellow at the Cato Institute with expertise in international security and the politics of energy. Her research focuses on the politics and foreign policies of petrostates, particularly in Russia and various Middle Eastern countries.


Our three favorite muggles; Emma Ashford, Lauren Sander, and Trish Beck‐​Peter, join the show to discuss the Wizarding World of Harry Potter created by J.K. Rowling. With the existence of magic, the Harry Potter series tackles many question about immense power and good versus evil. Is Hogwarts a public school? What is the role of the Ministry of Magic?


Music by SupraSound and Cellophane Sam


0:00:00 Natalie Dowzicky: Expecto Patronum. Welcome to Pop N Locke, or should I say Diagon Alley. This is Natalie Dowzicky.

0:00:09 Landry Ayres: And I’m Landry Ayres.

0:00:10 Natalie Dowzicky: Get your Nimbus 2000 and have your wands at the ready because today we are traveling to platform Nine and Three Quarters, Gringotts and everywhere else you can think of in Potterverse. With over 400 million copies sold and eight blockbuster hits, JK Rowling’s masterpiece may never be outdone. And here to discuss it today are three of our favorite muggles: Cato Institute’s Research Fellow in Defense and Foreign Policy, Emma Ashford.

0:00:37 Emma Ashford: At least you think I’m a Muggle.

0:00:38 Natalie Dowzicky: Also from the Defense and Foreign Policy department, External Relations Manager, Lauren Sander.

0:00:45 Lauren Sander: Still waiting on that Hogwarts letter.

0:00:48 Natalie Dowzicky: And last but certainly not least, Trish Beck‐​Peter, the Advanced Communication Coordinator at the American Institute for Economic Research.

0:00:54 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.

0:00:57 Landry Ayres: Everyone, Harry Potter is so successful. So many people have tried to take different things away from it. It’s almost like a literary mirror of Erised in that it shows you what you want, to an extent. But what do you see in Harry Potter? What is the big take away, if you take the series as a whole, that you think people can learn from reading the books or watching all eight movies?

0:01:30 Natalie Dowzicky: So I spend more time than any adult human probably should in the world of Harry Potter.


0:01:36 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I’m engaged with this wonderful community called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It started with the podcast and it grew to chapters of book clubs all over the world. We meet once every two weeks here in Atlanta, to read a chapter of the book, treat it as a sacred text and try to apply the lessons to the world around us. So I think the biggest thing that Harry Potter has done for me outside of perhaps community is, it’s a whetstone for empathy. Being able to experience the feelings of different characters. You start probably when you’re young with Harry but as you grow older you learn how to empathize with the villains and you learn how to be kind and be brave in situations you may have never had before. So I think the real magic of Harry Potter is what it invites us to become as we engage with the text.

0:02:31 Emma Ashford: So I think for me, I am of that age among the older millennials where for me, Harry Potter was something that I became aware of. I think just before the third book came out, but at that time I was about 13–14 and so for me the books effectively came out when I was the same age as Harry and his friends. So, as I read them, as I waited this year for a book to come out and I also got older in the same way, I found the books to be just a path where you, as you get older, you start to understand that the world is more complicated than just good versus evil, that there’s all this other stuff going on. And I think the books slowly start to reveal that over time. You start with that first book that’s really very childish. It’s just… There’s a bad guy and there’s bad things in the world and we’ll fight them. And then you get 10 points for Gryffindor for doing it. And by the end of the book it’s a much more complicated world. So for me, I feel like I grew up at the same time as that story was developing and so at the same time as I was growing up and seeing that, yeah, the world is not a perfect place and the world is a lot more complicated than just good and evil, I was also seeing that happen inside these books.

0:03:56 Lauren Sander: Piggy‐​backing off of what Emma said, in terms of the ideas of good versus evil, I think that that’s one thing I really latch on to. I love when Sirius Black says, “The world isn’t split into good people and death eaters.” Harry is so afraid that he’s bad, if he has any sort of connection to Voldemort or any sort of dark inklings and they see the villainization of, further in… And we’ll talk about that later, I’m sure, but if you look at the goals of Slytherin house, they’re not necessarily bad things but it’s just the way they’re viewed. But I’ve always really loved the idea of there’s good in evil, in everyone there’s light and dark and the light overcomes that darkness. And so you have to have both for the world to turn and I really like that that continues on as the books progress in more mature, sophisticated ways.

0:04:51 Natalie Dowzicky: So all of you mentioned this idea of escapist fantasy. Honestly, the cool part, I think, as a younger Millennial is that the first book came out, I guess it came out, you might be able to correct me on this, Emma, but it came out in the UK first and I believe it was in 1997. The first movie came out in 2001. So I actually didn’t get into the books until the movies already existed, personally, ’cause I was pretty young, and I remember, I don’t know if any of you had the same experience. I remember that I was sitting with my siblings, I have three older siblings, and we would all listen to my mom, read them to us first, because I wasn’t old enough to read those chapter books yet. And I think that’s a lot of younger millennials had that experience where their parents actually read them these books. So it definitely created, at least for me, created memories with my parents and my siblings about reading these books and we’d be like, okay, the next night’d be like, “Okay, let’s do one chapter tonight.” And it was kind of like an introduction into young adult books and I think that was the case for a lot of younger millennials. And I’m as young as any millennial can get, so I’m thinking that a lot of first big chapter books were actually the Harry Potter series.

0:06:06 Emma Ashford: I definitely had that experience.

0:06:08 Lauren Sander: I’m so grateful for my mother for standing in line at Borders at midnight to get…

0:06:15 S?: Yeah.

0:06:15 Lauren Sander: My brother and me copies, and once I started reading them, we couldn’t just have one copy. ‘Cause my brother and I had to stay up all night reading it, so she would stay up and go get us two copies of the book, and I have so many memories of that and waiting for it and reading it until three in the morning and then starting it over again and crying. And I just absolutely adore these books. Did it when The Cursed Child came out as well, when I was well into adulthood.


0:06:45 Landry Ayres: Yeah. What is interesting about Harry Potter for me is like you said, there’s definitely a sense of nostalgia with it for me as well. Harry Potter as a series was what really I think was my first sort of spark of learning to love reading, independently of anything else. My brother had read the first few books I think when he was sort of leaving elementary school, going to middle school and I had heard someone talking about it, and I tried to read them at one point on my own, but never really fell into it. And then I think I was in the third grade, and it was, I think that was the year Goblet of Fire came out.

0:07:27 Natalie Dowzicky: Uh, the best.

0:07:28 Landry Ayres: And I, over the course of that year, just devoured the first four books. And I would sit there at my desk reading them so much, and I would do it beyond what was assigned to us in school. So much so that my third grade teacher, we had our Scholastic book fair, and they had a Harry Potter poster, that was just hanging up that they had brought as a promotional thing, and as they were packing it up, she asked them that if she could have it. And she gave it to me as a gift, because nobody else was reading Harry Potter at that time. And it was this really beautiful moment of kindness, that a teacher showed me very, very, early on where I was kind of rewarded or respected for taking that initiative to do something on my own.

0:08:17 Landry Ayres: So there’s certainly a nostalgic aspect to it, to those books in that period, but also it certainly was an escape. Like you said, Natalie, every time a new book would come out, it was, as Lauren mentioned there would be midnight releases, and people would wait in line, and it was… It was one of the few things and sort of was similar to midnight releases of movies, but for books, where people would line up and it would be this huge collective event, that we get rarely these days because there’s so much on‐​demand content now. But it was a big deal when these books were released and we would always end up like three or four years in a row going on a family road trip.

0:09:03 Landry Ayres: And we would always go to New Mexico when they were being released. So we would be in the middle of nowhere, in the panhandle of Texas, and we would have to stop at a Walmart first thing in the morning. And there would be a display and we would run in and my brother and I would both grab copies and what would normally be like pulling teeth sitting in this 14, 15 hour car ride through the middle of nowhere, was suddenly the most exciting portion of the trip. Because I could just sit and read my book and there was no distractions, and my parents were like, “That’s great, go ahead and read.” And it was, it’s kind of… It really is a magical time, where I was able to just get lost in that story. So the idea of escapism was, is certainly much more apparent to me the more I think about… Not just the stories themselves but the context of how I consumed them.

0:10:00 Emma Ashford: Part of what I find fascinating about this as well, is not just the sort of age thing, but we’re recording this in America, you’re all born and raised in America, I assume. I was raised in Britain. And so, when these books started and they were really so very popular, they started in the UK, but then they got very popular in America and that wasn’t really expected. This kind of genre of book, like the boarding school story. Harry Potter blew up into a big phenomenon, but that kind of story does exist in British children’s literature and it’s a fairly normal thing. And for some reason, this one really blew up in America, and I remember it got so big that when the first book came out, there was an American version and a British version, so they took the British stuff, and they translated all the British idioms and all the words to make them American. And by the time we get to book three they’re not doing that anymore. British slang is now just normal in the books because they’ve become such a big phenomenon.

0:11:07 Trish Beck‐​Peter: What I really love about all of your stories is it seems the central tenet is that Harry Potter helps us love each other. It helped you connect to your families, it helped you connect to your teacher, it helped you connect to your community, it helped you connect while you were traveling, it helped you connect to a culture that was outside of your own. I think that’s the really amazing thing that the series lets us do.

0:11:31 Trish Beck‐​Peter: For me it let me connect with my grandfather, who took me to see all the movies, and we would listen to the books on tape on long car drives. And when Harry Potter World opened up in Orlando, where I’m from, going together, and being able to hold his hand walking up to Hogwarts and have our first butterbeer together, and then later, passing the torch to my little brother when he was reading them. Taking him to Diagon Alley, and buying him his wand and his butterbeer. Our love for the series is, it’s a very vulnerable love. But it’s also a love that opens us up to connection in really profound and deep ways.


0:12:13 Natalie Dowzicky: So, I was kind of wondering, a few of you brought up this idea how Harry Potter is kinda about good versus evil and what can happen when you abuse power. And I was wondering if we could kind of dig into that more, because I don’t necessarily see this series as specifically like good versus evil. Some of the earlier books, yes, but I think some of the later books are much more complex than that. And I was wondering if you all felt the same way?

0:12:40 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I think the difference for me is how evil and good are treated. So in the beginning, it’s treated as if there’s this very definite binary. Good is good, bad is bad, evil hurts people, good helps people. It’s very binary, and we don’t really examine the motivations of bad wizards, we don’t really examine what makes someone evil, other than the confines of murder. But over time, we see this gradual deconstruction of the myth of the greater good and the nuance of evil. And it becoming about choices, and motivations, and so we get to see a complex view of the characters, where it’s not they’re evil, because they’re evil, but they’re evil because they make these choices for these reasons, and their choices end up hurting others in these ways.

0:13:38 Lauren Sander: Especially with… What’s his name sorry, the rat.

0:13:42 Emma Ashford: Peter Pettigrew.

0:13:43 Natalie Dowzicky: Peter Pettigrew.

0:13:44 Lauren Sander: Peter Pettigrew, yeah. Peter Pettigrew is in Gryffindor right?

0:13:47 Trish Beck‐​Peter: He is.

0:13:48 Landry Ayres: Yes.

0:13:49 Lauren Sander: So, it’s not a black and white thing. And I think we start to see that even just as an example like that. He made the wrong decision and he saw the consequences of that. And just because you’re sorted into one house, or people think you’re one way, it’s how you act when people aren’t looking or when you’re given a taste of power or something like that.

0:14:12 Emma Ashford: Well, I think it’s also a lesson in how you can’t necessarily trust other people to make those choices for you, because again, at the start of the series, it’s not just that there’s this real black‐​and‐​white, good‐​and‐​evil frame, there’s also a lot of you trust the authority figures, they know best, you trust your teachers, you trust your parents, etcetera, etcetera. And again, sort of by the end of the series, you see that maybe you can’t always trust the people that you thought were authority figures or, in the case of someone like Peter Pettigrew, he’s led astray. He goes off and he finds somebody that he thinks is an authority figure and he goes with that and trusts them and follows them and it leads him down this really dark path.

0:15:02 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, and I think there are quite a few other times that you see this power struggle in. Mind you, take the elder wand, for example, the immense power it has… And the symbol of that it’s like the end‐​all be‐​all, the most powerful wand there is, and at the end, very end of the series, Harry decides to destroy it, signifies that he too doesn’t believe, even though it was rightfully his at that point after this whole mix‐​up of who de‐​wanded the other person that no one, he doesn’t believe that anyone should have all of that power.

0:15:41 Natalie Dowzicky: Now, many libertarians thought this was like, “Oh, Harry’s a libertarian. He’s on team us.” I don’t necessarily see it that way, but maybe that’s just because I’m not always looking for that, but I just kind of saw it as it signifying that he came to the realization that through these, through the previous seven movies through the previous books, they had spent so long fighting against who was too powerful and creating this whole army, essentially, and he didn’t wanna have to for history to repeat itself if someone… A bad… Another bad actor were to get the elder wand. And I think the whole elder wand story boiled down is kind of this story about how no one can be trusted with all this power, not even Harry.

0:16:32 Natalie Dowzicky: But I also thought it was interesting when I was going back through some of the quotes from the movie in order to prep for this podcast, and I saw that in the very first movie Professor Quirrell said, “There is no good and evil, there’s only power and those too weak to seek it,” which I thought was a really cool quote that I definitely did not pick up on the first time I saw this movie way back when, but I just thought that was almost a perfect description of the power struggle throughout the Harry Potter series.

0:17:06 Trish Beck‐​Peter: To piggyback on something that you said about bad actors and good actors and the wand, I think that’s something really interesting that we see in Deathly Hallows when we get more of Dumbledore’s back story and his struggle with the Hallows. Sometimes it’s easy to assume that the idea of this story is only bad people do bad things, but the idea that even Dumbledore could be seduced by that power and seduced by really the myth of the greater good was very central to Dumbledore’s struggle against lust for power. It shows us that it’s within all of us, which I think is one of the really gorgeous things about this text.

0:17:50 Natalie Dowzicky: So what do we think about Hogwarts? Is it a private school, is it a charter school, is it a public school funded by the Ministry of Magic, what is our take there?

0:18:02 Emma Ashford: So it’s a little weird because it’s got elements of… It’s got elements of both private and public schools, and to be even more confusing in the UK, public school sometimes means private school and then you say state school for the government‐​sponsored school. So it’s just crazy‐​confusing. But Hogwarts has some elements that are clearly state or public school that are… Like obviously the Ministry of Magic plays a role, they’re determining the curriculum, we see that a lot in Order of the Phoenix where we see Dolores Umbridge go in and subvert that and use that authority to change the curriculum.

0:18:40 Emma Ashford: So the Ministry has a lot of control over it, but equally it’s got all the trappings of a classic English or… Or Scottish private school, somewhere like Gordonstoun that Prince Charles and his father both went to, right? So, it’s a boarding school, that a lot of the students live on the premises, they all eat together, they have a study hall the same, so it mixes elements of what would be your average British kid’s school experience with this more classic boarding school thing.

0:19:13 Natalie Dowzicky: Well, ’cause I had already… I had assumed for the most part, maybe I was just going off of how much control of the Ministry of Magic has over Hogwarts in terms of taking professors in and out and kind of influencing the school, that I just presumed that that was through tax‐​payer dollars. I don’t know if that’s super negative of me, but I just assumed that it was a public school, but it was just like the premier school, and I think there, I don’t know if you guys all got this sense, but throughout the series, I was thinking that you had to be of a very high merit to get into Hogwarts. They didn’t just let any wizard into Hogwarts, right? So…

0:19:57 Landry Ayres: Well, that’s actually, that’s really interesting because I did some research on Pottermore…


0:20:04 Landry Ayres: I did my…

0:20:05 Natalie Dowzicky: Of course he did.

0:20:05 Landry Ayres: I prepared for this, and apparently in the Wizarding World, which is the official name for the Harry Potter universe that JK Rowling has her iron grip around, apparently in Britain, or England and there are Irish students as well, I don’t wanna… For all of our UK listeners, I don’t wanna mess up exactly what the catchment area of Hogwarts is. Apparently, any wizard that is under the purview of the Ministry of Magic is automatically sent a letter to Hogwarts. I think under very rare circumstances are you not admitted. I think you could be kicked out, but that’s also only students in their catchment area. So for instance, Beauxbatons or Durmstrang are from Bulgaria and France and they have their own separate Ministries of Magic, and I think that’s something that didn’t really become clear to me until I really looked into it. The fact that the Ministry of Magic is functioning only for the United Kingdom’s wizarding community and there are other Ministries of Magic for other different nations.

0:21:26 Landry Ayres: And in fact, in the US around the same time, they don’t have a Ministry of Magic, but there is actually a Magical Congress that represents and administers their wizarding governmental body, but it’s still very, very vague. So there’s this interesting very subtle parallel of modern nation states and international relations that is overlaid with the wizarding world. From reading just the first few books you would think that there is just a magical community that moves between and is globalized to an extent, but it’s not really that way, which is what’s so strange.

0:22:15 Emma Ashford: Not at all.

0:22:16 Landry Ayres: Yeah.

0:22:19 Emma Ashford: I mean, yeah, basically, at least in the original books, I mean, I know there’s these new books that are set in America that I’m not as familiar with, but at least in the original books, basically, that the strong implication is that there is… There’s basically three European schools for magic, and it’s effectively Hogwarts for Britain and maybe Ireland, although I think it might just be Northern Ireland, and then there’s a Western European one and an Eastern European one, and that seems to be it, and that doesn’t really seem enough unless this is just really a tiny community in some other countries.

0:22:56 Landry Ayres: It’s true, and I’m curious about the ratio of… Because there’s so many people in the wizard community, in the magical community, it seems that is it a… And they have ways of disguising their presence, is it a one‐​for‐​one comparison? Is it a shrinking demographic in the entire world? Is it there’s three muggles for every one wizard? I want these details for an analytical purpose, but I also don’t want it to ruin the mirage that it’s just everywhere all the time.

0:23:36 Trish Beck‐​Peter: So the community, the fan community estimates that it’s about a 10 to 1 population ratio in concentrated areas, but we also know that there are wizard communities, villages like Ottery St Catchpole and, oh goodness gracious, where is it? Where was Harry born?

0:23:56 Emma Ashford: Godric’s Hollow?

0:23:57 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Yes, thank you, Godric’s Hollow. So there are… It seems like it’s not an even distribution around the world. There are probably pockets of wizard communities where there’s a higher concentration and then really very scattered populations elsewhere. Which makes sense, I mean, if you’re a wizard and you can’t go to the Walmart to pick up your newt’s eyes, where are you gonna go? You have to live in a community that understands you, in which you can trade, in which you can engage, in which you can build relationships with a higher degree of openness than you would if you were living in a muggle suburb. I feel like living in a muggle suburb would be a very isolating experience for a witch or wizard.

0:24:47 Landry Ayres: The openness question that you raised, the ability to live openly at least within your community of other magical people gets me thinking about… I immediately went to an open society of wizards per se, and it made me think about what the goal of the Ministry of Magic is said to be. Basically, the goal of the Ministry of Magic is to make sure that muggles don’t know that witches and wizards are still very present in the country. What do you think of the Ministry of Magic? Do you think that is a good representation of its goals? Do you think that it does that well? Do you think that is a noble goal that the Ministry should try to achieve? What is your opinion of the Ministry of Magic, especially from a libertarian perspective, where we have our own conceptions of how government should operate?

0:25:53 Natalie Dowzicky: So I have multiple problems. This is… Maybe we could say it’s a layered problem. So for the first few books, the Ministry was very… It was mystified, right? You weren’t exactly sure what they were supposed to be doing. You would get the newspapers from them, in the movies and in the books and you were like, “Yeah, okay.” And then they got a little bit more active come the fourth book, and obviously the later book, especially when Dolores Umbridge comes into play and Voldemort is more out there, so to speak. And I just thought, from a perspective of what actually do they do, they didn’t serve much purpose, which I guess from a libertarian perspective is like if you don’t serve much purpose, that’s like, “Okay.”

0:26:37 Landry Ayres: Yeah, that tracks.

0:26:38 Natalie Dowzicky: But then flipping the switch in terms of having a noble goal or a noble cause, I think this whole separation, and people have defined it different ways, but this whole separation of muggles versus wizards, which is in tension the entire series, right? And that this idea that wizards are obviously above muggles because they have magical powers. But I think the issue about it being like a good cause is I don’t think they should be separated. Like if you look at the wizarding world they’re… In terms of technology, they’re very far behind, especially if you’re looking at today’s world. I mean, mind you, if the books were written in the 1990s, it’s a little bit different, but they don’t necessarily share that type of knowledge with… They don’t, there’s no knowledge sharing going on with muggles because the muggles all get their memories erased, or the death eaters come in and kill them. Or get their memories erased. But they don’t have any recollection of wizards.

0:27:44 Natalie Dowzicky: And I think there is value in having this knowledge sharing. I’m not talking specifically trade, although trade would come into this as well. But this idea of knowledge sharing and maybe benefiting off of each other, because it does look like Harry Potter’s world, in terms of technology and setting, is somewhere stuck in the early 1900s, from a technology standpoint.

0:28:09 Lauren Sander: I think what I scribbled down is that wizardkind seems to have advanced right up to the industrial revolution. Like they’re still wearing top hats and have servants and live in castles and use lamp light, and they, out of fear or pride, I think it is, really, they don’t want to interact with the humans even though they’ve seen their technology, they’ve seen the cars, they’ve seen all these things, but they think they’re better. And so I think that the government, I wrote who’s better off, but I really think it’s the humans, they may have magic but they have seen these advancements and they’re choosing to ignore them. The humans have not seen the magic and I think the government is just propagating this us versus them concept.

0:28:57 Lauren Sander: They’re just making sure that it’s separate. And then people like Mr. Weasley are so interested in technology, even little things that would help poor families, like the Weasleys, he gets made fun of, and those people get murdered by death eaters. I just think it’s really interesting, but that’s really what the government kind of stands for. So I think that the muggles studies people are always gonna kinda be made fun of, and it really just doesn’t make any sense to do that. They should be learning from them.

0:29:29 Trish Beck‐​Peter: So if I could add another layer, it’s hinted at a couple of times that there are some deep psychic wounds in the wizarding community about things like witch hunting, it’s very subtle.

0:29:42 Natalie Dowzicky: Interesting.

0:29:43 Trish Beck‐​Peter: So, for instance, there’s one scene in which Harry is reading his textbooks, which never happens, by the way.


0:29:50 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Harry never reads textbooks after he meets Hermione.

0:29:52 Lauren Sander: Do you think Hermione does his homework?


0:29:53 S?: Yeah.

0:29:53 Trish Beck‐​Peter: It’s hinted… Or it’s said that Hermione won’t do their work for them, but if they give her a draft of their essay, she’ll edit it and proofread it, to the point where she basically does the work for them. Anyway, so…

0:30:10 Natalie Dowzicky: Side note.

0:30:11 Trish Beck‐​Peter: It’s hinted that there is this deep psychic wound about how wizards and witches were persecuted and burned. It didn’t actually hurt them, there was a charm that would make the flames feel like tickling. But this idea that they’ve been hunted and persecuted. So my bigger theory is that before the International Statute of Secrecy, before the witch burnings, there were probably witches and wizards living openly to a degree in muggle society and this tracks in our history, our actual human history, the idea that there were healers and there were the magic people who had a way with herbs and poultices, and that there was a world beyond our own that was just accepted to be a part of the universe in which we all lived. And so tracking that out, the idea is they probably lived openly and then probably religion and science and shifting ideas about good and evil and the occult changed the way the muggles viewed the wizards and the witches and put them in danger. And so, their option was probably, some people were like, “Well, let’s just kill all the human, who cares.”

0:31:24 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, gosh.


0:31:26 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Well, I hate to say it, but that’s probably what some people were advocating. “Kill all the muggles, take over the world because we can and we have the magic and why not?”

0:31:35 Natalie Dowzicky: I mean, that’s essentially Voldemort.

0:31:38 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Oh, absolutely.

0:31:39 Landry Ayres: Yeah.

0:31:39 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I have a lot of feelings on Voldemort, and his psychology and what his psych would think of him.

0:31:44 Natalie Dowzicky: We’ll get there too.

0:31:45 Trish Beck‐​Peter: But that can be later. But yeah, I think the idea was either we have to engage and we have more power than them, and we will obliterate them if we have to engage, or we disengage, we hide in the shadows. They stay safe, we stay safe, we stay separate. And maybe that isn’t necessary anymore, but I think we have to acknowledge what community wounds and what community narrative is driving them towards separatism and maybe it is for the good of the muggles. Maybe not for the good of the wizards. I think having muggle‐​born witches and wizards in the Ministry, especially in high‐​ranking positions, would open up the society to pens and cars and buttons and zippers. They don’t have zippers.


0:32:31 S?: Yeah. [chuckle]

0:32:31 Emma Ashford: But you know, back to the technology question, though, because I find it really interesting that Lauren was saying, “Well, the wizards only advanced to the start of the industrial revolution.” But if you think about it, the way that the stuff is written, it implies that they got there hundreds of years before we did. And a lot of these technological things that they don’t have, they have substitutes for, right? They can travel instantly through fires. Why do you need a car? They can speak to one another over long distances using charms. Why do you need a telephone? They have versions of radios and versions of recording things and… So it’s not that the technology lets them do things that they couldn’t do before, it’s that they have these alternatives and then why do you want to bother adopting the version that the muggles are using when you have this perfectly good version that does basically the same thing.

0:33:26 Emma Ashford: And I think then there’s a couple of things you throw in that are… Like the quills that are tropes about, that you would find them in other things, you’d find them in The Worst Witch or things like that. So maybe they’re just for color, but on a broader scale, it’s substitute technology, not that they’re behind.

0:33:44 Lauren Sander: I do agree with that, Emma. I guess, one thing I will say is not necessarily right. They do have replacements for many a thing. Do I think they should be writing on parchment with quills? I think, yeah. They’re always selling their ink everywhere, like that could be said, but anyway… But I do think it still goes into the idea of what we’re doing is better. We have a replacement. Why would we even look into a car? Muggles are stupid. They had to overcome their weakness with technology. So I just think it’s more of an idea of… Yeah, they can totally use floo, the floo network. But they are not even considering using cars or whatever, bikes, because they just think what they’re doing is better. I guess that’s sort of like the perspective I’m looking at it from, but I do… I mean, you have a really good point. They don’t need that stuff.

0:34:36 Landry Ayres: I would be really interested in an analysis of the series from an ability standpoint, because what becomes very, very clear upon reading is, while there are fantastical characters and non‐​human creatures, most of what we’re observing are still humans in how they act and their desires and their search for meaning and community and love for one another. And they’re still very, very human and driven by the same psychology and desires that muggles are. They just have a magical ability, almost like a sixth sense, that muggles are simply not born with. So it’s really interesting to consider a separation and almost a discrimination between the two, when in reality it is an ability that defines the two.

0:35:42 Landry Ayres: There are… It is not an intellectual or an enlightenment that they receive or are bestowed as a gift, so far as we know, because that’s one other thing that’s kind of left out is the sort of study of religion in the wizarding world in particular, and that’s something you had mentioned, Trish, that I thought was really interesting is obviously there are reasons for understanding how religion and faith has influenced the view of the occult in the muggle world, and in our very real history. But we don’t get the reaction to that and the sort of, any sort of split that happens, at least, as far as I can remember in the books. So I think both a religious analysis of the religion in the story, not sort of viewing the text of Harry Potter in a sacred way as your community has done, Trish. But also an ability, sort of discriminatory analysis, I think would really bring some things to the surface that are missed on the first view.

0:36:49 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I wish there was more. The only trace I’ve ever seen of religion in many, many rereads is that Christmas is celebrated at Hogwarts. We get all the trappings of Christmas, but Christ is never mentioned, religion is never mentioned. I don’t even know if anyone ever says, “Oh, my God.”

0:37:07 Emma Ashford: Christmas in the UK, so it is a religious holiday, but it’s also a widespread secular holiday. So, Muslims in the UK, for example, which is a huge community, or Sikhs, which is a large community, they also celebrate Christmas in a way that they wouldn’t necessarily do in America, so that’s not necessarily an indication of religion. I do think JK Rowling seems to have been very careful not to put religion explicitly in the books at all. But some of the ideas that come through, at least from my background and my point of view, are just very reflective of the Scottish Presbyterian Church that we were both raised in, and which is a very simple Christian faith, which is you are responsible for your own relationship with God, the church is a fairly communal affair, try not to be very judgmental, there aren’t very many sacraments, that kind of thing. And I see that in various places in books.

0:38:09 Emma Ashford: I see the words that are written on Harry’s parents’ grave, right, that death is the greatest enemy and it will be the last to be destroyed. That is, for me, a sort of fundamental tenet of my religion, just stated somewhat differently. And I find that in some other places throughout the books as well, the idea that the dead aren’t gone, they’re just on the other side and we’ll go and join them some day, that they can see us, they can hear us. I find that if you’re familiar with what religion looks like for the author, I see it throughout the books. I’m just not sure if you would if you weren’t coming from that culture.

0:38:50 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I definitely didn’t connect with it that way coming as Catholic, but the way you just described death is perfectly enshrined in the veil that Sirius falls through at the end of 5.

0:39:02 Natalie Dowzicky: Another thing that when Trish was talking, and Emma was talking earlier that came up interestingly is that, Trish was referring to the idea that the wizards separated. It was kind of mutual that the wizards and muggles would separate, and that it was understood that the separation was best for everyone. And I don’t know… I don’t know. I didn’t necessarily ever read it that way. And I don’t… If I’m misinterpreting you, Trish, you can go ahead and tell me so. But I think a lot of people, and what I saw reported online, as well, saw it done in like a racist type of way. Now it’s not being a wizard and being a muggle is not necessarily… They’re not different races, but it being, like Landry said, very discriminatory in terms of muggles are beneath us. And that’s kind of the narrative that Voldemort pushes, right, or he who must not be named, and now I’m doomed because I just named him. But I wanted to dive into that a little bit and talk about Voldemort’s world view, and kind of how that plays out throughout the story.

0:40:21 Trish Beck‐​Peter: So I can frame how I see Voldemort seeing his own world view, ’cause when we look at it, it is inherently racist, and it is. But the bad guy never thinks they’re the bad guy. The villain…

0:40:32 Natalie Dowzicky: Of course.

0:40:32 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Always imagines themselves to be the hero. So the way I think Voldemort sees the world, is that magic is a gift to be protected and cultivated. And the best way to protect and cultivate that gift is to protect the bloodlines that carry it from dilution. I’m gagging. I want you to know that I’m gagging, and I think this is gross, but this is how he sees it. And the fear is that if the bloodlines are diluted, this gift will eventually disappear from the world. It’s very Charlottesville, “We will not be erased.”

0:41:08 Natalie Dowzicky: Right.

0:41:10 Emma Ashford: To come back to the point Landry was making a bit earlier about the Ministry of Magic, something I find very disturbing throughout the series is I think Voldemort found it easy to subvert the Ministry in the later books. In part, because Ministry of Magic seems to share some of that viewpoint, institutionally, at least. We see that in the later books, we see that there is at least one muggle that is aware of the wizards, right? And it’s the Prime Minister. And the implication institutionally, is that the Ministry of Magic is just a ministry, right? So in Britain, the ministries are the equivalent of cabinet secretaries in the US, and so the Minister of Magic, I guess, is meant to be subordinate to the Prime Minister, but that’s not how that relationship plays out at all when they actually have a conversation.

0:42:01 Emma Ashford: The Minister of Magic is very much, “I am superior to you. I’m telling you what’s happening, and now I’m leaving and you don’t get to ask questions.” And it seems that that sort of institutional view in the Ministry of Magic that there is some superiority to the muggles, it is similar to what Voldemort is pushing. He’s just a lot blunter about it.

0:42:23 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, for sure. I think he’s a lot more upfront about it. And I think also towards the end, we see that the Ministry has been essentially infiltrated, right, by Voldemort, and his allies, his creepy allies. But I think…

0:42:38 Emma Ashford: And my point is like he wouldn’t have been able to do that if there wasn’t some support inside for this sentence.

0:42:46 Natalie Dowzicky: Right, and then, which is what ultimately leads up… So he has support for his ideals from people who are presumably a high, pretty high status within the wizarding world. And then we get, in response to backlash to them, we get Dumbledore’s Army, which is essentially comes up in the last… It starts, what, in this… Oh, Trish is gonna know this better than me. There’s a…

0:43:12 Trish Beck‐​Peter: It starts in the Order of the Phoenix.

0:43:14 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, it starts in the Order of the Phoenix. Okay, I thought, I was gonna go one book later. But I think it’s interesting, because that idea of Dumbledore’s Army has jumped over into our world. And I say that in a way, that at protests, or at rallies, there have been many, many reports of people holding signs and other types of signs and stuff like that, that say like, “We’re representing Dumbledore’s Army,” which is interesting, because that’s what they view, or so the millennials, older, younger millennials view, as like a symbol of pushing back, a symbol of like, “This is our voice.” And I just think that’s super cool. It kind of sucks, that that’s the way it comes out. But I think it’s super cool that that’s something that we related to in the book, and then we come and see it in practice.

0:44:13 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Harry Potter’s been a tool for a lot of social justice that I have seen in the last few years. If you’re familiar with the work of the Harry Potter Alliance, they’re a pretty big non‐​profit. They span six continents and 35 countries, they do a lot of fundraising in that capacity. They also have the Granger Leadership Academy for fan activists…


0:44:35 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Which I think is great.

0:44:36 Natalie Dowzicky: That’s great.

0:44:38 Trish Beck‐​Peter: The Harry Potter community that I’m part of have raised $58,000 for [0:44:43] ____ to help families trapped at the Mexican‐​US border. It has become a voice for activism.

0:44:52 Lauren Sander: To play devil’s advocate, or he who must not be named’s advocate, maybe, I guess, in this context… Yeah, my comment to that, was just on the other hand, you can… And I wrote this in the notes. I think Natalie saw it, but you can kind of parallel it also to people, to the gun debate. And I’m not saying whether I am pro Second Amendment or against it, that’s not my point. But they say specifically, especially when the Ministry gets involved, that they’re not being taught to defend themselves and they are not allowed to defend themselves, and that the government is trying to make them weak, which is usually never a good sign. And so, part of Dumbledore’s Army is them taking that into their own hands and secretly finding a way to learn to defend themselves and use the tools that they have to defend themselves. So I think it’s funny, because it has such a social justice, like staying in the real world?

0:45:54 Natalie Dowzicky: Undertone?

0:45:54 Lauren Sander: But that the…, in the same vein it also has sort of this libertarian… The government needs to not tell us what to do, especially in turbulent times, we want to be able to take care of ourselves and at the end of the day, if we’re not allowed to do it, people are gonna find a way to do it. So I just think it’s kind of funny, there’s sort of two ways to look at that exact group of people.

0:46:19 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I think Dumbledore’s Army is a well‐​ordered militia.

0:46:22 Lauren Sander: Yes, exactly. [chuckle]

0:46:25 Emma Ashford: It does come back to this point that authority figures, though. Because I feel like part of the Dumbledore’s Army thing is saying, well, there’s no authority figures that can help us now, ironically, then they name themselves after one. But we’re gonna have to do it for ourselves. And, but I do think that’s why so many people of our generation have taken that message and taken that name when they want to push back on the government, when they want to push back on sort of things they very much disagree with in public policy. They’re saying, well, we’re gonna come out and do this for ourselves, and it’s a message. It’s a way of making it relatable to people who perhaps don’t necessarily engage with the policy process in their regular behavior but read Harry Potter to their kids at night.

0:47:10 Lauren Sander: Absolutely.

0:47:12 Natalie Dowzicky: Absolutely, and it’s also something that, that’s not something I would have picked up on when I was younger, having either my mom read it, or myself read it. But now that you go back and analyze you’re like, oh, okay, there are so many more layers in these stories than you would originally think about, especially over your first read‐​through. I’m actually considering now re‐​reading them all after this discussion. [chuckle] But just because you look at, you look at it from a different lens. And now that we’re in different stages of life than when I first read them, it’s just… I’m gonna consume it in a very different way.


0:47:50 Natalie Dowzicky: So let’s go with what’s your favorite book or your favorite movie in the series. They can be different, let’s start with Trish.

0:48:00 Trish Beck‐​Peter: My favorite book is probably Order of the Phoenix, because I do love to see that uprising, and it also gives us the beginning of book Ginny. And book Ginny is so bad‐​ass and awesome in Order of the Phoenix. I hate movie Ginny, I’m sorry, Bonnie Wright. But I hate movie Ginny, but book Ginny is just such a bad‐​ass in Order of the Phoenix. But my favorite movie is probably, Sorcerer’s Stone because of where… What it allows me to feel, experiencing it over again. And because Christopher Columbus was a lot more… Adhered to the text than some other directors… Alfonso Cuarón.


0:48:48 Emma Ashford: I think my favorite book is the last book, is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Conversely, my least favorite movie is the second Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I really, really just hate what they did with it. I hate the ending, I don’t think it’s true to the book at all and it really bothers me. I do like number three. In terms of the movies, Prisoner of Azkaban. I think that some…

0:49:16 Natalie Dowzicky: That was a good movie.

0:49:17 Emma Ashford: I think some liberties were taken, but I actually think it improved it a lot. Unlike some of the other movies.

0:49:24 Lauren Sander: Yeah, that’s so… She took my favorite movie, but the third is my favorite movie. And I know that that is sort of a different one for a lot of people, because of the director was different, I believe, for just that movie. Trish, I feel like you would know that…

0:49:38 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Yes, Alfonso Cuarón.

0:49:40 Lauren Sander: But I just loved the symbolism and the darkness and the birds and the way they filmed it, and I just think it’s so interesting. It always keeps me engaged and I love the time loops, because you feel like the movie’s over and then you get a whole new movie again sort of. It’s so exciting. [chuckle] That’s always been my favorite. And books‐​wise, I think Half‐​Blood Prince is my favorite. I don’t really know why, I just say, I love trying to figure out who it is. You have your ideas but, and kind of seeing Harry sort of hide this and he’s so interested in what’s going on and it’s really consuming him. So I just love that whole storyline. And it’s an exciting book as well. There’s a lot that goes on, especially at the end, and it sets up a lot for the next book as well.

0:50:32 Landry Ayres: My favorite book, hands‐​down, has never changed, it will always be Goblet of Fire.

0:50:37 Natalie Dowzicky: Hmm‐​hmm, me too.

0:50:38 Landry Ayres: I love how it expanded the world. And you got, I feel like a little bit more of just outside of what the Ministry was when you got the other schools. I thought the Quidditch World Cup was this really cool way to start the story. The Triwizard Tournament is this awesome nested raising of stakes within it, I just, I really… And then it’s also, I feel like the really the first time that we sort of start to see the characters go through the sort of painful parts of adolescence amongst each other. I feel they have a lot of kid problems in the first three books, and obviously much bigger things with good and evil and saving the Wizarding World and all. But I feel the tension between Hermione and Ron, and like the drama of the Yule ball, I just eat that up. And it sort of reminds me of being young and that awkward uncomfortability more than any of the books had at that moment. So it always really stuck out to me.

0:51:48 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah.

0:51:48 Landry Ayres: Movie‐​wise, having just re‐​watched them all. It’s tough. I like Goblet of Fire, once again. I don’t know if it’s my favorite, though. I also really like Prisoner of Azkaban, and I think it’s the darkness that draws me to it, the palette changes pretty drastically with it, and obviously with the different director that’s to be expected. But it’s sort of kind of, all the other movies, I feel like kind of tailored themselves after it from that point on and I don’t see as drastic of a shift from that point. It’s not perfect, but specifically the scene with Lupin and Sirius Black and Ron, Hermione and Harry and Peter Pettigrew and Snape, all in the Shrieking Shack when they reveal…

0:52:43 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, yeah.

0:52:44 Landry Ayres: Who Wormtail is. It is a… Everyone is at 100%. It is amazing. No one is resting on their laurels from an acting standpoint in that scene. Gary Oldman, you think he… The turn that happens in the middle of that scene where you think he’s about to kill Harry…

0:53:04 Lauren Sander: Yes.

0:53:04 Landry Ayres: And he’s this crazed lunatic. And then you reveal and you understand that all of this emotion is born by his love for Harry and his family. It really just changes the way it… You see everything in that moment. And there are all these conflicting sort of dramatic ironies that you understand looking back at that scene with Snape and his conflict with them sort of coming in and threatening and his loyalty is going on. It just… It’s a really complex scene and it kind of… It was a high point in that movie for me that I just remember. So that’s kind of sticking out as my favorite.

0:53:48 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. My favorite book is Goblet of Fire for similar reasons that Landry pointed out. And also Goblet of Fire is my favorite movie, but for different reasons, ’cause I… On film, you can finally see that the characters are growing up and it’s not only literally, like Harry… Daniel Radcliffe is no longer two‐​feet‐​tall and looks like a five‐​year‐​old. But it’s one of the first movies where I also felt when I first watched it that I was growing up with them. And I know that there’s the sentiment for a lot of different movies, like recently they’ve been talking about how our generation grew up with Toy Story, like between the years that the Toy Story movies came out, same with Monsters, Inc.

0:54:35 Natalie Dowzicky: But I just really thought that when I first saw the Goblet of Fire that I could relate to it the best because I could kind of understand their growing pains, if that makes sense. And that’s also probably the movie I’ve seen the most in terms of repeatedly, which I’m not gonna say it gets better every time I watch it ’cause there’s definitely a threshold that it’s gotten to that, like when I rewatch it now it’s just not as exciting. In terms of re‐​watching the movies, I get most excited to watch the first two or three, again, partially just ’cause I haven’t seen them as often and… But they’re not necessarily my favorite movies.


0:55:19 Natalie Dowzicky: So we can’t do this podcast without asking what Hogwarts house each person would belong to once we got that lovely letter and packed up all of our bags and went to go get sorted by the lovely Sorting Hat. So please give me your best pitch for what house you would be in Hogwarts.

0:55:38 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I’m a Ravenclaw with the Gryffindor tendencies. I relate very deeply…

0:55:47 Landry Ayres: I have a rising Gryffindor with a moon Ravenclaw.

0:55:53 Trish Beck‐​Peter: If you wanna make it more complicated, we can add in the idea of aspirational housing, the idea that you are sorted into the house not as who you are now but the best versions of yourself that you could become. And then I would want to be a Hufflepuff. I would want to be a Hufflepuff. I’m not.

0:56:12 Emma Ashford: Obviously, everybody wants to be in Gryffindor. I’m pretty confident I would end up in Ravenclaw just ’cause I’ve spent my entire career doing book learning stuff. I do have a sneaking fear, though, that I might actually be a Slytherin, ’cause I tend to be a bit conniving and so I would happily accept Ravenclaw if it meant I didn’t get sorted in Slytherin.

0:56:37 Lauren Sander: I, if I’m being honest with myself, would say Ravenclaw, because as well, I’ve… We all work at a think tank or the Cato ones of us do. I value education and I really enjoy it. I also love wit, I’m very sarcastic. But that also… Sometimes I feel like I would be in Slytherin, which a lot of people are like, “You’re not evil, why would you say that?” But, again, like I was saying at the beginning, Slytherin is not necessarily bad. Their values are ambition, cunning and resourcefulness, which I feel like I have, a lot of people in DC have, you kind of have to have to do well here. And so it’s almost kind of my aspirational house, maybe, but I definitely see the tendencies. I just obviously wouldn’t want to be in Slytherin while there are such sketchy characters there. So in that case, I would probably want to be in Ravenclaw, ’cause I think they’re all smart. But I think they’d be secretly a little bit conceited, maybe. So that’s kind of why I’ve never really wanted to be in Ravenclaw but that’s probably where I would be.

0:57:48 Landry Ayres: I’m so glad to be surrounded by my Ravenclaw brothers and sisters.

0:57:55 Lauren Sander: Yes.

0:57:55 Landry Ayres: Wit beyond measure is man or woman’s greatest treasure. Get your claws up, caw‐​caw. I don’t know what sound ravens make but what I’m gonna say it’s caw‐​caw.

0:58:07 Lauren Sander: Yes.

0:58:08 Landry Ayres: And it just… It makes me feel so good. I think there is a part of me… There is a little bit of a goofiness of a Hufflepuff, but I think that goofiness more manifests in the out‐​loud qualities that Gryffindors might have, but I think deep down in my sort of introverted self, I think I would do best in Ravenclaw, plus I think the blue brings out my eyes, so I don’t think red looks good on my pale skin. So if the Sorting Hat were talking to me, I would be like, “Please, I’m not a summer.”

0:58:52 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I think every libertarian thinks that we’re a Ravenclaw but everyone else thinks that we’re a Slytherin.

0:59:00 Lauren Sander: Yeah.

0:59:00 Landry Ayres: I was gonna ask, I was very curious if anyone thought… Is this what all people who self‐​identify as libertarians be sorted into the same house and if they did, which one? And I think you’ve pretty much nailed it.

0:59:14 Natalie Dowzicky: I don’t think I’m a Ravenclaw and here is why I…

0:59:20 Landry Ayres: You, Natalie, I’m just gonna… You are a Gryffindor.

0:59:24 Lauren Sander: She is…

0:59:24 Landry Ayres: To a tee…

0:59:25 Lauren Sander: Through and through.

0:59:26 Landry Ayres: I guarantee…

0:59:26 Lauren Sander: She is.

0:59:27 Landry Ayres: You don’t even have to tell, anyone who has listened is like, “Natalie is a Gryffindor.”

0:59:32 Natalie Dowzicky: So I… Am not a Ravenclaw, but I would say that I have some Ravenclaw undertones, if that’s possible…

0:59:42 Landry Ayres: No, is that, are those notes of Ravenclaw that I smell?

0:59:48 Natalie Dowzicky: And… If we’re going off fashion sense, my skin tone does go pretty well with Gryffindor colors. But I do think I am, a majority of me is Gryffindor. I have a slight Slytherin of in me, partially it’s because I’m the youngest of four… Four siblings in my family, and I really had to develop my sense of sneakiness and cunning in order to win those battles when I was younger. So I do think there is a slight sneakiness in me. But I don’t necessarily, when I see myself, I don’t see Ravenclaw at all. [laughter] but maybe that’ll change as I grow older.


1:00:35 Landry Ayres: And now, the part of our show where we get to explore all of the other media and content that we’ve been consuming during this time of social distancing, as we record this. This is Locked In. Trish, Emma, Lauren, what have you been doing with all of this time that you’ve been at home, what have you been consuming: TV, movies, books, games, hobbies, what are you locked into?

1:01:02 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I spent a lot of time recently with the Twilight series. I know everyone loves to hate it.

1:01:10 Landry Ayres: It started as a love to hate for me. It has turned into an un‐​ironic love. I will watch those movies…

1:01:17 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, my gosh.

1:01:19 Landry Ayres: So when what happens to Carlisle at the end of Breaking Dawn Part 2 happens…

1:01:24 Trish Beck‐​Peter: No no no no no, I’m watching that tomorrow, I haven’t seen it.

1:01:26 Landry Ayres: I’m not gonna say, I’m not gonna say what, I’m not gonna say what happens, I’m just gonna say I… My heart was racing.

1:01:33 Trish Beck‐​Peter: He’s fine in the books, he’s fine in the books, here’s the thing about Twilight for me. I think our culture automatically hates anything that is meaningful to pre‐​teen and teenage girls, I think our culture…

1:01:46 Landry Ayres: That’s accurate.

1:01:47 Natalie Dowzicky: Yes, accurate.

1:01:48 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Loves to demean and belittle anything that girls of that age feel strongly about. I think pre‐​teen music is always written off, pre‐​teen books are always written off. I think male authors are allowed to churn out a new action book about a white male, heterosexual hero every year and no one gives them shit about it, but Twilight is somehow hated because teenage girls like it. It’s not a well‐​written series, the writing is terrible, I will not defend the writing, but the story is good and the characters are good. And I think moving past this cultural framework where we hate what teenage girls love will allow us to empathize more with people who we tend to culturally dismiss. So team Twilight, but not team Edward or Jacob because I think that’s stupid and derivative and we should all support Bella and her choice.

1:02:41 Emma Ashford: Wow, well, the former, former teenage girl in me is still a little appalled.


1:02:50 Emma Ashford: I just want to go on record saying Twilight is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

1:02:57 Landry Ayres: It is terrible, but I love un‐​ironically how terrible is.

1:03:05 Emma Ashford: But in terms of locked in, and what I’m locked in with, mostly I’m locked in with two kids under two, so I don’t have a lot of time…

1:03:13 Natalie Dowzicky: That counts.

1:03:15 Emma Ashford: I finished reading the third one in John Scalzi’s series The Collapsing Empire, the third book. That was excellent, I really enjoyed it. It’s about, it’s basically about a space empire. They suddenly discover that the technology that lets them transit between space systems is failing and there’s this longterm collapse coming, all of humanity’s gonna die. What do they do about it? It’s clearly meant to be an allegory for climate change, but in the present moment, it seems a lot more applicable. So I really, I really enjoyed that, that was really great.

1:03:52 Emma Ashford: And then in the rest of my time, I’ve been working my way through replaying Horizon Zero Dawn, which is a really great game for if you feel like sort of first‐​person adventure RPG games. It’s mostly action and adventure, but it’s set in a post‐​apocalyptic, I guess, Earth. We don’t really know. There’s this whole story that unfolds basically as the main character tries to not only find her own way and solve her own story, but also figure out what the hell happened to cause the apocalypse, why are there all these ruins all around, even though she lives in a tribal society. Why are they living in the ruins of our society from today, and what caused the apocalypse and it’s really great, so I’m enjoying that.

1:04:41 Natalie Dowzicky: Very cool.

1:04:42 Lauren Sander: So I am a bit of a TV show crazy person. I tend to re‐​watch TV shows and I’ve been self‐​isolating with my neighbor downstairs and so he comes up and gets coffee every day from my coffee maker, he doesn’t have one, but anyway, he’s always like, “How many times have you seen this show? How many times you seen this show?” Like I re‐​watch the same stuff, so I have been re‐​watching, I just re‐​watched Supernatural, all 14 seasons.

1:05:12 Natalie Dowzicky: Good show.

1:05:14 Landry Ayres: Whoa.

1:05:14 Lauren Sander: And [chuckle] Yeah. And I’m re‐​watching Lucifer. I re‐​watched…

1:05:20 Natalie Dowzicky: Another good one.

1:05:21 Lauren Sander: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina…

1:05:22 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I’m sensing a theme.

1:05:25 Lauren Sander: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I just finished watching… He and I have started doing like theme stuff. So we’re starting at Hitchcock movies. But so far we’ve watched the show Luther and we just started The Killing. And we watched Ozark. So, we’ve got a lot done…

1:05:44 Natalie Dowzicky: Good one.

1:05:45 Lauren Sander: And I just finished reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. And I’m starting on The Bell Jar today, actually.

1:05:52 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, nice.

1:05:52 Lauren Sander: So, yeah.

1:05:53 Natalie Dowzicky: Lots of good…

1:05:53 Lauren Sander: There’s lots of themes…

1:05:54 Natalie Dowzicky: Classics in there.

1:05:55 Lauren Sander: Going on. I like the dark stuff. That’s why I love Harry Potter, obviously. But yeah, it’s been keeping me entertained. I always have something on in the background. I can’t really focus without some conversation in the background.

1:06:10 Natalie Dowzicky: So I have been doing a few things. So, I watched all of Upload on Amazon Prime. Very good. Kind of a dark undertone, but comedy… Like it’s like a lighter show, if that makes sense. It’s based off of someone who passes away and uploads his consciousness to this futuristic AI heaven, essentially. That was really good. I got through it in like a day‐​and‐​a‐​half. [chuckle] And then much to my boss, Aaron’s, lovely pushing of me watching Mr. Robot, I have started Mr Robot. I’m only on the fifth episode. He claims it to be the best show of all time and will never give that up. [chuckle] And Landry also likes it a lot, too. So I just started that. So I don’t have many reviews on it.

1:07:05 Natalie Dowzicky: On the reading front, I’ve actually been reading a lot, because I’ve been helped nannying a family for two years now, so I’ve been splitting my time between here and there. And then we’re not seeing any other people. And I read The Girl on the Train. Now I’m reading Woman in Cabin 10, which are both oddly dark and pretty much the same story. They’re murder mysteries, female, main character… Strong female, main character. And my next book, I’m hoping to do Overcharged, which is one of Cato’s books. It’s a healthcare book. I’ve had it on my shelf for a while. I just haven’t had a chance to open it yet. But one other exciting thing. I have also become addicted to Jackbox Games.

1:07:50 Lauren Sander: Yes.

1:07:51 Natalie Dowzicky: Which you play on Steam and I have probably… So far this week, I think I’ve played five or six hours of Trivia Murder Party and…

1:08:00 Lauren Sander: I love that game. Oh, my gosh. I play that with my parents every Friday. [laughter]

1:08:03 Natalie Dowzicky: So. And I paid $20 for them. [laughter] So. We’ve been having a blast. Me and my family have been playing that. Me and my housemates have been playing that. So, that’s a lot of fun. If you wanna do games via Zoom with people, you can just screen share. And there… It’s a lot of fun.

1:08:22 Landry Ayres: For television, I haven’t been doing as many prestige TV shows, just ’cause I haven’t felt the need to commit to much. I started Killing Eve, and I’m about three episodes into that…

1:08:37 Natalie Dowzicky: It’s a good show.

1:08:38 Landry Ayres: And I like it. But I haven’t gotten further than that. There are two… I hesitate to call them reality, ’cause there’s not much about them that’s very real. But they are delicious to watch in a trash TV sense. The first one is on, I believe it’s History Channel, and it is American Pickers.

1:09:02 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, yes.

1:09:04 Landry Ayres: And it’s two junker antique dealers that run an antique store and they go visit these people in rural areas and they go through all of their junk and antiques and they buy stuff from them. And it’s the perfect just put it on in the background stuff, ’cause they’re just climbing through barns and haggling over old, rusty fans and oil signs that they’re gonna like turn and sell to someone. And they have their banter and their goofy… It’s good fun. The other, even trashier television show that I love… My fiancee told me about. It’s a little TV show on the Bravo network, called Below Deck.

1:09:49 Lauren Sander: Yes.

1:09:50 Natalie Dowzicky: Oooh.

1:09:51 Lauren Sander: I watch that, too.

1:09:53 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, my gosh.

1:09:54 Landry Ayres: It’s so good. It’s about yachtees, the staff of luxury yachts, over the course of a charter season and all of the drama that goes down between them, while they’re trying to please these like seven‐​star charter guests.

1:10:10 Lauren Sander: Delicious drama.

1:10:11 Landry Ayres: And it is phenomenal.

1:10:14 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, my God.

1:10:15 Landry Ayres: It’s great. I love it.

1:10:17 Emma Ashford: Landry, did you know that there’s multiple, like below decks?

1:10:20 Landry Ayres: Oh, oh. We’ve watched Mediterranean.

1:10:22 Lauren Sander: Just checking. [laughter]

1:10:23 Landry Ayres: We’ve watched the classic one. We just started Sailing Yacht. We’ve watched multiple seasons. We just got the Bravo app.

1:10:33 Lauren Sander: Yes. [laughter]

1:10:34 Landry Ayres: It’s been good fun.

1:10:35 Lauren Sander: Good.

1:10:36 Landry Ayres: I also have been painting a lot of miniatures for my Dungeons and Dragons campaign. [chuckle] Yeah, that’s so exciting. I actually have two campaigns going right now.

1:10:47 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Are you using Roll20 or are you meeting in person?

1:10:50 Landry Ayres: We have… We’re doing in person and we started that way, for one of them. But we… And we tried Roll20 but it just became kind of cumbersome. So, we just do it over Google Meet. And I will do a Google slide that everyone can get on and see that and I move little tiles around for… If we use a battle map.

1:11:11 Trish Beck‐​Peter: I love it.

1:11:11 Landry Ayres: And then I have a Wild Mount campaign, because I’m a big fan of Critical Role and we’ll be playing that tonight, as well. But I’ve been painting miniatures for that… For something tactile to do with my hands. I’ve never done that before. So, it’s been a fun hobby.

1:11:26 Natalie Dowzicky: We’ve actually been considering changing the lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org team meeting each week to just a D&D game.

1:11:35 Landry Ayres: I’ll do it.

1:11:35 Trish Beck‐​Peter: You guys hiring?

1:11:36 Landry Ayres: I’ll do it. I’ll run a game for you.


1:11:38 Landry Ayres: God, I miss all this stuff. Guys never take it seriously.


1:11:47 Landry Ayres: I also have been playing… I just got a board game called Fog of Love, which is really cool, and it’s a two‐​player board game, kind of storytelling role‐​playing game where you and the other person basically go through the stage of a romantic relationship between two people and you each have goals that you randomly draw and you’re trying to… Are you like trying to self‐​actualize or are you trying to be in a loving relationship? Are you trying to be equal partners or does your character feel like they need to be dominant? And then you play through a bunch of scenarios and say what your characters would do and how you fell in love, and at the end you may not necessarily stay together. Part of the game is finding out whether the other person wants to stay in a relationship with you based on the happenings of the story, and it’s just really shockingly fun.

1:12:45 Landry Ayres: It’s billed as like a romantic comedy board game, which at first I was like, What? But it’s a lot of fun and it’s also just a really beautiful board game, it’s really well‐​made. So I highly recommend Fog of Love. And I’ve also been playing Fiasco which Aaron, our editor at lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, taught me. It’s another storytelling, collaborative game of crime gone wrong in the vein of Fargo, or Burn after Reading, people with high ambition but very, very bad luck, and it’s a lot of fun. And a Sherlock Homes game where you solve mysteries called Sherlock Homes Consulting Detective I just bought. So I’m trying to do things without screens as much as possible, considering I have just been on them so much.

1:13:32 Natalie Dowzicky: Landry, how’s your Animal Crossing Village doing?

1:13:35 S?: Oh, yeah.

1:13:36 Landry Ayres: It’s going pretty well. I just built an infinity pool [laughter] in the back and we are officially cliff‐​side living up at the top, behind our newly‐​moved museum. We just kicked out our first villager. It was not the one we wanted to kick out, but we got a cute little frog named Lily.

1:13:57 Natalie Dowzicky: Lily is lovely.

1:14:00 Landry Ayres: I really… I was searching for months for a cowboy hat for my character, and I finally got one. Now I just need a cutting board so we can complete my kit.

1:14:08 Trish Beck‐​Peter: Don’t we all?


1:14:13 Landry Ayres: Thanks for listening. If we got a crucial piece of wizarding canon wrong, or if you have something you want us to cover on the show, you can slither into our DMs on Twitter at Pop N Locke pod. That’s Pop, the letter N, Locke with an E, Pod. Make sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. We look forward to unravelling your favorite show or movie next time. Pop N Locke is produced by me, Landry Ayres, as a project of lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org. To learn more, visit us on the web at www​.lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org.