every single male adult seemed dangerous, incompetent, flawed, or dead.[emphasis mine] James Potter picked on Snape, Snape hated Potter, Hagrid is an idiot who almost got them killed with the spiders, Sirius Black also kind of failed I think comparing Harry to his dad, and then dying. Lupin is dangerous, and it kept going on enough to see a pattern.
It really culminated in Dumbledore …he came across as making bad decisions that led to kids fighting his battles for him.
…There’s always been this uneasy tension in kidlit about empowering kids by having them solve adult problems, or fight adult battles. You have to have the kids act themselves, and not have magical adults come in to save the day, but there is also the reverse where you start to ask why the heck are adults letting kids and young teens risk their lives fighting what is increasingly becoming full on war.
Now that I’m well into Order Of The Phoenix I’m back to the place where I start getting really annoyed with Dumbledore. Once you re-read the series with the head-knowledge of the eventual outcomes and the backstories of all the characters it is almost impossible not to be a little furious with the man who seemed–at first–to be a kindly grandfather sort of fellow.
I know that Rowling has had a lot of issues with her father, and really probably has no paradigm for the idea of a competent, loving father figure. We’re lucky that we got Mr. Weasley, even though he’s hampered with a characterisation as an eccentric goofball.
The Vanishing Adult is trope wildly exploited in Young Adult Fiction; as a writer I think that’s probably because it’s an easy way to give your character an unassailable motive while also avoiding the ordinary roadbloacks of parental interference. To be fair, Rowling actually does a pretty good job of giving Harry interested adults who love him and take pains to insure his well-being. Unfortunately, all those adults are women. The feminist in me truly loves the idea of powerful women standing their ground and conquering villains. But the woman in me who loves the men in her life and has been truly blessed to know very many wonderful men is concerned at how few male role-models are available in popular literature. Yes, Harry is the hero of the stories, but he spends long stretches of the tale fumbling about, trying to figure out when, where and how to act.
I suppose this dearth of strong male characters is one of the reasons I’ve become so adamantly fond of Lois McMaster Bujold. She is a female author who had a good relationship with her world-famous father and imbues her stories with excellent male role models. I want to spend all my time with Aral Vorkosigan and Lupe de Cazaril, and I hope boys and men find their way to works like hers, where they can see men worth emulating.