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Harry Potter and the Wicked Hot Summer

harry-potter-phoenix.jpgI went to see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with my kids this afternoon. It was a good film and a very decent adaptation of the book with several stand out performances and a jolly good fight scene to cap it off in the end.

That said something happens in the opening scene that could make my blood boil, or nearly so. The opening shot is of suburbia not too far from Number 4 Privet Lane and a voiceover of a British announcer with the weather, letting the audience know it's a hot hot summer with temperatures in the 90s and may even hit 100. Really? In Britain? 100 degrees is way past hot, it's boiling... literally. The British, as well as nearly the rest of the world, has been using Celsius for temperature readings for over 30 years. So why is this opening voiceover using Fahrenheit? It would be like Harry going into a shop and pulling dollar bills out of his pocket instead of pounds.

I expect the answer is that this is the U.S. version of the film and that people in the States are, apparently, too dumb to understand that the rest of the world uses Celsius, or at least the film industry thinks so. This kind of pandering is just infuriating to me. It perpetuates the idea that the world will conform to our point of view and simultaneously dumbs down the American audience by refusing to rock their boat.

Frankly, our boat needs rocking.

Okay, end rant.


I guess it is the same reason why you guys got "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" for the first installment, and the rest of us got "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". Everything has to be dumbed down for Americans!!!


Yea morons, because it's the American people's fault that we use fahrenheit. How about instead of getting pissy with Americans you pull your head out of your collective asses and put the blame where it's due. /end rant

Er, it is our fault we use Fahrenheit and not the Celsius scale with the rest of the world. Whose fault do you think it is? It's also our fault that we try to remake the world in our own image. Where would you put the blame, meh? I'm not sure I see your point.

Oh, this is a goofy issue. If you work in the sciences, you understand the metric system. And we all learn it in school, so most of us should be conversant with it. But it's just a cultural difference, the way Brits still describe their body weight as being in "stones." And the way different cultures use different calendars, AC rather than DC, etc. We often think that, just because the rest of the world does something, or because Europe does something, it must be automatically superior to the way we do something. This isn't always the case--and in this case, I think it ends up being six of one, half a dozen of the other. Sorry, I'm in a codger-y state of mind today

Actually, I'm not even advocating here that we switch to Celsius (though I do think we should). MY POINT IS that it's wrong to portray the British as using the Fahrenheit system when they patently don't. MY SUPPOSITION IS the moviemakers chose to do this for the "comfort" of their American audience.

Sorry if I didn't communicate this better.

Actually, it would make cooking easier--I am always losing teaspoons and tablesppons and measuring cups to various preschool enterprises, And I can never remember how many of one equals another. Grams and liters make more sense. You know, I just composed a little meditation on culture and its fluidity, but of course, I forgot to put my email on it, and as I have not the energy to try and re-create it, it is lost forever. Lucky you! :)

You know, I was just thinking about what themolk wrote, about everything having to be "dumbed down" for Americans. Just who is making this assumption? I am sure that most Americans over, say, 7 or 8 could understand what a "philosopher's stone" is--not like that's a difficult concept. And no one I know believes that his/her child is of below average intelligence--just the opposite. So one might surmise that those who bring us great additions to media culture like "Age of Love" make the assumption that we are ignorant, and edit accordingly. Their assumption is not an accurate one.

You are correct in that we Yanks absolutely should switch to the metric scale. It's easier to use, and it's the best way to communicate data with everyone else on this rock. However, I saw the movie and I clearly heard the announcer say the temp was 30-something, and then translate it to 100-something Farenheit. Perhaps the popcorn was crunching too loudly for you to hear?

Amber, if I'm wrong, I'll gladly admit it. I guess I'll just have to go do some field research. Tell you what, if anyone goes to see it let me know what is said. I may have been hearing it wrong.

Hey, there--Amber is right. I just got back from seeing it this evening, and having read this discussion, I paid special attention to the beginning. I was surprised to hear the announcer say 30 degrees C. Then he did translate it to fahrenheit, and that bit is just a touch louder. Hey, we're 40, our ears are old...or maybe it was the kid chatter around you :)

Do I get some hot sauce with my crow?

Okay, well, I didn't totally mishear it then. I just didn't hear half of it. Still, the larger point remains. I don't think temperatures in Britain would be reported in Fahrenheit at all.

I was only stirring...


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