The Hooded Utilitarian

The Hooded Utilitarian is a resource that calls itself a “quasi-blog/quasi-magazine hybrid” and writes on its site that it is devoted to cultural criticism. Using ‘Utilitarian’ in the title of the site itself infers that it is not just to “look pretty” but it is intended to be practical, implying that they believe that the quality of content within is what is important.

I think the site is very easy to use and is laid out in a very practical manner. Upon searching the site, you will find criticism on anything from subliminal messages in new music videos to imperialism in comic books all of which you can search a topic and choose one of your liking from a long alphabetical list and all the relevant articles will appear, which is very helpful.

It seems that anybody who has anything to say can write for this site by simply emailing the editor Noah Berlatsky with their ideas. This might initially seem precarious with the fear of the public domain of Wikipedia  lurking in your mind, though I do not find this a negative thing upon revising the articles on the site. When scrolling through the numerous posts, it becomes clear that there is a common topic of politics running through them and are based upon informative criticism and non-biased positions rather than trivial speculating.

What I thought was very interesting about this article/blog post is how it not only discusses the treatment of people of colour in the novels but also how the idea of “the other” is represented both within the fictional world and the world which JK Rowling is from. This suggestion might have been weak if Shoker had not included British historical background (treatment of the Irish, Welsh and Scottish) in context with the world of Harry Potter which makes for a well-supported argument and is quite insightful.

There are also numerous other resources quoted within the article to support the argument being given – one that stood  out to me was written by Charles Husband, in regards to politics “flirting with racism” in relation to how people of colour ‘should be’ integrated within Britain and how they are integrated within Harry Potter. This is useful if people want to read further on the subjects that are outside of the discussion of Harry Potter and focus more on the politics aspect.

This being said, Shoker does use some questionable sources to support her argument. She references MTV News, Wikipedia and a few journalistic sources. It is not recommended to use journalistic sources in an essay, and likewise Wikipedia is a site which anybody can write on therefore many ‘facts’ on there may be unreliable. The resources Shoker uses are my one fault with this source and despite the astute content, I believe they unfortunately lower the quality of the post itself.

Despite this, the post does raise engaging points and I thought it was beneficial to read of the representations of culture within the Harry Potter films in comparison to the novels. The clothes which Cho Chang and the Patil sisters are wearing at the ball might not seem relevant when discussing race in the Harry Potter series, but when it is put alongside the film adaptations, it suddenly becomes more important and more noticeable.Cross-linking the novels to the film adaptations makes for quite an interesting comparison and what I appreciate about this resource is that it allows the reader to not only focus on what is being said in the books but also what is not being said.

Sources Mentioned

Shoker, Sarah. (2013). “Harry Potter, Race, and British Multiculturalism”. [online] accessed via




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