All culture is remix – Despicable Me/Hogwarts

There’s nothing anyone creates that isn’t shaped by everything they’ve been exposed to all their lives. Sometimes it’s conscious, sometimes unconscious. Here’s a great example:

Miss Hattie totally looks like Dolores Umbridge.jpg

Description: side-by-side freeze-frames of two movie characters, both pale-skinned women with brown hair in bouffant styles, both wearing pale pink sweaters and maroon skirts or dresses, both in offices with multiple pictures hung on the walls.

On the left, “Miss Hattie”, a character from the movie “Despicable Me” who runs a children’s home and exploits her charges as unpaid labor in a shady cookie-selling empire, while maintaining a facade of loving care. On the right, “Dolores Umbridge”, a character from the movie version of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (and subsequent installments), who takes over the running of Hogwarts Academy and abuses the children in her care “for their own good”, while maintaining a facade of loving care.

While “Despicable Me” didn’t come out in theaters until 2010, I’d be willing to bet the character design of Miss Hattie was well underway before “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was out in 2007. And yet, these characters who have similarly nasty temperaments and similarly odious relationships to children, look strikingly visually similar as well. Could it be that, because of shared cultural referents, people working in separate environments came up with very similar ways of representing an idea? Yeah, it could.

(Do I have a whole folder full of bookmarks from Yeah, I do.)

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1 Comment

  1. I had fun reading your article. I am a big fan of Harry Potter as well. You have made a great point. I tend to agree with you. I do believe cinematography reflects both the historical era when the specific movie was created as well as the sociological norms of the culture where this movie was produced. We all live in a contextual world and we reflect our culture in everything we do. Writers and producers are products of a society and they write based on their experiences, feelings, encounters. I do recall J.K Rowling mentioned in one of her interviews that the main characters were created based on her memory of similar children she has met or seen. This is not an exact quote but it reflects the general idea of what she has said. Britain is one of our great ancestors and because of that even now i see a lot of cultural similarities between USA and Britain and your example reflects that.

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