Confessing to guilty pleasure, I have to admit that I love Celebrity Apprentice. I’m especially enjoying this season (Season 3) because of Cyndi Lauper, whom (1) I worship and adore as a Goddess and (2) I get a kick out of watching because she’s so superbly Noo Yawk. Her inflections, her cadence, her gestures, the way she makes her points- it’s all so Noo Yawk, it’s brilliant.
Even so, I’m still not quite sure what to make of “Muggles and Wizards” (Season 3, Episode 4, air-date April 4, 2010), available at Hulu.com. But first- some back-story on what I find to be the extraordinary occurrence of what I call the “re-magicking” of the world.
It starts with a woman. She has no money; her times are hard. She is sitting on a train when- a boy pops into her head, who says, Hello. My name is Harry Potter.
At that instance- an entire series of novels flies into her head, which (because we hopefully all recognize that this is J. K. Rowling), we all now know became a global mega-literary phenomenon.
And what do Ms. Rowling’s books do (whether intentionally or not)? They encourage their readers to imagine themselves as Witches and Wizards- to pretend in their minds that they possess Magickal powers.
Then cue to Warner Brothers Studio (once-home to James Cagney and Bette Davis), who thought, Hey- these books will make great movies! And so, beginning in 2001, we have had the Harry Potter film series- which equally invites its viewers to use their imaginations, to pretend that they have Magickal powers, and that it is they having all of these incredible Magickal adventures in the world.
Then (and here’s the thing), as we found out on Celebrity Apprentice- Universal Orlando Theme Parks and Resorts is opening its newest attraction: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!! (It opens June 18, 2010; here is the address of their web-site, which is pretty cool and a neat little Harry Potter experience all by itself).
So the point of this new theme-park is to “immerse” oneself in a 3-D replica of the Harry Potter world- to be surrounded by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter- to have a physical environment (here’s the thing) in which to pretend that Magick is real- to pretend that you yourself are a Wizard, with Magickal powers.
First a book: within the privacy of its pages- an imaginative fantasy that asks the reader to have faith in Magickal ability.
Then: a series of movies- a visual fantasy that asks viewers collectively to awaken their minds to the idea of Magick.
Now: a new theme park at Universal Orlando- a huge, physical background against which to indulge in the fantasy of “living” in Harry Potter’s Wizarding World for real.
Doesn’t it seem as if the universe keeps generating newer vehicles to encourage people to open their creative minds to the idea of Magick?
Which brings us to Donald Trump and Celebrity Apprentice- in the episode cited above, he tasks the women’s team (Tenacity) and the men’s (RockSolid) to produce two experiences, in order to introduce some young, hard-core Harry Potter fans to Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Basically- and this is what I find so interesting- The Donald instructs the Celebrities to put together an experience that will Initiate these youngsters into Wizarding. “And make sure these kids have a great time doing it!”
So both teams put together what (in terms of Archetypal Symbology) count as Confrontational Initiation-Journey/ Life-Altering Ritual Ceremonies. To wit:
In Tenacity’s Wizarding-Introduction experience- the kids are ushered into a room. Sharon Osbourne (cloaked in a wizard’s robe) greets them at the door. “Welcome, young Wizards- welcome!”
The youngsters sit and Selita (wearing a witch’s hat) addresses them, welcoming them to a “world like no other,” and cautioning them, “don’t be afraid!”
Then Sharon instructs the “young Wizards” to “enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” and guides the kids one at a time through a Dragon’s mouth that has been constructed.
Inside the kids are led through a sort of Labyrinth. They first meet Cyndi, who is being all brilliantly kooky: “Muggles and Wizards! Muggles and Wizards! Don’t look at me, don’t look at me!” (Everybody inside the Labyrinth is of course dressed up in Wizard’s robes as well.) Cyndi directs the kids onto Olivander’s, where they will be chosen by their Wand.
Maria meets them here: “Welcome to Olivander’s, welcome to Olivander’s!” Summer (hiding behind the wall) starts popping Wand-boxes out of the wall and then Maria “discovers” the Wand that has chosen the kid. “Is THIS your Wand?”
She gives the Wand to the kid- and this light that they have rigged up shines on the kid and this fan blows on their face for a moment and there’s this music- and each kid gets their own Magickal “Here is my Magickal Wand- WAAAAAHHHH [music-background] moment.”
Then the kids come out and Holly (dressed in a robe) congratulates them on “completing the forbidden journey” and invites them to help themselves to sweets and snacks as a reward.
The men’s team was not quite as well-organized as the women’s, which is why project-leader Rod was fired. The environment was as impressive- they ushered the kids into a small castle-replica- but the execution did not go off as well. (Rod pumped too much smoke into the castle; the kids noticed that the Sorting Hat’s answers appeared to emanate from the large tree in the corner that looked suspiciously like Goldberg in a costume, rather than from the Hat, and patiently explained afterwards that the Sorting Hat does not divide into “Classes,” but “Houses.”)
So the women’s team won. But what is basically going on here, Pagan readers? These Celebrities are devising Initiation ceremonies for these young Harry Potter fans, to welcome them into the World where Magick is Real. On Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, no less.
See what I mean about the universe just keeps finding newer and newer ways to introduce people to Magick?