Inspirated

 
 

July 30, 2007

Harry Potter and the Grown-Up Fan with Dung for Brains

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 9:31 am

The year was 2002 and I had only been 13 at the moment when I picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone off the shelf. The hype was prodigious and I had started to feel kind of left behind as conversations like these cropped up consistently:

“Dude how many parts of Harry Potter have you read?”
“Er.. none?”
“Are you like kidding or what? I’ve read all four of ’em”

Reading Harry Potter wasn’t a choice for kids back then and it isn’t even a choice for kids even today. Honestly speaking, this might actually be a good thing if one assumes that the Harry Potter novels are actually increasing children’s interest in book-reading. Realistically speaking, however, Harry Potter novels don’t contribute that much towards the reading habits of children. The attention span of most of the teenagers who read Harry Potter as their first book is usually depraved by the media-hype surrounding He-Who-Must-Be-Bought. After being done with the wizarding-world, most of them won’t even trouble themselves with reading books that aren’t mundane/controversial enough to get everyone buzzing with ballyhoo a la Da Vinci Code. Consequently, their mental-growth is indentured with that of Harry. Few years later, you’ll see them in the role of adolescents “confessing” their pedophilia love for the Hogwarts’ lot.

Harry Potter novels are good — for kids — period. Nevertheless, I had this irresistible urge to compile a list of seven paramount reasons why the Boy-Who-Lived can suck it for good and why grown-up people who think Harry Potter is thoughtful have dung for brains. Just because Rowling’s publishers crunched out the same kids’ stories in a jacket with real life photos calling them “adult versions” doesn’t mean that the novels don’t retain their puerile themes and narration (sour disappointment for anyone who was wishing for threesomes between Harry, Ron and Hermione while opting for these versions). I limited the number of reasons to seven for obviously pertinent reasons. Without further ado, here they are:

  1. Every Tom and Dicky Harry: Have you ever wondered why the Harry Potter universe is so riddled with stereotypes? You have an antagonist who loves none, cares for none, is uber-1337 when considering power and has a name feared by almost everyone except the protagonist. The protagonist quite facetiously is someone who doesn’t really like all the attention but has a fame of mythic proportions in his own world; who beats the most-powerful-of-them-all wizard despite being a n00b himself time and time again and who, in any possible stretch of imagination, can’t act evil or exhibit characteristics such as narcissism, vanity or megalomania. Moreover, the protagonist isn’t money-conscious either but is somehow left with a crap-load of fortune by his parents. If you have spotted all this, pat yourself on the back. If you haven’t, try contacting Dr. Jack Kevorkian as he might be able to rid this Earth of your ignorant presence and do us all a favor.
  2. Potter Mania: Millions of teenagers spent billions of hours reading and re-reading Harry Potter novels for “clues” about the future happenings during the past decade. Whether it was about Harry’s penis scar feeling itchy after seeing a Voldemort-possessed-Ginny or about a gleam of triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes after hearing Harry recall events of his encounter with Voldemort, you always had a few dozen actively-participated discussions about the future novels in any of the fan forums at a given moment. At the release of final novel, my BBC news feeds started showing quotes from the “waiting fans” and typical examples would include: “I had thought and contemplated about Harry Potter ever since I started reading the book a decade ago. What am I gonna do with my life now?” Speaking of life, Miss Harry-Pooper-Makes-Me-Wet-Junkie, how about getting one, like for real? If you do have any worthy analytical skills at all, aren’t they better honed while studying something boring like History or Political Science for example? But then, if you did have the acute quality of introspective reading, you would have realized anyway that wasting many years of your life speculating about a fictional wizard is well … quite moronic.
  3. The Emo Jo: Ever since the Order of the Phoenix hype started to build up, Rowling would find reasons to mourn for “killing a very-important character which was close to her heart” and sell the story to BBC. Ironically, the story would always top the clicks everywhere and fans would start telling each other: “OMG, did you hear? JKR was crying for the death of one of the important characters. I wonder who will it be?” And then they would go an a reread-the-previous-novels spree to find clues about the one who’s going to die. Her last emo bewailing was a masterstroke, no doubt. All the news sources in the world suddenly deemed that mothers grieving the loss of their children’s lives to war and famine are somewhat less important than Rowling shedding tears over ending of the “saga”. If it wasn’t already disgusting enough, Rowling then made a comment about Charles Dickens. Explicating the fact that the latter was feeling dejected after the two-years’ authoring of the novel David Copperfield had finished; Rowling said: “To which I can only sigh, try seventeen years, Charles.” Excuse me? It just so happens that there are writers (read: Tolkien) in history who had been authoring the same story for about half-a-century but didn’t whine about cessation of the writing process at its end. It doesn’t even appear to be deliberate. Perhaps being emo is a natural outgrowth of her being a woman. Who knows?
  4. Movies: Anything which was remotely appreciable about Harry Potter’s cult following was completely overshadowed by the film adoptions. The virtually inane motion pictures with crammed story-lines and acting deserving of the Golden Raspberry Awards actually managed to sell BIG with a capital B (and I and G). Not only that, but the movies also opened up a whole new dimension for hippies who preferred to waste their time by ruminating about what’s going to be included in the next movies and what’s not. I’m sorry, but my suck-o-scope has just started spinning uncontrollably.
  5. Lord of the Rings comparisons: Anyone who seriously compares the two is decidedly juvenile; and I’m being empathetic enough by not calling him a retard.
  6. Out of proportions universe: I don’t know about you, but I prefer fantasies that at least regard matter and mass as balanced entities. On the other hand, in the Harry Potter world, we have rooms that enlarge themselves at their inhibitors’ wishes, small pouches that can accommodate libraries and methods of traveling which allow you to disappear and appear instantly at anywhere within the country. All this made me feel really uneasy; to an extent where I expected Hermione to conjure a Disneyland anytime, Cartman style. Alright, that last point was intentionally hyperbolic, but it ain’t as far-fetched as it seems either. With the endless supply of Dei Ex Machinis that Rowling seemed to have, I couldn’t convince myself to rule out the possibility of something like that happening.
  7. The Ending [Spoilers! Highlight to read]: As I was progressing through the last book, the darker tone and the implication of Harry’s submissive death really started to sound impressive. My hopes of a cogitative ending emphasizing the nature of sacrifice and anonymity real-life heroes die in were crushed as soon as Harry returned from the King Cross station. The epilogue became Rowling’s waterloo; as she transmuted her storyline into a soap opera where you see all the characters happily playing with their kids after 2 decades. And yeah, it was absolutely despicable.

That’s all, folks!

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16 Comments »

  1. I didn’t think it was all that bad, I thought it was okay :P Just read it for entertainment and stop thinking so much and it’ll have served its purpose!

    Comment by riyunoa — July 30, 2007 @ 9:34 am

  2. good 1 dude

    Comment by goga — August 1, 2007 @ 10:00 pm

  3. waisay it was better than the other parts

    Comment by goga — August 1, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

  4. Bottomline: you read the books. Can’t be that much dribble if you spent the money to buy and read them.

    Comment by firedancer731 — August 6, 2007 @ 8:57 pm

  5. Topline: I read the books; because I like to experience stuff before I actually form an opinion on them. It neutralizes my decisions and stops me from being biased :) .

    Comment by krkhan — August 6, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

  6. WELL…that is ur own way of thinking, i wud say!
    and still it is GOOD!
    i don’t know abt the rest…but i am in total agreement with 3rd, 5th and 7th point!

    Comment by Saher Farooqui — August 10, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

  7. well that is ur own way of thinking…and still its not that bad!…’DUNNO’ abt the rest but i am in total agreement with 3rd, 5th and 7th points!

    Comment by Saher Farooqui — August 10, 2007 @ 2:01 pm

  8. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20044270_20044274_20050689_2,00.html

    But Mr.Harry-Potter-Fans-Have-Dung-For-Brains knows better!

    Comment by Saba. — August 10, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

  9. A mind boggling number of authors praise JKR’s writing skills. I never said they suck, I said that they’re good but the overall phenomenon is severely overrated. Stephen King obviously knows a lot more about writing than me, but that doesn’t change the facts mentioned in these points :-) . His comments neither get rid Harry Potter of its stereotype-influx, nor help its movies becomes any better, nor make the books comparable to Lord of the Rings and nor do they make the ending any less cornier.

    Comment by krkhan — August 10, 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  10. People might find this interesting too:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/13/AR2007071301730.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

    Comment by krkhan — August 10, 2007 @ 11:48 pm

  11. Well..if you read the 3rd page of the article, you’ll know what King has to say about what you call Potter’s “Stereotype-influx” AND your 6th point.If Stephan King and other Potter fans can accept it, so can you! And if you can’t..then I’m afraid I’ll have to say I think you’re extremely arrogant!

    Your statement clearly implies that the stereotype-influx is present in the Harry Potter books and that I’m supposed to accept it just because millions of Harry Potter fans and Stephen King have done so. Er.. I’m sorry, miss; but I don’t see how popularity of a thing should dictate its acceptance by anyone. Titanic’s corny scenes and cheap storyline are “accepted” by half-a-billion folks and yet all of that stuff still sucks per se.

    You can’t kid anyone by saying you read the last book just so you could write a nasty comment on it. You read the book because you simply couldn’t resist knowing how the series ended and who survived..and it can’t have been just that! Because you could have easily asked another fan about it:P. But you took the trouble ov actually reading the whole book and no, not to simply form an opinion on them, but because the books are too good to be resisted. Come one now..you can’t deny you were a fan before the 7th book came out and so, you read it.. I’m afraid not many people share your dissapointment at seeing Harry alive at the end ov the series.

    If you start watching a movie and you deduce that it sucks, it doesn’t mean that you’re bound to stop watching it at the very moment. Of course that’s also dependent on the amount of suckage involved. Harry Potter books don’t suck ass. They’re good but overrated and that’s the whole point of my post. BTW, I just repeated my last sentence for 238th time. To clear it up for one last time, let me restate how it actually happened:

    – I started reading HP when I was 13.
    – I was impressed.
    – At 17, I figured out the books aren’t really worth all the crazy hype surrounding them. Nor are they worth spending thousands of hours of speculation.
    – At 18, book 7 came out and I read it just to form a final opinion on the overall series. It’s just like you’d stick through a mediocre action movie in hope for an exciting ending.

    The reason LotR and HP are compared is that they DO have quite a few things in common:
    http://www.mugglenet.com/hpvslotr.shtml

    I read that page 3 years back and it was precisely the reason why I decided to write that point. Harry Potter is a story; Lord of the Rings is a universe. Just because the two share things such as trolls and elves doesn’t make them comparable to say the least. Lord of the Rings is about cultures, languages, mythology and philosophy (more mature than the basic love/hate, good/evil themes, stereotypical protagonists found in HP). Lord of the Rings has its own languages, its own maps and its own universe in addition to its own cosmology. It explains the roots of magic through combination of all of the aforementioned stuff. On the other hand, JKR herself admitted that she isn’t a linguist and that she just named places “for fun”. Harry Potter is indispensably immature when compared to the diverse universe of Lord of the Rings.

    But comparing the plots and storyline is indeed very foolish because LotR is set centuries back and Harry Potter in the 20th century and so, they are very different in that way.

    Thanks for writing that sentence. It clearly proves how naive your knowledge is about LOTR. LOTR isn’t set “centuries back”. It’s set in its own universe with its own time-line.

    I’m not done with reading LotR so I don’t know exactly how brilliant it is. But I don’t see anyone OBSESSED with The Lord of the Rings like people are with Harry Potter and I haven’t seen many adults reading LotR either like they read HP!

    You must be joking. There’s just no other explanation :-/ .

    If you had just visited the Wikipedia page for LOTR before writing that, you would’ve noticed a few lines:
    – In the 2003 “Big Read” survey conducted by the BBC, The Lord of the Rings was found to be the “Nation’s Best-loved Book”. Australians voted The Lord of the Rings “My Favourite Book” in a 2004 survey conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In a 1999 poll of Amazon.com customers, The Lord of the Rings was judged to be their “favourite book of the millennium.”
    – Tolkien’s Legendarium is declared to be FA-Class project at Wikipedia. Which basically means that it’s rated as one of the most important series of articles for the encyclopedia.
    – The books have spawned generations of people trying to educationally interpret the subtle philosophical and linguistic aspects of the books.

    I’d hate to break it to you, but adults around you don’t constitute any criteria for judging popularity of something like LOTR specially when you’re living in Pakistan :-) .

    And I don’t see how the 3rd point is even a point! :S. Rowling “acting” emotional doesn’t count as a point suggesting the Harry Potter books suck!=P

    Well, all of those points were never intended to focus on books. They were there to state: (239th and counting …) the Harry Potter phenomenon is overrated. Do I have to like etch it across my chest or something to make it evident?

    You liked the books but didn’t appreciate the fact that you did, juvenile as some ignorant people call the books..And you couldn’t stop reading them either but when the 7th book was finally out and you’d read it, then was the perfect time to tell the world how Harry Potter sucks and shouldn’t be read by Grown ups, eh? You could have atleast pointed out some better reasons! Why don’t you just appreciate how good the books are and stop being a hypocrite?

    Re-read my movie point. If I say something sucks before I actually experience it, then I’d consider myself to be a hypocrite. Simply put: I’m not a critic but even critics don’t just say that a book sucks without reading it first :-/ . If you’re oblivious to this point, well … that would explain your status as an adult Harry Potter fan.

    Comment by krkhan — August 12, 2007 @ 6:21 pm

  12. Well..if you read the 3rd page of the article, you’ll know what King has to say about what you call Potter’s “Stereotype-influx” AND your 6th point.If Stephan King and other Potter fans can accept it, so can you! And if you can’t..then I’m afraid I’ll have to say I think you’re extremely arrogant!
    You can’t kid anyone by saying you read the last book just so you could write a nasty comment on it. You read the book because you simply couldn’t resist knowing how the series ended and who survived..and it can’t have been just that! Because you could have easily asked another fan about it:P. But you took the trouble ov actually reading the whole book and no, not to simply form an opinion on them, but because the books are too good to be resisted. Come one now..you can’t deny you were a fan before the 7th book came out and so, you read it.. I’m afraid not many people share your dissapointment at seeing Harry alive at the end ov the series.

    Joanne Rowling is an extremely talented writer which is precisely what explains the large fan following she has and it’s not because the books are overrated, not when other talented authors are big fans! True, there are bits in the seventh book where you feel there is rather too much magic to be digested, like small pouches accomodating a gazilleon big items and stuff (Don’t think you’re the only one who noticed those bits! and I don’t see anyone arrogantly making a fuss over it!)..but magic is boundless..in the Potter books, it is. And Rowling knew what she was doing when she wrote the parts, knew she could afford writing those bits ov magic because they didn’t clash with the magical world that she’s created and that everyone loves. The epilogue DID dissapoint a lot of fans including myself but Jo Rowling isn’t perfect, nor are her books..The plot is flawless though and people still love Harry Potter because it’s so amazing..and that’s what matters, isn’t it?
    The reason LotR and HP are compared is that they DO have quite a few things in common:
    http://www.mugglenet.com/hpvslotr.shtml
    But comparing the plots and storyline is indeed very foolish because LotR is set centuries back and Harry Potter in the 20th century and so, they are very different in that way. But if you’re talking about comparing the books in popularity and brilliance, then I have to say: I’m not done with reading LotR so I don’t know exactly how brilliant it is. But I don’t see anyone OBSESSED with The Lord of the Rings like people are with Harry Potter and I haven’t seen many adults reading LotR either like they read HP! The reason: Harry Potter IS an amazing fantasy fiction..no one can deny that!
    The only point that I do agree with you on is: The movies SUCK!..Yes, they do and bad! But even THAT doesn’t stop the books from being brilliant!=D
    And I don’t see how the 3rd point is even a point! :S. Rowling “acting” emotional doesn’t count as a point suggesting the Harry Potter books suck!=P

    In short, none of points you’ve mentioned above are meaningful in the slightest to suggest anyone who reads Harry Potter is a Dunghead!
    You liked the books but didn’t appreciate the fact that you did, juvenile as some ignorant people call the books..And you couldn’t stop reading them either but when the 7th book was finally out and you’d read it, then was the perfect time to tell the world how Harry Potter sucks and shouldn’t be read by Grown ups, eh? You could have atleast pointed out some better reasons! Why don’t you just appreciate how good the books are and stop being a hypocrite?
    Good Day to you!

    Comment by Saba. — August 12, 2007 @ 4:26 pm

  13. ae kee khap paee hoe hai tussi..
    harry poterr mai kiya bollywood lay ayee hain..:p
    the only difference is bollywood mai koi magical world nahi hote..
    baki tu wohee hai,, ending b start b .. . . . .

    Comment by A man From THAMTHAL — August 21, 2007 @ 8:39 am

  14. Some personal facts: I’ve read all of the Harry Potter books. I love them. I’m not an obsessed fanatic. I liked being able to read the books years ago without feeling like some kind of loser (before they blew up crazy-like). I am 20, 21 in May 08. I started reading the books at about 13 as well (the first 3 books were out by then). I got over feeling Harry Potter was geeky somewhere between the 5th and 7th book. It’s just too good (though I never walk around reading the books with those gay cartoon covers on them).

    Not a big LOTR fan. Started getting into the books but then the movies came out and the geek-freaks-of-nature arose from the underground. For that person to say people aren’t obsessed with LOTR, omg they’re wrong. Harry Potter has fanatics and weirdies.. yes. But LOTR is a fuggin cult. Having read a few books (not the books that the movies were made after, other ones), I CAN say that Tolkien more successfully created a whole new world with languages and the whole nine yards (I can still read Runes years after which I learned from one of the books) than Rowling did. But the LOTR stories and people and creatures never settled in my heart and mind the way Harry Potter characters did… so that’s 1 to 1 score, you could say.

    Anywho. I don’t think you’re a hypocrite. But I do think saying that people who like to read a certain book, whatever their age, have dung-for-brains… is not only a little harsh but just flat out in accurate. It’s a personal choice of taste in story lines. I’m honestly not much of a reader, but I like fantasy stories above anything. Why read a CSI Crime Scene book? I live in USA, that shizz goes on enough. Books are like an escape. Are they not? The movies suck. But it’s still cool to see some of your favorite parts of the books acted out. I waited, more than anything else, to see the movie for book 5 (that just came out 2007) for the scene inside the Ministry with the prophecies and the battle and the smashing all around. They left a LOOOOOOT out of that chapter, but it was great nonetheless. And the veil! Come on. Awesome.

    I guess I’m the only person in the world that like the Epilogue (from what I’ve heard). I was both excited AND downtrodden when I thought Harry was going to die (I’m not much into the Hollywood happy ending). But I think the ending sufficed beyond a normal “Okay he died for the greater good… somehow that weakened Voldemort and some odd Auror killed him, the end.” Harry killed him and married Ginny! That made me happy, if no one else.

    Regarding the small pouches and odd items: It’s magic homie, magic.

    -Chris Vantress / Grand Noble

    I’m hoping you’ll respond, seeing as I think I came across to you, the way you came across in your writing. Sane and thought-provoking. Almost in a ‘well you’ve got admit’ sort of way. I don’t know if you’re still watching this though. Well have a great day man.

    Comment by Chris Vantress aka Grand Noble — August 22, 2007 @ 9:54 pm

  15. Welcome to the blog Chris. I hope your 30k still-untagged MP3 music collection hasn’t yet gotten out of hands ;-) (remember reading about it from you on some other blog quite a while ago). Anyways, since you also agree with the primary purpose of writing this post (“before they blew up crazy-like”) and since your post is the sanest of all HP fans here, I’m gonna actually thank you for taking time to comment here.

    About LOTR, I agree with you. What is a fact that Tolkien’s universe is incomparable to HP’s because of its diversity and magnitude. What also is a fact that someone might not have the time/attention-span to delve deep into, or appreciate the Tolkien universe like others. I never said that anyone who doesn’t like LOTR and likes HP is stupid, I just said that comparing the two is quite a juvenile activity to do.

    Similarly, you may enjoy seeing scenes from book acted in the movie but you’ll have to agree with the fact that movies are pretty bad adoptions. If books were overrated, the movies have actually put them to shame. Dan’s acting and all the fan-girls going “oooh-he’s-so-cute” is something which I find very disgruntling to say the least. That’s one of the reasons why I stopped watching HP movies after PoA came out. They’re embarrassing, but so was Bay-Watch :-p.

    Dying for the greater good would actually have been an impressive theme — much closer to reality, and I’m sure that JKR would’ve pulled it off without much difficulty either. It would’ve also exemplified a very intriguing Aristotelean tragedy. Which would’ve made me happy, if no one else ;-) .

    And yup, it is magic. But that’s also where personal preferences play their role (again!). While writing about those items, I explicitly said that I prefer magical fantasies that at least regard matter and mass as balanced entities. As pointed out in the post, too much wobbly mass-warps had started to sound like Dei Ex Machinis to me. Our literary preferences, quite evidently, conflict in this regard :-) .

    Comment by krkhan — August 23, 2007 @ 4:45 pm

  16. I think we’ve evened out on all subject matter except one massive problem (har har pun intended). I find the mass problem the least easy to digest, which is funny. I mean when in one of the beginning books, they all jumped in a car and they all fit I was like WHOOOOOOA. The only thought I had regarding that was somebody (a muggle) looking inside while driving and being like “That aint right!” but then again… JK covered her tracks easily but consistently noting that the muggles “don’t really LOOK, do they?”

    Do you think the magic room in Hogwarts, The room of Requirement (forgot the name for a second), has a faulty mass-issue as well? Because following one idea, the room would only be able to get so big before it would start to conflict with rooms already stationary in the castle; therefore, it would only expand or shrink to a certain point. But that would defeat the purpose of the RoR!! It’s size or how much it can hold or even whats inside at any given time doesn’t and shouldn’t conflict with anything in the realm of common sense. “It’s magic homie, magic.”

    So I see the magical purses in the same light. Maybe whatever’s put in them is (magically) transported so some huge purse shizz or some crap (lol). Infinite! The main point I’m saying (or trying to say) is this, if something seems a little off or un-magically impossible, just let it go. Not only is it a book, not just a FANTASY book, but it’s a story of magical happenings and beliefs that anything can happen! I feel like I sound like a 12 year old explaining a card trick to some old guy who has no imagination (not you, the royal you). But that’s what’s needed, imagination. I mean, if you have enough imagination for LOTR or really… any fantasy book out there, the Harry Potter books (I personally think) require less imagination than some other books. Being two reasons: 1, it may seem far-fetched, but usually in the book it comes across as so natural and common, it’s not as if something stange happens on every page that even the characters are bewildered. 2, I personally like that JK has come up with her own … well really everything. In the beginning of #1 Ron says some stupid ass spell… that obviously doesn’t work, because that’s the basic magic ALL other stories tell. JK’s magic has to do with wand motions, conviction, execution, correct pronunciation, and etc. Things that other stories don’t even begin to delve into! Little things like every wizard’s wand being a different wood with a different core. WOW! That’s so cool! ….so! Long story short (or more like a summary at this point), HP does include a few well placed dei ex machinis, but I don’t feel the bags or rooms of odd mass should be considered on that list. Thank you and have a great night. Nibb High rules!! (crowd goes crazy).

    -Chris Vantress / Grand Noble

    ps. I remember that blog thing. That was on this website? How did you recognize me? There were so many comments, I don’t think I even read half of them, too many!!

    Comment by Chris Vantress aka Grand Noble — October 20, 2007 @ 2:43 am

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