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 (including staying at the Marriott hotel) 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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