Thursday, July 14, 2011

back on the "shameless" promotion with a Potter-related column

This week's column from the St. Clair Times was about "Harry Potter." It's not quite the rant I went on a few months ago, but I got to have some fun with it, anyway.
Harry, Ron and the neverending story

The only thing I’ve wasted more hours thinking about over the past few years than my alma mater’s football team is the “Harry Potter” franchise. And that’s not even a joke.

(OK, it’s a little bit of a joke.)

It would probably be better for me to tell you I’ve spent the last few years reading about the worldwide economic crises, or the ongoing deterioration of political discourse in America, or maybe even the embarrassing (and simultaneously hilarious) bingo trial taking place in our own state.

Nope. I’ve spent time arguing, reading and writing about a fictional wizarding world that exists entirely in the mind of a British woman. I’m not proud of this, but there it is.

Statistics will indicate I’m not alone. An entire generation of people across the world have grown up along with the characters in J.K. Rowling’s unending fantasy series; when the final chapter of “The Deathly Hallows” opens (today!!), they’ll flood theaters everywhere to put a cap on things once and for all (at least until they come back to watch it another 47 times).

At least I hope it puts a cap on things. The other day my wife and I — yes, she’s a part of this as well — were having a protracted argument about the merits of Hogwarts education, and I had a moment of clarity.

“You realize we’re arguing about a series of movies that involves flying broomsticks and a talking hat, right?” I asked her.

“Yeah … just forget it,” she said.

It’s a tribute to the author, really, that a series based on such a bizarre premise, which takes its characters on so many hole-filled journeys they leak water prodigiously, still keeps drawing us back again and again.

As for the movies, none of them are Oscar material, but they’ve been faithful to their source, and they keep drawing in crowds (even if those crowds are composed largely of nerds like the one writing this column). And to their credit, the core group of actors have all been a revelation as well; none of them has done anything particularly scandalous, and all acquit themselves nicely even as they’ve grown old together.

In a way, the finality of the series feels like graduation for the characters and the fans. And not just because the fans themselves are all now preparing to graduate from high school.

As for me, hopefully this is the end of my own run with bizarre fantasy literature. One can only obsess so much about hobbits and wizards and magical disappearing tropical islands.

(And no, I refuse to do “Twilight.” Seriously. That’s where I’m drawing the line.)

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