Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

I'm soooo sorry!

Some closets are not meant for one to come out of, and questioning the popularity of Harry Potter is clearly behavior of the "I just shot your dog" variety. I'm very sorry. The Harry Potter books are truly, truly wonderful.

I'd like to take this opportunity to say that I didn't really shoot your dog, I just pushed him off when he jumped up on my torso. I guess I could have done that in a nicer way.

By way of clarification, there are a couple of themes that came up in the comments that I'd like to address.

1) I don't hate the Harry Potter books. As I said, I liked the first book well enough to finish it -- I just don't understand the massive appeal of the series. I wish Harry Potter all the best, and sincerely hope he conquers evil.

2) A commenter said my simile comparing Harry Potter to a trust fund baby was "overstated" because Harry had a hardscrabble existence before his admission to the exclusive boarding school, and that he hangs out with the outcasts at school. I think this reflects a misconception about trust fund babies, who are not necessarily popular and are as capable as anyone else of being pariahs in their elite schools. And by the way, trust fund babies can be quite active in developing their talents: their defining trait is simply that their inherited fortunes excuse them from the necessity of holding a day job.

3) It's totally fair game to hit back at my beloved Lloyd Alexander books. Maybe the appeal of those books defies understanding, but that appeal is just barely enough to keep them in print (and they went out of print for a while in the 1970s and 80s). Harry Potter's appeal is on a whole other dimension. It's a phenomenon whose explanation is worth a passing thought.

4) Speaking of which, I'm still interested in alternative theories to explain the extent of Harry Potter's appeal to grown ups. "My kids love the books" (e.g., here) strikes me as an important contributing factor, but incomplete: a necessary but not a sufficient condition for their popularity with the grown ups. Otherwise, why aren't there lots of grown up game clubs dedicated to playing Candyland... or War?

5) Thanks to Nina who rushed to my defense by explaining to my annoyed commenters that I wasn't attacking the Harry Potter books, but only the people who like them!

Anyway, I apologize. And to make it up to you, I hereby promise to come out of the closet with this item pictured below and offer it for sale at my next garage sale.

DSCN3488

It's a genuine Cambridge University undergraduate gown, perfect for Harry Potter costuming. (How do I happen to own this? Without going into messy details, let's just say I'm a Christ's College dropout.)

DSCN3490

Present a printout of this post at my garage sale, and you will be entitled to an automatic 15% discount on the gown!

***

Comments:
Apology accepted. We can be friends again. ; )
 
I still like you Oscar, even if you are an evil Harry Potter hating person : )

I actually love the Harry Potter books because its realm of make-believe and imagination is so unlike my very real and concrete world of corporate law that I feel transported. The small but clever details in the books, such as the stairs moving around constantly to confuse people, make me smile. I find Rowling's creation of games like quidditch brilliant. I also never read Lord of the Rings, so HP was my first experience with fantasy or sci-fi and I loved it. I assumed that others felt similarly.

Also, love the robe. Very classy. You would have fit in at a HP party last Friday night.
 
Hey, don't turn on your defender! Isn't that just like the underdogs hitting on each other cause they can't take the opressive force of the majority?
I did not say YOU were attacking the readers. I was the one offering the suggestion that there are perhaps reasons why these books appeal to a certain adult audience that go beyond the worth of the book.
And is that an attack? There are reasons why I like trashy movies. That's not an attack on me either, it's just a fact. I'm not demented for liking them. Neither are HP fans.
Jesus, let's calm down here. The investment itself in this discussion is reason to question underlying subliminal attachments to the points contained therein.
 
a couple of points:

1. You'll probably get more money for the robe on ebay, especially if you use the HP angle in the writeup (and if a particular someone in my household realizes that you're getting rid of said robe may make any sale moot, if you get my drift...)

2. Parents and children frequently have vastly different taste in pop culture items and finding any common ground is a rare and wonderful thing.

3. You are forgetting about the calls across America to "ban" this particular book series - and putting something on the "banned" list is a guaranty of instant popularity (I cite as reference, the song "Louie, Louie")

4. I read them because they're OK (not great, but OK - as I recognize many themes and plot threads from other more literary and adult works, to which a juvenile audience would not be exposed, and think it's simply brilliant), and because I really need to capture that "geez, I wish I'd wrote that!" feeling that I get when I read these books.
 
Lloyd Alexander's books will always be the best. We both know that.
 
I wish Harry Potter all the best, and sincerely hope he conquers evil.

Priceless, Oscar. Just priceless.

See, you can tell I didn't take offense because I didn't sic the authors of all 123 comments on you...
 
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