Monday, July 02, 2007

Remember Cedric Diggory: Catching Up With A Decade's Worth of "Harry Potter" In Eleven Days

If you wonder why the blog has been a little light on posting this last week and a half, you can blame none other than JK Rowling and her terribly addicting literary creation I let myself get far too far behind on. As I think I’ve stated here before, my reasons for not reading Harry Potter were not that I thought I was too cool for the series or that I was trying to be counter-culture (Me? Counter-culture?), but that I often find myself waiting and waiting for things, and this was one opportunity where I could let everyone else do the longing and stroll in at the end for the big finish.

In the span of eleven days – last Thursday through Sunday at 12:15 in the afternoon – I read all of the Harry Potters, one through six, while still going out in the evening every night save one. Even with the distraction of the NBA draft and the beautiful weather, I scraped time in various recliners, the front porch and the couch to read three thousand pages of magical “children’s literature”. Sometimes it dragged (there is no reason for Order of the Phoenix to nearly reach 900 pages), but most of the time it flew by. When I finally reached The Half-Blood Prince, I was like a ringless veteran in the fourth quarter of a championship game: nothing was going to stop me from achieving my prize. Knowing that I would be addicted (the Castle Legos were always my favorite as a child), I should have started it later so I wouldn’t have nearly three weeks to wait, but I suppose a little patience wouldn’t hurt me.

I think one of the hardest forms of art to create is something that children can understand yet adults can also enjoy while finding a deeper meaning to. Cartoons like Recess and Animaniacs, along with almost all of the Disney-Pixar films, are clear examples of this appeal to both young and old that equal amazing entertainment. At some point in time – perhaps Cedric Diggory’s death? – the Harry Potter series steers a bit away from being strict children’s fiction with a deeper meaning into “This is kinda intense”, but I think kids these days are smart (and brave) enough to venture into them.

So I now await the final installment like the rest of the Harry Potter nation, and it’s a nice feeling. I still have all of the movies to see, and then the final discussion – and if JK doesn’t want a revolt on her hands, she better not end it like another seminal series from the last decade that just called it quits last month.

My favorite part was when I was partway through Chamber of Secrets (maybe the worst of the series, although still a good read) and realized the entire culture of Harry Potter around the world. Not only was there some weirdo who probably penned some fanfiction about Ron, Hermione and Harry all getting together one cold, lonely night, but there was an equally disturbed group of right-wing wackos who were railing against the series because wizards are pagan, evil and decidedly un-Christian. Never mind that it’s getting kids to read, but what’s the point of them reading if they’re not reading about the joys of Creationism and how those liberal bastards in “science” keep pushing evolution as factual instead of opinion?

A few bullet-points about the series, some of which have already been sent out in discussion of the series:

* Why does everyone blush so much? Seriously, every fifty or so pages someone is turning pink or their ears are turning red. I wasn't an adolescent that long ago, and I don't remember that many of my friends blushing. Perhaps its something caused by the castle climate mixed with the wands?

* Harry being a Horcrux would be, I don't know, almost overly tragic. I suppose there would be someway they could get around it to keep him alive, because they can't kill him, can they? (At least I'm investing heavily on NewsFutures that they won't kill him) You know they're going to kill a couple other characters, and with Sirius, Cedric and Dumbledore all gone, how is she going to start writing the "Ten years from now..." sequels in 2011 with everyone anyone cares about dead? It would be like this season of 24.

Tillett guessed that she might want to kill him so no one is tempted to extend the series, but unless they wipe out all of the main characters, there will still be such an interesting in this universe that I can’t imagine a producer or publisher somewhere making up wizardy prequels and sequels.

I don't think I'd like watching Quidditch because of the rules. The entire concept is awesome, but the 150 point bonus for the snitch is nearly excessive. You could dominate for quite a while and then...squadoosh. I don't like it. Flying on broomsticks, though? Awesome. I also like how wizards don’t understand how anyone could enjoy soccer.

* By my estimation, Snape has to be good. I think he made two Unbreakable Vows, one to defeat Voldermort and then another to kill Dumbledore, and since Dumbledore knew that Snape would die if he didn't complete the Malfoy one, he wanted him to kill him. In this case, both Snape and Dumbledore are noble, wise and courageous (in their own ways). During his escape, he also could have at least put the torturing spell on Harry instead of just blocking all of his attacks, but he didn't, and let the teaching instinct out in urging him to use nonverbals. He knows he won't beat You Know Who without them, so he's trying to help.

* Two favorite parts off hand: 1) How Rowling writes the accents of the foreign wizards and Hagrid phonetically, unlike say a Tom Wolfe, who translates them after the fact and 2) When the Weasley twins make their escape from Umbridge. Can’t wait to see that on film.

* The question “Would you rather be a Jedi or attend Hogwarts?” will probably always remain the “Chicken or the Egg” of the slightly nerdy world.

* One thing I find it hard to wrap my mind around is the fact that in order for spells to work, they have to make contact like a magical laser. While I understand that without this small caveat the weak would have no chance against the strong, I’ve just always assumed that Dark Magic was a little more Force-like: Wherever you are, it’s going to get you. Still, really cool visuals I’m looking forward to seeing in the films.

Very much looking forward to July 21st.

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