Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II post. (Come now. I write fantasy. You knew it was coming.)

This last Thursday night, like ever so many other human beings in the English speaking world, I saw the grand finale of the Harry Potter films. Watching movies at midnight has been a long time past time of mine. Often in costume. In fact, just last month, I saw a special showing of The Two Towers extended edition armed with home made lembas bread. But this wasn't just another pirate movie or something I could choose to watch at home on VHS (yes, another testament of my geek-dom. I still watch those). This was the last of a cultural phenomenon, a series that has taken over ten years to translate into film. So despite the fact that I had work at eight AM the next morning ,and despite the fact that it came after a long day at the DMV, I visited three theaters in person and then spent over an hour on line to get a hold of a ticket.

Eventually I ended up at Horton Plaza downtown San Diego. Needless to say it was crowded. The mall was swarming with young wizards and excited fans but there was something . . . different about these fans compared to those I've waited in line with for other movies.

First there was the costumes. Most of them were store manufactured. They were very accurate of course, but showcased none of the ridiculous dedication and knowledge it takes for a geek to piece one together on his own. There was one home made costume but after puzzling for some time over the inaccuracy I discovered (because the wearer of said costume was asked) that it was meant to be a Gandalf costume.

This was the first sign that something was wrong. As the night progressed many other strange things took place.

My brother and I sat in our seats, drawing each other Harry Potter themed word puzzles to pass the time

The ingenious and excruciatingly difficult Harry Potter word search my brother drew for me to do. You can tell how ingenious it was because he broke down and gave me hints (note the arrows) and I still didn't finish it before the movie started.

The slightly less ingenious crossword puzzle I drew for my brother. You can tell it is less ingenious because he finished it in a matter of minutes. Or maybe he's just a genius.

While we did this a light saber fight broke out somewhere in the theater, met with enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. A beach ball was released and thrown back into the air with shouted quotes from Spartacus. My little brothers' friend admitted to me that not only had he read none of the books but hadn't seen the last two movies.

I slowly began to realize that I was not surrounded by fellow die-hard fans of the boy who lived out to watch the final battle with he who must not be named and compare the adaptation to J.K. Rowling's original. I was in an excitable crowd of people harboring varying degrees of fondness for Harry Potter who were out to have a good time. If I was certain you had read Terry Pratchett's Going Postal I would tell you that they were not true pin-heads. They were merely *gasp* hobbyists.

When I first began to read the Harry Potter books I was reluctant because they were so popular (a bit of my inner emo manifesting itself there). But my sister insisted that however much the books were overestimated in the eyes of the public they were equally underestimated. They are praised and hyped at every corner of the universe because they've made so much money and, well everyone else is talking about them, but few people really take the time to recognize their true literary value. The believable aging of the characters, the progression of the themes as Harry gets older, the way Rowling sets up plot twists so far in advance and then hides them with school yard drama.

With that in mind I don't suppose it was much of a surprise to see that Harry's last moment was over shadowed by his own popularity. The world is full of people who want to be excited about something and one hit movie will do as well as another, but what really struck me, and made me feel just a teensy bit lonely, was that they were playing the game of the geeks. Except that it wasn't uncool anymore and it wasn't as meaningful. I can't help but wonder, does this always happen when something good is discovered by everyone else? Is it maybe better to let some things remain unknown?


  1. The bigger the boat the more room there is for everyone and their geeky cousin.

    I was a little the opposite in my Harry Potter fandom. I read the first book as soon as it came out. Before people were really talking about it. I devoured the first four books. Then five and six disappointed me. I fell off the full speed fan wagon after that. I liked book seven, but the full on fandom never really came back for me. I've still only seen the first four movies. Don't throw things at me. :P

  2. I think it's great that Harry Potter is popular. And I can kind of see where you're coming from. Because I grew up liking classical music when no one else did, and I kind of felt like that made me different in a good way. But now I think it's better to accept how much I'm like everyone else rather than to put myself in a private club. We're all human after all.

  3. L.G. --Fear not. Your head is safe from being struck by wizard wands and a snitch. My annoyance is more with those who claim to be into to it but aren't.

    Angela --Its not so much that Harrp Potter is popular (though I will admit that my ego likes the idea of belonging to a sort of private club) as the fandom felt watered down. Like no one actually cared that much about the film they were just there because everyone else was. It could have been any movie and most of them woudln't have cared.

  4. That's a bummer. I was wondering what it was like at the midnight showing and I am sad that it wasn't full of true fans. I went on Sunday and geeked out with Hubs :). Probably will see it once or twice more in theaters. Of course it wasn't as good as the book, but I did tear up.

  5. Yes, it wasn't quite as good as the book but it was still a lot fun. The not-true fans really only bothered me a little. :D

  6. Hehehe well, I like to think it's a good thing. Even if it isn't as meaningful to others, the fact that something goes mainstream means that more money will be spent on it... Great for diehard fans - except if the phenomenon is watered down for mass consumption.