When I went to the “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” Internet Movie Database page to do some research for this article, I ended up spending 45 minutes looking at promotional stills instead of writing a single word or being at all productive. The only pause I took from salivating over pictures of Harry, Ron and Hermione camping out on their search for horcruxes was to pull up a YouTube video which would provide some appropriate background music – the classic Harry Potter theme song from movie one. Do I regret my Harry Potter fangirl moment? Not in the slightest.
There’s something magical about Harry Potter. Well, yes — it’s about witches and wizards, after all. But I mean there’s something special. The series, which began on a napkin in 1990, has sold 400 million books and spawned the highest grossing film series of all time. Its creator, Joanne Rowling (penname J.K.), is now worth an estimated billion dollars.
All of this hubbub over a skinny little orphan boy with glasses and messy hair may bewilder some, but to many readers of our generation, loving Harry Potter is as natural as breathing.
To preface my work on this article, I posted a Facebook status asking my peers to contribute a brief statement as to why they love Harry Potter. Responses varied from the entertaining to the informative.
“I love it so much. I grew up, hoping that I would receive an owl on my 11th birthday. Even though it never came, it gave me a magical place that I could go to whenever I wanted,” one responder said.
So is Potter popular because it functions as escapist literature? Perhaps. J.K. Rowling created a world so complex that the Harry Potter Wiki features over 7,000 pages, which is certainly expansive enough to accommodate some serious escapism. The Potter culture spawned by the series is even greater, featuring fan websites, books, fanfiction galore and even two full length Potter musicals. If you love Harry Potter, there is some medium out there for you to express and celebrate that love.
I intend to do just that by attending the midnight premiere of the seventh and second to last Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, on Thursday the 18th. And yes, I’m dressing as Hermione. Is that a geeky and embarrassing idea? Yup. Is it also totally worth it to celebrate the book and movie series that I grew up with? Absolutely.
I feel old when I think about growing up with Harry. He was conceived on that napkin a year before I was born. The series is nearly two decades old, and so am I. As Harry’s adventures veered from fun to deadly, my own life was introduced to ever increasing work, pressure and responsibility. Around the time book five came out and Harry had his first kiss, I had mine.
Growing up with a wildly popular fictional character has been described by many as one of the defining traits of our generation — and I am so glad. It continues to be an absolute thrill to be a part of this massive cultural phenomenon. Before I sign off, one more student has posted on my Facebook status in the time it’s taken me to write this article, and I think this one’s fantastic.
“For me, the fascination with H. Potter really started at the tender age of 12. What with the troubles of adolescence and the turbulent milieu of school, I sought an answer to the social and psychological questions that dog the mind of every young boy. The solution for my troubled thoughts came, not in the debauchery of the Portland slums, but in the magical journey of a young boy with a special talent. I saw myself, not as an awkward individual on the verge of manhood, but as the comrade and friend of the scrappy, adventurous youths that practically overfill Hogwarts. In the intervening years since I first cracked the pages of that wonderful series of books, I have not forgotten the lessons held in those fragile pages.”
And with that, I’ll see you on Thursday night.
[PHOTO COURTESY/ ISABELLE CHIOSSO]