Sunday, March 27, 2005

To All You Harry Haters

This is the cover for the latest installment of the Harry Potter series which will be released in book stores on July 16th.

This will be the sixth book in the Harry Potter saga, and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival.
I think the Harry Potter books are great, fun, fast, imaginative reads. J. K. Rowling has succeeded in creating an entirely different universe within these books; it is a universe with its own rules, characters and history, and this is part of what makes these books so engrossing.

I think the films are all solidly enjoyable as well, especially the third one, Prisoner of Azkahban which benefited greatly from Alfonso Cuaron’s artistic directorial talents.

But for a series which is so beloved, I have also been surprised at how many Harry Haters there are everywhere. The set that I’m particularly exposed to, are the hipsters in their 20’s and 30’s who seem to pride themselves on being clever and discerning enough to hate such “populist trash” (one of the many terms I’ve heard uttered against the books). Here are some other statements that I hear frequently about Harry.

“Ugh, I hate Harry Potter, its/he’s so stupid.”

“I don’t read books for children.”

“Nothing that is that popular could ever be that good.”

“Harry Potter is gay.”

What surprises me most about the people who say these sorts of things is the fact that more often then not, I discover that they have read none of the books. Not a single one. Yet somehow the Harry Haters are determined that their hatred is right and true because it is based on a foundation of instinct and presumptive righteousness. I have seen people put on their friendster profiles that they wish to meet someone who reads books, as long as they are not Harry Potter books. I’ve seen profiles on dating websites where people use the fact that they don’t read Harry Potter to describe themselves.

Now first of all, I don’t have much of a penchant for people who define themselves by things that they hate rather than things that they love. What is it about hating something popular that makes people feel cool or intellectual. It’s G.D. lunacy. You know who I'm talking about, those people who refuse to see Titanic, just because the masses flocked to it. I’m not saying that Titanic is a masterpiece, or wasn’t overrated, but for cryin’ out loud, you’re not special because you’re one of the only people around who’s holding out.

Also it irks me to no end, that people are making judgements without any sort of support or evidence. It would be one thing if the Harry Hater had read one or two of the books and come to the conclusion that it was simply not their cup of tea. That’s fine. It’s those who have not read the book, but assume all sorts of things about them based off hearsay and sound bites. If you’re going to hate something, make sure you have actual reasons to do so. That’s why I read Ann Coulter’s stuff – so I can be intimately familiar with every idea she has that I despise.

Also, I disagree with the anti- Children’s Literature stance. Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, John Bellairs, Dan Elish, Jean Merrill: these are all authors who created wonderful worlds that included elements of fantasy and reality. Their books were filled with adventures and excitement. Why is it that imagination is often viewed as childish? Critics are often quick to put down wildly imaginative stories that involved fantastical elements as nonsense. When people refer to books and stories as being strictly for children, they are implying that only someone of an under developed mind, and lack of life experience could appreciate something so detached from reality. But people often have a romanticized idealization of childhood; they categorize it as a period of life that is problem free and founded on dependence, ignorance and innocence. But the reality of childhood, is that kids often have to deal with “adult” like social and emotional challenges all the time. Abuse, illness, adoption, death, moving, divorce, poverty, failure: these are all things that children from all walks of life may be forced to deal with.

The Harry Potter books deal with these sorts of “real” issues. Just because they involve witches and goblins instead of guns and sex, does not mean that they are devoid of meaningful and powerful subject matter rooted in reality.

In closing, to all you Harry Haters out there,'re not as cool as you think you are.


Anonymous Crazy Monk said...

I'm not a Harry Hater, but I do think the books are not what I would call "great" children literature, or great adult literature for that matter.

I like the third book (and third movie) the best. I think the last 100 pages of book 4 were great, but that the rest of the book was too long and mostly uninteresting. I think the 5th book was even weaker, since it didn't have any great 100 pages, and was filled with simplistic scenes of Harry yelling with adolescent rage and a dumb plot that was resolved in a mechanical way with a typical Dumbledore scene at the end. I really do think that the series peaked at book 3, with a great moment at the end of 4.

However, I do think that Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy *is* great children's literature. If you haven't read it, that's a grave omission.

8:23 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

You my friend are what I like to call... a pretentious male geek. ;)

1:54 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

And yes Phillip Pullman is the man.

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Crazy Monk said...

You hurt me with your words :( At least Cho-chang loves me!

7:53 AM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

You crazy monk.

10:03 AM  

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