So, yeah, Harry Potter. How about that? We saw it at 12:20 AM in Cherry Hill and had to sit a row apart because we made the mistake of getting there all of 20 minutes early, which wouldn't have been so bad did it not mean that I was sitting directly behind the Notorious Cherry Hill Hysterical Laugh-Sobber. I have nothing else to report about seeing it except that it took a full half hour to get out of the parking lot after and that when the "19 years later" screen showed for the epilogue, the whole theater groaned and somebody shouted "That's bull
But I'm wool-gathering, aren't I. How do you describe a generation like Harry Potter? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? You don't, I guess, you either live it or you don't -- I lived it. Other people didn't. Here's some perspective:Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
, or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
as it was originally retitled in America, came out in the US in October 1998. I'm 20 years old now, for a few more weeks. I was eight years old then, living in Portland, and I had a lot of time to myself. The first HP book had a funny cover and a funny title. I didn't pick it up for a few months, until the hardcover book with the funny cover and the funny title tempted me a little too much and I did read it. At the time I was the only kid in my class who'd read it: that would change in a few months. I read Chamber of Secrets
and Prisoner of Azkaban
when they came out too, and the first self-insert I ever dreamed up was an Evans-sister love interest for Sirius Black, at the age of nine or ten, before it ever occurred to me that self-inserts didn't have to be girl stand-ins. So that was that.
The first film came out in November 2001. I had just turned 11, my family was about to go bankrupt, and it wasn't lost on me that my Hogwarts letter should be due this year if I was still the kind of kid who admitted to waiting for Hogwarts letters. Which is to say, it wasn't lost on me that my Hogwarts letter was due this year, but silently. It was also the first time I got to have spirited book-to-screen casting opinions, thinking already that Rupert Grint was too round-faced and Daniel Radcliffe was funny-looking. So that was that too.
Somewhere between then and now I fell out of love with Harry Potter -- the series, though also the boy himself, with whom we all so readily identified in book 1 and were thoroughly sick of by book 7. I think some of this was the series decay everybody knows about, the fact that the books did, in fact, get worse, and some of it for me was "growing up with Harry Potter" like everyone is always talking about -- just that in my case, it was less growing up with a childhood best friend and more growing up with a childhood best friend that you turned around once and realized wasn't the friend you first made years ago any more, and neither were you. But there's no denying this series was
my first fictional best friend; there were others I loved before, but none that I spent so much wishful obsessive time with, and nothing I loved when I was eight that I still have complicated fandom opinions on, or that I'll go to see the last movie version of the night it comes out. I'm no longer best friends with Harry, but sometimes late at night I'll look him up on Facebook and wonder how he's been. But I don't think we could reconnect.
Anyway, I think that, via themis
, Michelle Dean's What Harry Potter Knows
is an irritating, passive-aggressive article with which I agree, and which says what I mean. I guess I'll close by repeating something I just said regarding that, which is that Harry Potter was a bigger part of my life than many of my living relations. I'm a few years out of college, we don't talk so much any more, but I remember pressing my hands up against the glass at Waldenbooks and speculating on what a Goblet of Fire was. I wish I'd never found out.