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July 17, 2011

The Last Harry Potter Film

Filed under: Uncategorized — aspensmonster @ 4:58 am

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Perhaps it should come as no surprise that this does actually bother me a little bit, to see the end of the series. I mean, I did stay up all night to be the first to hear J.K. Rowling’s “big announcement” regarding pottermore.com, despite having work 2 hours later. If that’s not the behaviour of a recovering addict then I don’t know what is. And I was royally pissed off that I had remained awake to be told about all the cool new* things in store like, gasp!, e-books and… some sort of Harry Potter encyclopedia/RPG? In other words, things that her fans had developed years prior and were only being rehashed officially™ because there was money to be made. Yeah, I’m sure my coworkers got more PotterRage in a single shift in the Jabber chatroom than the rest of their lives combined.

Regardless, I can’t help but feel… incomplete. Or perhaps gypped is the better term. I grew up with Harry. Harry was my motivation to actually read pulp-to-paper books, a habit that has continued to this day, despite an education and career path dominated by electrons and emails and code and circuits. I could identify with the characters and felt like they understood me. My growing interest in literature correlated closely with each book release. I found myself, at the age of twelve, debating and bickering with others about what this scene meant for the future of the series or the characterization of Neville or any number of other questions in primitive online forums like the WBforums –since defunct, a real tragedy considering how much of my residual self-image at the time was contained there– and the still-active CoS forums. The CoS forums in particular gave rise to some of the most stimulating and infuriating and insightful conversations I’ve ever had with others regarding any book, ever. I learned more from my peers and participated far more enthusiastically with them over the internet than I ever have with classmates in English classrooms. Remember the “Who will Fall in Love with Whom” threads? Need I say any more?

However, as I grew with these characters and indeed with my fellow forum members, I grew slowly apart from the characters and an author I once considered nearly perfect. As my understanding of character development matured, of how plot wound up and sprung out and how stories were generally told, I couldn’t help but notice bits and pieces feeling forced rather than fitting. It wasn’t too bad –or perhaps I wasn’t cognizant– up through Prisoner of Azkaban. But from Goblet of Fire on, I felt an increasing need to convince myself that this was all part of a master plan, that Rowling was going to blow us all away. And through Order of the Phoenix, it looked like the groundwork was there. It felt like she could really pull a Jane Austen or a J.R.R. Tolkien on us.

And then Half-Blood Prince happened. I refer to that as my Lucas moment. Star Wars fans upset with Episode One had nothing on the confusion and frustration I felt with regards to what was then the latest Potter novel. This novel was hot on the heels of an 800+ page monster in which we saw Harry’s character grow a whopping zero iotas. Lots of action? Sure. Dramatic build up? I thought so. When we left him previously, Harry had just experienced a tragic, tragic loss. Surely as I snorted the pages of my copy of Half-Blood Prince –bought from a po’dunk Wal-Mart midway through a cross-country vacation to the lake and in lieu of swimming and tubing mind you– I would finally see the grand plan! But it ain’t necessarily so. Instead I saw the same Harry I saw in book Five. Indeed the only apparent growth was in the nether regions as the monster in Harry’s pants –I mean chest– gave a carnal roar for redheads.

Cue the entrance of the just-barely-not-a-Mary-Sue Ginny Weasley. Seriously: Where did this character come from? Five books and Ginny plays a virtually non-existent role. Book one? That one girl on the train station. Book two? Even given some spotlight, her role as helpless maiden is sidelined and marginalized in favor of watching the trio –well, Hermione– sort out the mystery. Book three? Nowhere to be found. Book four? Neville invites Ginny to the ball. Book five? Cute. She’s playing some quidditch. Book six? Suddenly she’s a kick-ass Head Bitch In Charge that is now front and center and has few (if any) serious flaws and yet … despite her suddenly paramount importance in Harry’s life and superwomanness, she still gets left behind while the trio hunts Horcuxes… Seriously, where did this character come from? The answer is that there isn’t an answer, because there is no development to refer to. It was a hack job designed to give Harry someone to pair up with so that it would make the poorly written romance between Ron and Hermione seem passable and, why the fuck not, might as well be banging your Bro’s sister if he’s getting the girl. That way they can all be one big happy Weasley family… *GAG*

Despite my fury towards the shitty character known as Ginny, and the lack of character growth all-around– and of course my obvious shipping leanings (Harry/Hermione, if you couldn’t guess)– I reminded myself that this wasn’t a story with romance at its forefront. It was a story about Harry. About the existence of light and dark within each of us and the parts we choose to act on. About love and honesty proving superior to their counterparts. And while I felt she had totally butchered the relationships and done a poor job of demonstrating growth, I thought for sure that book seven would ride in and make all better.

The Deathly Hallows proved me wrong once again. At this point, I felt genuinely ripped off. The Elder Wand? The fucking Elder Wand? That’s it? That’s the big secret? Have a bigger gun than the other guy? Make sure its allegiance is to you and not Voldemort and all will be okay, all themes and motifs concerning love and the like be damned? Did you know that one of the working titles for this book was _Harry Potter and the Elder Wand_? Clearly someone thought that was fucking ridiculous, but didn’t think it ridiculous enough to realize that masking a powerful dick with two balls (The Resurrection Stone and Invisibility Cloak in this shitty 5 am metaphor of mine) still leaves you with a steaming pile of cock.

And yet I still come back for more. Indeed I felt the movies were great. Certainly incomplete but that’s par for the course of books turned to movies. If anything, they did a better job of downplaying the dull, pointless bits –especially in the last two novels– and reinforcing the good. And a huge thank you to whoever decided that dance between Harry and Hermione should be included in the film, despite it not being in the books. Suck on it, Good shippers 😛

True to my addiction, I will probably be eager for a sliver of hope come July 31 that perhaps more will come of this pottermore thing than a money grab. But the past years don’t give me much hope.

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