OK, folks. I recognize that many of my friends do enjoy the Harry Potter books. Thankfully, none of them have yet reduced themselves to referring to the characters as if they were real people who needed to be kept up with. But many of you reading this are probably anticipating finding out what happens in The Half Blood Prince, just like I anticipate finding out what happens on The O.C.
Now, I don’t have anything bad to say about the books, or the author, or the contents. However:
WILL EVERYONE SHUT UP ABOUT THE GODDAMN HARRY POTTER BOOK AND/OR MOVIE ALREADY! Jebus damn! There’s been more press devoted to the fifteen books that went missing from the bookstore in Vancouver than there was to, say, THE DOWNING STREET MEMO.
Yes, I’m being a killjoy, but I can’t open a single goddamn website without having Harry Potter all over it. And I don’t get it. I’ve even tried to get it. I read the damn books, once apiece, and they were a great distraction during a boring Christmas vacation two years ago. At no point have I felt I needed to make the kind of production out of them that has been made.
Now. I can totally see anticipating the new movie. I’m counting down to Narnia, myself. But why the hell does Harry Potter have to be a mass-mania, pop-culture event? I personally think that the entire thing has been blown out of proportion beyond reason by the GIANT MARKETING MACHINE. After all I really don’t care about the books, and even I know that the “Half-Blood Prince” was released today.
Thankfully, my colleagues display some semblance of sanity, in that two of them haven’t read a single book in the series. They just don’t care. Neither, for that matter, do I – and I have juvenile enough tastes in literature. And actually, I don’t think any of my friends here – even the ones that work with kids – feel the need to get terribly excited about the books, unless they want to be able to say they’ve read it, as a pop-culture discussion topic, at the BBQ on Sunday.
So. Therefore. Because I’m ornery, and tend to hate things that I feel are being blown out of proportion by a marketing machine (like Paris Hilton), I will ask the world nicely to shut up about the new Harry Potter book already. Seriously. Do they put subliminal messages in those things to get people addicted? Am I missing something? Is there some reason that this is even bigger than Lord of the Rings? Even blogging.la is not immune from this waste of Internet space. I feel like the ENTIRE INTERNET has turned into AOL.
I apologize in advance if I’ve offended or annoyed anyone on my friends list. Especially my good friends who really love the books, like nafspeak. Naf, I thought about you while writing this, and I totally don’t blame you for wanting to know what happens to your favorite characters, or being into the landscape created by Rowling. I just don’t get what it is about the books that merits such fanaticism in American society and requires that so much media and news be devoted to the release. They’re not Lord of the Rings, people!
Now, if everyone will excuse me, I’m going to go count down to seeing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Sunday night. And go to CRITICAL MASS
you’ll never have to worry about me mentioning that guy, ever 😉
meh. it’s just that the word “Potter” appears way too many times on EVERY PAGE ON THE INTERNET this week, from the LA times to Defamer.com, and I’m getting a bit ranty 😉
I’m actually in agreement with you about this, much as I am looking forward to the new book. It’s annoying to me that a work of fiction gets more press than more important world issues.
I also don’t want people to talk about the book too much because I haven’t read it yet and don’t want it spoiled.
Well, I think it’s a combination of people wanting an escape (which is normal), and the modern marketing machine. I think that if LoTR were published with today’s marketing machines, websites and media conglomerates, it would be the same. Look at the hype around the LoTR movies – there would be giant sections in newspapers (not just the Province), news magazines, TV shows/documentaries devoted to the movies and how they were made. As far as books go, the Potter series is the only set of books getting this attention but it’s no different from the hype surrounding movies, Ben/Jenn/Angelina/ whatever crap they show on ET every day. I’m just glad that instead of Brad Pitt’s mysterious bout of African flu, it’s a set of books that has millions of kids reading.
Finally, in my opinion, Rowlings books are great works of children’s literature. They’re well-written, she uses many adult themes and doesn’t care what parents have to say about it, she’s pissed-off the Pope (yay!), and her writing draws you so easily into the fantasy world she has created. I love her books in the same way as I love the Lord of the Rings books, but her writing is more akin to the books of Roald Dahl (which I also love). Anyways, I don’t think the world should all be in love with Harry Potter, but I think that it’s high time that the mass media, which is usually addicted to entertainment news, is obsessed with books instead of something stupid like Lil Kim’s incarceration. Also, do you really think that in the absence of Harry Potter the Downing Street Memo would get more press?
Harry Potter is the bane of modern literary existence…it’s appeal is mostly based on the prevelance of ADD in kids today…it reads like a fucking video game.
Seriously, I’ve read “How-to” manuals with more literary prowess…I’m not saying a “kids book” needs to be on par with Joyce or anything, but really, get some skills Rowling.
And having just completed a course in Children’s Lit, I was exhilirated to find that there are books out there that aren’t geared to the lowest, slobbering child denominator.
(The Harry Potter movies are kind of cool though)
HA. You’ve probably annoyed a good percentage of the people reading this 😉
There’s way worse out there though. Like the RL Stine crap. Rowling’s at least creative in that world. Yeah, it’s a plot-driven book, which is why it has such anticipation behind it, but I will give points for them being colorful, to say the least.
That’s true…the plot is somewhat intriguing at times, for what it is anyway. I do agree that a lot of people read the books for that purpose alone, which is understandable…I really just wish there was some STYLE involved. I’m just afraid people are going to become less and less literate due to its influence. And yeah, I annoy a lot of people with my opions on Harry Potter…some heated debates arose in my children’s lit class…I’m surprised I wasn’t accosted during break at times, though I did suffer from the occasional scowl which was quickly matched by my “You know I’m right” smirk.
well I can’t guarantee you don’t see Potter on my page of course it won’t be Harry, it’ll be Jim Potter – the lawyer I used to work for 😉
Talk of the “massive marketing machine” is just cynical rubbish. Although the books are heavily marketed, they’re only heavily marketed *because* they’re popular. It’s not like the first two or three got the kind of fanfare the new ones get, and ultimately, no marketing machine can whip up the kind of fandom and sales figures that the books get.
I’ve only recently started reading them. I’m enjoying them, though I’ve yet resisted the urge to put on glasses and a pointy hat and start trying to curse people. They’re good books, I enjoy them, though I can find things to pick at if I really wanted to.
But really, it’s a mass-media popular culture event simply because of the number of people who are into them. It’s not that the people who like them like them more than, say, the people who like Narnia. It’s just that there’s *more* people, since the Harry Potter books are happening *right now*, as opposed to in the before time.
And people becoming *less* literary because of these books? Er, no. I think they’re much more likely to become *more* literary. There may not be a distinct style to her writing, but Rowling layers it without enough metaphor and undertones to make it worthwhile. Plus, this is a book that both kids and adults can read and discuss without being mocked. Do you know how rare that is? This is something families can share, and it’s something that kids can read in the playground without being beaten up for. It’ll encourage them to read *more* books, just as any book they enjoy will.
And considering the best selling book for adults recently was The Da Vinci Code and everyone is using mobile phones and being all “omg lol c u l8r?”, perhaps that “less literary” ship has sailed.
Man, this was long. Hi.
There’s a lot of talk about how these books are getting kids to read – yet they’re totally culturally irrelevant to the kids who need to read the most – which is, of course, the majority of the Los Angeles Public School District. There’s the reasoning that they merit so much airtime and publicity and commercial effort because they’re popular – but it’s an isolated phenomenon that I think is due to the books being easily translated into movies & merchandising.
I’m also not saying they make people less literary – just that I think they don’t make anyone more literary. If an individual reads Harry Potter out of hype, that’s great – but are there numbers showing that Harry Potter is a gateway book to literature?
Really, I just got tired of having to surf through eight zillion pieces of “news” about books I could care less about in order to get to the news & book reviews & other information I DO care about. The books are cute & entertaining, but I felt no need to re-read them, much like I didn’t need to re-read the Da Vinci Code.
And yes, hi! Hopefully you won’t find me impolite for asking – who are you?
I think the books would be culturally relevant to anyone who is going to school, but I admit that they have more relevance to someone who is going to school in the UK than in America.
I don’t know that there’s any proof showing the Harry Potter novels are a gateway to further reading, but I think any book that children can enjoy, not be picked on for reading, and can discuss with adults… well, I just don’t know how that’s a bad thing. Not all of those kids will grow up to be voracious readers, but some of them will. You can argue the literary merits of the books, sure, but JK Rowling should be commended simply for writing a book that actually makes reading cool among the young.
On this side of the pond I haven’t seen that much merchandising at all. Aside from the movies and videogames there really isn’t anything much. Perhaps I just don’t go into toy stores often enough to notice, but as far as I know JK Rowling has always been fairly guarded with the IP and what it’s used for. If it was all about the benjamins then I’m sure she could have handed over the film to Spielberg and let him American-ise the whole thing. But she didn’t. She fought to have it stay true to the books, to have an almost entirely British cast, and so on.
Again, if there IS a lot of merchandise, it’s because the series is popular. Hype only buys you attention, but to become a genuine phenomenon with the longevity the books have enjoyed people need to actually like them. It doesn’t matter how much the talking heads on TV say “This is really great”, because if it sucks, people will realise. The Harry Potter books continue to be well reviewed and each new release continues to be anticipated. If it was just crap driven forward by hype, sales would be dipping, people would be more critical, and there would be more of a backlash. Like with George Lucas and Star Wars. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and people to just start savaging Rowling and the books in the legitimate press, but in the most part people still seem really receptive to them. Hype doesn’t buy you that.
I can understand feeling annoyed with the books over-exposure though. Just remember that in a couple months people will have moved on again, and that the next book won’t be out for a few years probably. Last one too, I think.
I’m me. Gonnas, or Graham officially. I came here by way of Nickerblog and was inspired to post by the comments. I’m working through Harry Potter books just now, so I was interested.
Sorry to barge in.
No, no, I encourage barging! And new people! I like new people, especially those with such valid counterpoints to my own.
I admire Rowling for her tenacity in keeping the books true to spirit – Wizard of Earthsea, one of my favorite books – was savaged by the SciFi Channel who did it as a miniseries. And I don’t have any issue with the books themselves. Perhaps it’s just my issues with American media. I feel like, no matter what legitimate appeal the books have…NOTHING is worth this kind of hype. Especially when actual prize-winning children’s literature goes completely unnoticed in this country.
It’s not a bad thing that the books bring joy to people, or that they get children to envision something in their minds rather than through movies, video games or TV. I just think it’s hypocritical of a society to laud the books for teaching kids to read, when really, it’s just an excuse to sell more of them.
And it’s definitely not a bad thing that the books have brought such joy to so many people I know. 🙂
Anyways. Regardless. I just replied to Nickerblog as well, and if you would like to add me to your friends, I shall return as such. I have one English parent and have a soft spot for all things UK myself.
The media do tend to blow things out of proportion a lot of the time, but given the prevalence of News Flashes revealing the latest supposed affair of Cameron Diaz – a fiasco which I’m sure by now merits the term ‘Diazgate’ – I’m willing to forego some book-related banality. It’s a nice change of pace.
I’ve added you to my Friends list and I think that makes you the first person on there. I don’t really use LiveJournal much, other than to read a couple of blogs. As such my LJ page contains nothing but an out of context post that was made so I could link to it from another site, as part of an exceedingly dull technical issue that’s not really worth relating.
Good talking to you. I’ll try to pop in from time to time.