So, Harry Potter turns twenty today, with his first adventure published on June 26, 1997. As a consequence, I was invited to write a few words about what J. K. Rowling’s best-selling series means to me, and how it has touched my life and so forth, and of course I said —
Oh, boy. This is embarrassing. Seriously, I’m cringing in shame over here. *Deep breath* Okay, I’m just going to spit it out:[Whispers] Ihaven’texactlyreadallthebooks.
I haven’t read all of the books, okay? And I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen any of the movies in their entirety. I’ve read Sorcerer’s Stone and thought it was pleasant enough, and I sometimes see bits and pieces of the various movies when TNT or Syfy or whoever runs a Saturday afternoon marathon. They look interesting. I might need to rent one. Someday.
I have no excuse; I simply never got around to either the movies or the books. The thing is, though, I feel as though I’ve read them. I know why Gryffindor is preferable to Slytherin. I know about the Hogwarts Express and Gringotts and Diagon Alley. I would love to see a live game of Quidditch. I know what a Horcrux is.
I also know that the series has inspired a truly astonishing amount of…excessive creativity on the part of some highly imaginative fans, that Severus Snape’s romantic (mis)adventures did not end with his death, and that an awful lot of people who are old enough to know better take this stuff way more seriously than is altogether healthy. And that Daniel Radcliffe flashed his wang on stage in pursuit of his Craft. And that Emma Watson was the Face of Burberry and Lancôme and briefly attended college in Rhode Island and rocks a pixie cut like nobody’s business. And that she and Rupert Grint have probably never been a couple, as devoutly as elements of the fandom might they had.
So anyway, when I think of the Harry Potter books, I’m much less likely to think about the story than the popular culture phenomenon that has been built up around the story — a phenomenon that is, in itself, endlessly entertaining. (Slashfic for every taste, I’m just sayin’.) Eventually, all this culture-watching will wear me out and I’ll have to go and read the books. I will! I’ll have to.
*Mortified, slinking away*