31 July 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Stereotypes

The spoiler is not to let you know whether Harry Potter lives or dies. By now, you probably know it anyway.
No, the real spoiler is to let you know that the last book from the series is not going to try to change anything to the morals imparted on our dear children.
Because JK Rowling and many other people really believes that for something to ends well, it means that we should be married with our teenage sweethearts, have children with them, still be best friend with our childhood best friends and have a secured job, the perfect idealized life - before you get hit in the head with tough life - , sometimes a quest known as the bourgeoisie dream.
I wondered the same question as a Slate reviewer who put it nicely in those terms: "Did we really go through all this just to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione take up residence on a cul-de-sac?"
Or rather, did Harry Potter and his friends risk their lives non-stop for 7 years and did so many lovable characters die along the way so that the remaining living ones could just meet on sundays to have brunch all together for the men to talk about Quidditch while the women would talk about babies? Ok, a bit caricatural on my part but the epilogue really gave me this impression.
Maybe Voldemort won after all. His death allowed Harry to live a really cool life: fair, white and square.

--Joelle.

4 comments:

g* said...

A "fair, white and square" life? How boring that sounds! Yeah you're true that's Voldemort who won by imposing this kind of life...

Francois said...

I still haven't read a single paragraph of Harry Potter. This is (probably) not a silent rebellion against the urges of friends and family for me to do so, but rather a complete lack of convincing reasons to read a series of novels that make more money than People magazine, centers around kids whose actor-doubles grows pubic hair faster than the characters do and contains magic that crosses the world of pages and manifest in this one with fascinating infliction upon millions of reader.

Yet, regardless of the above, the biggest reason for me not having read Harry Potter is that I've read so many other books sharing its elements, that I somehow don't want to add to them. Perhaps I'm regretting all the publicity Harry Potter receive when there are so many others I wish people would encounter.

I loved Enid Blyton as a kid and still do; why have Harry, when you can have Pippi Longstockings or the chap with a propeller on his back is sacrilege. This being said in my own opinion of course.

My love for mystery was satisfied in abundance. In addition to Blyton (again), there were many Afrikaans authors who wrote series after series, and I read them all.

Love was trickier. I fell in love many times and no book could properly express the experience. This was my solitary domain of suffering where only music and lyrics could enter. No soppy love songs and no top 10 hits, these were handpicked companions to my misery. Oh l'amour (Erasure) and Lady in Red (Chris de Burgh) being the exceptions: I was 12 and dancing with a pretty girl during the latter; afterwards, when the former was playing, I realised I wanted to kiss her. Then the evening was over and we went to high school.

The idea of magic through recipes was shattered when I embarked on an alchemic quest with a saltpeter, sulphur and charcoal mix. It makes s beautifully coloured residue after burning, but disillusionment came with the scars.

Magic is where things split; not necessarily between this world and others, or reality and fantasy, but between portrayals of the inexplicable that's an enjoyable waste of time, or those where you close a chapter and a couple of coffees later you're still not sure what your watch is saying and you really don't give a damn. Here I prefer novels such as the superb Weaveworld (and Imajica) by Clive barker, or the mindfuck of things like quantum theory. Brilliant crafting of word and ideas, or brilliant obscurification of the nuances that escapes us all, both leaving you to feel that you have just encountered something marvelously wrong with the world.

As for morals, well, it's not really the responsibility of books to teach a kid morals, is it. By the time you are old enough to read books on the subject, you should have a decent grasp of what it is already.

All of this being said, I cannot but be tempted to peek at those pages should the opportunity arise, and who knows, when I go on summer holiday one might just present itself. Your "fair, white and square" ending is enticement enough.

Joëlle said...

François,
I think you should read Harry Potter - not the least because you'll be wanting to understand why Zoë at the age of 10 would get locked-up in her room until she finishes number 3 or 4 in the series.
And the 5 first books are pretty entertaining. The last 2 are just disappointing because they do try to impart morals - and I believe the wrong ones.

françois said...

Joëlle
Here then is my solemn promise. I will buy the Harry Potter series (it would be impossible to find a second-hand copy or someone willing to lend you one of theirs), read and keep it for Zoë. The idea that she would willingly lock herself inside when she's 10 is comforting!