Archive for July 15th, 2011
Seeing as pretty much the whole world is having a discussion about Harry Potter today, I’m going to throw in my two cents. I’m by no means a superfan, but I did enjoy the books and the movies. Most of it I found to be reasonably entertaining, despite several useless subplots like quidditch and house elves. But instead of griping I’ve decided to highlight the few things I found to be quite original in my weekly Friday 5.
Top 5 Specific Things I Like About Harry Potter
1. No Americans
It is still amazing to me that there are no American characters anywhere in the story. After the enormous success of the first books and movies in the USA, I always thought that Rowling would be tempted to include an American character. Keeping it European only made for a much more interesting story in my opinion.
2. Dumbledore was never outed
When I read the backstory to Dumbledore during the last two books in the series, it seemed that the author was hinting at homosexuality. To me, it was implied enough to make it apparent without having to state it outright. Those subtle hints were a great way to acknowledge it without stirring up controversy.
3. The depth of Tom Riddle’s backstory
After the horrible prequels to Star Wars, I was a bit leery when stories delve into how the badguy became a bad guy. But learning the origin of Voldemort actually adds to the story rather than detracting from it. I especially liked the section that discussed Tom Riddle’s messed up parents.
4. Important characters die
A chief complaint in many of the epic stories made into films is that none of the main characters die and are therefore never in any real danger. For example, the only main character in the original Star Wars to die is Obi Wan. And yet he spends the next two movies as a ghost still giving advice. The Harry Potter stories are full of death and they discuss it in a reasonable way. Besides the main three kids and Voldemort, I always felt like any character could die at any moment. That makes the danger in the story so much more immediate to me.
5. The important dead people stay dead
While it’s true that the books are full of ghosts and talking paintings of dead people, none of them are really important in the grand scheme. Harry never gets to talk to his dead parents, nor does he get to speak with Sirius Black after he is killed. In the same vein, I liked that Neville Longbottom’s parents were never able to get over the insanity curse. This may sound harsh to some, but to me it shows the importance of loss in that it can’t just magically be reversed. That’s a very strong message for children that I think is often soft peddled.