Harry Potter: Fans, Superfans, and Too Much

21 07 2011

If you’ve lived under a rock for a decade, there’s this fictional kid named Harry Potter.  He is the main protagonist of British author J.K. Rowling’s book series (and now franchise) named…Harry Potter.  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released in the U.K. in 1997, beginning a legend.  Since then, Rowling has written and released six more books, while there have been eight movie adaptions (the final two about the last book).

But why am I telling this to you?  You all know who Harry Potter is, and all know at least something about his world, even if you aren’t fans.

But most people are fans, as evidenced by the absurd number of people who went and saw the final movie this weekend.  Even more absurd was the number of people that showed up at the midnight premiere.  Harry Potter fans love their Harry Potter, moreso than sleep.  But this begs the question:  is Harry Potter worth they hype?

My answer:  yes and no.  Harry Potter is the most cherished story of my generation.  It is our Lord of the Rings, our Narnia.  But why?  Harry Potter is the rare series (I’m going to be referring to the books, as they are originals) that crosses age, gender, race, and species lines.  Nine year olds love it as much as their parents.  It appeals to everyone because of something, which is rare.  Kids like it because it is a well-written, fascinating fantasy story.  Older kids like it because they relate to teenage Harry’s troubles.  Adults like it because it deals with surprisingly deep subjects.  But, Harry Potter is without a doubt an extremely compelling story.  It is, no pun intended, magical.  I’ll refrain from spoilers (although at this point there aren’t that many people to spoil), but Rowling’s characters are lively and relatable;  the reader actually feels attachment to them.  Harry Potter’s popularity, unlike many recent phenomenons (Twilight, looking at you), is legitimate, as it is truly unique.

The question is this:  When do fans go too far?  I think its only natural that fans get excited about each new release, and if fans talk about Harry Potter with other fans, and whatnot.  But when does Harry Potter become an obsession?  Maybe when you start playing quidditch at school.  Or if you start your own fanfiction website.  Or if you end up like this poor soul.

The problem lies not in being a fan, or being sad that the series is ending.  The problem lies when your fandom directly affects your reality.  There are so much better things to do with your passion and money than putting it into a fictional series.  Harry Potter isn’t real–and never will be.  Why don’t you put some effort into solving our myriad of problems in the real world rather than reliving the glory days over and over and over again?

An era is coming to a close.  Being sad is ok.  But becoming depressed about the end of a good series is unhealthy and unproductive.  If the end of Harry Potter is seriously affecting your happiness in life, something’s probably wrong.

To close, I will say that the last movie is probably the best one yet.  Good job, movie-makers and actors.

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