Do You Get Harry Potter?

As of today Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince has grossed $461,318,990 worldwide. Gwen and I contributed to that last week at the over-priced Bridge Deluxe near Penn (but how nice to walk to the theatre!). Do you get what is going on here? Just what is selling all these tickets? I have not been able to get into the books and I have been caught looking at my watch during the movies. What is the attraction?     

There is something going on. A bazillion people are concerned that another youngster is threatened by unseen forces and fighting overwhelming evils. Is every movie required to have this plot this year? — By use of some kind of magic (a transforming car, the Starship Enterprise, etc.) young people enhance their developing, misunderstood awesomeness to overcome the evil with the help of their friends, but not at the expense of their own self-esteem and uniqueness.

This propaganda is getting to be old hat. But, if the trailers are any evidence, the expression of it may be getting darker and even more dire. I felt quite educated by the previews before Harry Potter started lumbering into its 2-1/2 hours. I can’t remember them all. The next Twilight was one of them (Bella leaves vampire boyfriend with werewolf boyfriend; danger ensues, but will true love save even the undead?). 2012 was another (John Cusack and Woody Harrelson survive global catastrophe). And there was a creepier, Potteresque something I can’t remember. I was not encouraged, but perhaps enlightened.

This generation has some high expectations of success and happiness and it secretly blames insurmountable, possibly evil, forces for the inevitable shame they feel about their deprivation. That is my lesson du jour. Voldemort gets Dumbeldore killed. My boyfriend wants to suck my blood. We’re all about to be killed by a natural disaster and only John Cusack will survive. Anxiety. Fear. Unfulfilled dreams. Pass the prozac. Or please, pass the gospel. You people need a savior; Harry’s wand is not making it (and it is make-believe, anyway, btw).

The other strand that might be running through these movies is this (OK, this is lesson du jour deux): “I really want someone to love; I want community.” — Life-long school chums who are as weird as I am and know me, and accept me, as I am; the boyfriend who is wild and crazy but who will resist killing me (he’s so awesome) and may kill others for me; the brave survivors who restart the world from their little tribe. Connection, Hope. Restoration. Pass the church.

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3 Responses to Do You Get Harry Potter?

  1. Jonny Rashid says:

    I think your lessons (both one and two) work well together. I like your focus on Jesus and Community. The idea that no one can be a Christian alone (without a supportive community) and it’s not necessarily a real community if Jesus isn’t at the center of it. Sure could things come from both sides, but I want us to embrace both fully and wholly.

    I don’t watch or read Harry Potter, so I can’t comment about that. Devin, though, you make it sound attractive.

    • July says:

      I don’t know the Harry Potter series well, but perhaps if the story is about ‘life-long chums who know me, and accept me as I am” then Jesus IS at the center of it.

  2. Devin says:

    While my attraction to the Harry Potter series is more aesthetic in nature (incredible cinematography, excellent special effects, and some considerable character development in this recent one as compared to previous films), I think your “lesson du jour deux” is spot-on: what is so attractive about these films is that they wholeheartedly advocate for community. At least in the books, Harry can’t do anything on his own. Despite being “the Chosen One,” he must rely on his friends to help him not only maneuver against Voldemort but to survive adolescence, exams, and the occasional romantic entanglement. There is a sense in each of these books that friendship and community are essential components of life. While I think Harry Potter has a whole lot more to learn about selflessness, humility, and a handful of other virtues that sound like this, I think the Church (capital C) could learn a lot about community and the importance of connection from these books and films.

    Great post, Rod!

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