Sunday, September 4, 2016

Reasons why I'm obsessed with Harry Potter and why you should be, too

Every year at September 1st - which was only a few days ago - I excitedly exclaim at some point that "THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS HAS LEFT TODAY!" Awkwardly enough, lots of my friends are a bunch of prejudiced losers, of which some even dare to speak the words "What's Hogwarts?", Lol. To me it's rather unbelievable that some people have such a negative opinion towards J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter......Funny enough, people that hold these opinions are always the ones who've never even read the books. EHM, judgmental?! I literally don't know anyone who did read the books, and disliked them afterwards. I think that to dislike the Harry Potter series after reading the books, you probably should be on a certain cognitive level that makes it impossible for you to understand the plot, let alone the deeper layers. Nevertheless, that's not as bad as not attempting to read the books before judging! Seriously, I've had friends who were just as judgmental and when I finally convinced them to read the books, they took back their words, some of them even becoming a Potter freak like myself. Something about "I" and "told you so"?

Being crazy about HP doesn't mean that HP defines me, or that I am occupied with Harry on a daily base (except for laughing loudly to my phone when some HP meme comes across my FB timeline), and I don't want to have a HP themed wedding or name my daughter Hermione, but as I am usually more into the classic works, I must say that the HP series are a golden piece of work in 21st century literature. And you don't have to be a huge HP fan to be proud of that!

So, here I felt the need to work out some of the reasons why Harry Potter is amazeballs (if you are a fan yourself, and already know this is a fact, I hope you can relate to these reasons), and this is especially written for my lovely friends who like to talk a lot of prejudiced trash about my sweetheart Harry, and honestly I just need more HP-fan friends to discuss HP related stuff with - to a healthy degree -, hold HP marathons, freak out about Fantastic Beasts....just the regular, you know. 

The books are brilliant. Literally.
J.K. Rowling is a genius. A mastermind. She took 5 years to prepare the story of Harry Potter, to work out the characters and events in full detail, creating a complete new world, a new history, that we probably know only half the facts of. All this work results in characters coming to live on the pages, thick layers in the story in which everything has a reason to be in there, and plot theories by its readers. At the same time, although it sounds complicated, it certainly doesn't seem to be so when you're reading. It's an easy read while at the same time it's so thought-through - it's insane. I've repeatedly asked myself how in the world did J.K. Rowling come up with this?! Many fans like to joke that J.K. Rowling is actually a witch herself, writing stories about the wizarding world, with all muggles taking it for fiction, probably because the Ministry of Magic has secured the secret of the existence of such a world in some way ;-). 
Another great thing about the books are the amazing details - there are a lot of them, but they are never excessive. So you shouldn't be afraid to be bored with endless pages describing some kind of environment (reading this extensive article about Harry Potter is probably a lot more boring than reading Harry Potter itself). You should keep in mind that the first book was initially meant for children (but it appears that each book gets a little bit tougher than the previous one, as if the books are getting more complicated as Harry grows older), so even though there are plenty of details that contribute to build up the magical world in our heads while reading, there are not so many that you're attention will slack. 

It's more realistic than some of those basic love story romans.
Some people who haven't read the books feel like the HP series are like a fairytale, or some spooky horror story......uhum. HP feels more realistic than some of those dumb love stories that like to get our hopes up and create unrealistic expectations about our own lives (HP does this, too, to a certain degree, especially to 10-years-old secretly hoping to find their Hogwarts-letter on the doormat when they turn 11). HP is about people with real thoughts, real feelings and real needs - nothing fairytale-ish about that. The characters are portrayed as real people, people who most of us can relate to (it is often heard of HP fans that the books have helped them through difficult parts of their lives in much of the same way the Bible tends to do to its followers - nevertheless HP fans do realize HP is fiction). They all have their own flaws and strengths, unique personality and life history. This all is probably due to the fact that JKR worked all these characters out over the course of 5 years. Only a small part of the characters' life histories that she worked out appear in the book, but since she did think of these histories beforehand, the choices these characters make and the way they act out in the books make sense, and make them even more realistic and human, and just as complicated as human truly can get.
Besides real characters, real matters of subject are discussed throughout the books, of which friendship is one of the most important ones. The books teach us a great deal about love, bravery, family, revenge, hate, even about life. Quotations are endless. But also things as war, abuse, loneliness, loss, and other serious topics are important for the story. In fact, even though wizards have the great ability to do magic, the wizarding world faces many of the same problems as ours does.

The fanbase is amazing.
When I say fans, I mean book-fans who love the movies as well. People who have only seen the movies but did not read a single page and consider themselves "fans", don't count as the real deal (to me). HP fans actually like to discuss if there is such a thing as "true fans" or not. Anyway, this is why I don't believe movie-fans are true HP fans: even though the movies are fun to watch and a great translation of the books, they're not the books. A movie can never contain all the details necessary in the book, making the movies a bit more shallow, and this does not truly reflect the books. What's more: some people are like, "I've seen the movies so I don't need to read the books". I feel like that's not the right way to argue. The movies are by far not as good as the books, and they don't truly capture the very thing that is so great about the books. More importantly: a "true fan", of anything, would probably want to absorb anything (or at least the important stuff) that has something to do with the subject concerned, so if the HP "fan" doesn't feel motivated enough to read the books, how could he be a "fan" in the first place? (I'm specifically speaking of "motivational" problems of so-called movie-fans - if there is motivation, but also a disability or something alike, that would be another discussion). 
Anyway, even though the last HP book was released in 2008, "Potterheads", as fans like to call themselves (pretty much the HP version of "Beliebers"), are still very actively present, especially online (like on several FB pages). Being a Potterhead means enjoying inside jokes, fan finction reading, plot theory discussing, and crying over fictional wizard deads (Cedric Diggory, anyone?). It may sound geeky, but it's the most amazing thing there is. Being a Potterhead once means being a Potterhead forever. It's almost like religion, except less freaky and people know we're talking about fictional stuff that comes from a single woman's mind. 
Another amazing thing about this fanbase is the fact that they make Harry Potter live on (and I'm sure this will be passed on to next generations, as many Potterfans swear they will force their offspring to read the books), proving this is something else than Twilight, about which we all have almost forgotten about (except when we're joking that Cedric Diggory rose up from death to become a sparkling vampire) - it's not a hype that is blown up for a few couple of weeks, then ceases again. Okay, the wonderful time that we could wait and be excited about new book or film releases is sort of over, but there are other things to be excited about: a play, a spin-off movie, new theme parks.......still, it's not quite like the 7-books-8-movies, which are more like hard-core-harry-potter - everything else feels more like distant offspring. 

I must admit - I'm not gonna read the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script play. I've read spoilers about major plot holes, that I don't want to accept to true (or "canon" as fans like to say), and since the play is not a JKR original, I won't have to. I'm just very afraid that this sequel story will ruin the HP experience that I've had so far. I read that the Cursed Child was a huge disappointment to many, and those who did like and appreciate it, almost always add "only if you see it for what it is, a play" or "but it's more like a great fan fiction, not canon". So what I've come to think is that the publication of the Cursed Child script was just a way for the HP industry to earn more money (this isn't that bad since we all know that former billionaire J.K. Rowling donated such a large portion of her possession to charity that led to the word "former" earlier in this sentence) so I don't think I will need it in my life. Nevertheless I think I want to see the play performed. I've heard great things about that, it is supposed to be spectacular. And maybe after that I would want to read the script, when I'm able to visualize the scenes more in the way it's performed on stage. 
Not all that the HP industry has created is bad (so that's why we all had high expectations about the Cursed Child). The Harry Potter Studios tour is the best thing they could ever do: letting visitors into the studios where the 8 movies where filmed, showing us the different film sets and decors, revealing many of the special effects secrets and other stuff. Also, I'm a sucker for the merchandize. I do have a wand, and a Gryffindor scarf, even though I'm a Ravenclaw (Potterheads like to speak in this way like "I'm a Ravenclaw", as if they were sorted into that house instead of them picking their own house because they are in facT ONLY MUGGLES). 

Getting to know the wizarding world is another amazing thing.
So JKR created this whole new world and it's actually pretty amazing to feel like being a part of that world through the books, even though the wizarding world would consider us "muggles"......we like to pretend we're not. There's so much to learn about this world, from magical creatures to spells to history to how magic works in general (It was not my intention to make this sound geeky, but I'm aware that this might be the case). How magic works may be the most interesting thing. It's not like your regular witchcraft cartoon, in which characters with magical powers can do magic with one flick of their wands, and make whatever they please happen......It's way more complicated than that. That's actually the whole point of Harry and his peers going to a School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, because there is so much to learn about magic and doing magic, and sometimes this type of education comes very close to ours - they take exams and have to study and shit, and Harry and Ron often struggle with their homework pretty much in the same way most of us have done in high school (except when you're more of the Hermione-type-of-student). I often come across new stuff I didn't know before, which is rather exciting actually. Some people might be like, "why would people want to know the shit that one random woman came up with in her head......" Answer: because she didn't come up with it in the way some people come up with the stupid stuff they say - nothing is random, and it's like an interesting journey to learn about what she thought of....since no one else in this world would have been able to come up with all that she did! 
Ever since I first read the books (age 11) I was so amazed by her brilliance, and I absorbed everything that was to know about the world of Harry Potter. I even wrote an assignment entirely about Harry Potter in 6th grade, and this is when I found out that many terms used in the books are based on other languages (like Latin, because JKR majored in classic languages in college), characters and creatures based on historical events, ancient tales and legends, and I all thought this was very brilliant, and is this why Latin and History became my very best classes in High School? (Perhaps, because I disliked History in elementary). I probably even picked Latin in HS because HP got me interested in this. I remember that in 7th grade I really hoped the Latin teacher would ask the class on our first day if we already knew some Latin words, so I could raise my hand and tell her "Albus", which means "white", from "Albus Dumbledore", Lol. And even now, after reading the books for 5 times in the past couple of years (sounds like a lot? This is only a minimum compared to some other fans) - if one is able to read the same books for so many times in a row, and especially when hundreds of people did the same thing to the same books, this would support the greatness of the books, wouldn't it?) - I am still amazed by J.K. Rowling's geniality, and I will always be amazed. 

So it was kinda nice to put all this on paper, and it actually resulted more into some sort of an ode to the Harry Potter books, but that's okay. By means of a final thought, I want you to know that you're missing out on something great if you never at least attempt to read the books. If you know me in person I'd LOVE to lent you my copies :-)

Thanks for reading!

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  1. Het succes van Harry Potter is volkomen terecht. Er zitten ontzettend veel lagen in de verhalen waardoor ieder er in wezen zijn eigen verhaal in kan projecteren. Als ik wat vlotter kon lezen (ik ben een ontzettend trage lezer) dan denk ik dat ik zelf ook verslingerd zou zijn aan Harry Potter.

  2. Je zou de luisterboeken eens moeten proberen! Ik heb vrienden die die gewoon opzetten voor het slapen gaan, schijnt best rustgevend te zijn ook haha


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