By Brittany Rosenberg
My endless refrain was “Harry Potter sucks!” Yes, I was the girl who hated the boy who lived. To everyone I met, I was adamant. Harry Potter was not and will never be for me! I seemed to have an undying hatred for the series. But beneath the Hagrid hatred, the Ron-bashing, and the Dumbledore quips, I harbored a dark secret. I very much did not hate Harry Potter; in fact, deep down, I loved it! So now you are thinking, “What the frak?! What kind of twisted person goes around insulting books that she actually thinks are pretty darn nifty?” Let me explain.
I grew up loving witchcraft. Yes, you heard me right, witchcraft. I have seen every episode of Charmed at least twenty times, Buffy was awesome (but hey, Willow and Tara were witches, so they had her beat), and do not forget Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Bewitched. Yes, I loved it all. So much so that I had books on the subject. My shelves were filled with books on the matter; not only did I have every fiction book I could find – let’s not forget the glorious Twitches series – but I had the more hardcore readings, too. I had writings on witchcraft theory and practice at the tender age of ten. Consulting the oracles, demonology, spells, yes, I knew it all. So you may ask, if I loved this stuff so much, what happened?
Life is funny that way. When Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in the United States in 1998, I was all over it! At the time, my favorite show was Sabrina, and I had been watching Bewitched reruns on TV Land ever since I could remember, so a new book on the subject was exactly the kind of thing I wanted to read, and read it I did! Here is where things started getting tricky. The books were becoming a hit; my little niche that I had carved out so nicely for myself, my place in my corner of the universe was being invaded, slowly, by well, everyone. I will be the first one to admit it: I am nuts! What loony hates a series because everyone likes it?
By the time I finished reading Goblet of Fire, I was certain, I had to hate the series. There was just no way around the matter. I had a friend so utterly obsessed with the series that a room in her house was dedicated to Harry Potter memorabilia, and somehow that sullied my witchcraft library. I had to remain apart from the fans. I owed it to all the girls who kicked ass. I owed it to Piper, Prue, Phoebe, and Paige; to Sabrina, Willow, and Samantha, the girls who had not only made me practice pointing at an object to see if anything would happen, but the girls who convinced me that I could be somebody as well, that I could be great. How could I be a true fan of a series that just continued the ideas of patriarchy, that the true hero was a male? (Yes, these were my musings over the years, probably as early as middle school; don’t judge me.)
So right about now is when you are screaming at your screen, “What about Hermione Granger, you idiot!!! Hermione is ten times smarter than any other character in Harry Potter. Without her, our hero would be screwed! She practically saves his ass in every book!” And to you, my dear reader, I will give a tip of the hat. You are most definitely, one hundred percent right. And that is where my secret lies.
On the outside I told the world I hated it all. Hated a protagonist that was a wizard instead of a warlock, hated that they used wands instead of some nose twitch or hand wave, hated the lightning bolt scar, hated all of it as a sacrament to the powerful witches whom I had grown up idolizing. I could not help shaking that little spark that lay buried deep inside. The supporting characters were amazing. The big bad of the hour Lord Voldemort was menacing, just as good as any that the Charmed Ones had gone up against, even rivaling most of Buffy’s baddies (well, maybe not the Gentlemen – their eerie silence and toothy smiles still send shivers down my spine). And our hero’s gal pal Hermione was like looking in a mirror. Bookish, clever, and bossy, she was everything I saw myself as and everything I hoped to be. And never to be one to forget the other half of my personality, Luna Lovegood represented the eccentric quirky side that I would become much too familiar with in myself over the years. So when my friend asked me to pretend we were at Hogwarts when she would come over, I found myself snatching my books off my shelves so that I had something for Defense Against the Dark Arts class. And when the Harry Potter movies would play on television, I would tune in, and once on a very special day I picked up a copy of Harry Potter from a used bookstore.
Now, today is the day; today I come clean. Harry Potter is awesome! And to all my friends over the years whom I mocked for wearing a Hogwarts house T-shirt or crying when Dumbledore died, even though you had read the book at least five times, I am truly sorry. So here is my pledge: I pledge to read all seven Harry Potter books and watch each film. Hey, I may even pick up a Hermione bobble head or a Gryffindor scarf. Today is my coming out so-to-speak; today I embrace the Boy Who Lived.