Potterholics Fight for Respect
by Andromeda Tonks
Lord of the Rings and His Dark Materials, as well as some of the classics like Pride and Prejudice and 1984. I like Harry Potter because it’s an unreal but totally believable world that I can escape to, and also because I always have something to talk about with people, whether they love it or hate it.
The other day, I was confronted by a blunt (and, some may say, somewhat insensitive) question: “Why exactly do you like Harry Potter? I mean, what’s so good about it?” That, my friends, is a question that has been the bane of Harry Potter fans for what seems like an age. The problem is, we don’t know exactly what makes us love the boy wizard. If someone asked you “Why do you like chocolate?” or “What’s so important about oxygen?” your answer is certain to be along the lines of “Because I do” or “We NEED it.” So, when faced with the why-do-we-like-Harry-Potter question, our instinct is to reply in this fashion.
Unfortunately, our poor, deprived comrades (yes, there ARE people who haven’t read HP) don’t seem to understand what it’s like to need a book like they do chocolate or oxygen. So they ask, “Why do you like Harry Potter?” And, in the words of my dear JKR, they are asking the wrong questions. These questions are, unfortunately, often rhetorical. Which means people laugh when you try to answer. A lot. So we need a way to convince people, not to read HP — we don’t want a dictatorship here — but to accept its appeal to a lot of people and treat it with some respect.
What gets me is that Harry Potter does seem to get the sharp end of the stick. Just imagine this. You meet someone who’s a non-Potterholic, and are telling them all about yourself over a cup of coffee. “I like skydiving.” Raised eyebrows, perhaps a comment such as “you must be very brave.” “I’m an undertaker.” Gulp. “How interesting.” “I eat dead dogs.” Worried look. “Oh. Not raw, I hope!” “Yes, raw.” “Well, we all have our own tastes.” “Oh, did I mention, I like Harry Potter?”
Dun dun dunnnnnnnnn!
Don’t tell me you’ve never had that apprehensive, “what are you, like twelve” look. Everybody gets it. You like Harry Potter? You must be a child. For Pete’s sake, I am SIXTEEN years old. And people think I’m too old to read Harry Potter. Pur-lease! The point is, some (actually, most) of the most intelligent people I know are dedicated Harry Potter fans. Just look at the editorials and forums here, and the stuff on RedHen, and so on and so forth. These are clever people. Not saying that non-HP fans are thick, it’s just they seem to think we are.
Potterholism (wow, what a word!!) is like a club. You meet someone else who’s read it, you can have a fascinating conversation for as long as you want (once I spent about an hour discussing the finer points of Sirius with someone I’d just met!). The problem is, people outside the club just don’t seem to get it. So here, to show all those non-believers you know, is what we (well, I) love about Harry Potter.
This is Level 1 of the Potterholics Fight for Respect plan:
-> They are well-written, exciting books which explore major themes, such as love and death, without preaching or appearing to be simply moral tales.
-> They can be, and are, enjoyed by people of any age or background, never appearing to be patronising or unchallenging.
-> JKR creates realistic, believable characters (who usually remind you of someone you know) and puts them through such an emotional rollercoaster that you can’t help but be dragged along (even if you don’t want to).
-> They describe a rich and complete fantasy world, which has been compared to Tolkien’s fantabulous Middle Earth. (yes, I know fantabulous isn’t a word!)
-> They do NOT encourage children to attempt to perform magic (although everytime the lights go up at the end of a film I say “Lumos,” and when I go through automatic doors I say “Alohamora,” but I’m not trying to Crucio people, simply because I know it wouldn’t work!). Instead, they encourage children to be brave and to try to understand others’ actions, and to always be there for their friends.
-> Oh, and also — if you’ve seen the films and not read the books, don’t let them put you off — I think that even the most total die-hard film fan, if they’ve read the books, know that the two mediums are worlds apart.
Tell your non-Potterholic friends all of these reasons, and if they all refuse to stop taking the mick and suggesting that you’re intellectually stunted, move on to Level 2: Start suggesting that everything they enjoy (that they do whilst you’re reading HP) is pathetic and childish and, quite frankly, rubbish. Say this ESPECIALLY about things that you know nothing about, and be ready for your “Well, you don’t know anything about Harry Potter and you still slag it off” comeback.
If the non-Potterholics STILL give you grief, it’s time to unleash Level 3: Quote HP, randomly, at all possible points (“Alas! Earwax!” and “Give her hell from us, Peeves!” would be rather amusing). This will make you look totally mad, and will make people laugh, but more importantly, when done correctly, will annoy people so much that they’ll agree to not slag off HP if you just SHUT UP!
Let me know how the plan works. Email me at lauzypoo at aol dot com.