If you failed to notice on your Facebook, it was conveniently broadcasted on MySpace. Don’t have either? Well, lucky for you, Tweets were abundant too. And if that still failed to catch your eye, you would have watched a commercial broadcasted every 10 minutes on TV or seen it at least a dozen times on every transit bus in the Los Angeles metro area. No? Well, let me tell you. This weekend was the weekend of all weekends. Let the sky fall and the Apocalypse come. Doesn’t matter, because HARRY POTTER (OH. EM. GEE.) came out this weekend.

Now I’m not attacking the movie itself. (God forbid, I would probably wake up tomorrow morning with a maxed-out inbox full of hate mail). No, don’t worry my little muggle friends, I’m not putting down your favorite wizard. In fact, I’m a fan of the wand-waving, chocolate-frog eating, deliciously delinquent trio as much as you are. What I am complaining about, however, is the move away from literary appreciation and into a realm that places memorabilia and Potter-obsessed media above the book itself.

Nowadays, Harry Potter has become almost like a cult where its members must know phrases such as “Expelliarmus” and know the exact rebuttal to a passionate “Petrificus Totalus.” (And who knew “Wingardium Leviosa” required such a precise flip of the wrist??). Type “Harry Potter” into Google and the third search that comes up is “Mugglenet.com,” a website claiming to be “The world’s #1 Harry Potter site.” One highlight of the webpage is a section marked “Song Parodies” which is even alphabetically organized for your convenience. And let me tell you, no song is spared. Even “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” has been changed to “God Rest Ye Merry Hippogriffs.” I mean, really.

The site also has included a section called “Potter Recipes” for your sweet tooth (they really did think of everything, didn’t they?). Care for Butterbeer Sorbet? They can tell you how to whip it up. Craving some Cauldron Cakes? Yep, they’ve got that too. Fancy some Mini Dragon Eggs? Fear not, they’ve got you covered.

Essentially, we have arrived at the day when the book itself—which was originally praised simply for its witty words and elaborately constructed world—has become an empire. It has submerged itself in the larger world of media and PR that have made video games and action figures and Halloween costumes overshadow what the craze was all about in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a tremendous respect for J. K. Rowling and what she has been able to do through her series. But that’s precisely my point. I appreciate her as an author and the intricate magical world she’s created. Anything that eclipses that—whether it’s a bag, watch, chess set, clock, towel, calendar, bedding (yes these all do exist)—is secondary to the work itself. At the end of the day, J. K. Rowling is an author. A brilliant author. The multi-million media act she’s got going on is simply an attribution to her brilliance. So if you want to buy a Harry Potter snow globe or dress up as Ron Weasley for Halloween, I say go for it. Just in the name of Merlin, don’t forget where it all came from.

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