I wrote a little bit about Harry Potter the other night. Here’s a little bit more.
I didn’t read any Harry Potter books until 2001. That’s, holy crap, ten years ago now. I had no interest in the books. My only experience with them was that they seemed to be read by a lot of elementary school kids who had an attitude about how they ONLY read Harry Potter, and nothing else. So that had kind of turned me off of having much interest in the series.
But then, one day at work, a friend and coworker who was almost 40 and had impeccable taste in most media– and was one of those people who was excellent at recommending things that would be in the taste of the person to whom he was recommending, which I think is an even more valuable skill, said he was shocked I hadn’t read them. He told me that they would be absolutely the most important books I ever read– not from a “quality of story” perspective but from a “value of social phenomenon” perspective.
So I capitulated and read the first one. I remember thinking it was okay, and mostly perceiving it as a Roald Dahl ripoff…it reminded me a heckuva lot of Matilda, especially in the earliest chapters. I told him so, and he encouraged me to keep reading.
I got through the second book, with much the same feeling as I had about the first.
And then I read the third book. And it was the third book that started to make it all make sense to me. The third book was the one where the plot really started to gel, where I realized these books were about more than a little kid with magic powers and cliched storylines (even though the storylines did remain cliched through most of the series). At very least, I started to get why people liked them.
I didn’t read the fourth book for a long time. I’m pretty sure the paperback wasn’t out yet when I read the first three, and so I waited for it to come out in paperback. Then I promptly forgot about its existence and went on with the rest of my life. I finally read it over two days at Christmas in 2002.
And then I went back to not really paying attention, even though I was totally and utterly fangirling Mad-Eye Moody. But then the fifth book was announced to come out while haruspexy was in Italy, and had no way of getting the book. She was a huge fan, so I ordered it to be shipped to her for her birthday so she could read it. I ordered a copy for myself, too, but somehow the order didn’t go through and I only found out two days before the book’s release that I hadn’t actually ordered it after all.
I was going to a New Britain Rock Cats game that night, and I bought the book at the train station before heading up to see the game. I had spent the whole night awake roleplaying and was pretty much zonked– plus, it was raining and I was coming down with something. So rather than watch the game, I hid out in the management offices (the Rock Cats were partially owned by my dad’s boss) and read. I read all the way to where That Thing That Was a Giant Spoiler happened, and then promptly fell asleep on my book.
When the sixth book came out, I went to the local bookstore for the midnight release. In costume, because I happened to discover that that was what people were wont to do. By myself, because this was back when I was living in Cambridge. I dressed up as a wizard pretending to be a Muggle (a href=”http://www.antagonia.net/images/random/cowboy.jpg”>picture here). I had an awesome time and stayed up all night to read it. And then fell asleep. And got up and kept reading.
But in all this, I never really felt like part of the fandom. I was just reading the books because I I enjoyed the books, but they weren’t my favorite thing since sliced toast. I liked understanding jokes people were making on the internet, though.
And then, in the winter of 2005, when pretty much everything that could possibly go wrong in one person’s life happened all at once, I signed up for hogwarts_elite out of curiosity. I signed up because one of my generator memes was getting tons of hits from inside the community, and I had to apply and get accepted to see why. So I did.
I wasn’t expecting to stay in. I was planning on just joining and seeing what they used my meme for, and leaving. But I was staying with my parents, and bored, and home a lot without anywhere to go, and H_E had art contests and writing contests, so I started participating.
And I started making friends. The first one I made was rainy_day. Holy crap, Brenna, I love you. Then came katieupsidedown, whom I also love. And then more and more and more. When I moved back into Manhattan in 2006, I started hanging out with spiralstairs and then with cacophonesque. I convinced seori to join up, and though she didn’t stay around, liret did.
I made some of my best friends because of Harry Potter. So for me, it doesn’t matter how good the books are. It doesn’t matter how many there are, or that the last of the movies is finally out for public consumption. It is amazing to have experienced this as a cultural phenomenon firsthand, but what is even more amazing is to have made some of the most wonderful friends, around the country and the world, because of a series of books. You are all incredible, every one of you.
Now that the sappy bit is over, I am going to talk about seeing the movie last night. Not in the sense of my feelings about what I liked and didn’t, but the whole experience of going.
I told my coworkers I was going to see it, and most of them didn’t know enough about the books for me to explain my costume– I explained myself as “an evil journalist.” I was wearing my dress, but not my wig, at work.
At the end of the day, I was talking to Clare, and I told her I was going, and she got super excited and asked who I was going as. I told her, and she was like “Oh, awesome!” And I was like, you actually know who Rita Skeeter is? And she was like, “of course I do!” So that made me happy.
I went home and changed, and Jess came over, and we futzed around a little and did our makeup, and then we went into the city. Jess had forgotten her credit card, so we went to the movie theater and asked what she could do about it. They told her that if they could see her the confirmation notice, it wouldn’t be a problem. I picked up tickets for me and Kate, and they gave us glasses.
We’d heard that they were giving out glasses than looked like Harry Potter’s glasses, but the ones they gave me were the regular Real 3D glasses. I was a little disappointed, but shrugged it off. Then Jess and I went to get some sushi for dinner. We passed some people hanging out on the street waiting for the movie, and one of them was dressed like Hagrid.
We got our sushi, and went back to the theater. There wasn’t anyone else waiting, so Jess and I headed over to a pub and got a couple pints. When we walked in, this one guy at the bar turned to us and was like, “okay, you just made my night.” He was also there for the movie and was just so exicted to see people in costume. So we chatted a bit, and he left, and then this other guy came over to chat with us– named Rich. Rich had never read any of the books, but he was a huge fan and had seen all the movies. He had made a deliberate choice to see all the movies first, and was planning on going out today to buy the books and finally read them. It was so cool! We asked him for his predictions and quite a lot of them were right.
Kate came over to the bar and had a beer with us, and then we went over to the theater, where– surprise! They HAD THE HARRY POTTER GLASSES AFTER ALL. So I have mine still in the plastic, joy!
I loved the Ziegfeld because it was just so stress-free to go in knowing where my seat was and not having to rush or worry about someone stealing it. However, Jess DID have a problem getting in and Kate and I had to leave and go vouch for her, but it all worked out and the manager was extra-nice and actually had an usher let us in a side door and show us to our seats, which made me feel all VIP-ish. I also got stopped by so many people who were totally excited about my costume, even though there was a dearth of people in costume there. Quite a lot of people in Hogwarts tee shirts, but not really many costumes, which disappointed me.
Kate and I went out to get popcorn and sodas, and Kate ran into her friend Erica, and we made plans to go out after the movie. Which we did– I dragged everyone to the pub I go to sometimes with my coworkers, because I know they have Goose Island on tap, and we chatted for a while, and then Kate was kind enough to drive me and Jess home.
I documented everything with my camera:
Love, love love.
Mirrored from Antagonia.net.