Dienstag, 21. August 2007

I am not Potter, but I am grateful for the Harry Potter hype!

It happened in 2005. I walked into the Hong Kong Greenpeace office for the first time and someone said: "Look, it's Harry Potter". I have no idea why. May be it was my glasses. May be it was a case of "all white Europeans looking alike" (just as many Europeans can't quite keep Asians apart). For better, or - in my humble opinion - worse, the name has stuck. In Asian Greenpeace offices, I am now referred to as Potter. I wish I had his magical powers! Aside from wiping out all memories of anyone ever referring to me as Harry, I would save the climate with the stroke of my wand. I could retire to my roof terrace ...
Back in the real world, I finally finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night. I liked it, but I was not impressed with the ending. I expected Harry to survive. But to add a full last chapter about how he lives happily ever after and calls his kids after his parents, Dumbledore and Snape ... May be it's me, but I found it utterly unnecessary and unbearably cheeeeeeeesy. It was proof, if such proof was needed, that Harry Potter is a good read (mostly) - but it's quality can clearly not account for its historically unique popularity.
Despite this disappointing end and my personal grudge against being called Potter ... I am nonetheless a great fan of the Potter phenomenon. Not just because J.K. Rowling is very likeable and seems to have her heart in the right place. Harry Potter, I believe, will ultimately not be remembered for his Quidditch skills or his cute longing for Ginny, but for having introduced part of the internet generation to: the book (and a forest-destruction-free-book at that!).
When I bought the last Potter at Cafe Books in Canmore, I was told that at midnight the night before kids had quequed for hours. In this town of 10,000, over 200 people - mostly parents with kids - came out to give a mere book a pop star treatment (and similar things happened all around the world). I am biased, of course - I am the son of a librarian, after all - but to me books will always be special. Don't get me wrong: I clearly love the Internet. It is not an 'either you are for books or you are for modern technology' kind of dichotomy. But, I suspect, many kids would not have touched a book, if it had not been for the Harry Potter hype. Harry Potter has ensured that a whole generation of 'GameBoy kids' has experienced the wonder that comes from diving into a book for hours. In my book, that is the achievement that the marketing departments behind Harry's phenonmenal success should be most proud of! May more books get the Harry treatment and become pop stars! (And, on a different note, may publishers then have the guts to use those profits to also publish less hype-able material!)
P.S. The picture was taken at the Lego Discovery Centre in Berlin. A corporate space, for sure, but a fun one!

Kommentare:

Sammy Pie hat gesagt…

I also thought the ending was unbelievably icky. The editor should definitely have axed the last chapter, which hugely undermined the impact of the book as well as indicating a depressingly dull and predictable future for all the characters (apparently all married off with kids by the age of 20). I think I would also marginally have preferred it (call me harsh) if Harry had died to save everyone, but I daresay that would have been dangerously upsetting for many of his fans...

KateK hat gesagt…

I agree that the ending was ghastly. The editor should surely have axed that final, cheesemongering chapter which not only undermined the impact of the entire book with its banality but was also incredibly depressing, I thought, in painting such unexceptional futures for all the major characters, all of whom we are meant to believe married each other and spawned mini versions by age 19. Bah!