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I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Harry Potter

Here comes the second chapter of 'The Deathly Hallows' with all its unveiling and pomp and finality. Me? Lord Voldemort himself couldn't compel me to have an interest.

Sure. I remember in late 1998 when the book came out … and then the subsequent 2001 film Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone. With the release of the novel I was curious, but I can’t say I was caught up in all the hoopla which ensued. I remember around Christmas time that year I got hold of a copy and began reading it. 50 pages in was when I realized I was bored stiff.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love a good fantasy novel just as much as the next geekdorknerd and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But I didn’t see anything worth going forward in that initial Rowling book.

As a kid, I’d thrilled to Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard Of Earthsea and the follow-up books comprising the trilogy. You want fantasy and coming of age? Well … there’s a series that’s got it going on, a generation and more before Harry Potter was even conceived. And then, of course, The Lord Of The Rings. (Talk about something I never would have conceived could be translated into film.) About ten years after I’d picked up Le Guin’s first Earthsea book, I discovered The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant The Unbeliever. Infused with creativity, other-worldly elements, mythical creatures and invention (not to mention angst and dark, emotional themes), this is a series of books I not only devoured willingly, but continue to do so. (There will ultimately be ten books total in The Chronicles which was originally started in 1977. The final tome is expected in 2013.) A dream of mine is to see this series developed into film. That would be truly astounding, in my opinion.

But Harry Potter? Nope. Truth be told, the character and his story don’t hold any interest for me. And it’s not because it’s considered to be primarily children’s literature. There are tons of other elements in the books, so I discount that “it’s just for kids” hogwash line of thinking. Besides, some of the best books and films I’ve seen are fantasy pieces. The Phantom Tollbooth or The Point, anyone? And it’s not because I’m the type to set my heels in the dirt and refuse to be swayed just for the sake of it. It just didn’t grab me.

Muggles? Has there ever been a more inappropriate and dopey name? (Yes. Probably … but I can’t think of one off the top of my head.) Yet the world has embraced this term with the Oxford English Dictionary even adopting it in its pages. But let’s be fair: Interesting — and oft time puzzling — words end up in that reference, so I’m not surprised. Quidditch? Goofy in and of itself (to me, anyway) and didn’t help lend any enjoyment of the book for me later on down the line when I finally got through the entire first volume. Nothing but a big “meh” for me. (Yet I know the sport is featured in just about all the Potter books to the delight of many.) The controversy over the books? I must admit, that had me interested when all the muckraking started years ago. The promotion of witchcraft, the books being unsuitable for children (there being tons of other works out there more suited to a child’s imagination and likes, “they” say), the plagiarization claims, ad nauseum.

The bottom line? The series was never my cup of tea. I even found it amusing Earthsea author Le Guin didn’t see what all the hullabaloo was about:

“I have no great opinion of it. When so many adult critics were carrying on about the ‘incredible originality’ of the first Harry Potter book, I read it to find out what the fuss was about, and remained somewhat puzzled; it seemed a lively kid’s fantasy crossed with a “school novel,” good fare for its age group, but stylistically ordinary, imaginatively derivative, and ethically rather mean-spirited.”

It goes without saying I continue to have no interest whatsoever in the remaining books or in any of the films. And that goes double for the upcoming mega blockbuster final chapter, part two of The Deathly Hallows.

Look: I don’t deny anyone their appreciation of these books and films. Without doubt, they’re popular as all get out, embraced the world over and have made a wealthy woman of Rowling for her imagination.

Many people have attempted to convince me otherwise, but truth be told: I just don’t give a rat’s ass.


Photo Credit: jennaflower

21 Responses to “I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Harry Potter”

July 11, 2011 at 12:07 PM

So, did you not like the story when Harry was called King Arthur? Luke Skywalker? Neo? Jack Sheppard? Jesus Christ? Simba?

It’s all Cambellian in the end, no?

Either way, I get not liking it, but making fun of the words? That’s the best you’ve got? She created a whole new world, and had to invent the vernacular to go with it. I thought that was exceptionally well done.

July 11, 2011 at 3:41 PM

. . . . .

My Dear and Estimable Mr. West:

First and primarily, I’m certain you meant “Campbellian” up there, correcto mundo?

One of the first things I thought while reading, of course, where Campbell was concerned was the alphabet soup, wherein more heroes can be found in a single bowl than in any other soup … or any other food for that matter. But I digress …

Campbell’s study is worthy no doubt where Potter is concerned and explains much of heroism and of heroes in general. Seriously: I caught the references, but they just didn’t catch hold of me, similar to the book catching my interest as I noted. I acknowledged that when I eventually “Pottered” in the first book, but I think it was done with a yawn more so than a nod.

But wait: Where did I “make fun of the words” … ??? Because I don’t see where that’s the case at all. I voiced opinion “Muggles” is dopey and “Quidditch” is goofy and that, for me, is truth. Nowhere am I mocking or cajoling or making fun of the words. And I will agree with you 100%: A vernacular was not only needed for this series (as in all fantasy series) but has been accepted with relish and heartfelt acknowledgment. I’m just the wrench in the machine, is all.

Regarding the best I’ve got, I wasn’t trying to give it my best because I don’t think I’m qualified to do so. I addressed a better issue, however, more thoroughly in the “coming of age” worthiness of other tales and my opinion there is that the Earthsea books – especially the first of the trilogy – is a better at this than the Potter saga. And I hold a soft spot for The Point.

But, again, just my opinion.

July 11, 2011 at 4:39 PM

I’m glad you so gracefully forgave my typo.

You “didn’t make fun of the words?” How would you, pray tell, categorize you calling “muggles” dopey then?

How much of Harry Potter did you actually read/watch?

July 11, 2011 at 4:50 PM

. . . . .

Dude … seriously: It’s a dopey word.

It’s dopey like “Oompa-Loompa” … dopey like “Droog” … dopey like “fhat”. It’s dopey akin to saying “LOL” out loud. (Please, please, please, please, please tell me you’re not one of those people who says “LOL” out loud … to other people … in public.)

Geez. Don’t you retain possession of that Michael Noble Dictionary you’re always on about? I suggest you look it up.

P.S. See my response to Leah. And … I’ven’t seen any of the films. However, I am of the state of mind each time someone says “Muggle” in the films it’s dopey.

July 11, 2011 at 5:02 PM

I’ve never used “text speak” out loud (Well, I’ll say “Bee-Tee-Dubs” but that is more of a How I Met Your Mother reference than anything). However, having carried a walkie talkie radio for about 15 years of my professional life, I tend to speak in 10-codes every once in a while.

So, you’ve not seen the films, nor read the books, but can state that Harry’s journey is less “whatever” than any other?

Oh, and as far as the “controversy” goes, it is much to do about nothing. It is ironic that the link you shared is from my father’s alma mater … His sister is one of those people who got up in arms about HP and “sorcery” but the response when I mentioned LOTR (A movie we went together to see at one point) was that Tolkien was “literature.” Which, when you weed through it, just means that it was older, and they weren’t around to protest back then.

July 11, 2011 at 5:30 PM

. . . . .


Ivey: I read the first book!

It says so in the post at my “Quidditch” notation …

And! I hinted at comparison to comparison with Rowling’s and Le Guin’s first books of their respective series.

July 11, 2011 at 11:47 PM

Eh … The stories didn’t really get good until the 3rd or 4th.

July 11, 2011 at 11:55 PM

. . . . .

Cripes! Now you tell me, Ivey … !!!

I don’t have that kind of time! Hokay … hokay … I have it … I’m not willing to invest it.

“The stories didn’t really get good until the 3rd or 4th.”

What the hell … ?!?? So … I’m expected to slog through the 2nd book – possibly the 3rd book – before things get rockin’ and reelin’ in Auckland, New Zealand … !???!?

I reiterate: I’m not willing to invest that kind of time. Know what I mean?

July 11, 2011 at 12:18 PM

I have not even seen the movies or read the books. Just did not appeal to me. Loved Lord of the Rings (books and movies) and cannot wait for the Hobbit to be released. Those are still my all time fantasy readings. But I still don’t get all of the so called controversy over the book/movies because of the witchcraft, etc. Hello, anyone remember Grimm’s Fairy Tales? Or how about Snow White and Sleeping Beauty…last time I checked…Snow White and Sleeping Beauty had wicked witches..and both did some witchcraft. And what about the Wizard of Oz? People just get way too stoooopid!

July 11, 2011 at 4:04 PM

I’m another fantasy freak who never got into Harry Potter… Regarding the witchcraft controversy, they were saying that Rowling used authentic spells and whatnot in her books, in contrast to the other fantasy works you mentioned, which do not go into specifics about magic. Rowling was probably trying to lend some realism to the books. I don’t know, anyhow, since I haven’t read them.

July 11, 2011 at 4:14 PM

. . . . .

I’m not entirely certain, Ruby, but it might have been more the popularity of the books with children and then the various Chrisitian right adults who noted the the sorcery and magicks elements therein that really brought out the pitchforks and torches and “angry mobs”.

I have the tendency to believe at the mere mention of “sorcery” they went bonkers about the books, banning and vilifying them. Many times, that contingent doesn’t wait to delve in deeper – they just jump on the bandwagon.

July 11, 2011 at 4:34 PM

At the time, the same groups were advocating books like Lord of the Rings as an alternative to Harry Potter, which is where Mikki’s point comes in (i.e., there is “sorcery” in these other fantasy stories too) and my point (i.e., the issue was the use of authentic spells, which those other fantasy stories do not include). But you’re right that the first book’s huge popularity is likely the reason it was targeted.

July 11, 2011 at 4:37 PM

. . . . .

Nothing like a good old fashioned pitchfork and torch party to get the pre-Quidditch entertainment juices flowing, y’know …

July 11, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I also read the first book, but never bought into the series. I agree that Rowling is no Tolkien. Also, if we are looking for fantasy for children, C.S. Lewis created a series truly worthy of investigation. I have bookcases of children’s classics if literature is desired, and they all have the added benefit of encouraging reading in young people – some for more than a century. [Personal opinion: Books are designed to encourage imagination; movies to pre-digest and put in a box pictures for those who have none.]

As the wife of a dyed in the wool Fantasy Freak and mother of a twenty something daughter who grew up with Harry, I have not been able to avoid knowing all the characters, plot developments, and, of course, movies in this series. When this episode is released, I will once again have all the scenes described to me, listen to discussion of what was and was not part of the book, and, eventually, sit through a viewing of the digital release in my own living room with the entire family who went to see it on “the big screen”.

Today the theme to the Addams Family brings back memories of my parents and sister … not Thing or It. In twenty years, mention Harry and I will think of my daughter and the first book she loved and dragged everywhere like the blankie of her preschool days. No, I care a little more than a rodent’s rear, but only because these were the warp threads our lives were woven with.

July 11, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Imperio You will attend the first midnight showing of any Harry Potter Movie! (you have no choice Rupe, the Imperius Curse now controls your actions)

Sorry I had to resort to sorcery on you Dude, but ya gotta get with the program (rofl)

July 11, 2011 at 3:40 PM

You had me at Phantom Tollbooth!!! Easily on my top 5 books… love it! I have used/shared the lesson of “The Doldrums” with multiple generations in my family.

Getting back to the actually point though, I completely agree… Harry Potter has never really done it for me. it’s not that the story’s are bad, its just that they are not compelling enough to vie for my time… kind of like most television programming ;)

~runs and hides~

July 11, 2011 at 3:48 PM

I’m totally OK with people not liking Harry Potter. However, 50 pages in is not enough to draw a decent opinion. I know many people who thought Book 1 was boring UNTIL they got to Hogwarts and were able to meet the rest of the characters and the world; most of them then became enthralled. I honestly think you’d be more inclined to continue the story if you read all of Sorcerer’s Stone. Just give it a try – I mean it’s not a long book – it shouldn’t take more than a day to read.

I mean if I judged all of LotR based on ‘Concerning Hobbits’ I would NEVER have read the books.

July 11, 2011 at 3:53 PM

. . . . .


You must have missed my line up there after Quidditch that states “… and didn’t help lend any enjoyment of the book for me later on down the line when I finally got through the entire first volume.”

July 11, 2011 at 8:54 PM

So you didn’t enjoy the first book–okay, you don’t have to! I agree with you on several fronts, including the fact that there are some long stretches of all 7 books that I found tough slogging, but–for me–it was worth the slog. I love that she created a whole world and put all kinds of people and creatures in it. It’s not as “well” written as The Lord of The Rings trilogy (although I think The Hobbit is a poor echo, and The Silmarillion is just…worse than meh.) But it’s much better written than a lot of things aimed at kids. Hint: Eragon and its misbegotten progeny. It’s much better, to my way of thinking, than the CS Lewis books; Lewis was so busy infusing his Christian propaganda into his fantasy, and his characters aren’t particularly original or compelling, not in the way that Harry and his cohorts are.

So, we can agree to disagree. I won’t be at the midnight showing of the newest movie, but I’ll probably get there in the next week or two. And I’ll enjoy re-reading the books as my newest grandkids discover them, just as I did when the “old” grandkids did!

July 11, 2011 at 11:50 PM

. . . . .

See? That’s the thing, mehitabel: I agree with you as well.

If Rowling and her tales trips your trigger … if you’ve been engaged with it with your kids and grandkids, super! That’s terrifical … !!!

I didn’t even get into the Lewis material. I dug that stuff … forced myself to read all the books before the first flick came out, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I wasn’t so taken by the infusion of the Christian interweaving in the tale … it worked for me.

And it’s not even a matter of “agreeing to disagree” – you like yours, I like mine.

Nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for reading … !!!

July 13, 2011 at 6:24 AM

I reread the first book a couple years ago and I agree, it’s not the strongest book. But like so many of her fanbase, Rowling’s writing matured as the books went on. I adored the 7th book.

It’s fine if you never got into or never get into the series, but you’re still missing out on a wonderfully crafted story.

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