Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Harry Potter and the Generational Moment

As virtually the entire non rock living population of the United States knows the last Harry Potter film opened this past weekend to packed theatres and rave reviews from audiences who grew up on the books and the movies. Some people have even gone so far as to consider it the end of their childhoods. One fan even declared it “Bigger than when the Beatles broke up  Possible overstatements put aside, this led me to think about the political events that have shaped our world and perhaps signaled the end of our childhoods or at least altered the realities that we had always known.

 For the American members of my audience  that event could be September 11th 2001. I was a high school freshman in second period World History when we found out about the attacks on the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and the plane that was downed in Shanksville PA. That moment changed reality as we have never again been without the threat of terrorism and war. Terrorism became the in word and Al Qaeda and Bin Laden rolled off the tongue as though one was ordering at Subway.  For previous American generations, maybe the moment was Vietnam or the Kennedy Assassination, Space Race, Civil Rights, MLK. For our grandparents or great grandparents World War II, Great Depression, WW1, Woman's Rights, Child Labor, or any number of other events.

For my non American readers, maybe its’ the fall of The Berlin Wall and the iconic Reagan phrasing “Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” that proceeded it. The wall had stood for over forty years separating families from each other and serving as a partition of communism from Western Europe. Then one day, you wake up and it’s not there. That must’ve had a major psychological impact. This gigantic symbol of the post World War II Cold War being chipped away at until eventually its’ on the ground in pieces, just a broken memory of what was. If your from Israel, maybe it's the outbreak or threat of war Of course, don’t allow me to put words in your mouths, leave me a comment and let me know about the political/historical event that dramatically shaped your life.


  1. 1.) Let me just comment first by saying that you misspelled the name of one of the greatest president's this country has ever had. (Reagan)
    2.) I don't think it's completely fair for you to post that the end of the Harry Potter era and fan's opinions on said subject are "probable overstatements". I, like many others, was a part of that era. I still am. This for us is HUGE. I really can't even begin to describe to you how it really does mark the end of our childhood. I can remember the day that each of those books came out, staying up until four in the morning on school nights if I had to in order to finish it so I could have the bragging rights at school the next day. I never missed opening day of any of the movies, and my room is filled with Harry Potter related materials. In a way, I grew up with Harry. We would have gotten our Hogwarts letters around the same time, we received our first kiss in the same year, we came of age around the same time. I even have a cookbook filled with recipes from the books. (For when I inevitably become a house wife not unlike Mrs. Weasley herself.) Harry was, and will continue to be, my first true best friend. He, Ron, and Hermione taught me about friendship, love, fighting for what you believe in, and so much more.
    Now that I have shown you, or attempted to, how much Harry Potter actually means to some people, I really hope that you understand. Sure, the things that happen in this world are important to a mass of people, but when it comes down to an individual choosing what is really true in his heart...for me, and so many others, I know we'll choose Harry Potter.
    On a side note, it's not the end of Harry. I'm sure you've heard all about Pottermore by now.

  2. First off, thank you for visiting my blog, I value the comments of all my readers. Also thank you for the catch on the spelling error. My intent was not to denigrate Harry Potter or his fans in this post. I'm sure for some people it is bigger than the Beatles for many of the heartfelt reasons you have presented. Perhaps it was unfair of me to label fans sentiments as overstatements because of the obvious importance that the books, movies, posters, etc have had on an entire generation of kids and numerous adults. However,To me calling it as big as the Beatles breakup is an overstatement. We have 40+ years of time after the Beatles to appreciate the tremendous impact they had on music and culture. Will Harry Potter be around in forty years, hope so they are great books. Will it have the enduring cultural impact of the Beatles, only time will tell.

    I think my error was in trying to link a popular culture phenomenon with historical events. The two arenas probably should not have been linked. I was attempting to think about historical events that may have also represented the end of childhood for people.

  3. As a librarian, sir, I do not think that any of those comments were fair. As any true fan will tell you, Harry Potter is timeless. His journey is as amazing as that of an allied soldier in WWII, traveling from country to country. (You CAN compare the two.)
    Since I was not in the Beatles generation, I cannot comment on how they defined that generation. My parents, for one, were. And they both can agree that there were far better bands than the Beatles. So I don't think it's completely fair to say that the Beatles defined that whole generation. It was simply a part of it.
    That being said, I just want to clear up that when you do say what defines our generation, keep in mind that this may not be true for everyone. I, like so many others, have chosen what's defined us. It's shaped us into the people we are today, chosen our career paths, and LUMOS!....shown us the light.
    So, if you'll pardon my geekiness, I'll just stick with the claim that Harry Potter defines my childhood.

  4. Thank you for visiting the blog, thanks for the feedback

    Of course, don’t allow me to put words in your mouths, leave me a comment and let me know about the political/historical event that dramatically shaped your life.

    That was the final sentence of this blog post. I thought I was providing an opening for disagreement on the 9/11 or any of the other events I suggested. I will change some of the assumptive portions of this blog post as that was probably wrong of me.

    If Harry Potter defined childhoods great, aparently that was an oversight on my part as I was thinking more about historical/political events.

  5. This post has now been edited in an attempt to cut down on the generalizations brought up by commenters. Apparently Harry Potter is a historical or political moment now. Harry Potter is without question great entertainment, but i'm not sure it fits within the context of what I was attempting to look at.