I mentioned this theme week to my brother, and listed like 10 that I wanted to do. He helped me weed them down because he’s very good at telling me when I’m being a moron. So when I mentioned that I wanted to talk about Gossip Girl, Harry Potter and Twilight, he sighed loudly and was like, “Reenie, maybe just Harry. I mean, I know you liked Twilight and Gossip Girl, but they kind of had limited impact.”
He was right. But don’t tell him I said that.
The thing you may have noticed is that every time I’ve written about Harry Potter here it’s generally been in relation to something else. I find it enormously difficult to analyze and quantify this series and it’s impact on me, and since I’m no longer a student and no one is making me write this blog or challenge myself, I’ve never really spent much time analyzing my love for the Harry Potter series.
This has not been for lack of trying.
Earlier this year I even reread the series in order to try to get some fresh perspective and the only thing I could do was try placing superheroes in different houses. (Again, with the relational)
And I think I know why.
Harry Potter is such a deep part of my nerd DNA, so much a part of my vocabulary, that there’s no point in trying to analyze it or describe my relationship to it. The only other thing in this category is SNL, which has been a part of my day to day life forever.
But Harry Potter has been a part of my pop culture vocabulary for about 15 years (Ugh, that’s a horrifyingly high number.) and was such a pervasive part of my life for that time, between then books and movies, and rereads and then catching news about Pottermore (meh) and The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter (A-MAH-ZING!) and then of course going to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, well, it’s something that’s just always been with me.
I have a Ravenclaw banner on my wall, and can say things like, “I’m a Ravenclaw” in everyday conversation, even with normals, and not be looked at as though I was a weirdo. Actual weirdos (some of whom are related to me) played Quidditch as a club sport in college. I’m not saying that isn’t bizarre, I’m saying that no one said, “What’s Quidditch?” People just know what it is.
And that’s what I’m taking away here. Harry Potter just is. Which is quite zen of it, I guess. But it’s acted as a massive gateway for me into lots of things, midnight screenings, and book parties. Following a serialized and endlessly long narrative. Shipping. British-y stuff.
Seriously, I do not think any American who wasn’t a Potterhead could stomach being a Whovian or Dowton Abbey, I have a basic understanding of not all things, but many things British due to these books (and other things that I picked up later, again because of Harry Potter.)
And of course, it was the first thing that made me realize that, “Oh, all of these stories are the same! I get it.” When I realized that Harry was the same as Luke Skywalker, was the same as Buffy Summers, was the same as King Arthur, was the same, was the same, it was the first time I understood what criticism is. And that’s the other legacy, aside from opening up fandom to a lot of people, it opened up analysis and academia in a big way for a lot of people.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the legacy of this thing is going to be. Plenty of phenomena have faded over time, but I think that Harry Potter’s at least going to last as long as Star Wars, because people are going to share it with their children, and hopefully they’ll take hold.