Saturday, July 21, 2007
Henry Rollins once said that we are living in a world of disposable culture, but I think it's a little different. After all of those years reciting "recycle, reuse, reduce" as children, we have taken ecological conservation to heart and redirected it to art and entertainment. Why else would Britney Spears cover a Bobby Brown song and Travis cover a Britney Spears song? Why else do we make sequel upon sequel until all of our movies have numbers after them? Ebay has taught us that, if you pick up a tarnished and dusty relic, polish it to a shine, and call it new, people will go ape over it.
Transformers came out in theaters this year as a movie about giant alien robot cars. I could tell you that it used to be about much more than that, but you would never believe me. You would never believe me if I told you that sophisticated story-lines and insanely drawn plot continuities made it much more; you would laugh at me. The movie proves that the whole Transformers series was always about giant robots, which is very sad.
Harry Potter proves that Brothers Grimm and J.R.R. Tolkein wrote about dragons and fairies. That's all. By recycling their stories, adding water to make them a bit easier to digest, a bit more marketable, J.K. Rowling spins a story about the easy stuff. The kind of stuff fans can dress up as or just easily remember. After all, it's just for kids, right? We can't hold kids responsible for wanting spectacle over message or style over substance.
Last night, I went to Pegasus just to see what the midnight openings were like. It was
pretty cool in that people seem to have formed a community around the books. There were squeals of joy and cheers throughout the evening that made me kind of wish I were a kid again. I read the first book, which didn't appeal to me, but I kind of wish that it did. I wish that I still liked the Simpsons and Bugs Bunny, too.
In the end, it was anticlimactic. Most things kids do are anticlimactic to the adult observer. Swingsets and teetertotters.
Bukowski said that Mickey Mouse had no soul. He hated Mickey Mouse. But Bukowski was an old man. I don't like Harry Potter, and it's hard for me to understand when adults try to tell me that Harry Potter is something more than what it is. But I like that kids like it. I like that the movies, even though I don't watch them, are coming out now. I hope that the fans of today will be dead before the remakes come out. I hope that Harry Potter will not suffer the same fate of Darth Vader and Optimus Prime while any of the kids I saw last night are still breathing.
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To me, this is about poetry, too.
I like Harry Potter. Mildly. I would not have contributed to the word of mouth saying it was a must read. It's adequate genre fiction.
I'm a big Oz fan. And that's a flawed series (Baum wrote 13 sequels to The Wizard, you know; plus his publishers hired writers to continue the series after Baum's death), tho the Oz books have all sorts of weird nooks and crannies in them that the more thought-out and far less inventive Potter books lack.
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