FFS, I’ve always disliked Harry Potter…

One key reason that I hate JK Rowling’s speedrun of “I have legitimate concerns” to “send them to camps!”, is that she’s destroyed my ability to dislike Harry Potter on its own terms.

I have never been a fan of it.

Obviously, I never will be.

Yet that’s now fundamentally inextricable from the bloody author’s best attempts to make life hell for a number of my friends — and the complete denial of this from her most dedicated fanbase. That’s been covered better elsewhere, Shaun’s video on the people that have driven her radicalisation is pretty comprehensive, and Lyndsay Ellis’ contribution on Death of the Author explains why I think its fans are morally complicit in her views…

However, I just cannot stand this series, and it has nothing to do with any of that.

The memes are a saving grace of the series, I’ll give it that.

I tried reading a book in 2000-something. On a family holiday, I got handed it and told it would be enjoyable. I got fundamentally bored within pages. I cannot remember which one it even was. All I remember of it is:

Harry Potter was a special boy. Because, you see, Harry Potter was a wizard. That made Harry Potter very special. Because, of course, you should know, wizards are special people.

At least, that’s the impression I had literally at the time. Then, it turns out that this is exactly how she writes even in her serious, adult fiction.

Sure, you can get away with the conversational “settle down, children, while I tell you a story” method in a literal kids book, but a detective series that supposedly isn’t Richard Castle style satire? Good grief. This is an author that people fawn over as good!

A few years later, I tried another one after I knew the story from the films later. Whatever one opens with the exceedingly boring conversation with the Prime Minster that reads like political commentary written by someone who has only ever seen two episodes of Grange Hill. You’ve got to have quite a writing talent to lose my attention to staring out of a train window, instead.

“It’s so clever because the werewolves are named “Sirius” like the ‘dog star’ and “Remus” like the Latin or whatever for wolf!” Jesus Shitting Christ that is not clever. That is barely high school poetry level.

The films are, at best, so-so for me. They spend that much time gurning through this magical world that they actually forget to explain the plot. It’s borderline-incomprehensible if you haven’t read the books and don’t have someone next to you to explain plot holes. I have not read most of Lord of the Rings, I followed the films just fine. I haven’t read Song of Ice and Fire yet, but the TV show was perfectly understandable! They adapt, they cut, they merge, they add… all in service of moving people through a coherent and consistent plot in that format.

The Harry Potter movies? I’m still not entirely sure I know who it was that stole the thingy and left the note at the end of the film where they… I forget, it blurs into one. And who was the… werewolf one that was running around a corn field setting fire to things…? I’m sure I’ve seen these films more than once. But, honestly, without leaning on people who have read the books for explanation, these films make no sense. They’re so beholden to people who think “true to the book” means adapting the dialogue word-for-word, whether that makes sense or not.

I also don’t think the premise is that clever.

The “boy in a cupboard” and the practically-comic abuse he gets from his adoptive family at the beginning of the story is knock-off Roald Dahl at a best. I don’t think setting it in a stereotypical public school is that imaginative (the Worst Witch was released in 1974, please read a second fucking book). I don’t think the world is as fleshed out and well-realised as people claim, at least not compared to something with the momentous mechanics of Discworld. See, in Night Watch, Pratchett bothers to consider that, as a living, breathing thing, the city of Anhk-Morpork would have countless deliveries of food and materials heading toward it, and that would pile up in the event of a revolution. In Harry Potter, our hack of an author invents time-travel and then has to profusely apologise for it by accidentally destroying all the time travelling stuff off screen. Except for when it’s needed again.

I know it’s all opinion, but, come on, this is not good writing.

I especially dislike the reliance on paratext, with the author continually updating and ret-conning things in a way that, at best is cringe-as-fuck (such as naming a character after Elizabeth Warren in hindsight) but extends to outright fucking-offensive (Dumbledore is gay for the liberal cred, but, you know, not gay-gay, as in, visibly-gay or doing anything gay, ewwww). Still, I miss the days when this was the most objectionable thing on the author’s Twitter account. All being lapped up by a fanbase that’s rapidly ageing, with no threshold for cringe, and with no sign of every wanting to read a second book.

Eugh…

Then, you end up digging more into the subtle-maybe-not-that-subtle racism in it. The stereotyping. How the main character is an obnoxious jock if you stand back and look at it. I really cannot relate to this, and the only reason I think it ever took off was an accident of publicity sometime in the late 90s.

I’m openly not a fan of Lord of the Rings. But I don’t actively think it’s bad. I may even get around to re-watching the films or trying to get through the book again. Harry Potter, I actively dislike, and always have. I wouldn’t willingly turn one of the movies on again. I would not be paying Actual Money to see the stage production thing. I will not read a book, because I have tried it and failed miserably to care about a single word written on the page. I admire the sheer strength and belligerence of the people who have managed it to critique it as literature.

These are opinions on the series I have held for years and they’ve never really mellowed. From that first tedious attempt to get through the pages to sitting in a cinema in 2013 and shrugging as we were meant to feel sad about the deaths of characters that had 8 seconds of screen time to introduce them.

But, no.

Apparently, I just want to “cancel” her for “disagreeing” with me. I must dislike the series because I dislike something the author said. It’s my only possible motivation. After all, it’s popular, I must be wrong! I have to “separate the art from the artist”.

Fuck that noise. It’s not mere “disagreement”. I hate that she uses her wealth and privilege and platform to demand that several of my friends get erased from existence to satisfy her and her mates’ absurd conspiracy theories.

For that, sure, I do think she’s personally an odiously catastrophic fuck of an individual.

But, no, that’s not why I dislike Harry Potter. I formed the opinion that her writing is asinine, boring, trite, dragging, tedious, lame, clunky, dull, morally awkward and unimaginative 20 years ago. The only thing that’s changed is that I’m less bothered by letting people know that.

Now, look at yourself. You’re in your 30s. That Hogwarts letter is never coming. Grow up. And for the love of God read another fucking book.

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