Saturday, January 13, 2007

Harry Potter and the Over-Zealous Nerdy Fans

Let me start by saying that I love the HP series. They're funny, they're moving, they are wonderful escapist entertainment. Great stuff. I'm not picking on the books, nor am I picking on the folks who dress up for Midnight Release parties. (Those people are having fun, and if I didn't have two little ones at home, I'd happily join them.)

My comments today are concerning a specific section of the popular HP fansite, This site overall is laid out nicely, with sections on the books, the movies, the actors, the author, etc. Again, great stuff. But there's one thing that's driving me mad: the Theories.

I like to amuse myself with theories about random things, and I don't see anything wrong with the practice of forming theories about a book that has sparked so much discussion. But when I try to read theories for Harry Potter 7, oh boy, do I get a wicked migraine.

Go in there and read ONE theory about whether or not Harry Potter is himself a Horcrux. The theory is developed by making assumptions, or by attempting to disprove someone else's assumptions (with, you guessed it, other assumptions). They talk and talk and talk in circles, until I'm so confused that I don't remember whether I was reading a proof or a disproof. (I know disproof is not a word, but you get what I mean.)

I know, I know, if it bothers me that much, I should just not read it. I don't read the theories very often, but sometimes I come across one I haven't read before, and the caption misleads me by saying "well-thought out." The problem is not that the writer hasn't thought out his/her argument; the problem is that the idea has been overthought and written in such a way that I almost can't bring myself to finish the article. After so many paragraphs (long ones), I finally have to exit the page or pop an Excedrin. Always, I leave the articles convinced that what's really going on here is "mental masturbation" (a term coined by my sociology prof) moreso than intelligent discussion.

Then again, I can't say I haven't been guilty of the same thing in the past. Y'all are lucky you didn't see my Alias days, back when the show was in it's prime and I had only one kid who took three naps a day. I was spitting out theories (or rebuttals to other people's theories) left and right. But at least we got a new episode to dissect once a week. Rowling is letting, oh, two years go by between HP books, sometimes more. All the fans get in the meantime are occasional Q and A sessions with the author, or an update to the Rumors section on Rowling's site. I almost can't blame the Theorists for concocting such long-winded essays.

Almost. People, READ OTHER BOOKS! Rowling's not the only fantasy writer out there. Hell, fantasy isn't the only genre out there. There's military fiction, sci-fi, romance, mystery, comedy, true crime, chick-lit, historical fiction, and an endless array of nonfiction categories. If you can imagine it, somebody probably wrote about it. Why not read some of those instead of just dwelling on the last, unfinished book of one series? Better yet, write your OWN stories instead of just writing about someone else's stories. This isn't a lit. class, where you have to hand in a complicated paper explaining what you think about someone else's work.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go check the Excedrin supply. I think I just gave myself another headache.

1 comment:

N said...

Excedrin: 8th Wonder of the World. I keep a 55 gallon drum of it in the basement.

Have you read any of Terry Pratchett's books yet? One that's a real hoot is "Good Omens" by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman; it's kind of a humorous take on the apocalypse.

On the lighter side, we'll get to read HP: Book 7 sometime this year...