June 02, 2007
The Harry Potter Experience

Really sweet article by Rebecca Traister about a Harry Potter convention in New Orleans. Couple of comments:

1. I hadn't realized that one of the biggest stars of the Potter fandom world, Melissa Anelli of The Leaky Cauldron, is a Staten Island girl. Always nice to see a fellow Islander making good.

2. I've touched on this before, but since Anelli brings it up, I'll discuss it again.

Anelli is heading into what she calls "a summer-long pre-game" of conventions, fan gatherings, wizard rock concerts and movie premieres leading to July 21. But, she said, she is hoping to read the "Deathly Hallows" like a civilian." "Once I get that book in my hands, the world doesn't exist," she said. "This is the last time we can savor these books this way, so I want to make sure I do that."

And once she's finished? Well, Anelli has her own book to write. And, she promised, "the site will continue to exist, at least through the movies." But at some point, she said carefully, "You've got to move on. J.K. Rowling is moving on."

"Being alive as the story is being delivered to us is magic," Anelli concluded. "I like that I will always look back on this and be able to say, 'I was there. And you know what? It rocked.'"

I totally agree that being able to say "I was there when" is cool. But I continue to believe that despite Rowling's statements, the last chapter of the Harry Potter saga has not been written. Or, at the least, it doesn't have to be written. Whatever else Rowling may want to do with her life (and if she wants to pull a Gary Larson and dsiappear from the public stage completely to enjoy the many fruits of her labors, I sure won't begrudge her), there's plenty more to be said and done. It's really just a question of whether she'll give other creators the license to explore new avenues with her characters.

3. Traister's observation that "There's not a lot in popular cultural life that's built for smart people anymore. Harry Potter really is." is mostly true, but maybe not as much as she makes it out to be. "Smart" pop culture has always been a niche. It's just that Harry Potter has broken out of nichedom to be its own pop culture behemoth. But there's still plenty of smart stuff out there in the niches, and with all the goodness of the Internet it's a lot easier for people to find the niches that they fit into, which in turn makes it easier for them to thrive and propagate. Just as there's never been a better time to be a sports fan, I think there's never been a better time to have offbeat, small-market tastes, or to be an unabashed geek about something. Whatever it is, you never have to be isolated from others who share your geeky interests.

4. I can totally see the Rowling universe and its adherents turning into a Society for Creative Anachronisms clone. You could make the case they already have, after reading the Traister piece. Hey, if Jedi can be a religion, who knows where this can end up?

Seven weeks till July 21, baby. Seven weeks.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 02, 2007 to Books

My favorite piece of trivia about that convention was that the girl who made the castle model mentioned in the article is Thomas Dolby's daughter. Seriously.

Posted by: Ginger Stampley on June 2, 2007 11:23 AM

The real miracle of Harry Potter is that it made children want to read books again - sweet, sweet, sweet!

Posted by: becky on June 6, 2007 6:36 AM