Saturday, July 28, 2007

Harry Potter Smackdown

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," where today the heroic Harry Potter meets his real destiny!

Go get a Vanilla Bean Frappachino from Starbucks, Voldemort. Anne is on the scene. And she doesn't need a damn wand and a bunch of Star Wars-quality henchmen. Yo, Potter's goin down, dawg.

Let me preface this much-needed rational assessment of Harry Potter by saying that I have enjoyed all of the books (now reading Vol. 7) and I have adored putting money into the pocket of J.K. Rowling, whose struggling artist story really touched my heart. I'm glad Ms. Rowling is richer than the Queen of England, okay? This is not jealousy.

Stop reading HERE if you think Harry Potter is destined to be the "next Huckleberry Finn."

I heard Harry labeled thus by a dewey-eyed Meredith Viera in a segment shown on Countdown with Keith Friday night.

Hey, Meredith! Go clean my basement, you moron!

Anne Presents: Ten Children's Classic Characters Who So Completely Beat Harry That He Should Really Be Dead

Arranged in importance from least to greatest:

10. Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Okay, I picked Laura mostly because she too has a set of seven volumes. Don't think you know her if you watched that sappy T.V. show. Laura's true adventures with her pioneer family are better written than Potter, far, far better illustrated than Potter, and present a plucky character whose parents enable her by ... duhhhhhhh ... teaching her everything she needs to know in a plain, straightforward way. No American girl should rise to adulthood without reading the "Little House" series.

9. Tiny Tim.
Oooooooooohhhhh, a character with one dimension! No facets to that sweet little personality! Spare me. Tim will be shivering by the scant Cratchet fire for centuries to come. Show me where Ron and Hermione have more dimension!

8. Frodo.
When enjoyment of quality fantasy literature shifts back to an older teen audience, Frodo will outlast Harry. Better story, and at three long volumes much more approachable for the bookish kid of the future. Also, frankly, a far more compelling examination of magic, wizards, etc. etc. etc.

(I told you to stop reading if you weren't prepared for my sermon!)

7. The Little Mermaid.
Did you not love this rebellious darling in the Disney movie? Pretty songs, great brave lil' gal, right? You'll like her even better if you seek out the original Hans Christian Andersen tale, written in ... oh dearie me ... 1836. Find the link yourself, cuz as you might have detected, I'm past pissed today.

6. Peter Pan.
An author with a firm grasp of childhood and a deep respect for faeries. Case closed.

5. Dorothy.
If ever oh ever a character there was, Dorothy of Oz is one because .... Let me count the ways. OHHHHHH! I'm melting, I'm melting, oh what a world, what a world! To the ten readers who are still with me: Did you know this immense and immortal children's classic was written as a political tract? No matter. Dorothy v. Harry? Shoes crush wand.

4. Tom Sawyer.
Krikey, Harry, your competition is getting tougher all the time! You might blunder past Laura Ingalls, but get real. Try scooping humor and magic by the fistfuls from a dirty little Missouri town. Tom don't need no stinkin wand. He's got a fertile brain! In a superstitious backwater community! Who needs an Invisibility Cloak when they've got a nice, stiff dead cat?

3. Alice in Wonderland.
Try though I might, I just cannot imagine a doctoral candidate at Yale penning a thesis about Death Eaters. Alice works on every level, and subtly at that. I'm being tempted to quit writing and go spend the afternoon with her! Alice is what happens when a genius decides to entertain the cute little neighbor girl. She will not be moved. Ever.

2. Huckleberry Finn.
Sorry, Meredith. Harry Potter is not now, nor will he ever be, Huckleberry Finn. You are not now, nor will you ever be, Edward R. Murrow. Do you get the analogy?


Are you ready for this?

1. King Arthur.

He starts out as a boy, remember? On your knees, Harry, and don't expect a place at the Round Table until you've been rockin' on for ... oh ... 1000 years minimum?

Those of you kind readers who aren't wishing to fix me with some hex or curse might have a few favorite classic characters of your own that I've missed. I just go a little bit George Carlin when dewey-eyed witless reporters start comparing second-rate Charlies (or, in this case, Harries) to really, truly, eternally, classically great literature.

Come on, Toto. It's time to go back to Kansas.


mama kelly said...

I love the world of Harry Potter I do. But, I have said for a long time that Ms. Rowling is not so much a great writer as she is a great storyteller.

And while I agree with many that HP will go into the annals of childhood classics I also agree that there are certainly many books and characters that are more thoroughly developed.

Mama Kelly

Aquila ka Hecate said...

I'm not even sure JK Rowling is a great storyteller.
I'm sorry-I know many people have enjoyed her books, but the one I heard read to me was-how shall I put it? ah yes-pedestrian of writing.

It's just not to my taste, I guess.

Terri in Joburg

BBC said...

I've never read a Harry Potter, and I'm sure I never will. Saw one of the movies, yuk.

Huckleberry Finn was enjoyable, more real than all the fiction in HP.

I don't get into fantasy as an escape like many do, I just smack reality head on.

Elvis Drinkmo said...

You left out Robin, Batgirl, Superboy, Supergirl, Aqualad, Kid Flash, the Teen Titans, and acting Ensign Wesley Crusher.


Hecate said...


I am just saying.

And that chick from the Secret Garden.

Livia said...

I would have included the kids from The Narnian Chronicles too. But still it's a great list.

Laura Stamps said...

My husband and I were talking about the HP craze last night on the way to our local B&N. I am a magickal urban fantasy novelist, and he is a trad fantasy fan/reader. Yet we have not read HP and have no desire to. We did see one movie, and it just didn't click for us. We decided that we have no interest in reading HP because we like to read novels (and I like to write them) with adults as the main characters, rather than kids. Still, I rarely tell anyone I haven't read HP because people look at you like you are insane. On the other hand, I'm a Witch, so I'm used to getting that look for just about everything I say (grin).

Cynthia said...

Awesome list. A refreshing change from the overload of HP fandom.

Luna said...

Yes! King Arthur is much dreamier and the tragic ending still rends me every time.
I think Harry is basically Nancy Drew with a magic wand. The books are mysteries in format as far as I can tell.

Anonymous said...

Sir Gawain (you know, of Grene Knicht fame?)