“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
This is perhaps the most touching and comforting statement made by JK Rowling till date, concerning the world famous Harry Potter series at least. This particular announcement by her warranted many tears shed in joy and admiration of the lady who singlehandedly changed the definition of childhood for the entire world. I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure, that there isn’t “a child in the world who doesn’t know his name”.
Of course, if you’ve been following this blog through the past year, you’ll know that I am absolutely devoted to the series. If you haven’t been following it, let me tell you that I am absolutely devoted to the series, and trust me when I say that I am. You can take a religious man’s faith away from him faster than you can take my obsession of Harry Potter from me. And so, armed with that knowledge, I hope you fully appreciate how difficult it is for me to say the following words:
J. K. Rowling needs to quit it.
For years I have been a devout follower of Rowling, belonging to that sect of society which called her “Queen Rowling” and clung on to her every word as though it were spoken from the mouth of God (Richard Feynman for us atheist folk). I was crushed when the series ended because the best part of my life had now finished and it seemed for the longest time that there would be nothing new to look forward to. So, when Rowling’s interviews regarding the series began cropping up here and there, I could be found blowing Internet data on the same.
But then, as countless poets and other less wise folk have said before, you can never have too much of a good thing. Perhaps propelled by the great reception she received for the tidbits she dropped about the series, Rowling decided to launch Pottermore, which is, as any true Potterhead will consent, the single greatest mistake of the fantasy world (the Twilight Saga notwithstanding). Pottermore, which started off as a way for obsessive Potterheads (ahem) to relive the adventure, soon turned into the gigantic pain that is forced information. Kudos to the IT team for creating the prettiest assassin of any fantasy series ever.
Pottermore, it would turn out, was the first of many mistakes. First, but by no means the least. Rowling thought it fit, for reasons I cannot possible even begin to comprehend, to announce that she’d rather Hermione have ended up with Harry than Ron. Oh the uproar! Fans all over the place started justifying their opinions to one another, turning a beautiful romance into the subject of a Security Council session. Indeed, those who see Harry and Hermione as the better couple (yet again, who knows why) got their perfect argument: “If Rowling herself says it, they’re OBVIOUSLY the better couple”.
Then came the profiles. Hallowe’en last year saw the life sketch of Dolores Umbridge, giving the most hated person in Potterverse a chance to be human, which was the last thing we wanted. Umbridge used to represent the very image of annoyance and hatred, before Rowling went ahead and softened her up for us by playing the messed up childhood card. And more and more and more stories of characters and places and all before and after the events of the seven books were spouted like an incessant stream of vile poison by the woman we once considered to be the greatest thing to happen to fantasy since Tolkien.
At last, with the most Hades-ish twist imaginable, Rowling decided that our souls meant nothing next to the popularity of her precious series. She announced on the seventeenth anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, that she would be apologising for each of the deaths she feels sorry for. It’s like she’s decided to exhume the bodies of the characters who became closer to us that kith and kin, say: “I’m sorry you had to die”, and left the bodies to rot in the sun. Trust me, I do not exaggerate; that is an understatement if anything.
That was the final nail in the coffin. Whatever little redemption I had been saving for Rowling went flying out the window, on a Thestral no less. Rowling, in her vain attempt to keep the series fresh in our minds, has been pulling off tricks which do nothing more or less than to drive us away from her. We understand that the HP series helped her out of a difficult time and that it’s difficult for her to let go of it, but she needs to understand that once she allowed readers to cry their eyes out at the last word of the last book, she relinquished the right to use the series as her own personal crutch.
Harry Potter has been more than a fantasy series for people to enjoy. It has been a friend, a parent, a support system, a voice to allow us to differentiate between right and wrong. Most of us aren’t obsessed with the series because it’s a brilliant work of art; we are devoted to it because it has touched our lives and souls in a way that nothing else has, or ever can. We grew up with these people, ate with them, learnt with them, laughed and cried with them and lived with them. When Rowling decides that she wants to make these radical announcements, it’s as though she’s taking our innermost feelings and making a public display out of them, which we just don’t like.
Now for those who aren’t as hopelessly glued to the series as us, lucky them. If you DO consider the HP series just as a work of fantasy which you’ve learnt to enjoy for indescribable reasons, you’ll agree to this. Any fantasy series, or story for that matter, is dependent upon its readers and their imagination. The work only stays alive and growing for as long as its readers are actively debating and discussing the story. When you give us every last detail, you put a stop to the wonderful imagination of the millions who want to keep the series alive in their own little ways. You kill all those fans and all their fantasies, and you have no right to do that once you’ve given the series to them.
J. K. Rowling, brilliant that she is, has perhaps forgotten that fundamental rule of fantasy. Whereas we love reading more and more writing from her, we’d really appreciate it if she didn’t make it about Harry Potter. Dear Joe, you’ve done your part, and beautifully at that, but now let us keep the series alive. It’s time for you to let it go. Trust us, we’ll keep it alive.
Comments are welcome.