Some of you may remember that back in January, I shared with the world that I had never read the Harry Potter series. I expected the reaction I received; shocked, gawking, sometimes even judging faces. But what I didn’t expect were so many of you becoming Harry Potter cheerleaders. Many of you would write and say how jealous they were that I got to experience the novels for the first time, many people wrote and shared that they couldn’t wait to discuss the series with me when it ended. Of course, each time I did finish a book, I’d say to my friends in a really excited tone, “And then Harry and Ginny finally kissed” and they’d look at me and say “I know. I read the series when it came out ten years ago.”
Since the Harry Potter phenomenon has been part of our culture for seventeen years now, there are many references to it in mainstream culture that I never quite understood. Now that I’ve finally read the series thanks to Just a ‘Lil Lost’s Harry Potter Reading Challenge, I can finally be a part of the conversations about all things Harry Potter and I now (like the rest of you) can get really excited when anything HP happens, such as a short story by J.K. Rowling being written. As I read the series, I jotted down things that were missing puzzle pieces in what I thought I knew about Harry Potter. I made note of the way people reacted about this series and how it became a pop culture phenomenon. Now that I’ve finally finished the seven books in the series, I want to share my observations with you!
Why You Weren’t Allowed to use the Name of ‘He Who Shall Not be Named’ – Recently I rewatched the first season of Orange is the New Black and as Piper and Larry are sitting in their home discussing her upcoming jail sentence, Larry makes the comment, “you can say the word jail, it’s not like we’re talking about Lord Voldemort.” Up until 7 months ago, I really didn’t know why you couldn’t just speak the name of the evil man in the Harry Potter series. Of course, now I know that to speak Lord Voldemort’s name suggests that you have no fear of him and therefore no respect for him. This is why the Death Eaters even avoided using his name in conversations.
Why People Booed Draco Malfoy – Before I began reading the series, I remember watching a Teen Choice Award Ceremony (or some equivalent award show) in which the actor Tom Felton won an award for ‘Best Villian’. He got up there to thank his Mom, Dad and his fans and everyone booed him. I remember watching and thinking that it was so sad. That all this young kid did was play a mean boy in the movie and people were acting so rudely to him. Now of course while I still think it’s wrong that people would boo a young actor who played a character, I get it. Draco Malfoy was a mean young man who was not only vindictive, but evil. How his character played out from start to finish was one of my favourite part of reading the series.
Why there’s a Harry Potter Themed Park – Before reading these books I went to Universal Studios in Florida. I walked around not knowing what Butter Beer was, I sure as heck didn’t understand why you could buy Chocolate Frogs and had no idea why goblins were running the imaginary bank. I was naive to the monstrosity of what I was witnessing. All that being said, I waited in a lineup for two hours to ride on an imaginary broomstick to soar about Hogwarts. Now I understand that this book series not only changed the way people read and write, it inspired a whole world to be created. From what I understand this recreation is the closest thing you’ll get to the real Harry Potter experience. Now I’m saving up to head back to FL to see it once again (and it’s new elements) to experience it the right way.
Why Everyone Loves Sirius Black – When Sirius was being mentioned in conversations when people were first reading the series, I remember people spoke of him with such disdain. They’d roll their eyes and say he’s up to no good… then they’d finish The Prisoner of Azkaban and their perspectives changed. Of course, I never really asked why. Now after reading, what I’d call my favourite book in the series, I know why. His intentions and actions were always good. In an effort not to give too much away, I will say that he was one of my favourite characters in the entire series… besides Dobby.
Why People Were So Upset About J.K. Rowling’s Quote about Harry and Hermione – Back in February, Emma Watson interviewed J.K. Rowling about the series for Wonderland Magazine. In this interview, Rowling said some pretty shocking things about the series she wrote. The biggest shocker was when she said,
In some ways Hermione and Harry are a better fit, and I’ll tell you something very strange. When I wrote Hallows, I felt this quite strongly when I had Hermione and Harry together in the tent! I hadn’t told [Steven] Kloves that and when he wrote the script he felt exactly the same thing at exactly the same point.
Of course, some fans didn’t mind the idea of Harry and Hermione ending up together, but some were outraged. In a lot of ways Hermione and Ron ending up together was a surprise no one saw coming and it made both of them break down walls they’d put up. I can understand her comment, but to play the woulda, coulda, shoulda game so long after the series has concluded made people question their admiration and devotion to this cute and unpredictable couple.
Why People Became Quiet Whenever I Asked About Robert Pattinson’s role in the Movie – When the Twilight movies hit the screen and everyone become obsessed with the pale Robert Pattinson, people began to recognize him as the man that played Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter movies. I’d be a fool not to hear that he had a role in some of the Harry Potter movies, so I asked around (having only seen the first movie and an hour or so of the second movie) and every time I asked someone about who he was in the movie, they’d get really quiet and say he was Cedric Diggory. From this reaction alone, I knew that something terrible must have happened to this character. But when I finally discovered his fate, I was broken up about it. Oh god, even writing about it now makes me teary eyed.
The Cult-Like Culture Dedicated to the Series – It didn’t take me long, probably by book four, to realize why this series has become so, so popular. Why people reread it yearly, why it has its own theme park and why J.K. Rowling has become a billionaire. Harry Potter fans are a dedicated fan base, they know the inner workings of this series. They know every nook and cranny about why the characters behave a certain way. Seventeen years ago I thought it was all hype, I thought with time it would die down and people would move on. Now having read the series, I understand why people are so passionate about these books. I get it. I really do. As someone who loves books in general, I love that these books allow people to have to use their imaginations. They even introduced reading to children/teens/adults who might not otherwise read at all. The series might have ended seven years ago, but I don’t think these books are going anywhere. I’m just glad that I can now be a part of the ongoing phenomenon that is Harry Potter.
A special thank you to Michele from Just A ‘Lil Lost and Kaley from Books Etc who were two of my biggest online supporters and were both a driving force in helping to finally get me to commit to this series.