In which H. Potter is Defended (sort of)

Loehr, Mallory mloehr at
Thu Dec 2 15:43:32 EST 1999

I have a certain degree of anger toward the harry Potter penomenon, most of
which is because DWJ does a lot of the same stuff in the Chrestomanci books
and a bazillion times better. However, try to imagine how you'd feel about
Harry Potter if it *wasn't* such a big seller. And also remember that this
is the author's *first* book. All the points you make are valid but I just
don't think that the book really merits quite this level of venom (although
i do understand it). The media hype that has surrounded it maybe does... but
Ms. Rowling has been relatively humble about the whole thing and doesn't
claim to understand the hubbub any more than anyone else. It is disgusting
that there are all these grown-ups out there now singing the praises of HP
when they haven't picked up any other kids' books(or reread any) in at least
the last 10 years (if only they knew what they were missing). I mean even if
one is so unlucky to have missed DWJ, there's still Alexander, Lewis,
Cooper, L'Engle, McKinley, etc. etc. etc. Now I've started ranting. the real
points are that I think people should look at HP for its own merits/faults
separate from the media drama, recognize that this is a new author, and
also, if it makes you feel any better Elise, some of the problems you
pointed out (again, validly!) begin to be addressed in books 2 & 3. 
over and out,
> ----------
> From: 	McMullin, Elise
> Reply To: 	dwj at
> Sent: 	Thursday, December 2, 1999 5:25 PM
> To: 	'dwj at'
> Subject: 	In which H. Potter is Skewered
> 	Hey folks, I thought I'd share my bf's rant upon reading the first
> Harry Potter book - you may enjoy:
> 	"I'm about halfway through... not sure how much more I will read.
> > Maybe I'm out of touch with what kids think and like nowadays. Still, I
> > can't 
> > believe people want to be spoon-fed their likes and dislikes the way
> > Rowling feeds you. All the bad guys look like bad guys (lank greasy
> hair,
> > sallow complexion, fat) and have Bad names, and all the good guys are
> Ever
> > So Good. Sheesh, gimme a break. I want to see some ugly-looking good
> guys
> > and some handsome bad guys for a change! Though I'm glad she's teaching
> > children the important lesson that you can instantly judge people by
> their
> > appearance. We need the ugly kids firmly kept in their place, and
> anything
> > that helps the popular, good-looking kids to keep the geeks in check is
> > all to the good.
> > 
> > The way his aunt and uncle treated him in the beginning was absurd -- a 
> > caricature of abuse and neglect -- and the way they treated their fat 
> > obnoxious son was a caricature in the other direction. Needless to say,
> > being forced to live under the stairs until age 11 doesn't seem to have
> > had any effect on Harry's character (he doesn't turn into a serial
> killer)
> > and he 
> > still knows how to share despite never having been given anything. Bah, 
> > humbug. Someone with talent and intelligence raised in those
> circumstances
> > would most likely grow up to be a lawyer, stockbroker, or some other
> > materialism-obsessed profession. They'd be hungry, ambitious, determined
> > never to return to their native squalor. In short, Slytherin material!
> > 
> > Which brings us to the Sorting Hat. Oh, please! You put on a hat and
> your 
> > whole destiny us decided for you? The least she could do would be to
> make
> > it a three-hour multiple choice exam! (Sorry, Harry, but you didn't
> score
> > high enough on logic games to get into Ravenclaw.) Good thing the Hat
> > pigeonholes your enemies for you, isn't it? Will Harry be stabbed in the
> > back by a conniving ambitious Griffindor? Or helped by a friendly
> > Slytherin? Maybe, but right now I doubt it.
> > 
> > So far I've seen Harry break the rules a bunch of times without being 
> > penalized too severely. How does that make him different from the people
> > we're supposed to detest? Indeed, I am starting to resent the special 
> > treatment he's getting. No sign that anyone else is jealous, though,
> other
> > 
> > than the vile Slytherins.
> > 
> > On the whole, thin stuff. Totally undeveloped universe and magic system.
> > Weak tea indeed compared to DWJ. I remain puzzled why this pabulum is so
> > popular... not everything super-popular is bad. Sadly, you can tell
> > Rowling isn't "writing this crap just to make some money, and then I'll
> > write what I really want to write." Nope, this is it, as good as it's
> ever
> > going to get. So keep churning them out, JK, and shake the money tree as
> > hard as you can until you're Over. Because some day you *will* be Over."
> > 
> At this point my bf shakes his fist at the unresponsive sky and defies the
> marketing and pop culture gods.  Hee hee.  We ended up debating whether
> the
> popularity of this series is a cause for optimism or pessimism -
> inconclusive.
> Elise
> --
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