How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Harry Potter Again

first_img Toy Tuesday: The Best Animal ToysGrab Your Wand: ‘Harry Potter: Wizards Unite’ Launches June 21 Stay on target If you spend too much time on Twitter (guilty) you may find it hard to remember at times that it’s not actually all that fun to find yourself growing sour on things you used to love. I don’t like that Spider-Man: Homecoming didn’t resonate with me the way it did with others. It genuinely bums me out that seeing people live-tweet Monday Night RAW to my utter indifference when just two years ago I was doing it alongside them. Liking Things is a lousy substitute for a personality but to pretend that the things we love don’t play some part in making us who we are is naive. As such, to fall out of love with something that once meant a lot to you, that’s a hard thing to cope with. And I don’t think any instance of this has hit me as hard as the day I realized I didn’t care about Harry Potter anymore.In the grand scheme of things, Star Wars and comics and all things Power Rangers may have been more constant, but for most of elementary, middle, and high school there was just about nothing that meant as much to me as the world of Harry Potter. My aunt stumbled across a copy of the first book on a trip to London just a few months before the series really caught fire in the U.S. and my parents would read me a chapter each night, ultimately leaving the last couple for me to read myself after the stellar cliffhanger of, “But it wasn’t Snape. It wasn’t even Voldemort.” My experiences with the books shaped me as a reader, a storyteller, and a person.So it was particularly jarring the day the first trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them dropped and I… didn’t care? Not just about the movie itself but about the world of Harry Potter as a whole? I had no interest in a new movie, the old movies, or the books anymore. It was an accumulation of years of growing disinterest more than a single breaking point.‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ (Photo Credit: Warner Bros.)For one thing, my interest in Harry Potter started with the books, not the movies. By 2016 the journey had been over for me for nearly ten years. I didn’t have a Pottermore account but would inevitably hear about Rowling’s periodic updates to the canon — updates that frequently felt redundant or shoehorned in representation to books she’d already written (sorry, but “I never said Hermione wasn’t black” means nothing when you could have, you know, made it clear that Hermione was black when you wrote the books). Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was an unnecessary trainwreck and, as it turns out, the bulk of the movies don’t hold up nearly as well as you’d expect one of the most acclaimed and successful blockbuster films of all time to (David Yates is a four-letter word in my house).As time went on and fandom became more and more centralized to social media, I realized I didn’t and never had engaged with these books the way others did. I’m not a fan fiction reader or writer and shipping has never been my thing. I never put much thought into the unexplored corners of the world Rowling created, which left me largely uninterested in joining Tumblr speculation as to, say, what an American wizarding school might look like or what Tonks’ years as a student might have been like (at least not to the extent that I felt the need to write a thousand-word Tumblr post on the matter). And obviously there’s nothing wrong with engaging in fiction in this particular way — honestly, it seems more fun. It’s just not the way that I had engaged with this particular piece of fiction. My love of Harry Potter had always been rooted in the contained story and the writing more than the world.A Harry Potter’Knight Bus’ circled the Time Warner Center in NYC in celebration of the release of the book “Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows” on July 20, 2007. (Photo Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)Other worlds, other fictions filled the void left by the wizarding world that once had my heart, but still, it’s never fun to realize you don’t love something anymore. At times I’d stumble across old photos from the midnight book release parties I attended with my aunt (after buying me the first book I experienced the entirety of the series alongside her) and find myself genuinely heartbroken that this thing that had once had such a special place in my heart couldn’t find its way back in.When The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped recently I had no intention of seeing it, both out of a lack of interest in the story and a lack of interest in uh, giving my money to any movie that employs Johnny Depp in the year of our lord 2018. Still, for some reason I found myself with a nostalgic itch in need of scratching. So over a long Thanksgiving weekend I found myself revisiting the first book and putting on the film adaptation of Prisoner of Azkaban (both my favorite book and movie). To further feed this nostalgia dive I started listening to Binge Mode, a podcast in which two writers I love do comprehensive chapter-by-chapter breakdowns of the entire book series. It was the first time in years I’d heard the books talked about in an almost academic sense, with the attention to detail they provide resembling an engaging collegiate literature lecture more than a LiveJournal blog post.‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ (Photo Credit: Warner Bros.)And in doing this I suddenly remembered that I love Harry Potter. I always have. And I don’t know if I ever really stopped. I just forgot. Sometimes all it takes is a rewatch with fresh eyes or overhearing a new take on an old favorite to reignite your love for something, to remind you that there’s more to it than self-ascribed Sorting Hat selection and some questionable directorial calls by David Yates.Binge Mode has been especially astute in observing just how much of the entire story is foreshadowed as early as the first few chapters of the first book. It’s a sight to behold once you realize it. Seeing eventual horcruxes pop up in Grimauld Place two books before anyone would realize their significance is like seeing the secret to a great magic trick without actually ruining the wonder with which you experience that trick. If anything, it only makes the trick all the more impressive.Rowling’s prose is still astonishingly effective, with “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of Number Four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” being an easy frontrunner for the best opening line of a novel since “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” Her crafting of character is second to none and never once betrays itself over the course of the seven novels — and speaking of which, man, what a sometimes painfully authentic portrayal of growing up these books are. The sometimes hilariously cringey pains and pratfalls of puberty are on display in spectacular fashion, especially through the middle and latter stretch of the series.It’s also far more evident as an adult how much of the series is structured around classically styled mysteries. The first three novels are veritable magic whodunnits, with the finale of Prisoner of Azkaban featuring a series of complex and layered plot twists that rival that of any great detective novel. Similarly, it’s genuinely incredible to reread the early novels now and realize just how much of the series’ finale is foreshadowed as early as the first book. It’s no wonder the bulk of Rowling’s post-Potter career has involved writing hardboiled detective novels under a pen name.Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway (Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan)There are elements of the franchise that still don’t click with me. I still don’t plan on seeing any of the new movies and if someone offered me free tickets to Cursed Child on Broadway I’d pass. I still find some of Rowling’s retroactive canon additions exhausting but, as the hosts of Binge Mode rightfully observed, who am I to tell the woman who created this world to stop adding to it? These new elements of the series don’t have to be for me anymore. Nobody is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to watch a movie that tries to make me empathize with Eddie Redmayne. Nobody is actually giving me free tickets to Cursed Child. It’s fully possible for me to opt out of the facets of this franchise that don’t hold my interest and choose instead to focus my affection on the stories and characters that originally sparked my love of reading.Nothing gold can stay. The way we experience the things we love as kids will inevitably change as we get older. Sometimes that will mean loving them less. And if there comes a day when you find yourself having fallen out of love with something that once meant the world to you, it’s okay. But leave that door unlocked. It may take a while, years even, but you may find yourself looking at them in a new light down the road, one that reminds you why they lit you up to begin with — or even better, lighting you up in a brand new and far more exciting way.More on Harry Potter Characters Who Deserve Their Own Movie10 Best Gifts for Harry Potter FansThe Most Magical Harry Potter Toyslast_img read more