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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

From Scorn to Addiction: Harry Potter’s Charm

Okay, I’ll admit it. Harry Potter made me sick. Every time I caught sight of a book cover on the subway, or heard someone mention the name, I would sigh with exasperation. When I turned the crisply printed page of a magazine to an article on the beastly little boy with Isaac Mizrahi style frames, my stomach would turn and my eyes, suddenly untethered from my skull, would roll in overt scorn. I hated Harry Potter.

This made me a closeted criminal in the world of Harry Potter. Daily, we are surrounded by the Harry Potter “phenomenon”; it swirls around us like a windstorm and we, tornado-bait consumers get caught up in it whether we like it or not. This is partly due to the cleverness of the marketing team behind J. K. Rowling’s tale, but not entirely. The real ingenuity lies in the multigenerational appeal of the boy wizard.

Children love Harry Potter. Adults love him too, and the amazing thing is that they are not in the least bit shameful to admit it. Harry has become an acceptable path to the return of innocence and childhood that overburdened adults crave. Then, in an almost symbiotic spin, children feel more grown-up because they are reading books that they see clasped greedily in the hands of every fourth adult on the subway train. With all this enthusiasm for Harry Potter, how could anyone resist rushing out to get the books?

Still, I hated Harry Potter. Why? Well, it’s the very popularity of these books that elicited such scorn from the very tips of my toes. I am not a mindless sheep. If something becomes exceedingly popular, I am likely to avoid it like the plague. During the onset of the Beanie Baby craze I clipped all the tags off of mine and sent them to my niece. I dislike crazes. This probably stems from my childhood Cabbage Patch Kid trauma which I have never really gotten over. (For those who weren’t there, the dolls-when you could find them- went for hundreds of dollars thanks in part to the scarcity induced by Mattel). I never got one.

So, content in my little world of Potter book scorn was I until a dear friend of mine, a mindless sheep wrapped up in the craze, begged me to go see the film. Oh dear, I thought, why must I be so smote by the gods? Why must my patience be so tested? Still, I went with him. Glasses teetering off the end of my nose, I entered the theatre and poured my own homebrew of good old-fashioned scorn over the crowd. Then the film began and what happened next I cannot explain.

I love Harry Potter. What a story! The film itself is such an amazingly colorful dance of magic and humor and adventure, you cannot help but get wrapped up in it so tight, any remnant of scorn is purged. I was sucked in and I hadn’t even noticed it.

The very next day I burst forth from my humble domicile and garnered the first copies of all four books from the nearest Borders and like a jealous little troll coveted them back home where I began to pour into their treasure trove of adventures.

Here I am now, a Harry Potter fan, caught up in the very craze I scorned. A skeptic changed forever and neatly placed in line with all the other sheep. But, if you look closely, if you push your glasses up from the tip of your nose and actually pay attention, you’ll see that the sheep in this line are like none other. Think you hate Harry Potter? Be careful, you might have your mind changed for you!