What Does Harry Potter Mean to Your Family?
Did you line up to see Harry Potter this weekend? Did you cower at Voldemort? Cry at the end? Revel in all things Potter?
Harry is like a member of our family. We even discussed naming our puppy Sirius or Patronus after a character and a protection spell. (We settled on Joey for no reason other than that it is what we came with.)
My husband read each book to my now 11-year-old. The two of them lined up at midnight for the last book to be released. They have been part of a cultural moment that I don’t know will ever happen again. It was a journey they took together and I love J.K. Rowling for that gift. In fact, that reason alone has made me a Harry Potter fan for life.
My husband, like many other dads of our generation, also introduced our sons to Star Wars, the cultural icon of our childhood. Fittingly, Bunch Family recently posed the question about whether Harry Potter is the Star Wars of this generation.
As a child of the '70s I saw Star Wars from the beginning. I have seen how much my boys (especially my younger one) love Star Wars with its simple notions of good and evil and the power of the force.
But for me Star Wars was a uniquely boy experience. Other than a vague wish for Princess Leia’s hair buns, I have no memory of feeling like watching it made me part of something larger than me.
But Harry can capture both genders and all age groups. Hermione never had to suffer through a golden bikini and though the principal characters are male, without Hermione’s diligence and intelligence Harry would have been missing a key element in his defeat of the-one-who-cannot-be-named. The themes of triumph over personal adversities, redemption, sacrifice, friendship and moral certitude are ones that we refer to over and over again.
Star Wars will continue to be a rite of passage for 6-year-old boys and their fathers and an enjoyable rainy day habit, but Harry is more complex. Its message is different for each reader and on each viewing. Harry can take his place alongside the stories from other generations: Alice, Peter Parker, Anne, Tom.
I hope that Harry that doesn’t fall to a level of kitsch as Star Wars and so many other cultural movements have. I am sure that my kids will be reading it to their kids one day and will remember that their father read it to them and I hope that tradition will continue.
Are you a Harry Potter fan? Why or why not?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about how same sex families are treated at our school.