Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m totally and completely a Harry Potter geek, and I get why a lot of people think that’s lame. But I’m not ashamed, because what Harry Potter has meant to me is something completely unique and awesome, something that could never be ruined for me by someone else’s disdain for it.
Harry Potter has been a staple of my childhood, a constant presence in my literary, cinematic, and cultural consciousness, and in my opinion, it’s a story that has already become timeless. The fact that Harry Potter has participated in more than a decade of my life is impressive in itself, since there are few other things that have managed to keep my interest for even close to that long. There’s a big difference between liking something for nostalgic purposes and actually still liking something that you used to like a long time ago, and Harry Potter is awesome to me because it manages to bridge the nostalgia gap, blending together my childhood tastes and my adulthood tastes and allowing me to genuinely still like something that I first fell in love with when I was ten.
I don’t remember at what point I really became obsessed with Harry Potter, but I do remember that the peak of the obsession came when the seventh book came out and I went to Barnes & Noble at midnight to buy it with all of my friends. A few of my friends and I were about to embark on a road trip to Wisconsin, and because there was no possible way we could wait 13 hours to dig into the book, we started reading it aloud to each other during the drive. Now, I know how fucking geeky that is, but I don’t even care, because at the time it was so awesome, and it’s still one of my fondest memories of Harry Potter and of those friends. During the week that Jason, Nate, and I stayed at our friend Joe’s house in Wisconsin, we took turns reading aloud until we had made it all the way through the book. In the morning, before anyone else had woken up, Nate would read ahead a few chapters and then I’d get pissed at him, but we all relished the dorkiness of sharing the final episode in that series that had meant so much to us.
For years I’ve been saying that when the final Harry Potter movie comes out, I’m going to sob hysterically and be depressed for weeks because it will truly mark the end of my childhood. I didn’t sob hysterically (I may or may not have quietly sniffled during half of the movie, though) and I haven’t been depressed, per se, but I have felt really weird about the fact that Harry Potter is really and truly over. It did sort of feel like it marked the end of my childhood, mostly because I didn’t feel the same sense of excitement and wonder that other Harry Potter premieres have inspired in me in the past. Maybe it was because I knew that going to the midnight showing was stupid when I had to work at 8am the next day. Maybe it was because the mad chaos of the 30 sold-out theaters at Easton was nerve-wracking, or that I spent the second half of the movie trying not to think about how badly I had to pee after drinking that butterbeer from the concessions stand. (BUTTERBEER! It was just as delicious as I imagined it!)
But for whatever reason, the final installment in the saga of my childhood just didn’t hit home as much as I had expected it to. I guess it’s because I’m growing up and stuff, and grownups are apathetic. Or maybe I’m just apathetic. But even if it didn’t inspire child-like delight in me, the final movie was still awesome, and I will argue with anyone who hates on Harry Potter because it’s definitely the least damaging pop culture craze in recent memory. Despite the fanaticism surrounding it, and whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not, I think anyone has to admit that as far as overblown trends go, this one has the most merit because it’s encouraged so many kids- and adults- to read when they otherwise wouldn’t. I think that’s pretty cool.
And at least it’s not fucking Twilight.