why we love Jk Rowl­ing’s boy wizard

SFX - - Front page -

1 Harry Pot­ter... made read­ing books cool

We’re not im­ply­ing that be­fore JK Rowl­ing came along, chil­dren didn’t read. But books weren’t ex­actly flaunted; kids didn’t nec­es­sar­ily feel com­fort­able read­ing in their lunch break or out­side of class in case they’d be la­belled a nerd or, if you went to school in the dark ages when we did, a “swot”. But then along came Harry... and, grad­u­ally, not only could a child (or even an adult) whip a book out of their bag and start read­ing on the bus, some­one might ac­tu­ally tap them on the shoul­der and want to talk about the story. How amaz­ing is that? Which leads us to...

2 Harry Pot­ter... brought peo­ple to­gether

Hu­man­ity is all about tribes, isn’t it? Peo­ple are hap­pier when they’re in one. Re­li­gion has its tribes. Foot­ball teams have their tribes. There are tribes for every­thing from knit­ting to My Lit­tle Pony. Harry Pot­ter’s tribe is a mon­ster – bring­ing peo­ple of all ages, from all walks of life, from all cor­ners of the planet, to­gether. JK Rowl­ing’s books have been pub­lished in 200 ter­ri­to­ries; thanks to smug­gled DVDs, chil­dren even know about them in a regime like North Korea. Just imag­ine the re­la­tion­ships that have been formed over the years – and how many ba­bies must have been born be­cause of Rowl­ing’s world.

3 Harry Pot­ter... sup­ported the Bri­tish film in­dus­try

When Warner Bros first started work on the

Harry Pot­ter films they chose Leaves­den Stu­dios in Hert­ford­shire as their base, pump­ing all their ef­forts into mak­ing the site a su­pe­rior re­source for film­mak­ers. Thanks to this, a whop­ping £1.9 bil­lion has been in­vested in our film in­dus­try from not only the Pot­ter movies but other pro­duc­tions that fol­lowed, such as

The Dark Knight. Add to this the 3,000 to 4,000 peo­ple who worked on each of the Pot­ter movies, the boost given to every­thing from cinema chains to mer­chan­dis­ing, the Harry Pot­ter Stu­dio Tour set up at Leaves­den in 2012 and the up­com­ing be­he­moth that is Fan­tas­tic

Beasts And Where To Find Them, and... well, you get our point. Kerch­ing!

4 Harry Pot­ter... raises money for good causes

“You have a moral re­spon­si­bil­ity when you’ve been given far more than you need, to do wise things with it and give in­tel­li­gently.” JK Rowl­ing there, a bil­lion­aire who gave so much of her for­tune to charity that she fell off the Forbes rich list. She helped set up Lu­mos, a charity help­ing dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren around the world; is the pres­i­dent of Ginger­bread, which sup­ports sin­gle par­ents (Rowl­ing was once one, too, of course) and set up the Volant Char­i­ta­ble Trust to help causes close to her heart, such as MS re­search. All this prac­ti­cal ac­tion means that she has gen­uinely made the world a bet­ter place.

5 Harry Pot­ter... pisses off fun­da­men­tal­ist re­li­gions

If you’ve writ­ten some­thing that’s an­noyed an in­tol­er­ant, prej­u­diced and down­right un­pleas­ant re­li­gious group, chances are you’re do­ing some­thing right. The Harry Pot­ter se­ries has been ac­cused of pro­mot­ing the oc­cult so of­ten that it even has its own Wikipedia page about it, but noth­ing stirred up the ire of rad­i­cal wingnuts as much as Rowl­ing declar­ing that Dum­ble­dore was gay. Af­ter a joke about Dum­ble­dore and Gan­dalf get­ting mar­ried in Ire­land, the West­boro Bap­tist Church told Rowl­ing that they would “picket” the wed­ding. Her re­ply? “Alas, the sheer awe­some­ness of such a union in such a place would blow your tiny big­oted minds out of your thick slop­ing skulls.” Game, set, match.

6 Harry Pot­ter... has united gen­er­a­tions

Par­ents have been read­ing books to their chil­dren at bed­time since the very con­cept of both “books” and “bed­time” were in­vented, but the vast ma­jor­ity of those sto­ries weren’t nec­es­sar­ily ones the adult found in­ter­est­ing. And then along came Pot­ter – a world so en­tic­ing to both young and old that it was pack­aged for kids and adults. For a while there was even a time in which grown-ups and nip­pers could dis­cuss with equal ex­cite­ment where the story would go next – and from this sprang reams of “Young Adult” fic­tion to con­tinue the union of young and old. Now see point num­ber 8...

7 Harry Pot­ter... in­tro­duced us to these guys

As well as star­ring the cream of the Bri­tish film in­dus­try – from Alan Rick­man to Mag­gie Smith, Michael Gam­bon to Ja­son Isaacs – the movies cre­ated megas­tars of its three young leads. While we do love Ru­pert Grint, most of our re­spect goes to Emma Wat­son and Daniel Rad­cliffe: the for­mer for be­com­ing a UN Good­will Am­bas­sador and speak­ing up for women’s rights, and the lat­ter for over­com­ing what could have been the worst type­cast­ing in cinema his­tory by choos­ing some truly bonkers projects since giv­ing up his wand. From naked horse-both­er­ing on stage in Equus to play­ing a fart­ing corpse in Swiss Army

Man, Rad­cliffe has be­come a bona-fide act­ing trea­sure.

8 Harry Pot­ter... cre­ated the Young Adult genre

With­out Harry Pot­ter, would we have The Hunger Games? The Maze Run­ner se­ries? Artemis Fowl? The works of John Green? Even – wait for it – Twi­light? We could go on and on, but you get the gist. Rowl­ing sin­gle-hand­edly showed that books that cross the del­i­cate line be­tween “child” and “teenager”, not to men­tion the even more del­i­cate line be­tween “teenager” and “adult”, could not only be crit­i­cally ac­claimed but also fi­nan­cially lu­cra­tive. So lu­cra­tive, in fact, that the sto­ries that fol­lowed leapt into cin­e­mas just as her own books did. They’re such a huge part of our cul­ture now that it’s hard to be­lieve they’re still a rel­a­tively re­cent in­ven­tion.

9 Harry Pot­ter... cre­ated a new Bri­tish mythol­ogy

JRR Tolkien did some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary when he started whip­ping up all those ad­ven­tures in Mid­dle-earth in the ’30s: he es­tab­lished an ex­pan­sive fan­tasy uni­verse that man­aged to not only com­bine mytholo­gies from all around the world, but which ended up be­ing al­most stu­pe­fy­ingly Bri­tish. And JK Rowl­ing, amaz­ingly, did just the same with the Pot­ter world. Harry’s life at Hog­warts and be­yond could not be more Bri­tish if it tried, play­ing on every­thing from our school sys­tem to the va­garies of our swear­ing. The Pot­ter­verse is as Bri­tish as James Bond, Monty Python and Doc­tor Who – and ev­ery time our lit­tle na­tion pro­duces some­thing as huge as this, we should be rightly, des­per­ately proud.

10 Harry Pot­ter... made the world a bet­ter place

If you want to see how the Harry Pot­ter books have in­flu­enced gen­er­a­tions of peo­ple, it’s sim­ple: go to Google (note: other search en­gines are avail­able) and type in the phrase “Harry Pot­ter changed my life”. You’ll find page af­ter page af­ter page of sto­ries about peo­ple who have found hope, so­lace, love, joy, com­fort, peace and laugh­ter af­ter read­ing about the lit­tle boy with the light­ning scar on his fore­head. Rowl­ing’s books aren’t just a chil­dren’s fairy­tale; they’re a moral guide, they’re a bea­con in the dark­ness, they’re an ac­tual rea­son for liv­ing for more peo­ple than we can count. They re­ally did change the world, one per­son at a time.

Look: proof that chil­dren still read books!

Care­ful, Mark Wil­liams! You’re about to walk in front of a train!

And that is Daniel Rad­cliffe’s ex­act in­ner struc­ture on that t-shirt.

Was it a love of beards that at­tracted them?

Mak­ing my­opia fash­ion­able.

Now if one of those was ra­dioac­tive and had bit­ten him… “And here’s some stuff I was jot­ting down the other night.”

But will that ink ever come off?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.