I haven’t read the Harry Potter books, and I barely stayed awake during two of the films, so I freely admit I am no expert, and I’m sure that Potter fanatics (“Potheads?”) will take pleasure in shooting holes in my theory.
But from my brief exposure, I must state that the series just doesn’t work for me, and here’s why.
Every time Harry gets in a jam, he always resorts to the same solution for his predicament: Magic. To me, this automatically yanks all the suspense out of these stories.
I know nothing will ever happen to Harry, and that he is never really in danger, because magic will always save the day. It just seems so convenient, such a cop-out and a cheat, and that there are no restrictions or rules regarding how magic can save Harry each time.
Let’s compare this to another extremely successful franchise, the James Bond films. I am completely aware that James Bond will also get out of any tight squeeze and, like most protagonists in a series of books/films, Bond will not die. (Cash cows are rarely slaughtered.)
But here’s the difference: James Bond cannot just conveniently conjure magical powers out of nowhere; he must use his wits and strength, and deal with real people and utilize things in the real world to stay alive.
Yes, I know that it is ridiculous when Bond uses a tree limb as a snowboard to escape villains, but the point is that we have all seen tree limbs, except that Bond is creative enough to use such ordinary things in a creative way to beat the bad guys.
Harry doesn't need to be clever or outsmart anyone. When he gets in a fix, he just whips out his wand and, shazam! Problem solved.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think J.K. Rowling absolutely deserves all the money she has made from the Harry Potter books and films. And any author whose work results in millions of young people standing in line worldwide to buy a book should be given the Nobel Peace Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, a Peabody Award, the People’s Choice Award, the Zombie Chicken Award, etc., etc.
I guess some people enjoy the fantasy of being able to access magic whenever things get harry—er, hairy. But I’d rather be like a James Bond, and be resourceful enough to use whatever is handy to stay alive and--of course--get the girl.