Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
I have been re-reading the Harry Potter books. I haven't gotten to the sixth one yet, so it's not as fresh in my mind as the first five. The books are not my favorites, but they have some good qualities. I think perhaps the main reason they are not my favorites is that they are told from the perspective of a boy. It's not the fact that the main character is a boy. A Solitary Blue features a male character as a child and teenager, but it was told from a perspective that I could relate to. The issue with the Harry Potter books is not the demographic facts associated with the main character, but rather the outlook of the main character. I could relate better to someone who showed more maturity, and who showed more of an appreciation for certain concerns of female characters -- Molly's worry for the safety of her family, Hermione's sensibleness and caution. Being told from a young male perspective doesn't make the book bad. Everyone should have the opportunity to read books they can relate to, I just don't happen to belong to the same demographic for which these books are written. Some of the things I do like about the books:
- They are engaging. They make you want to keep reading, even when you've already read them a few times before.
- The magical quality, the many details which create a sense of wonder.
- The way some small thing mentioned later on turns out to be a part of something else. Veronica Mars is like this too. I suppose this is a trait of a good mystery story, but I don't read many mysteries. This makes re-reading rewarding. After you know how things turn out in the end, then when something is mentioned in passing, you can realize how it's going to turn out to be a part of everything else. I like that richness of so many little things comprising a complex bigger picture. That's what makes Veronica Mars good ( except when the network is trying to destroying it by insisting that it not be so complicated, that viewers shouldn't have to think so much to understand it).
- I like the way Luna, Neville, and Ginny start to emerge as characters starting in the fifth book. I wish Harry wouldn't keep pushing away them and others. He always seems to think that Ron and Hermione are the only ones who should be a part of things. That seems to be part of his youthful shortsightedness.
- At first I considered the books an entertaining read, but lacking any deeper meaning to give you something to think about later. However, each book is longer, darker, and more complex than the last, and the later books do have more to say on issues. They address how people respond to the existence of an enemy. Some people become so harsh and power-hungry that they act the same as the enemy they are fighting. Others deny that any threat exists. With the many different reactions to the threat, those who are against the same enemy experience sharp divisions amongs themselves. They become suspicious of those who disagree with them, calling them traitors. The presence of the enemy weakens the good side, not just through direct attacks by the enemy, but because the presence of enemy sows the seeds of discord within the good side, causing people on the good side to attack and destroy each other. They look to demographic factors to decide who is good and who is evil, condemning people based on the demographic category to which they belong. The people who strive to be good need to understand that being good is not just about hating the enemy, that deeds done in the name of fighting the enemy can be evil deeds too. Meanwhile, the evil side wants to get rid of people who are not purebloods, but the leader himself is not a pureblood. It seems to somehow be his own hatred of what he is that causes him to lead the persecution of others.
Also, regarding the Harry Potter movies, I have seen the first, second, and fourth, and these are my comments.
- The magical aspect, the sense of wonder, is strengthened by the visual aspect which movies provide.
- The casting is very good. The characters really exude the personalities that we know from the book. One thing that's a bit off is that the actor who plays Ron looks a bit more like Fred and George are supposed to look, while the actors who play Fred and George look a bit more like Ron is supposed to look. Also, the actor who plays Hermione is too pretty. But most of the actors look just right, and all of them play the characters really well.
- The books are a lot longer than the movies, so events end up being somewhat compressed in the movies. This bothered me most in the fourth movie. I kept thinking, "That's not how it really