Potter Phenomenon

Bernardo Vigil

The most important pop-culture phenomenon since Shakespeare is Harry Potter. Period. No Arguments. No single media entity has had the cross-demographic appeal that Harry Potter has had; even The Beatles were hated by parents during the height of their popularity. That being said, the multi-national sensation that has dominated the world for the past ten years is swiftly dying out.

Of 31 upperclassmen polled, 24 said that they have read all seven books at least once; several said that they had read them all multiple times. Sharply contrasting this statistic were the freshmen, of which only two of the 21 polled said that they had read all seven; three others said that they had read one or two of the books.

For all of us who have trouble with fractions, the numbers above translate to this: 77 percent of juniors and seniors polled have read all seven books and only about 9.5 percent of freshman have. To properly understand the gravity of these percentages, however, one must first realize how extensive the fanaticism of some older Harry Potter fans is.

Long time Harry Potter fan, junior Alexander Smith, attended the midnight unveiling of the last three books. As if that was not enough to prove his loyalty to Harry, Smith reread all of the books that were published at the time of the unveilings in order to freshen up on his Harry Potter. This means that at the very least, Smith has read books one through four at least four times, the fifth book thrice, book number six twice and the seventh book at least once. That is at the very minimum 11,900 pages of Harry Potter.

The fandom does not stop at the books however. Seniors Kelsey Myhre and Brittni Palkert both own the soundtracks to the unauthorized play “A Very Potter Musical.” Myhre even subscribes to a weekly Harry Potter podcast or “mugglecast.” Junior Nick Brinza knows of more than one Harry Potter tribute band including “Draco and the Malfoys” and “Harry and the Potters.” Elin Lantz, one of last year’s graduates, even joined a Harry Potter club at Hamilton College.

Almost all of the fans, including both of the freshmen, seemed to give the the same reasons for liking the series: Harry Potter is just imaginative enough to take readers to another world, but the characters are real enough to keep people grounded and allows them to relate. Harry Potter provided the perfect escape for anybody who entered its pages.

Freshmen on the other hand, seemed to hold none of the reverence for the series that the juniors and seniors did. Freshman Max Holly simply stated, “That book is too long.” Freshman Alex Rios also summed up what many freshman failed to articulate quite as clearly, “it’s just not that important.” Both statements were widely regarded as borderline blasphemous by the upperclassmen asked to comment on them.

How is it that a media franchise that can, according to Mr. Jere Lantz, be compared to “nothing in history,” be so quickly losing its audience? Alex Plouff blamed the underclassmen’s lack of reading on the fact that “the freshmen are always somewhat awkward and out of the loop.” Although an interesting theory, this is probably not the case.

The few freshmen polled who had read any of the books at all, had older siblings who turned them on to the novels. The ones that had read all seven also seemed unaware that their classmates had not read the novels, but were appalled when they were informed.

It seems that Harry Potter is not losing its appeal, its time has just passed. This year’s batch of freshmen were just born a little bit to late to catch the literary portion of the Harry Potter wave and most of them don’t have older siblings to drag them onto it. Besides, why would anyone read a series of books that they didn’t grow up with, when they can just watch the series of mediocre movies that they did grow up with instead?