This place matters

This place matters

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mischief Managed

The night before The Deathly Hallows came out, I went up to Hudson with my friend Craig. The downtown area of Hudson, Ohio, transformed into the world of Harry Potter. The bars became The Three Broomsticks and The Leaky Cauldron. The toy shops became Zonkos and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes; complete with a window sign reading "Why are you worried about You-Know-Who? You SHOULD be worrying about U-NO-POO." 
The costumes were thrilling. An entire flock of girls in perfect Beauxbatons uniforms (wait, does the name of that school translate to beautiful sticks? Or is my French off?) Home made costumes, store bought costumes, an alarming number of small children in improvised Death Eater costumes (what's more scary than a death eater? A tiny death eater.) A woman in an impeccable Belatrix Lestrange costume who was still, at midnight prancing around town singing "I killed Sirius Black," with the same commitment as when the night began
So why Harry? The folks at the event weren't just the fanatical fringe, like at a convention, they were regular old muggles, many to most of them grown-ups, reveling in an imaginary world meant for children.
I wrote in this post about how the one thing that all geek stories seem to have in common is that they're variations on the story of the Ugly Duckling. Strange and shunned and unloved Harry learns at the age of eleven that he's not a freak, he's a hero. He's something magic, something he never knew existed. Is there a person on earth who hasn't dreamed of waking up one day to find out they've been something special all along? Who doesn't dream of waking up in another life, one in which they're not... well... muggles?
And you know what the crazy thing is? JK Rowling did wake up one day, after years of scrimping and pinching and just scraping by, to find she was so much more than a single welfare mom. She was a hero, and she didn't just live in a world beyond reality, she'd created it. And while she didn't really mean to, not at first anyway, she gave us, we true believers, an incredible gift.
When I cracked my first Harry Potter book, I was about a month into the job in which I lived on the road. I was the farthest I'd ever been from home, living alone for the first time in my life, and I was terrified. Flat out, tightrope without a net terrified. But Hogwarts drew me into its spell and for the first time since I'd left home I felt safe, knowing Dumbledore would appear and save the day in the end. 
Rowling did a neat job of bringing us back into her world with each book. Each book begins with Harry back where he began, at the home of his aunt and uncle, unloved and oppressed. And in every book but the last, the fact he'll go back to being an ugly duckling by the end hangs in the air like the stench of polyjuice potion. All so she can rescue us again in the next installment.

"To tell stories about ourselves to each other is a basic human need." Alan Rickman - Snape

"[Rowling has created a] whole new world, which excites children because they love magic, they love anarchy... and they're much closer to their dreams than we are. They dream about flying all the time and sometimes think they can if my children are anything to go by." Robbie Coltrane - Hagrid

"There's no subtext in Harry Potter really; it's all magic, anything can happen. There's a real freedom to this." Michael Gambon - who kind of appears to think the role of Dumbledore is a bit beneath him. Or movies in general, really


Anonymous said...

I think it's "fine sticks." Beau = Beautiful; Beaux = Fine.

I didn't see anything like that here. Perhaps the curse of a large city is that no one cares?

Brigid Daull Brockway said...

"Fine sticks" makes much more sense, thanks! ;)
I don't know of any other cities around besides Hudson that did any such thing in honor of the boy wizard.

Andrew Abdul-Haqq Yacoub Line said...

Eeeep! How did I manage to be unaware of this? Eff.