Tuesday, July 31, 2007


I've read "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," and my review is below. It contains spoilers. But before I get to that, I'll share an interesting Potter-related press release I came across.

Interesting study from MU released today: Apparently, Rowling's portrayal of journalists doesn't affect college students' perceptions of journalists.

You know... Rita Skeeter, Xenophilius Lovegood and the like. One's a fame-obsessed chronicler who alters the truth and uses unethical methods to get the story, the other publishes the wizarding world's equivalent of the Weekly World News. When those two characters aren't mentioned, the media seems to be in the pocket of the government and/or mired with incredulity. Rowling's books are not very kind to journalists.

At least doctoral student Daxton R. Stewart was careful to ask more than 650 non-journalism students on the MU campus how they felt about journalism and if it was really as horrible as Rowlings portrayed. Of course, the results came back in favor of the media. Note how the press release refers to "first year students," not "freshmen." How Hogwartsish.

But why does this release suggest that media are a little wounded Rowling's treatment? First of all, it's hard to find ANY fiction that is kind to journalists.
Nothing against Stewart's study, which is no doubt interesting. But Rowling's portrayal is hardly unique, and nothing compared to the fictions about journalists spoken often by many talk-show radio hosts (despite the large amount of content newspapers provide their shows).

Secondly, and more importantly, Rowling isn't very kind to many careers and vocations. Look at her treatment of government officials: Both of the Ministers of Magic in the seven books are detestable, and it's hard to find anyone in the Ministry, other than Arthur Weasley, who makes us admire a position with the state. Barkeeps and/or restaurant owners aren't exactly role models. Bankers? They're goblins. Even authors get a bad rap. Remember what happened to Gilderoy Lockhart?

We in the media tend to do our share of navel-gazing. If we're bent out of shape about Rowling's treatment of journalism, then we're probably a little too sensitive.

Here's a message for those who predicted Harry lives, and those who predicted Harry dies: You're right! I predicted back in December that Voldemort would hunt Harry and that the book would focus on the construction and history of Hogwarts. Wrong and wrong. I can admit it.

I can also admit loving this book. Since I am a Potter fanboy, I can forgive little quibbles, such as all the confusion over the wands, the excessive angst over Ron leaving, the cheesy way he came back, the emo-style burial of Dobby (contrasted with the "whatever" treatment Fred Weasley's death earned) and the weird, hurried way the war at Hogwarts started.

One of the main gripes seems to be over the epilogue, "19 Years Later." For fans wanting to say goodbye to Potter, this was a hurried shove out the door. What happened? Did he become an Auror, a teacher at Hogwarts, the star Seeker of the Chudley Cannons, the new editor of the Daily Prophet? All we know is that he still dislikes Draco Malfoy, he married Ginny and -- most importantly -- he lives happily ever after. It's likely that Harry's life turns quite dull after destroying the greatest dark wizard of all time, leading Rowling to believe that "Harry Potter and the Numerous 401(k) Rollover Forms" is a story best left untold. BUT GIVE US SOMETHING, FOR THE LOVE OF MAD-EYE!

The epilogue (here I go with unbridled speculation, AGAIN) leads me to believe that Rowling will not stop writing stories about the beloved wizard.

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