With the release of the DVD of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” a decade-long book and movie franchise came to an end. Undoubtedly, J.K. Rowling’s magical story had colossal effects on the generation that grew up with it. Carol Peters, director of the writing center, discusses Harry Potter’s place in our culture.
Q: What has been the impact of Harry Potter on popular culture?
A: Prior to Rowling, I do not ever remember there being a midnight book release. Midnight albums or midnight tickets sales, yes, but a book? She had people waiting in line for hours to buy a book in a culture that reads less. I think that’s revolutionary. She reignited reading in an electronic generation.
Q: Why do you think the Harry Potter franchise has been such a success?
A: It appeals to multiple audiences. It’s the rare book that both parents and kids find entertaining at the same time. As a parent you sit through a lot of animated movies and horrible books and you’re just bored out of your mind, but she wrote for multiple audiences, so the parents get as excited as the kids do.
The other reason is that she’s absolutely brilliant in terms of her chapter structure. It’s the epitome of how to write a cliff hanger. As you’re reading you say to yourself, “I’m going to stop after this chapter,” but it propels you into the next chapter. Structurally it’s brilliant.
Q: How have the movies compared to the books?
A: A movie is never as good as the book, because when you read a book, you create your own movie, and your movie is always going to be better than anyone else’s movie because it’s created for you personally as the viewer. With any book I always want to read the book before I see the movie, and that’s always a disappointing sequence of events; But when you do it backwards you already have the movie images in your mind when you read the book, so it’s always a bit of a frustration.
However, when we watched that first movie and Hagrid opened the wall to Diagon Alley, I remember sitting in the theater and peering around from side to side. Her writing is so incredibly detailed, and the movies integrated most of those details so well. It was texturally so rich. You’re constantly trying to see if it would match the literary info and it did.
Q: Do you think the Harry Potter series will ever loose popularity?
A: It’s going to be a different kind of popularity. My thinking is that when all these kids become parents, they are going to be super anxious to share the books with their kids. It’s a series of novels that future parents—current Harry Potter enthusiasts—are going to read to their kids.
Kelsey Molseed ’14, Juniata Online Journalist