First! On Global Comment (where the world thinks out loud, apparently), Sady Doyle has this terrific, insightful, genius, witty satire/scathe of the HP series: "In Praise of Joanne Rowling's Hermione Granger series." Doyle hits solidly on the head all the aspects of the series that have troubled me at one point or another (note: I AM a Harry Potter fan! I wrote about Prisoner of Azkaban in my undergraduate senior thesis!).
A choice block quote:
Being special, Rowling tells us, isn’t about where you come from; it’s about what you can do, if you put your mind to it. And what Hermione can do, when she puts her mind to it, is magic.This loops back nicely to a post Jonathan Auxier (whose Peter Nimble & his Fantastic Eyes will be coming out very soon) recently had on his blog about prophecy stories; there are a number of very smart comments on the post as well, the very least of which is mine.
Ditto for the whole “Chosen One” thing. Look: I’ve enjoyed stories that relied on a “Chosen One” mythology to convince us that the hero is worth our time. ... But it’s hard to deny that “Chosen Ones” are lazy writing. Why is this person the hero? Because everyone says he’s the hero. Why does everyone say he’s the hero? Because everyone says so, shut up, there’s magic.
Doyle also hammers on the politics of the series in such a sharp paragraph that it draws blood:
As the series developed, its politics did, too. Dumbledore, memorably, falls in love with a younger man in the third installment. Other female characters were introduced, and developed beyond stereotype; we learned to value McGonagall as much as Dumbledore, to stop slagging Lavender Brown off as clingy and gross because she actually wanted her boyfriend to like her, to see the Patil sisters and Luna as something other than flaky, intuitive, girly idiots.
Yes, yes, yes. Most especially to the Dumbledore love plot, which would make Rowling's actual ex post facto "Dumbledore's gay" have some meaning, instead of being the vapid, empty, offensive remark that it is.
Doyle's entire article is so vastly worth the read that I'm linking again! Go read it!
Second! Movie adaptation news that I find actually pretty cool and potentially awesome: K.L. Going's Fat Kid Rules the World is being filmed NOW, evidently in Seattle. Matthew Lillard directs; most excitingly, Jacob Wysocki (aka Dante Piznarski on ABCFamily's maddeningly short-lived, brilliant "Huge") is starring as Troy Billings, the eponymous Fat Kid.
I've read Fat Kid Rules the World several times, though not since last summer, and I like it quite a bit. Since my last reading of it, I've read a fair bit of Fat Studies work, which makes me wonder how the novel will hold up when I read it again. But I like Going's work in general; I've taught King of the Screwups twice, and it was very well received by both classes of mostly uninterested undergrads. More recently (this summer) I read Going's very curious early novel Saint Iggy. I confess I'm not quite sure what to do with the book yet - I think it'll need at least one more read to really sink in - but my reaction is not negative.
Fat Kid is a great book because it gives us weird protagonists who remain weird, and unlikely, even as they progress and develop in the book. Marcus is always an unknown quantity, and Troy doesn't suddenly become skinny (and I LOVE whoever made the casting decisions, because Jacob Wysocki is probably the exact perfect size for Troy; too often, "fat" gets translated as either cartoonish or as very slightly pudgy. Early photos from the set show that Troy just looks like your average normal fat kid, neither terrifyingly Other nor terrifyingly prettified). There are valuable lessons about Life and Love, but they aren't painfully didactic, and just because those lessons occur, doesn't mean that everyone's life gets better. It's entirely possible that the lessons occur, but not every character was taking notes that day. Going's very good at writing smallish transitions that end up being hugely important (or the opposite: huge transitions that end up having little to no effect).
I'm also a fan of Jacob Wysocki; I loved his character on "Huge," and in some of the sketches he's done with Bath Boys Comedy (of which he is a member). In particular, I'm very fond of "Puppet Suicide" , a PSA advocating awareness of, and an end to, puppet suicide [which I thought of not long ago when I heard about the Vent Haven Museum of Ventriloquism, which evidently functions as a kind of final resting place for ventriloquist dummies] My favorite, though, is "Seeing Eye Big Guy," an ad for, well, a seeing-eye big guy (if you're allergic to a seeing-eye dog, try the Big Guy! he wears a loud shirt!). Bath Boys' stuff is pretty amusing, especially the more pop-culturey stuff, but it can also be quite...well...the Bath Boys are all around ages 20-22 or so, and there's a decided 20-ish-year-old dude mentality to some of the sketches. Others are just brilliant.
Wysocki is also starring in Terri with John C Reilly, which is currently playing in selected cities NONE OF WHICH ARE PITTSBURGH CAN WE PLEASE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT? Terri looks like a pretty good, possibly insightful, movie about adolescence and outsiders and oddness, and has gotten very good reviews. And I would like to see it very much.
Lots of very cool things going on these days. Definitely read Doyle's piece on the Hermione Granger series, and definitely prepare for the Fat Kid movie.