Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Deemed the unofficial 8th installment of the famed series by J.K. Rowling, this play will allegedly follow Harry and his youngest son Albus in order to explain how the irksome fame that had once haunted Harry in his youth will continue to do so in his adulthood.
Now I’m a die-hard Harry Potter fan (just look at my blog name), but there’s something that peeves me just the slightest bit about this whole ordeal. This criticism isn’t limited just to J.K. Rowling, but also to other critically and commercially acclaimed artists in general, whether it be movie directors, writers, painters, artists, etc. And my gripe is about the constant recycling of cult-level achievements.
Once a great work or series has ended, that should be THE END. Sniff sniff, bye. But when something achieves the level of cult-status following such as Harry Potter, writers just tend to not stop milking their achievements. Whether out of commercial interest or personal attachment, the author always feels the need to append or clarify their work with some sort of unnecessary follow-up. And that frustrates me to no end.
Why can’t writers just let a great work stand as it is? Why create an extension that dilutes the concise awesomeness of the original?
Such examples are Toy Story 4–seriously? The Hobbit trilogy–zzzzzz. Teen Titans Go!–bashes head against the wall. The Legend of Korra–sigh. Need I go on? An original series may have been absolutely amazing in the first place, but creators capitalizing on their fame out of some careless whimsy almost never does the original work any justice in the end. Sure, artists feel the need to evolve and hone their craft, but being a true artist also means that you should be able to tell yourself to stop–stop fiddling with something that’s already great as it is!
Undoubtedly, fans will cry when the great artist moves on. I too blubbered like a baby when the Harry Potter series came to an end in 2007, and the final movies in 2011. But I still respected the end of a really great era and cherished those memories of running around on a broom, yelling “Avada Kedavra!” Sure, these would be times very difficult to let go, but at least I knew that I was officially parting ways with a clean closure.
But lo and behold, the Pottermore site showed up, followed by Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie, an illustrated book, and now Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play. Harry Potter officially lived on! Which at first I was extremely happy about. But when J.K. Rowling continued dragging things on, I started wondering, “Where’s the end? Where’s the official end of the Harry Potter era? When do I finally get my chance for closure?”
Because whether out of an author’s need to clarify, perfect, or simply satisfy popular demand, the original beauty of the works become diluted or tainted in the process of updating, and that’s what I’m starting to detect in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter endeavors.
Now let me touch on another point. When J.K. Rowling created Pottermore, I suspected this was to cover for inconsistencies in her series. The barrage of new information and random background for secondary characters were out of control. Though I understood J.K. Rowling’s intent to simply clarify the HP universe and touch up on the flaws or inconsistencies in her series, I personally don’t think these flaws should be touched up.
People have raised their eyebrows and criticized the series for “making shit up as it goes.” But that’s okay! I mean, it’s a fantasy–what would you expect if there wasn’t at least one ridiculously outrageous assertion in this series? That’s the appeal of this series, so I really don’t want to know the explanations or logic behind the facts asserted as truth. That’s a job left to the literary geeks to work out through fan theories.
Considering this, I really don’t need to know what happened after the end of the series either. I mean, a Harry Potter play set decades in the future? It’s just so far gone from what the original work was that it feels like an entirely new series to me, and I worry that J.K. Rowling is falling into that trap of all artists to recycle their past achievements over and over again. Whether to cover for inconsistencies or simply out of popular demand (likely the latter in this case), her cult-level work is becoming her artistic downfall and I’m not a fan of that.
Certainly, it’s her prerogative to do whatever she wants, but I as a hardcore fan don’t want to know beyond what’s been officially published. Because that would be to tear apart the core of the original series in order to make room for another, and that’s something that should never be done.
Therefore, in the light of the new Harry Potter play, I’m wondering: Am I, as a die-hard fan, going to be able to regard the original series and characters in the same light after receiving this barrage of new information through all these inconceivable time skips? I’m not so sure.
Now here’s the unfortunate thing. If we were living in the 1920’s, J.K. Rowling might not have been compelled to clarify her series in the first place. But we live in such a logic-driven society that it puts pressure on writers and artists to base their works on clear-cut and rational answers; if something doesn’t fully make sense, artists feel obliged to go back and iron it out. But art shouldn’t be like that! It’s the ambiguity, half-seen truths, unexplained mysteries, and even the glaring flaws that appeal to imagination! That’s why the atmospheric and blurry non-clarity of old Hollywood movies appeal to us so strongly–the unsatisfied hunger for truth is the heart of its art.
So why writers feel the need to go back and clarify their works is beyond me. What will be left after all that dilution? An encyclopedia of hard cold facts? No thank you. Those lingering question marks ARE half the fun of chewing over a great series, and they should be left alone.
Although for all my pretentiousness, I’m still hanging onto news about this new play. I’m a Harry Potter fan, and true Harry Potter fans are willing to sacrifice their literary principles in the pursuit of more Harry Potter awesomeness. Wait, did I just say that out loud? hangs head in shame