Friday, July 27, 2007

This generation's Lord of the Rings?

I was thinking about Harry Potter the other day, and wondering how it will be looked back upon in 20 years.

We know it's a huge commercial success, making JK Rowling more money than she can possibly hope to spend in her lifetime. And we know it's had a huge cultural impact, with nonsense words like muggles being meaningful to (probably) the majority of the population. We know it's getting kids to read again, though some folks question whether it's having any significant impact on children's reading.

I can't really call it this generation's LOTR, though. LOTR was counter-cultural. It took decades for a successful mass-market movie adaptation to be made. LOTR became, in some ways, a commercial success despite the intentions of its author -- Harry Potter, not so much.

No, I think it's more accurate to say Harry Potter is this generation's Star Wars. A huge commercial enterprise around something which, once you look deeply into it, is more fluff than substance, but fun fluff nonetheless.

Maybe in a couple decades these kids can have their "new trilogy" where Rowling writes a prequel about the early years of James, Lilly, and Severus.... And we can all smile knowingly when they whine about how it's ruined their memories of the pure originals.

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