Joanna’s Note: Ah, Harry Potter, so the end really has come. The final movie in the series about a boy wizard’s quest to defeat a dark lord opened this weekend. I have yet to see Deathly Hallows. I’m waiting for the more dedicated fans of the franchise than myself to see the movie and mope about how the defining pop culture moment of their childhood is ending. (I’m just being overly cynical to mask my pain.)
I asked my friend Nicole, who you may remember from a certain Criterion Collection inspired vlog, write about her experience a very proud, card-carrying member of Pottermania. It is safe to say that she loves the beloved series far more than I do, or at least she is willing to dedicate far more time to it. That includes going to checking out the red carpet for Deathly Hallow’s NYC premiere and going to the movie’s midnight screening.
Like most eleven-year-olds, I was insecure and extremely self-conscious, still clinging to what was left of my former life after moving from the bustling outskirts of New York City to a small town in New Jersey when I met Harry. Potter, that is. The Boy Who Lived? Err… Scrawny kid with untidy black hair, glasses, and green eyes like his mother’s? You might know him.
He’d been kind of shy when he met me too. Much like me, Harry was pretty new to the whole “world” thing. The most you could find out about him on the Internet back then was about J.K. Rowling, the press release for one movie called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – due in theaters in a year’s time, and some really ridiculous fan fiction. (The Potter Puppet Pals, A Very Potter Musical, and LeakyCon were still years down the road.)
But in the twelve long years that followed, Harry became one of my best friends. Always there with a shoulder to lean on as I awkwardly blundered and cried my way through the good and bad, my middle school years, my anxieties, high school theater, paralyzing first crushes, college life, the loss of family members, and that terrifying year post-college graduation when you just want to throw up your hands in defeat and proclaim, “What’s the point?”
Harry was a constant source of stability and truth in my life in his own fictional way. He inspired more artistic tendencies in me than the entirety of the Uffizi Galleries. And like him, we all learned to battle our own Voldemorts.
So this past week, when it came time for him to grow up (and myself along with him), I decided to say goodbye to Harry Potter in the ultimate fashion. Digging a Luna Lovegood costume out of my closet, I trekked not only to his last midnight movie release on July 15th– the AMC theater I chose sold out all twelve of its auditoriums to raucous young adults and Wizard Rock-singing children dressed to the nines in Hogwarts robes and Hagrid wigs– but to his final Red Carpet premiere in New York City. I even marathoned all seven WB films and their respective music scores in preparation for the week’s events. (READ: major dork.)
You see, growing up alongside Harry also meant growing up alongside the kids who brought him to life on the big screen. For many, Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, and the lot became unlikely childhood heroes. Not to mention my introduction to some of Britain’s finest actors. Everything I know and appreciate about the art of cinema today is because of Harry.
And don’t let people tell you otherwise! There is nothing shameful in waiting outside in ninety-degree heat for twelve hours with a few fellow thousand “Potterheads” to catch a couple of celebrity glances. To be a Potter fan is to be overly nerdy and excited about anything and everything. Its fandom exists on an intellectual plane whose banners blaze: “IT’S OKAY TO BE A NERD!” One thing you learn rather quickly- its fans know very well how to sing, chant, and cheer at all the right moments. Pottermania, which is our Beatlemania, is home to some of the most friendly, creative, and giving community of fans I’ve ever known.
Though my salty, wet-hot tears in the wee hours of last Friday morning may have indicated otherwise, we’re not losing Harry. Not really. If his massive fandom is any indication, Harry will be an old friend to many for generations to come.
Update! Nicole has posted a new vlog about Harry Potter, Severus Snape, and Alan Rickman is now online. Watch it below!