The Hess Report

Friday, July 29, 2005

Harry Potter and the Evil Beaver 

Maddie was very interested in the whole Harry Potter thing, so last month, literature!Joy dragged out our paperback copy of the first novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. It took Maddie a while to get through it, and we read probably 1/3 of it to her, but she finished it two weeks ago. She enjoyed it immensely. frugal!Joy got her the second book, The Chamber of Secrets, from the library. Maddie's almost done with it already. Her reading speed is noticeably faster this time around, which needless to say, is awesome for a seven year old.

Joy came home yesterday with the latest Potter installment, The Half-Blood Prince, in the grocery bag. As soon as it hit the tabletop, Maddie was reading through the chapter names to try to get a feel for what it was about. Of course, she's four books away from this one, and we warned her not to spoil it for herself. When reading the first book, she made it about 1/4 of the way through before skipping to the end and reading the chapter entitled The Man With Two Faces. She said that the chapter name freaked her out so much that she had to see what it was. She's not the type that cares about spoilers.

After some bad spoiling experiences over the last couple of years, I've found that I prefer to remain spoiler free for all of my entertainment, or as people associated with spoiler culture call it: pure. Although finding out copious details about upcoming movies, books and television shows can be fun and a little addictive, I've found that it also severely limits my future enjoyment of those same entertainment consumables. And so it was that after finding out waaaay too many spoilers about both the Matrix sequels and Survivor, I gave it up. I've found that I prefer to go into things cold. I want to give the benefit of the doubt to the writers and/or directors of whatever it might be, and attempt to let them tell me the story without me trying to figure it out ahead of time.

So now: spoilers? I don't want to read them. Or hear them. Unless I don't care at all about the show/book/movie. If it's something dumb that I don't give a rat's ass about, I'll read the full synopsis in advance with bootlegged screen captures and everything, saving me the time of having to actually watch or read the real thing. And although I have some problems with the pacing and overall structure of the Harry Potter series, it seems to have worked out pretty well for J.K. Rowling, and I don't want to be spoiled.

In fact, I kind of think about the Harry Potter series like I think about ABC's Lost. The overall story is very interesting. There are some cool characters and excellent set pieces. But the pacing is sooooo slooooooow. And we get mondo build ups, with very few payoffs. And we learn all kinds of details that would have been just as well left out if a strong, skilled editor were to assert themselves. However, as the story and characters are the interesting bit, they would be adversely affected by spoiling, and thus have I attempted to avoid spoilers for The Half-Blood Prince.

Last week, the comments section at one of the websites I frequent contained this text, in the middle of a completely unrelated thread:

The Half-Blood prince is ************

Only they didn't censor it with asterisks. Bastards. As I learned a long time ago, you can't un-read something.

And then two days ago, I'm at Busy Beaver, which I shall forevermore refer to as Evil Beaver, a regional chain of home improvement supply stores positioned halfway between Home Depot/Lowe's and your local Tru-Value Hardware hole-in-the-wall. As I walk in, one of the floor managers is saying in a very loud voice to one of the cashiers:

"And if you had told me yesterday that ??????? kills ?????, I would have killed you for spoiling it for me! Wow!"

Substitute the names of Harry Potter characters for the question marks in the previous quote, damn it. So now I'm completely spoiled for the book. Ruined. Oh well. I was peeved, yes, but I'm a reasonable sort of person, so I didn't even give her the mild reproach she probably deserved, like, say, tipping a display stack of five gallon cans of paint onto her. Or maybe I deserved to be spoiled for being so lame as to have not read the book yet. My Venge-o-meter seems to be calibrated pretty well, and it would take a lot for someone to get me to do or say anything to them as actual retribution for an unwitting verbal affront. But some folks have extremely sensitive Venge-o-meters, the kind that go from zero to high-powered-rifle at the drop of a word.

And now I'm just waiting for someone to sue someone else or beat them to a pulp because they spoiled Harry Potter for them. And although I'm going to guess that most Potter fans won't be the "pulp beating" type, the appeal of the books is wide spread, and I would hate to underestimate the literary inclinations of our less reasonable, more pugnacious brethren around the world. I'm just glad the Islamofacists aren't into Harry Potter, because, well, first off that would just be weird, and second, they have a history of getting nasty when people say things about certain books that they don't think should be said.

By the way, the Half-Blood Prince is Draco Malfoy. Just kidding. Maybe.

No need to worry about facist, if they did like the christians sort, they probably black-listed the book, so that rule out spoiler-bombing.

The bad thing about spoilers, IMHO, is that you don't get to learn them at your own rythm. There's much more to be said about how the plot unravels than about the cold facts at the end.

Much like a christmas gift feels different in nice thoughtful wrapping than if you just recieve it straight with no preparation.
That's exactly what it feels like to me, too, and a good way of putting it: you come downstairs on Christmas morning and someone has already opened all of your gifts. You still get to have them, but the fun is gone.
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