Of all the internet fandoms I hate, I think I hate Harry Potter's the most. There seems to be this growing proclivity in people of my generation to share every irritating Buzzfeed list or Tumblr post pertaining to the boy wizard, always with shrill nostalgia and lots of capitalised proclamations of OMG YOU GUISE HARRY POTTER IS DA BEST!!!111. And considering this is coming predominantly from people in their mid-twenties, at a certain point you have to wonder when everyone is gonna pull their heads in and stop acting like shrieking thirteen year olds.
I always try to maintain that my personal love of certain things is not coloured by the opinions of others, but damned if it isn’t hard to maintain my passion in the wake of the endless social media proliferation of loud mouthed millennial nostalgia for Harry Potter. I almost find myself resenting the whole franchise. Except, of course, I don’t.
When Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was announced, my reaction was pretty much one of “oh yeah, I guess that’ll be a thing”, followed by a mild swell of anticipation when the script book was confirmed, but I was far from jumping up and down in unbridled excitement for it. Then the previews started in London and despite myself I read the plot and, well, it sounded grim to say the least. It didn’t help that the first Reddit synopsis was mostly capitals, mostly misspelt and practically dripping with the aforementioned hyperbolic wailing about how #AMAZING the whole thing was, but then an altogether more reserved description came out and the prognosis wasn’t much better. The plot of Cursed Child reads like bad fan fiction.
But, when I walked past a bookstore the other day to see the waiting cardboard stand that very soon would be filled with copies of the script book, a strange feeling came over me, a feeling that was so odd because it was so familiar; I just hadn’t felt it in almost ten years. It’s that feeling of knowing you’re just days away from a new Harry Potter adventure, that excitement so familiar to anyone of my generation who raced into a bookstore to see that brand new cover soon to take pride of place on your shelf. It’s that anticipation of rushing home, itching to dive into the book and spend time in that world with those characters all over again. And it doesn’t matter that this is a play and that it sounds terrible or that I already know the whole plot; what matters is this profound, overwhelming feeling of coming home.
Because to me Harry Potter was never really about its world, which is fun but doesn’t make a ton of sense (how do wizards learn to read and write?) or plot (look up Joseph Campbell). It’s about the characters. It’s for this reason that the prospect of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which looks a damn sight better than Cursed Child, doesn’t fill me with nearly the same excitement. Seeing photos from the play of Harry, Ron and Hermione hanging out and talking made it hit home for the first time that I will once again be able to spend time with the characters who I considered close friends for a huge chunk of my growing up. I never thought for a second when I turned the last page of Deathly Hallows that I would get that chance again. Tomorrow I will walk into a bookstore, buy a new Harry Potter book and hurry home to spend the day reading with endless mugs of hot chocolate for the first time since 2007. And yeah, maybe all my fears will be realised, but then maybe experiencing the story as written will illuminate new qualities that a one-page rundown couldn’t. Maybe.
Perhaps the real reason I hate all of those social media posts so much is because they actually reflect how much I myself love Harry Potter, and I’ve been labouring for a long time under the delusion that it was something personal to me, not something shared by a whole generation. Although in some ways, that fact almost makes the whole Potter experience better. Whatever the case, it doesn’t really matter. I am bloody excited for Cursed Child, as much as I pretend not to be.
Now please let it be good.
Writing words about writing words.