Author Topic: The Potterization Of Modern Life  (Read 19952 times)

Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #60 on: August 04, 2017, 11:13:57 AM »
Well Harry Potter falls into that category of ‘pop culture it’s okay to like’ doesn’t it? Like the afore-mentioned Star Wars and Doctor Who. I bet you wouldn’t jump in if the thread was about the detrimental effect of Love Island or the red-top tabloids, which probably have even more fans than HP.


Oh yeah, all those fans of the Daily Mirror who dress up as Daily Mirror reporters and talk about it constantly. I've got my Keith Waterhouse costume sorted for this year's Mirrorcon.

Serge

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #61 on: August 04, 2017, 11:24:44 AM »
Look at the Twin Peaks thread. Look at the Doctor Who thread.

All adults.

At least these are children.

Completely missing the point here. I'm not against people reading the Harry Potter books - as I said in my post, I've read some of them myself - it's the fact that they're becoming so ubiquitous, and so unassailable that everything has to be reduced to 'Harry Potter'. That has not happened with either Doctor Who or Twin Peaks. When David Suchet dies, he won't be called 'Doctor Who actor', when David Warner dies, he won't be called 'Twin Peaks actor'. Admittedly, there are hardcore Doctor Who fans out there (even though some of those have other interests - Ian Levine and Northern Soul, for example), but I'm worried that we're now going to have a generation of people for whom Harry Potter is the be all and end all of literature, or even culture in general.

You can probably get away with never having to know who Agent Cooper is, but might be considered weird at one point if you couldn't name least two fucking Harry Potter houses.

Exactly! As I said, I've had actual adults asking me with a straight face what house I belong to and being bewildered when I tell them that I'm not particularly a fan. They can't accept that someone just hasn't got that all-pervading interest in Potter.

I'll take Harry Potter over the Star Wars twats, who have blighted my entire life been around for ages.

'Star Wars' is the closest thing I can think of to being as ubiquitous, with people behaving like everybody is cacking themselves with excitement at the latest film, when there are some of us who simply couldn't care less. Also the closest in terms of how much unnecessary tat there is available for fans.

Reading is, inherently, a great recreational activity, but for many of the aforementioned people they associate it solely with Harry Potter.

Yes! Or if they do read anything else, it's just along the same lines. Now, I know there are people who will only stick to one type of book - crime or science fiction being the notable ones - but at least there is a breadth of different styles within those categories. If you ask the hardcore Potter fans what else they've read, it's usually fiction aimed at teenagers - they won't step outside of their comfort zone. Again, this isn't just a Potter thing, but here I'm specifically thinking of those people asking for jobs in bookshops who don't know anything else, but think that having read all seven Potter books makes them qualified for the job.

Jarvis Cocker will be forever known as the man who mooned Micahel Jackson.

Sadly, as he appeared in one of the films, when he dies, he'll be referred to as 'Harry Potter Actor Jarvis Cocker'.

Is there actually a job available at your bookshop, and where is it? I'd love to work in a bookshop. I've never read Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones or anything of that sort. Currently I'm reading the autobiographies of Chrissie Hynde from The Pretenders and Damien Echols who was put on death row for 18 years based on only circumstantial evidence.

Ha! No jobs going, I'm afraid. But I'd love to have someone tell me they're reading something like that when they ask for a job.

I totally agree with Serge's point, however I think he and I probably get an exagerrated sense of it from working in book places (I'm a librarian.)

This is a fair point, and I am exposed to more of it than most, I guess. It wasn't until I moved into mainstream bookselling that I realised just how big a thing it was - nothing in record shops has achieved this level of saturation (I guess The Beatles may have done back in the sixties) and I'm still staggered at its bulldozer popularity.

Is this a thread to complain about the ubiquity (in some quite idiotic ways) of one particular franchise in people's cultural lives, or is it a thread for people here to act all snobbish about popular culture in order to make out themselves to be inherently superior to the "great unwashed?"

Definitely the former, in my case. As I said, I've read some of the books, I don't have a problem with blockbuster fiction, I've read quite a lot myself, and most of it is very entertaining.

There’s a tat shop in York that sells twigs and mugs and has staff in Harry Potter style outfits, but as far as I can tell isn’t an officially recognised tie-in store, and I don’t think York features at all in the books, but it has people queueing out the door. I don’t think if somebody opened a shop with stripy floors called the Red Room in some random town, selling those fucking vinyl dolls with big heads of Agent Cooper, it would be half as successful.

Yeah, there's a girl I work with who's a Potter obsessive, and she went to York a couple of months ago. York, one of the greatest cities to visit, with its fine cathedral, miles of walls, ancient streets and riverside walks, did she see any of this? Nope, she spent two hours queuing to get inside a shop which is presumably selling the same tie-in stuff that we sell just so she could say she'd been to the Harry Potter shop. In The Shambles, a rare example of a street with buildings surviving from the fourteenth century, now described as 'The Real Diagon Alley' for people who can't cope with real history.



Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #62 on: August 04, 2017, 11:25:28 AM »
I'd like to see "The Worst Witch: The Sexy Years".

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #63 on: August 04, 2017, 11:26:41 AM »
I've never read HP but I have read The Worst Witch to my daughter.

It's about a young girl who goes to Witch School to be taught spells 'n' stuff.  She has a cat, flies on a broom gets in to all sorts of scrapes.

Never understood how no body went 'Oi, Rowling - have you read this?'
I read these when I was in school and was shocked by how much of a rip off Harry Potter was when it came around. Especially early Harry Potter, before it 'grew up along with its readers' by using unearned holocaust imagery, killing off sidekicks and using words like 'bitch'

touchingcloth

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #64 on: August 04, 2017, 11:29:46 AM »
I've never read HP but I have read The Worst Witch to my daughter.

It's about a young girl who goes to Witch School to be taught spells 'n' stuff.  She has a cat, flies on a broom gets in to all sorts of scrapes.

Never understood how no body went 'Oi, Rowling - have you read this?' 

I saw the Diana Rigg Worst Witch TV film recently when visiting friends who put it on for their young son - "you like Harry Potter? Well, this is from when we were young, and it's the same thing."

It's really not the same thing, though. The Worst Witch is a fairly pedestrian story for kids/young teens where the magic is kind of incidental, like Grange Hill with wands. I think part of the appeal of Harry Potter is that the world is a lot better realised - it doesn't just rely on the MacGuffin of magic to add a little interest, but there's a whole back story and a wider world of magic beyond just the kids and their school. If you read, say, the second HP book to your daughter (assuming she isn't 28), I think you'd struggle to argue that there's little objective difference between it and The Worst Witch.

One thing I didn't remember about The Worst Witch film was the Tim Curry character which totally wouldn't pass muster with commissioners in these post-Savile days. He plays a chief wizard or something who arrives at the school - the girls' school - and is fawned over by the teachers and pre-teen students alike. It's barely an exaggeration to say that the girls act like they're coming in their pants when Tim Curry in a cape arrives on the scene. He also has a turn in this nostalgia-heavy, Bowie-on-a-budget music video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUhuPn8_d0Q. Telly's come a long way.

Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #65 on: August 04, 2017, 11:32:21 AM »
Over the years, Serge has entertained me with his witty prose, introduced me to lots of new books that might otherwise have passed me by, and enthused me with his passion for Krautrock and David Bowie - but, from now on, I will be forever think of him merely as "Harry Potter hater Serge." ;-)

Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #66 on: August 04, 2017, 11:36:20 AM »
Harry Potter is basically cretinous. I mean it is no Fighting Fantasy is it? Roll 2 D6 and add your skill, that's your Attack Strength. Harry Potter never did that, he just cast Wingardium Leviosa on his own cock then was offed by a fucking Manticore in book 9: Harry Potter and the Who Cares I Am Thirty. I dunno this is all not really very funny or good is it. Still gonna post.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #67 on: August 04, 2017, 11:41:25 AM »
Exactly! As I said, I've had actual adults asking me with a straight face what house I belong to and being bewildered when I tell them that I'm not particularly a fan. They can't accept that someone just hasn't got that all-pervading interest in Potter.


Should just say, Slytherin, as they were Voldemort's guys and he had the right idea in wanting to kill the little bastard and his pals.

Serge

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #68 on: August 04, 2017, 11:44:24 AM »
I usually say Ibuprofen.

Phoenix Lazarus

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #69 on: August 04, 2017, 11:47:51 AM »
Harry Potter is basically cretinous.

That phrase makes me think.  The Potter books paid lip-service to diversity in having ethnic minorities, and implying Dumbledore had a gay fling as a teen-but I don't recall them including a literal cretin-a Down's Syndrome person-or someone in a wheelchair, or with Tourette's or Asberger's.  So they didn't tick the disabled diversity box.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #70 on: August 04, 2017, 11:49:35 AM »
Jill Murphy beats the shit out of J K Rowling any day of the week.

I've got a collected edition of the Earthsea books which has some quote on the front saying that LeGuin is better than Rowling and it bothers me every time I see it. I agree with it of course, but it just seems off to me having an attack on another author on the front of your book. Like what if The Worst Witch had the first sentence of this post printed on the cover?

But really there is no need to read Harry Potter when you've got Earthsea.

That phrase makes me think.  The Potter books paid lip-service to diversity in having ethnic minorities, and implying Dumbledore had a gay fling as a teen-but I don't recall them including a literal cretin-a Down's Syndrome person-or someone in a wheelchair, or with Tourette's or Asberger's.  So they didn't tick the disabled diversity box.
None of the ethnics in Harry Potter do anything of note at all anyway, but you're right that there is certainly no special educational needs unit at Hogwarts. It's an accessibility nightmare - the fucking place is in the middle of nowhere and filled with steep staircases. There's one classroom where you have to go up a rope ladder. Plus multiple students and teachers die there every year. It's a disgrace and should be shut down.

Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #71 on: August 04, 2017, 11:54:28 AM »
Worst Witch is a light hearted story about a young girl - yep, you're right, the fact that it's set at a school for witches is about as far as it goes but c'mon.  You're not telling me JKR wasn't aware of WW when she started the first one?  'Change this to that, that to this and bish bash bosh.'

Good luck to her - we'd all be doing it if we could but I'm just surprised that no one has ever pointed out that there was a successful book, TV show and filum of pretty much the same idea on at the time she wrote HP.

I was at a breakfast the day one of the books came out.  it's the yellow one, about 1,000 pages long.  The hotel we were at were tied in with Potter and we all got a first edition.  I got two.  If only there was some way you could find out what people are willing to pay for this.

it's unsigned but I could sign it if that would help.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #72 on: August 04, 2017, 12:00:05 PM »
Jill Murphy beats the shit out of J K Rowling any day of the week.

......

 what if The Worst Witch had the first sentence of this post printed on the cover?


Then there'd be complaints over using language like that, which the kids know and use anyway.

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #73 on: August 04, 2017, 12:09:48 PM »
In Harry Potter, anyone who ever tries to come in and get Hogwarts to stop being such a run down pile of shit is treated like dirt. You come in going 'Do you have any idea how many students have died on the premises in the last three years?' and by the end of the year you've been given some humiliating magical ailment and all the students have gathered in a crowd to laugh at you as you're carted away to wizard prison.

touchingcloth

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #74 on: August 04, 2017, 12:13:27 PM »
Worst Witch is a light hearted story about a young girl - yep, you're right, the fact that it's set at a school for witches is about as far as it goes but c'mon.  You're not telling me JKR wasn't aware of WW when she started the first one?  'Change this to that, that to this and bish bash bosh.'

I don't know for sure, but it's probably a good bet that she was aware of the Worst Witch when she started writing Harry Potter. Whether it was an inspiration or influence is a different question altogether, though - the similarities between the two are shallow enough that I think HP could exist in much the same form if WW had never been written. Whether you like HP or not (and you did say you've not read any of them), I think it's a stretch to say that it could fairly be described as a find-and-replace on WW.

I'm just surprised that no one has ever pointed out that there was a successful book, TV show and filum of pretty much the same idea on at the time she wrote HP.

People have, many times, just like they've pointed out the similarities with just about every popular franchise of kids', fantasy and sci-fi stories going.

Blue Jam

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #75 on: August 04, 2017, 12:14:37 PM »
I don't like Harry Potter, but I will admit that it's pretty arbitrary on my part. If I'd have been born some years later, it would probably occupy the space in my brain that Star Wars does.

I'm slightly envious of the first generation of Potter fans. As a young child I loved reading, right up until secondary school and the formal study of English Literature killed my love of reading stone dead. From about the age of 13 I stopped reading for pleasure and didn't pick up a book again until I was about 20. The first Harry Potter book came out when I was 15 and I wasn't really aware of the franchise for years so it all feels a bit "after my time"- I think it would have been nice to have grown up with the books and been caught up in a genuine phenomenon of children's literature, to have had something to reignite my love of reading, to have had everyone around me also reading them and for my generation to have had "our own Star Wars", as it might have been.

One of those books I picked up at 20 was a complete set of The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy and while I enjoyed it I remember thinking I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I'd first picked it up at 12- and I imagine there's something of that with Potter, it must be fun to discover the whole series of books at 12 and nice and comforting to be able to claim a series of books as your generation's own.

Harry Potter is ultimately a very good series of mass-appeal books

I imagine they're very well-written- while I've never read any of the Harry Potter books, I have read Rowling's first novel for adults (under her real name), The Casual Vacancy, and that's very good indeed. I'm not sure what made me pick it up- I think the plot about power struggles and sinister goings-on in a small village made it sound a bit League of Gentlemen, and while it's nothing like that, Rowling's world-building skills are evident in her portrayed of a bleak and deprived village with power-hungry tin-pot councillors, junkies and dealers, and sneering moneyed business owners wanting to socially cleanse the place (it's a fantastically angry book- the Daily Mail hated it, calling it ""500 pages of relentless socialist manifesto masquerading as literature, another thing which made me want to read it). The characters are also complex and believable, especially the teenage characters, so I'm not surprised that Rowling has had success with a series of books in which the protagonist and his friends are this age. World-building and creating characters in a series about a boy wizard going to school in a castle may have been a doddle in comparison.

I've been meaning to read The Cuckoo's Calling by "Robert Galbraith" for ages- any fans of Rowling's alter-ego here?

I always hated reading or watching anything to do with kids and schools.

Hmmmm... come to think of it, I hated school and coming home from school and reading a novel set in a school probably wouldn't have been something I would have done even if I had been born a few years later, so perhaps I shouldn't envy those younger Potter fans. Ultimately, the reason I haven't given any of the Potter books a go is the fact that they're fantasy, and as a genre fantasy generally leaves me cold. I enjoyed the first two of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy (even as a militant atheist I thought the third layed on the atheist ranting a bit too thick) but that's about it- if it's got dragons, swords, castles and enchanted forests, I'm out.

Really I can't sneer at the Potter superfans too much... but those people playing Quidditch in the Meadows in Edinburgh can fuck right off.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2017, 12:25:58 PM by Blue Jam »

Phoenix Lazarus

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #76 on: August 04, 2017, 12:14:50 PM »
That phrase makes me think.  The Potter books paid lip-service to diversity in having ethnic minorities, and implying Dumbledore had a gay fling as a teen-but I don't recall them including a literal cretin-a Down's Syndrome person-or someone in a wheelchair, or with Tourette's or Asberger's.  So they didn't tick the disabled diversity box.

There wasn't even a run-of-the-mill dyslexic.  Okay, you can say that wouldn't matter, as magic depended on vocal incantations not written ones-but then that'd be a nightmare for stutterers.

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #77 on: August 04, 2017, 12:22:04 PM »
You're onto something here. Soon Rowling will be on Twitter to say that Ron had cerebral palsy all along.

touchingcloth

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #78 on: August 04, 2017, 12:29:29 PM »
Yes! Or if they do read anything else, it's just along the same lines. Now, I know there are people who will only stick to one type of book - crime or science fiction being the notable ones - but at least there is a breadth of different styles within those categories. If you ask the hardcore Potter fans what else they've read, it's usually fiction aimed at teenagers - they won't step outside of their comfort zone. Again, this isn't just a Potter thing, but here I'm specifically thinking of those people asking for jobs in bookshops who don't know anything else, but think that having read all seven Potter books makes them qualified for the job.

It is sad, that. I think part of the problem is that a lot of people just don't enjoy reading all that much, and with rare exceptions would rather watch something than read the material it's based on. That's even a problem with Potter - there are a fuckton of people out there whose familiarity with the stories is based solely on the films, which is a little mind boggling to me.

I don't know what the answer is to fix that. It seems easy to blame the education system, but there's probably some truth in it given that in the Anglosphere in general and the UK in particular we perform quite badly in literacy rates compared to most of the developed world, and we have fewer people who describe themselves as avid readers or who admit to regularly reading for pleasure. Is part of the problem that we put literature on a pedestal, and suck the joy out of things with dry analyses of fantastic texts? I've always been a voracious reader and started reading adult novels before my teens, yet even so I assumed that, for example, Shakespeare was a load of shit for cunts until I started to explore his work for myself in my twenties, and that's largely because I'd never had a favourable introduction to it from elsewhere.

I think what I'm saying is that Potterisation is a problem, but it's a symptom of sicknesses that are widespread in out culture rather than a cause. I think if you took Potter away, you wouldn't end up with a generation of readers expanding their horizons and exploring the wider English canon, you'd just end up with a generation reading fuck all.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #79 on: August 04, 2017, 12:33:56 PM »
On dating sites the Harry Potter stuff is absolutely exhausting. I'd love to see statistics for Harry Potter mentions in profiles.

For the second series of channel 4's craptastic Celebs Go Dating, the "celebs" included the little one from out of Diversity, now all grown up and looking exactly the same but bigger, like someone just put that little boy with the big hair in a photocopier and pressed the "enlarge" button. Every date he had began with him going "So, do you like Harry Potter? Ohmigod, I love Harry Potter..." asking his date which one of the houses she was in, etc. Unsurprisingly he didn't do very well with this approach and had to be sent for a bit of coaching. He was alright in the end though- the producers just paired him up with another Harry Potter nut. I think she liked his Harry Potter-style glasses...

If I had a first date where my date wouldn't stop talking about a series of children's books I'd find it offputting to say the least- and I really don't think I'd want to sleep with them.

touchingcloth

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #80 on: August 04, 2017, 12:36:52 PM »
I've been meaning to read The Cuckoo's Calling by "Robert Galbraith" for ages- any fans of Rowling's alter-ego here?

They're reasonably enjoyable reads. Decent twists if you like that sort of thing, but I can't comment on how well they stack up against the rest of the genre as the only crime fiction I've really read are the Holmes stories and that Roald Dahl one where a guy gets lamped on the head with a leg of lamb.

There's a lot of the stuff that you seemed to enjoy about the Casual Vacancy - extremely human characters with a touch of the cartoonish about them. I'd say that's Rowling's greatest strength as a writer - her similies are godawful (I think it's in the Casual Vacancy where she writes that an overcast sky looked like the underside of an upturned iron shield, and in one of the Potter books, Hagrid's feet are described as being "like dolphins", which doesn't work on any of the levels of size, colour, shape, texture, movement...), but she's an extremely good observer of people and their foibles.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #81 on: August 04, 2017, 12:45:17 PM »
It is a bit weird that it shows absolutely no sign of slowing down a decade after the last book and 6 years after the last film. Even Star Wars faded away a bit in the early nineties before the prequels were announced didn't it? In Doctor Who terms this should be like the McGann years or something.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #82 on: August 04, 2017, 12:50:12 PM »
Remember that female witch with purple hair?  Tonks, I think her name was.  She regularly used the phrase 'naff-off'.  Now has that phrase really been used much since the 70s, or at most the early 80s?  Still, the Hogwarts world is one that seems archaic in many ways by muggle standards, so I suppose that extends to slang.

Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #83 on: August 04, 2017, 12:51:19 PM »
I would just like to clarify that while I enjoyed reading The Worst Witch to my daughter I wouldn't say that I 'enjoyed' The Worst Witch.

Dragons, weirdwolves and people who have names like someone's just gone Kgjhjhjhj on the keyboard doesn't really do it for me.


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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #84 on: August 04, 2017, 12:51:27 PM »
There's a lot of the stuff that you seemed to enjoy about the Casual Vacancy - extremely human characters with a touch of the cartoonish about them.

Cheers- and you've reminded me, the BBC adaptation of The Casual Vacancy is worth a watch. I remember someone here describing Stuart 'Fats' Wall as "walking 4chan" and he was a fascinating little sociopath. Krystal Weedon was portrayed as the troubled daughter of a junkie rather than a lazy "chav" caricature, but not entirely sympathetic and capable of nastiness herself. For me the best and most believable was Sukhvinder Jawanda, victim of Fats' bullying and of her own pushy mother. There was a line about how she'd had a crush on one boy at her school but snapped out of it "because what business did someone like her have fancying anyone?" which really got to me- that summed up the feelings of an insecure teenage girl, who has been convinced she is ugly and unpopular and unsexy, so well.

Keeley Hawes is also perfectly cast as the drunk and sexually frustrated bra-shop owner Samantha Mollison- in the book there's a great little subplot about her developing a crush on a member of a boyband her daughter loves, buying tickets to see that boyband, and being devastated when she can't accompany her to the show and a friend gets to take her daughter there instead. That was another thing cut out of the series, along with Fats bullying Sukhvinder- it could have done with six episodes rather than three as so much was cut out. Still a fairly good adaptation though.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #85 on: August 04, 2017, 12:54:14 PM »
[Tag]Dennis Potter skulks through thread[/tag]

Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #86 on: August 04, 2017, 12:55:58 PM »
Something I like to do when nothing is going on is say "Harry Potter" in the most academic voice possible, over and over again. Hehrry Porttah Heeeehhhrrrry Pooorrrttah

Phoenix Lazarus

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #87 on: August 04, 2017, 12:56:14 PM »
[Tag]Dennis Potter skulks through thread[/tag]

Wearing his invisibility cloak?  Sorry, Hazza, no advantage here, when we're all cloaked with the anonymity of a pseudonym.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #88 on: August 04, 2017, 01:03:56 PM »
I'll take Harry Potter over the Star Wars twats, who have blighted my entire life been around for ages.

Trek > Wars, and Narnia > Potter.

Naw.  Harry Potter occupies a similar space to Tennis, the Royal Family and Strictly Come Dancing, in that they're all retrogressive instruments to get us all harking back to purer, simpler times (emphasis on purer).  Public school nostalgia.  Star Wars is just yer typical male infantalisation and, despite a bit of dodgy Jewish, Chinese and Jamaican alien caricaturism back in its Lucas days, is mostly harmless.  Fuck a Harry Potter.

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Re: The Potterization Of Modern Life
« Reply #89 on: August 04, 2017, 01:08:52 PM »
  Public school nostalgia.  Star Wars is just yer typical male infantalisation

Oedipal phase infantilisation.  Darth kills the guy who was almost an adoptive father to him, then both Darth and Han are slain by their sons.