Spare A Thought For The Haters
Here’s a milestone to make Generation Y feel old: Almost exactly fifteen years ago, a hugely popular kid’s book was published.
Its initial print run was only 500 copies and the publisher crossed their fingers that booksellers would recommend it to customers.
It was called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and, as you are probably well aware, it went on to sell millions of copies.
Other than the fact we will apparently never leave home (hear that mother? Never!) it’s hard to think of any single work or idea which dominated our generation more than this series about a young wizard getting a magical education, and having to dispose of an arch nemesis who just won’t die. Typical high school, really.
Everybody I know who was a Harry Potter fan didn’t just enjoy it; we lived and breathed it. We devoured every word, grew up with the characters, and awaited the final novel with equal amounts of joy and sadness. It was the safest addiction your 16-year-old could have.
On the flipside, everybody I know who hated Harry Potter can vividly recall the moment they realised this scrawny, bespectacled little wizard wasn’t going away.
We really should spare a thought for those amongst us who didn’t jump on the Hogwarts Express with the rest of the world.
When fans weren’t fighting amongst themselves about whether Hermione belonged with Harry or Ron (Ron of course! What’s wrong with you people?!) or which school house they belonged in, they would unite to turn the full force of their wrath onto the haters.
Now, teens who didn’t like Harry gave as good as they got. Many a classroom desk was defaced with the ingenious ‘Harry Pothead’ nickname and many a young fan was jostled and teased for the simple fact that they were reading.
Leaving aside such neanderthals, can you blame the frustration of the run-of-the-mill Harry hater? When there wasn’t a book coming out there was a movie or a video game, and now a website. The phenomenon remains inescapable and it’s exhausting to hear about, even as a fan.
It’s all very well to roll your eyes and proclaim that these people are crazy for not being fans, but it’s only a matter of time before you reject a work that is universally adored by your peers and face a collective who can only gape in shock – When I admit that I didn’t like The Matrix or Bladerunner I receive a withering “clearly you just didn’t get them.”
Surely some children of the 80′s are still smarting over the widely held notion that The Breakfast Club and Pretty in Pink ‘defined the 80s’, because it certainly didn’t define theirs.
It can be difficult to go against the cultural grain, especially when the anonymity of the Net often means these conversations will turn as nasty as they are idiotic. In which case, don’t be too scathing, because one day the hater will be you.