Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Harry Potter-Blairite Britain?

The Fin Times has done piece of analysis on the Harry Potter series. I have never been a fan of the boy wizard, having just hardly scraped through the first book. But the fact that literary commentators have taken it upon themselves to dismiss a phenomenally successful series is quite simply weird.

But critics say that, compared with the great children's books of the past, the Harry Potter stories fare badly, appearing derivative, modestly written and superficial.


Hello? Compared to what great children's books? Most of the books I know (Gulliver's Travels, Alice in Wonderland) were more social commentaries first and children's books later.

Some cultural pessimists have gone further still, lamenting the strange tendency of adults to become as obsessed with the Harry Potter books as their children. Here, they argue, was a perfect metaphor for dumbed-down, Blairite Britain: a nation choosing to escape into facile fantasy and revel in the hype, rather than knuckling down to issues of substance and gravitas.


This is probably more interesting, Britain has had a problem in identifying its role on the world stage and also coming to terms with the colonial times. The industries are dying and except as being packaged as the financial center or hanging on to the UN security council veto the British pride appears from outside to be on the brink. Further, immigration, nationalization-privatization and now the war has put further strains on the system. But, Harry Potter = Tony Blair? Potter became famous as Blair rose and Potter series is coming to an end as Blair is done. So?

Language as a medium has changed. An amalgamation of cultures and the need to communicate shortly and quickly (courtesy the communication revolution) has meant that audiences cannot connect with complex language. Also if someone is looking for Floyd lyrics in a Britney spears concert they are simply out of their mind. Harry boy is not an English phenomenon, it has spawned a sub-culture across geographies.

The problem is that culture pundits are probably at the worst possible time in history. While on one the development of language as a medium of communication over centuries is threatened, at the same time the ability of people to choose all kinds of media they will consume, down to the last detail has meant that there is no clear consensus on what kind of culture will dominate. Pop? Classic? Short-term fix or perennial nirvana?

Poor culturists-till then Potter would be ahem "symbol of Blairite Britain"

1 comment:

Pathik said...

'Also if someone is looking for Floyd lyrics in a Britney spears concert they are simply out of their mind' that was a great sentence