cultural equivalent of a big mac.


i didn't read any of the books, but i've seen all the films. i never had any interest in reading them. they were so big and clunky, and they were about wizards and magic. i never liked any of that fantasy or science fiction junk, i just couldn't get into it. during senior year, father leigh made us read perelandra. all i really remember is the first few chapters. some guy goes into a house, gets in a coffin, and the coffin becomes a spaceship and takes him into outer space. all i could think was, what the fuck. are you kidding me? and then the guy traveled around in space, and it had something to do with the book of genesis. again, what the fuck.

so, i never had any interest in reading any of the books. "you should read them," my cousin said. "the books are way better than any of the movies." i told him no, that i couldn't do it. i knew i was being an elitist, but so what? i was entitled to my condescension. as an english major, i had so little, not even a future to look forward to. "i know they're not as well-written as some of the stuff you're used to," he said. he really wanted me to read those books. and i didn't. i couldn't.

at the thrift store where i used to work, there was this gay dude named zeke. zeke was an asshole, and zeke loved reading the books. as the story goes, my other coworker and fellow english major went down to the basement, where zeke was enjoying the latest installment in the series. zeke said, "this book is amazing! have you ever read this?" my coworker told him, "no," and then added, "i think they're the cultural equivalent of a big mac." zeke got defensive and lashed out. "oh, i'm sorry!" he said. "we can't all just read kerouac." my coworker reported this to me, and then added, "what the fuck? do i look like someone who really loves on the road?"

the summer after college when i worked at barnes and noble, the sixth book came out. i still remember that crazy staff meeting. we sad minimum-wage earning fools sat at those tables and strategized, like we were going into battle. of course, i had no part in it. i just worked in the music and dvd section, so i wouldn't be selling a single copy. but our department did have the storage room, where the boxes of books were stored until they could be released in all their magical glory at midnight. a news station came into our store. the cameraman focused his camera on the door of the storage room. "this is where the books are held," the reporter announced.

in one of her classes, dr. smith told us about how some groups or churches or whatever wanted to ban the books. "they're saying that children shouldn't be reading about sorcery and black magic," she said. my classmate sam spoke up immediately. "oh, in that case, they'd have to ban the bible, too. i mean, have they even read the old testament? there's a lot worse things happening in there!" dr. smith agreed. we collectively nodded our liberal heads.

it was a tradition i had with my mom. i'd come home for the winter holidays, and we'd go see the latest one. the nostalgia made it fun, as i hadn't seen any kids' films with her since the days of the little mermaid and lilo & stitch. we used to go to the movies all the time, but ever since i got older, we'd only go see the more serious stuff, a lot of that independent, academy award-nominated, focus features junk. it was nice to have this tradition again, seeing all the mainstream, mult-million dollar-earning crap hollywood was force-feeding the new generation. because sometimes, you just want a big mac.

surprisingly, the films were entertaining enough. at the very least, it made me reconsider all that heroes' journey stuff mr. trafton taught me in english class. how the hero never has parents, how he has to choose between good and evil, how there are helpers and obstacles and all that crap. archetypes and whatnot. what's most interesting, at least to me, is how the story is told over and over again. just change the names, the setting, the time period, the costumes, and boom! same story retold, but it still keeps our interest. people will buy the books, and they will watch the movies.

i'm going tomorrow.

last summer, i was at the san diego zoo. i was looking at a big snake in a glass box. an old man was there with his son or grandson, and he said, "it looks like harry potter's snake."

1 comment:

Aby said...

Nice post, Though I've never been a Hary Potter fan but I loved 'Aladdin' when I was a kid.