Eight Really Shit Reasons For Not Liking Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Talented, well-meaning author spends five years plotting and a further ten years writing one of the influential literary series of our generation, takes a little break to you know — recuperate — comes back to write about her world some more… and the internet is having none of it.
So you didn’t like the recent release of the rehearsal script Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? You’re welcome to come up with your reasons as to why, but here are eight I’m just not going to let you pass with.
After you’ve read them, you’re welcome to come up with some more constructive reasons as to why this story should be kindled in town squares across the globe.
But maybe, just maybe, you’ll settle on what’s really going on here: it’s just not your cup of tea.
She’s just doing it for the money…
J.K. Rowling is worth $1 billion, in 2003 the BBC reported she had more money than the queen and (a particularly resonant credential for me) she actually owns property in London. A pretty nice one too.
Bet she has a balcony.
And a porch.
I digress. If she was in it for the money, don’t you think she would have written the thing alone, so she wouldn’t have to split the money with any mythering playwrights? Don’t you think she would have first done a limited exclusive run of one hundred copies of The Cursed Child in leather-bound gold-edged glory and sold them for thousands each before releasing the ‘muggle’ copies? Do you think she would have given the first ‘spin off’ books she released about the books to Comic Relief? Wouldn’t she have bought up indie cafe The Elephant House and transformed it in to an expensive Harry Potter shrine charging £40 a Butter Beer?
She’s made money in plenty of ways from the WB deal franchise, no bones about that, but we often forget all the ways she’s not packing the dollah in to her bumbag and backing out the side door. She’s not a shifty lady — she created Dumbledore, for God’s sake. It would be a pretty abrupt jump to become that fickle and transparent when you literally created the Merlin-Meets-Ghandi-Grandfather-Embodiment for a whole generation.
“As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all — the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
(This is often an argument used to shame people in to feeling like they can’t be creative and be rewarded for what they do. That placing a monetary value on something makes it impure. That only those with ‘real jobs’, using ‘real talents’, deserve to have a number set against them. That if you’d like to see something you’ve made succeed and spread through out the world, you should be treated with suspicion. But for now we’ll just focus on the main rebuttal for this one: probs not mate.)
It’s a script, not a book!
And your pubic hair trimmer is not a lawn mower.
Your pencil case isn’t suitable for storing kale.
You can’t use a condom as a tiny gerbil sleeping bag.
This is literally a problem with the consumer literacy of our age. Your great grandfather checked that the potato was not a kidney stone before he handed over ten magic beans for it. This is a simple trading skill deficit, and I don’t think Rowling should take the rap for it, if I’m honest. The volume of complaints on Amazon from people expecting a novel to turn up instead of a play is just astonishing. If you’re an incompetent cyberspace shopper, that’s okay — but don’t bring your baggage to our glitter party. Thank you.
If you don’t like that it changed medium, that’s a shame. I actually really like reading plays. This was great for me. If it’s something you’ve never tried before, then LOOK, BEHOLD, SEE what a great opportunity this is for you to try something new. Hashtag bucketlist. Instagram it. Carpe diem.
If you’re reviewing the script badly because it’s a script, you weren’t on board before you opened it and you’re not an impartial reviewer. Back on the bench, sorry. If you’re still pissed that Rowling didn’t write in your preferred format, by all means throw your toys out of the pram — but they’ll probably bounce of the sides of the Joanne’s massive castle of dreams and wishes she built for herself with the help of all the people who actually trust her as an artistic voice.
She didn’t write it.
It depends whether you see the Harry Potter series as a work built on great words, or great ideas. I’m first to admit that it’s not J.K.’s sentence structure or wide vocabulary that changed my world, nor is it the most deserving of literary merit. They’re well written, don’t get me wrong. But ‘well written’ doesn’t capture a whole generations imagination and make them go apeshit, constantly, for two decades (and counting). It was the aches, the tribulations, the wacko inventions and the batdrunk crazy concepts — the morals and the mayhem and the fact that we all saw ourselves in Harry, Hermione, Ron. We could all feel ourselves in that cupboard with Harry, we all grew up to be adults who wanted to be brave enough to fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, go underground with Dumbledore’s Army, do what’s right. Even forgive Snape. Jo has been practicing writing books for over three decades. I’m actually quite impressed that she didn’t arrogantly step in to a new medium and assume that she’d get it spot on. She called in the experts. She shared. Like she did with all of us, by writing it all down in the first place.
If you’ve also worked in the publishing industry you’ll know: the editor of a book plays far more part in that end result of ‘genius’ than any of us are willing to admit. Hollah me if you’ve ever read an unedited manuscript that was utter balls, only to read an edited finished book that wins The Man Booker, The Baileys, The Costa. Not that authors aren’t amazing — but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen the skill of some of the editing staff in the industry. Intervention is a normal part of what brings a lot of art in to the public sphere. It’s what got us here.
Collaboration isn’t something that’s only reserved for the stage. You were reading a J.K. Rowling story then, just as you’re reading one now.
It’s not canon.
Having this conversation is like trying to talk to an A-level Lit student who was high for most of the theory lessons. Yes, we get it, you know a big word, canon. Stay a little bit longer, turn up to a few more revision lessons and through your muggy haze you might remember Structuralism? How the canon changes, is an agreed cultural bogart, is subjective? How it’s helpful to bare in mind, but it’s not actually real?
K, good. Because you’ve lived with the idea of how you thought the books would turn out doesn’t mean you get to draw a chalk line for anyone else, seal the lid down on a story that is everyones, and no ones. Or if it is anyones, it’s Dr. J.K.’s.
Realness, no returns.
(In fact, we’re more likely to know whether The Cursed Child will be considered canon in 2187 than 2016. If I’ve learned one thing, it’s not humans that decide what’s considered canon — it’s history)
It felt unnecessary.
You’re right. I miss a time where J.K. just stuck to the necessary things in life. The bare necessities. The Simple Life. Mudbloods roasting on an open fire… Chocolate Frog Cards, Mandrakes, Dung bombs, Screaming YoYos, whole Centaur civilisations with their own thorough intrinsic political systems used as a side-plot device…
Three thousand four hundred and seven pages about a boy wizard who lives in a magical Scottish castle and cries over a dead elf in a pillowcase.
If you weren’t in for the ride then, we’re not expecting you to hop in now.
Some of the events in the plot seemed contrived/ludicrous.
God forbid fiction be contrived. Contrivers be gone. I know it will sound outlandishly immoral to you, but there’s this small community of people who really love a good contrived fact. In fact, there’s this whole wonderful collection of talented people, professional contrivers, who we’ve gone and given an industry to. I know, we’re mercilessly irresponsible.
They contrive whole worlds for us, and sometimes when the real one is too much, we go and live in them for a few hours. It’s a set up, I know, how staged. We even know we’re reading a book before we do it, just gosh darn there we go again, lured in to the arms of those Great Contrivers. They’ve even tricked us in to calling them ‘authors’.
It’s just you see, sometimes, the actual world throws some pretty outlandish news that feels so far fetched, we go and read about world where really ludicrous things happen.
Didn’t live up to my expectations. It wasn’t how I pictured it.
Ah, now we’re getting down to it. Your expectations. Glad you brought it up before I did.
If I was Jo, this line would actually make me really sad. Because, no, it wasn’t how you pictured it. It wasn’t how anyone else pictured it. No one was capable of picturing Hogwarts before J.K., and though many have tried (sozza all fan-ficers, Rainbow Rowell, the lot) no one has been since. She was the only one who could have created this darling, astonishing world that changed so many of our childhoods. So quit trying to picture things, let someone tell you a story. If you’d like to picture things and speculate to the point of demanding to see your pictures played out before you, as though authors are some kind of enhanced interactive marionette, you have two career paths: psycho-pageant-mum or… author yourself!
This wasn’t how you pictured it. But it’s exactly how she did.
She needs to let it go.
She needs to let it go? Well, maybe we all do.
But if us crazy bitches are still camping in the street, dibbling over our merch scarves to get in to the HP tour in (of all testing locations to send us, Warner Brothers) Watford Junction, listening to endless podcasts and reading reams of fanfic, never really leaving a story we love and that feeds our everyday life — well, I wouldn’t want to be stood in the rain on the outside of that party either.
When did a group of young readers, taught the art of play so thoroughly and lavishly by writers like J.K. Rowling, grown up to curl our lips so readily over a little bit of fun?
Guess what — this story is not about The Boy Who Lived Up To Your Expectation.
This story is just about The Boy Who Lived.