The Literary Phoenix

Funny, the damage a silly little book can do. Especially in the hands of a silly little girl.

With the movie of Eclipse fresh out of the oven, the time again comes when any level-headed, perfectly rational, life-treasuring human being pulls the covers over their eyes and hides from the rabid fans.  Or perhaps I’m a bit unfair.   You see, there are three kinds of Twilight fans.  Type One: Rabid, insane people who stalk Robert Pattinson and ask him to bite their children. These are the ones that call themselves “Twi-hard”.  Type Two: Those who argue for hours and hours over who’s better:  Jacob or Edward.  They will occasionally stop talking to their friends over the issue, but only for a few days, and not forever (for those who hate those of the opposite team forever and always, see “Type One”.)  Type Three: Those who read the books, appreciate them, go to the midnight premieres most of the time, and keep up with the news.  Certain types are, naturally, a little easier to abide by.  For me, I know only Twos and Threes.  I get to read about Ones in the newspaper and online, though.

What makes these young adult book series’ such a phenomenon?  Is it just because they are what they are:  book series’ for young adults whose hormones aren’t stable and therefore it’s not about the books- it’s about the hotness-scale of the characters?  Is it because the writing is the most brilliant thing this side of Mars?  Or is it all about telling a good story?  I think it’s a mixture of all three (of course, many Twilight fans will tell you it’s all about Edward).

I am biased:  I picked up Twilight once when I was a senior in high school and didn’t like the writing style, so I put it back down.  There are a lot of people who have done the same as me, but there are also those who can (and will) argue that Stephanie Meyer’s writing style is easy to read and superior to any other they know.  Hey, awesome.  I’m glad that it works for y’all.

I choose not to talk about my opinions of the characters, or Meyer’s plot (which seems entirely dependent on Bella procrastinating on picking either Edward or Jacob).  I’m not suicidal, see, so I will leave the story itself alone.  From what I have heard, however, the screenplay is fantastically close to the actual books (the Harry Potter directors could stand to learn something) and that is a nice relief to the fans.  However, the film cast and crew probably doesn’t want to be killed by rabid fans by being incompetent.

Is it worth our time and effort to throw ourselves into these fictional worlds?  I’m not just talking about the world of Twilight– goodness knows I’ve been waiting for my letter to Hogwarts for ten years, and there are many out there that would die for a chance to see Hobbiton or have tried to build their own lightsaber.  The real question isn’t whether it’s worth our time and effort, the real question is:  why do we do it?  No series outside of fantasy has as big of a following, as many obsessive fans.

Fantasy has always been escapism.  It is true that young adults seem to pick it up more whole-heartedly (and no wonder- adults obsessing over fictional characters are judged much more heavily than teenagers), but there are people who come home after work and sink into an armchair with that tattered copy of Prisoner of Azkaban that they just finished last night, and they open it up to page one again…  “Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways…”  It certainly isn’t just the “geek” community who dives into the fandom.  It’s amazing that as everyone is wishing they could fly a tie-fighter instead of punching in data, we are escaping into our fantasy worlds and binding ourselves together as a community.

Oh yes.  I said it.  Twi-hards, you are equal to those wanna-be Jedi.  Pott-heads, you are equal to those who do not simply walk into Mordor.  So even though I do not like Twilight personally, I respect Stephanie Meyer just as much as I respect J.K. Rowling.  They are both gods, in their own right- weaving worlds of wonder for all of us to enjoy.  Whether it is Narnia, or Middle Earth, Tatooine, Forks, Hogwarts, Discworld, the Calla… I can go on.  We all exist in them in our imaginations to escape our world.  Fanfiction is the inner reaches of our souls trying to control those worlds we love.  Roleplaying gives us a chance to live in those worlds, even if only for a moment.

That said, I have a few confessions to make:

  • I dressed up as Obi-Wan Kenobi for Halloween when I was a senior in high school.
  • I own a time turner.
  • I have every single Harry Potter book, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quiddich Through the Ages, and Tales of Beedle the Bard.
  • I own half of the New Jedi Order series.
  • I have read Attack of the Clones by R.A. Salvatore 5 times.
  • I own the special extended versions of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  • I am dressing up as Luna Lovegood (see image above) this Halloween.
  • I have read the Harry Potter series all the way through twice, and I have read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban at least 10 times (I stopped counting).
  • I have music from A Very Potter Musical on my Zen.
  • I own the Lord of the Rings trivia game… and rock at it.
  • I learned proper English grammar by writing Harry Potter fanfiction.
  • I online-roleplayed in the Potterverse for two years (until there were no more decent forums).
  • I once spent a whole week pouring through my Harry Potter books to prove that Draco and Hermione were a more feasible couple than Draco and Harry, even though I don’t ship Draco/Hermione.
  • I own soundtracks to Lord of the Rings:  Return of the King, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and a collectors edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
  • I’ve taken the online Harry Potter Sorting Tests enough to know that I don’t fit in one house, I’m split between two (Ravenclaw and Slytherin) but if I was actually at Hogwarts, I’d be sorted into Ravenclaw.
  • I have a toy lightsaber… and nobody else can touch it. *shifty eyes*
  • I own the videogames: Knights of the Old Republic, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Force Unleashed, Lord of the Rings:  The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings:  Return of the King, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
  • I dominate at Harry Potter Scene It.
  • I go to every single Harry Potter premiere I can get to.
  • I went to 2am showings of Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.
  • I spend the entire time watching the Harry Potter movies pointing out all the discrepancies from the books.  Somehow, this amuses my friends.

That is all I can think of at the moment.  What about y’all – do you have a list of “guilty secrets” that ties you to your favourite fictional worlds?  A cardboard cut-out of Edward Cullen, perhaps?  Arwen’s pendant?  How many times have you walked into your closet, hoping you’d come out in Narnia?  I’d love to know about it!

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