The Casting Dock

A Story That Doesn’t Suck (Guest Blogger)

First and foremost, I am truly honored to post on this blog.  OK, that’s it for the pleasantries.  Let’s be honest, how badly do we all want someone to walk up on stage after receiving an Oscar and skip all the formalities of thanking lawyers, lovers, mothers, etc. and just cut to the chase.  Exhibit A found here.  Just stop talking.  There is literally nothing you can say in your allotted 30 seconds that is even marginally important or beneficial to humanity.  Just stop.

Without further ado, what I actually want to write about.  Fortunately for me, the first ever guest blogger so beautifully paved the road for my topic.  If you remember that blog (found here), he wrote about how if we would only stop making terrible movies, we could stop world hunger.   It was truly a masterpiece; somewhere between the Sistine Chapel…

…and the third season of Friday Night Lights (more on Friday Night Lights later).

However, after reading the post I had this thought, “Why is it that people become so obsessed with certain stories?”  Now, before I proceed I need to make it EXTREMELY obvious that I am no longer talking about any Nicholas Cage movie that has ever been made (with the exception of The Rock of course…tremendous film).  Rather, I’m talking about the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Ring books and (most pertinent to our discussion) the Harry Potter books/films.

For some of you the proper nouns “Harry” and “Potter” evoke the image of third graders walking door to door and asking you for candy every October 31.

But for others, it is well…well, how should we say…an obsession.

Not to let the cat out of the bag, but the owner of this blog is married to someone who brews his own Butterbeer (for those of you that aren’t nerds, this is a beverage served in the fictional world of Harry Potter).  In fact, if you are reading this on Friday, November 12th there is a good chance that the owner of this blog and her husband are walking around (the “real”) Harry Potter World in Florida.  I kid you not.

Before you go poking fun, I have something to confess.  I wish I was going with them; and yes, I have had Jerry’s butterbeer.  And you know what?  I loved it.  That’s right.

I LOVE HARRY POTTER!  And we all know that I’m not alone.

The Harry Potter books have been sold more than 400 million copies.  400 million.  There are roughly 6,793,248,608 people on the planet earth.  So in all probability, you have a 1 in 10 chance of owning at least one of the HP books (right now you are all checking my math.  I have no idea what the actual percentage is, but you get my point).

For the longest time, I thought that Harry Potter was the devil.  Not because of witchcraft, wizardry or any of the other stuff that Christians accuse Harry Potter being full of; but because J.K. Rowling (the author) somehow tricked people into thinking that her story was good. I mean, c’mon.  There had to be something squirrely going on.

But I wanted to find out for myself.  So I read the first book.  Eh.  It was OK but nothing great.  So I tried to read it again (I read about 1/2 before moving on to a different book).  Eh again.  Then I read it a third time.  A little better, but I still felt thoroughly unimpressed.  Then I moved on to book 2.  Game over.  I proceeded to finish the series in about 4 months.  Loved it.  Every second.

But why?  Why did I love it?

Let me tell you a little story.  The summer before my senior year of college I went to Germany for about a month.  While I was in Germany the final installment of the Harry Potter series was released.  One of individuals that I traveled with stayed up until…well actually she never went to bed.  She read the book from 3pm when she bought it, until 9am the next day.  Finished it in less than 24 hours.  While I was busy looking at things like this…

…she was reading that doggone book.  Seriously.  I even told her how it would end!  Without reading more than the first book I knew (give or take a few details) how the story would end.  And you want to know something?  I was right.  I mean that.  I called the end of book 7 without ever reading books 2-7.  Don’t worry, for those of you that haven’t read it yet, I won’t spoil it.

Here’s the point.  We (all people) really like good stories.  That’s it.  That’s my whole point.  It’s why we like Lance Armstrong so much (sans steroid scandal) and why we were brought to tears when Brett Favre threw five touchdowns three days after his dad died (everything Favre has done since then has been utterly asinine).

It’s because we like good stories.  Even if it’s the same story (and usually it is) we are going to eat it up like coffee flavored ice cream.  In a weird sort of way, I’m totally OK with that.  I think I’ve watched the same sports movie 100 different times:  Blindside, Remember the Titans, Coach Carter, Radio, they are all about someone or something that has a tough road but ultimately makes it.  We know he’s going to make it; but that doesn’t matter.  We love the story.

And that is why I am going to see Harry Potter on Friday, November 19 at 11pm.  I have read all the books.  I know what happens.  I don’t care.  I want to see something good happen.

I like the TV show Friday Night Lights.  There is a scene in one of the episodes when the head coach basically bends over backwards to help out a former player who graduated the year before.  For all intents and purposes this player no longer could help the head coach out but the coach does favor after favor for this kid.  Eventually the kid asks him, “Coach why are you doing all this?”  The coach responds, “Because I need something good to happen.”

Isn’t that what we all need?  Isn’t that an emotion that we all want to feel?  I want the nice guy to finish first, and I want the hero to destroy the villain and save the damsel in distress.  In fact, I think I kind of need it because more often than not, I just need something good to happen.


1 Noche { 11.12.10 at 5:42 pm }

Sooo true…You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless In Seattle…the girlie versions of the “need something good to happen” movies. I’ve seen them a zillion times & still I’m happy when they are on t.v. yet again. I don’t totally get the Potter obsession, but we all have them, obsessions, that is, in some form or fashion. Side note: One of my former students is in Friday Night Lights.

2 Bryan { 11.13.10 at 7:23 pm }

yeah, harry potter is by far the most popular book series ever — I looked it up. The 2nd most popular series Goosebumps has sold 25% fewer copies even though there are 52 more books in that series than in Potter.

Interestingly, the best selling book of all time (one volume, non-series) is A Tale of Two Cities with 200 million copies sold over about 150 years. Is copyright indefinite? Dickens’ heirs are probably very rich today if they are still collecting royalties…

Religious and political books were not included in the survey.

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