Sunday, July 17, 2005
I said it on Friday and I'll say it again: I love me some hype. Can't get enough of it. The American Consumer Society Machine working at full-capacity is a beautiful thing to behold, generating need out of want, want out of awareness and awareness out of nothing at all. It's balletic, it's poetic and at the same time carries all the grace and subtlety of an eight-pound kidney stone. This sort of thing really puts the "awe" in "awesome".
So which hype-inflated event did I take witness and/or take part in this weekend?
Sandra Bullock's wedding to a guy named after an old time criminal? Nope.
That nationally-riveting CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament quarter-finals? Again (and this time with some genuine sadness), nope.
All right, hell, I'll just tell you. You people suck at guessing, by the way. Sandra Bullock? Does that sound like me?
I bought me a Harry Potter book.
Yay for overexposure! Yay for two years of free-marketing-time on every "news" station in the country!
In part at least it was a defensive gesture. With all the hoopla surrounding the release, I had half-convinced myself that if I didn't buy one, large men would break into my house and jam a copy of it down my throat. Of course I have a lot of fantasies about large men breaking into my house and forcibly jamming things down my throat, but this one had none of that familiar pleasantness about it. My therapist thinks this one just seemed scary and mean.
Past the hype, I'm also a sucker for a good zeitgeist ride-along. It's good and proper to keep culturally current so that we might better relate to those around us, especially for something like this Harry Potter thing that has evoked such strong feelings (mostly positive, but a few negative) on such a large scale. Of course with Harry Potter this mostly means that I'll be keeping most in step with 11 and 12 year olds the world over. Don't scoff; I'm a huge hit on the slumber party circuit. It's a combination of total mastery of Potter arcana and my ability to buy Near Beer.
It's hard to deny the numbers: 10 million copies sold. An astounding number for a book--any book.
But then I started thinking... 10 million... and that's world-wide, yes? Hang on, a reasonable hit TV show racks in about 15-20 million viewers per airing and that's just in one country. How big of a "phenomenon" could it be really if more people on a regular basis watch first-run episodes of Numb3rs? That piece of shit stars Rob Morrow, of all people, the man who almost single-handedly ruined Quiz Show, which should be one of my favorite movies ever but isn't because he was in it. Plus, it's a TV show about math. And still it kicks Harry Potter's ass.
OK, yeah, so I fell for it. Again. Whoop it up, haterz. What else was I supposed to do? I had just spent two months reading the 225 page Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche. I had to find something to read to counteract all the goo-ifying trauma that had been done to my brain. To give you some kind of insight into what I mean, I read Nietzsche in two months and I've read 400 pages of Rowling in about 24 hours. For some reason junior detective novels about magic and wizards and snogging and Evil Dark Lords just go down easier than the constant drumbeat of human uselessness to this point in history translated from the German. Go figure.
But don't worry, after I finish this Harry Potter, the plan is to read the second half of Tocqueville's Democracy In America. So for now, live it up as much as you can; make fun of me as much as you like for being a dork. As soon as I finish and move on to Tocqueville, you're all going to be stuck having to make fun of me for being a nerd again instead.
For now I gotta go. Something inexplicably horrible's happened to Ron Weasley! I must know more!
This post on the Narcissus Scale: 9.0