From one of the first news stories about Rowling, published just a few weeks before the first book appeared:
To call this movie shameless is beside the point. It would probably be just as misguided to complain about the film's unoriginality because (a) it has assumed that the target audience doesn't want anything new and (b) Ms. Rowling's books cannibalize and synthesize pop culture mythology, proof of the nothing-will-ever-go-away ethic.What, pray tell, does "pop culture mythology" mean? And how do you both cannibalize and synthesize something?
A Philadelphia minister gets nervous:
"It deals with things of the unseen world that can be played with and that puts both adults and children at risk," Mr. Dear said. "The Bible says that Satan is alive. He is a real being, and both he and his agents that are demons use people to advance his cause, and these things we are not to fool with."Weirdly, his problem is not that the books are unreal, it's that they are too real.
From the introduction to Critical Perspectives on Harry Potter:
When narrative text and images become such a pervasive part of the cultural environment, they also become part of the identity of the people who read and consume the images and narratives. Harry Potter then is not just books we read or movies we see or things that we buy. The text and images of Harry Potter become part of who we are. This is true of individuals and it is true of “us” as a global culture. Harry Potter books have been read, discussed, celebrated, and vilified in Taiwan, Mexico, Mozambique, and Russia. They are read by children in Harlem, children on Indian reservations, and children in Siberia. To a large degree (as Jorge Luis Borges has famously suggested) we are what we read. So, what does the popularity of Harry Potter suggest about who we are? What do the books themselves have to say and how do they say it?If there's anything less cool than being a complete Harry Potter nut, it's writing an academic essay about Harry Potter nuts. And if there's anything less cool than that, it's linking to it.
Finally, from Lev Grossman's moving review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
We did something very rare for Harry Potter: we lost our cool. There is nothing particularly hip about loving Harry. He's not sexy or dangerous the way, say, Tony Soprano was. He's not an anti-hero, he's just a hero, but we fell for him anyway. It's a small sacrifice to the one that Harry makes, of course, but it's what we, as self-conscious, status-conscious modern readers, have to give, and we gave it. We did and do love Harry. We couldn't help ourselves.