The Wednesday Weigh-In: Harry Potter edition

movie poster for the final HP film

LIKE OMG YOU GUYS the last Harry Potter film is about to drop. The cultural reach of this dynasty is hard to overstate. Like everywhere else in the world, Harry Potter has had quite an effect on the Feministing crew.

Zach Wahls grew up reading the series, and so did our very own Chloe, who has written about her unabashed love for Ginny Weasley.

The final film has been (rightly) branded as marking the “end of an era”. Even the movie poster above cleverly uses the phrase “It all ends here.” Which got me thinking about the end of this cultural movement. A lot of people seem to be concerned with what will come next, and have urged J.K. Rowling to write more books. Emma Watson has teared up on several occasions talking about the end of the series, and fans all over the world are expressing their distress. In a similar spirit, this week’s Wednesday Weigh-in is all about endings:

When was the last time you experienced the “end of an era”? What did you do, if anything, anything to mark it, mourn it, celebrate it, or help yourself transition out of it?

Looking forward to reading your thoughts!

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • Rachel

    What an awesome topic for this weeks weigh-in! About this time last year I ended my career as a “professional” student lobbyist. As the treasurer for a student lobbying organization I dealt mostly with money but I also had the opportunity to mentor a lot of students leaders as they were coming into their own. To be completely honest, at the end of that experience I was so excited to be done that me and my co-workers just went for a happy hour and just move on to being more of a “real” adult.

  • Vicky

    I have no idea how I’ll mark the end of this era. It’s been more than a decade of having new HP releases to look forward to read on the bus … or into the wee hours of hte night.

    I’ve recently “graduated” to the “Game of Thrones” books, which are much grimmer and more realistic (HP are children’s books, after all). The characters are richly formed and complex. I went in expecting a predominantly “boys’ tale” of war and politics, but the series features equal amounts of POVs from men, women, and children. The women are actually real, fleshed-out people with their own unique voices–so refreshing in contrast to stock types we so often get. Two characters offer searing portrayals of what it’s like to be disabled and therefore “inferior” in their world.

    In contrast, I was frustrated that J.K. Rowlings thought she needed to make her main protagonist male to secure wide readership. Maybe now she can feel comfortable telling the story of a girl who went into the world and had many great and daring adventures. Our girls deserve that!

    I’ll miss Harry, Hermione, Snape, and all. But the good news is that there continue to be well-written, heart-grabbing stories for us to immerse ourselves into!

    • emmie

      Um, maybe the first three Harry Potter books were for children, but honestly, 4-7 of the Harry Potter books were more for young adults. And the film versions are very violent and full of mature adult themes, so to call Harry Potter a “children’s series” is a little ridiculous.

      • Vicky

        I should have said children and young adults. The HP books definitely darken, and adult themes emerge along the way. I think the dementors in the 3rd installment then the return of Voldemort (plus Cedric’s murder) in the 4th one are clear red flags for parents introducing their kids to the series.

        In contrast, the “Game of Thrones” books are unmistakably for grown-ups.

    • emmie

      And another thing, “I’ll miss Harry, Hermione, Snape, and all.” Hey you forgot to mention Ron!!! Lol, the other main character too, that deserves praise for being awesome and brave as well!

      • Vicky

        I decided to mention my favorite characters. :-)

    • SamBarge

      Actually, Rowling didn’t make Harry male to secure a wider readership. Harry just ‘walked into’ her mind fully formed and male long before she imagined it would be a published series. She never sat down and said: “I’m going to create a series for kids. I better make the main protaganist male.”

  • Becky

    I started reading the books in elementary school, and for the release of the 3rd and 4th books I was the same age as Hermione (my idol and fellow bookworm) and the other characters. The movies started coming out when I entered my first year of high school and now, as a recent grad with a shiny new Bachelor’s degree under my belt, I see the final film as a perfect marker for the transition to ‘real’ adulthood.

    Many of us grew with these characters, and while we didn’t have dragons or evil wizards to deal with, we had relationships, losses, triumphs and challenges just like them. J.K. Rowling has spoken about the Dementors being a literary manifestation of her depression, and urges people to keep fighting. Harry has a Patronus charm; but the same focus, wrapping yourself in positive thoughts and memories to banish away the bad, is a lesson I deeply valued at critical moments in my life. (Also amusing, that chocolate is the main ‘remedy’ after an encounter with Dementors. Sweet.)

    So I’m going to celebrate the transition from student to adult by stepping into this magical universe once more. I’ll likely be laughing and crying my way through the entire movie, but as with the final book, I think it will provide both closure and inspiration to carry Rowling’s lessons to the next stage.

    • Vicky

      Sorry to flood the comments section, but you’re so lucky to have “grown up” and “graduated” with Harry Potter! It’s really a coming-of-age tale, with the recognition of increasing responsibilities and challenges. It’s awesome you were in that age cohort to experience your growth along with Harry and friends.

      Rowling’s description of dementors and depression is spot-on, too. Wow.

  • andrea

    The first time that I remember recognizing the ‘end of an era’ was (I know that this is cliche) September 11, 2001. I was 14 at the time, and I remember thinking, ‘this is going to change everything.’ It did.

    Then there was the election in Canada in 2006, which saw the election of our first conservative government in almost 20 years. It has marked the end of half a century of liberal governments, social progressiveness, and the culture created out of it. What is being born now is something very different, something socially regressive and economically disastrous. I think that marks the end of an era.

  • Jessica

    I’d say there’s been a series of events from the time I finished school and moved out of home that have signified little endings, and have all added up to the end of an era. My parents got divorced, our family home got sold, my mum moved to a new town, my dad got a new girlfriend, my mum got a new boyfriend, and most recently, my dad closed the business he has run my whole life. All together, these things have been the end of an era that while not horrible, was difficult in a lot of ways for us all. It is a positive ending for me, I feel it is tying up loose ends and getting moving a situation that turned stagnant a long time ago. I feel like the old life we all had together ran its course and stop being the best for us long before I left, and all these endings are paving the way for new, better things, so its kind of a nice feeling. It is mind boggling to be slowly shut out of my old life, bit by bit, but its not sad.

  • toongrrl

    For Me the end of the Era was a Lot of things:
    -09/11/01: The end of the Nineties (totally) and my childhood of watching a lot go-girl proto feminists in my favorite tv shows
    -still waiting to stop being picked on
    -The end of the Harry Potter series
    -The end of Infomania
    -Sarah Haskins off Infomania
    -Conor Knighton off Infomania
    -Death of Brittany Murphy
    -The End of the 2000’s