(Mostly) Shamelessly Punting: Harry Potter Edition

Two shamelessly punting posts in a row, you ask? Well, yes. I’m busy. It’s summer.

In this case, however, the problem was also practical: I feel like I ought to say something, given the intersection of popularity, acclaim and genre fiction that Harry Potter represents, but I have very little to say that’s actually interesting.

Harry Potter is, basically, the thing that happened right after I left the part of its audience that would’ve been altered significantly by its existence. I did not read Harry Potter when it came out  1, I read it four years later 2, and, given that my track record of prescience of any kind is pretty terrible, had absolutely no idea what it was beyond a popular YA fantasy series.

Obviously, it turned out to be epochal – one of those pop culture artifacts that divide the world into “before” and “after” for the people who come of age in its audience. And that’s pretty cool, and it’s been interesting to watch, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with any of that, it’s just that a few hundred words on how I am An Old and am not in the audience for this thing, and do not relate to it personally is…well, there’s no real way to do it and not come off like either a stubborn curmudgeon or someone with nothing to say who’s saying it anyway 3. Neither is a good look, and, frankly, neither is hard to find anywhere else – they’re only slightly less common than the posts by people talking about how it changed their lives.

Anyway, I like Harry Potter. I’ve read it more than once. I’ve seen the movies a bunch of times. I’m not a super-fan, and it emphatically did not change my life 4, but my life was definitely, and equally emphatically, changed by things that were, simply put, also not as good. Its lack of biographical impact is not a sign of its lack of impact, but rather of the biography in question.

All of which is to say: here are some tiny lists about Harry Potter, a thing about which I have many opinions, somewhat less conviction, a healthy appreciation for, and nothing particularly interesting or worthwhile to add to the conversation otherwise.

Oh, also, they’re top sevens, because there’s seven books. And also because I literally just posted a bunch of top 5’s last week, and there’s going to be another top 5 tomorrow. It breaks things up somewhat, y’know?

The Seven Primary Harry Potter Books in Order of Quality [^5]

  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the [Sorcerer’s|Philosopher’s] Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

[^5]: This skips all of the non-main books, like The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child


Seven of the Primary Harry Potter Movies in Order of Quality [^6]

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

[^6]: this leaves off not only Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but also the long, tortuous, wheel-spinning Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Top 7 Non-Weasley Characters

  1. Neville Longbottom (the prophecy could’ve been about him, his parents aren’t dead so he has to see what happened to them, he wasn’t favored in any way by anyone and he still acts heroically anyway)
  2. Luna Lovegood (everybody things she’s crazy, she sees nargles, she knows her dad is actually crazy, and yet she goes along with everything anyway and behaves as heroically as Neville)
  3. Remus Lupin
  4. Hagrid
  5. Hermione Granger
  6. Minerva McGonagall
  7. Sybill Trelawney (she could actually really tell the future, guys. All of her predictions came true.)

Top 7 Weasleys

  1. Molly
  2. Fred
  3. George
  4. Ginny
  5. Arthur
  6. Ron
  7. Bill

Top 7 Worst Defense Against the Dark Arts Professors

As in this list goes from “worst teacher” to “least worst teacher”. Also note that we never see Merrythought “in action” as it were, so he’s not here.

  1. Dolores Umbridge
  2. Amycus Carrow (I mean, we don’t see this guy actively teach, but dude is a nasty piece of work, saved from the top spot only because, well, I don’t have to tell you why Dolores Umbridge is the worst)
  3. Quirinus Quirrell (I think the minimum qualification for the positions is probably “don’t host Voldemort inside your actual literal body.” That’s why he’s above Lockhart.)
  4. Gilderoy Lockhart
  5. Mad-Eye Moody (Yes, yes, he was never actually, technically, the teacher. That’s why he’s here, in the neutral position)
  6. Remus Lupin
  7. Severus Snape

Top 7 Magical Creatures

Ranked in order of coolness, not of helpfulness or likability or whatever.

  1. Dragons (obviously)
  2. Dementors
  3. Banker Goblins
  4. Centaurs
  5. Hippogriffs
  6. Books that chomp on your hands or whatever
  7. Phoenix

Top 7 Most Useful Applications of Magic in Harry Potter

Obviously this would never include flying broomsticks (a motorcycle with another dimension of movement, literally no safety features and that requires no license to operate is basically a mass-murder machine) or time turners (time turners can only lead to having to keep track of too much shit and we’d just be in serious time-travelling trouble).

  1. Floo Powder (much better than apparating, given how often Apparating goes wrong, and given the existence of splinching)
  2. Scourgify
  3. That clock Molly Weasley has that tells her where people are and how they’re doing
  4. The invisibility cloak
  5. Gillyweed
  6. Howlers (consider the satisfying effects of being able to send someone a letter that literally yells at them! So good!)
  7. Accio (admittedly this would be used for, like, my keys or my phone or whatever, but hey, it would still be super-useful)

  1.  when I would’ve been fourteen, and thus completely in the target age for the thing. This, incidentally, is the age my brother, who is very into it, was when he first encountered it. 
  2.  specifically, I read the first four books in more-or-less one gulp, in a hospital bed 
  3.  this latter being what I am specifically and exactly trying to avoid by not actually writing the thing that I am not technically writing by writing this thing. 
  4.  a life that, at seventeen, already included Dianna Wynne Jones and Hayao Miyazaki and Sandman and literally dozens of lesser, less-memorable fantasy works, and thus had too much history in the fish-out-of-water mythology-heavy fantasy field to be changed more than just enjoying a set of good books. 

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