Dear Powers that Be,
My name is Alejandra and I am was? am a Potterhead. In July 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 premiered in theaters. It was ostensibly the culmination of the Harry Potter series in its entirety, as the final book had been released in 2007. I was ecstatic and devastated. I was an O.G. Potterhead. I read the first book when I was ten, right before the first film came out.
My fan status was so well-known that all my aunts and uncles bought me exclusively Harry Potter merchandise for my birthdays and holiday presents, because it was everything a lot of people knew about me. There was an inherent nostalgia, going to that premiere. This would be the last I’d see of Harry and his friends, perhaps forever. Oh, how wrong I was. I thought I would never tire of Potter. I was wrong about that, too.
Some weeks ago, I read a headline about 4 (FOUR!) new Harry Potter Universe books coming out. I felt… nothing. Nothing at all. I never thought I’d see the day!
With Pottermore, the park, the play, the Fantastic Creatures series, and of course, J.K. Rowling’s constant Twitter presence, Harry Potter has never really gone away. I don’t miss it. (Though I do miss what it used to be). I see an article claiming nostalgia about the cast reuniting for some event or other, but there is no nostalgia attached, not really. I haven’t watched a Harry Potter movie in years.
For all that people say we now live in a fast-paced world of easy-come-easy-go trends, it sure is rare for something to really go away.
Okay, you could argue that it is also the quality of the Potter material that has come out since. The constant ret-conning via Rowling is tiring, and I can’t say I’m a fan of Fantastic Creatures at all. But I raise you that it is not just Potter. It’s Star Wars and its yearly release, it’s three Spider Men in 10 years, it’s Orphan Black coming back after just two years.
The Game of Thrones spin-off’s shoot was announced while Thrones’s corpse was still warm! Add to that all the 90s and early 2000s franchises rebooting and returning.
I mean, what year is it, Powers? WHAT YEAR IS IT?
“When you go to the archive and realize the 2019 box office is the same as the one in 1995**.
It is a breach in the time-space continuum.”
**It’s not, really, but it is shocking that all of the spread is comprised of Blasts from the Past.
Almost every Big© thing I see come out lately seems to either be a sequel, prequel, a reboot, a spin-off or, if we’re lucky, an adaptation. The facts seem to back me up. At the very least, there seems to be people who feel the same way. And the relatively newer materials are even more susceptible to this.
There is no chance of missing –really missing, yearning for—anything anymore. You’re like the guys from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition where a person would casually say “I love horses”, and they’d be “Oh you like horses? We’ll make everything in your room horse-themed then, you’ll have horses coming out of your ears!”. And maybe the young boy meant it at the time. Hyper fixations aren’t rare after all. Maybe the boy was ecstatic when he first saw the room. But I’d be willing to bet in most cases that wore off pretty soon.
I know it has always been the case that when something works, you will milk it dry. I get it, you are an industry, you need revenue. It feels more now somehow. Or maybe I’m just getting older and I think everything’s too much, including the noise at this Starbucks.
Look, Powers, I get that you’re spending a lot of money on these things, therefore would like some sort of financial security to feel safe about making and releasing them. I feel you. I fret about a 100 USD purchase, I read the reviews and everything before I buy and still get nervous when I finally give the money away.
You’re forgetting how these things became The Big Things© originally. It wasn’t about the budget, how spectacular the effects or how famous the actors. Star Wars was a mid-budget Sci-Fi with unknowns! Harry Potter rode on the high of a fantastic series of books that got a new generation of kids reading (including myself), also with unknowns. These things were once shiny and new, and most ran their course naturally.
And yeah, sometimes things can find a new life in a new era. The new Star Wars trilogy certainly seems to have something to say in these times—even if the O.G. diehards have a hard time hearing it. But then there was Solo. Solo was okay, but it wasn’t necessary. Instead of Solo, why not let something shiny and new, and full of possibility, take the spotlight?
I’d also venture there are some things that should go away for good, both because they’re bad (did anyone ask for a Heroes reboot?) and because they were so good they should be preserved as they are (Orphan Black, anyone?).
Yeah, I know. Audiences ask for it, they pay for it. The truth is audiences don’t know even know what they need, and we can be terrible about original, unknown Things©, too. It’s annoying and sad because we ourselves have forgotten that that’s how Big Beloved Things© come about. We complain about having only the same old things but then when something new is presented to us we push it away like ‘ew, that looks icky’. What is wrong with us? In a sense, I guess we do put you in this position ourselves, Powers. You’ve got us used to the sequels! We can get complacent, too. But you’re the gatekeeper!
With nothing going away and so many reboots and sequels, including ones from the 90s and early 2000s, what is new anymore? How is it possible we have a box office spread full of reboots and sequels! I can’t get over that.
Where are the new faces? The new voices? This is the most dangerous symptom of this problem. You’re not taking risks anymore. Hardly anything original comes out on the big screen, leaving a lot of creatives out to dry or scrambling for television.
A commendation is due for the TV Portion of Powers that Be, who have allowed many more original ideas to get through their gatekeepers. The true place for writers and creatives seems to be TV now. At least that is the talk of the town. But even TV sins with not letting things go when they work out. Case in point: Game of Thrones.
Me, personally, I would love to miss things again.
It has been too long since I feel the drive to attend a premiere. Most Big© things that come about feel like the same thing, over and over again. Even the ones that come from something that predates me, I’m exhausted by.
Listen, Powers, all I’m saying is you and I know this can’t work forever. Eventually even the audience is bound to get tired of all the repetition, right? Look at X-Men: Dark Phoenix and Men in Black. I can only hope you’ll see it in time. That way you could allow more original things, more diverse voices to seep through. You’ll see it’s not the end of the world.
I’m not trying to offend you. Quite the contrary: I know you can do better. You have done better in the past. There is an abundance of brilliant, creative people out there in the world with fantastic ideas. They have the potential to create a Next Big Thing© that might be even cooler than the ones you’ve been recycling for ages. You just have to hear them out.
A disgruntled Potterhead.