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Monday, November 14, 2011

Team Edward, Team Harry, Team Who the Hell Cares!!


As you all know by now, the Harry Potter phenomenon has come to a close, and the Twilight Saga is following fast behind. During the wild ride of wands and sparkles, there has been a great deal of strife between the fandoms over which series is better. I have my personal view on both books and I won’t share them publicly, because well… it’s friggin’ personal. However, I will express my disdain over the Special Ed battle itself. As Breaking Dawn hits theaters this week, the trolling wars are going to flare up again like a bad case of herpes. It’s ridonkulous for one reason and one reason only:

Twilight and Harry Potter are not compatible!

Sure, they made a butt load of money from merchandise and box office sales, but outside the financial arena, they have no similarities aside from both series jump starting Robert Pattinson’s career. I won’t mention the uses of characterization, mythology, or narrative skill in either of these stories, because this rant would be several pages longer. So, I’ll explain the illegitimacy of the great debate in 3 key components: demographic, scope, and stakes (and no, not the ones Buffy uses.)

Demographic

Harry Potter began as a children story then slowly progressed into young adult. The protagonist is a young male and the story pertains elements that cater to the mind of young males, such as magic, creatures, battles, etc. The events in the story are external, with enough action and spectacle to fuel the imagination.

Twilight is and always was a young adult book that focuses heavily on the romance between the two main characters. The story is told through the point of view of a female protagonist where most of the events are internalized. Female readers can relate to her character in an emotional level and identify with the fascination of first love.

Both stories address relationships, but Harry Potter deals with the companionable and maternal depth of love. Twilight addresses the thrill of infatuation, the dark internal longing of romance, and the seductive powers of youth and beauty, concepts that typically appeal to females.

(Food for thought: as far as heart-throbbing love interests go, Harry is too available to the reader. The reader knows his ENTIRE backstory: his abusive childhood, his leap into puberty, his first kiss, etc., because they were right there with him. It’s like watching a son or a little brother grow up before your eyes. That kills the sexy mystique a bit, IMHO.)

Scope

This applies to the world-building element to each story, which is as different as night and day.

Harry Potter can easily be considered high fantasy due to the intricate world that surrounds the story. It has the rudimental components of any civilization: economy, currency, recreation, government, education, historical event/leaders/ monuments, news/communications, etc. All that’s missing is its own language, and the spells can arguably be viewed as dialect. So much focus is put on this world; the contemporary ‘Muggle’ society is almost completely left out, to the point where the decade in which it takes place is obscured.

Twilight easily falls in the paranormal category, the abnormal co-existing with the normal in plain sight. It is set in current times, adhering to conventional concepts such as science, and using technology that the reader can easily recognize. The vampires purchase goods with local currency, obey the laws of the land as well as their own rules, and they use the same modern conveniences as normal people, like cars and electricity. This angle of fantasy has a powerful, psychological impact, as the bizarre can happen in the normal realm of existence, where the weird follows you home.

The Stakes

This is the big, BIG tie-breaker for me, the primary reason these stories are not on the same playing field. Whether it’s becoming immortal, or defeating a dark wizard, each main character has a goal they intend to meet at the end of the series, a theme that reoccurs in each book. It comes down to one simple question: What happens if they fail?

Harry’s failure to defeat Lord Voldermort could result in a global shift where the wizarding world would be exposed to the Muggles. All Non-magical people would be enslaved and tortured. Harry’s allies would be hunted down and killed, and the sacrifice of his loved ones would be in vain.

Bella’s failure to become a vampire could result in her death, either by a vampire attack or by natural causes. If that happens, Edward would either commit suicide or live out eternity in a permanent state of depression. Or date someone else. Bella’s consequences only affect the people in her immediate circle, and the public at large wouldn’t know nor care either way.

Each goal involves struggle and sacrifice in their own right, but its magnitude is what sets these two stories apart. It amounts to the overall tapestry and how far it reaches, how grandiose the setting, and how dire the circumstances of each quest.

So there you have it. I’ve presented my case as to why this war is stupid and it should stop. These are two separate tales on two completely different levels. Feel free to use these claims if you ever come across a rabid fan from either canon. It’s not the most thought provoking argument in the world, but it’s a hell of a lot better than “vampires don’t sparkle.”

The more you know.

3 comments:

  1. I don't get the comparisons, either. Two different ballgames.

    HG vs Twilight is a valid comparison though. Expect to see that war flare up once the internetz stops losing its collective shit over the HG trailer. :P

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, it was a hello of a lot better than "vampires don't sparkle." :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm really not seeing the HG vs Twilight comparison. It doesn't work for the main reason that Twilight is primarily a romance and in HG romance is secondary.

    Bella's main goal is to get and keep her sparkly man.

    Katniss' main goal is survival. For her romance is a complication, not a goal. HG would have been just as satisfying had she ended up alone, whereas Twilight fans would have been murderous had Bella and Edward not received their Happy Ever After.

    They're as set apart in genre expectations as HP and Twilight are.

    ReplyDelete

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