The final Harry Potter movie opens up this week, and all week long people have been saying "goodbye" to the franchise. Lots of crying in your butterbeer and all that.
A lot of the fans lamenting the end of Harry Potter are people much younger than I am, people who grew up with the both the books and the films and, for whom, Harry Potter is pretty much the dominant fictional story of their lifetime. You can goof all you want on dipshits at Middlebury forming their own Quidditch team and running around with brooms tucked between their thighs and negating all future use of their genitals, but they love Harry Potter and they probably know that they won't come across another set of books or films in their lifetime that will affect them or stir their imaginations in quite the same way.
I know this to be true, because I'm fucking old now. And when you're old, that sense of wonder and awe isn't easy to get back. I'm a child of the Star Wars generation, which means the first three movies in the series (Yes, I know they're chronologically the LAST three, and fuck you very much to George Lucas for not only raping my wallet and my childhood but also for forcing me into a semantic corner) are the dominant fictional story of MY lifetime. I could live another two hundred years and the sad truth of it is that I will NEVER ever again have a moviegoing experience like I had when I saw those movies (the first Indiana Jones movie also gets roped in there, because it was just as good and came along at pretty much the same time). I'm too old and jaded to recapture that kind of awe anymore. I'm not young enough to BELIEVE what I see on screen is real. I'm not young enough to have another story like that feel brand new to me, like nothing I've ever seen before.
That's how I felt watching Star Wars, and that's how people a decade or two younger than me likely feel about Harry Potter. I envy them, really. I read all seven Potter books and they were AWESOME. You read those books and you spend days and weeks and months at a time picturing yourself as a wizard and doing all kinds of crazy wizard shit and having all kinds of wild bareback wizard sex. (Wizards can make diseased sperm DISAPPEAR). That's all you can really ask from a story: that it gets deep into your brain and creates a whole new place for you to reside in. I loved most everything about those books. And if I were younger, I bet I'd have loved them even more.
The movies are something of a different animal. I've seen the first seven movies (my favorite was the fifth, which is weird for me because that was my least favorite book in the series), and the movies, for me, were really just two-hour reminders of the shit I read in the books. Oh, right! Luna Lovegood's dad totally sells out Harry, Ron and Hermione! I had completely forgotten that shit. Thanks, movie-length visual recap!
But that's because, again, I'm old. Because I'm old, I brought all my prejudices into those movies (They won't be as good as the books, Chris Columbus was the shitheel hack who made Stepmom and Bicentennial Man, etc.). If you were twelve or thirteen when the first Potter movie came out, you probably didn't care about any of that. You didn't care that Stepmom was among the more aggressively shitty movies of all time. All you cared about was HOLY SHIT! IT'S THE HARRY POTTER MOVIE! That pure youthful joy was still there. It hadn't been ruined for you yet by reading horrible baseball columns about pure youthful joy. So the movies were gonna be better for you. And as you get older, very little else will manage to stack up, if anything.
If you're my age, you know this is true because you saw the Star Wars prequels, which were fucking terrible and God I wish someone would take a shit in George Lucas's beard. But even if those movies had been any good (and there are people out there who, God help them, do think that), they probably wouldn't have lived up to their billing anyway because I was expecting that wondrous feeling to return without realizing I had already outgrown my ability to feel it. Nothing will be able to rival those original three Star Wars movies for me, but that's more due to circumstances of my age than the quality of the movie itself. It's why I worship all the old John Landis movies, and why anyone who tells me American Pie is better than The Blues Brothers will get a fucking shiv in their mouth.
So that's why I like the original Star Wars trilogy more than any of the Harry Potter movies. But maybe you feel different. Maybe you're 20 years old and The Empire Strikes Back looks dated to you. Maybe we need to have a completely pointless and unsolvable argument as to which series is superior overall. It's July and there ain't shit else going on, so FUCK IT WE'LL DO IT LIVE. I'mma try and strip away my generational prejudices best I can and hash this out objectively, like a proper nerdy nerd snarky blogger-type. Spoilers ahead if you were a deprived child.
BOOKS: The two series differ in that one is spawned originally from books and the other from film. Obviously, the Potter books are in a class of their own. I haven't read any of the Star Wars books. There are a shitload of them. They even wrote one about the band from Jedi, which seems aggressively pointless. Also, it's annoying when someone who has read all the Star Wars books corrects you on shit. "Actually, Boba Fett didn't die when he fell into the pit…" Yeah well, as far as I'm concerned, he did. And it was shitty. ADVANTAGE: POTTER.
MOVIES: The original three Star Wars are great. The prequels blow. Whereas the Potter movies are reliably entertaining, but are a constant reminder that the books were better. The Potter movies are also really well acted, whereas the Star Wars movies went out of their way to make even talented actors sound like idiots. So it really depends on if you prize consistency over inconsistency but with better moments. ADVANTAGE: STAR WARS.
VILLAINS: My favorite Potter villain was Snape, except that he ultimately WASN'T a villain. You could say the same about Darth Vader, except that Darth Vader didn't have some grand, lifelong mission that explains away all the horrible shit he did. (He killed younglings. YOUNGLINGS, DAMMIT.) I also hated the shit out of Draco Malfoy. If I saw Tom Felton on the street, I'd want to punch him in the fucking face. Voldemort himself wasn't as menacing or as cool as Darth Vader. The fact that he had no nose kept me thinking that he'd been a victim of some plastic surgery gone horribly awry. And the Star Wars lineup of villains in the original films is pretty fucking awesome: Vader, the Emperor, Jabba, Grand Moff Tarkin, Greedo, the sand people (THASS RAYCESS!) and on and on. The villains get lamer in the prequels (Look out! It's the flying alien Jew!), but I still say ADVANTAGE: STAR WARS.
MENTORS: Fucking Obi Wan. Pussies out against Vader and then lies to Luke's face about his Dad. From a certain point of view, you're a dipshit. Yoda also fits into this category, but Yoda also has faults, mostly the backwards talk. "Around the survivors, a perimeter create." Yeah no, that's horrible. Dumbledore wins. ADVANTAGE: POTTER.
MAIN PROTAGONIST: Star Wars has two in Anakin and Luke. Both, in their respective trilogies, are huge gashes. Luke gets a little better as we get to Jedi, but he still needs Vader's help to keep help the Emperor from shocking his ass to death at the end. "FATHER! PLEEEEEASE!" Can't you do anything for yourself, kid? Maybe you deserve to have your insides boiled and bled out of your main orifices. Harry ain't afraid to kill Voldemort on his own, and he's powerful enough to do it. ADVANTAGE: POTTER.
BOY SIDEKICK: Weasley vs. Solo. Solo wins, even if I do spend hours at a time wishing I had been taken in by the Weasley family. I don't think adopting a fully-grown 34-year-old American man would be all that awkward. Oh, the hijinks those Weasley twins and I would get into. WHO PUT THIS PORTABLE SWAMP IN THE GIRLS' TOILET?! ADVANTAGE: STAR WARS.
GIRL SIDEKICK: Hermione vs. Leia. I didn't approve of Leia being so ungrateful the second Han and Luke came to rescue her. "Some rescue." Hey missy, you're lucky you even got that. Five minutes ago, you were getting a needle probe up your vagina. Now you're in a giant garbage chute with the walls closing in. Quit yer crying. ADVANTAGE: POTTER.
MASTURBATORY MATERIAL: There's a little bit of naked Emma Watson in the seventh Potter movie, but the series is otherwise fairly chaste. There's the typical teenage horniness, but nothing on the level of Slave Leia (even if Star Wars never gave you much beyond that). Potter, however, is indirectly responsible for young Lindsay Lohan as sexy Hermione, and my penis is eternally grateful. ADVANTAGE: STAR WARS.
ENDING: The Elder Wand shit at the end of Deathly Hallows still confuses me. And the fact that the search for the Deathly Hallows was piled onto the ongoing search for the Horcruxes gave me a headache. One treasure hunt per ending, please. But at least you get that cathartic coda at the end with Harry and Ron and Hermione all grown up with kids and what not. It was a much better denouement than the fucking Yub Nub song the Ewoks sang at the end of Jedi, and the worst part is that Lucas went back and fucked with that ending and made it like a universal 4th of July parade instead of just ending with the shot of Vader's body burning in the pyre. WATCH IT BURN! EVIL MAKES GOOD KINDLING! ADVANTAGE: NO IDEA.
WEAPONRY: Even actors in Potter movies have gone on the record as saying you look pretty fucking stupid with a wand in your hand. I don't know why wands became the go-to object for casting spells. Why not a magic sword, or a magic set of brass knuckles with little spikes on the ridge of each knuckle? Light sabers win. An elegant weapon. Not as clumsy as a blaster. Those goddamn blasters. So clumsy. ADVANTAGE: STAR WARS.
NAMES: Both have all sorts of cool names for their characters, but look at the full list of Potter names. You can't compete with that shit. Joscelind Wadcock? I'm naming my dog Joscelind Wadcock. ADVANTAGE: POTTER.
FANBOYS: There used to be a time when Star Wars fanboys could escape scrutiny solely because Star Trek fanboys were even weirder. But that protection ended right about here.
The fact that Harry Potter hasn't been around as long also means that its fanboys haven't had as much time to grow up and to mutate into even stranger creatures, people somehow even more disconnected from reality. That's gonna come someday. Should be fun. ADVANTAGE: POTTER.
OVERALL: This might be a more difficult argument if the prequels didn't exist, but the fact of the matter is that JK Rowling told her story in seven parts and never really fucked it up, whereas George Lucas told his story in six parts and galactically fucked up half of it, then went back and CGI'd the GOOD half and kind of ruined that as well. Star Wars was a milestone of my youth, but yeah, I can't go against Potter. WINNER: POTTER.
Have fun at the last Potter movie this weekend, gang. Enjoy it. You won't come across the likes of it again in your lifetime. I'm pretty sure Twilight is proof of that.
Image via teban32's Flickr