Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Why Nancy Will Kick Harry's Ass

I have to admit - I have not read a single Harry Potter book completely (on that account I haven't seen any of the Shreks either). I read a bit and then gave up. I saw all the Harry Potter movies (and I think only Azkaban was really good, Philosopher's Stone (or Sorcerer's Stone - can someone clear up the confusion) was passable, the rest all snoozeworthy). So I am one of those who are not going to camp outside the bookstore dressed like a witch and address each others as "muggle"s on Jul 21. I only know about the release date because I have been forced persuaded to buy a book for my sibling.

Don't get me wrong, I am not doubting J.K Rowling's literary prowess. When I saw each of the movies, I was amazed at how much she has going on there - and how many aspects of the story all tie in together. It's a proper fantasy - she has witches, magic, dragons, mythical beasts etc. all woven together with a little bit of mystery that gets solved in the end. Yet, I can't help but think - it's all so COMMON. For example, when growing up, I used to read Bengali fairy tales (yes, it wasn't all Hans Christian Anderson for me). There's Moha Upponnash, Thakurmaar Jhuli to name a few. There there was the famous Arabian Nights.

All of them told stories of demons so strong, yet their life was contained in a blue bird hidden in some silver cage. There was the ponkhiraaj - or the horse with wings. There was the talking snake. What J.K. Rowling has done is take all these ancient legends and fables and somehow packaged them all in a nice mix, palatable to the common people, and has done it well. She deserves every bit of her success.

Yet, there is something in the not-so-literary-masterpieces that I read as a child which is far, far better than Harry Potter. I am referring to the mystery series by writers such as Enid Blyton. When you read Harry Potter, you cannot dream of having the same adventures as a boy wizard (or there's something seriously wrong with you). But you can dream of being a member of the Famous Five and solving mysteries, or being a Secret Seven and having a clubhouse. Harry Potter's school? Yuck - go read The Malory Towers or The St. Clare's series by Blyton. Far more adventure but far more realistic.

And then of course there's Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys. Yes, the authors were not real, and yes, it was very formulaic ("and the last thing Nancy heard was a sharp blow, and then it all went black. Next chapter."). But it was so much fun! Harry Potter - 700 pages - that's not a leisurely story book - that's a dictionary!

And the final reason why Nancy Drew and her compatriots would kick Harry Potter's ass. Harry's only power is magic - that he cannot use in the real world. Nancy - she has wits (everyone knows where Harry's wits are - Hermione Granger). So using her wits and her legendary karate skills - Nancy will kick Harry's ass every time. Beaten by a girl, Harry, how do you like that?

And now Nancy has her own movie too!


Maliha said...

awww Mezba is hating on Harry...but why? Is it a muggle inferiority complex? hmmmm....

Ahmed said...

WHAT? Harry Potter is awesome! The books start out for small children. Though its a world of fantasy and magic that can appeal to all ages. By the 4th book though the books audience is much more mature and the books take a much darker tone. This also corresponds with the longer length of the books. It really deserves another shot, at least the later books perhaps you'd enjoy more.

As for common, solving mysteries, tree houses, camping adventures those seem much more common to me than a magical world full of witches, dragons, magic, etc.

Much of the rest of your post is about personal preference so I can't really argue too much there. But I'll say that I enjoyed the Famous Five but that wouldn't stop me from wanting to have magical powers, a flying carpet, do karate like jackie chan, how powers like the thunder cats and He-Man, etc as well.

Also why can't Harry use his powers in the real world? And how many times has a sharp blow knocked out Nancy? Now how many times has Harry been knocked out? Not to mention the army of students Harry is training at his command and his ability to talk to snakes and get their help, I think he'd easily win.

Ahmed said...

Oh and the original name is Philosopher's Stone. They changed it to Sorcerers Stone b/c they weren't sure if Americans would understand.

Shrek 1 and 3 are great too. 2 isn't bad either. Sure its a cartoon, but theres a fair bit of adult humour in there.

Aliana said...

Writing against Harry, that's blasphemy!

'liya said...

Nancy Drew was always cool... but Harry P is just too much cooler! Sorry Mezba, but I'm siding with everyone here against you!

Nancy doesn't have this: http://media.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/


Em said...

Mez, I think you're not being fair. Unless I'm wrong, you're comparing your childhood perceptions of your Nancy Drew and Enid Blyton readings to your current perceptions on Rowling's work you've read recently. Believe me when I say this makes a helluva difference. Remember when I said I re-read Tintins last Spring Break? Well, truth be told, I didn't dig them this time round. Most of Tintin's victories came through luck, not through intrepidness or gray matter... on that front I think darling old Jeeves and Sherlock hold joint honors.

I don't appreciate Harry Potter as a protagonist, but the world of magic and Hogwarts that Rowlings has created... wow! I can't for the life of me understand people who can compare even Tolkien's LOTR (which I thought was quite lame, really) to Rowling's work.

Farah said...

Enid Blyton, while writing captivating stories, reflected a conservative viewpoint of her time. All her good characters were white, conservative, good "Christian" kids from two-parent households with a working father and housewife mother. The villains were usually foreign (Famous Five/Secret Seven), black (the Golliwog in Noddy) or fat, snooty, bespectacled kids (her school series).

JK Rowling, herself an unconventional single mother on welfare, thus wrote stories where the characters were not quite the norm (Harry Potter, dead parents, friends who don't "fit in", etc.). As such Rowling is a better reflection of our times.

shaz said...

I only saw harry potter like a couple months ago and I love it!! yes, I see what all the fuss is about!

but, nancy drew... oh! you have no idea how much I wanted to be her!!!!!!!

tough call! ;)

singlemuslimah said...

I LOVE Nancy Drew! I totally wanted to be her when I was a little girl. I can't stand Harry Potter. I just don't know what all the fuss is about.

mousehunter said...

I personally find the HP movies to be very dark, almost disturbing. I have never read the books, but as I watched the movie and remember the ankle biters that read them, its just struck me. I like the first one, its was good and entertaining, but the rest...left an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I never read Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys, but as you can see Shaz is most excited about the movie...hehe.

Em, LOTR lame?!?! Are you kidding me. When I was young, the sheer size of the books turned me away, and in high school I hated those types of books. I didn't see Fellowship until it was out on DVD, and even then because we were tired and it was sitting there on top the dvd player. I enjoyed the movie. Then after I watched the second one on DVD I decided to read teh books. I was blown away! The writing style, the imagery. Just amazing. I read all three in succession, and was disappointed with the movies afterwards. I have to say those were the BEST novels I have read to date. And I don't read anymore...hehe.

Haleem said...

Harry Potter is a big cry-baby. I don't see what the big deal is - he's just another fantasy. The Lord of the Rings was really the greatest fantasy, HP doesn't even come close. As for Nancy Drew (well Hardy Boys for me) they were good, and disposable fun.

Farah said...

Dude Where's Your Banner.

Athena said...

read the books first damn muggle

staufiq said...

Well don't feel so bad, i just saw the first 2 shrek movies. They are very good animated movie. So if you have time, go watch them

I have a new obsession. I too have just started reading the harry potter books. i love them, i cant put them down. but no i am not a freak, i will not be lining up to get the new one...ill just wait a few more weeks till the copies are at BMV.

Anonymous said...

I was an avid reader of famous five,nancy drew and enid blyton to name a few,and yes, farah, I do agree with you about enid blyton, and how JKR would fit this generation. I haven't read any of her books but am planning to start collecting them for my kids. My 6yr old found HP "scary", I guess she is not yet ready for all that yet. Shaz, didn't we all want to be Nancy drew??? Am planning to get some nice books when I go home for children by african authors they are so good. sf :)

Khaled Hosseini Fan/Sabrina said...

all of them are crap.. lol, just kdding. But for a GREAT fiction this summer, check out A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. I, even with ADD, IGNORED my work, and read it at work, and finished it in 2 days . Simply, "shashrudhdhokor", and powerful... I finished it finally at 11:00pm tuesday, started sometime on Monday afternoon! ANd it was worth all my time..

Oh, and I couldn't MAKE myself read Harry Potter, could never get past 3rd page, even though I attempted to read them like 4 times. I really don't know what "adults" find in it. Or, I just like books with some serous touch of realities, maybe that is why things like Harry Potter never attracted me. Maybe I will try to stare at Harry Potter again for the 5th time... and I know when I will return the book back to the library.

Em said...

Since we're on about the 80s: Nancy Drew notwithstanding, anyone else excited about the Thundercats AND the Transformers on film? Thundercats ho!

Farah, fascinating perspective. I guess I must agree.

Sabrina, worth reading I agree, but I thought the book was trying a little too hard to reach out to western feminists, especially I thought Laila was a little overdone. I, too, recommend the book, but would recommend waiting until the cheaper paperback is out.

Ahmed said...

Theres a Thundercats movie in the works? OOOh Im definitely going to go see it!

Suroor said...

You muggle, you!

I'm the Nancy Drew generation but even I like Rowling much better. First she is Scottish ;) and her writing style is far better than all those kiddy books from the generation of yonder.

No, Harry Potter is a masterpiece by all standards. The langauge develops with the children's ages. There is so much depth in the plot. Everything has a reason to be there on the pages.

You muggle, you!

I love you still :)

mousehunter said...

A Thundercat's movie....are you serious!!! I saw the Transformers Trailer when I went to see Shrek the Third. Looks pretty good, the trailers on the site are CRAP! I don't know about going to see Thundercats. I have this feeling that I will be disappointed.

Em said...

Well just to confirm, yes. There's a Thundercats movie from WB coming. They're saying 2010 and will likely make it animated. News sources include the LA Times and a RottenTomatoes editor, so I think it's reliable.

mezba said...

Sorry peeps (to paraphrase a favourite blogger of mine) ... just been busy with lots of stuff, so couldn't holler back.

Maliha: I am better than Harry. Does Harry have a blog? lol :-P

Ahmed: Um, I will take your word for it that he's awesome. Somehow, I just can't bring myself to finish a Harry Potter book. The writing just doesn't appeal to me - it's as if she's describing a movie set (so much detail!). I will just hope they make movies out of all of them!

I think it's against the code of magician's ethics(?) about using magic in the "real" world.

I have a question though. Why wouldn't Americans understand "Philosopher"?

Aliana: truly. Please don't cast a spell on me.

Liya: A theme park! Now I have seen everything! And I am sure it'll be a big hit too. The Vegas Star Trek exhibit is a big hit, and it's not even that good.

Em: hmm you could be right but I re read a couple of Enid Blyton books early this summer, then Hitchcock's 3 investigators, plus a couple of the Nancy Files - and they are still ok. Alright, maybe Nancy is not that ok now, but still enjoyable to a degree.

I found LOTR to be quite boring actually.

Farah: true. I think of all series her Far Away tree series are actually timeless.

Shaz: haha .. the tide is turning.

Singlemuslimah: Definitely in my camp then. Full props to you.

mezba said...

Mousehunter: exactly. Especially the last movie was so dark - can you imagine getting a kid to read it? Death, gruesome .. whatever.

Haleem: You are Da man. Harry Potter is a crybaby exactly.

Farah: it's back now :-D Shaz was changing some server thingie.

Athena: lol ask me after jul 21.

Staufiq: you know, I might just read the fourth one. Apparently its good.

Sf: do you know kids drive the economy! How many HP books have been preordered due to their demand?lol

Sabrina: I am a big Husseini fan. Reading his latest now, and it's captivating.

Em, Ahmed, Mousehunter: All that is left now is a Bionic Six movie! that will be super!

Suroor: I will take your word for it. I personally don't like Rowling's style. But I will give her new book a chance, since I am buying it anyways.

Ahmed said...

They aren't allowed using magic in the real world until 3rd year or so of school I think. I forget.....but I'm pretty sure Harry is old enough now. So Nancy has no chance against Harry in my opinion.

Suroor said...


The world's bestselling author, JK Rowling, has sold more than three times as many books as the next two, Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss, who have an estimated 100 million sales each.

aliana said...

What you are accusing me of being a witch? You have left me no choice but to cast a spell on you Mezba. You will be the object of my next witchhunt. lol

Sarah said...

:o Ahmed told me there was an anti-Harry Potter post, so I had to come and check it out for myself.

How can you even judge Harry Potter when you haven't completely read all of the books? As you go along, they become more and more amazing! You can't base your perceptions of the books based on the MOVIES. Movies NEVER do justice to books! They leave out so much of the details and humor.

Millions of people love Harry Potter and wish they could be students at Hogwarts. And most people that say they don't like HP haven't even read it. I know lots of people that are turned off to certain tv shows and books because they are so popular, and these people only like to like something if only a few others like it, which is absurd. You shouldn't TRY to be "original," you should like what you like! So if you are turned off by the thousands of people that dress up in constumes to go to a book release, you shouldn't be! That should show you that there IS something great about Harry Potter :)

You really must read the books in their entirety! And the fact that they are LONG only attests to the fact that these books are better than Nancy Drew or whatever, because JK Rowling's plots have MUCH more to them and REQUIRE that many pages! :) and Rowling's books have so many twists and turns in them as well, so until the end you sometimes don't know the significance of a small object or a person. It's amazing how she does that.

You obviously can't understand how amazing the books are because you haven't read them all! So you must read them in their entirety first before you make any sort of a judgement! Thou shalt not judge without having first read!

mezba said...

Ahmed: They aren't allowed using magic in the real world until 3rd year or so of school I think.

Haha I did not know that.

Suroor: Wow.

Aliana: You are not a witch. But you sure cast a spell on us men!

Sarah: This was just a rant, devoid of any logic (unlike Nancy Drew's stories). It's an encapsulation of my ambivalent feelings towards the Potter phenomenon, and is not expected to make any coherent sense.