Harry Potter Doesn't Need Television

Well, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog entry. What can I say? I was busy reading the seventh Harry Potter book, and then before that, I was speculating with my son and his friends about what might be in the seventh Harry Potter book. Will all of the main characters live for certain? And which of the other characters near and dear to our hearts will bite the dust? Believe me, this sort of speculation takes a lot of time, but lest anyone believe it’s not time well spent, think again. As far as I’m concerned, JK Rowling and I are both working to accomplish the same thing. She’s just better at it. How many other authors could get so many kids all over the world to turn off the television in order to sit down with a 759-page book and finish it in two days? No one!

But Rowling’s influence on the way we think about television goes deeper. Just look at Dudley, the TV-addicted cousin poor Harry has to live with. Dudley is a stupid, overweight, bullying git, if I might use the British word. He illustrates beautifully all the reasons parents need to pull the plug out.

And then there’s Hogwarts itself. Ever notice how there isn’t any television there? No video games either. And yet all the kids have a great time, well except when they’re fighting Voldermort or dealing with mean teachers like Snape. Still, none of them ever complains about not having TV and video games. No one among the muggle-born is homesick for “Survivor.” Of course, they do have magic. I realize that, but nonetheless, they don’t seem to miss television.

Now I know some of you will point out that Rowling did allow a bunch of Harry Potter video games to be made, and so that doesn’t make her such a great paragon of virtue when it comes to keeping kids away from the screen. But who cares? No one’s perfect. And I think her basic message about the wonder of a TV-free childhood comes through in spite of that. We don’t need magic wands to experience the magic of reading her books, climbing trees, exploring the woods and falling in love, or in other words all the things real life offers.

So, thanks to Rowling and everyone out there who is trying to make a difference.

Happy August!
Ellen

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