With only a week and a half left until the long-delayed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince finally hits theaters, media outlets are jumping on every angle possible to cash in on Pottermania. Most recently, James Parker from The Atlantic examined the different approaches each Potter director has taken in adapting the books for the screen, which another Atlantic writer took to task in a blog on Tuesday.
Alyssa Rosenberg wrote that ”the problem of keeping the Harry Potter movies fresh as filmmakers tackle the later books and deal with their characters’ development into sexually mature adults” is because ”J.K. Rowling, for all that she’s created a compelling universe, is really awful at writing about adult sexual and romantic relationships.”
Uh…wha? Last time I checked, the Harry Potter books were a children’s series. Sure, the audience grew up as the characters aged, but this is not adult fiction. And I mean that in both respects of the term: The books aren’t targeted toward adults, and they’re not supposed to contain graphic descriptions of a sexual nature.
Rosenberg makes two main points. First, ”in Rowling’s universe, everyone ends up with their first real love.” Okay, well, this is a fantasy series. The hero defeats the villain in the end. Is there a problem with that, too? Second, Rowling never gives ”a single detailed description of any adult sexual relationship.” What Rosenberg forgets is that although they’re third person, these are fairy tales told from a teenager’s perspective. Despite illusions to the contrary, teenagers don’t actually have adult relationships. We’re following 11- to 17-year-old Harry, not an older, wiser narrator. Rowling doesn’t ever give a single detailed description of any adult relationship, sexual or otherwise, because teenage Harry wouldn’t really pick up on the complexities of the Weasleys’ marriage. Besides, do we want detailed scenes about what happens in those canopied Hogwarts beds? This is a book about wizards. If you want romance, look for a paperback with Fabio on the cover.
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