Bateman: Harry Potter and the end to an era

By Oliver Bateman

It’s tough to say goodbye to a beloved friend, so the end of the Harry Potter series of… It’s tough to say goodbye to a beloved friend, so the end of the Harry Potter series of movies/books/choose-your-own-adventures has caused us no small amount of distress. According to either a recent MSNBC poll or a realistic dream, Harry Potter is now the most famous fictional character of all time. When you consider that Potter faced tough competition like the Teen Wolf, Jesus, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino and Balloon Boy, you can’t help but concede that we’ve just laid one very important factoid on you.

Now that we’ve heard that there will never be another Harry Potter story, the time has come to assess the boy-wizard’s legacy. Since the blockbuster final movie came out, there’s a good chance we’re the first pop-culture columnist to do this. We’ve always prided ourselves on staying ahead of the trends, like that time we coined the best-selling term “newsiness,” and this retrospective is more of the same. What we’re trying to say is that you’re lucky to have us.

Okay, so first question: Was Harry Potter the greatest story of any kind ever told by anyone? Umm … yes in all capital letters, as if we were shouting out the name of England’s leading prog-rock quintet at one of that band’s arena-shaking concerts. And with three exclamation points. Until someone gets around to writing a rock opera using only text messaging — an idea that would surely revive the flagging careers of those aforementioned prog-rock pioneers — this will probably remain the best story.

We tried unceasingly to think of a better story, perhaps one that involved those ridiculous reality show and YouTube characters you all love, but we were stumped. However, since we believe in conducting thorough research before we make any bold claims, we challenge you to come up with other stories that might top Harry Potter. Once you’ve got one, send us a letter, and we’ll check your work for errors.

Next, let’s discuss the ending. How about that ending? By way of “spoiler alert,” you should probably stop reading right now if you haven’t seen Potter’s final act. It was a real lollapalooza of a bang finish, replete with all of the wit and the jokes and the violence and the lovemaking that has made this series such a family favorite. Did we mention the wit and the jokes? Yep, there certainly was a lot of that.

One of the wildest things that happened at the end was Harry Potter’s decision to lose his virginity so that he could save the human race. It almost goes without saying that this choice didn’t please folks out in the Bible Belt. Those moral majoritarians were already reeling after the disgusting vampire pregnancy scene in the last movie when the revelation about the sexual orientation of the fancy-talking actor who plays Harry’s adviser Gandalf the Grey (later Gandalf the White) sent them over the edge. If that weren’t bad enough, Harry had to go and relinquish his priceless maidenhead.

Nevertheless, you can’t compromise when it comes to great art. Remember how uncomfortable the pie-humping scene in that legendary hot college comedy was? They wouldn’t have gone on to make 500 more of those films if that nerdy, naive kid wasn’t willing to thrust himself into that warm apple pie. He did what he had to do, and none of you will ever forget it.

By the same logic, the Harry Potter series had to end the way that it did. Sure, it might have pleased a few holier-than-thou types if the boy-wizard had stayed as pure as the snow that fell right at the beginning of Snowmageddon 2010, but that’s not real life. Those of you who have been out in the real world can understand the pressures that Harry was facing. His mom had a terminal illness, and his dad was about to try a huge case against the evil CEO of a petroleum corporation that was dumping oil as well as evil into the Gulf of Mexico. This wasn’t the time for negotiation, and we will go to our graves believing that Harry did the right thing.

On top of this amazing ending, there was all of the great acting and great writing that went into making the various Harry Potter productions. We’ve always believed that if you assign a great director to a movie and give him or her a great cast to work with, you can’t help but reap the benefit of such a great combination. J.K. Rowling, the lifeblood of Harry Potter, knew what she was talking about when she hired these folks. We doubt that any Academy Award voters read our little column, but if they do we want to exhort them to give Oscar statuettes to anyone who had anything to do with the tragic story of this beautiful, precocious and cherubic boy-wizard.

In short, we are all better people for having lived through the greatest story ever told. Consider the fantastical realms through which we traveled: Narnia, Hogwarts, the Matrix, outer space and England. While following Harry’s miraculous journeys and hair-raising adventures, we discovered a sense of inner peace that had long eluded us. Wherever the late Harry Potter is, we hope that he is as every bit as happy as he has made us. Godspeed, you bright star.

Oliver Bateman is the Mage-in-Residence at the Moustache School for Gifted Youngsters. If we’ve put a spell on you with our bewitching prose, check out more flights of fancy at