Friday, December 2, 2011

Dope Island: Harry Potter and the Cranky Blogger

By Charles Cassady, Jr.

I was reading the trashy UK tabloids online (where it doesn't count; only buying them off the newspaper rack makes one complicit in the fall of civilization), and there was a big story about how Steven Spielberg says he doesn't watch many of the mainstream movies made in the last 30 years. He prefers the classics, by John Ford, Akira Kurosawa, Alfred Hitchcock etc.

Shock! Horror! As the Brits like to say. Personally I don't blame anyone for skipping most of the movies made in the last 30 years, especially 2011 - but the irony of course is that megastar director Spielberg is largely responsible for the commercial-blockbuster aesthete that has shaped mainstream Hollywood shite (another British vulgarity. So is "wanker," but I don't know yet how I'll work that into this column. Maybe I'll save it for a Cleveland City Club address) for more than a quarter-century, ever since his JAWS practically invented the summer "event" mega-picture, and his occasional collaborator George Lucas finished off the 1970s period of cinema for actual grownups with a little thing called STAR WARS.

If anything, some of us believe that Spielberg should be chained like Prometheus to a rock and be forced to watch nothing except adolescent-level blockbusters from 1980 onwards, while an Eagle comes daily to devour his liver. Probably Don Henley; I don't think that dude's a sellout.

But if Spielberg can't stand Michael Bay-type movies, hey, I can relate, never mind that the Big S has produced them recently, namely Bay's TRANSFORMER potboilers...Okay, has Bob Ignizio stopped reading/editing this yet? Good. Because it's more of a book schtick I want to do now, except nobody's asked me to blog about books yet. So you movie wankers get to read it instead. There's kind of a movie tie-in, though.

In those same UK media I'm reading online one of the other big stories, besides Mr. Spielberg's viewing habits, is the "cell phone hacking" scandal and similar offenses committed by the London tabloids. One particular victim cited is Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who states that she felt herself continually under siege from reporters and paparazzi-stalkers.

(Note to Ms. Rowling from a Cleveland author: Move here instead, if it's privacy you want. I guarantee that local media would have mainly ignored you, until maybe there was word of a movie deal)

Anyway, the whole thing brought up a painful bete noire of mine. You Americans all think you can name the first Harry Potter novel, right? No, you can't. It was (and in England, continues to be) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. That's right, not `Sorcerer's Stone,' but `Philosopher's Stone.'

I am given to understand that when the book was coming out in the USA a dozen years back, marketing geniuses here decided against using the word "philosopher" in the title. Maybe it tested poorly in the Q-ratings - or whatever garbage marketing folks get highly paid here to survey - or maybe the idea was simply that American kids are too stupid to know what a "philosopher" is.

I've been stewing over this for quite some time. And just for fun I decided to compile a number of alternative titles for Harry Potter books that we can all agree every American youngster would comprehend and relate to with no problem:

Harry Potter and the Chat Room of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Order of Foreclosure
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Where Mom's New Boyfriend Keeps the Drugs Stash.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Backyard Wrestling Stunt
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of, Um, Where Is It Dad's in Lockup Again?
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Totally Cool Sh*t We Made in Chemistry Class That Got Everyone So Wasted, Maaaan!
Harry Potter and the Half-Bootlegged Prince CD Collection
Harry Potter and the Lipstick Party
Harry Potter and the Hip-Hop Drive-By Shooting
Harry Potter and the Awesome Sexting
Harry Potter and the School Quidditch Coach Who Showered With the Boys and Nobody Said Anything For Years
Harry Potter and the Time OMFG Lisa and Heather Came to Prom in the Same Dress and Like Really Got Into a Total Catfight About It and Heather Told Lisa Her New Boob Job Made Her Look Fat, and So Lisa Waited Until Later and Beat on Heather With a Tire Iron and Dumped Her Body in the Creek Behind the School and Posted Pictures of It All On Facebook and Warned Us Not To Tell the Cops But Somebody Must Have Narced Because Lisa Got Busted for Manslaughter, and Now Lisa's Older Brother Vinnie is Coming Back From His Tour in Iraq, and OMFG He Was a Psycho Tony Soprano Wannabe Before But Now He's Like a Total Vietnam Vet Psycho Like Robert De Niro in That TV Show "Taxi" and a Friend of a Friend Swears to Me That She Heard Vinnie's Gonna Kill Everyone on Facebook Until He Finds the One Who Narced, No Kidding Everyone On Facebook's Gonna Die Before This Guido's Through, and I Don't Know About You Niggahz But I'm Closing My Facebook Account Now and Going Back to My Old MySpace Page, Even If That's Gay, But At Least I'll be Safe and Alive So See Ya Beeeeeyotches!!!!

...That felt good, somewhat. Feel free to share. I just had an advance look at John "Derf" Backderf's 2012 graphic novel My Friend Dahmer, a non-exploitive but very Derf-esque comics memoir that recalls a high-school friendship, of sorts, with the Akron-area misfit loner later to become a notoriously twisted serial killer. It will give you chills.

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