Thursday, December 1, 2011

Harry Potter

The Harry Potter culture is something that I will never understand. I am always astonished at what people create, wear, or do regarding Harry Potter. I grew up with these books, I was always a fan of the books and I vaguely remember having a Potter-themed birthday party when I turned twelve or thirteen, but most of my friends became huge fans, even obsessed. I didn’t read all of the books, just up until book five, and honestly I didn’t watch all the movies until we saw part of Part 2 in class and I went home and finished it. Many of my friends got all the books at midnight when they were released and saw all the movies at their midnight premieres. They dress up as them and have parties and constantly quote the books and scowl me when they reference something and I don’t know what they’re talking about.
I think it is safe to say that I overdosed on Harry Potter last summer. I live in Orlando and last summer they were opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. I was part of the photo team that shot all the images before and after it opened. For two weeks straight I was there twelve hours a day, surrounded by it. It was astonishing to see what the books have become, how there are so many people of all ages around the world who are completely obsessed with this series. Opening day was like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t even guess how many people were there, tens of thousands, as far as I could see. All pouring sweat, cooking under the Florida heat, layered in their cloaks and shirts, wands ready trying to open the gates. Within minutes of the curtain drop I couldn’t move, everybody was standing shoulder to shoulder, the park was more crowded than a can of sardines but the amazing thing was nobody seemed to notice. Everybody was mesmerized that their dream had come true, that they were actually in Hogsmeade and on their way to Hogwarts.
I haven’t read any stories written by fans but I have looked at some art. I noticed a lot of Manga styled illustrations as well as a lot of parodies. What I was surprised to find was a lot of adult rated fan art. Some peoples imagination has taken them to a different place, turning a fantasy story into a bigger fantasy dream. 

Video Games

            Even as a kid I could never fully get into video games. I had a PS2 and played it a bit, but even when I did I didn’t follow the story too often. That’s why I liked cra games, because I could just drive around and crash and win races, which required a short attention span. But narrative games I would either get frustrated or bored then would just wander around the game doing random things. A prime example is when I got Grand Theft Auto Vice City, I begged for it because it was a mature game and when I got it all I really did was steal fast cars and run over people. Eventually my friends would come over and play it and follow the story.
            Last year I lived with three guys who were all obsessed with video games, and each played their own game for the most part. Every game involved shooting somebody for some different reason, but it was interesting to see how many stories they could come up with on why you were shooting the other person. Call of Duty was the main game, and as we all know this is a war game fighting terrorists. But the story was about a soldier brain washed, not able to remember previous missions and trying to piece everything back together, very similar to the Bourne Series. The other main game was Saints Row, which is very similar to Grand Theft Auto, you’re in a gang and it’s your job to expand your territory and sell more drugs for more money, and of course you have to kill the other gang members for their territory and to earn respect points.
The newer the games are, the more movie like they become. You actually watch short clips from what you think could be a real movie, and then play the game to keep the story going. I don’t think this makes them literature. Video games are open worlds, you do follow a story but the player is in control of where the character goes and when, it has too much freedom to be literature, which is more structured and tells the reader everything that happens exactly as it goes. A story is told through playing the narrative game, but I don’t see it as a literary experience. Maybe future games will have more of a literary type feel since games are now much more like movies, but as of now I don’t see the connection. 

Asterios Polyp

            I was really surprised with this graphic novel. I was more impressed with the illustration over the dialogue. The way every character was their own style of illustration and how their speech bubbles were all different shapes and different fonts. I would read more graphic novels if they shared this style. The story line was good but it wasn’t enough to keep me as interested as the illustrations did. My favorite use of the different styles was with Asterios and his wife. Asterios was drawn like architecture; blue lines, all perfectly straight or perfect circles connecting to make his body. While his wife, the artist, was drawn as a sketch with flowing lines. When they met and fell in love their two styles converged into one, simple, clean, blue illustrations; but the best part was when they fought and their styles were literally torn apart. In a series of a few panels the couple would slowly go from the same back to their original styles before they met, it heightened the anger and distance between them, made them seem as if they were on different planets.
            I was so interested in this I read the whole novel straight through in one sitting. Something that was really interesting was how questions were answered without even being asked. For example, in the first few pages when Asterios is on his bed watching tv you hear what you think is an adult movie being played then see a collection of home videos. It looked as if that was his “stash” and he was a lonely man. But later he showed his girlfriend that he had video cameras throughout the whole house to make him feel less alone and that he never watched any footage. The audio that sounded like it was from an adult film was really one of their dates recorded in the kitchen, when Asterios made a salad and she loved it.
            The characters were really interesting, but I think what made them so interesting were the different styles they were illustrated in, it always felt like I was reading something different. Another one of my favorite parts was when Asterios helped build the tree house. It was not his design but he helped build it and mentioned it was the first house he ever built. It continually mentioned how he won awards for design but yet none of them were ever built. Building the tree house was almost like a cleansing process for him I feel. He did something he strived for all his life.