Defense against the dark arts


Graphic by Fani Hsieh
Graphic by Fani Hsieh

I am not excited for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There, I said it. I don’t know if I will see it, and if I do, it’ll probably be in a few years when it goes off Broadway or goes on tour.

To me, it’s nothing more than a money grab. We learned about supply and demand in grade seven, but I don’t think we ever realized how effective that is until we looked at it closer.

Everyone knows that the Harry Potter franchise is in demand. Hell, the eighth movie was released in 2011 and here in 2016 we have a spinoff series, two plays and yet another theme park opening. The magic hasn’t died yet.

So, this is the perfect way to create the supply by only bringing this story to the stage with a limited amount of seats available. This allows for exorbitant prices for seats to the plays, which people will be willing to pay to see the new stories of the ‘Golden Trio.’

The script is also being published in book form. It is being marketed as “The Eighth Harry Potter Story.” Although nothing about this is false, it is very misleading. It is a story, but it’s not a novel. It comes after the seventh book, but it is not about Harry’s adventures as we know them. Is it just me, or did J.K. Rowling not say a few years ago that she didn’t want a next generation story?

This isn’t a canonical story and it wasn’t even written by her. It’s essentially ‘fan fiction’ with financial backing. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it’s a beautiful, gripping and heartwarming narrative. It got approval from the creator of the universe anyway and I’m sure she has good taste in regards to her characters.

I guess I just liked the whole “all was well” conclusion to the Harry Potter series. Apparently, that’s not the case any more because we’ve got two plays with the word “cursed” in the title.

That’s part of the problem. They are plays — more than one. Not only is it an expensive ticket for one play, but it’s in two parts.

When’s the last time you saw a play in two parts? But if people are willing to buy two tickets, why not charge them for two tickets?

With a fandom that’s constantly competing, they won’t even have to advertise. We’re constantly competing to prove who the biggest fan is. We race to show our love and knowledge of the series to other fans because that’s the culture created around them now. The plays haven’t even premiered yet and you’re already a “fake fan” if you don’t have tickets.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to afford these luxuries. One seat in the best section for a single part is £65 (approximately $121 Canadian) plus tax, according to the official website. That’s also the price starting for August of this year and I can only assume the premiere performances are more expensive.

To give a little perspective, that’s also a higher end price for a seat for Wicked on Broadway. For both parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it’ll set you back £130 ($244 Canadian) plus tax. Add on the costs of travel, food and accommodations and that becomes a small fortune. If you can afford that, I envy you. What I don’t envy are the people who do really want to see these plays and can’t because of the price.

That was one of the greatest things about the books and movies. They were so mass produced and distributed that they were available to everyone. You could even access the magic for free if you had a library card or enough Scene points.

But free doesn’t make millionaires. This book is a marketing tool for the plays. Once you read it, you’re going to want to see it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be publishing it.

It’s become about the money, not about the magic. The stories we love and grew up with are gone. What’s left is capitalism created in the shadow of the success of the canonical narratives. This is an expansion that I don’t think is necessary, but I seem to be the only one. I know several people that will be attending both parts. Everyone seems like this is the best thing to happen since 2011. In some ways, I wish I could be excited for this. It’s a new story with the characters we grew up with.

But nothing about this is appealing to me. Maybe I’m missing the hype or maybe I am a fake fan after all. Or maybe I’m the only one willing to be seen as a fake fan. If the opportunity comes around for me to see it, yeah, I’ll go. But I’m not going to be waiting in line for tickets or for the script.

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