J. K. Rowling described as a true role model in the build up to Harry Potter's final instalment

I must be one of the rare few people in the Western world who has neither read nor watched a Harry Potter book or movie. I’ve managed to demonstrate such constraint partly because they are children’s books written for children and read by children (and inexplicably grown women) and I stopped reading children’s books when I stopped being a child (and the chances of me becoming a grown woman are looking slighter by the day. Back hair is so unfeminine.) I’m still trying to quit colouring books, but damn they’re addictive.

The main reason is that I have no interest in them. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I’m not part of J. K. Rowling’s demographic. If it’s not a repugnantly gratuitous titty fest with more flesh on show than an English butcher’s window at the height of the mad cow disease scare and with at least 37 minutes of self indulgent car chases with billions of dollars worth of CGI explosions – twice – then I’m not interested. I’m a man. Is 90 minutes of tits and guns with a Neanderthal dialogue that protozoa wouldn’t find intellectually challenging too much to ask for?

JK Rowling seen here not flashing her breasts to the public but still managing to be a success. Who knew?

I admire JK Rowling to bits. She’s made an amazing amount of money from her novel writing, achieved astronomical success and she hasn’t resorted to flashing her breasts or behaving provocatively to increase media attention and double the hype. That must be what it’s like to be properly talented. Music and film industries take note. I think she’s a truly admirable role model in a world where so many female role models are repellent media whores prepared to do absolutely anything for attention, whether that be donning a crap frock made of bacon or spreading their legs to show the world what they ate for breakfast several days ago.

Harry Potter and Voldemort (he who shall not be named but has been named a lot) slug it out over the young wizard's wand one last time

So last night the new trailer for the next apparently very exciting instalment of Harry Potter’s adventures, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, (out July 17) was released across the internet, and people are of course going a little crazy for it.

Fanaticism is a weird one, unless you are extremely cynical (who me?), it seems you’ll accept anything that the object of your worship shits out, regardless of its quality or uniqueness. As an example, Madonna’s career should have been over 15 years ago but the quality of her output matters not as she can do no wrong according to her faithful fanbase of ingratiates.

Some media whore wearing a meat dress for publicity

Fans are like mothers who refuse to believe that their precious sons couldn possibly have committed that rape on an eight-year-old girl. Everything he does is right and everything anybody says to the contrary is wrong. That child clearly led him on. She was gagging for it. Loyalty is cool, but stupidity is dangerous.

True Potter fans are a little bit obsessive. They’d queue outdoors overnight during a cruel winter, wearing just their Harry Potter socks and Lord Voldermort lipstick, to be the first to get their hands on a Harry Potter pencil case with free intimate wipe.

It wouldn’t matter if this new HP episode was a putrid pile of steaming hyena dung, it will get raved about regardless. It could be called Harry Potter and the Loft Extension, Part 3: Insulation and people would still be arriving in droves like sanguinary zombies surrounding a small obese child with a gaping leg wound.

Harry Potter fans queue up during a harsh winter, thankfully sporting more than Harry Potter socks and Voldemort lipstick

And the media is no better. MTV.com are so excited about the release of the trailer (god help them, when the actual film comes out) that they have done a bit of excitable internet wee wee in their virtual pants and transcribed the entire trailer for us, for those of us who can’t see images and can only read text. They’re not trying to achieve a certain word count or fill up column inches at all.

Here’s the transcription from the MTV website:

The trailer opens with a distraught Lily Potter (Harry’s mom) speaking to her infant son. “Harry, be safe,” she says in a strained whisper. “Be strong.” Cut to the words “Every moment he’s lived has led to this,” before an eerie voice-over by evil Dark Lord Voldemort comes in over flashback scenes of key moments in several of the previous seven films.

“Harry Potter, you have fought valiantly,” Voldemort sneers. “Now join me, and confront your fate.”

From here on out, much like the action in the second half of J.K. Rowling’s seventh Potter book, things get very intense. There are flashes of Voldemort in several states of mind and presence, all of them ferocious and teeming with dark force.

“You’ve kept him alive so he can die at the proper moment,” Snape says to him at one point.

Cut to Harry, Ron and Hermione riding a dragon, continuing their dangerous quest for the final horcruxes that will help bring an end to the Dark Lord.

This is followed by the beginning shots, or so it seems, of the epic battle royale at Hogwarts. Death eaters are surrounding the school, and Professor McGonagall orders the magical protectors of the school to come to life and protect them. What looks like the Dark Lord’s army is shown assembled outside the gates, ready to attack, while our favorite Potter protagonists are shown waiting anxiously inside the school.

Suddenly the final battle is in full swing, wands slinging, wizards clashing, all of which can be very briefly summarized by these words: death and destruction.

In the midst of all the madness, there are emotional moments that seem to show favorite characters preparing to meet certain death. One poignant moment occurs in a brief exchange between Harry and Snape, a character who has always mysteriously walked the line between good and evil.

“Tell them how it happened that night,” Harry says angrily to Snape, before a flashback of Dumbledore’s death appears onscreen. “How you looked him in the eye, a man who trusted you, and killed him!”

There is also a brief moment where Harry is surrounded by the ghostly presences of his loved ones, people like his mother and godfather Sirius Black.

“You’ll stay with me?” Harry asks his illusory supporters.

“Always,” answers his mother.

“Until the end,” Black adds.

The remaining seconds are all about action, action, action — specifically, the fight between Harry and Voldemort.

“Come on, Tom, let’s finish this the way we started,” Harry says to Voldemort as they stand on the precipice of a cliff. “Together!”

This is followed by more quick cuts of wand-wielding and explosions. And then Voldemort and Harry are shown battling once more, this time crawling toward one wand.

“Only I can live forever,” Voldemort says with finality.

I mean…what a tactic to employ just to increase the word count of an article.

So, I won’t be watching the new Potter movie. Will you?

Please share your thoughts on J. K. Rowling as a role model or the final Harry Potter film by leaving a comment.

images: ecouterre.com, guardian.co.uk,

Suntan culture: Dying for your vanity

When I was growing up in England during the 1970s it was quite unusual to see someone with a suntan. It meant they had done something preposterous like go on a summer holiday – overseas! They probably even took a plane! I mean, space travel was no less inconceivable. Those tans you did see were generally light, fairly natural looking and accompanied by a spatter of cute freckles.

Then all of a sudden it became fashionable to look like you’d just been marinated in (recently banned in Denmark) Marmite, and the ever darkening tan became a status symbol and gauge of how successful your holiday had been: of how exotic the destination; and it seems, how successful you are as a person.

Suntan extreme: This skin damage is so bad it's visible from space.

Now, up until fairly recently, historically, it was considered awfully common to be suntanned. A suntan meant you were a vulgar serf who worked outside in the sun all day, getting your hands dirty, and therefore were no better than a filthy animal. You smelly peasant. In ancient Rome and Greece, bronzed skin was so reviled that lead paint was applied to the face to give it the appearance of alabaster. Weeks later, in the tenth century, ladies employed arsenic to create an illusion of pallor. My really quite pathetic research failed to reveal whether or not this killed them.

This trend for deathly pallor continued throughout history. In the Elizabethan era, women plastered themselves in white powder and even painted pale blue lines onto their foreheads to make their skin appear translucent.

Even well into the penultimate century, it was unusual to see an educated woman out of doors without some sort of large hat or parasol providing umbrage and protecting her hue-less flesh from the sinister effects of the sun.

And then in the 1920s Coco Chanel went and changed everything after returning from a holiday with a tan, and women everywhere, collectively squealed and wanted to be the same.

And the obsession with the suntan was born.

These women take time out from motherhood to top up their suntans.

Holidaying abroad had become popular for the rich and a bi-product of holidaying abroad was of course a suntan. Only disgusting poor people were pale who couldn’t even afford to spend the summer in the South of France. Uerrgh – fetid proletariats.

Come the 40s and 50s, fashion dictated that swimsuits consist of less and less fabric, exposing more and more skin to the big round sky egg. The 60s brought forth the bikini, and then along came the 1970s and foreign travel became more affordable and popular and the suntan became the ultimate accessory that informed the man in the street that you were so cosmopolitan that you had eschewed a fortnight in the overcrowded, rain lashed beach towns of England’s grey and depressing coast, in favour of somewhere truly exotic, like the Costa del Sol in nearby sun riddled Spain.

Twenty or thirty years later, the effects of this boon became apparent with a sudden rise in skin cancer and government warnings of the risks of accelerated ageing. And strangely, many of us were that obsessed with looking good in the moment, rather than cease this behaviour, people continued to sunbathe. Lying out like oiled oompaloompas on a grill, more determined than ever to “not go home without a tan.”

Suntans have turned many people into oompa-loompas.

Spot the unhealthy one

Women bought white swimwear and accessories to accentuate the degree of sun damage they had managed to obtain, as if publicly celebrating their stupidity.

I’m fortunate enough now to not live in England in the 1970s, or thankfully any subsequent era for that matter, but on the Spanish coast, and I still see the holidaymakers splayed across the beach like badly creosoted lobster or lined up like a row of old moccasins in a second hand shoe shop. It’s still a race to see who can look the most like old furniture.

Now I’m lucky enough to have the kind of cadaverous and bloodless peel that makes people feel sick it’s so unfashionably and painfully translucent. It would be easier to put an octopus in a straitjacket than to give my body an all over tan. And that has paid off for me. There is nothing like being crap at something to put you off wanting to do it. So whilst all the good-looking popular fashionable girls blacked up, I used to sit indoors, drawing psychotic pictures that would make John Wayne Gacy appear sane, and writing odious poetry to my parents. These days, not much has changed and in particular I appear to have less wrinkles than my contemporaries and I don’t look like I’ve been clumsily hewn from old wallets. I don’t have the gorgeous alabaster skin of Julianne Moore or Kate Beckinsale – the see through one – my skin is more like badly made porridge that has been rolled in a dish of full stops – but that’s ok. I’ve learned to accept that. I’ve got fewer wrinkles than many people for my age, an adorable puppy and a boyfriend with a *trick block (Mikeney Rhyming Slang) – which helps me deal somewhat with the stigma of having pasty and unfashionable skin.

A pallid Julianne Moore - hideous without a suntan.

A suntan is as much a sign of healthy skin as coughing is a sign that cigarettes are good for you. It’s a sign that your skin is damaged. Considering it is generally people who are image conscious that want the fashionable suntan in the first place – you would think they would start considering the long term effects. The transient appeal of a suntan is a high price to pay for leathery skin at best, or skin cancer at worst.

As absurdly skinny models were banned from certain catwalks, perhaps we should protect our impressionable young by cutting down on the amount of bronzed bodies they are bombarded with in magazines.

It’s depressing seeing lines of topless young girls on the beach (unless you’re a teenage boy who’s never seen boobies before), drenched in sun-oil, smoking a cigarette, reading a fashion mag and drinking a soda. Just kill yourself if life is that bad that you are willing it to end. Kill yourself.

Personally, I like pale skin. I like the statement it makes about the person. It’s their natural color and it says that they don’t follow fashion, or at least they aren’t prepared to die in search of it. There is nothing de rigeur about skin cancer, there is nothing attractive about looking like you’re made from old handbags, and there is nothing sexy about being dead. Unless you are a necrophile.

Please let us know your views on the suntan culture by leaving a comment.

images: notsohumbleopinion.com, luxist.com, attackingsoccer.com, hellotrade.com, suituapui.wordpress.com

Pottermania at all time high with release of latest Harry Potter movie

Since the release of the first Harry Potter book in 1997, the Muggle world has been bewitched by the fantasy series which has gone on to sell over 400 millions copies, with the last four books setting records as the fastest-selling books in history.

Author J.K. seems to have cast a spell over the ever-growing legion of Potter fans, both children and adults, and this weekend the levels of hysteria have been brewing like a storm in a witch’s cauldron.

Pottermania has been at an all time high with the release of the penultimate installment in the wizard series: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter has such a huge following that some cinemas have been screening the film up to 16 times a day to meet the huge demand, and according to Entertainment Weekly, the wizard flick could rake in as much as 156 million dollars in US sales over the whole weekend.

Ther term Pottermania was first coined in 1999 to describe the craze sweeping over Harry Potter fans and the number of obessed fans is growing by the minute. If you’ve been thinking that it’s time to call a reality check with your wizzard obsession, then you should meet the die-hard fan who looks like Harry Potter and even goes by the name, and has three rooms spilling over with Harry Potter paraphenalia. Check him out in this video.

And how about this crazy Potterholic: She was driven to the first screening of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in a fancy schmancy limo. Miss square eye says she watched The Philosopher’s Stone 78 times, Chamber of Secrets 91 times, Prisoner of Azkaban 104 times, and Goblet of Fire 111 times! How many times is she going to watch the latest installment of the wizard series?!

If you’re worried that your interest in the fantasy world of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger could leave you ending up a Potterholic, some of the warning symptoms to look out for include developing strange scars on your forehead and switching to a British accent. Is everything stick-like starting to resemble a wand? Then it may be time to have an intervention…

And for all Muggles who are fretting about the fact that the Harry Potter movies are coming to an end, you will be relieved to hear that your withdrawal symptoms will be softened somewhat with the knowledge that Harry Potter will live on forever: in a museum which will be opened on the site where the movies were filmed.

Read here about Harry Potter and his mental health disorders.

Images: Wikimedia Commons