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Published: Thursday, 7/21/2011

COMMENTARY

A Potter film that's painfully real

BY REG HENRY
BLOCK NEWS ALLIANCE

When the march of time has you no longer skipping upon life's well-trodden trail, news events seem to run together as if they are on a familiar loop. Take the new film that has all the kids excited, the one featuring the young magician with the nice accent.

While it is hard to keep everything straight, and the old mind grows misty, I believe the new film is called Barry Potter and the Debt-ly Gallows, Part 2.

It is by now hard to distinguish one film in the series from another. But all that clueless outsiders need to know is that the new Barry Potter film is the last of the series -- and what a relief. Now that the great adventure is coming to an end, kids may quit reading the books that inspired the films and go back to juvenile delinquency, like the old days.

Seniors should make an attempt to understand this cultural phenomenon while it is around. It is incumbent upon us not to dismiss it as just another fad to be denounced -- or recumbent upon us, since some of our best thoughts come after lying down and taking a snooze.

So I thought it would be useful to provide a quick explanation so those in the gray brigade can feel hip just in time. When it comes to hip, I cut quite the trendy character back in 1964. It happened on a Thursday in July, if I recall.

Of course, the Barry Potter series is fictional, but it is based on themes everyone can relate to -- for example, the eternal struggle between good and evil, or at least weirdos with strange names battling others marginally sane. When you think about it, it's a wonder that Newt Gingrich is not a character.

As it is, I am not going to regale you with all the odd characters such as Cornelius Agrippa, Otto Bagman, Phineas Nigellus, Rick Santorum, Edgar Bones, Barnabas Cuffe, Michele Bachmann, Cedric Diggory, Joe Biden, and Helga Hufflepuff.

Instead, I focus on the hero of the saga, young Barry Potter, a smart fellow who seems too mild for the challenges he faces from practitioners of the dark arts. That's because he is only assertive about half the time, and in the interim is off trying to be nice to someone, usually without success.

Before he was admitted to wizard school, he had a community-organizing route when all the other kids had paper routes. This was the subject of much derision, but then he organized all his rivals in the community out of contention. That, combined with the spell he cast when making speeches, allowed him admission to the most exalted dormitory in the famous school of wizardry.

In the books and films, the name of the school is Hogwarts, which is a clue possibly beyond the understanding of younger fans. However, members of an older audience, being smarter by definition, will recognize that Hogwarts is named for the public trough where the fat and greedy feed. You know it as the whole apparatus of government, especially the dormitory called Congress. Yes, that is the place where the hogs get warts. It may not seem magical, but then, you haven't seen their benefits.

At this juncture, purists will say that the Potter series is set in England, which doesn't have a Congress, but instead has cricket in order for ordinary people to witness nothing much happening.

But in the Potter tales, they play a game called "quidditch," which, as you know, is from the Saxon for: "to drive the voters crazy." Certainly that is what happens in Washington. Congressmen fly about on brooms, seeking to score goals by putting more special-interest money between the uprights.

I am not one of those spoilers who gives the plot away, but I understand the last film is an epic battle between Barry Potter and the arch-villain, Lord Voldemort, better know as Rupert Murdoch, who employs an insidious army of fair and balanced trolls to incite over-caffeinated tea-drinkers.

Unless Barry uses his wizardry to bring the parties together to solve a debt crisis, our prosperity will go to the gallows and we will never again be able to afford to go to a movie -- and no popcorn either. Hope for a happy ending.

Reg Henry is deputy editorial page editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Contact him at: rhenry@post-gazette.com



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