Hello and welcome to In Too Deep Harry Potter vs Star Wars, where I finally decide which one of these franchise is better.
Now a year or so ago James Daniel Walsh wrote this infamous statement: â€œStar Wars is the cultural mythos of our generationâ€, to which I argued that while it was true for his generation, my generation’s cultural mythos was Harry Potter. Now, a year of putting it off, I’m finally going to sit down and analyse both of these franchise. So without further ado…
Well it’s only fair that since one man started all of this, that one man should have his chance to speak his mind about what happened. So, James, since you set this ten-part epic in motion, what do you have to say for yourself?
I recently re-posted a list of my top 25 life influences, and just like the first time I posted it there was one item on the list that stirred up controversy. While no one would fault me for listing Star Wars as an influence, or anything I want for that matter, I make a declaration about that galaxy far, far away that some younger members of the audience take exception to.
â€œSome may say, â€œWell, actually, we think this or that is the defining mythology of our time.â€ â€¦Sorry, youâ€™re wrong. Youâ€™re wrong because everything came from Star Wars. Star Wars reinvented not only Western culture, but global culture. It did so by taking pieces from various world mythologies and religions and repackaging them into one hell of an entertaining trilogy (and a second insanely profitable, if less influential, trilogy). Without Star Wars there is no Harry Potter, Matrix, Indiana Jones, and a million other blockbuster franchises.â€
While no one is leaping to the defense of The Matrix, there is a large group of people in their 20s who would say that Harry Potter has eclipsed Star Wars as the defining mythology. Obviously I disagree, though this is very subjective. Iâ€™m sure there are those out there who would site Avatar, Ghostbusters, or Ninja Turtles as the defining mythology. This of course depends on what defined you as a person.
However, I hold strong to my belief that Star Wars shaped entertainment as we know it today. The influence of George Lucasâ€™ vision can be seen in everything, from comics to TV to big screen blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy. Hell, the new Star Trek movies owe more to Lucas than to Roddenberry. When taking my daughter out to trick or treat this passed Halloween I saw quite a few little Jedi running around, but no wizards.
This is not to say that Harry Potter hasnâ€™t had an impact on our culture as well. I would say J.K. Rowlingâ€™s universe opened the door (along with Peter Jacksonâ€™s Lord of the Rings films) to a new style or serialized film story telling. Would we have a Marvel Cinematic Universe if Warner Bros. hadnâ€™t tested the waters, churning out one Potter movie a year for a decade? And the influence of the books is obvious, giving rise to the Young Adult book market ruling the best seller list for better (Hunger Games) and for worse (Twilight).
Lets be clear: I donâ€™t take anything away from Harry Potter and what it means to a generation of now adults. Itâ€™s their Star Wars. These poor kids didnâ€™t have Empire Strikes Back playing in theaters, they had Attack of the Clones. Of course they wouldnâ€™t see what the fuss was about with Star Wars! It really is impossible for them to understand a time without Star Wars, because for them itâ€™s always been there in the background. Hell, theyâ€™re probably sick of it at this point. For forty years this franchise has dominated the pop culture landscape, and now that Disney plans to flood us with endless sequels, spin-offs, cartoons, video games and books there is no end to it.
I will say that I admire that, so far, Harry Potter has not been exploited the way Star Wars has. Yes there is a new prequel book being developed as a movie, but from the sound of it this is a one off thing, not the beginning of a Harry Potter Cinematic Universe. I like it when a story has an end. Star Wars wonâ€™t. The producers wonâ€™t let it die. One day, when Iâ€™m old and hooked up to tubes and moments away from leaving this earth, one of my last thoughts will be â€œI canâ€™t goâ€¦Star Wars Episode 75 comes out next week!â€
I donâ€™t want to disparage Harry Potter fans, it simply isnâ€™t as influential over culture as a whole as Star Wars, and the influence of Star Wars can be seen clearly throughout Harry Potter. You know what though? There are a million influences running throughout Star Wars! Lucas has said Darth Vader was inspired by Doctor Doom. Star Trek and 2001 are clearly represented in Lucasâ€™ vision. Obi-Wan Kenobi is obviously a nod to Gandalf. From the Seven Samurai to John Ford Westerns to Joseph Campbell, Star Wars was heavily influenced by a multitude of different cultures and mythologies.
Harry Potter will go on to inspire writers and filmmakers moving forward, but lets not pretend it sprang out of nowhere. J.K. Rowling clearly read Lord of the Rings as a girl, she clearly loved Wizard of Oz, and there is no denying that sheâ€™s taken a trip or two to a galaxy far, far away.
So there you have it. A defence from the man that started all of this. If you disagree with anything, or have anything to add, feel free to leave a comment. Till next time.