Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter & Friday Night Lights: Art as a Snapshot

Steven Hyden’s recent brilliant article on Counting Crows’ Recovering the Satellites at The A.V. Club discusses how that album captures a specific moment in his life. This is by no means a revolutionary idea, but it is a poignant one for me. This weekend welcomes the finale of two series that absorbed specific portions of my life. My childhood was defined by the Harry Potter series, and I am by no means alone on that. On a more personal scale, the TV series Friday Night Lights assured my love of television, and shaped my adolescence. The final Harry Potter film, and the final episode of FNL both premiere on Friday, and that is no coincidence in my opinion.

This week I was approved for my first apartment, the official departure from my childhood home. I’ve realized recently that I’ve grown apart from a number of high school friends, which happens. I’m growing up, which I hear happens to just about everyone. But the ending of these former segments of my life is accompanied by the ending of the art that guided them.

Harry Potter is the story of a boy wizard. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. The series helped create my love of fantasy literature. Hell, it helped create my love of literature. It was, in a way, my childhood. I grew up wanting, yearning to be as special as Harry, to find that important of a purpose in life. Then, I graduated to Friday Night Lights. Less actual magic, yet it redefined my goals. Rather than having the somewhat irrational desire to attend Hogwarts, I wanted to find a place in life where I could be happy, like Coach and Mrs. Coach. Sure, they have squabbles, but they love each other, and their daughters and their jobs. They are inherently good people living in an inherently confused world, much closer to the real world than the one filled with flying broomsticks and wands. Now, comes the part of my life where I go out to accomplish those goals.

These pieces of art, along with plenty of others, are forever a part of me. When I read Harry Potter to my kids I will be flushed with memories of my childhood home, the day I spent devouring the final tome, and the evening I spent in my room weeping at the closing of The Half-Blood Prince. And I will think of the mission trip I attended the day after finishing the series, and the friends I had in grade school, regardless of whether I discussed the books with them or not. When I, after coming home from my future job to my future family, decide to revisit Friday Night Lights, I’ll think of the friends I watched the final season with, of course, and the hour-long conversations with my dad about how Riggens screwed up this week. But I’ll also remember high school, all of it, especially how the episode “Underdogs” (detailing many of the characters’ last game) was unbearably painful to watch after my Speech Team career had ended.

I’ll remember these things not because of how good the art was, or even because of the specific details of watching every episode or reading every book, but rather because these series have come to define those portions of my life. I will never separate my youth from Harry Potter, or my teenage years from Friday Night Lights. And I would never want to. I never want to become a jaded critic that forgets why he got into the job in the first place. It wasn’t some brilliant film, or a classic novel. It was being that boy who knew that if he dreamed hard enough, he too could see all the magic the world had to offer.

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