So apparently there’s some sort of movie about wizards coming out next week? I’d pretty much missed the memo, honestly.
But someone brought it up at
another night of staggering drunkenness a casual social gathering this evening, and I’ve been trying to remember enough about the seventh and final Harry Potter book — which I did read — to write an entertaining parody of it ever since. It’s been a harder journey than I expected, and for once I don’t think it’s the fault of the treacherous, booze-smelling potholes that riddle my Memory Lane. There just wasn’t much substance to the book. And that’s a shame, because there was a lot of build-up going into it — so much build-up, in fact, that rather than waste it I have composed my own alternate endings, which put the dramatic tension of the previous 3,406,923 pages (exact fig.) to better use. Ladies and gentlemen, FIVE ENDINGS TO “HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS” THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH BETTER.
5. SNAPE PICKS A GODDAMN SIDE AND DOES SOMETHING EFFECTUAL FOR IT
Admittedly, this is more of an ending to Harry Potter and the…well, any of them, actually. The substitution of the “is Snape evil or isn’t he?” question for any actual moral complexity is kind of interesting in the first few books, where we can assume that it all just stems Harry’s paranoid adolescent fantasies projecting evil onto someone who is simply that godawful teacher that hates you for no good reason. Then the series goes on, and it becomes clear that the author has no goddamn clue who Snape is or what he wants in life.
The Alternative: Snape is a man with a mission. Maybe he wants Voldemort to reign forever, in which case he takes advantage of any one of his half-dozen or so “Harry helpless in his power” scenes to just kill the little shit and reap his reward. Maybe he’s the
double triple who the fuck even knows agent that Rowling sort of tries to portray him as, but instead of doing absolutely goddamn nothing to earn his final redemption he, I don’t know, gives Voldemort the two in the chest instead of getting bit by a snake for no particular reason. There are still big problems left unresolved, but this at least preserves one of the only characters with even vaguely complex motives. We think. If we ever knew what the fuck they were until after he dies.
4. THE “GOOD GUY” WIZARDS DON’T ROLL OVER LIKE A BUNCH OF FUCKING WEENIES
Okay, okay. We all got it before the three-paragraph description of Voldemort’s giant iron throne-of-tortured-humans statue. The guy is Hitler; Death Eaters are fucking Nazis. Fantastic — everyone can get behind a good, old-fashioned Nazi punch-out.
Only problem is, the wizarding world ain’t exactly 1930s Germany. The weak-minded are swayed or bullied into believing that impure “Mudbloods” are the source of all their problems — fantastic, only, what problems? These are people that can make fer-chrissake-magical banquets every time their team wins a football match (which makes the Weasely family’s often-cited crippling poverty kinda suspect, too). You can’t really appeal to their desperation, and if they’re all too afraid to even use Voldemort’s name it’s a safe bet that you won’t get far playing up to their militaristic streak either. There’s just no good reason for the whole magical world (that isn’t enrolled at Hogwarts) to go belly-up en masse.
The Alternative: One of those times when Harry fucks up and resurrects Voldemort a little bit more (seriously, how many times did that even happen?), some not-a-clueless-teenager wizard reaches down, finds a pair, and has the Book Seven showdown months before everything goes all Kristallnacht. Sure, the bad guys use Killing Curses or whatever, but it’s not like “good guy” wizards are lacking for firepower. Voldemort can point his want and kill something standing in a straight line ahead of it…and silly, bumbling Mr. Weasely can point his wand and pick up a freaking car and put it where he wants. Are we really supposed to believe that an entire nation of generally well-intentioned wizards was so paralyzed with fear of You-Know-Who that no one even contemplated putting the car straight through his ugly bald head? And given that Rowling repeatedly establishes the basic “wands-equal-guns” premise where you need a straight shot with no obstacles to even use the Killing Curse, the Death Eaters pretty much lose their intimidation factor anywhere except a wide open plain. Which brings us straight to…
3. THE “BATTLE OF HOGWARTS” USES SOME COMMON SENSE.
Here’s the scenario: you’re in a huge castle. The bad guys are all standing on a field in front of you. Oh, and you’re a good-guy wizard, so you know how basic Muggle technology like telephones and gold-plated nose-hair-trimmers work, unlike the bad guys. Of course, Hogwart’s magic technology-killing field makes anything electric go haywire, so your technological advantage is pretty much limited to purely mechanical/chemical devices.
The Alternative: All things being equal, this is a pretty fucking fantastic tactical position to be sitting in. I’m not quite clear on how it turned into the play-by-play narration of an Unreal Tournament deathmatch (complete with respawn points) that we get in Deathly Hallows, but I’m pretty sure there’s room for improvement on the Rowling version. Perhaps with a little more attention paid to the fundamental advantage of giant stone battlements? Which, as we’ve already noted, render the bad guys’ one-trick-pony Killing Curse completely irrelevant. Admittedly, this would make it hard for Rowling to deliver on her stupidly-babbled promise to kill someone important in the last book, but I’m going to go ahead and call that a no-loss on account of its happening a) entirely off-stage and b) to no one actually important at all.
2. HARRY DRILLS VOLDEMORT LIKE A BP OIL WELL IN THE FIRST HUNDRED PAGES
So we all know what Book Seven was — a watered-down Lord of the Rings, complete with cursed jewelry that slowly turns you evil as you carry it (but will vanquish your enemy when you destroy it) and bracketed by long, CG-dependent action sequences. But what else could it have been? For one thing, it could have been more about the people and less about the
gadgets magic, with the Hoarcruxes a minor subplot at best instead of half the damn book. That gives Harry the chance to plug Voldemort like we’ve all been waiting for, sans resurrection scenes and profound chats with Dumbledore, and leaves the rest of the thousand-odd pages for the good guys to work out how they handle a Harry who wields the Elder Wand and the Dark Magics with ease and confidence.
The Alternative: My vote? Harry loses it completely and we spend most of Book Seven focused on Hermione as she tracks him across England, culminating in a Quentin Tarantino-style scene where she puts the mad dog down and wizardry returns to normal. Tell me she isn’t due for an awesome, blurred-edges shot as she yanks her hair out of its ponytail and takes her glasses off just before going all kung fu on his ass. (Of course she knows kung fu. She probably took it as an elective since her second year, and no one ever bothered to ask her about it.)
1. EVERYTHING GOES EXACTLY AS ROWLING WROTE IT, EXCEPT FOR THE BITTER MARITAL STRIFE AND INEVITABLE DIVORCES SHE LEFT OUT OF THE EPILOGUE AND HER CRAPASS INTERVIEWS.
Let’s be entirely clear on how things turn out for the happy heroes: Harry and Ginny Weasely — his high-school sweetie and best friend’s sister — settle down to become a policeman and a sports reporter, respectively. Since the sportswriting career follows about three years of professional play, according to Rowling, we can safely assume that Ginny was a wash-out by pro standards, while Harry will obviously never live up to the fame of his first, greatest “case” (which he cocked up about seven different times, give or take, but never mind that). If this doesn’t sound like a recipe for depression, alcoholism, and spousal abuse, I don’t know what does.
Ron and Hermione fare little better — the only one of the central characters to avoid becoming a high-school drop-out, she immediately fucks it up anyway by becoming a social worker. Ron mooches along after Harry like always, forever the Milhouse to his Bart. What a goddamn mess.
The Alternative: Actually, this sounds like a fantastic series of books. As Rowling’s fan base ages, she can add more and more Harry Potter books in increasingly grimmer shades (not an unfamiliar progression for her already), until we find adolescent James Jr. and Albus Potter sneaking sips of their father’s Rip-Snorter Rye and arguing about the magic herbs Mom takes for the pain “from an old Cruciatus Curse” while Harry mooches rent money off of the Weasleys. Sound like fun?
I expect my royalty checks to start arriving shortly.
If you hated this list, you will almost certainly not enjoy my TOP 10 MOST ABSOLUTELY OVERRATED BOOKS YOU’VE PROBABLY HAD TO READ. Or lust after some seriously not-high-schoolers in the list of HUNKS OF THE WESTERN LITERARY CANON. Aren’t cheesy list-posts fun?