Sep 20 2014
I think one of the reasons the Harry Potter Epilogue was so poorly received was because the audience was primarily made up of the Millennial generation.
We’ve walked with Harry, Ron and Hermione, through a world that we thought was great but slowly revealed itself to be the opposite. We unpeeled the layers of corruption within the government, we saw cruelty against minorities grow in the past decades, and had media attack us and had teachers tell us that we ‘must not tell lies’. We got angry and frustrated and, like Harry, Ron and Hermione, had to think of a way to fight back. And them winning? That would have been enough to give us hope and leave us satisfied.
But instead. There was skip scene. And suddenly they were all over 30 and happy with their 2.5 children.
And the Millennials were left flailing in the dust.
Because while we recognised and empathised with everything up to that point. But seeing the Golden Trio financially stable and content and married? That was not something our generation could recognise. Because we have no idea if we’re ever going to be able to reach that stage. Not with the world we’re living in right now.
Having Harry, Ron and Hermione stare off into the distance after the battle and wonder about what the future might be would have stuck with us. Hell, have them move into a shitty flat together and try and sort out their lives would have. Have them with screaming nightmares and failed relationships and trying to get jobs in a society that’s falling apart would have. Have them still trying to fix things in that society would have. Because we known Voldemort was just a symptom of the disease of prejudice the Wizarding World.
But don’t push us off with an ‘all was well’. In a world about magic, JK Rowling finally broke our suspension of disbelief by having them all hit middle-class and middle-age contentment and expecting a fanbase of teenagers to accept it.
Also. Since when was ‘don’t worry kids, you’re going to turn out just like your parents’ ever a happy ending? Does our generation even recognise marriage and money and jobs as the fulfillment of life anymore? Does our generation even recognise the Epilogue’s Golden Trio anymore?
I see the argument and sense and reasonableness in this, I really really do!
But I have to counter it with two things:
1. Harry, Ron and Hermione are not Millennials - they are Generation X. 1960 - 1980 - in other words, JKR, Barack Obama, most of the cast of The Avengers, and me. (Ginny and Luna may be 1981 babies and thus cusp-milennials, but still.)
And that leads to…
2. I know a bunch of Gen X people who didn’t like the Epilogue either - because it felt wrong for the story we’d just spent three or five or eight or ten years reading. It didn’t feel like it fit, and that sensation among readers wasn’t just something Millennials were experiencing. So if you’re a Millennial, hear me on this: some if not many those of us who entered the world of Harry Potter while we were in our 20s (and 30s, and 40s and later) felt like it was unnecessary too.
(But speaking of generations, I think seeing them as always-set-in-stone 20 year sequences doesn’t make sense; the experiences of the older GenX-ers like Obama who were teens in the 70s is very different from the experiences I had as a teen in the 80s and 90s. But that’s a post for a different discussion.)