In a label conscious culture it is no wonder that the mainstream media is quick to label any and everything in order to mold it into a preexisting box rather than have to stretch their minds around something new and (gasp!) different. Scarlett is the next Marilyn, Natalie the next Audrey, and Gwyneth the next Grace.
While being the “Next Big Thing” may be quite the honor, there is no title more coveted than that of “The Next Harry Potter.”
Many have tried to lay claim to the boy wizard’s throne, from Christopher Paolini’s “Inheritance Trilogy,” to Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Material’s” series, to Lemony Snicket’s “Series of Unfortunante Events,” but none have so captured the imagination of the public and garnered more comparisons to Harry Potter than Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, and its recently released conclusion, “Breaking Dawn.”
Forget the fact that the stories don’t even remotely resemble one another, what with a vampire dreamboat at the heart of one and an adolescent wizard’s battle over evil (and hormones) the crux of the other. Both have been bestsellers on numerous lists and have sold millions of copies worldwide. They both have avid fan bases, movie adaptations and midnight release parties, but I can’t help but feel that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter has a certain magic about it that has nothing to do with Hogwarts.
The media-marketing machine ignored the intangible magic of Harry Potter when it set out on a quest to find “The Next Harry Potter,” without ever stopping to think that maybe such a thing will never exist.
While “Breaking Dawn’s” sold an impressive 1.3 million copies in 24 hours according to USA Today, the last title in Rowling’s series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” sold 8.3 million in its first day on sale, the same article reported.
Meyer herself may put it best in an interview with MTV Movies Blog on April 10, “there’s never going to be another J.K. Rowling,” she said. “That’s a phenomenon. That’s not going to happen again.”
And while that may be quite the humble response from a woman responsible for tearing millions of teenage girl’s attention away from Zac Efron, Rowling herself seems to agree that the secret to the success of her series escapes even her.
“I can never write anything as popular again,” Rowling said in an Associated Press article. “Lightning does not strike in the same place twice.”
But attributing either of these women’s success to the flighty temptresses fate or phenomena is failing to acknowledge their literary talents. Both women created enthralling pen and ink adventures while living interesting stories all their own. Indeed, it is easier to compare the authors and their fans than their respective novels.
“The interesting thing about the comparison is that I think you can compare my fans to her fans,” Meyer said in the same MTV interview. “I do think that we both have people who are just really, really enthusiastic,” but “J.K. Rowling’s audience is everybody, so that means we all have a piece of her audience,” she acknowledged.
Fans that celebrate the release of a book at midnight, inundate online message boards with theories, and all around obsess over each word choice in the books, and perhaps even more over the casting of the movies.
The casting of the actor who played Harry Potter hero Cedric Diggory as the charming “vegetarian” vampire Edward Cullen caused a melding of names seen only on the levels of Brad and Angelina. “Cedward” was born and the two fan bases seemed to meld along with the names of main characters. Interviews with Meyer can now be seen on Harry Potter fan sites, and many fans of Harry Potter crossed over to become “Twihards.”
It seems that Meyer’s vampire love affair has won the approval of the Harry Potter fan base, but as Meyer has said, “The stories are just so different.”
A difference that makes it important to recognize them on their own rather than try to assign Meyer’s series the subtitle of “The Next Harry Potter.”
After all, any series that takes silver to the bespectacled boy wizard’s gold is in quite a sought after position, and any book that casts a spell on the technology obsessed younger set deserves accolades.
But I can’t help but wonder, rather than label it “The Next Harry Potter,” why not “The First Twilight?”