Thursday, 23 June 2011

UPDATED: Putter More

I was more right than I imagined. JK Rowling is just continuing milking the same (un)dead cow. The Pottermore website seems to be intended to be just "an interactive experience that will take them on their own personal journey through the much-loved books".

Oh, dear...

JK Rowling is out for even more money.

To be sure I dont' begrudge her the money she amassed in the last ten years or so. How could I when there's obviously more than enough people out there willing to spend it on her fare. Which is fair enough. I guess. What's more, I can't even say that she writes badly. She does not. I know because I have actually read her first three Harry Potter books.

And therein lies the rub...

I don't know if I'm alone in this, but it was the way the third Harry Potter book ends that made me a) decide not to spend a penny more on what was obviously becoming a money machine, and b) start to cast an ever increasingly suspicious eye on JK, and what's she up to. The latter unequivocally led me to believe (and has confirmed my initial suspicions) that under that friendly, children loving, tree hugging mask lies really just someone hungry for more money, and more money alone.

Do you even remember how the third books ends? And I don't mean whether you remember exact words or even just the scene overall. No. I mean what is the unmistakeable underlying current there. If you ask me, and I have gone back to it a couple of times to check, the third Harry Potter book ends with the same air as a third-rate soap opera. It builds up suspense and interest in what comes next, and when all that culminates it just plain cuts off. The only thing missing is "to find out more buy my next book" spelled out.

Sorry JK, but that is no way to treat your readers, and most especially when most of your readers are prepubescent boys and girls. But then, that's exactly how money is made. Work yourself into the minds of lil' uns and you've worked your way into their parents' wallets. If you also manage to hook a good number of grown-ups themselves - well, so much the better. Only one needs to be careful and try not to get caught doing it. For the writer, the best way to do that is to cultivate such style from the word "go". But JK only cottoned up to it after not one, but two of her book became massively popular. So then she went on to do that hook 'em thing in the third. And that's why it was so obvious. At least to me. And that's why suddenly JK Rowling became this small in my eyes. And my eyes became beady, looking at the possibility of redemption. Or otherwise. Sadly, it was otherwise from thereon in.

What makes it even worse it needn't be that way at all. And JK needn't have looked very far afield for a better way, either. Hey, Terry Pratchett does it all the time in the Discworld series. I think I've by now read most if not all of his work, and I can safely say that not a single of the myriad books ever leave you wanting at the end, and especially never end in a way that makes it necessary to run to the bookshop for the sequel so you can see what happened in the end. And yet, at the same time, every single of Terry Pratchett's books do make you want to run to the bookshop and get more of his work. But that's on the merit of his marvelous writing and imagination, never because he short-changed you on the book currently in your hand.

But I guess JK Rowling didn't have many other options, really. She does seem to be one trick pony, with nothing worthwhile writing about but a fixed cast of characters in a relatively fixed - and limited - setting, in a story that is by its own nature limited in both space, time, and content. I mean, how many options there are in a story populated by a single school and a single class? Crucially, it hinges heavily on Harry Potter himself, and there's only so much one can write - interestingly - about a single character, regardless of how fascinating he was to start with. And, lo and behold, JK had to eventually conclude the story - not to be continued.

Luckily for her greed, there's the film franchise - sadly (happily) limited itself. Then, more lucratively in the long run (maybe) the theme park(s). And now, when other options seem to have dried up (as the author's imagination seems to have, too) there's Pottermore(.com). And again, it couldn't just be announced in a straightforward manner as any confident author would, but the hype is being built up to stratospheric levels.

Of course, it is probably children again that are being targeted. After all, one just needs to have a look at the holding page. It's nothing if not infantile. One would think JK Rowling could have afforded someone more capable to do the design and branding. If that's not enough (coupled by media frenzy) there's even a @pottermore Twitter account which, by all accounts, very quickly amassed over 75,000 followers. Poor things.

Oh, and I didn't even mention (yet) how JK Rowling happily lets media repeat - for ten years running now - how she comes from a very humble and poor background. Dont' get me wrong. I do feel for her, and I can only extend kudos for succeeding in the end. But enough is enough. It is distasteful - and bad manners - to rub others' noses into ones misfortune, especially when it's a past misfortune, and most especially when today one can buy most of those others with pocket change. Enough of your games JK. It's high time you either quit or came up with something original.

And honourable. For a change...