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Harry Potter Grief Counseling?

Voldemort from the cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

So you can find the press release here. But having read it, the more I think about it, the more pissed off I am.

Gist: a “certified grief counselor” is using the release of Harry Potter‘s final book to pimp herself to the media, under the guise of helping parents and children deal with grief over the death of fictional characters. Because deaths are rumored to happen in Book 7, the press release states “This could have a serious impact on children, millions of whom have grown up reading, watching and profoundly enjoying the characters and storylines of the Harry Potter series.”

For crying out loud, people. It’s not bad enough that anytime Something Bad Happens we trot out grief counselors to prop up children (who, for the most part, don’t need propping up as often as they get propped up–they’re children–they’re resilient little bastards), now we’re going to trot them out when Something Bad Doesn’t Actually Happen. It’s fiction!

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve cried over fictional characters that I’ve invested much reading time in. Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, which I’ve mentioned before, broke my heart so bad I won’t touch the sequel. I cried over Stu Redman on my first reading of The Stand. Hell, I might have shed a tear towards the end of The Sandman (although that might have been because it was just so damn good). But grief counseling?

Imagine the press release issued the week before Empire Strikes Back: “We’ve heard rumors that a major character will be frozen in carbonite and left seemingly dead.” Or before the Fellowship movie: “As everyone knows, a major character will die at the hands of orcs–warn your kids!” Or what if you had to have disclaimers in front of every touring production of Hamlet, played for high schoolers?

Hell, where were you grief counselors when we really needed you? Like when The Last Battle was published: “Rumors are circulating that the end of the series will suck dead armadillo livers.” Or Highlander 2? Who didn’t get dangerously drunk after watching that? Or when the new Star Wars trilogy came out? I cried myself to sleep after Episode I! Where were you vicious bastards then, huh?

So anyway, thanks for nothing. Kids don’t need you to make them feel better about characters who are dead when they can just re-read the series and have them be alive again. They are books, for fuck’s sake. If you elevate everything in life that’s bad to the level of High Tragedy with no way of telling the Really Bad from the Fake Bad, then that makes you just a variation on Ellsworth Toohey as far as I’m concerned. So you can take your grief counseling and shove it up your certified arse.

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