‘Tis the season for togetherness

This last week, my friends and I have exchanged a flurry of emails about the new Potter movie. The strength of the email flood is a couple of degrees weaker than the one that followed the release of the 6th book. After all, this is just a movie. As book snobs, we place a greater value on the written word, as opposed to crude commercial entertainment for the masses. (Yes, we choose to turn off our disdain switches when it comes to crude written commercial entertainment for the masses.)

Someone watched the movie first, wrote a review, and sent it to everyone else. Reactions are still in progress. As for the one or two poor souls who haven’t watched the movie yet – tough luck, for the reviews were full of spoilers. As a group, we have been perverse enough to make sure that we copied every single crib mail (obviously, the movie is NOT as good as the book.) to ALL our friends, HP fans or not. Our reaction to the movie is predictable, given that it’s written into the group’s bylaws. (That was item #2 on the initiation oath – “we swear allegiance to the group and we swear to HATE every movie ever made from a book with a 0.001% margin of error (the bit about the margin of error was an amendment introduced a few years ago when older members were still reeling from LOTR – that good books AND great movies were not mutually exclusive was a revelation. Those 3 movies had the same effect as Copernicus’s pronouncement about the earth not being flat. It shook our basic beliefs in the meaning of life and everything else.))

Having gotten over that digression, let us return to the email list. As I said, we took great pains to copy the one or two misfits who care as much about Harry Potter as they do about, oh, the debate on Pluto’s being a planet or an interesting bit of fluff at the edge of our solar system, which is to say, zilch. Our insistence on getting them up to speed on the new movie stems from a number of reasons:
a) We still nurture wild hopes of getting them to see the light
b) We wish to impress them with our wondrous movie reviewing skills – how we can skillfully compare and contrast a given movie with any numbers of older movies that may or may not be related to the first movie
c) We wish to impress them with our photographic memory & how this superior skill allows us to remember every scene, every minor character, every insignificant subplot from the book that the movie being discussed is based upon, as well as any numbers of other books that may or may not be related to the first book
d) We wish to prove to ourselves and each other that we’re all really brilliant casting directors, who’re temporarily pushing time at our current jobs till we get discovered by Hollywood
e) We don’t want them to feel left out
f) We want them to feel left out

Items e and f contradict each other. Yes, I am aware of that. This contradiction forms the crux of any group, really.

People come together all the time, drawn by common interests. Formally and informally, I belong to several myself. Little, private clubs of movie-watchers, desi-food lovers, book-readers (there ever so many sub groups under this one – Wodehouse-lovers, Dostoevsky-haters, secret-Henry James-readers, open-M&B readers and very many more), holders of crushes on Gaël Garcia Bernal and Mikhail Baryshinov (yes, we believe that age is merely a number, when it comes to dashing men), haters of Hummers, lovers of New Yorker cartoons, disdainers of popular Indian movies, guilty watchers of The Commander in Chief, secret fans of Paris Hilton & Backstreet Boys, and well, you get the picture.

At first, I used to revel in the goodness of it all – a group of like minded people getting together to share ideas, find companionship, share joy etc. Unity, ha! We only really get together in order to leave others out.

Of course you can be a snob all by yourself. But there is strength in numbers. If nothing else, it is reassuring. A lone 28 year old obsessing over a children’s book sounds like he / she belongs to Loserville. A group of nearly 30 somethings who love Harry Potter, and are planning to gear up for the Narnia tales are wise old souls who remain young at heart, despite all the disillusionment the big bad world has thrown their way in 30 long years.

Forming a group or getting accepted into one isn’t easy. Truckloads of compromises have to be made. Be it a decision to keep thoughts of what you really think of ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ to yourself when surrounded by the Marquez groupies, or keeping your documentary-viewing habits a secret from the Tamil-Masala-Movie-Fan-Club members, to much larger sacrifices like watching the occasional Jane Campion movie and worse, pretending to like John Malkovich, every surrender is carefully weighed and carried out with coldhearted precision.

All this is done so you can look down your nose upon those who do not get the Lord of the Rings or Wagner or Scenes from a Marriage or whatever. It is as if we are too pug-nosed individually, but together, we create a patrician nose a Roman would be proud of. And from atop that noble proboscis, we gaze down upon the world. For all our toils for the sake of being included, exclusion is the ultimate reward.

Given the number of groups we belong to, it is always interesting to watch which loyalties take precedence. When I read Karthik’s post about the Goblet of Fire, my blogger loyalties had a face-off with my HP loyalties, and the teen wizard won. Because I’ve been on his bandwagon longer? Because I have more HP-loving friends than friends who think it’s all a big bore? Because I like JKR’s creation that much? I don’t know.

Do I ostracize Karthik? Kinda – but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? All I can say is, Karthik – you’re not alone. I just forgot to include you on the email list of other friends I’ve been excluding all week. And happy thanksgiving y’all. ‘Tis the season for getting together and killing the turkey.

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4 comments so far

  1. Manoj on

    Now that was like listening to an exquisite Ilaiyaraja interlude. Hopefully a compliment that’ll transcend my world to yours! 🙂
    You rock, DoZ!

    PS: What’s the membership scene like for “disdainers of popular Indian movies…with screenshots” and “Fans of Amala for life”?

  2. Karthik on

    Thanks, I think. Although to be sure, I’ll read the next Potter book.

  3. DoZ on

    Thank you, Manoj 🙂 Deeply flattered, and yes, flattery opens all sorts of doors.

    As for your queries – membership’s still open for Amala fans – didn’t know we still had them. Lovely girl, that. And yeah, you’re already part of the ‘disdainers of popular Indian movies’ club. With your ‘Subtitled poetry’ post, you’re one of the senior members.

  4. DoZ on

    Karthik, pal, since you so sweetly promise to read the next book, am happy to take you on as a junior member to the HP club, if you promise to initiate me into the Tamil literature one. I must warn you – it takes me 15 minutes or longer to read PTC bus signs in Tamil


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