When it comes to Harry Potter enthusiasts, it's a wacky world out there. Parents, of course, want their kids to learn to love to read. But could it really be a good thing for anyone to obsess over any books the way some young readers do over Harry Potter?
This is a question you may find yourself asking as you watch "We Are Wizards," Josh Koury's documentary film released in theaters last week about some of Harry Potter's more, well, let's say "dedicated" fans.
"Ten percent of Harry Potter fans are addicts," admits blogger Christopher Campbell. "This is a fact, according to a recent scientific study. But after watching 'We Are Wizards,' a documentary about Harry Potter fandom directed by Josh Koury, it seems clear that the study was a waste of time. One only needs to see this film to know that Potterphiles go a little overboard with their love for the boy wizard."
The 79-minute film actually covers a fair amount of territory – too much, complains a review in the New York Times – as it touches on "fandom as an act of creation, intellectual property rights in the Internet age, conglomerate bullying."
But the heart – and charm – of the film is its investigation of Harry and the Potters, an indie rock band formed by brothers Joe and Paul DeGeorge in 2002. The band, which prefers to play in libraries, performs songs with Harry Potter-inspired lyrics. They have released three full-length studio albums and have performed internationally. (The Boston Phoenix calls them "the Pink Floyd of Potterdom.")
Actually, according to Campbell, there are at least 300 "wizard bands" out there, groups like "The Wands, who aren’t in the film, apparently have songs about what it's like to be a wand and The Whomping Willow (now The Whomping Willows) writes from the perspective of, yes, a violent, magical tree on the Hogwarts grounds."
Is this an incredible flowering of creativity based on books that represent a golden moment of children's literature? Or is it something darker and more dangerous (as at least one speaker in the documentary suggests)? Or is it perhaps just craziness?
You may have to go see "We Are Wizards" before you can decide.