My friend and I share a favorite TV news promo: Up next: Left-lane Loungers and How They Could Kill You. Translation: How people who drive at a glacial pace on the interstate could cause your untimely death if you happen to be driving in the left lane, you potentially don’t see them, potentially crash and potentially die.
Reading Tuesday’s Miami Herald, “Helping fans cope if Harry dies,” a Health centerpiece that squeezed a piece of non-news out of the over-hyped Potter mania, I felt the same: ashamed of my profession.
Howard Cohen writes about how the potential death in the potential ending of the fictional Harry Potter in the yet-to-be released final book could potentially affect your children in statements that seem more connected to his own hypotheses than the feelings of the children he later quotes: “this could be devastating” and “have a profound impact” that could lead to “depression, sleeplessness, temper tantrums, reverting to bed wetting.”
Yet the children he quotes seem to be hoping for the very ending that Cohen told us could bring them a boatload of trauma.
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“I’d be sad and lots of people would be sad, but it would be a good emotional point in the story. It would be a good ending so no one could steal it in future years,” said one savvy 14-year-old. A 16-year-old said she hoped for “melancholy” ending, not a “cookie-cutter happy one.”
Cohen ends: “So far, these kids are all right. What about yours?”
Translation: Whoops, I just spent too much time reporting this non-story to get the maximum mileage on this bandwagon of Potter journalism and found out some kids might actually want him to die. But hey, we have a newspaper to fill, people! --Janine Zeitlin