Friday, February 22, 2013

What is your definition of epic? Aug 15, 2007 1:06AM PST

Why does needless controversy present itself as so much fun? Probably because its needlessness makes it only interesting conversation for those who simply find the subject matter intriguing but any ninny trying to twist it into a full-blown argument instead of being a societal threat in an important controversy is just stupidly funny/amusingly childish in this context.

Anyway, in probably the most disturbing need for more of a series after a definitive end (not counting the doors and windows being opened wide to spinoffs) I am still interesting in whether or not Harry Potter is an epic.

My stance is looking at the individual books they're not seperately epics; more like kid-friendly mystery novels (very well done one's at that) but the series as a whole I see as a definite epic.

Now here's the wiktionary definition of epic:


an extended narrative poem in elevated or dignified language, celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero

Now here's some of the arguments against Harry Potter being an epic:

FF_Killa~ "It's not just cosplaying. Star Trek and LotR have entire languages dedicated to them and some people think of Star Wars as a religion. That's what makes them epic, the fans just going absolute nuts for it".

What I shoulda said the first time I saw that~ I'm not talking about whether the fanbase itself is epic. That doesn't mean shit with regards to the story, which is what I'm actually discussing here. Nerd culture glorifies lots of things that suck (not implying for these things, though I think SW is overrated... for the record so is Potter but that doesn't cut into either's epic storylines) for generations ad infinitum. My school actually has a class dedicated to LotR. Does that mean its fanbase has reached epic proprtions of nerddom and perhaps size? Yes, but then you take into consideration that I could just as easily start a club dedicated to A Clockwork Orange and all the crazies that love that style of dress (actually take your pick of remotely underground rock band: they've done at least one photo shoot as "droogs") and story but it wouldn't make that story an epic in the slightest. LotR is the epic if not only because Tolkien's WWII-haunted mind clearly thought it was his duty to write the fantasy version of the bible given the assloads of characters, but it's also the epic because of the storyline. You can gain a massive cult following of epic proportions, but that has nothing to do with that cult's obsession itself being epic.

Black_Widow_Spider~ I'm afraid I'd have to agree with whoever said Potter wasn't epic. I like both series but it hasn't been around long enough.

Again, I see this as beside the point~ LotR may have been around for a longass time but then you also have to admit the series was dormant in the mainstream media in the years directly proceeding the movies. Other than that the story's been kept alive by people who read it in its time and passed it on. That the latter will happen with Potter is inevitable and each film will undoubtedly make it a spotlight act again. For one, we're just sitting on an egg we can all see hatching concerning if Potter will remain a household name in the history of books (I'd be extremely surprised if it didn't) and once again this has jack at all to do with storylines.

Now to the actual storyline and why I consider Potter epic.

First of all, I want to remind everyone that I am defending the series as an epic. I admit that no individual book aside from the 7th could be considered an epic in the most complete sense.

Now this defense will take a bit of explaining my take on the definition given by wiktionary.

An extended narrative poem written in elevated or dignified language Ok now this is probably where FF_Killa's "too many things allowed to be epics" theory is strongest. Now there are certain letters of this law that I'm afraid I may not be able to explain in words and won't register with those not very well versed in the study of the English language if I do (which means incrediblebrendan you may get a PM'd explanation when I'm up to it lol) so we'll leave it at "a really longass story" despite that that makes FF_Killa temporarily correct.

celebrating the feats of a legendary or traditional hero and here's where my own definition of hero comes in. To me a hero is someone that suffers grave inconveniences unto themselves with the understanding it aids everyone else.

Wiki definition of hero

A real or mythical person of great bravery who carries out extraordinary deeds.
A role model.
The main protagonist in a work of fiction.
A champion.
A large sandwich made from meats and cheeses.

Luke Skywalker, Frodo (Baggins? I forgot his relation) and Harry Potter all have the first description which is to me the most important of the wiki ones. But Potter and Frodo are far more selfless than Luke who at the end of the day had a princess waiting for him. Potter had a girlfriend sure, but the way he understood it at least he pretty much had to be a martyr and followed said plan willingly enough. Frodo had Sam... so we're not sure actually but given Mount Doom wasn't a precursor to Brokeback Mountain his journey was the longest and least selfish. And despite the princess thing, Luke did save others lives at possible risk of his own.

But this means no matter how long Jason Bourne (of the Bourne Identity series)'s story is he can't be a hero: he's in it for himself. It's not that what he's doing is bad mind you but he isn't exactly trumped up enough or enough of a savior for "epic".

And of course there's that legendary/traditional thing. I take legendary to mean "The Cosen One" type of thing which again all walking nerd banners in the three series mentioned had a bit of. Therefore Transformers can't be epic because sure Optimus Prime is a good guy and all but he's not so much choosing his war as much as he pretty much just has to fight it to stay alive (I would argue that in an epic there are at least offers from the dark side for life on all fours as an alternative) and there's no legend surrounding him (or his baggage i.e. Frodo)

And let's elaborate on that parenthesis in Optimus Prime's fight to survive: epic villians give options to remain alive under their control to survive, non-epic villians just kill. Voldemort, Darth Vader and Sauron would actually prefer fresh (pure?) blood so they could form a world of despair whereas less poetic villians just want to kill everything in their way rather than persuade. And so once again my perception of characters in an epic directly effects my view of what makes an epic. Where I see the heros as unselfish people who know what they must do, the villians are simply very greedy people who think they are always right.

And of course I think an epic should have an at least somewhat overtly black-n-white view of Good and Evil. Sure there are some gray areas in certain parts of every story but at the end of the day every epic to me must be very clearly Voldemort vs. Potter, Luke vs Vader, or Frodo vs Sauron. That may seem uninteresting at first but trust me: there are still ways to see good vs bad clearly but in new and creative contexts.

Anyway, I've written way too much considering my lack of knowledge on both SW and LotR and despite my love for it my admitting that Potter's a bit overrated (so is every epic imo but let's not get into how my gritty mind works) so what's your take on what an epic should be and does Potter fit the bill?


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