Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Potter Tea Party

I love cross-cultural blunders, and this was one of the best ones I’ve seen, if for no other reason than that it involved millions of dollars.

The final Harry Potter book went on sale on Saturday, in a globally coordinated release. There was incredibly tight security around the book, so the publishers were quite upset to find the New York Times reviewing the book on Thursday.

Without threatening legal action (surely a hopeless cause), Author JK Rowling resorted to shaming the Times. And that’s where her mistake took place: comparing the NY Times leak to the Boston Tea Party.

Technically, or legally, I suppose, the Boston Tea Party (wikipedia) was an act of piracy, just as spoiling intellectual property secrets was for the Times review of an unreleased book. So Rowling was factually correct.

Her mistake, the one that sank her whole complaint, is in holding the Boston Tea Party before a group of Americans as a shameful act. Way off target: Americans are proud of the Tea Party, and comparing the Times review to the colonial rebels was the surest way to make them stand a little taller and be a little prouder. Rowling thus came off, not as an injured artist, but as a simpering, wealthy subject of the Crown.

A few months ago, as I was giving an interview about my book to a radio station in England, the host asked me if rebellion was an essential attribute of the American character, and I replied yes, although I’m not certain how strongly I hold that opinion.

But the Boston Tea Party, which really was nothing more than an urban riot, in the same moral category as Watts—Americans are proud of that riot, pretty much across the board.


At 7:39 AM, September 26, 2007, Blogger staceyhoff said...

Is this all we have to talk about these days? ;) ....J/K!

I haven't been on here in awhile, and I was looking forward to some really good spiritual discussion like,idk,how sinners saved by grace should reach out to the gay community or something.Now THAT would have been interesting ;) ;) ;)

Ha ha ha ha ....just teasing you!

Hope you have a great day :)

ps: Idk if u knew this,but I used to go to Biblical too; I'm on a break since the MA in Counseling program went all wierd and I now waiting till my kids are older to finish my degree. Idk if you ever took any Biblical Counseling courses though...

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At 2:24 PM, May 12, 2008, Anonymous Jesse Phillips said...

VERY interesting, that's a great point! I think rebellion/revolution/stick-it-to-the-man is an essential part of our culture.

What has made it this way? Is it truly b/c of the revolution? Could such an old event have such a long-lasting effect? Is it b/c every child is taught about the revolution in school?

If so, I wonder what other attributes we are solidifying in our kids by what we routinely teach them.


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