Sunday, July 5, 2009

My American heart belongs to one Harry Potter

Published July 5, 2009
St. George Spectrum & Daily News

This column is dedicated to Paul and Jo Neary, avid readers of The Mother Load from across the pond. You’re both, uh, very British. Good job.

Yesterday, we Americans celebrated our Independence from England with a nationwide solemn prayer service, ceremonial readings of the Declaration of Independence, and dramatic reenactments of the Battle of Bunker Hill. The day was spent in quiet reflection of the men who gave their lives to secure our freedom from tyranny.

Just kidding. Yesterday, we celebrated our self proclaimed status as the “BEST COUNTRY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!” with parades, barbecues, demolition derbies, and fireworks displays. Yup, there’s nothing like a charred burger for saying, “Nanny nanny boo boo!” to the Brits.

Me? I’m usually as patriotic as the next gal, but this month, I might as well be singing, “God Save the Queen.” In case it’s escaped your notice, this is not only the month we honor our forefathers. This is the month the new Harry Potter movie is released. Sing it with me now, “God save our gracious Queen. Long live our Noble Queen. God save the Queen.”

I know. I know. I’m very conflicted about this. I am an American, through and through, but when it comes to that teenage wizard with the famous scar, I’m ready to defect right here and now and move my family across the ocean to the motherland. Yes, I know I don’t believe in monarchies. Yes, I think the royal family is a joke. Yes, I know it rains 15 months of the year. It’s all very distressing.

I don’t think I’m the only person out there struggling with these emotions, and I don’t think it’s an accident. It’s all well and good to light up a few sparklers and sing the “Star Spangled Banner” on the 4th of July, but do we ever stop to think about what the day means to the British? They ruled the world! They were the Empire of the Sun! They had everything, and then some scrappy colonists threw some tea into a harbor and their power was gone. That had to hurt.

I think the British have been planning their comeback ever since. They’ve “allied” themselves with us in world conflicts. They’ve “adopted” some of our style and politics. In every way they’ve put up a friendly front that says, “Sure, we tried rule you then kill you, but we’re friends now! Our Queen only has the power to wave at people! We’re buddies!”

All the while, they plot to bring us back into submission by sending in soldiers and spies to infiltrate our ranks. You’re thinking differently about every Beatles song you’ve ever sung, aren’t you. They want to hold our hand, indeed. What else could Monte Python’s “The Holy Grail” be but a blatant attempt to brainwash Americans into accepting royal rule.

And now…Harry Potter. It’s possibly the most prolific and successful attempt at British control the United States has ever seen, and here I sit, ready, willing, and able to say, “Democracy, schmemocracy!” and turn myself over to the British police. (All my readers who have just tried to say, “Democracy schmemocracy!” aloud know this is no small feat.)

The patriot inside me is doing what she can to balance out the turncoat. With every rereading of one of the Potter books, I’ve been known to shout, “Give me barbecue or give me death!” and slather homemade sauce on a rack of ribs in protest. We’ve started democratically electing desserts in our house, and I vetoed the treacle tart the kids chose (to my disgrace, it was mostly because I just have no idea what treacle is.) I find my comfort in reminding myself that the British may have slowly taken over our country with the help of J.K. Rowling, but the Yanks planted a secret weapon long ago to undermine theirs.

And you thought Madonna just liked the rain.