Stomp the Yard (2007)

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Stomp the Yard
Dir. Sylvain White
Premiered January 12, 2007

This review was a mistake.

During the 2000s, there was this vogue for movies about competetive dancing. The first one I remember was Bring It On, but the real tipping point into ubiquity was called You Got Served. I had confused this movie with that one.

You Got Served came out in 2004, and pitted a black dance group against a white one (I’m not sure whether this was meant to evoke issues of racism or it just made it easier to tell the heroes and villains apart). I never saw it, and by all accounts it’s awful, but at the time it was a decent hit, and the marketing for it stuck in your head like a novelty song. Like this film, it also came out in January. So you may forgive my confusion.

In 2007, dancing simply wasn’t something most people did. Instead, the vogue at the time was to stand silently at attention like that one scene in The Madness of King George. Dancing was a specialized skill performed by competitive semi-professionals, and the main style of competitive dance was Krumping, a combination of flips, randomly flailing like an inflatable tube man, and re-enacting Mortal Kombat, all in fast motion. This is something the Stomp the Yard captures pretty well, in the frantic, jittery style associated with cheap DSLR cameras. Most of the film isn’t nearly that energetic, but for some reason it’s all shot that way.

Columbus Short plays DJ Williams, an underground krumper who ropes his goody-goody brother (Chris Brown, in his first film role. Yeah.) into a major competition, only to lose him in a shootout by their rivals. Even if DJ’s brother wasn’t played by the standard-bearer of raging, psychopathic narcissism masquerading as sweetness, I still wouldn’t care, because the movie doesn’t care. And that’s the main problem.

After unfairly serving time for defending himself in the brawl, DJ is sent to his aunt and uncle in Georgia and starts taking classes at Not-Morehouse University, where people apparently still register for classes in person, on paper, in 2007. There, he is entranced by April Palmer (Meagan Good), who gets a sexy intro so half-assed that it’d make a great parody. Unfortunately for DJ, she’s inexplicably in a relationship with irredeemable asshole Grant (Darrin Henson), the elitist, self-appointed leader of one of the college’s two rival fraternities best known for a type of competitive step known as stomping the yard. DJ’s skills at the club earn him an invitation to pledge for the rival fraternity, though they take issue with his excessively street style.

My issue with Stomp the Yard is not with the genre. I’m sure you can make a good dance movie. But this movie does not give a shit. DJ’s a good guy in a bad situation, so he has no arc. The plot is flimsy and relies on tired old clichés and a wildly outdated understanding of social class. The actors plaing DJ’s frat brothers aren’t given much to do, but they have fun with it, and the dancing is actually pretty cool. But there’s a lot more to the film than that, and that’s the problem.

Also in Theaters:

  • Justin Timberlake gives one of his first impressive performances in the otherwise mediocre crime drama Alpha Dog.
  • The trailers for the critically-panned Primeval try to pass off its crocodile antagonist as a human. Not kidding.

Additional Notes:

  • Sign this was made in 2007: The good guys are the ones dressed entirely in black. Butt-crack is still the new cleavage (though this is only implied, as Meagan Good’s wide shots are all tastefully in profile).
  • Before we go any further, I want to say that I don’t think bad movies don’t take away from good movies. If that were the case, 2007 would be just as mediocre as any other year, because boy, do we have some doozies coming up.
Next Time: Epic Movie
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Reading into Maccabees, Part 4

Chapter 13

By now, Simon is the last of the Maccabees. He’s lost his father and all of his brothers. He is pissed off, and delivers a rousing speech in Jerusalem:

You know what great battles I and my brethren, and the house of my father, have fought for the laws, and the sanctuary, and the distresses that we have seen; by reason whereof all my brethren have lost their lives for Israel’s sake, and I am left alone. And now far be it from me to spare my life in any time of trouble: for I am not better than my brethren. I will avenge then my nation and the sanctuary, and our children, and wives: for all the heathens are gathered together to destroy us out of mere malice.

Enraptured by the speech, the Jews declare him to be their new leader, and they prepare for war.

Tryphon claims to be holding Jonathan’s sons hostage. In an interesting bit of political maneuvering, Simon knows his nephews are already dead, but pays ransom anyway so he won’t be blamed when the boys’ fates are revealed. Tryphon’s armies are challenged everywhere they go; they’re even defeated by snow in Gilead.

Simon makes his son John Hyrcanus commander of the army, and declares yet another holiday that I’ve never heard of.

Chapter 14

Demetrius goes to Media to find soldiers to take back Seleucia, but he’s immediately defeated and arrested. Judea is peaceful and prosperous. The courts of Rome and Sparta offer their condolences for the lost Jonathan and congratulations for Simon. Simon is crowned as Prince of Judea. Uh-oh. Judaism has a strict separation of church and state. High priests like Simon are never supposed to be secular leaders.

Chapter 15

In Seleucia, yet another Antiochus, seventh of that name, seizes power from Tryphon. Antiochus asks for the Jews’ help, and the Romans write to him to make sure he means it. The Romans have been steadily building alliances with every country on the Mediterranean, and makes it clear that they are all allies with Judea. But of course Antiochus doesn’t listen, and invades Judea as soon has he finishes with Tryphon.

Chapter 16

While the Jews are busy fighting Antiochus VII, Ptolemy, the Captain of Jericho, plots to usurp the Jewish throne. He kills Simon and two of his sons while they’re drunk, then tries to trick John into joining his brothers in Sheol. John gets word of the plot just in time, catches his would be killers, and has them executed.

And as concerning the rest of the acts of John, and his wars, and the worthy deeds, which he bravely achieved, and the building of the walls, which he made, and the things that he did: Behold these are written in the book of the days of his priesthood…

2 Maccabees is not that book.

Reading into Maccabees, Part 3

Chapter 9

Finally, some strategy! Bacchides returns to beseige Jerusalem, but Judah’s overconfidence does him no good this time: he’s killed, and Bacchides conquers Judea. Judah’s brothers form a government in exile in the Negev. The eldest, John, is killed by local tribesmen, who are slaughtered in revenge at a wedding. They clash with Bacchides, who fortifies the Jewish cities now under his control. Alcimus, meanwhile, decides to desecrate the Temple once more, but then dies, possibly of a stroke.

Bacchides decides this is the perfect time to destroy the Maccabees, now led by Simon and Jonathan. But once more, numbers and superior firepower are no match for local guerillas. Jonathan’s men destroy Bacchides’ war machines, then force him to release his prisoners of war and make him promise never to return to Judea.

Chapter 10

A random Greek named Alexander claims to be the son of Antiochus IV, and gets both Rome and Egypt to recognize his claim. Recognizing that civil war is iminent, both he and Demetrius reach out to Jonathan hoping for an alliance. Each side promises the Jews more and more: cash, territory, money, freedom. But Jonathan is no fool, and sides with Alexander (they’re both allied with the Romans anyway). Demetrius is killed, Alexander becomes King, and he marries Princess Cleopatra of Egypt (not that Cleopatra).

But the feud continues: Demetrius’ son (also named Demetrius), joins with General Apollonius to reconquer Seleucia. Jonathan hears of this and sends his armies to stop them. King Alexander is so impressed that he grants the Jews more territory. Hooray!

Chapter 11

Shit. Ptolemy of Egypt ignores his marital alliance with Alexander and decides to ally with Demetrius, promising that Demetrius can marry Cleopatra once she’s a widow. Ptolemy marches right into Antioch and seizes power. Alexander flees into Arabia, where he’s beheaded by tribesmen loyal to Egypt. Ptolemy dies shortly after, and Demetrius II becomes king.

In response, Jonathan besieges the Seleucid castle in Jerusalem. In the meantime, Demetrius invites Jonathan to negotiate. He praises Jonathan, recognizes him as high priest, and begs him to stop fighting. Jonathan agrees on the condition that Judea receive full independence with new, expanded borders.

Suddenly, the Seleucid army revolts against Demetrius. Demetrius calls the Jews for help, and they send an army to save him, but Demetrius is not the least bit grateful. His general Tryphon returns with Alexander’s young son, Antiochus. Demetrius flees, and Antiochus becomes King Antiochus VI. The book claims that the new King assures the Jews that their freedom will continue, but I’m not sure I buy it because he’s only three years old.

Chapter 12

Jonathan seeks to renew his alliances with Rome and Sparta. He should have made allies closer to home. After putting down another Demetrian rebellion, he goes to Egypt and is killed. General Tryphon kills King Antiochus, makes himself King, and marches on Judea.

They have no prince, nor any to help them: now therefore let us make war upon them, and take away the memory of them from amongst men.

In other words…

Reading into Maccabees, Part 2

So, I had to find out about this oil thing.

The Hanukkah story I learned as a child is that when the Maccabees restored the Temple, they only had enough kosher oil to light the menorah for one day. But, miracle of miracles, the oil burned for eight!

In the last reading, I mentioned that the Temple is actually lit by candles. I may have spoken too soon. Where the Coptic text I was reading said “candles,” the King James Version of 1 Maccabees clarifies that they’re actually “candlesticks” on which the oil lamps are stood.

Nevertheless, 1 Maccabees is a stubbornly unmiraculous book, and the story of the “Miracle of Hanukkah” infuriated me because it wasn’t in the text: it was an unfounded myth, like the Tooth Fairy. So I looked further into it, and discovered through an article from Professor Shawna Dolansky that the story of the oil is in a Jewish sacred text:

…Hanukkah, not being a holiday mentioned in the Jewish Bible…was at best a minor holiday on the Jewish calendar for many centuries. About 600 years after the events described in the books of Maccabees, the Talmud relays the story of the miracle of the oil.

In the eyes of medieval rabbis, the Maccabees were not heroes, but zealots– a viewpoint we’ll encounter again in due time. The miracle of the oil, then, takes the story out of the hands of religious fundamentalists and into the hands of God. Besides, if you’re going to have an eight-day holiday, it might as well have a miracle.

Anyway, the first Hanukkah was always the end of the story as we knew it. But here, we’re only 1/4 of the way through 1 Maccabees. What’s next?

Chapter 5

All of the idealism of the first chapter is gone. The author of 1 Maccabees now has nothing but contempt for Judah’s neighbours. Hey, scholars: was 1 Maccabees written during the events it describes? It certainly reads like it: the lack of detail with regard to the battles is exactly what I’d leave out if I’d just finished fighting them, and the creeping cynicism of the author wonderfully conveys the passage of time.

The Maccabees take out all of their neighbours, including the Edomites (so much for Esau’s “great nation”), Ammonites, Philistines, Nabateans, and Galilee. This, of course, mightily pisses off those who survive. Timothy, king of Ammon, hires an army of Arabs, and says that if Judah doesn’t cross the Jordan, they will be safe to attack. But Judah does cross, Timothy is defeated, and those Jews residing in the area are invited to come back to Judea. This is followed by more fighting. It is boring.

Chapter 6

With his empire on the verge of total collapse, Antiochus tries to sack Elymais (a city made great by Alexander, the author boasts) and fails miserably. Only now, on the way back from another failed conquest, does he learn of everything that’s happened in Judea. Antiochus panics, takes responsibility for the fact that his genocide brought this defeat upon him, and dies.

So passes Antiochus IV, and so arrives Antiochus V.

After some very confusing prose– there’s a battle, but it’s impossible to tell who’s fighting whom or where– the new Antiochus re-invades Judea, and initially wins, but because it’s a Jubilee year, there’s not enough food and the Seleucids begin to starve. In light of this, they decide to sign an armistice with the Jews. As they leave, they tear down the walls of Jerusalem, but they leave nonetheless.

Chapter 7

Demetrius is a Seleucid prince, and thinks he has a stronger claim to the throne than his 11 year-old cousin, Antiochus V. The only problem is that he’s a hostage in Rome. So he escapes (sadly without further detail), returns to Antioch, and has both Antiochus and Lysias killed. The assimilated Jews come to Demetrius demanding that the Maccabees be overthrown, and that they themselves should be put in charge of Judea.

Demetrius appoints the priest Alcimus and the Greek general Bacchides to lead this new Jewish front (The People’s Judean Front? The People’s Front of Judea?). They send diplomats to flatter the Maccabees, but secretly plot to incite revolt. Judah is furious, considering the traitorous Jews to be worse than the Seleucids, and goes around killing anyone suspected of betraying him. Alcimus flees, and Demetrius sends Prince Nicanor to take down the Jews. Nicanor is defeated, but promises to destroy the Temple if he ever returns while Judah still lives. In the next battle, Nicanor is killed. Judah declares that this day, Adar 13, will also be a holiday forevermore. Unfortunately, that’s already a holiday: the Fast of Esther.

Chapter 8

All About the Romans.

This chapter is mostly concerned with the exploits of the burgeoning Roman Republic, how wealthy it is, how the Senate is great, and how they’re horrible enemies but faithful allies. Judah proposes an alliance with the Romans, and the Romans agree, on the condition that they can modify the new treaty whenever they want. Uh-oh.

Reading into Maccabees, Part 1

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!

For those of you who aren’t in the know, Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday celebrating the Jews’ independence from the Seleucid Empire. In America, it’s celebrated as a gift-giving holiday so Jewish kids don’t feel bad about not having Christmas. A lot of purists resent the gift-giving because it’s not part of the original holiday, but as I’ve gotten older, I like it. Jewish kids should have a gift-giving holiday– though I might be biased because I’m really good at picking out gifts for people. We also eat potato pancakes and donuts. My grandma’s recipe is wonderful.

If you’ve been exposed to the Hanukkah story before, you’ll likely have heard some things about magic oil. Well, not exactly: the story of Hanukkah can be found in the Books of 1 and 2 Maccabees, historical texts that was left out of the Bible (for reasons to be discussed), but important enough to be kept in the Jewish temple before its destruction. In light of the season, I’m going to plow through Maccabees, highlighting what I find most interesting. On each of Hanukkah’s eight days, I’ll post my impression of four chapters. Let’s see how this goes…

Chapter 1

The Jews of this period loved Alexander the Great. Not only did they start naming their children Alexander and Alexandra; they spent the first eight verses detailing his exploits:

And he went through even to the ends of the Earth…and the Earth was quiet before him…his heart was exalted and lifted up.”

Of all the gentile historical figures of this time, only Alexander is talked about this way. Unlike Cyrus of Persia, who was seen as a kind, fair-minded Gentile, the author of 1 Maccabees truly sees Alexander as his leader.

Anyway, as Alexander is dying, he divides his empire among an assortment of Greek nobles. This turns out to be a terrible idea: these new rulers are universally awful, especially Antiochus the Illustrious. Meanwhile, many of the Jews are assimilating into Greek culture, going so far as to build a gym in Jerusalem. Since you had to be naked in a gym, everyone can see your penis, so increasingly Jewish men making themselves fake foreskins.

Antiochus conquers Egypt (though it doesn’t take), then turns back to Jerusalem and ransacks the Temple, taking its precious ornaments and killing Jews indiscriminately. Two years later, he sends one of his tax collectors to do it again, but this time it’s worse– Antiochus’ emissaries burn down Jerusalem and expel its population, then rebuild it for themselves, going so far as to kill people in the Temple. The Seleucids make it illegal to perform Jewish rites or celebrate Jewish holidays, not just in Jerusalem but everywhere. Holy books are burned when found, people are forced to eat non-kosher food, small boys are hanged for being circumcised. Scripture before this point has described many attempts to wipe out the Jews before, but never in this much detail.

Many Jews choose to die rather than abandon their religion, but the book is curiously ambiguous about whether that’s good or not. Other books have made a case for “passing,” but Maccabees merely finishes the first chapter with “And there was very great wrath among the people.”

Maccabees is clearly written in a biblical style, but this is one way in which it’s different: the world in which it’s set is recognizably our own. The first chapter notes that Antiochus had been a hostage in Rome. The author makes sure to point out that the other vassals only persecuted the Jews because they feared the same would happen to them if they disobeyed. And consider the phrasing from 1 Maccabees 1:26:

And there was a great mourning in Israel, and in every place they were.

Compare to the Old Testament, which doesn’t mention the goings on of other tribes unless they directly involve the Israelites/Jews, or God Himself. Maccabees is a much more worldly book than the Bible, written from the perspective of a people who had expanded and explored. It’s still addressed to the Jewish people, but acknowledges that there are bigger things going on.

Chapter 2

Here come the Maccabees! Actually, only Judah is called Maccabee; it’s not a family name at all, but a nickname, “the Hammer.”

Matthew, Judah’s father, is pissed: he’s seen his people and his temple desecrated. The occupying Seleucids visit the Maccabees in Modi’in, trying to convince him to worship idols. They’re a lot more cautious with Matthew, and they’re right to be so. When a Jew comes into town to worship idols, Matthew kills him and the Seleucid agents.

The Maccabees and their followers flee into the mountains. The Seleucids find a cell of followers, who refuse to fight on the Sabbath and are thus slaughtered. The Maccabees henceforth declare that it’s okay to fight on the Sabbath if you have to (Shades of the Yom Kippur War). They begin recapturing Jewish towns and restoring the old laws. Before Matthew dies, he commands his sons never to give up those laws, and to be prepared to die for them. Wait, didn’t they just agree that they can violate the Sabbath in self-defense?

This gets at the heart of many social justice movements: of course you can keep your head down and be safe today, and no one can blame you, but eventually people will have to stand tall and take action, even if it means putting themselves in danger.

Matthew is buried in Modi’in. He’s still there!

Chapter 3

Judah Maccabee takes over as leader of the rebels and makes huge gains. He makes such a big name for himself (“he was renowned even to the utmost part of the Earth”) that Seleucid armies in neighbouring provinces make plans to invade Judea. Judah assures his followers that God will enable them to win even though they are outnumbered, and they do, but the text doesn’t explain how. Judah just assures his army that numbers aren’t everything. His father was Michael Collins; he’s Ho Chi Minh.

Antiochus is furious. He shakes down his vassals to fund an all-out war, and hires a distant relative named Lysias to lead the army:

And [Antiochus] delivered to [Lysias] half the army, and the elephants, and he gave him charge concerning all that he would have done, and concerning the inhabitants of Judea, and Jerusalem, and that he should send an army against them, to destroy and root out the strength of Israel, and the remnant of Jerusalem, and to take away the memory of them from that place, and that he should settle strangers to dwell in all their coasts, and divide their land by lot.

I’m surprised Lysias didn’t sell the Jews smallpox-infested blankets.

By the way, until now I imagined Antiochus’ capital being in Iran or Iraq; in fact, it’s just up the coast from Israel. Antioch (of course that’s it’s name) is also right by the city of Alexandretta/Iskenderun, which we all remember from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Chapter 4

Anticipating a sneak attack, Judah comes up with his very own version of Operation Quicksilver, diverting the enemy armies into empty hiding places. When the Maccabees reach an enemy camp, they see that the Seleucid army is much better-armed. Judah, channeling his inner Rasta, assures his men that Jah will provide, and he’s right once more.

Again, how are they doing this? The Maccabees don’t even have swords. The author never claims that God actually brought the Jews to victory, only that Judah promised He would.

After that battle, they apparently scare the rest of the soldiers into running away:

A year later, Lysias returns with an army of 65,000 men. Judah has only 10,000, but again they defeat the invaders, and again I’m left wondering how. The author mentions that Lysias sees “how bold the Jews were, and that they were ready either to live, or to die manfully,” but that can’t be the full answer, and in any case it only entices Lysias to return with more troops.

With Lysias gone, Judah commands the Jews to restore the Temple in Jerusalem. First, they fortify the Temple Mount with higher walls (including the Western Wall), then they build a new altar and make new furnishings for the sanctuary. Now the high priest, Judah calls for a period of absoultion and consecration that lasts eight days.

And Judah and his brethren, and all of Israel decreed that the day of the dedication of the altar should be kept in its season from year to year for eight days, from the 25th day of Kislev, with joy and gladness.

Hanukkah, ladies and gentlemen. There was no oil to miraculously light the lamps of the Temple for longer than expected. In fact, this chapter mentions that the lamps used candles!

Rock and Roll Is Dead (May it Never Die): A Pop Revival Primer, Epilogue

Well, guys this is it.

I mean it. The very month, February 2014, is probably the end of Pop Revival as a viable genre. Most of the time, genres fizzle out, get buried beneath some new hot sound, or drag on for years beyond their natural lifespans; the point being, when genres die, people usually don’t notice.

Then, in a month that isn’t even over, three things happened. Dum Dum Girls released Too True, an album that stayed true to the attitude that made them a hit, while happily abandoning the original sound. Then, Vivian Girls performed their last show ever; saying as much themselves before pounding out a rocking set, and getting their pictures taken, sweaty and visibly shaken.

Third, Arctic Monkeys won best band and best album at the BRIT awards. Not living in Great Britain myself, I don’t know whether their win was expected, but it definitely wasn’t warranted. AM was a thoroughly mediocre affair that awkwardly utilized hip-hop beats; the few songs that didn’t get that treatment were alright. But then they came up to accept their award.

Immediately this was called “controversy,” and though it wasn’t immediately clear why, it soon began to make sense. Arctic Monkeys had been on a lot of minds leading up to the awards. Actor Robert Webb wondered aloud “didn’t Arctic Monkeys use to sound Northern?” Indeed, the band has lived out most of its existence in the Mojave Desert, and Alex Turner’s speech revealed an attitude that’s normal in America– hell, it’s cliché in America. The desire to keep British music British is understandable, but something has broken there.

All the way back in 2006, when Arctic Monkeys first infested the airwaves, the next big thing was being born. In returning to the pop standards of the 1960s, Pop Revival was finding a way forward. It had birthed something totally new, a defining sound for a new era. Nobody could have known when this decade began, but it was coming. It was coming from Los Angeles, from Perth, from rural Virginia, from Aix-en-Provence. In short, it was coming from everywhere but Britain.

To be continued…

Why Kids Loved Pokémon (and Adults Didn’t Get It)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Pokémon lately. It started when I watched The Nostalgia Critic’s takedown of Pokémon: The First Movie, and pretty soon I realized what it was that made it the cultural entity that it was.

So here’s the deal: Pokémon was originally a game for Game Boy. It had first come out in Japan in the mid-1990s before showing up in America in 1997. By the time the game had crossed the pacific, a TV show had come out based on the game, and a set of collectible trading cards based on the show. In Japan, the phenomenon had slowly built over a couple of years, but in America, all of these things came at once, and it created a massive phenomenon. It was an honest-to-god craze; the biggest thing since Star Wars.

What made Pokémon so fun to play is that it was big. The world of the video game was enormous, and there was a competetive angle: how fast could you and your friends collect all 150 species of Pokémon in the game? The Pokémon themselves were like animals with magical powers, who people caught and trained to fight each other, which is weird, but hey, it’s a video game.

The television show was a little more dubious. The main character, Ash, was originally an avatar for the kid playing the game, so the Ash on television had no personality beyond wanting to be a Pokémon master. The story was heavily serialized and slightly soap-opera-ish, although the creators of the show occasionally had some fun with the concept.

But the show was only enjoyable to people playing the game. Only they could follow along and be interested, because in a sense they were watching themselves. Plus, the Pokémon were pretty cute.

Here’s the thing: most adults at the time didn’t realize that Pokémon originated as a video game. In fact, when I told my mother I was writing this, she didn’t even remember that there was a video game. One could only look at the images on Kids WB! and think what the hell is this and why do my kids love it? Why are there a bunch of adolescents roaming around a fictionalized version of metropolitan Tokyo collecting animals so they can fight each other like pitbulls when they should be in school? Why does everything in this world revolve around this pastime? And what can I do to stop Mikey from saying “pika-pika” all the fucking time!?

The answer, it turned out, was Wizards. Harry Potter arrived in America at the same time as Pokémon, but gradually eclipsed it in popularity. It had a few advantages. One, it had actual characters. Pokémon took place in a big world, but that world was also pretty shallow. It was an okay game, maybe even a good game, but didn’t invite the kind of lasting obsession that other pop-cultural artifacts did. Harry Potter built on preexisting works like Roald Dahl and Star Wars, so kids were able to get into it without much trouble.

Second, Harry Potter’s tone evolved as its characters– and audience– grew up. Adults can still play Pokémon today; I know some who do; but there are few grown men or women who would sit down today and watch the anime series when we have Mad Men, The Americans, or Game of Thrones. And yes, the anime series is still on, now in it’s seventeenth season. By allowing itself to mature, Harry Potter was also able to last in the public consciousness, and it was palatable to parents as well as kids, which Pokémon patently wasn’t.

Third, Harry Potter took a while to become as popular as it ended up being. When I got Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on my eighth birthday, I was wary of the book. I’d never heard of it. It took a couple of years to build up in the public consciousness, and JK Rowling was very protective of her property, so it was never the multimedia/merchandising orgy that Pokémon was. It’s true that Harry Potter was flawed, but only in minor ways that were common to fantasy, and it was a huge departure from the kind of kids’ stories being told at the time, which were mostly sci-fi. It even had a predetermined ending, which was extremely rare in any medium of the time.

After only three years, the Pokémon craze was done. Kids still watched it, but they also had a lot more pop phenomena to choose from. My best friend at the time was Chris Macquarrie. We met during the height of Pokémania, but we eventually moved on to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Lost, among other things. So did everyone else. And despite the renewed interest in all things ’90s, I haven’t seen any attempts, aside from those of my RA at SF State, to revive interest in Pokémon. I guess we know why.