I don’t think there’s anyone alive in North America right now who isn’t familiar with J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books or movies.
This weekend, I was re-watching “Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets” with one of the family munchkins, highly entertained by Kenneth Branagh’s performance as the monstrously egocentric Gilderoy Lockhart.
For those of you who don’t know, Lockhart is a wizard, best-selling author, celebrity, heartthrob – and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s “Defence Against The Dark Arts” teacher. His idea of Detention is getting Harry to help him sign autographed photos of himself, and his office is plastered with his own portraits and photographs.
Children soon suss out fakes. Lockhart unleashes a swarm of mischievous Cornish Pixies he can’t control, leaving Harry, Hermione and Ron to put them back as he flees the classroom havoc. They’ve all got his number by the time he bolts.
But even Ron Weasley is shocked at Lockhart’s most brazen revelation. After Ron’s sister Ginny is abducted by a monster, the boys rush to Lockhart’s office, where he is supposed to be getting his “tools” prior to saving her.
Instead, they discover Lockhart feverishly packing his bags, about to leave. The boys tax him with this at wand point, thunderstruck he’s running away.
“You’re leaving? After all that stuff you did in your books?”
Lockhart admits: “Books can be misleading.”
When Harry protests that Lockhart himself wrote them, Lockhart protests: “My dear boy, do use your common sense. My books wouldn’t have sold half as well if people didn’t think I’d done all those things.”
Harry accuses: “You’re a fraud. You’ve just been taking credit for what other wizards have done.”
There are internet marketers – and copywriters – who operate this way. They lift the work of others and don’t do primary research. They rehash articles and reports and pass them off as original with only the most token disguises. (And I’m not talking about PLR or master resell rights, here.)
It’s a dangerous thing to proclaim yourself as an expert in a field you know absolutely nothing about: One you have never personally explored, done primary research for, and gained first-hand experience in for yourself.
In Lockhart’s case, these tactics literally backfire on him when he tries to wipe out Ron and Harry’s memories with Ron’s faulty wand. The “Obliviate” spell bounces back, and instead of Ron and Harry losing their memories, Lockhart himself has his mind permanently wiped.
There’s a moral there, of course. Building a house cards results in it inevitably crashing down when you don’t deliver the goods. Someone blows a little, or touches it – and the illusion crumbles.
And you don’t even need to be a wizard to figure that one out.