Simple: He’s a glory hog who unfairly receives credit for the accomplishments of others and who skates through school by taking advantage of his inherited wealth and his establishment connections. Harry Potter is no braver than his best friend, Ron Weasley, just richer and better-connected. Harry’s other good friend, Hermione Granger, is smarter and a better student. The one thing Harry excels at is the sport of Quidditch, and his pampered-jock status allows him to slide in his studies, as long as he brings the school glory on the playing field. But as Charles Barkley long ago noted, being a good athlete doesn’t make you a role model.
Harry Potter is a fraud, and the cult that has risen around him is based on a lie. Potter’s claim to fame, his central accomplishment in life, is surviving a curse placed on him as an infant by the evil wizard Voldemort. As a result, the wizarding world celebrates the young Harry as “The Boy Who Lived.” It’s a curiously passive accomplishment, akin to “The Boy Who Showed Up,” or “The Boy Who Never Took a Sick Day.” And sure enough, just as none of us do anything special by slogging through yet another day, the infant Harry didn’t do anything special by living. It was his mother who saved him, sacrificing her life for his. ~Chris Suellentrop, Slate
However, as the man said, I’d rather be lucky than good. Everyone who enthuses about Harry Potter does so because they, too, would like to be the pampered Golden Boy. (The flood of hate mail can now begin.) Well, that, and because the stories actually are fairly entertaining.
On a related point, there seems to have lately been more of this sort of fantasy and sci-fi that stresses the importance of innate and natural abilities rather than accomplishment. Just consider how Lucas managed to ruin a perfectly Tao-like Force in the first trilogy by explaining it away in the prequels as the product of “midichlorions” in the blood of the Jedi master race. Being a Jedi had little to do with being particularly noble or accomplished or worthy–it was a eugenic freak of nature that somehow entitled these people to have the run of the Republic. Nice work if you can get it, at least until one of the mutants decides that he wants to be one of the only supermen left. The main difference between Harry Potter and Darth Vader? Potter had a father.