For a bit of fun today, here are seven reasons why I think the Harry Potter series will continue to be popular for many, many years to come. To be absolutely clear, I’m writing from the bias of a major fan of the series and one of the so-called “Harry Potter Generation.”
1. The Universal Themes: I once took a screenwriting course, and the professor was talking about how to write stories that resonate with audiences. He explained that love and death are universal themes, and it was funny how the only recent works that really delved into these themes were the Harry Potter books, supposedly for children. But as we know, people of all ages enjoy these books. The story of Harry Potter is classical in its approach to good trumping evil, but those are the sorts of stories that last.
2. The Relatable Characters: The universe of Harry Potter is populated by such a diverse group of characters that it’s not an exaggeration to say that there’s someone for everyone. These characters put a personal touch on the story. For example, I relate best to Hermione, and I can attest that having a character that’s similar to me in the books greatly added to my enjoyment of and relation to them.
3. The Blockbuster Films: Say what you want about the quality of the films (I’m no fan of the final one in particular), but you can’t deny that they were absolute blockbusters. They introduced (and will continue to introduce) an audience to Harry Potter that may not have picked up the books on its own. Furthermore, the three stars have had their hand and foot prints outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, a sure sign of cultural importance.
4. The “Harry Potter Generation”: This is perhaps the most important element. Since the books were released over a decade of time, children who were between 8 and 11 when they first started reading the books essentially grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Now, we’ve been dubbed the “Harry Potter Generation.” For us, Harry Potter is not just a story; it has become part our lives, and we will continue to cherish it and pass it on.
5. The Help of Internet: Harry Potter became popular as the Internet became a powerful force in mass media. Mugglenet.com, one of the two most popular fan sites, was created back in 1999. Since then, dozens more Harry Potter sites have opened and will continue to serve the evolving fandom. There have been forums, podcasts, online games, and, most recently, Pottermore, a project directly from author J.K. Rowling.
6. The Loyal Fandom: Think of any aspect of culture, and the fandom has blended Harry Potter into it. Music? There’s wizard rock. Theater? There’s Team Starkid’s A Very Potter Musical. Sports? There’s the International Quidditch Association. There’s also fanart and fanfiction. And if you have any doubts about the intensity of the fandom, look at the photo to the left, which I took while waiting for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 premiere in London. People braved the wind and rain for at least fourteen hours – some for as long as three full days – to be part of that experience. That kind of loyalty doesn’t fade quickly.
7. It’s Already Happening: And finally, Harry Potter has already begun to take its place as of long-standing cultural importance. The café in Edinburgh where Rowling worked on the first books has been emblazoned with the words “The Birthplace of Harry Potter” – and is rarely seen without people taking pictures in front of it. There’s a theme park in Orlando and another one planned for Los Angeles. The first book has landed the #6 spot on Scholastic’s 100 Great Books for Kids list. Kids are still picking up the books, and they’re even learning how to play quidditch.
Thus, there are several factors in favor of Harry Potter’s longstanding appeal. Only time will tell if the series has the stuff to make it in the long run, but I believe that it can. Do you agree that Harry Potter has the force to stand the test of time? If so, do you have any other reasons? If not, why?