Writer J.K. Rowling created Harry Potter and her series is one of the most popular of all time. A recent study conducted by Facebook showed that 21 percent of users considered the Harry Potter series among the most influential books in their lives. The cultural phenomenon of Harry Potter books and movies is undeniable. Here are 10 ways the boy wizard Harry Potter took over the world.
Sources: NewStatesman.com, Op-Talk.Blogs.NYTimes.com, TeenInk.com, TheGuardian.com
An entire tourism industry sprang from the “Harry Potter” series, including a theme park in Orlando, Florida, as well as tours throughout London that take visitors to many places depicted in the films. King’s Cross Station had to move the Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters outside the station, given the number of tourists attempting to take photos disrupting the flow of actual train passengers.
The number of Harrys, Rons, and Hermiones that roamed the streets this Halloween was incredible, especially considering the last book was released more than seven years ago. Costume stores can rest easy knowing that their investment in cloaks, wands, and the like will be safe for years to come.
JK Rowling and her publishers have faced, and initiated, a fair number of court cases to protect and defend the “Harry Potter” series. These range from copyright suits to libel cases, and Rowling is no stranger to the courtroom. The author has even faced legal action over her attempts to keep anyone from distributing or reading her books before their release date, causing people to come forward to defend the right to read.
The amount of academic and critical work written about the “Harry Potter” series is astounding – more than one Ph.D. has been earned based on an in-depth analysis of Rowling’s wizarding world. A particular favorite, “Critical Persepctives on Harry Potter (Part 2)” (one can only imagine what Part 1 delved into), asks questions about the series that really don’t need asking, such as, “If she [Voldemort’s mother Merope] had been emotionally stronger and been able to maintain better boundaries in her relationships, might she had given Tom Riddle/Voldemort enough love to prevent sociopathy?” And the author is entirely serious throughout.
Any parent who raised a child in the era of “Harry Potter” book releases is familiar with the midnight book buying and movie premieres. People dressed in wizard robes and hats, or as Hagrid (the Hagrids were always the best costumes, in my opinion) for the sole purpose of purchasing a book the second it went on sale. We couldn’t possibly wait eight hours to buy the book at a reasonable hour – it had to be done at midnight.
Somehow, the world of “Harry Potter” infuriated some people to the point they felt burning books was the only way out. Fundamentalist minister Joseph Chambers of Paw Creek Ministries defended his book-burning decision: “Without question, I believe the ‘Harry Potter’ series is a creation of hell, helping the younger generation to welcome the Biblical prophecies of demons and devils led by Lucifer himself.” A bit extremist, but to each his own, right?
The fact that “Muggle” is in the Oxford dictionary should be evidence enough, but we know that we’ve all dropped a spell or two into everyday conversation, or referred to somebody as a “squib” or “Mudblood” before. Watch your tongue, kids. You know some of those words are quite inflammatory!
Just look at the Weasleys (well, except for Percy. He was kind of a knob). Ginny and Ron helped to save the wizarding world, Fred and George were constant comic relief, and Charlie was a dragon trainer for heaven’s sake! Rowling gave redheads a good name with her series, and gingers across the world gave thanks.
Before “Harry Potter,” people who liked to read and talk about wizards and magic were usually relegated to their parents’ basements. Harry and Co. made it cool to geek out about wizards– well, at least to a certain degree — and made it more acceptable to talk about such things in public.
In a research study, political science Prof. Anthony Gierzynski found that Harry Potter fans tend to be more tolerant, but also “to be less authoritarian, to be more opposed to the use of violence and torture, to be less cynical, and to evince a higher level of political efficacy. They are also more liberal, with a more negative view of the Bush years.” Not only does it speak volumes that this study was conducted at all; it shows that the values of the “Harry Potter” generation may also fall in line with those of the boy wizard himself.