How “Harry Potter” Has Influenced the Millennial Generation
The Harry Potter series shaped a generation. It is a very rare trait that most books and series can’t lay claim to. Sure, there have been books that have had huge impacts on culture throughout the years, but none has directly influenced a collective generation on this large of a scale. Millennials are the Harry Potter generation. They seek to end social injustice, to be involved in world affairs, and to live intentionally. Organizations like Project for Awesome and the Harry Potter Alliance were started by Potter readers and bring in many other fans for support. Here are some specific plot examples that show how the books influenced a generation of young readers. (Note: These observations are made by a Millennial but do not necessarily reflect Millennials 100%.)
- SPEW and Slavery
When Hermione begins to assess the barriers between wizards/witches and house-elves in Goblet of Fire, she notices a huge gap between the species and yearns to right past wrongs. Her goal is to help house-elves escape their current predicaments as slaves to wizards and witches and provide them with alternative means of employment where they receive a salary and decent working conditions. But this proves to be a harder task than Hermione anticipates. Just like Hermione, the Millennial generation seeks to rid the world of slavery. Many are taking action in standing up for causes to end human trafficking and child slave labor. Others are buying fair trade products to show their support. Whether or not all millennials take these actions, it is clear most are aware of the growing issue, and like Hermione, they do what they can to help.
2. Mudbloods and Racism/Prejudice
It is hard not to spot the obvious parallels between Mudblood discrimination in the wizarding world versus racial discrimination in our world. The events in Deathly Hallows contain strong parallels to the Nazi regime and Hitler during World War II when Hitler gathered up the Jews to send them to concentration camps because of their “bad blood.” When Draco calls Hermione a Mudblood in Chamber of Secrets, Ron steps forward to defend his friend from being called a derogatory name. It is made clear throughout the seven books that the Malfoys know they must accept that society is accepting “Mudbloods” as regular witches and wizards while they hold onto the idea that their pure-blood status still means something. This could be compared to the ideologies of folks after the Civil War who refused to accept black people as human beings and still treated them poorly. The Millennial generation cares deeply about civil rights. In recent events such as Ferguson and Baltimore, many Millennials are not only standing on the front lines but also making their voices heard through blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, social media, and more.
3. Rita Skeeter, the Daily Prophet, and the Media
Rita Skeeter isn’t a character known for her journalistic integrity. The Daily Prophet isn’t much better. Both distort the truth and lie on multiple accounts to brainwash the public about what is going on in the wizarding world and to get their own agenda across. Rita Skeeter likes to twist Harry’s words in Goblet of Fire, which greatly impacts how the public sees him. She also does this to Hermione, even having Mrs. Weasley believing her lies for a brief period before Harry sets the record straight. Millennials are very weary of where they get their news, no longer trusting television news as a credible source. Instead, they have turned to the Internet for news, subscribing to popular email newsletters such as theSkimm, watching YouTubers such as the VlogBrothers, or listening to podcasts such as #Millennial or NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. They seek unbiased news sources and are quick to hold people accountable for lack thereof.
4. Cornelius Fudge and Politics
It is no secret that Millennials are disenchanted with the state of politics. The general understanding is that politics are corrupt. Harry Potter fans will remember the Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge, who sought power over the well-being of the people, despite the overwhelming evidence against his paranoia. When Rufus Scrimgeour comes onto the scene, Harry never comes to trust him, and he believes the Ministry only wants him to be its poster boy to make people believe everything is okay when it isn’t. This also suggests that the government will go to any means to make the public believe one way when in actuality, they are covering up what the public should know. Politicians have often been compared to villains in the Harry Potter books. Most recently, Donald Trump (who arguably is not even a politician) has been compared to Lord Voldemort himself. What an achievement.
5. Professor Umbridge, Dumbledore’s Army, and Education
Professor Umbridge is sent to Hogwarts in Order of the Phoenix to regulate what children are learning about on a day-to-day basis. She believes that certain subjects and styles of learning are okay but is against other methods that go against government code. In other words, she and the government want to limit free thinking in order to create subservient members of society who do not question or rebel. Dumbledore’s Army is the complete opposite of this concept. The DA’s purpose is to allow students to learn on their own terms and grasp spells and knowledge in their own style. Harry doesn’t try to limit his fellow students while teaching, nor does he discriminate based on age or grades. All he does is teach and help students reach their full potential. Millennials are in favor of knowledge and view knowledge as power. They yearn to stay informed (and do so by finding credible news outlets, as discussed earlier) and to form their own opinions on the world around them, versus being told what to believe by institutions that came before them.
In what other ways did Harry Potter contribute to the Millennial generation? Let us know in the comments below!