ABSTRACT: This is an essay I wrote about the Harry Potter series and what its fandom could become in the next few years.
"IT all ends here," this is what every Harry Potter fan saw on the Deathly Hallows - part 2 posters leading up to the final movie release. But did it?
Of course we all claim that it will never end and that Harry will never leave us. But can we truly believe in that statement or is it only the result of the hype created by the last film's release? Is wizard wrock going to survive? Is muggle quidditch's popularity going to increase in the next few years? Are the Harry Potter fansites going to find a new return value when the HP related news will become inexistant? And, more importantly, are the harry potter fans going to remain, to paraphrase J.K. Rowling, "as enthusiastic and inventive as ever?"
I personally think that most of the series future depends on it's fandom, which, for Harry Potter, is a rather extraordinary one. Jo did her work brilliantly, Dan, Emma, Rupert and all the film-makers did theirs and now it is our turn to allow the franchise to live on. Maybe we don't have to choose "between what is right, and what is easy," but we do have to choose if we want to think back and say in ten years "I was part of this, it was a phenomenon" or if we want to stand up and pass on the Harry Potter fever.
Of course, WB will try to make as much money as possible out of the series and, indirectly, they will help us in our task to continue the fandom. The openings of theme parks, the studio tour, the exhibition and the multiple re-releases that are yet to come will surely create some hypes in the fandom that will make Harry Potter reborn for a couple of months but it is essentially up to the fans themselves to spread the series everywhere.
I think we can separate all the Harry Potter related experiences we know into two distinctive categories: one that will die out in a few years and a second that has the potential to survive the years.
I would begin the first one with wizard wrock. Surely there are very few people who would enjoy listen to Harry Potter music if they are not a fan themselves and, as the fans will get fewer and fewer over the years, there will not remain a big enough audience for the bands to continue. The second aspect of the fandom that I think will vanish are the fan sites, and with them the fan fictions, fan essays and podcasts. It seems pretty obvious that at some point, there won't be any HP news any more; the return value of these sites will become very restricted and they will die out one by one.
But there is a second category, with a more positive outlook, the one that includes everything that will survive the difficult test of the years. I think most of the HP merchandise will still be available in 10 years for a very simple reason: wands and brooms are just cool. Kids will still buy wands and brooms even if the Harry Potter series is over because they have this idea of witches and wizards riding/flying on broomsticks. Exactly as children like to battle with lightsabers they will enjoy duelling with magical wands, just because there is something fantastic about it. The films will also survive because like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or James Bond they will simply become a classic. They will be passed to the next generation, partially thanks to WB's re-releasing of the movies over the years, and partially thanks to the fans who will continue to persuade people that Harry Potter is not a series like any other. Finally, the books will still be very popular in ten years because we are all going to try to get everyone we know to read them and because they are just unique and wonderful.
There is one last HP related experience the future of which even professor Trelawney could hardly predict. Quidditch has always been loved by readers and spectators and the muggle adaptation is a very convincing one. It has the potential to become a very popular sport: it is very quick, strategic, brutal, action packed and, let's face it, a bit crazy. If the Harry Potter community manages to spread muggle quidditch everywhere, it could easily become a "normal", well known sport. But at the same time, it could just as easily be forgotten if everyone considers it more of a joke than of a sport, because the truth is, it is both.
As for the future of the fandom itself, it clearly depends on how the fans are going to react to the end of the series, but I believe it will stay as extraordinary as it is now. Mainly because the Harry Potter fans form a gigantic family, and because the series is something we have in common that will always help to create friendships. Also, seeing on the internet and at Harry Potter conventions just how great and active our fandom is will make a lot of people want to be a part of it.
It is our job to make us A Harry Potter generation, not THE Harry Potter generation. We have to make the fandom live on and allow Jo's work to fascinate other generations.
I think it is now clear that, as Dumbledore would have said, Harry will only truly be gone when none of us are loyal to him.
November 8, 2008 - An illustration display appears in Cedar Rapids with close to 100 pieces of artwork from Mary GrandPre - some of which has never been seen before. The exhibit is on display until February 5, 2009.