It’s Time to Move Past the Hate: Let’s Heal the Fandom

by Air Tason

I have been thinking of leaving the Harry Potter fandom for a long time but even more so since the (in my opinion) outrageous allegations made against Johnny Depp back in 2017. The Internet-exacerbated toxicity within fandoms and places like Twitter – where readers can hide behind a handle, trend a hashtag, and pile onto any issue, account, or fandom that they aren’t happy with – make it worse. I have been on both sides, admittedly, but on this particular occasion, I got really angry.

I have been a long-time Potter fan, having first read the books in middle school before becoming obsessed with the series in high school. Once I was old enough to have a phone, I started to interact with fansites. The atmosphere in the fandom back in those days (circa 2010) was so different than it is today. In those days, a lot of fun, theoretical articles were released, predicting how Book 7 would end or – later – how it would be adapted on-screen. It wasn’t until years later with the rise of post-Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows releases, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts namely, that the fandom got really divisive.

To say that I was disappointed in how the fandom reacted to the allegations against Johnny couldn’t be truer. It was the first time the fandom had any really big problems or issues that affected the stories, the world, and the way we interact with it. I was hoping that the strong, caring message boards and groups I had been a part of for so long would put their trust in the creator of the universe, J.K. Rowling. Even once she and David Yates spoke up, a lot of people still didn’t believe them. I am not a pusher, and I mostly stay silent on social media, but this bothered me. I am well aware of the fact that people shouldn’t be revered and that we shouldn’t take everyone’s word to heart, but why was everyone so quick to turn on Johnny and in turn Rowling when they have always trusted her before?

When did we start to distrust J.K. Rowling? What happened?

I am not going to pretend to be an expert, but I will mostly point to social media. Rowling is obviously not perfect, and I would never sit here and claim that she is, but don’t we owe her the benefit of the doubt? As the creator of the universe, don’t we owe her the opportunity to change, express her opinion, and grow just like anyone else? Would you immediately call out and cut off a friend for one of their opinions? What if it was a family member? Or your partner? I guess I don’t believe in cancel culture, and while I don’t think that is what everyone did, I feel like a lot of people did.

So where do we go from here?

Can we get past the issues of years past? Can we say, “Oops, sorry to have been so brash” now that there is new evidence in the Johnny Depp case? Are we allowed to say, “Yikes, we are sorry that J.K. Rowling hurt you, but does that truly mean she is an evil, awful person?”

How do we heal the fandom?

Let’s stop trashing each other. Let’s stop trashing people we don’t know when we don’t know everything about their personal lives except what’s presented to us in the media. Let’s move past the past, and let’s focus on the future.

 

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