Panel Report: The Current Standing of the “Harry Potter” Fandom in 2022 and What the Future Holds
Panels are a staple of any convention. It’s where the minds behind our favorite franchises pass on trade secrets and exclusive content and embolden the love we have for our fandoms. This year’s San Diego Comic-Con is packed to the very last minute, with panels covering every topic you could think of. Of course, this year’s Harry Potter fandom panel was back and went off without a hitch.
The panel was created in 2008 by Eric Bowling. Since then, it’s been about where the Potter community is going, even as our world constantly changes what it means to be a Harry Potter fan. This year’s moderator was Heidi Tandy. I had the opportunity to represent MuggleNet on the panel, and the conversations were insightful, educating, and entertaining.
Other panelists included Katie Aiani, a content creator and writer; Matt Cox, writer and creator of Puffs, or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic; Katie Sciurba, researcher and a literacy expert from SDSU; Naim Martin, a former participant in a study by Katie Sciurba; Adrianne Alwag-Aipia, a leader for the Los Angeles Dumbledore Army fan group; and Tim Herron, the west regional coordinator of US Quadball.
An overarching theme of the panel covered the topic of the major changes within the fandom in the last couple of years after J.K. Rowling’s opinions surrounding members of the trans community were made public on her Twitter account.
To start the conversation, Tandy asked the panelists to pinpoint their most positive instances of the fandom from the last few years. Much of the conversation turned toward those who make up the fandom and the people who created support for Harry Potter versus the maker of the story itself. Aiani pointed out, when the question turned to her, that the fandom ultimately belongs to the fans, and their support of each other makes significant positives. Herron described that being around like-minded people who “love you like family is indescribable.”
The conversation shifted from the panelists’ most positive experiences to what has changed with participation within the official franchise. If a creator of your fandom turns out to be a person you weren’t expecting them to be, do you abandon your fandom? To answer this, Aiani said she finds it important to separate art from artists.
Sciurba said fans should ask themselves two questions if they are faced with this dilemma: “Can we critique things that we enjoy? And can we enjoy things we critique?” Of course, these are highly personal decisions that each fan gets to make in their own time. But the decision comes hard for many who have fallen in love with Harry Potter and the author in the years leading up to her publicly made opinions.
As the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises move forward along with the adjoining fandoms, more change will surely come. Official games like Hogwarts Legacy and new theme parks areas like the rumored Fantastic Beasts space at Universal’s Epic Universe open more doors and opportunities for questioning fans to think critically about where they stand in a massively loved fandom.
Did you attend the panel? Where do you see yourself in the Harry Potter fandom these days? Let us know your thoughts.