If you haven’t read the books, you have probably watched at least one of the movies during a Freeform marathon or know which Hogwarts house you would be sorted into. If you haven’t done any of those, chances are you still recognize the small kid with the glasses and lightning scar.
Tread carefully, friends, for there may be spoilers ahead.
J.K. Rowling published Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the United Kingdom on June 26, 1997, making this year its 20th birthday; the title was later changed for U.S. publishing to Sorcerer’s Stone to avoid possible confusion in associating the children’s book with philosophy.
Since its debut, the Harry Potter franchise – which includes seven books, eight movies and two theme parks – has amassed over $30 billion dollars, according to CNBC. It also places second in the highest-grossing movie franchises of all time behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Recent additions to Rowling’s Wizarding World include the first installation of the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series with the second movie in the series set to premiere in 2018. Rowling, along with playwright Jack Thorne, also penned a new story for the stage in 2016 called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which follows Harry and other characters into adulthood where the epilogue of Deathly Hallows leaves off.
Cursed Child has sparked controversy in the fan community known as Potterheads; some argue the play does not count as canon since Rowling herself did not technically write it. As someone who had the privilege to see the play in London, I can say that although I may not agree with some of the content, the production is staged beautifully.
Though the script of the play was published worldwide, good news for fans trying to get tickets to the West End production came when it was announced the play will premiere on Broadway in New York City in April 2018. Anyone available for a road trip?
Simply stated, Harry Potter has not only influenced a generation, but it has made its mark in popular culture. Though the last book was released in 2007 and the last movie premiered in 2009, the series continues to live on in numerous forms.
Harry’s adventures starting as a scraggly 11-year-old orphan coming into his own are read to children by parents as bedtime stories, placed on school summer reading lists, written about by scholars, discussed by prominent YouTube personalities, and even included as college courses by select universities.
For some, the series lives as an enjoyable read or a movie marathon challenge. For others, it is treasured memories of book releases, movie premieres, drawn-on lightning scars and handmade costumes of favorite characters.
It is creating an entire music genre called wrock, short for “wizard rock,” including bands such as the DeGeorge brothers of Harry and the Potters who coined the term in the early 2000s, Draco and the Malfoys and Tonks and the Aurors, among numerous other groups. MTV even published an article in 2015 with more than enough music to keep you wrocking through the night, though it fails to mention one of my own personal favorite bands, Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls.
The movies feature a music score as iconic as the Star Wars theme by the same composer, John Williams, and inspired a worldwide sport played across college campuses, including our very own NSU Demon Quidditch team.
It inspires charity and activism through organizations like The Harry Potter Alliance that seeks to “[change] the world by making activism accessible through the power of story.” Campaigns by the alliance focus on equality, literacy and human rights across the world; a major outcome of one campaign, “Not In Harry’s Name,” resulted in the switch by Warner Bros. to use all Fair Trade chocolate in their products instead of chocolate associated with child slavery.
It even inspires parodies such as “A Very Potter Musical“ and the singing puppets of The Potter Puppet Pals, of which you may recognize “The Mysterious Ticking Noise” with over 174 million views on YouTube since it was uploaded in 2007.
Though it may take a moment of realization, kids entering college now have never known a world without “The Boy Who Lived.” Many of our lives would be different without the series; as Harry, Hermione and Ron grew up, so did we.
The impact of the series goes beyond just the nostalgia factor though. Recent psychological studies have even shown that reading Harry Potter “[develops] greater empathy and tolerance.”
This series is not just about the money it has made but values ingrained within both the books and movies: love, friendship, kindness and courage, among others. Harry Potter is as much an enjoyable tale as it is a teaching method and influence upon the world.
If you are one of those seemingly rare people who has never cracked open a Harry Potter book or watched one of the movies, my suggestion is to give this story a chance. You may be inspired to start a local chapter of The Harry Potter Alliance or even write a piece of fan fiction; whatever floats your boat! Just remember, it’s levi-O-sah, not levios-A.