More Than A Phase: How Fandoms Change the World

X-Files, Buffy, Star Wars. Star Trek. All of these series have amassed a huge fanbase, but none compete with the sheer size, range, and motivation of the Harry Potter fandom (except perhaps Star Wars or Star Trek). Harry Potter fans feel a deep connection with their fandom, and an even deeper connection to their House, which can be utilized by organizations such as the Harry Potter Alliance to motivate fans to mobilize and enact social change.

Key Terms

  1. Wrock4Equality- A campaign in which HPA used the Hogwarts House system to motivate community members to unite against anti-gay legislation in Maine (137).
  2. The Leaky Cauldron- The leading Harry Potter news fansite, which teamed up with HPA to spread awareness for lesser known issues such as the Sudanese Genocide (138).
  3. “World Suck”- “It’s hard to quantify exactly, but, you know, it’s like, the amount of suck in the world.” This is the thing the Nerdfighters hope to decrease in the world through their charities and general good acts. Left ambiguous on purpose (139).
  4. Harry Potter as a Tool for Social Change- Workshop in a small SoCal HPA chapter that discussed various complicated ideas in ways fans could understand so even those uneducated about politics could learn about issues (148).
  5. Cultural Acupuncture- A term coined by HPA co-founder Andrew Slack, this is the idea of using “cultural pressure points” to redirect attention gained from pop culture to real world issues. Became a core feature of Imagine Better. Let’s the community expand into projects like Hunger Is Not a Game (153).

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The Harry Potter Alliance Facebook Page, 10/29/16

This meme is a prime example of HPA still going strong despite the last movie coming out 8 years ago (although it has been revitalized with Fantastic Beasts). This post called HP fans not only to go out and vote themselves, but gives fans the ability to send their own friends a Howler reminded them to vote too.

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User “Jeff”, thechive.com, 7/21/16

This is an example of another fandom creating memes poking fun at modern events and promoting political awareness. It may seem like a simple meme, but it actually encourages viewers to think more critically about what they are seeing on TV, whether the creator intended it or not. Note that this episode is from Deep Space 9 and first aired all the way back on October 2, 1995, but is still used for a meme over 20 years later.

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The Harry Potter Alliance Official Tumblr, 3/8/14

This meme is one of many that are part of HPA’s “Reasons Your As Badass As _____” series. Each one describes a reason why the reader is just as cool as their favorite Harry Potter character. This series serves of an example of how HPA not only does large scale charity and social work, but works on a much more micro scale as well to motivate and empower the community.

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