Everything in pop culture falls prey to time. Fashion trends fluctuate weekly. Artists are all anyone can talk about for six months until a new icon emerges on the scene. TV shows are good for the first two seasons but then they begin to lose viewers. So what makes something withstand the test of time? What gives a book series like Harry Potter the edge to compete in a global market that is so fickle?
Those of us that were there from the beginning have our own reasons for loving Harry Potter. For me, the books and characters gave me something to immerse myself in when I had no friends and no confidence in myself. It felt like a world where I belonged, where being different was normal. Harry, Ron, Hermione, and their friends were my friends. The Weasleys and Hagrid were my family. So is it the sense of belonging that keeps people coming back to the series?
Although the story is set in a magical world, the problems are very real. Love, death, prejudice, violence, evil. These are all things that, as human beings, we deal with on a daily basis. There is the growing unrest in the Middle East, political uprisings, and kidnappings. Greedy people are fighting for power and everyone is looking out for themselves. Harry is trying to stop Voldemort from basically committing genocide on the millions of Muggles and Muggle-borns. Harry and his friends may wield wands, but their obstacles are no different than ours. So is it the connection to the real-world blended in with magic that keeps us wanting more?
What about the overwhelming theme of fighting for what is right? People tend to go about their daily lives, ignoring the problems around them, assuming someone else will take care of it. The Potter universe encourages you to be the one to take the first step, to be the one to initiate change. So is it the encouragement the books provide that make you want to be better, that inspire you to make the world better?
In a recent skit with Zac Efron on the Jimmy Fallon show, The Prisoner of Azkaban was mentioned in conversation. The movie The Internship thought it necessary to include a scene of the characters playing Quidditch. ABC Family recently started Harry Potter Tuesdays on their network where they show the movies. The CW show Supernatural has had multiple episodes with quick-witted one-liners involving Harry Potter, including one episode in season seven in which Sam is pep talking Charlie into fighting the Leviathan using the battle of Hogwarts as a reference. There is a background conversation at the end of The Mortal Instruments: City of Ashes where two werewolves are in a Chinese restaurant having a typical fan conversation over whether Dumbledore or Magnus Bane (a character in TMI) would win in a fight. The Wizarding World is about to open a huge expansion. J.K. Rowling is doing another movie series surrounding Newt Scamander. So what is it that keeps drawing people back to the series?
I think the answer lies in the fact there is no single answer. It depends on the person and how the series has affected him or her. But I think we can safely say that Harry Potter isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.